Why Are There So Many Palestinian Refugees?

News Abroad

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

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Here's a puzzle: How do Palestinian refugees differ from the other 135 million 20th-century refugees?

Answer: In every other instance, the pain of dispossession, statelessness, and poverty has diminished over time. Refugees eventually either resettled, returned home or died. Their children - whether living in South Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Germany or the United States - then shed the refugee status and joined the mainstream.

Not so the Palestinians. For them, the refugee status continues from one generation to the next, creating an ever-larger pool of anguish and discontent.

Several factors explain this anomaly but one key component - of all things - is the United Nations' bureaucratic structure. It contains two organizations focused on refugee affairs, each with its own definition of "refugee":

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees applies this term worldwide to someone who, "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted . . . is outside the country of his nationality." Being outside the country of his nationality implies that descendants of refugees are not refugees. Cubans who flee the Castro regime are refugees, but not so their Florida-born children who lack Cuban nationality. Afghans who flee their homeland are refugees, but not their Iranian-born children. And so on.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization set up uniquely for Palestinian refugees in 1949, defines Palestinian refugees differently from all other refugees. They are persons who lived in Palestine "between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict." Especially important is that UNRWA extends the refugee status to "the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948." It even considers the children of just one Palestinian refugee parent to be refugees.

The High Commission's definition causes refugee populations to vanish over time; UNRWA's causes them to expand without limit. Let's apply each definition to the Palestinian refugees of 1948, who by the U.N.'s (inflated) statistics numbered 726,000. (Scholarly estimates of the number range between 420,000 to 539,000.)

The High Commission definition would restrict the refugee status to those of the 726,000 yet alive. According to a demographer, about 200,000 of those 1948 refugees remain living today.

UNRWA includes the refugees' children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as Palestinians who left their homes in 1967, all of whom add up to 4.25 million refugees.

The 200,000 refugees by the global definition make up less than 5 percent of the 4.25 million by the UNRWA definition. By international standards, those other 95 percent are not refugees at all. By falsely attaching a refugee status to these Palestinians who never fled anywhere, UNRWA condemns a creative and entrepreneurial people to lives of exclusion, self-pity and nihilism.

The policies of Arab governments then make things worse by keeping Palestinians locked in an amber-like refugee status. In Lebanon, for instance, the 400,000 stateless Palestinians are not allowed to attend public school, own property or even improve their housing stock.

It's high time to help these generations of non-refugees escape the refugee status so they can become citizens, assume self-responsibility and build for the future. Best for them would be for UNRWA to close its doors and the U.N. High Commission to absorb the dwindling number of true Palestinian refugees.

That will only happen if the U.S. government recognizes UNRWA's role in perpetuating Palestinian misery. In a misguided spirit of "deep commitment to the welfare of Palestinian refugees," Washington currently provides 40 percent of UNRWA's $306 million annual budget; it should be zeroed out.

Fortunately, the U.S. Congress is waking up. Chris Smith, a Republican on the House International Relations Committee, recently called for expanding the General Accounting Office's investigation into U.S. funding for UNRWA.

Tom Lantos, the ranking Democratic member on that same committee, goes further. Criticizing the "privileged and prolonged manner" of dealing with Palestinian refugees, he calls for shuttering UNRWA and transferring its responsibilities to the High Commission.

Other Western governments should join with Washington to solve the Palestinian refugee problem by withholding authorization for UNRWA when it next comes up for renewal in June 2005.

Now is the time to lay the groundwork to eliminate this malign institution, its mischievous definition, and its monstrous works.

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Charles Barton - 11/12/2003

Am I a refugee? By the standard bapplied to the Palestinians I must be. One of my ancestors was exiled from Scotland by Oliver Cromwell, another ancestor was exiled from France by Louis XIV. They and their decendents were never accorded a "Right or return," and we have been never compensated for our lost property, which I believe includes a very nice castle in Scotland. I am thus a refugee from Britain and France. My ancestors were deprived for centuries of their proper refugee status. But I am as desirving of refugee satus as the grerat grandchildren of Palestinian refugees from 1948.

steve rudall - 10/12/2003

maybe the author is looking at the wrong area to cut funding, instead stop us aid to israel, aid it is using to ensure that there will be no viable solution, as long as it continues to fund the IDF.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/30/2003

Mr. Livingston,

Of course murder is not justified by religious faith. But, even accepting the Gospel narrative of the mob for a moment, why shouldn't Jewish religious leadership tell their faithful membership about the existence of a rabble-rousing preacher attacking the basic tenets of their faith? How does that make them corrupt, or evil?

This is my point: the Gospel narratives are terrible historical sources for political events and largely untrustworthy on the subject of Jewish leadership or Jewish reactions to Jesus. Given that, and that is a given for most historians, why not abandon the divisive and dangerous attribution of responsibility and malice?

Dave Livingston - 9/29/2003

For all that this perhaps is a bit out-of-dte Dr. Dresner's query desires a response. Yes, depending on the perspective taken on this issue the reigious leaders may well have been, and some of them very probably were sincere in their faith, with their objections to Jesus. But by most standards some were rather than men of good will were murderous in intent. May a proper Jew hate another Jew, one of the same people, with murder in his heart?

The reason Pilate took the easiest path of adhering to the will of a city mob to kill Jesus was he hoped to prevent civil disorder from getting out-of-hand, a noisy mob turning into a riot. The reason that there was a mob at all was becauseaq number of people had been stirred into violent protest by certain, not all of them, but certain, religious leaders in Jerusalem.

Call the men who provoked the mob sincere in their faith if you wish, but one could justify any asocial behavior by that measure, "Charles Manson was sincere in his religious beliefs." But does that justify his murderous actions?

Dave Livingston - 9/9/2003

In response to Josh Greenland's query, "...still blaming Jews..."

How may I be more clear (disregarding my frequently making typos)? No, the Church does NOT lay the blame for the death of Jesus upon the Jewish people. The blame is laid at the feet of a few corrupt individuals two thousand years ago. The Jewish people are innocent.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/8/2003

Since this thread is getting really crowded, I've moved my response down to the bottom of the page:


Jonathan Dresner - 9/8/2003

This is a response from an invincibly ignorant historian to Mr. Livingston's post in a thread which has gone on too long, or at least too far to one side of the page: http://hnn.us/comments/17868.html

The term "anti-Semitic" is a carryover from the 19th century, when the only semitic people in Europe were Jews and anti-Jewish sentiment was widely popular. Over the course of the 20th century the term "anti-Semitic" has been divorced from its literal meaning, including all Middle Eastern peoples, to mean only anti-Jewish. So it is entirely possible for Christian gospels to be anti-Jewish, and it is entirely possible for Muslims and Arabs to be anti-Jewish without being contradictory or self-hating.

As to the definition of Jewishness, it is a tricky thing. Technical tribal/religious definitions are less useful than they used to be. There are many people, both born Jews and not, who are religiously non-practicing but who consider the cultural tradition and identity of Judaism important personally and worth preserving: Cultural Jews. A convert to Christianity may be Jewish in a narrow technical tribal sense, but is it meaningful? Not to me. A child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother is not Jewish in a technical tribal sense (unless a conversion has been performed), but if they grow up with Jewish culture and practice, I'd have a hard time considering them anything but Jewish, (and there have been moves with the Liberal [non-Orthodox, not necessarily politically liberal] Jewish camp to recognize the children of Jewish fathers as equally Jewish as the children of Jewish mothers) but Orthodox authorities would insist on a conversion (as they have, most offensively, with the Ethiopian Jewish community).

There is no such thing as absolute clarity in issues of religion and tribal identity. I'm not entirely sure that we can actually consider Judaism to be an undivided tradition at this point, since Orthodoxy and Liberal Judaism have such different standards about conversion and recognition.

Dave Livingaton - 9/8/2003

There are those who shriek abut Mel Gibson's soon to be a hit flick because they think it is anti-Semetic. How can the Gospels written by Jews about Jews be anti-Semetic?

Which leads me to my query, "Who is a Jew?"

This is difficult to determine by those of us not in the inner circle. For instance, some years ago I encountered a lad born of Nordic Christian parents who'd been adopted by a Jewish family claimed to be Jewish. I asked him if he worshiped as a Jew. He said, "No." Then I asked him on what grounds did he claim to be Jewish. He said he was "a cultural Jew." Is he in truth Jewish?

Is the Cardinal/Archbishop of Paris, born & raised a Jew, a convert to Catholicism & who refers to himself as "A completed Jew" Jewish or not? Is the child of a Jewish/American father & a Korean mother, with whom I'm acquainted, Jewish? Oft times one reads someone to complain that Middle Eastern Arabs are anti-Semetic. How can that be? After all, Middle Eastern Arabs as a set are far more Semetic by race, by culture, & by religion than American Jews, many of whom haveve intermarried with gentiles, changed their religion or practice no religion. So who's a Jew? The reason this seems important is to get us all on the same page if we are to commuincate clearly.

Dave Livingston - 9/8/2003

In reply to Josh Greenland's query, does the Church yet blame Jews for the death of Christ? Not the Jewish people as a whole. But cleasrly Christ was killed by the Roman authorities to placate a Jewish mob whipped into a frenzey by a few Jewish religious leaders who felt threatened by Jesus and His message. In short, the Jewish people as a whole were and are innocent of the death of Christ.

Josh Greenland - 9/8/2003

Sound absurd? No. Look at the expelled Germans' organizations that have been pushing to get Germans back into places they were expelled from after WWII.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/7/2003

Dr. Luker,

Since Volokh, by his own admission, has no stake in this discussion, he is entitled to be irritated and I am entitled to ignore him. As I said, he's right, but only in the most technical and meaningless sense.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/7/2003

Mr. Greenland,

While Jews for Jesus is the most public and egregious example, I have a very hard time including anyone who claims faith in Jesus as Messiah as Jewish in a meaningful fashion. There was a time when the traditions could be bridged easily, but that time passed about 1900 years ago.

There have been other would-be messiahs in Jewish history, none of whom panned out. The most famous of them, Shabatai Zevi, actually converted to both Christianity and Islam (serially, not simultaneously). The current candidate, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, was by all accounts a wise and holy man, but since we clearly do not live in a messianic age, the Lubavitchers are going to have to use the same "second coming" theory that Christianity uses. Only Schneerson's refusal to declare himself the Messiah and his clear and strict adherence to Orthodox Jewish law and tradition has kept this from causing a dramatic schism, but the potential is there.

You can't have a Messiah without a messianic age: peace on earth, etc. And there is no mediator between the individual and God: we stand or fall on our own merits, judged in righteousness and with great mercy. These two facts of Judaism make the Messianic position untenable and, ultimately, non-Jewish.

y360 - 9/7/2003

Imagine the Poles/Germans/Russians/Italians displaced in 1945
still sitting with their decendants claiming refugee status
and repatriation in the year 2003, and supported by a UN agency.
Sounds absurd ?

Jonathan Dresner - 9/7/2003

Mr. Greenland,

Actually, all four Gospels put Pilate in the position of bowing to the pressure put on him by the Temple Priests and the "crowds" (who are sometimes identified as Jews directly, sometimes by implication) who are "threatened" by Jesus' teaching. So the problem is going to persist for a while. Frankly, the depiction of the Temple Priests as "corrupt" is itself problematic: why couldn't they be honest believers, acting in the best interests of their faith and political order, and -- by sacrificing Jesus -- carrying out the will of God?

So the "solution" is not a solution yet.

Josh Greenland - 9/7/2003

When you write about Jews for Jesus, I gather that you are not talking about Messianic Jews, but about the organization that goes by the name Jews for Jesus. If so, I agree with everything you've written, based on my own observation of them.

Your description of the differences among Jews reads very familiar to someone from a christian background. Many christians are very big on not considering others "true Christians."

Josh Greenland - 9/7/2003

"But in recent decades, perhaps since Vatican II the Church has taugh that a) Christ's death was brought about by a few, A FEW, considered to have been corrupt Jewish officials who felt threatened by Christ rather than the Jewish people as a whole,"....

I can see how this whole question of "who killed Jesus" could still be a big mess. But am I right in understanding that the Catholic Church even after Vatican II is still blaming Jews for killing Jesus? I thought it was clearly stated in the New Testament that a Roman named Pontius Pilate gave the order for Jesus' crucifixion, and Roman soldiers did the crucifying. If my understanding of the New Testament is correct, I have to wonder about anyone who still proclaims any version of the "Jews killed Jesus" mass libel.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/6/2003

Professor Dresner, You may want to go over to The Volokh Conspiracy and hunt up the posting by Eugene Volokh. I suspect your argument is primarily with him. He finds the position you articulate particularly irritating. But if you decide to argue the matter with him, fair warning: he's a very smart guy.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/6/2003

Dr. Luker,

It's more complicated than that, let's be honest.

First, the Orthodox do not consider all converts to be Jews, only those converted by Rabbis whom they consider "fully observant." Converts under Reform, or Reconstructionist or even Conservative Rabbis are not accepted by Orthodox authorities. And even within the Orthodox ranks there are rabbis who won't accept each others' students as converts. And genetic Jews who are non-practicing or who participate in other religions are not, clearly, in the same category as practicing Jews, even those of the other major branches (and there are some Orthodox who don't even consider branches like Reform to be properly Jewish). There is an entire missionary movement within Orthodoxy whose purpose is to promote "return" by non-practicing or non-Orthodox Jews. This wouldn't be necessary if all Jews were just Jews.

For all that Judaism and Christianity spring from the same "root stock" and share some key texts, they are very different religions, with clear contradictions in worldview and theology.

The purpose of Jews for Jesus (and I didn't mention them by name, though you're correct that I consider them problematic) is not to reconcile the differences between these traditions, but to convert Jews to Christianity. It is a missionary movement, not a faith in itself, but a shell organization whose stated purpose is to channel Jews into Christian churches and which uses deceptive tactics and distorted information to do so. The vast majority of Jews (myself included) considers this a particularly aggressive form of targetted proselytization. I don't disdain Jews for Jesus, I am offended by their hubris and their disdain for the integrity of my faith.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/6/2003

I always find it instructive to re-read Paul's Letter to Rome, 9-11. I was reminded of it again when Eugene Volokh recently vented against those Jews who argue that Jews for Jesus are apostates. Volokh said, I think rightly, that even orthodox Jewry regards all converts to Judaism and all children of Jewish mothers as Jews, whether they practice Judaism or not. Paul is instructive because he clearly regards biblical Judaism as the root stock of faith. Gentile Christians are "grafted onto" that root stock. If so, Jews for Jesus are, at most, guilty of a work of supererogation -- an unnecessary action (above and beyond, even apart from, duty) -- but are hardly to be treated with disdain. They are, after all, already born into the community of faith.

