Britain's Continuing Abdication of Responsibility for the Palestinian Crisis
|Sharon's recent visit to London and his warm welcome there, as well as the overall British Palestine policy is a good time to reflect on Britain's role in the Palestine conflict. There are two kinds of responsibility former empires such as the British Empire bear towards the people they had colonized in the past. There is a historical responsibility, not easily acknowledged, specified or demanded. Then there is a contemporary responsibility in cases where the former empire is still involved in the politics of what used to be its past possession, more practical and definable. With regards to Palestine, Britain bears both responsibilities.|
The ethnic cleansing of Palestine began in earnest in the middle of March 1948. This was the phase in which urban Palestine was systematically depopulated by the Jewish forces (the rural area was cleansed after May 1948). The dramatic decrease in the number of Palestinians (70,000 to 4,000 in Haifa, 120,000 to 2,000 in Jaffa and the total expulsion of the Palestinians of Safad and Tabarias) was the result of a premeditated expulsion plan (plan Dalet of March 10, 1948). This was done while these cities were under British rule: British soldiers, officers and officials watched the expulsions and in many cases negotiated a more orderly transfer for the sake of pacifying the towns where according to the UN Britain was still responsible for law and order. They had the power to stop it, but they did not.
According to all the policy papers the British governments had published throughout
the mandatory years and according to the UN resolution 181 (the partition resolution)
the British government of Palestine was obliged to stop it, but it did not.
Moreover, it prevented by force the entrance of mass groups of Arab volunteers
wishing to save these communities. In short, in the last days of Mandatory Palestine,
with the full knowledge of the British government, almost half of those who
became Palestinian refugees were forcefully expelled from their homes.
The historical responsibility does not end there. The British could have taken a stronger stance and demanded an immediate return of the expelled in 1949 and onwards, but it did not. The country they occupied in 1917 and handed over on a silver plate to the Zionist movement was emptied from its indigenous population, but there was still time to allow repatriation and rectification. The only British voice heard was that of the Foreign Office that praised itself for facilitating the annexation of the West Bank to Jordan and the prevention of an independent Palestinian state. Nothing was said about repatriation or condemnation of the expellers.
Because of this historical legacy Britain carries historical and moral responsibility to support the right of return. But there is the contemporary responsibility as well which intertwines with the historical one. Tony Blair is now the person who broke with one gesture (Sharon's visit), the only effective process that had the chance to stop in the distant future the continuous evil inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis since 1948. The process in essence was exposing the true nature of the conflict in Palestine. It brought an end to the David and Goliath mythology in Western Europe. It was thanks to British reporters, among others, and British members of the solidarity movement with Palestine that Israel was exposed as an occupier that has to be stopped. The true nature of the Israeli occupation was also slowly discovered in America, but unfortunately the process there was halted by the foolish attack on the twin towers and the Pentagon. Europe did not waver even then and both its civil societies and leaders understood that 9/11 is not a factor that eases in anyway the need to confront the Israeli brutal occupation and condemn the Jewish state's refusal to reach peace with the Palestinian people. The French press, and later the British and Scandinavian press, were quick to expose the lies Israel was spreading about the Camp David summit, explain the reasons for the outbreak of the second Intifada and provide the context in which the uprising turned violent. Europe could not counterbalance the pro-Zionist American policy -- dominated after the 9/11 tragedy by an unholy alliance between neo-cons, Christian Zionists and AIPAC paid politicians. But Europe offered an alternative and much more its societies began exerting effective pressure felt by Israelis, the majority of which have always been hungry to be part of Europe in any way possible.
Blair cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq and this verbose politician is now mum when he has to explain why Iraq was invaded. The only card he draws is peace in Palestine. In a transparent act of rewriting history Blair presents the road map as the principal reason for the invasion of Iraq. This ploy can only succeed if Sharon is wooed and legitimized. Wooing Sharon is spitting in the face of the British diplomats and experts at home and in Palestine, who saw daily the trail of victims and destruction left by Sharon ever since his appointment as minister of defense in 1981, his activities as minister of housing, national infrastructure and lately as prime minister. In all these capacities, he financed and encouraged the brutal settlement of the occupied territories, the collective punishment and abuse of the local population.
It would have been acceptable to hear an argument that explains that Sharon has changed and therefore London supports the present peace process. But as long as there was hope that the public back home could be manipulated to believe that there were mountains of WMD in Iraq, Blair did not hesitate to compare Sharon to Saddam (this was just two weeks before Sharon's visit). In the same week that his campaign of deception about Iraq failed, he whitewashed the butcher of Beirut.
If the road to redeem and absolve Sharon and Israel from the crimes they perpetrate
in the occupied territories would begin in Downing Street 10, it will mean first
and foremost an additional immunity to Israel to carry out, under the protection
of peace discourse of Hudna and Road Map, further destruction, ethnic cleansing
and massacres of the Palestinian people. Twice within fifty years, a British
government would bear responsibility for the human catastrophes that befell
on the Palestinian people.
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Jonathan Dresner - 10/16/2003
Well, AP is reporting that Palestinian security forces arrested three men in connection with the roadside bomb that killed three Americans. Hmm. Pretty quick response time. It could be a cover for some political housecleaning (the arrested men were reportedly members of a Fatah breakaway group), but it's still impressive work for security services that have a near zero arrest rate with regard to violence against Israelis.....
Steve Broce - 10/15/2003
Jesse, you wonder why I accuse you of being “easy” on the Terrorist groups. I am happy to explain. You started this string by suggesting that the Palestinians have no responsibility, obligation or duty to interact peacefully with the Israeli’s. You claim that the entire burden is on Israel. When I sought clarification that surely you must believe that the Palestinians have some responsibility to reign in the homicide bombers, you assured me that they DID NOT and then asked the question “why would they want to?” Since you refuse to hold the Palestinians to the same standard (or any standard, for that matter) as the Israelis I accuse you of being to easy on the Palestinians.
You claim that Sharon “deliberately” sabotaged the Roadmap to peace because the terrorist groups were observing some kind of a truce and Sharon and the IDF “destroyed it with more targeted killings and assassination attempts, including the attempt on Yasser Taha that killed his entire family” To this I can only ask, “What the hell are you talking about?”
The facts are these: a helicopter-launched missile on 6/12/03 killed Taha, another unidentified terrorist, and unfortunately Taha’s wife and daughter. The PREVIOUS DAY, 6/11/03, a Hamas homicide bomber blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 16 and wounding 100. On June 8, three days before that, the Al Aqsa martyrs brigade, Islamic Jihad and Hamas teamed up and killed 4 Israeli soldiers.
Thus the terrorists were murdering innocent Israelis right up to the day before Taha was assassinated. Jesse, I know that you are loath to hold these groups responsible for their own violence, but even you can’t call this a “truce”. And since you are wrong on the facts, you can’t credibly argue that Sharon “deliberately “ sabotaged the Roadmap.
Now then, you offer your opinion that the homicide bombers are too “warped, selfish and narcissistic” to be deterred by the Israeli’s retaliatory house demolitions. I don’t know what qualifications you have to psychoanalyze these terrorists, but forget that for a moment. You ask for evidence that these demolitions have deterred any of the terrorists.
Well, you want it, you got it.
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/israel020820_houses.html is the ABC News website. It contains a story about five terrorists who turned themselves in to prevent their family homes from being bulldozed. There is also reference to a Palestinian father who shot his son in the leg to prevent him from becoming a suicide bomber. Apparently, the father was concerned about the family home. So, narcissistic or not, at least some of the terrorists are deterred by the policy.
You lament the fact that the IDF couldn’t find a more “surgical” way to get Shehade. It is a pity. But your suggestion that the Israeli commandos could have arrested him without loss of innocent life is highly speculative. The IDF found that using infantry to capture or kill terrorists carries other risks. During operations in Jenin, The IDF lost 23 soldiers. Thirty-eight Palestinians lost their lives. Gaza is widely known to be the toughest Palestinian area for the IDF to operate in, tougher even than Jenin. It is likely that whatever way the IDF chose to capture Shehade, innocent life would have been lost. Possibly more that the Air Force option. And when that happened, you would still be assailing the Israelis as “cowardly” and gangsters.