D. Ragan - 9/5/2003

None other than Mark Twain wrote about it. He traveled there and saw it for himself. Are you calling him a liar? You can also read about it in Joan Peter's book From Time Immemorial.

cogito - 9/5/2003

So your argument is, the land was empty until jewish people bought it and settled it, at which point Arabs began coming in to take jobs created by jewish landowners? What ARE you talking about? Israel depends on a forcible seizure of land other people were occupying.

jeruselam? empty? Are they buying that land they send tanks into? I must have missed the transaction

Dave Livingston - 9/5/2003

WILCO, which is military jargon for, "Will comply." :)

D. Ragan - 9/4/2003

On the "historical" basis, yes, the Jews were there first. Putting that argument aside, the Jews BOUGHT PROPERTY IN "PALESTINE" that they they developed - the area was barren, full of weeds. They paid several times market value for the land they bought to the absentee Arab landowners as well. The Ottoman Empire which previously governed the area was on the losing side in WWI. The winners granted the Jews some of the land for their homeland. The losers at that point are the so-called "Palestinians" (but who are mostly just Arabs from other areas that immigrated there for jobs when the Jews began redeveloping the area). The "Palestinians" need to go back to where they came from (Jordan, and other Arab lands). It is the "Palestinians" who are the crybabies here not the Jews who are actually only claiming a small portion of the land originally granted to them by the winners of WWI. Arab hatred of the Jews for religious reasons (Muslims) allows them to refuse to allow the so-called "Palestinians" to just become citizens of these other countries and live happily ever after. The Jews, by the way, left many valuable properties and got ZERO payment when they left various Arab countries to go to Israel to live. The Arabs should have used those properties to settle the so-called "Palestinians".

Jonathan Dresner - 9/4/2003

The Catholic Church has been trying to build connections and salve wounds, particularly under Pope John Paul II. But, of course, it does so on its own terms: the clarifications in Scriptural understanding Mr. Livingston points out are an improvement, but still based on the understanding that the Gospels are good sources, but misunderstood.

Recent movements in Christianity to recognize its Jewish roots have been of some interest, but the presence of those who use that as leverage to target Jews for conversion makes some of us a bit suspicious. In fact, the entire Christian Zionist movement is based on the understanding that Jews will eventually surrender their misunderstanding and convert.

Dave Livingston - 9/4/2003

Well, O.K. Dr. Dresner may be a super historian, but he seems a bit out-of-date concerning Christian understanding of Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ. Yes, in the Middle Ages Jews became a convenient scapegoat based on this misunderstanding. Even as late as the early years of the last century whenever convenient for other social or political reasons Jews were branded "Christ killers." But in recent decades, perhaps since Vatican II the Church has taugh that a) Christ's death was brought about by a few, A FEW, considered to have been corrupt Jewish officials who felt threatened by Christ rather than the Jewish people as a whole, b) that where in the N.T. it refers "The Jews" were nasty and mean that too is taken to mean those same few corrupt officials, c) us Christians are in keeping with Scripture, admonished not to be hasty to blame anyone else for nearly anything, "Judge not, lest ye be judged (accordingly)."

And if you'll recall, Karol Wojtyla was the first Pope in history to set foot in a Jewish place of worship, which he did in Rome some some years ago. Too, he has referred to the Jewish people as our (older?) brothers. After all, us Christians claim Fr. Abraham too. As recently as a week or two ago in conversation with my oldest boy yours truly said and meant, "No, money is not my god. My God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." How can one's own lineage? True Christians don't, cannot, hate Jews.

Also,in the N.T. where it is said that the Pharisees were bad guys that wasn't a blanket condemnation of them as a class or set, after all Christ Jesus Himself too was a pharisee. It is a reference to only certain ones, perhaps it was lazy shorthand writing, but apparently most folks understood what was meant.

But then, unlike Dr. Luker, I'm no Bibical scholar. All I know is what I pick up at Mass and in reading. As a consequence, I'm wide open to & cheerfully willingly accepting to correction by scholars such as he, save disputes, usually Protestant, concerning my Catholicism. And as a Protestant convert to Catholicism my mind is more or less made up in regard to matters of my faith

cogito - 9/4/2003

D. Ragan, they are moving on. Every day the israeli's sieze more territory, causing more Palestinians to "move on."

Hey, how about I come over to your place, and sieze your land. Then you can "move on" too. Just don't whine about it, and make sure you forget right away. And god bless me!

But I'm puzzled--by your argument, shouldn't the jews forget about the holocaust, etc, and just "move on?" I mean, shouldn't they stop crying in their milk and move back to germany, instead of maintaining their claim to Isreal on tha basis of past injustice? Why don't the jews stop crtying in ther milk about how palestine used to belong to them, 2000 years ago? I mean, don't zionists more or less claim that Jews have been "refugees" for 1000 years, and so they need the state of Isreal?

I don't understand, D Ragan. Could you clear it up for me? Your argument doesn't seem to make any sense. Wonder why?

D. Ragan - 9/3/2003

They should be called 'morons'. That is the perfect description for anyone who would maintain their victim status over several generations passing it along to their children and living in so-called 'refuge camps' that are built up with roads and buildings (these aren't tents any more).

Why aren't the Swedes crying in their milk day after day over the fact that the Russians took land from them and built St. Petersburg on it? Why aren't all the other millions upon millions of people who could make some prior claim on any land crying in their milk every day bitching and moaning and sending their children to blow themselves up? The reason is the other peoples of the world, especially the non-Muslims, know that they need to move on and live their lives somewhere else. It is the inability of Muslims to forgive Jews or grant the Jews any quarter that makes it impossible for them to move on. What a pathetic bunch of losers they are. I hope they are still in the same position 1000 years from now. God bless Israel. God bless the Jews.

Not to mention the fact that the Jews and the Christians were all there before the so-called "Palestinians" (at least the Muslims ones). They should be sent back to Jordan where they came from.

Don Williams - 9/3/2003

Pipes indicates that the plight of Palestinian refugees is an anomaly --and uses Cuban refugees to the the US as an illustration.
Does Pipes thinks that Israel extends the same welcome to Palestinian refugees that the US and Europe has extended to foreign refugees? Could Pipes point to any significant effort Israel has made to assimilate the Palestinians?

Pipes' railing about the $300 million given by the US to UNRWA is extremely hypocritical, given the $3 billion given to Israel every year, the past $91 billion given to Israel, and the fact the Israel
can bomb apartment buildings in Gaza with F16s and missiles from APache helicopters because of the enormous arms transfers to Israel from the US.

Pipes' and the neocons' instinctive tendency toward deceit, manipulation, and hypocrisy should anger US citizens as well as the Palestinians. After all, we have suffered 3000+ dead , $200 billion in direct costs, and $1 Trillion indirectly from the Sept 11 attack -- and as I have noted elsewhere, that attack was triggered by US F16s sales to Israel. US citizens will suffer the loss of $200 Billion and several hundred lives in Iraq --not because Saddam was a threat to the US but because he perceived as a threat to Israel.

The question arises of why the Bush Administration inflicted such damage on US citizens in the course of burying it's nose in the rectum of the neocons and supporters of Israel. The answer, of course, is money.

The fortunes of a wealthy elite greatly depend on whether Republicans or Democrats are in power. A Democratic administration would not have stolen $2 Trillion from Social Security/Medicare in order to give a tax cut to the rich. A Democratic administration would not be spending $400 billion/year
establishing a military empire around the globe just so that US capitalists can layoff millions of American workers and invest overseas at low risk. A Democratic administration would not drive wages down by driving 9 million US citizens into unemployment in order to scare and intimidate AMerican workers.

The Bush meme has always been to splinter and divide the Democratic base. He courted the Hispanic vote with hypocritical posturing. He is aware that the Democratic Party is largely funded by supporters of Israel. If he can convince people like Haim Saban, Daniel Abraham, Walter Shorenstein,etc to give millions/year to the Republicans then he not only strengthens the Republicans --he gravely weakens the Democrats.

But one would think that it would take a very strong stomach to pursue this strategy and to then hug Todd Beamer's sobbing widow with no trace of shame or guilt.

One cannot blame Israel for pursuing her interests. If our political,journalistic, and media elites are amoral, deceitful whores, then the fault lies with us, not with Israel.

But our anger should not just be directed at foreign enemies of the US like Bin Laden. Our greatest hatred should be reserved for those who inflict great harm on American citizens while wrapping their agendas in the US flag and lying to the people of the country.

cogito - 9/3/2003

I mean, this is a winner all around. The Palestinians are refugees not because the land they lived on was taken, but because they refuse to accept the fact! simply ignore the fact of their refugee status, and it goes away!

we could call them somethng else--how about..."republicans." yes, let's call them republicans. And when they fail to act like repubblicans, Pipes can write essyas about ow the fact that they fal to act like republicans shows that they aren't civilized, that they are warlike or emotional etc etc. It's good all around

Insisting on their status as refugees, palestinians point to a historic injustice as a central part of their present politcal claims: hey, kind of like the jews do! Now if the jews would just forget about their history of displacement and suffering, and stop clinging to the status it confers, they could get out of isreal and solve the palestinian refugee problem!

but then what would Pipes write about?

this just in: why are so many people starving? because they keep insisting they are hungry!

Ralph E. Luker - 9/2/2003

Whoever, Call up my friend, Paul Harvey, at UCCS and invite him to have a beer. Me: I stumble, fall, get up, stumble again. Could be mistaken for a drunk. Should have no beers.

Mi Amigo Ralph Luker - 9/2/2003

Mi amgio Ralph Luker,

If I owe you an apolgy, you have it--cheerfully. You aren't the only person who can laugh at me, so can, & sometimes do, I.
In addition, I'd be pleased to buy you a beer, if & when you show up out this way, Colorado Springs.

Are you certain you know who Pontinus Pilate was? A little gift, there can be little question that Pilate, a central figure in the Passion story lived and governed in Judea. About twenty-five years ago a steele was unearthed in the Holy Land dedicated to Pontius Pilate. Want to bet it wasn't he himself who had it erected?

If with the steele he was seeking a sort of immortality little did he know he'd achieved it in spades via another means, eh?

Christian? I? In a manner of speaking. I attempt to be one, but I take considerable solace in recollecting what St. Paul wrote in First Corinthians, "I do those things I know I should not do; I do not do those things I know I should do." Equally I like what a Jesuit said recently, "If you fall down (sin), then get back up & try again [to attempt to follow the Lord.]" Yes, I try to be Christian sometimes, but I'm an expert at failing in my efforts. Fortunately, the Lord came to save sinners, not the perfect. Ergo, I'm still in the game.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/2/2003

Mr. Williams,

Lots of people have looked down on and despised Jews for many reasons. It's kind of a theme in our history.

What I said was not that Christians invented anti-semitism, but that the anti-semitism which persisted through centuries of medieval and modern Western culture was based in large part on the libels of the Gospels and the resistance of the vast majority of Jews to conversion.

Don Williams - 9/2/2003

1) In his posts above, Mr Dresner stated:
"Well, the implication of your post is that "Israelis," by which you clearly mean Jews, were responsible for the death of Jesus. No responsible biblical scholar accepts that as a remotely historical narrative, but rather an hysterical reaction to the continuing Jewish rejection of the Jesus movement late in the first century CE. This "deicide libel" has been fundamental to Western anti-Semitism (at least until modern racial nationalism was discovered) and remains a powerful myth creating unnecessary ill will between Jewish and Christian believers. "

In a followup post, Mr Dresner notes: "And the early Jesus movement was very much anti-Roman, but once Rome came over to their side, only the Jews remained. Logical or not, this was a powerful anti-semitic trope from the early medieval through the 20th century."

2) However, The Roman historian Tacitus was a pagan who despised the Christians and was indifferent to the death of Christ. Yet here is Tacitus' description of the Jews, contained in Book V (section 5) of his "Histories":
"This worship, however introduced, is upheld by its antiquity; all their other customs, which are at once perverse and disgusting, owe their strength to their very badness. The most degraded out of other races, scorning their national beliefs, brought to them their contributions and presents. This augmented the wealth of the Jews, as also did the fact, that among themselves they are inflexibly honest and ever ready to shew compassion, though they regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies. They sit apart at meals, they sleep apart, and though, as a nation, they are singularly prone to lust, they abstain from intercourse with foreign women; among themselves nothing is unlawful. Circumcision was adopted by them as a mark of difference from other men. Those who come over to their religion adopt the practice, and have this lesson first instilled into them, to despise all gods, to disown their country, and set at nought parents, children, and brethren. Still they provide for the increase of their numbers. It is a crime among them to kill any newly-born infant. They hold that the souls of all who perish in battle or by the hands of the executioner are immortal. Hence a passion for propagating their race and a contempt for death. They are wont to bury rather than to burn their dead, following in this the Egyptian cus tom; they bestow the same care on the dead, and they hold the same belief about the lower world. Quite different is their faith about things divine. The Egyptians worship many animals and images of monstrous form; the Jews have purely mental conceptions of Deity, as one in essence. They call those profane who make representations of God in human shape out of perishable materials. They believe that Being to be supreme and eternal, neither capable of representation, nor of decay. They therefore do not allow any images to stand in their cities, much less in their temples. This flattery is not paid to their kings, nor this honour to our Emperors. From the fact, however, that their priests used to chant to the music of flutes and cymbals, and to wear garlands of ivy, and that a golden vine was found in the temple, some have thought that they worshipped father Liber, the conqueror of the East, though their institutions do not by any means harmonize with the theory; for Liber established a festive and cheerful worship, while the Jewish religion is tasteless and mean. "
Online Source: http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/histories.5.v.html

Ralph E. Luker - 9/2/2003

Brother Livingston, Look back at that posting yourself. You are ignoring the quotation marks which are around Dresner's words. That means that those words are not mine. They are his. You will want to hesitate before referring to him or to me as "invincibably ignorant historians." (a) You'll want to learn to spell it. (b) You have considerably less experience in biblical and theological studies than I do. (c) You still owe me an apology, my Christian brother.

Don Williams - 9/2/2003

Re Mr Dresner's comment above :
"Tacitus and Josephus (whose identification as a "Jewish" historian begs the question of definition, considering the description of Christ posted earlier and his strong self-identification as a Roman) are tertiary sources, at best, who accepted the Jesus movement's self-inscribed history. "
1) Note that Mr Dresner has no way of knowing what sources were used by Tacitus, Suetonius, or Josephus. As a Roman Senator, Tacitus certainly had access to the Roman archives --possibly even to Pontius Pilatus's reports back to Rome. To assume that Tacitus would have accepted the Christians' "self-inscribed history" , especially given his contempt for Christians, without question shows an ignorance of Tacitus's writings.
2) Similarly, to question whether the author of "The Antiquities of the Jews" was Jewish shows an unfamilarity with the Antiquities. For Josephus to accept the fact of Roman power was no different from a Jewish person accepting US citizenship today.

Dave Livingston - 9/2/2003

Friend Luker,

You didn't say what I quoted you to say? Then evidently someone made a posting in your name. Once again I
moments ago printed off copies of what you said & what I said. You might take a look at the posting "RE: No, it's good history..." posted 31 August at 3:20 A.M. Perhaps up in the wee hours your wits were as blurry as mine are at that hour.

It seems a mite odd that people who claim to be professional historians & who habitably attack Christianity clearly have never bothered to read some of the core foundational documents of the Faith, of our culture and of our civilization, the Gospels, let alone hving ignored the rest of Holy Scripture as well.

You guys are mistaken. There is at least one contemporary historical document other than the Gospels which refer to Christ, the Jewish historian Josepheus wrote of Him. It's no wonder you weren't aware of that fact, prejudging Christianity as not worth serious study.

Granted, according to the editor of the magazine "Envoy," Carl Olson, a convert to Catholicisam from Fundamental Protestantism Fundamentalist Christians pay very little attention to history. The subject doesn't interest them. This leads to one of the funniest things I ever read, a Fundamentalist type not long ago bleated, "Haven't the Catholics had the Vatican long enough, isn't it about our turn to have it?"

Jonathan Dresner - 9/2/2003

Your sources are weak, your logic strained, and your lack of historical skills evident.

If there were such good evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ, why was there such furor over the James ossuary forgery? Because the life of Jesus is still an open historical question and concrete (or in this case stone) confirmation of the Gospel narratives would be new and important evidence.

And Christian anti-Semitism is an historical fact, and a present phenomenon.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/2/2003

Mr. Williams,

If you read my posts, you'll see that I acknowledge that the Jesus movement must have had a founder, known as Jesus Christ, the views of whom form the basis for the Gospels' teachings. What I do deny is that we have a clear historical narrative related to the life and death of the historical Jesus, whose story is altered and reshaped to suit the agendas of the various Gospel writers.

Tacitus and Josephus (whose identification as a "Jewish" historian begs the question of definition, considering the description of Christ posted earlier and his strong self-identification as a Roman) are tertiary sources, at best, who accepted the Jesus movement's self-inscribed history. The story of the siege and mass suicide at Masada, for all its drama, may not have been exactly accurate history either, so be careful what you cite for support.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/2/2003

Don, Stand apart from what you said: "I have no religious ax to grind in this debate" and "my understanding is that Christ's fate was preordained." Both of those statements cannot be concurrently true. If "preordained," by who or what? If you answer that, your ax is showing.

F.H .THOMAS - 9/2/2003

Thank you for your comments, which are learned and welcome as always.

In 1947, Israel was formed by a process of military aggression ethnic cleansing, which left most of it in dispute. It is hard in my opinion to call small groups of soldiers defending their posts and being wiped out by much superior, US-equipped Israeli troops, an "invasion". The surrounding countries were so poorly armed that they could not pose any real resistance to anyone.

In 1956 and 1967, the situation was outright aggression by Israel. As Abba Eban, foreign minister at the time, publicly stated, "propaganda is the art of making others believe what you do not believe yourself", then proceeded to spin the war as a response to an "invasion". From these two invasions, Israel's size more than doubled. 1973 was an effort on the part of those concerned to recover what had been taken from them by force.

For these reasons, I must differ with you.

A fine reference and the most accurate in my view on these events is Norm Finkelstein's "Myth and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict", which is notable for talking straight in an area which sees very little straight talking.

Thanks again for your comments. Corresponding with you is a real pleasure.

Don Williams - 9/2/2003

historical sources, as I note above starting with post
"Mr Dresner's and respondents ignorance of history.."

Don Williams - 9/2/2003

1) Mr Dresner did not make the statement you describe --he merely acknowledged that there was a Christian movement. He also stated there was no evidence for the existence of Christ outside the New Testment. Yet both Tacitus and Josephus state the existence of Christ.

2) Another error Mr Dresner makes is the following statement(Aug 28, 2:26 pm)
"Well, the implication of your post is that "Israelis," by which you clearly mean Jews, were responsible for the death of Jesus. No responsible biblical scholar accepts that as a remotely historical narrative, but rather an hysterical reaction to the continuing Jewish rejection of the Jesus movement late in the first century CE. This "deicide libel" has been fundamental to Western anti-Semitism (at least until modern racial nationalism was discovered) and remains a powerful myth creating unnecessary ill will between Jewish and Christian believers.

It is offensive, and it is ahistorical."

It was the JEWISH historian Josephus who stated that Christ
was cruxified by Pilate at the urging of some Jewish leaders , as noted in the excerpt I posted above:
" And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross,"

Or perhaps you and Mr Dresner would like to argue that Josephus,
who passed down to us the story of Masada, was anti-Semitic??

I should note that I have no religious ax to grind in this debate -- my understanding is that Christ's fate was preordained and certainly Christians are not in a position to cavil against the historical sins of anyone, given the tens of thousands killed by the Church (suppression of Albegensian heresy,etc.) and the many people, including Jews, burned at the stake by the Inquisition at the instigation of the Church.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/2/2003

As is so often the case, your rush to show yourself so much more knowledgeable than professional historians is betrayed by your failure to read and understand what you attack. Dresner acknowledged that there were near contemporary documents that refer to the followers of Jesus and that to that extent they imply the historical existence of Jesus. That fact makes most of your citations irrelevant because they illustrate Dresner's point. He thanks you; I thank you. Read more carefully next time.

Don Williams - 9/1/2003

Mr Dresner , as an offering of "good history", stated above:
" There are no, repeat, no historical sources outside of the Christian Gospels which confirm the existence of an historic Jesus Christ. That's why I said "no *responsible* biblical scholar." [emphasis added]

Any historian who gives an account of the life or death of Jesus is doing so based entirely on a very small set of second- and third-hand writings with glaring errors (e.g. Crucifixion is a Roman, not Jewish, practice; the Sanhedrin's procedural violations, etc.) and a proselytizing agenda that call many specific details into question. And don't cite agreement between the synoptic gospels: they just plagiarized the same source (the origin of which we know nothing about), which makes their difference much more suspect of originality. "

This, of course, is wrong. Some examples of non-Christian sources mentioning Christ:
a)In "The Annals of Imperial Rome",(Book XV (covering 62-65 AD), chap 44, Church trans.) the Roman historian Tacitus noted that the Emperor Nero attempted to deflect suspicion that he had caused Rome's massive fire by pointing to the Christians as suspects:
"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus,
from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hand of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition,
thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular."
For online text , see http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.11.xv.html
b) The Roman historian Suetonius, in "The Twelve Caesars", mentions the Christians in his chapter on the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD),-- section 25:
"Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he[Claudius] expelled them from the City."
In his chapter on Nero (section 16), Suetonius also mentioned the Christians: "Punishments were also inflicted on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief"

c) The Jewish historian Josephus, in his "Antiquities of the Jews"
(most of which is an account of Jewish history similar in content to the Old Testament), mentions Christ in Book 18 of the Antiquities (Chap 3, section 3 -- see http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/JOSEPHUS.HTM )
"3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. "

In view of the above, Mr Dresner's follow up comment--blustering about "professionalism" and looking "at sources first" is
rather funny:
"Your devotion to "logic" is mildly amusing, but sophomoric at best. Properly trained historians learn to look at sources first and make logical leaps only when evidence does not provide answers.

You are obviously almost entirely ignorant of the history or present state of anti-semitism. Or Christian history, for that matter.

That's assuming that your facile arguments are genuine, not an attempt to cover up an anti-semitic position with feeble rationalizations. Either way, I'm done arguing with you. And I will strongly urge my professional colleagues on this website to ignore your postings as they so richly deserve."

Jonathan Dresner - 9/1/2003

Mr. Livingston,

The situtation in Lebanon is a little more (or perhaps less) complicated than religious exclusionism.

Lebanon has been politically and militarily dominated for at least two decades by Syria, and the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon is almost exclusively in the south which is controlled not by the Lebanese Army but by Syria-backed (and Iranian supported) Hizbollah. For a while, of course, the Israeli army (mostly) controlled southern Lebanon, as well, but the main power in the area is undeniably Syria.

While it might be to the advantage of Syria to have the majority Muslim Palestinians integrate into Christian Lebanese society, it is more to their advantage (they seem to think) to hold the Palestinians in painful limbo. It is a breeding ground for disposable radicals, a bargaining chip against Israel, and an unparalleled rhetorical tool within the Arab world.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/1/2003

Hey Dave, How about that apology you owe me for your comment about "invincibably ignorant historians" at 8:26 p.m.? Or don't you accept responsibility for invincibly ignorant comments made by you?

Gus Moner - 9/1/2003

First, what sort of citizens are Mexican-Americans? Discriminated, disliked, disadvantaged and most people prefer they go back to Mexico. Second, why were land grants from the Spanish crown ‘ill-got’?

I agree the results of what you misname “nation-building” are often not fair. So what? Shall we heap more unfairness on mankind to repeat history?

After WWII, expulsions of Germans from the eastern nations were done in retaliation for German brutality and expulsions. What are you trying to tell us here? That as the Jews made 700,000 people refuges, tough deal?

The Arab nations have refused to play the Israeli game, which you call “a political tool”. You fail to provide any definition of what the political tool is, what its objectives are and the methods used to achieve them. It sounds like KGB propaganda. It is a non-point unless you explain what you mean here.

The query is not “Where are the European populations of Morocco and Algeria?” Rather, where did the colonists move to after colonisation was defeated in Algeria and Morocco?

Regarding the “toadies at the UN who are interested in the patronage and graft associated with running a program of this sort”, do explain, please.

Gus Moner - 9/1/2003

One more go at this, if I may Mr Thornton. Israelis soldiers, mind you, regularly kill, nay assassinate, Palestinian children. Just this weekend (Labour Day) an Israeli soldier shot and murdered an 8-year-old girl riding her bicycle. Frequently we see on international channels that children are murdered by the IDF. They are not alone, women and the elderly who venture out for food or other goods are gunned down often without the slightest explanation or even a perfunctory apology, much less compensation. This, of course, can only be seen on international channels, for the US networks do not seem to consider this news. Never mind the I Have a Dream bit at the Knesset gates.

Thus, your theory that goes; “Televised pictures beamed across the globe of Israeli soldiers shooting or beating unarmed Palestinian civilians would turn the tide of sentiment in an instant” goes down the tubes. Sorry. Nice dream, though.

R. Piper - 9/1/2003

See my reply to Mr. Cleo Green below.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/31/2003

Mr. Livingston, An argument that mistakes its target can't hit home. As Professor Dresner points out, I didn't say the things that you attributed to me. Do I get an apology for being called an "invincibably ignorant historian"? I haven't called you any names. ...

Jonathan Dresner - 8/31/2003

Mr. Livingston,

I am well aware of the relatively late recording of the Gospels: that is one of the linchpins of my argument. Nonetheless, as Dr. Luker points out, that doesn't exclude them from being useful historical sources if handled carefully.

I'm not sure what the juxtaposition of Clarke and Christ proves, except that I'm reasonably sure Clarke wrote what I quoted and relatively uncertain of the source of Christ's words. And invoking Christ's divinity isn't going to help much in an argument with a Jewish historian.

The quote you attribute to Dr. Luker was actually written by me, my point being that it was Roman authorities, not Jewish ones, which must have been responsible for the death of Christ, and the interpolation of Jewish responsibility was a late propogandistic addition to the story. The later gospels were starkly anti-Jewish (John, who was not a Jew, is pretty nasty, really, in that regard), as by that time it was clear that the Jewish people were going to stubbornly ignore the Jesus movement and the movement's future lay with gentiles.

I've never said that Christian anti-semitism was logical -- you point out the Jewish origins of Christianity, and the whole deicide charge never made sense to me (if Jesus had to be sacrificed, those who carried it out should be honored for their necessary but unpleasant role). Nonetheless, Christianity has been associated for centuries with anti-Semitism in a myriad of forms, and Jewish resistance to conversion and involvement in the death of Christ have always been at the forefront of Christian anti-semitic rhetoric.


Jonathan Dresner

Jonathan Dresner - 8/31/2003

Dr. Luker,

I don't think we are in disagreement, basically. There was a Jesus movement, which had a founder, and the Gospels give a myriad of useful details about the movement and its founder. Which details are interesting and historically useful is where so many biblical scholars -- historians, archaeologists, linguists, theologians, and other assorted antiquarians -- are gainfully employed.

If I seem unduly skeptical in this discussion, remember that the specific detail in question -- Jewish responsibility for Jesus' death -- is one of the most sensitive as well as being one of the most historically suspect. And [irony on] other people's religious texts are propoganda, of course, while mine are accurate in (almost) every detail. [irony off]

OK, I have to go make sure everything is tied down, now: Jimena approaches!

Dave Livingston - 8/31/2003

In this thread it has become evident that some so-called historians are dreadfully and deliberately ignorant of the Gospels,their origins and their message. For starters, both Dresner and Luker appear to think the Gospels were jotted down the day after the Crucifixation. They were not. What we call the Gospels were oral tradition for decades until approximately 60 to 65 A.D., when St. Mark wrote his Gospel when he was in Italy after having traveled with St. Peter. The Fourth Gospel, Saint John's, wasn't written until 96-98 A.D.

Professor Dresner quotes the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke as having said, "A faith that cannot survive collison with the truth is not worth many regrets." But Professor Dresner evidently unacquainted with some of the foundation documents, the Gospels, of this culture, society and civilization fails to quote Christ Jesus, Who said, "The truth shsll set you free." A pontification of a science fiction writer is deemed more profound than the salvic message of the Son of God?

Then Ralph Luker, equally ignorant of the Gospels, bleats,"glaring errors("e.g, Crucifixion is (I hope he meant "was") a Roman, not =Jewish, practice..." For Pete's (St. Peter's) sake, hasn't the fellow ever heard of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea? He, btw, is the guy who washed his hands in symbolic dismissal of his guilt in ordering the Crucifixion by Roman soldiers in response to the demands of a Jweih mob egged on by a few corrupt Jewish leaders who felt politically and socially threatened by Jesus.

The whimpering that the Gospels are anti-Semetic is nearly too silly to offer contrary evidence. Jesus was Jewish, a Semite, the B.V.M., the Blessed Virgin Mary, was Jewish. Sts. Peter, Mark, John, Matthew, Thomas, Andrew, Philip, Jude and Paul were Jewish and therefore Semetic. Of course, I could go on for pages reciting the names of more Jewish Christians, including the guy who just may become the next Pope, Jean-Marie Lustinger, the Cardinal/Arch-Bishop of Paris, who is a Jewish convert to Catholcism and who refers to himself as "A completed Jew."

To some of us this would a wponderful thing to have happen, to have the first Jewish Pope in two thouand years, the first Jewish Pope since St. Peter and his immediate followers.

R. Piper - 8/31/2003

How about upgrading your ToysRUs crystal ball with a new and improved $1.99 WalMart model?

Then you could open a 900 number so we can enjoy more of your outstanding psychic abilities, Mr. Cleo Greenland.

D. Ragan - 8/31/2003

Perhaps I should have said Ottoman Empire but the point remains, the winning side drew up the map and they included a state for Israel and the so-called "Palestinians" meaning the Arabs living in that area. The greater Arab world fought that and rejected accepting their state because that would mean accepting Israel. They should not be rewarded for having fought that deal this long and Israel should not be forced to suffer any more or give up any more land. Jordan should be for the Arabs and let Israel have to the west of the Jordan river. It is long past time that the "Palestinians" and Arabs were FORCED to accept.

Josh Greenland - 8/31/2003

Or to put it bluntly, R. Piper is a hate-filled anti-Semite. I have no respect for what he writes, but I like to hear from people like him occasionally so I'll know what they're up to.