After Shehade was assassinated, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres expressed regret for the loss of innocent live and explained that many of the civilians killed were in adjacent buildings that collapsed. He stated that the Air Force had believed that the adjacent buildings would withstand the blast and that Civilian casualties would be limited to cuts from flying glass and debris. Obviously they were wrong. But Peres claimed that up till then, civilians had been killed in only 6 of 84 aerial attacks on terrorists.
Jesse, you claim, “simply moving in and arresting these men, alive, doesn’t satisfy the bloodlust of revenge mongers”. Well I’ve got a hot flash for you, Jesse. There is nothing simple about “simply moving in and arresting these men.” These terrorists don’t “come along easily”. They put up a fight and they will kill absolutely anyone to prevent being captured. Jesus, Jesse, Taha was knowingly using his own wife and child as a shield. The Israelis say they didn’t realize the wife and daughter were in the vehicle, and I have no reason to believe otherwise.
You claim it is unrealistic to expect the Palestinians to refrain from murdering innocent Israelis. But the Israelis should proceed with some kind of a deal with the Palestinians. Instead of a “ land for peace” deal, you propose a “land for continued terrorist attacks” deal. Novel, but unlikely to be acceptable to the Israelis.
You believe that the Israelis have three options: withdrawal, absorption of the territories and creation of a bi national state or ethnic cleansing. Let’s look at these options.
Withdrawal. What evidence do you have that even if the Israelis withdraw, the terrorists will stop the murder? Many of these groups are on record as favoring the elimination of the State of Israel. None of them have ever publicly acknowledged Israel’s right to exist. Even if they did promise to back off after Israel withdrew, how can they be trusted? Besides, Barak already offered Arafat essentiually this option and he turned it down.
Absorption and creation of a Bi-national state. Are you kidding? What evidence do you have that this is acceptable to the Palestinians? On the contrary, the Palestinians have always insisted on a “Palestinian Homeland”. I believe the terrorists would go crazy if the Israelis tried to “absorb the territories”
Ethnic Cleansing. You might have som… Just kidding. Obviously you offered this in jest, since nobody has suggested such a thing.
Finally, Jesse, you suggest that I accused you of being “insensitive to the Israeli dead”. This is the second time you have accused me of something I haven’t done. But, since you brought it up. I find it strange that you direct all your venom at the Israelis, calling them “cowardly” and accusing them of “gangsterism” without ever acknowledging the extreme brutality of the Palestinians. And frankly, I find your beliefs that the Palestinians have no duty to reign in the murderers among them to be bizarre.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/13/2003
I don't know what you mean by stating that I'm "easy" on Hamas or Islamic Jihad, or the suicide bombers. I never stated that suicide bombing was a legitimate or a moral tactic, let alone a wise one. I never called them "operations", or even implied that these bombings are anything other than a crime of mass murder. Okay? Now let me ask: is there any evidence to show that these retaliatory house demolitions actually are a deterrent? After all, most failed bombers are interdicted by border policemen, soldiers at checkpoints, security guards, or private citizens who are armed (as are many in Israel). I don't believe they are a deterrent, because I don't believe that someone as warped, selfish, and narcissistic as a suicide bomber is going to care about what happens is family after he kills himself and his victims. So what are we left with? Simply an act of brute revenge. This is moral and humane?
As for the Salah Shehade case, allow me to posit this: the IDF is a mighty force. Their commando units have been legendary for over three decades. There was no way to apprehend this man in a way that was a bit more... surgical? The only way was to kill him and thirteen other people, including nine children? I find this very hard to believe. What I do know is that if another alternative existed, an alternative that would have netted the wanted man and preserved the lives of innocent people, the Israelis should have employed it. Instead, a pilot flew over the building in the middle of the night and dropped a bomb on it, killing Shehade and the thirteen others. These weren't "human shields", Mr. Broce. They were people sleeping in their beds, including women and children. And this kind of act is not an act of war. It is nothing but gangsterism, and it is cowardly. And you accuse me of being insensitive to the Israeli dead? I'm not the one who blithely plays numbers games with Israeli and Palestinian atrocities, to see which is "worse".
Yasser Taha may very well have used his family as a shield. But I still find it very hard to believe that the IDF couldn't have come up with a better way to capture this man. I know that simply moving in and arresting these wanted men, alive, doesn't satisfy the bloodlust of revengemongers. But it would have been the smart, and humane, thing to do.
If these actions, the targeted killing of terrorist leaders in crowded places, the house demolitions, were truly acts of self-defense, than you and I would not have a disagreement. I'm not trying to hamstring the Israelis here. But these actions are not defensive in nature. They are actions of revenge and punishment only. They solve nothing. They do not stop the bombers. They do not stop killers who sneak onto settlements and murder women and children. They are carried out for political reasons only, and to satisfy those who see victory in terms of blood.
We'll agree to disagree on Lebanon. If the invasion had been only about clearing the PLO away from the northern border, we might agree. Since it was not, since it was an overarching attempt to change the political situation in the Middle East, with the PLO presence along the border serving as a convenient pretext, we must disagree.
I printed a copy of Sharon's fourteen amendments to the roadmap below, abridged slightly:
) There must be no terrorism during the process. The Palestinians will dismantle the existing security organizations and will form new organizations to combat terror, violence and incitement (incitement must cease immediately and the Palestinian Authority must educate for peace).
In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aqsa Brigades and others) and their infrastructure, collect all illegal weapons and transfer them to a third party, cease weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority, activate the full prevention apparatus and cease incitement. The security plans to be implemented are the Tenet and Zinni plans. [As in the other mutual frameworks, the Roadmap will not state that Israel must cease violence and incitement against the Palestinians].
2) Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement. Progress between phases will come only following the full implementation of the preceding phase. Attention will be paid not to timelines, but to performance benchmarks (timelines will serve only as reference points).
3) The emergence of a new and different leadership in the Palestinian Authority within the framework of governmental reform; this is a condition for progress to the second phase of the plan. New elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
4) The Monitoring mechanism will be under American management.
5) The character of the provisional PA state will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty. It will be fully demilitarized, will have only police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments, and will not have authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation. Israel will control the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.
6) Declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.
7) The end of the process will lead to the end of all claims, and not only the end of the conflict.
8) The future settlement will be reached through agreement and direct negotiations between the two parties, in accordance with the vision outlined by President Bush in his 24 June address.
9) There will be no involvement with issues pertaining to the final settlement. Among issues not to be discussed: settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (excluding a settlement freeze and illegal outposts), the status of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem, and all other matters whose substance relates to the final settlement.
10) The removal of references to UN Resolution 1397, the Saudi Initiative and the Arab Initiative adopted in Beirut. A settlement based upon the Roadmap will be an autonomous settlement that is valid on its own. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338, and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a permanent settlement.
11) Promotion of the reform process in the Palestinian Authority: a transitional Palestinian constitution will be composed, a Palestinian legal infrastructure will be constructed and cooperation with Israel in this field will be renewed. In the economic sphere: international efforts to rehabilitate the Palestinian economy will continue. In the financial sphere: the American-Israeli-Palestinian agreement will be implemented in full as a condition for the continued transfer of tax revenues.
12) The deployment of IDF forces along the September 2000 lines will be subject to the absolute quiet noted above, and will be carried out in keeping with the new circumstances and needs.
13) Subject to security conditions, Israel will work to restore Palestinian life to normal: promote an improved economic situation, cultivation of commercial connections, encouragement and assistance for the activities of recognized humanitarian agencies. No reference will be made to the Bertini Report as a binding source document within the framework of the humanitarian issue.
14) Arab states will assist the process through the condemnation of terrorist activity. No link will be established between the Palestinian track and other tracks (Syrian-Lebanese).
Many of these points are legitimate. However, it is patently unrealistic to expect absolute quiet in terms of terror activity, and it is even more unrealistic to expect the Palestinian Authority, decimated by the Israeli attacks on its personnel and its facilities, to take any meaningful action against Hamas or Islamic Jihad. What points one and two are is an invitation to a Palestinian civil war. Not surprisingly, nobody in a leadership position on the Palestinian side took the bait. And, as always, the Israelis are giving murderers absolute veto power over peace in the region. This is hardly constructive.
When I say Sharon "deliberately" sabotaged the road map, I said this believing that Sharon knew Abu Abbas, a man with very little of his own political support, would be unwilling and unable to reign in terror groups. There was, for a time, a "hudna" (truce) among these groups, agreeing to cease terror attacks against Israeli civilians- that is, until Sharon and the IDF destroyed it with more targeted killings and assassination attempts, including the attempt on Yasser Taha that killed his entire family.