Josh Greenland - 8/31/2003

Mr. Clarke, what other HNN biases do you see? Do you have any specifics on issues that don't relate to Israel and Palestine?

Ralph E. Luker - 8/31/2003

Mr. (I assume) Piper,
I am neither infatuated nor worshipping. Put a full name to your posts and sanitize the anti-semitism, lest your ancestry betray you.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/31/2003

Mr. Clarke,
I'm not sure who your "prominent and acclaimed historians" are, but the debate on HNN regarding Mary Beth Norton's corrective of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for example, drew some pretty respectable historians to the table. As for HNN's balance on the Palestinian/Israeli controversy, may I suggest that some of those "prominent and acclaimed historians" who hold views not yet represented might submit their work to appear here. I know of no systemic exclusion of any respectable work here.

Olaf O'Reilly - 8/31/2003

The "Arabs" did not "lose" World War I. In a decidedly secondary theater of conflict, Arab forces -allied with Britain- defeated Turkey -allied with Germany. Even if you have forgotten high school history, Mr. Ragan, you might have recalled the film "Lawrence of Arabia". The notion that Arabs always pick fights and then lose them, which has a measure of applicability to relations with Israel, 1948-73, is not some eternal verity, except perhaps in the propaganda of those seeking to rationalize the failed policies of the current regime in Israel. The notion that might makes right has applicability nowhere but in doctrines of despotism.

R. Piper - 8/31/2003

Your infatuation with Dresner is contrary to the evidence.
Take a look at Dresner's fallacies in just this thread:

Dresner's Commandment 1: "Thou shalt not do as he says":
-- Dresner says there is no solid evidence for biblical events.
-- Dresner says logical reasoning is acceptable only when there is no solid evidence.
-- Yet, Dresner complains when I do exactly that: use logical reasoning for biblical events.

Dresner's Commandment 2: "Thou shalt have evidence, yet he doesn't need any":
-- Dresner says there is no solid evidence for biblical events.
-- Dresner says that many biblical accounts are acceptable as reasonable.
-- But, Dresner insists that one (and only one) part -- what he calls "baseless deicide libel" -- is absolutely definitely positively false, without ANY evidence in support of his opinion.

I could go on, but you get the picture:
You're worshipping a fake idol.

Peter K. Clarke - 8/31/2003

Mr. Piper's ability to fly off the handle is copiously evident on this page. That does not eviscerate his basic claim of imbalance. Dig deeper and the pro-Likud bias of HNN becomes apparent. In the archives there are 15 articles by history professor Juan Cole and 35 by professional New York Post columnist Daniel Pipes. Not all of these articles deal with the Mideast, of course, but there can be no denying the obvious weighting of obvious political patterns represented by this lopsided ratio. Superficial adherence to HNN's "articles on both the left and the right" banner, has not taken the form of a well-balanced diversity of perspectives. Even more regrettable is the absence on HNN of consistent respect for professional historiography or for a thorough and non-polemical treatment of contemporary problems, such as those in the Mideast, with deep historical roots. Moreover, the strong slant in favor of one Israeli political faction is only one, though perhaps the most blatant, of several evident biases on HNN. 100% objectivity is, of course, impossible, but a disregard here for in-depth analysis paired with a penchant for superficial "left" versus "right" back-and-forth arguments probably explains why prominent and acclaimed historians (of every political persuasion) tend to shun HNN.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/31/2003

Professor Dresner,
I don't know that I disagree with you dramatically, but surely you admit that one doesn't exclude texts from the evidentiary base, particularly if they are the only texts testifying to historical existence of a person, simply because methods of historical criticism require that they be used critically. Nor does evidence of an incipient anti-Judaism, which is clearly not a modern anti-Semitism, give cause to exclude them from the evidentiary base. Documents innocent of the biases of a particular place and time are largely innocent of evidence.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/31/2003

Dr. Luker,

Arthur Clarke once said "A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets." That's why we call it faith, I suppose.

You're right: there are no other sources confirming the existence of Moses. That was over a thousand years earlier than the life of Jesus Christ in a society with much less thorough records (and a much, much lower record survival rate). Historians have already pointed out where the Torah borrows material from other cultures and reshapes it (I am convinced that there is almost no such thing as a purely original religion: they are all syncretic), and the hand of several generations of editors before it reached its current form. But it doesn't matter. My Judaism is entirely capable of surviving a little historical correction and caution.

I don't deny the existence of a Jesus movement, nor the utility of the Gospels as sources for that movement. It would be absurd for me to deny the existence of the Jesus movement, which must have had a founder-teacher, or the Christianity which sprang from it, or the anti-semitism which it engendered.

But as clues to the "life of Christ" in a literal, historical sense, they are very, very weak sources. A simple chronological reading of the Gospels reveals that the resistance of Jews to join the movement was reflected in increasingly anti-Jewish stories and tone, culminating in the baseless deicide libel. (For more details, for example, try the 4-hour Frontline series "From Jesus to Christ." I think the gospels are addressed in the third hour.) Details of Jesus' birth are not added to the story until relatively late in the process. Etc.

The Gospels are fine sources for the teachings of Christ, of course, and if you're interested in the historical personage you'd want to focus on the synoptic gospels because they are using an earlier source (the infamous Q) which was obviously considered quite authoritative. The Gospels are crucial sources to understanding the evolution of Christianity over the last two millenia, and the increasingly literal approach of some Christians to the Gospels makes it even more important.

But I am not prepared to afford them special treatment as historical sources. They are subject to the same problems of memory, transmission, authentication, bias and contradiction as any other source.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/31/2003

Mr. Piper,
Burg's critique of the current state of Israeli politics is not, of course, self-hating. It appeals to the very best in Jewish traditions to redeem a hope for what Israel may become. Your bitter criticism of Israel here on HNN has neither the identity with Israel nor the love of its historic traditions that allows Burg to say some things about its current situation that you cannot without betraying a hatred which we in the West had hoped to have put behind us a half century ago.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/31/2003

Hold on a minute, Professor Dresner. I am entirely in your camp in the discussion with Piper, but I wonder about the argument you make here:
"There are no, repeat, no historical sources outside of the Christian Gospels which confirm the existence of an historic Jesus Christ. That's why I said "no *responsible* biblical scholar." [emphasis added]

Any historian who gives an account of the life or death of Jesus is doing so based entirely on a very small set of second- and third-hand writings with glaring errors (e.g. Crucifixion is a Roman, not Jewish, practice; the Sanhedrin's procedural violations, etc.) and a proselytizing agenda that call many specific details into question. And don't cite agreement between the synoptic gospels: they just plagiarized the same source (the origin of which we know nothing about), which makes their difference much more suspect of originality."
What are we to make of these facts? That there are no documents external to the Christians' New Testament which confirm the existence of Jesus, but only to the existence of a community which believes that his existence was of world historical significance means what? That one can discount the documents in the Christians' New Testament as historical sources? I suspect you don't mean that they should be. There are no, repeat, no historical sources outside of the Hebrew scriptures which confirm the existence of an historic Moses.

R. Piper - 8/31/2003

The editor of the Israeli Patriots' Propaganda Network (aka HNN) loves dishing out "hate Arabs/Muslims" articles weekly, but can't take any criticism (again).

Your persistent sophomoric tantrums have earned you the prestigious "Yet Another Fair and Balanced Neocon" label.

Keep up the amusement; while you desperate Likudniks are barking caravans are passing.

Let's hear it from a "self-hating" Jew for a change:
"A Failed Israeli Society Collapses While Its Leaders Remain Silent"
By Avraham Burg, Forward, August 29, 2003.

The Zionist revolution has always rested on two pillars: a just path and an ethical leadership. Neither of these is operative any longer. The Israeli nation today rests on a scaffolding of corruption, and on foundations of oppression and injustice. As such, the end of the Zionist enterprise is already on our doorstep. There is a real chance that ours will be the last Zionist generation. There may yet be a Jewish state here, but it will be a different sort, strange and ugly.

There is time to change course, but not much. What is needed is a new vision of a just society and the political will to implement it. Nor is this merely an internal Israeli affair. Diaspora Jews for whom Israel is a central pillar of their identity must pay heed and speak out. If the pillar collapses, the upper floors will come crashing down.

The opposition does not exist, and the coalition, with Arik Sharon at its head, claims the right to remain silent. In a nation of chatterboxes, everyone has suddenly fallen dumb, because there's nothing left to say. We live in a thunderously failed reality. Yes, we have revived the Hebrew language, created a marvelous theater and a strong national currency. Our Jewish minds are as sharp as ever. We are traded on the Nasdaq. But is this why we created a state? The Jewish people did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programs or anti-missile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed.

It turns out that the 2,000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies. A state lacking justice cannot survive.
. . .

D. Ragan - 8/30/2003

The "Palestinians"/Arabs have been committing terrorist acts against the Jews since before the creation of the state of Israel. Since they lost WWI they aren't in much of a position to say what they get. The Arabs rejected the two state solution from the very start and all these years later are still trying to blame the Jews for their troubles. The Jews have given far too much already. Let the Arabs move back to Jordan where they came from.

D. Ragan - 8/30/2003

The problem is the "dream" of the so-called "Palestinians" is the destruction of the Jews and Israel. They hate the Jews more than they love their own children whom they send off as suicide murderers. They, along with the rest of the Arab world hate the Jews so much they are willing to live in so-called "refuge" camps for generation after generation. Allowing terrorism to achieve it's goals has deadly consequences for the entire world including the US. Terrorists cannot be allowed to get anything they want if the world expects to have peace, ever.

Jake Lee - 8/29/2003

Being lead faction within a majority coalition in a Knesset of dozens of highly disparate splinters is not the same as winning 49.9% of the vote (plus most of the hanging Florida chads) in America's two party Presidential system.

Even if the percentage of Israelis willing to make real sacrifices for a lasting peace is currently in the minority (and the parliamentary constellation is no proof thereof) that does not nullify their views. Lumping them in with Likudnik hate-mongers is an excellent way of helping Likud.

Amram Mitzna is a name you'll probably never see in an HNN article, but he speaks for many Israelis. The following article excerpts underscore the growing awareness that the real division in Palestine is not between the people of Israel and the people of suppressed Palestinian state, but between the moderates (Abbas, Mitzna, etc.) and the extremists (Hamas, Al Aksa, Sharon).

Wed, Nov 20, 2002 [Reuters]

New Israel Labour Chief in Uphill Fight with Sharon

[Former general and Haifa Mayor] Amram Mitzna...has vowed to begin dismantling Jewish settlements if he becomes prime minister...

"We will separate from the Palestinians, either with an agreement or unilaterally," Mitzna, 57, said as Israel's main opposition party cast ballots on Tuesday. "If I am elected, I will evacuate settlements in the Gaza Strip within a year."

Seven thousand Jewish settlers live in fortified enclaves in Gaza among more than a million Palestinians.

Mitzna also told reporters he would reopen talks with Palestinian leaders, with whom Sharon refuses contact, and return Labour to its traditional role as peacemaker.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said if Mitzna followed the example of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who sealed 1993 land-for-peace deals, "our hands will be extended."

But the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups said they saw little difference between Labour and Likud and vowed to continue their revolt until Israel ended its occupation.

Haaretz, Monday, May 05, 2003, Iyyar 3, 5763

Mitzna announces resignation

Labor Party Chairman Amram Mitzna announced his resignation Sunday evening as leader of the party, blaming senior party members for his decision to quit.

He said that he had been told by his political colleagues that he had to be more of a "manipulator" if he wanted to survive as party leader, but that this was not his style.

Gus Moner - 8/29/2003

Thanks for the critique; you have brought up an important omission in my note. Yes, Israel’s right to exist was not recognised, nor was the Palestinian issue the same before as after Camp David. Until then, Israelis were considered illegal settlers and that issue was much broader, a regional issue for all the Arab neighbours, indeed the entire region, for the Arabs were not willing to see Palestine allowed to be further whittled away.

Camp David and the subsequent revoking of Jordan’s control of what is now considered Palestine set the stage to reduce the scope of the issue of Israeli settlers in Muslim land from a broader regional issue to what we now know as Palestine. Thus exited the denial of Israel and the stage was set for the Palestinian state issue.

This however while filling in a gap, does not negate the trajectory. I cannot divorce the Likudites from Israel as a whole anymore than a US citizen can divorce him or herself from the Bush Republican manoeuvres. Each government acts on behalf of its citizens with a parliamentary majority. The citizens cast the votes.

Bill Heuisler - 8/29/2003

Mr. Thomas,
Thank you for the kind words. But your comparisons appear asymetrical and your history seems myopic to me.

On December 17, 1947 the Arab League Council announced it would stop the proposed division of the Holy Land by use of force. On
May 15, 1948 Egyptian forces moved into the Negev. Soon after the Arab Legion captured the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. The Legion also captured the Latrun Salient and cut communication from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Syrian forces moved from the Golan into the Jordan Valley supported by artillery that shelled all Jewish farming communities between the Golan Heights and the Med. The Negev, Jordan Valley, Latrun Salient were Jewish at partition. The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the Western Wall need no identification. Sounds like invasion to me.

To itemize similar incursions/provocations - threatened and actual - in 1956, 1967 and 1973 would waste time because each stems from 1948. Nationalization of the Canal in 1956, demanding withdrawal of 3,400 UN trucekeepers in 1967 and bombing airbases in 1973 would all be sufficient to alarm most countries. The composition of the Arab Divisions east of the Golan in 1973 are of interest: the 6th Iraqi, Ist, 3rd, 5th & 9th Syrian, 7th Syrian/Moroccan and the 40th Jordanian. Each unit moved west on 6, October 1973 as 700 Syrian tanks attacked the Golan.

When you say Israel was never invaded, do you mean there was never an Israel, or do you mean the Negev was never Israel, the Natrun Salient? the Jewish Quarter in Old Jerusalem? After the Golan was conquered did it revert back to Syria through some pacifist osmosis? Sepp doesn't cut it. Name another historic precedent. Reverse your hypothesis: Poland in 1939 resembled Israel in 1948 except Israel was attacked by Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the 10,000 strong Arab Liberation Army led by a Syrian named Fauji el-Kaukji.
Poland was only attacked by Sepp and the Soviets.

Original point: would any country have been so self-controlled?Moshe and Ariel could've conquered everything from Fertile Crescent to Siwa Oasis, but were restrained. The only other country so generous in victory was our United States.
Bill Heuisler

Jake Lee - 8/29/2003

Your "charity work" is much appreciated, Gus. I am going to criticize you now, but let me first thank you. Your historical knowledge and professionalism are a welcome relief from the propaganda barrage you seek to deflect. Your recent statements are however misguided, I believe, in two respects.

Firstly, in focusing on Israeli misdeeds before the 1980s, you paint a picture of consistency over time that is at odds with the underlying trajectory. Before Camp David and Olso, Arab states quite consistently denied Israel's very right to exist. Israelis' hands are not entirely clean, in this period, but they were the clear victim of aggression in '73, and, at the very least, severely provoked in '48 and '67. In weighing the relative blame over these years, you overlook the sea change that came with the rise to power of the Likud and, in particular, of that internationally recognized war criminal Ariel Sharon. The scale of brutality and stupidity committed by these fanatics has no precedent in Israeli history, or (quite probably) in Jewish history generally. It is not for nothing that former prime minister Barak, hardly an apologist for Arab terrorism, declared (when Sharon started his masochistic antics over a year ago) that "Israel has lost its moral compass". The Likudniks want nothing more than to blur the vast ethical gap between themselves and Israelis as a whole, and you too often oblige them in this deception.