I know this is running rather long, so I'll wrap it up. The question is, what to do? Israel can't stay in the territories forever without giving up its Jewish character or its democratic character. The only three options are:
2.) Absorption of the territories and the creation of a bi-national state
3.) Ethnically cleansing the Palestinian population of the territories
Either way, it is not feasible for the Israelis to sit on the Palestinians forever. There has to be a proactive move they can make. Continuing with the house and crop demolitions, the humiliation at checkpoints, the targeted murders, won't stop terrorism, and they won't bring the Israelis peace.
Steve Broce - 10/12/2003
Well, Jesse, it‘s refreshing to hear you say that you support neither the “rejectionist murderers” nor the Israeli’s. It wasn’t clear from the imbalance in your rhetoric (One sentence of mild condemnation for the murderers, the remainder of your post condemnation for Israel). But since you say you’re against both, I’ll take you at your word. Having said that, I challenge you to back up your statement that I used”a neoconservative tactic” to say that if you weren’t for Sharon, you must be for the murderers. I didn’t say that. What I did suggest is that you are far to easy on the “ rejectionist murderers” and far to hard on the Israeli’s.
And by the way, I’m not a neo conservative. I am an old conservative.
It was widely reported that Barak offered Arafat 95% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza and the removal of most of the settlements. Arafat turned it down and Clinton publicly blamed Arafat for the breakdown in the talks. You acknowledge this and then ask the question “ What are the Israeli’s to do?” Yes, what.
Since this offer wasn’t good enough maybe the Israeli’s could sweeten the pot. They could offer Arafat 110% of the West Bank, 150% of Gaza and 125% of the settlements out. Not good enough? Okay, 119% of the West Bank, 175% of Gaza and 131% of the settlements out. Still not good enough? Aw fuck it, just take all of Israel.
Because the truth is, Jesse, that’s the aim of the rejectionist murderers. You say the vast majority of Israeli’s are willing to trade land for peace. I agree. It’s the rejectionist murderers who are unwilling.
You call comparing the bulldozing of mass murderer’s homes to the mass murderer’s crimes an “ an old canard”. I don’t see it that way. It’s a relatively light form of retribution for dastardly crimes. It is usually used against the murderer’s homes when the family publicly supports the crimes, calls on others to do the same and/or indicates prior knowledge of the murderer’s intentions. If it is a “collective punishment” it is a relatively light one in the face of unbelievably despicable evil. It is obviously done to deter future murder, and if it deters one homicide bomber, it’s worth it.
You make reference to the assassination of Salah Shehade, the head of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, who was directly responsible for the deaths of 200 Israelis. As you pointed out, the Israel’s dropped a 2000 lb. bomb on the building he was in. Sounds horrendous. But put it into context. First, there were 14 people killed, including Shehade, his wife, and a bodyguard. Not even the toll of one average Hamas terrorist attack. Second, the IDF said that they had repeatedly requested the Palestinian Authority to curtail Shehade’s activities to no effect. If the Israeli’s failed to act, undoubtedly many times that many Israeli’s would have died. Third, the Israeli’s say that they passed up the opportunity to hit Shehade 8 times prior to the attack due to the possibility of innocent loss of life. Finally, Shehade knew he was a target. He chose to put his people and his family at risk by embedding himself amongst them in a cynical gamble that the Israeli’s wouldn’t strike. He lost. Unfortunately, he took several innocent people with him.
You also refer to the Israeli assassination of Yasser Taha, his wife and child by Israeli helicopter missile attack on his vehicle. Taha also knew he was a target and he used his wife and child as a shield. It’s a shame that the wife and child were killed, but it’s kind of hard to feel pity for someone who spends years killing other people’s wives and children and then cries fowl when his own are killed. That goes for Shehade, too.
You claim that “whether they are killed deliberately or accidentally doesn’t matter”. I differ on that. I think it makes a lot of difference. You claim that you want to hold Israeli’s to a higher standard. What you are doing is holding them to an impossible standard. A standard that no country under assault has ever been held to. If you claim that the accidental killing of a Palestinian by the Israeli’s puts them on the same moral plane as the rejectionist murderers, then the Israeli’s could never defend themselves. Every military operation carries with it risk of innocent loss of life. That’s the difference between the Israeli’s and the murderers. The Israeli’s sit around and plot to minimize innocent loss of life. The rejectionist murderers sit around and plot to maximize loss of innocent life. If you don’t see the difference, there’s nothing that I can do for you.
Whose to say whether the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was ill advised or not? You have your opinion and I have mine. The IDF found thousands of weapons, including tanks, rockets, artillery and mortars. The PLO had concentrated thousands of fighters in southern Lebanon. Who can say whether more Israeli soldiers would have died if action was not taken when it was? As Henry Kissinger has said, “ No nation can tolerate indefinitely the build up along its border of a military force dedicated to its destruction and implementing its objectives by periodic shelling and raids”.
You have asserted that Sharon sabotaged the Roadmap to Peace. No specifics, just your bare assertion. I can’t judge this assertion until you specify how he has done this.
Jesse, don’t you get it? Until the rejectionist murderers stop the slaughter, there can be no peace. No amount of sappy apologism for the murderers will change that. Barak made a fair offer to Arafat. Arafat turned it down and restarted the murder machine. Until he stops it, nothing good will happen. As you’ve repeatedly pointed out, The “rejectionists” won’t allow peace.
Anyway, Jesse, you’re full of generalities and assertions. What specifically would you have Israel do?
F.H. Thomas - 10/12/2003
I have not read a better four-paragraph summary of this issue.
As far as Ashwari is concerned, my opinion is that she is virtually the only member of the Palestinian Authority who can persuade those who need to be persuaded in the US, Europe, Palestine and Israel, because of her excellent persuasive skills and knowledge of the sitation. The traditional mix of interests in the Authority will probably not let that happen.
And, as has been suggested, the Israelis will never be persuaded anyway.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/11/2003
Yes, I realize that people who strap explosives to themselves and blow up restaurants and buses filled with innocent people are murderers. Referring to Hamas and Islamic Jihad as "rejectionist groups" does not obscure this fact, at least not to me. But yours is a typical neoconservative tactic: if you're not for Sharon and his ghetto-wall, his land confiscations, and his "targeted assassinations", than you must be for the suicide murderers. Can I be in favor of neither, please?
I also realize that Barak made an offer and Arafat turned it down (whether this offer was really as generous as it is claimed by Barak's supportes is open to debate). That having been said, what are the Israelis supposed to do? Sit on the Palestinians forever, constantly warding off suicide attacks, while their society and military are progressively more brutalized by the moral costs of this occupation? I think not. I certainly don't want this, and I don't think the Israelis (the majority of whom are perfectly willing to trade land for peace) want it either.
You roll out the old canard that bulldozing the homes of Palestinians is not so bad, because the homes belong to the suicide murderers and, after all, bulldozing someone's home is not as bad as murdering children. First of all, the murderers are dead. Bulldozing the homes of their families is a form of collective punishment, and as someone who believes in the rule of law and the "rights of Englishmen", I'm not a fan of collective punishment. Second, as a Jew, I would like to judge the Israelis by a higher standard than that of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, thank you.
You say it is "bull" that the Israeli military deliberately kills civilians in the territories. But when an IAF pilot dropped a one-ton bomb on a crowded Gaza apartment house in July 2002, he, and the men who sent him, must have known that, in addition to the Hamas operative who was the target, that there were innocents inside. Apparently it didn't matter. When an IDF helicoptor fires a missile at a car containing a Hamas or Islamic Jihad member and his wife and children, innocents are killed. Whether they are killed accidentally or deliberately, does not matter. They are still innocent and they are still dead. Again, I'd prefer to hold the Israelis to a higher standard than that of their murderous enemies. And as for Mr. Heuisler's comment about the "restraint" shown by the IDF; I'm supposed to be impressed that the Israelis aren't acting like the Russians in Chechnya? They shouldn't act like that.
As for the PLO shelling and mortaring Israel for eleven months before the invasion of Lebanon, the fact is that all this firepower resulted in one Israeli casualty in the Galilee towns between July 1981 and June 1982. That's at least 649 less than the number of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon. No, I don't think the invasion was a good idea. Yes, Sharon is responsible for the deaths of those soldiers. And yes, Sharon did sabatoge the roadmap, deliberately.