The second miscalculation you sometimes make is to think, or at least politely infer, that the relentless Likud propaganda so often found here actually consists only, or mostly, of factual errors or lack of knowledge.

For instance:

"PLEASE detail the four Arab invasions. No one on Earth but you seems to be privy to this tantalising detail of history."

This is 180 degrees off. EVERY brow-beaten Likudnik has these sorts of myths rammed so far down their throats that they actually believe them to be a 2+2=4 reality. Whatever the psychological origins of this myth-believing, it certainly does not stem from minor mistakes of detail.

Derek Catsam - 8/29/2003

So Nasser says that Israel would be wiped off the face of the planet, driven to the sea, the tanks were amassed on the borders, prepared to strike, and Israel was really the aggressor in 1967? So they should have waited to be invaded? Was it really the Israeli leaders responsibility to wait for the death of their people before responding to a clear and present threat? So fine, was Israel literally invaded in 1967? I suppose not. Did an effective state of war declared against the Israelis exist to which Israel then responded? This seems obvious. "Wiped from the face of the planet." "Driven to the sea." These are direct quotations. So while the resort to quoting the dictionary definition (something I cross out and respond to with "ugh" when my freshmen and sophomores do it on a paper) is apparently a substitute for an argument, in the real world of international law, of diplomacy, and of national defense, not to mention historical analysis, troop and tank buildups, overt threats, and declarations of war are in fact acts of war. They certainly justified action by the Israeli military. This is not a preemptive strike against an alleged threat as many might argue about the current war in Iraq, it is insted a clear case of self defense. I've made this same analogy before, but if a guy says he's going to kick your ass and his fist is cocked, there isn't a court around that is going to claim that you were the aggressor if you land the first punch.

Gus Moner - 8/29/2003

I agree with Mr Beres that the repetitive articles by Mr Pipes and the failure to present a similar number of conterpoints is a serious flaw of the web site's leadership and a blot on its supposed impartiality.

Gus Moner - 8/29/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

Why must I teach you history? You are supposed to know some when you enter this site. Well, we all do charity work.

The UN set Palestine’s boundaries in 1948, in the resolution not accepted by the Arab nations (Palestinians had no representation but Zionist Jews did) agreement under which Palestine, (a land belonging to Greater Syria, portioned by Britain and France after WWI and then by Britain again soon after- to satisfy the war ally the Hashemite tribe- created Trans Jordan). Following an Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956, an Israeli attack in the Six Day War and an Arab counter-attack on Yum Kippur, Palestine’s borders were shrunk to accommodate Israeli conquests of 1948 Palestinian lands. These are generally known as the pre-1967 boundaries.

The entire planet, except, of course, Israel, accepts the latter as Israel’s borders.

Now that answers your first three queries. As for the following comment: ”Since 1948 Israel has been invaded three times by neighbours - abetted by some locals - and Israeli troops were victorious. Invaded. Four times”. The aforementioned should correct most of these errors of history you seem bent on flogging us with. Israel has been the invader since 1917. The only Arab attack was the Yum Kippur war, itself retaliation for the Six Day War invasion by Israel. The 1948 war was started by both dissatisfied sides, so PLEASE detail the four Arab invasions. No one on Earth but you seems to be privy to this tantalising detail of history.

I beg to differ on the ‘was victorious each time, and did not annex territory...did not dictate harsh peace terms”. Victorious, they were, yes. However, please explain how they have seized so much land from that which was allotted them in 1948 if they did not seize and annex it. And the dictating of harsh peace terms is evident by Israel’s failure to accept compensation and resettlement of Palestinian refugees, and the failure to implement the agreed terms in Oslo.

So, we are NOT ‘failing examples’. You are lacking basic knowledge of Palestinian and Israeli history.

Your calloused and appalling comment regarding the fate of refugees, sir, would you have applied that to the Jewish WWII refugees as well?

Gus Moner - 8/29/2003

Regarding the UK and India’s independence, do not be overcome with emotion at the Ghandi film. There was an agreement to get out, in return for support in WWII. It’s that simple. Read any UK history of the war, or any comprehensive history of that war or the UK’s handling of the decolonisation period and you’ll find it. Your argument holds no linkage to the reality of the time, except that in fact after the war they anyway could not stay in the business of empire due to their losses and debts after WWII. But the agreement not to rebel in exchange for independence is as true as the fact that the sun rises in the east.

Now, I do appreciate entering the ranks of your friends after living in your outhouse for such a long time, Mr Thornton. I hope I can remain in your good graces and still have civil disagreements.

Regarding the Palestinian issue and their lack of peacefulness, you seem to always leave out the Israeli violence, perpetrated through land seizures, expulsions, hijacked natural resources, demolished homes in internationally illegal collective punishment, selective extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinians in a state without a death penalty, massacres in Lebanese refugee camps and starting three wars, just to name a few Israeli transgressions. What was meant, at least by me, was that Palestine was a reasonably quiet area between the myriad wars, although both sides engaged in low level skirmishing, especially during periods of Israeli colonisation and border infringements. The Palestinians also forayed into Israeli-occupied Palestinian areas. So, in effect, you may be right, there has never been a truly peaceful period. However, long periods of relative calm were in fact experienced. Perhaps my expression to the effect should have been clearer. Underneath all this war and conflict lies one basic fact you seem never to admit: Israel occupied, settled and colonised Palestine in the 20th century. The Palestinians never attacked the 25,000 Jews living in Palestine before the colonisation began, anymore than they attacked the myriad Christian sects, living under Ottoman rule. So, if there is violence it can be directly, irrefutably traced to the Israeli colonisation and theft of Palestine land and the subsequent loss of homes creating refugees.

It’s not just that there is Palestinian violence, which there is. There is plenty of Israeli violence in this merry-go-round too. Have you really such little information on Israeli history? The 48 War was started when both sides refused the separation agreed by the UN. It’s a draw, because both sides were upset.

The 1956 war, which you cleverly forgot, was an Israeli invasion of Egypt, Israel’s first war of aggression. The Six Day War was an Israeli ‘pre-emptive’ strike. Yum Kippur was the Egyptian-Syrian retaliation for the Six Day War. The Lebanon War was an Israeli invasion. Palestinians in Palestine did NOT participate in them all, and if they had, they would have been the most justified of the lot. In fact, the Arab neighbours were fighting for Palestinian’s right to their stolen land. Palestinians have now reduced their demand to a rump state, still failing to obtain their freedom, whilst recognising Israeli conquests till 1967- so it’s clearly Israel that is not content with those borders.

The Palestinians have had to fight when and where they could, given that after 1967 Israel occupied all their land. The PLO was an army in exile since, chased into the sea. Now, I am not saying these facts to justify either side. They are both, by my rules, plain wrong. We simply have to get used to the fact that Israel is the occupier of Palestine and the occupied are fighting for their freedom and liberation. When they get it, the violence will subside.

Israel wants not to make this peace, however, for in the chaos of their occupation and the Palestinian resistance they are slowly conquering and settling all of Palestine, with US taxpayers footing the bill. That is why we have no peace there. Israel benefits from the war, in increased US aid to avoid economic collapse (9,000 million extra in 2003, not counting military aid or private donations).

It sets up incredible barriers to peace, like refusing to deal with the refugee issue, refusing to share stolen natural resources, to give up settlements, to offer compensation, demanding Palestinian Authority responsibility when attacked from Israeli occupied and controlled areas.

And now, the Israelis are engaged in the ignominious building of a wall. What have you to say about a people who were once walled in ghettoes and camps now walling in another people in their own land, tattooing numbers on the arms of prisoners and marking houses, as was done to them by Nazis?

R. Piper - 8/29/2003

Your comments are insightful, but is there a reason you chose to repeatedly chide me and barely mention Dresner who didn't get the joke, veered off the topic, rear-ended himself and ended up in the gutter?

F.H. Thomas - 8/29/2003

Dear Mr. Heuisler

Let me say how much I enjoy your combative debunking style, and command of facts, not myths, which is the mark of the fine historian.

I have a small bone to pick with you here: Israel was never invaded, much less three times. The 1948 "war" was as much of a put-up as Sepp Dietrich's "Dead Polish Soldiers" scam to kick off WW II, 10 years earlier. In 1967, Israel was again the aggressor, with attacks on all its neighbors, after exactly zero military activity by any of them. In 1973, well, if Israel was invaded, how come no enemy got a single foot into Israel?

James Jefferson - 8/28/2003

And you won't fall further behind, Piper.

As a "professional colleague", I will tell you what's wrong with your argument: it is what Pipes & Co hope for.

Look again at the very first comment on this page and you will see that Dresner was basically on your side of the Pipes question - until your failed attempt at gallows humor, and even the less comprehensible persistent defense thereafter of a counter-productive tangent. Dresner may be over-sensitive (don't misspell his name, for example) but the fact is, this was not a discussion about anti-semitism until you dove headfirst into that swamp. It's time to learn your lesson and move on. You have some good points to make, but without basic tact they will go nowhere.

Phil Walters - 8/28/2003

I am going to try to get ahold of the books by Finkelstein which F. H. Thomas recommended. Checking them out on Amazon, I see strong endorsements by Mayer, Browning, and Kershaw. That is more convincing than a whole page of back-and-forth finger-pointing here. The ratio of articles on HNN -Daniel Pipes thirty six vs Norm Finkelstein zero- speaks volumes.

R. Piper - 8/28/2003

When you lose an argument it's time to resort to that tired old whine "Yeah, but he's an anti-semitist", right Dresner?
That lame kindergarten-style maneuver is better than pathetic -- to a person like me who has no dog in the ME fight it's hysterically hilarious.

I challenge all your "professional colleagues" (as I've given up on you personally for proven lack of both brains and balls) to show us one single point that's wrong in my argument.

Noah Webster rises again - 8/28/2003

"invasion: incursion of an army for conquest or plunder"

Noticeably absent from this definition is any mention of tank buildups, war declarations, or threats about driving opponents into the sea.

Where Mr. Heuisler's father came from is of no concern here, although using Mr. Heuisler's genealogical illogic, it could perhaps be surmised that the knowledge of English passed from Daddy Heuisler to son was incomplete.

A more likely scenario is that bias, rather than hops and malt, is clouding judgement and vocabulary. I do hope, however, that Mr. Heuisler is not seriously involved with the American military in any way. I would hate to be handed a ration book and ordered to the bomb shelter as defense against the "invasion" that occurs every time there is a "threat" (on Al Jeezera for example).

Aron Sanders

Dave Livingston - 8/28/2003

One reason alluded to by Gus Moner, why they aren't permitted to join the mainstram of Lebanonese society? The reason I suspect is because the Lebabonese Christians won't permit it because they rerason that the Christian 52% of of Lebanon's society will quickly be destroyed by all those new Moslems, the Palestinans 85% Moslem & but 15% Christian. The Christians in Lebanon are clinging to a very precarious existence.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/28/2003

Mr. Piper,

Your devotion to "logic" is mildly amusing, but sophomoric at best. Properly trained historians learn to look at sources first and make logical leaps only when evidence does not provide answers.

You are obviously almost entirely ignorant of the history or present state of anti-semitism. Or Christian history, for that matter.

That's assuming that your facile arguments are genuine, not an attempt to cover up an anti-semitic position with feeble rationalizations. Either way, I'm done arguing with you. And I will strongly urge my professional colleagues on this website to ignore your postings as they so richly deserve.

Bill Heuisler - 8/28/2003

Ms. Gurion,
Perhaps you're a victim of a time-warp, or have a poor sense of geography and history. Though sozzled in suds many Tucsonans are aware Soviet Jews fled Stalin and friends' pogroms and were not party to any war, but more importantly, Germany and Romania invaded Russia in 1941, not the other way around. And, in case you hadn't heard, the United States under President Reagan won the Cold War against USSR without invading them...not even once.

Are you trying to say the stateless residents of refugee camps in what once was Egyptian Gaza have the same legal status as a Jew in Brooklyn whose father or grandfather became a citizen of the United States? Fine. Are they Egyptians? Their fathers were.

Are you trying to say there was no buildup of Egyptian armor in Sinai and no declaration of war by Gamal in '67? Remember his infamous promise to drive the Jews into the sea? Should Israel have waited for the tanks? No other country would have.
Which, after all, was my original point.
Bill Heuisler

Sandra Salzberg - 8/28/2003

J. Thornton writes:

"There has never been a peaceful resistance on the part of the Palestinians...If you have information contradicting this please provide because I would be most interested in learning of it."

If you have genuinely open mind, Mr. Thornton, I encourage you to listen whenever the opportunity provides to the words of Hanan Ashwari, a Palestinian professor. She is one of the most informed and insightful people in all the Mideast and was a delegate to the 1992 conference which led to the years of relative calm before the madness of the last two and half years.

Mr. Lee's tongue and check comment earlier has some merit. Israelis and Palestinians are more alike than different. They are energetic, dynamic and, above all, diverse peoples. Neither group has been well served by its leaders lately.

James Jefferson - 8/28/2003

You have wandered well off the subject, Mr. Piper. The issue of this thread involves the one-sided "solutions" for Palestinians proposed by Daniel Pipes and James Thornton. What did or did not happen with Jesus two thousand years ago is an important question, but of minor relevance to the 20th and 21st century problem of Palestinian refugees. Mr. Dresner may not be a biblical historian, but he is an informed scholar. For all you know, he may also be critical of Pipes. Going off on tangents can be fun, but this one is boxing you into a black hole.

Wendy Gurion - 8/28/2003

This is a novel suggestion from the beer haze of Arizona:

"refugees should be repatriated to the losers of the wars their countries started".

Interesting. The Soviet Union lost the Cold War, therefore send all the Soviet Jews back to the Pale of Settlement. That should make room for the Palestinians kicked out of Tel Aviv and Haifa and free up some needed moderate income housing in Brooklyn. Tough luck on those folks from the ex-USSR, but their fathers should have known better than to live in a country that invaded Eastern Europe.

Other observers may wish to revisit the non-Likud history of Egypt's "invasion" of 1967.

R. Piper - 8/28/2003

Even assuming that biblical accounts are totally bogus, the line "Jews are responsible for Jesus' death" still cannot account for the hatred of Jews, can it?

Because those same accounts also put blame on Romans, too; yet there has never been any perceptible hatred of Romans among Christians, has there?

Therefore, blaming the Jews can be considered only as an excuse for hatred unrelated to Jesus.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/28/2003

There are no, repeat, no historical sources outside of the Christian Gospels which confirm the existence of an historic Jesus Christ. That's why I said "no *responsible* biblical scholar." [emphasis added]

Any historian who gives an account of the life or death of Jesus is doing so based entirely on a very small set of second- and third-hand writings with glaring errors (e.g. Crucifixion is a Roman, not Jewish, practice; the Sanhedrin's procedural violations, etc.) and a proselytizing agenda that call many specific details into question. And don't cite agreement between the synoptic gospels: they just plagiarized the same source (the origin of which we know nothing about), which makes their difference much more suspect of originality.

And the early Jesus movement was very much anti-Roman, but once Rome came over to their side, only the Jews remained. Logical or not, this was a powerful anti-semitic trope from the early medieval through the 20th century. Apparently into the 21st, if you and Mel Gibson are going to perpetuate it.

If you are unsure whether this is offensive, let me make it clear. I am deeply offended, both as a Jew and as an historian (but mostly as a Jew).

R. Piper - 8/28/2003

The Brits easily weathered all Ghandi's campaigns; the final campaign ("Quit India") was quickly and violently repressed, just like all campaigns before, even though the Brits were in the middle of WWII (1942).

The Palestinians may not have been as peaceful as some would like, but let's take as an example the period after the Oslo:
Eight years of almost total quiet / nonviolent resistance has resulted in what?
Israel's doubling the settlements.

Bill Heuisler - 8/28/2003

Mr. Moner,
You said, "Palestinian resistance has been generally peaceful... Thus the recent Intifadas. What if we make the Israelis stop the occupation...by withdrawing to the approved boundaries already established?"

Peaceful? What boundaries? Established by whom?

Since 1948 Israel has been invaded three times by neighbors - abetted by some locals - and Israeli troops were victorious. Invaded. Four times. Israelis could've easily occupied Damascus and Cairo, but they didn't. Show one historical precedent where a country was invaded three times, was victorious each time, and did not annex territory...did not dictate harsh peace terms.

Failing examples, why should Israelis be more altruistic than any other people in history? Syria is fortunate to exist; Egypt is lucky to control the Suez Canal and - in contrast - Jordan took back its citizens after they lost the West Bank. Jerusalem has been re-taken by force of arms twice in sixty years. When is enough enough? There are Arabs voting in the Knesset; their fathers did not join invaders. As to the others, refugees should be repatriated to the losers of the wars their countries started.
Bill Heuisler

R. Piper - 8/28/2003

1. There is virtually no disagreement among historians that Jews had reported Jesus to the Roman authorites and thus, at least indirectly, contributed to his death.
(Whether they had a valid justification for it or not does not change this historical fact.)

2. Most accounts have Romans at least approving the execution, if not more.


3. The role of Jews in re Jesus canNOT be the root cause of hatred towards Jews.
This should be elementary:
If complicity in the death of Jesus was the cause of any Christian hatred, then their hatred of Romans would be equally, if not more intense.


James Thornton - 8/28/2003

I disagree with Mr. Piper about the role of non-violent resistance in securing India's independence from Britain. The Indians took the profit out of empire for the British with boycotts and passive resistance. Once that happened the British couldn't afford to stay in India because of the damage sustained in World War Two.

Both Mr. Piper and my friend Gus have mentioned peaceful Palestinian resistance to Israel, but I again disagree. There has never been a peaceful resistance on the part of the Palestinians. The 1948 War, the Six Day War, and the Yom Kippur War all included Palestinian participation. The 1970's through the 1990's saw the PLO and Israel fighting in Lebanon and Israel proper with the both Intifada's. If you have information contradicting this please provide because I would be most interested in learning of it.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/28/2003

Mr. Piper,

Well, the implication of your post is that "Israelis," by which you clearly mean Jews, were responsible for the death of Jesus. No responsible biblical scholar accepts that as a remotely historical narrative, but rather an hysterical reaction to the continuing Jewish rejection of the Jesus movement late in the first century CE. This "deicide libel" has been fundamental to Western anti-Semitism (at least until modern racial nationalism was discovered) and remains a powerful myth creating unnecessary ill will between Jewish and Christian believers.

It is offensive, and it is ahistorical.

Jesse Lamovsky - 8/28/2003

Sorry- I need to make a correction. The author of the quote I gleaned from Schlaim's "The Iron Wall" was not Yitzhak Rabin- it was his predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir.

F.H. THOMAS - 8/28/2003

I would like to thank you for thoughtful comments on a situation, which, if Israel were not involved, would never have happened at all, or long since been resolved. As far as your "thought police" detractors are concerned, have mercy: their tail feathers are already so enflamed by the comments of yourself and other honest observers of this outrageous article, that they are a trifle sensitive at the moment, and inevitably, they pull out their ever weakening control terminology, which only works with dunces.

For them and for yourself, if you have not had ther pleasure already, I recommend Norm Finkelstein's books on the subject, especially "Image and Reality...", and "A Nation on Trial".

Thank you for stating the truth simply, without myths. You have won today's Thucidides award. Congratulations!

Mark - 8/28/2003

How about looking at Texas the other way. We conquered Texas, first by infiltration leading to a lone star country. Mexicans who left were absorbed one would assume - those who elected to stay are now US citizens. Similarly when we conquered New Mexico those who wished left and those who stayed had the privilege of being robbed of their patrimony (admittedly ill gotten by virtue of the Spanish crown).

The results of nation buildng and conflict are not often fair. Witness the movement of populations in Europe and the middle east since WWll. Where are the European populations of Morocco and Algeria? Germans scattered throughout Europe for hundreds of years? The list goes on.

This problem exists because of a concerted effort by Arab governments to use the refugee issue as a political tool and the acquiescence of the toadies at the UN who are interested in the patronage and graft associated with running a program of this sort.

george beres - 8/28/2003

HNN gives Daniel Pipes undeserved credibility by persisting in carrying his essays. Most have scholarly settings, but all have an underlying character of venom toward Palestine. It is a travesty that George Bush appointed him to, of all things, an Institute of Peace. But one must consider the source. Pipes has his forum of origin, the NY Post, a newspaper suited to his level of rhetoric. He, like others, deserves an occasional appearance in HNN. But not a redundant repitition of his slanders toward anything and anyone critical of Israeli policy. - George Beres

R. Piper - 8/28/2003

What's ahistorical in my post?

As for censoring offensive articles, did you ever ask the editors to remove the ahistorical and offensive rants of wanna-be fuehrer Pipes featured weekly here?
Didn't think so.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/28/2003

Mr. Kipper,

I want to see if R. Piper has the nerve to own up to a deeply ahistorical fundamentalist position, or if he's going to waffle. If he doesn't respond at all, I'm going to assume the obvious and ask the editors of the website to remove his comment as offensive.

John Kipper - 8/28/2003

"So, not only Ghandi's approach has no chance in Palestine, hell, Israelis would have killed even Jesus if he intervened.

Oh, wait ..."

What, exactly, is that supposed to mean?

The meaning is obvious, it is a bold, bald faced anti-Jewish allusion to the myth of Jews as Christ-killers. As it is such, on the face of it, it is a damning indictment of Piper's hate-thought and hate-speech. How anyone could take this type of ignorance seriously is beyond me. Piper should be condemned as fully as he condemns the State of Israel.

And just as an aside thought, if the boundaries after the Six Day War are illegitmate becuase they gained by war, then the boundaries of of Israel gained after the 40's war are equally illegitimate. Why not then advocate the total elimination of the Jewish State? You know, like Nasser advocated--drive them into the sea. At least, if the anti-Israeli posters on this site advocated this position they could claim intellectual consistency.

Oh, I forgot, consistency, like a tidy desk is the hallmark of a petty mind. Or is its posted absnce merely the tactics of bigots who dare not reveal their full agenda?

Jonathan Dresner - 8/27/2003

"So, not only Ghandi's approach has no chance in Palestine, hell, Israelis would have killed even Jesus if he intervened.

Oh, wait ..."

What, exactly, is that supposed to mean?

Gus Moner - 8/27/2003

Over the years Palestinian resistance has been generally peaceful, yielding no results. Thus the recent Intifadas. What if we make the Israelis stop the occupation, share the resources, remove settlements and stop harassing Palestinians by withdrawing to the approved boundaries already established?

Perhaps Palestinians will get on with their lives then. Stomping them for 50 years certainly has not brought peace. Try the MLK bit from the Israeli side.

Gus Moner - 8/27/2003

Well said.

R. Piper - 8/27/2003



Jesse Lamovsky - 8/27/2003

As a person who believes that self-determination for the Palestinian people and peace and security for the Israeli people go hand-in-hand, I have no interest in waiting around until an MLK or a Mandela springs out of the refugee camps with a message of love and reconciliation. Methinks we'd be waiting around for a long time for that to happen, and a lot more people would die in the meantime.

Anyway, I really think it's high time people stopped demanding so much of the Palestinians, and started demanding more of the Israelis. The Israelis have the land, they have the overwhelming military edge- they have all the power on the ground. As the strongest broker, it's up to them to seize the initiative, if they really want peace. Continuing to sit on the Palestinians, while complaining that there's no Martin Luther King on the other side to deal with, isn't going to get it done.

Edmund Birkenstock - 8/27/2003

Of course a Palestinian MLK would be a good thing, and Palestinians should be pressed to adopt non-violent protest much more than they have and to cease idiotic terrorism and mayhem against innocents. But, to make this a precondition for a Palestinian state is ridiculous and ahistorical. Holocaust survivor Jews would very possibly still be in displaced persons camps in Europe, and America still a British colony if such a precondition had been in universal application over past centuries. Unless, that is, you believe in making selective exceptions to the precondition: e.g. that "might makes right" for America and Israel but not for Palestine.

Jake Lee - 8/27/2003

Gus makes a fair point in his most recent comment. We do not all have as much free time as he seems to, but here are some facts which relate to this discussion. I did a series of author searches in the HNN archives with the following results:

Bernard Lewis - no matches
Daniel Pipes - 36 matches

Pat Buchanan - no matches
Michael Moore - no matches
Fidel Castro - no matches
Osama bin Laden - no matches

It IS a bit of of a logical leap to assume, as I do, that Suetonius (and his currently absent but often present sidekick Herodotus), are, among other things, Likud apologists. If anyone can find a single comment among his many posts over the past months that is substantively critical of Ariel Sharon or Daniel Pipes, I will certainly revise that assumption.

Herewith some excerpts from Pipes 36 articles:

12-10-01, (hnn.us/articles/433.html):

"President Bush's peculiar statements about true Islam being 'nonviolent'

12-10-01, (hnn.us/articles/459.html):

"Europe and the United States, always eager to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, can most helpfully do their part by offering fewer clever plans and making a greater effort to comprehend its basic truths. It means coming to terms with the basic fact of continued Arab rejection of Israel, with all its destructive implications. It means seeing the Israeli predicament, tolerating its need to be tough, and pressing the Arabs to make a drastic change in course. For many governments, even the American one, this approach requires a reversal from current policy (which is to press Israel)."

12-17-01, (hnn.us/articles/469.html):

"Federal officials may not realize the implications of their scolding of Americans who are apprehensive about Islam, and their noisy espousal of that religion's virtues. Here, then, it is spelled out for them: In adopting a determinedly apologetic stance, they have made themselves an adjunct of the country's Islamic organizations. By dismissing any connection between Islam and terrorism, complaining about media distortions, and claiming that America needs Islam, they have turned the U.S. government into a discreet missionary for the faith."

1-21-02, (hnn.us/articles/521.html):

“If the enemy consists of terrorists "motivated by hate," as President Bush put it, what can one do other than kill them?”

2-25-02, (hnn.us/articles/602.html):

“Until Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took over, Israel was politically divided and militarily demoralized, avoiding reality and indulging in escapism ... if Israel persists in its present policies it will get closer to victory.”

7-01-02, (hnn.us/articles/817.html):

.”..left-wing extremists have dominated American academics,
...instructors routinely tout wild-eyed politics and openly wield their authority to indoctrinate students....alumni, administrators, parents, other faculty, Education Department officials and state legislators effectively condone those activities.”

8-26-02, (hnn.us/articles/927.html):

“Islamists arrive in the United States despising the country and all it represents, intending to make converts, exploit the freedoms and rights granted them, and build a movement that will effect basic changes in the country's way of life and its government.

...Whereas the Jewish institutions are conventional ethnic organizations anchored to the mainstream of American political life, the Muslim ones overwhelmingly pursue an Islamist agenda far outside that mainstream."

10-28-02, (hnn.us/articles/1067.html):

“well-established tradition of American blacks who convert to Islam turning against their country”.

November 18, 2002, (hnn.us/articles/1013.html ):

American academics so often despise their own country while finding excuses for repressive and dangerous regimes... What is the long-term effect of an extremist, intolerant and anti-American environment on university students? ...The time has come for adult supervision of the faculty and administrators at many American campuses.”

Dec 2 2003 , (hnn.us/articles/1136.htm):

“the nearly universal falsification of jihad on the part of American academic scholars is an issue of far-reaching consequence....the ultimate intent [of “jihad’] s nothing less than to achieve Muslim dominion over the entire world.”

June 16 2003, (hnn.us/articles/1507.html):

"He [Arafat] presented the Oslo accord as a step toward the piecemeal dismantling of Israel....Palestinians not surprisingly developed a disdain for those agreements -- feeling ever-more emboldened to kill Israelis. Finally, they launched the "Aqsa intifada" and the Oslo round collapsed."

James Thornton - 8/27/2003

I have said many a time on this issue that the Palestinians need a leader who organizes and leads a non-violent movement. Televised pictures beamed across the globe of Israeli soldiers shooting or beating unarmed Palestinian civilians would turn the tide of sentiment in an instant. If a Palestinian MLK was able to make a "I have a dream" speech at the UN or on the steps of the Knessett we would not be discussing the need for a Palestinian state because it would happen almost over night. This is unlikely to come about though. It is not in the Arab culture or in Islam to practice Ghandi or Christian non-violence. The swan song of martyrdom and jihad are too powerful to resist. Therefore the only solutions to the Israeli-Arab problem are complete victory by one side, or to change Arab-Islamic culture that will allow for the acceptance of Israel's right to exist.

Gus Moner - 8/27/2003

The US is NOT spending 1,000 million US Dollars a week to REBUILD Iraq. It is spending that to occupy Iraq.Regrettably, the figure is in fact much higher if you take into account the time and resources of so many departments and people supporting the invasion and occupation, not to mention the vast sums being spents by Britain and others.

Gus Moner - 8/27/2003

I too believe the original Zionist settlers and their descendant Likud fanatics and their Islamic-phobic allies are guilty of all you have stated, and more. However, attacking people in a historical-political debate seems to reduce the power of your arguments considerably. Mr or Ms Suetonious’ arguments can be debated and indeed proven erroneous without personal attacks. He has a right to be a pro-Israeli apologist if indeed that is what he is, which I do not know.

Mr or Ms Suetonious may be trying to deflect responsibility away from Israel. That can be argued against reasonably. Try it.

Israeli crimes such as those you listed and the many more we can all recite will not go away because person Suetonious thinks other nations should absorb the refugees they caused and thus accomplish the Israeli goal of stealing the land and banishing its residents. Let’s stick to the facts, in this case they are almost entirely on your side.

Bob Harper - 8/27/2003

Almost no one has addressed an important point made by Mr. Pipes: Who is a refugee?
If, as he states, only 200,000 persons meet the standard definition, then some solution, some kind of 'right of return' to *their* situation should be possible for any Israeli government. It's the succeeding generations, who are 'refugees' only by a special definition, which are the problem. If anyone born in the United States is an American citizen, why isn't anyone born in Lebanon or Syria a citizen of one of those two countries? Once a citizen, no longer a refugee, and no longer prey to those whose only purpose is the destruction of Israel. Once a citizen, and life becomes about improving opportunities for self and family, not about events that happened long before one's birth.
It just might work.

Gus Moner - 8/27/2003

I am not trying to duck the query. Perhaps I have not provided enough information, but I have tried, and, apparently, failed!
I’ll have another go at it.

One reason Palestinians are not allowed to integrate into other societies because they are not historically inclusive, refugee assimilating societies. Moreover, the Lebanese and Jordanian states are themselves divided, weak and impoverished. In fact, Jordan is part of Palestine, having been the second partition of the three partitions undertaken by Britain after WWI. It is a new phenomenon for these artificial states. No judgement intended here.

Continuing with your Texas analogy, if Texans driven from their homes to Canada wanted to return, then they would not even want to be assimilated and become Canadians. If the US government that remained after the loss of Texas had as a policy the re-conquest of Texas, a likely scenario, they would not favour Texans being assimilated elsewhere, and would instead encourage their continued rebellion against the invader, recruiting soldiers and guerrillas in the camps, keeping alive the dream of returning home.

However, Canada is by tradition an inclusive, refugee welcoming society. It’s thus not a good comparison for the reason expressed in the first paragraph.

Notwithstanding, the much larger issue seems to be that the Muslim states receiving, housing and aiding the Palestinians refuse to allow the Zionist invasion and land grab to become a consummated affair by removing the result, or effect if you will, of their invasion, the refugees they caused. Thus, their policies reinforce the continuation of the refugee situation, keeping the only pressure available on the Jewish invaders and usurpers with the refugees.

Israel in fact wants the refugees absorbed elsewhere to rid their nation of the problem they caused. Arabs do not want to help Israeli land absorbing tactics by taking the expelled people.

It is Muslim nations’ policy that these people be allowed to return to their homeland or be compensated for their loss, or preferably both. So, in effect, most Palestinians want to return or be compensated and do not want assimilation in alien lands, when they feel they have had theirs stolen. It’s a sticky wicket.

I hope this clarifies a bit the odd situation Palestinians live in.

Olaf O'Reilly - 8/27/2003

Well put indeed, Jesse, except for the bit about withdrawing from the U.N., which falls into the same category of likelihood as restoring Louis to Versailles or replacing the U.S. Constitution with the Articles of Confederation. Without the U.S. veto, a very possible result could be: UN versus Israel+US - a Likud fantasy almost surpassing Sharon's wildest dreams. A more suitable windmill to tilt your libertarian lance towards might be the $1 billion a week in American taxdollars going to rebuild Iraq so that it can be blown up again and again.

Jesse Lamovsky - 8/27/2003

We should end funding for the UNRWA, but only within the context of ending our involvement with the UN altogether. Otherwise the decision will be seen, rightly, as yet another case of the Israeli tail wagging the American dog. And giving Arabs another reason to hate our guts probably isn't the way to go either.

Also, if Daniel Pipes wants to spend all his time thinking of ways to benefit the State of Israel, he ought to go to work for them, or at least go back to his think tank. Last time I checked, he was an American citizen, and he works for the American government. Maybe he should spend two seconds thinking about foreign policy in terms of how it affects the interests of his own country, and not a foreign nation thousands of miles away. That goes for every other neocon who thinks the United States is just a big piggie-bank for Israel.

Oh, and as for this nonsense- "other Western governments should join with Washington to solve the Palestinian refugee problem by withholding authorization for UNRWA", really; is there any possibility that this is going to happen? France will give Alsace-Lorraine back to the Germans and restore a Bourbon to the throne before this happens.

Jake Lee - 8/26/2003

We know you are obsessed with Lebanon and Syria, Suetonius, in your incessant efforts to deflect criticism of your beloved Likud party, however the historical facts are not with you. You can call Lebanon and Syria to account for many evil deeds, and their conduct towards Palestinians has hardly been exemplary, but it is not the Lebanese and Syrians that are bulldozing thousands of Palestinian olive trees, taunting and murdering scores of Palestinian children, blowing up the civil infrastructure of the West Bank, killing American protesters, deliberately firing at the Red Cross, and doing all this courtesy of the American taxpayer.

The Palestinians are still in refugee camps because the Israel government, under your beloved man of peace and his fanatical minority, continues to refuse any meaningful dialogue with the non-terrorist majority of Palestinians. Syria and Lebanon are not remotely near the crux of the problem. Their only relevance here is that they seem to be the current tool by which you seek to apologize for Pipe's non-historical demonizations, which are a regular feature if not the raison d'etre of HNN.

Your efforts at evasion are tenacious, but some of us remain unconvinced.

Suetonius - 8/26/2003

Goodness gracious, aren't you reading these posts? I'm talking about Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians, not Israel. Where are you getting this idea that I'm absolving anyone of any blame from my posts so far? It's the shriekers like you who are so absolutely determined to reduce this to "Israel/Palestine, case closed" that prevents reasoned, rational discussion like Gus and Derek and I are having.

At any rate--Gus, I hope that my example clarified my position somewhat on the distinction I'm drawing.

Suetonius - 8/26/2003

In order to distinguish between the vapid, emotion-driven statements (of which Jake Lee's is a perfect example) and the calm, rational progression of question and answer with which I began my thread and Gus and Derek continued it.

Jake Lee - 8/26/2003

"Suetonius", you blurt:

"If Mexico conquored (sic) Texas, and Texas (sic) fled to Canada, I would expect Canada to allow these exiled Texans to integrate with Canadian society"

At the same time, however, you would categorically absolve Mexico of any responsiblity whatsoever. You cannot escape your hypocrisy, "Suetonius", you can only confront it or continue to try unsuccessfully to deny it.

James Jefferson - 8/26/2003

I agree that "shrieking" is an inappropriate term. So I wonder, why did you initiate its use ?

Alan Meadows - 8/26/2003

Despite his rambling hyperbole, Geoff has a valid point, Derek. Though I have not made a comprehensive analysis of every single remark you have made in your ten posts on this page, it is clear to me that their general thrust is a defense of someone unworthy of such an effort.

Pipes does not address the substance of the Israeli-Palestinian issue at all. His piece here amounts to little more than a one-sided slam against Palestinians and the UN. Of course, Palestinians "refugees" are different from other "refugees". The historical reasons for their persistence as displaced persons have to do with the (1) the intransigence of other Arab states, (2) their own intransigence, (3) international neglect (before the 1970s), and (4) the intransigence of Israelis. Pipes' entire purpose and agenda is to try to deny (3) and (4).

Some of the criticism of Pipes here is misplaced or invalid as you rightly observe, but that does not justify the totally ahistorical and propagandistic program of Pipes. Much of the recent criticism of Trent Lott, for example, was also unfair or hypocritical but that did not and does not justify Lott's past racism or ongoing insensitivity and recklessness.

Suetonius - 8/26/2003

You're still ducking my query. Is there a serious interest in the part of the Lebanese and the Syrians to permit the Palestinians to integrate, or are the Palestinians condemned in Lebanon to live apart from the rest of the populace? I ask this because I learned this for the first time in Pipes' article, and I want to know more about this phenomenon, which seems to be so different from the occupied territories and the experience in Jordan. Your example about Mexico and Texas doesn't work for what I'm talking about. If Mexico conquored Texas, and Texas fled to Canada, I would expect Canada to allow these exiled Texans to integrate with Canadian society, as so often happens with exile groups and conflict, but it seems that this is not the case.

Suetonius - 8/26/2003

Since I'm asking my question, and engaging the Israel/Palestine question for the first time, I think it ungracious and assuming of you to believe that my comments are "recycled shrieks." I certainly don't imply, nor suggest, nor support the idea that the Palestinians are the Jews of the Middle East and that they should have their "own" Holocaust. I'm asking serious questions about Lebanon and Syria in the Palestinian problem, and your shrieking is complicating this discussion.

Derek Catsam - 8/26/2003

There has never been a time when there were not some Jews in "Palestine." Never. Furthermore, the UN decided that there should be both a land of Israel and a land of Palestine. Deny Israel's right to exist if you choose -- and your post implicitly does that. But I assert that they have the right to exist, and they are doing what they must to protect that right.
I brought up the "ancient claims" simply to show that all sides have the ancient claims -- in other words, I was responding to someone else. I DO believe that the 20th century is the main historical period to assess when looking at the Middle East. I've been clear on that.

Derek Catsam - 8/26/2003

Who defines "put an end to terrorism"? I don't know. It's a really fine line. Blowing up buses with civilians on them? Going to hotels on the holiest of Jewish holidays and killing elderly folk sitting down to their meal? Showing up at nightclubs and killing dozens? Yeah, these are really tough questions. Likud does not want an end to terrorism? That is a daffy assertion that requires at least someevidence. Do you have any? I thought not. The Sharon "regime" (if by "regime" you mrean democratically elected government -- I am not the biggest fan of Sharon, but "regime" has specific implications. Maybe you don't believe in democracy. I don't know. But let's not be so intellectually sloppy, ok?)has been reacting for the past two years plus to an intifada declared against Israel.
As for recognizing "no" responsibility, you are either being willfully ignorant or you have reading comprehension problems. In several posts and in a handful of articles that I have written I specifically indicted the settlers. Specifically. In plain print right there on the old computer screen. So unless this is bizarro world, and by saying "that I seem to recognize NO responsibility" (ooohhh, this guy's serious -- he put 'no' in capital letters!) you actually mean that "he has clearly shown places where he sees Israel to be at fault", then perhaps you need a primer on the English language.

Gus Moner - 8/26/2003

It is a little deeper than that, person Suetonious. Most Muslims believe, as most Palestinians do, that Palestinians have a homeland and that resettlement or compensation or a combination ought to be the solution, not the acceptance of a forced exodus and exile on the whim of Zionist invaders. That would be rewarding the aggressor and invader.

If Mexico re-conquered Texas, would you accept its assimilation into Mexico and that all the US citizens be converted to Mexicans, against their will?

Gus Moner - 8/26/2003

Good point on the Israeli systematic destruction of the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority (PA) state. They then accuse the PA of not fighting terrorists, when it is the Israelis who are the terrorist demolishing homess, schools, airorts, ports, administrative offices, police stations and the like. How can you fight the terrorists when your 'allies' in the anti-terror war are destroying all your inftrastructure?

As to Mr Catsam's & Mr Pipes' political leanings, well, we are all entitled to see the world as we see fit. Let them be. Their arguments, agree or not, always make us at least think things through.

Jake Lee - 8/26/2003

Beneath the recycled shrieks of Suetonius et. al. rumbles the old phrase: "the Palestinians are the Jews of the Arab world".

The implication, consistent with the howls of Pipes and his followers here, is that therefore Palestinians have to endure a full-fledged Holocaust before they can get their homeland.

Geoff Ericson - 8/26/2003

"If the Palestinian leaders and many of their followers put an end to terrorism they likely could come out of this all with a Palestinian homeland".

This sounds reasonable, Derek Catsam, but who defines "put an end to terrorism" ? Ariel Sharon ? Terrorism and violence against innocent civilians accompanied the birth of many countries including Israel. That does not make terrorism justified, but neither does terrorism by the few justify denying sovereignty and human rights to the many.

If the Sharon regime had not spent the better part of the past two years systematically destroying the infrastructure, not of Hamas, but of the legitimate Palestinian authorities, the prospects for future terrorism would be considerably less than they are now. “Ending terrorism” 100% and forever is of course impossible. You might as well talk about abolishing shoplifting or suicide or road rage. Even significantly reducing terrorism, however, is NOT what Likud wants. A deal with the Palestinians was still within sight when Sharon went to the Temple Mount on his deliberate mission of provocation.

I'm not saying that 100% of the responsibility for the destruction of the Oslo process can be attributed to Sharon and the Likud, but you seem to recognize NO responsibility, Derek. How you can consider yourself an objective historian concerned about oppressed peoples, like southern blacks in the U.S., yet post a dozen comments here in defacto support of a notorious demagogue like Daniel Pipes is a mystery. (Take a good close look at Pipes’ many prior articles on HNN and elsewhere if you are in doubt on that last point). There is a deep inconsistency here, Derek. Search your soul, only you can resolve the paradox.

Jesse Lamovsky - 8/26/2003

I think we're in basic agreement, Mr. Piper- that the Israelis should leave the territories and give the Palestinians self-determination- but comparing Daniel Pipes to Goebbels and calling the government of the State of Israel "Nazis" is thoughtless, inappropriate, and worst of all, tired. If I want to read polemicists throwing around the "N" word like they get a commission every time they use it, I'll stick to "Counterpunch", thank you. Hitler and Goebbels are dead, thank God. Why do people enjoy breathing life into their carcasses? Enough already!

As for Mr. Catsam's assertion that the Israel government is "negotiating a return of the territories", well... they're certainly not putting much elbow-grease into it. Methinks they've been stalling for time enough to create facts on the ground- settlements, bypass roads, and the like- sufficient to a lasting and irrevocable Israeli physical presence in the territories. Former Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin admitted as much, reported Avi Schlaim in "The Iron Wall" (p. 500):

"I would have carried on autonomy talks for ten years, and meanwhile we would have reached half a million people in Judea and Samaria."

I don't think that view is very far from the views of the current Likud government.

Gus Moner - 8/25/2003

You state that the Jews have claims on the land that is now Israel/Palestine that go back as far as any people in the region”. How is that? Do the Indians have rightful claim to you home and land? Do you have claim to your ancestor’s land in the nation or nations your heritage leads you to? You mean to tell me that after 2,000 years any tribe can go to their ancestor’s land and reclaim it, resettle it and oust the existing population?

If the twentieth century is sufficient then why bring up ancient claims? OK, I'll slide on it. Consider this 20th century fact. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 25,000 Jews in the area round what is Palestine today. There were 75,000 Christians, and numerous other sects, residing peacefully amongst 650,000 Palestinians.

Christians are not demanding to resettle the land and usurp the Palestinians. Only the Jews have done that.

Suetonius - 8/25/2003

So, if I gather this correctly, neither the Syrians nor the Lebanese governments really care about the Palestinians either, since they are not taking steps to integrate the Palestinian populations the way that, say, the Jordanians did? All of this is really starting to make it seem like it isn't just Israel vs. Palestine, as so many shrieking people on here suggest that it is.

Gus Moner - 8/25/2003

I had it in my original, but for some reason erased it. Good ppoint.

Gus Moner - 8/25/2003

The Lebanese and Syrians believe Palestinians have a homeland and should be settled there permanently, not in Lebanon. I's a socio-political decision. Right or wrong, settling them gives Israel a victory.

Gus Moner - 8/25/2003

The lebanese believe they have a homeland and should be settled there permanently, not in Lebanon. I's a socio-political decision. Right or wrong.

Gus Moner - 8/25/2003

An excellent sinopsis.

Derek Catsam - 8/25/2003

Moral shortcomings? How so. Referring me to one of your own posts hardly proves my "moral shortcomings."
As for the issue not being Israel's right to exist, while we are all thankful for you telling us what the issue is and is not, in fact for the overwhelming majority of Israel's history, and in light of those who want to destoy Israel today, saying the issue is not Israel's right to exist is simply fallacious. That clearly is an issue for those who lost loved ones on that bus in the last two weeks days. (How DO you rationalize that one, anyway?)

You write:
"The issue is whether Israel has the unique and unprecendented right to steal land, occupy, kill, maime and imprison a people and and destroy their property at will and with complete impunity."

What stolen land? The land they won in a war forced upon them? The land that the current Israeli government is negotiating to give back? Which land, precisely. You are great at propoganda and generalizations. now I want to know -- which land?

I have never denied that the occupied terroritoies are untenable. You are just too much of a fool to pay attention to what people actually write.

Killing and maiming? This happens as a reaction to the terrorism that daily threatens israeli citizens. The death tolls are horrible, and would diminish geometrically if the terrorism stopped. Ditto imprisonment and destruction of property.

Again, calling the state of Israel a Nazi state shows that you have no idea what Nazism is -- that is, that Nazism refers to a specific time and place and is not a catchall phrase for whatever Mr. Piper does not like. It shows that you are utterly loathsome -- to call the state of Israel, created in the wake of the holocaust at the hands of Nazis, is reprehensible.

I am a historian. I don't need to prove to you anything. My credentials are sound, my work has thus far bneen respected, and it seems that you are sdaying that by definition no one who supports Israel can be a historian, which is vacuous and ludicrous.

Are you a historian? Are you an academic? I would love to know your own background. I in fact hope that you are an historian --someday I'll see you at a conference, will see your nametag, and we'll see if you say the sorts of things to a man's face that you have spewed all over this website about well meaning people who disagree with you. I hope that you do.

R. Piper - 8/25/2003

Too many typos, sorry:

trough = through
unprecendented = unprecedented
maime = maim

R. Piper - 8/25/2003

We've already covered your apparent intellectual and moral shortcomings (see http://hnn.us/comments/14463.html).

I'll try one more time:
The issue is not Israel's right to exist (as you lamely suggest.)

The issue is whether Israel has the unique and unprecendented right to steal land, occupy, kill, maime and imprison a people and and destroy their property at will and with complete impunity.

Israel is the most persistent repeat violator of UN resolutions in the world (with over 60 on its rap-sheet, including the resolution by which it was formed).

And while most other violators have been bombed into submisssion, Mr. Catsam argues that the modern day Nazi state of Israel is actually deserving of his praise.

Please amuse us more with your claim that you are a historian.

Derek Catsam - 8/25/2003

Oscar --
If the Palestinian leaders and many of their followers put an end to terrorism they likely could come out of this all with a Palestinian homeland of Gaza and West Bank, or some compromise thereabouts. Those intransigent Israelis who refuse to allow for the existence of a Palestinian state -- well, too bad. Those Palestinians who refuse to see Israel's right to exist -- too bad also.


Derek Catsam - 8/25/2003

Ooops -- I accidentally hit Caps lock in the last message, tried to undo it, hit the wrong key, and sent it accidentally. The lesson as always: I am a moron.

As I was saying befaor i entered the land of screaming capital letters and the void of the ether: what is tragic is the states in the Middle east who foment terrorism, who decry israel and covertly and overtly work for its destruction, who support hamas and Hezbollah and numerous other organizations, who claim that Palestine historically is a very precise place despite the fact that their own nation states overlap with parts of what could historically be defined as palestine, and that they do not care a whit about suffering that they could alleviate. Even in the palestine-israel question the Israelis are not the bad guys, but certainly when you throw in the surrounding nation states, it is absurd the standard to which western interlocutors harangue israel and give a pass to Syria and Saudi Arabia (our ally --- eeesh) and the other states in the region.

Derek Catsam - 8/25/2003

Suetonius -- you have hit it on the head in many ways. In fact, what frustrateds many of us who support Israel (not blindly, no matter what our critics caricature us as being)is that we do not demonize all of Palestine -- or those of us on the left end of the pero-Israqel spectrum do not. We do demonize many of their leaders and those whose radical fundamentalism and lack of concern and value for human life has led them to murderous acts of terrorism. But we do have a great deal of ire for Middle east states that use the palestinians as a pawn, that refuse to grant citizenship to REFUGEES (BY WHATEVER DEFINITION) THAT SUPPORT OVERTLY AND COVERTLY TERRORISM AND THE ATTEMPTED DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL,

Suetonius - 8/25/2003

So if Syria controls the southern part of Lebanon, and that's where there are quite a few Palestinian refugee camps, and the Syrians care about the Palestinians, then why haven't the Syrians made an effort to improve the quality of life for the Palestinians in southern Lebanon through Hezbollah...or are the Syrians just using the Palestinians in southern Lebanon in order to further their own interests against the Israelis, in which case the story is more complicated than "Israel is evil/the Palestinians are evil" which seems to the be the gist of so many comments here.

Oscar Chamberlain - 8/25/2003

Derek, You are right that groups other than Arabs have claims. Ideally no group, Christian, Jewish, Arab, whatever, should have been expelled from the land that they controlled.

However, in the 20th century, using your period of relevance, Arabs were a majority within the 1949 boundaries of Israel until the War of Independence and the expulsion of large numbers of Arabs. By our standards majorities should have some rights.

Whether one considers it right or wrong, a majority of Arabs during the Mandate period opposed large scale Jewish immigration for the purpose of creating a Jewish state. As they had no power of self-government, they had no legitimate (that is, no legal) way to oppose it. Some (though not all) turned to violence.

After World War II, Zionists (and many Jews who had not been Zionist before the War) felt that the German attempt to exterminate them confirmed the necessity of creating a safe, Jewish homeland. That many Jews were still in DP camps--refugees themselves--made that necessity all the more urgent.

The UN attempted to impose a divided Palestine (with almost impossible boundaries from either the Arab or Jewish perspective) with the land distributed in a way that would allow continued Jewish immigration until they would constitute a majority.

Perhaps a peace could have been carved out if the Arabs had accepted this. I'm really not sure.

But they did not, and in the war that followed, the Israelis expelled sufficient numbers of Arabs to be able to have a majority.

What resulted has some similarities with Native Americans in the US. It also has some with the British and Ireland.

In many ways it is high tragedy. Had I been Jewish, in Europe, in 1946, I suspect would have been willing to do most anything foe a homeland, and as the US and most other nations did not offer to accept large numbers of Jewish refugees, the creation of a new Israel would have seemed to me to be the only possible choice.

Had a been an Arab in Palestine, having people in the tens of thousands moved into my part of the world without my having a say in it, I think I might have fought.

So a home for one set of refugees created a new set.

Derek Catsam - 8/25/2003

Lebanon hardly has any control at all over its southern tier, which is dominated by Hezbollah, which in turn dervives at least a substantial portion of its strength from Iran and Syria. In any case, would Lebanon stand up and provide citizenship for the "refugees" (not intended as scare quotes, but rather as an acknowledgement that there does appear to be more than one operative definition of "refugeea' if the facts of Pipes' article are to be believed -- and I find it interesting that no one has disputed those facts even as they have spewed their venom) even if they could? I doubt it, but with Hezbollah there, it is not likely to happen soon. The refugee situation is tragic. Perhaps if the terroriosm ended, this is one of many issues that would be solved.

Derek Catsam - 8/25/2003

Mr. Piper --
I am not even sure what the vacuous term "Israeli Patriot" means when referring to a non-Israeli, non-Jewish, liberal American who happens to support Israel's right to exist. But then you've just compared Pipes to Goebbels and Himmler -- To compare a supporter of Israel to any Nazi is about as loathsome as it gets. Why are you so full of haqtred about people who are earnest about their views, even if those views conflict with your own. You spew vitriol towaqrd those who do not warrant it, and you revert to the same old name calling within about two posts every time. You see no nuance, no gray areas, no merit in the views of those who disagree with you. I'd feel sorry for yuou if you did not say such revolting things to and about people you have never met, whose intellectual credentials you cannot touch, whose integrity you have no right to question, and whose moral compass is as worthy as yours of respect.

Jesse Lamovsky - 8/25/2003

"By falsely attaching a refugee status to these Palestinians who never fled anywhere, UNRWA condemns a creative and entrepreneurial people to lives of exclusion, self-pity and nihilism."

This is a pretty cynical and condescending statement, coming from someone who is, shall we say, not an ardent champion of self-determination for Palestinians in the territories. I'd say the tanks and helicoptor gunships of the IDF do a lot more effective job of turning Palestinians toward "lives of exclusion, self-pity and nihilism" than some UN bureaucracy.

The strongest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian dichotomy is not the UN; nor is it any head of any truncated Palestinian governmental authority. It is the State of Israel itself. If the Israeli government wants to get moving toward solving the refugee problem- the entire problem, at that- it is going to have to take the initiative. "Withholding authorization" to a certain UN agency, no matter what the extent of its supposed authority over the situation, is ultimately not going to cut it. Informing people in Qatar and Dearborn that they are not "allowed" to call themselves Palestinians won't do much for the millions of Palestinians on the ground who have had quite enough, thank you very much, of the Israeli occupation.

Suetonius - 8/24/2003

Not really. Pipes has been named to a body that is wholly a U.S. operation, not an international one.

Suetonius - 8/24/2003


I'm talking about the Palestinians in Lebanon. What is going on that they've completely settled into their own enclaves in southern Lebanon but are denied the chance to be real citizens there?

R. Piper - 8/24/2003

True, Pipes is not comparable to the N.K. et al crowd -- he's much more comparable to Himmler and Goebels.

(Yeah, I know, that's not what the Israeli Patriot Catsam had in mind :)

Derek Catsam - 8/24/2003

Why no mention of Libya, which does chair the UN Human Rights Committee, to which so many hoped we'd defer in the very recent past . . .
Are we really comparing Pipes to the leaders of these countries? Is this what the dialogue has sunk to? I oftentimes do not agree with Pipes, but this is simply intellectually and morally irresponsible, indeed loathsome.

Derek Catsam - 8/24/2003

The Indian analogy breaks down in a number of ways, not least of which this one: unlike the Native Americans, who can claim to be the indigenous people of North America, The Jews have claims on the land that is now Israel/Palestine that go back as far as any people in the region. I don't think the most salient argument on either side has to do with what happened hundreds or thousands of years ago -- I think the 20th century is sufficient, thank you, not to mention far more immediate and relevant, but to claim that the Palestinians are refugees in their own land without acknowledging that we are talking about a land on which Christians, Jews and Muslims have equally contentious claims seems dubious at best.

Gus Moner - 8/24/2003

It's just like the Cuban, Myanmar or N Korean, (to name just three) representatives being named to chair a UN Human Rights group, no?

Gus Moner - 8/24/2003

In an effort to shed some light on the question posed "What really _is_ going on with the Palestinian situation that so many people are still living in camps that consist now of finished concrete structures, plumbing, and all the other accoutrements of permanent housing?", I can offer this:

They are refugees in their own land, as the native Americans became in the late 19th century. They are settled in remaining bits allowed by the conquering forces. Their homes were in what is now Israel or Israeli occupied territory. No peace and compensation treaty has been reached.

R. Piper - 8/24/2003

The Hate-Arabs/Muslims News Network celebrates with yet another blow of smoke from the Hater Pipes.

"Bush appoints anti-Muslim to peace role"
The Guardian, August 23, 2003.

A Middle East expert who has written dismissively of diplomacy and holds views to the right of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was yesterday named to the board of the US Institute of Peace.

The largely honorary appointment of Daniel Pipes, a gift of President George Bush, has outraged Democratic senators, American Muslims and Arabs, liberal Jews and a large portion of the academic community, who say his opinions are not conducive to peace.

The manner of Mr Pipe's appointment is likely to deepen the sting. Mr Bush exploited the summer recess to avoid a congressional vote on his selection. But as a recess appointment, Mr Pipes will serve less than 18 months rather than the normal four years.

Mr Pipes would not comment until his appointment was formally announced but he has been no stranger to controversy, especially since the September 11 attacks.

As a frequent commentator, he has warned that America's Muslims are the enemy within and called for unrestricted racial profiling and monitoring of Muslims in the military.

From his own thinktank in Philadelphia, he has also clashed with fellow scholars, who say his Campus Watch website has initiated a witch-hunt against those he views as critics of Israel or lacking in patriotic zeal.

Within the community of Middle East scholars, he is regarded as extreme. He opposes the "road map" for the Middle East, as he opposed the Oslo peace accords, and objected to efforts to reform the Palestinian Authority.

Any questions?

Irfan Khawaja - 8/24/2003

There are many things to criticize in this essay, but one very simple point is worth making. Pipes describes the UNRWA's estimates regarding the 1948 as "inflated," putting it at 726,000. He then says that "scholarly" estimates put the actual number of refugees at a substantially lower figure. The implication seems to be that the UNRWA's estimates were made by non-scholars, but the lower figures represent genuine scholarship.

I was an undergraduate student of the late Charles Issawi at Princeton (in 1987-88), who was involved in the UNRWA's efforts on this issue. He discussed the issue once in class, and I vividly recall his insisting on the 726,000 figure as accurate and arguing for it. I don't remember the details of his argument, but I think few would deny that Charles Issawi was a "scholar": he was in fact one of the most eminent economic historians in the field of Near Eastern Studies. It seems to me wrong to impugn the work of the UNRWA--which includes Issawi's work and doubtless the work of other scholars as well--by dismissing it in the way that Pipes does. I regret that Issawi is no longer alive to defend himself. And Dr. Pipes's approach to this issue strikes me as an inauspicious beginning to his tenure at USIP.

An article on Issawi, by the by:


Suetonius - 8/24/2003

I'm skeptical about cutting off funding for anything without making preparations first--witness the gradual scaling down of the ICC before Congress finally shut down its funding.

But I found it surprising to learn that Lebanon will not permit Palestinian refugees to join the mainstream of Lebanese society, with all the points he mentioned in the piece (schools, improvement of housing?).

What really _is_ going on with the Palestinian situation that so many people are still living in camps that consist now of finished concrete structures, plumbing, and all the other accoutrements of permanent housing?

RIchard Kurdlion - 8/23/2003

It took Jews nearly 2,000 years to "shed the refugee status and join the mainstream" in countries where their civil rights were repressed in ways not dissimilar to those perpetrated on Palestinians in the West Bank today.

It is time to give the Palestinians their state, finally. Build a wall around it, if you want. If they cannot shut down Hamas and the like, bomb them all you want. But enough of this brutality against the English language. Palestinians are not Jordanians and they are not non-refugees just because Sharon's disciples in the U.S. Congress say so.

If Christians had moved en mass to Palestine in 1947, taken it over and then insisted that there be a 100% cessation of violence by Jews before there could be a Jewish state, there would be no Israel today. Face reality, hypocrites.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/23/2003

"When I use a word, it means what I want it to mean." said Humpty Dumpty to Alice. Eliminating support for refugees by declaring them not refugees is not a solution.

This is like getting a cat out of a tree by cutting down the tree....