I can't understand the attitude of Israel's American cheerleaders. Don't you get it? It's not up to the Palestinians whether there is going to peace or not. Only Israel has the power to make this possible. And as history as shown, there is limitations to the use of force. There must be diplomacy and compromise. And it will be the Israelis making the sacrifices, whether its American groupies like it or not.
Bill Heuisler - 10/10/2003
Mr. Broce said it all. The first Intifada began for no reason. The Israeli government had made concessions. Peace was at hand. The first Intifada began with the stoning of Jews praying at the Western Wall. A police station near Jaffa Gate was stormed and weapons were seized. Israeli cops were shot and some were taken prisoner. How did the Israelis respond? With non-lethal weapons and riot police. I was there - photographed the events for two days - and couldn't understand the restraint. Still don't.
Any other peoples with the overwhelming resources you describe would have reacted to the constant provocations with deadly force and massive arrests. Other societies attacked by neighbors with such regularity would've taken defensible borders after the first...or the second victory. In my opinion, the half-measures and appeasements have emboldened the murderers and cost many lives on both sides - criminals thrive in anarchy. Had Israel reacted in historic (time-tested?) fashion the refugee camps would be a memory; business, agriculture and tourism would be thriving and all the local Arabs would be participating in the only Democracy in the area.
But look at the Arab leadership. Arafat embezzling $900 millions while people in Gaza go without proper medical care, schools and their children aren't taught any vocation but terrorism. Call Sharon what you like, the Palestinians would be better off under Ariel than Yasser. Power without resolve becomes weakness and provocation. Perversely, Israel's forbearance is the problem.
Steve Broce - 10/10/2003
“Rejectionist Groups”, Jesse. You are far too kind to the murders that wire their own children up with explosives and send them out to murder Israeli children. Call them what they are—murderers.
As for what would be “in it” for the Palestinians to stop murdering Israeli’s, I can only say this- There is nothing “in it” for them to continue the slaughter. Would Sharon stop building the wall? He might. He didn’t start building it until “the rejectionist groups” had killed hundreds of Israeli’s.
The quid pro quo would be some sort of land for peace deal. Maybe something like Barak offered and Arafat turned down. You remember, 95% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza, most of the settlements out.
Yeah, Israel destroys Palestinian homes. But which Palestinian homes? The murderers homes. Palestinians kill Israelis; Israeli’s bulldoze the killer’s home, and you think it’s the Palestinians that got the raw deal? Between killing my children and bulldozing my home, I’ll take the bulldozer every time.
You say that The Israeli’s fire missiles into crowded streets “with zero regard “ for innocent civilians? First off, that’s bull. That the Israeli’s sometimes kill innocent civilians is indisputable and a tragedy. That the “rejectionist groups” target innocent civilians (and the more innocent, the better)is also indisutable and an abomination.
Sharon created Hezbollah with his invasion of Lebanon? Garbage. Maybe invading Lebanon was ill advised, maybe it wasn’t. What it certainly was not was unprovoked. The PLO shelled and mortared Israel for eleven months before Israel finally reacted.
You say that Sharon sabotaged the Roadmap to Peace. Nonsense. As you pointed out, the “rejectionist groups” had no intentions of ever letting anyone get started on the road to peace.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/10/2003
Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. The Israelis have control of all of Israel/Palestine. They have the first-world GDP. They have the massive military. They have the national sovereignty, the seat in the UN, the ear of the American government.
And quite frankly, why would the Palestinian Authority even want to take action against rejectionist groups? What's in it for them? Would Sharon stop settlement building? Would he stop building the wall which simultaneously locks Palestinians in apartheid conditions and ghettoizes Israelis? Where would the quid pro quo come from?
And what progress are you talking about? It was Sharon who sabatoged the road map. It's Sharon who confiscates Palestinian land, destroys Palestinian homes and olive groves, fires missiles into crowded streets with zero regard for innocent bystanders. It's Sharon who practically created Hezbollah himself with his ill-advised invasion of Lebanon.
Suicide bombings and the murder of innocent Israelis is despicable, to be sure. But Israel is a wealthy, powerful country. Palestine is not. Only the Israelis have the physical power to affect real change in the region. And waiting around for the Palestinians to become born-again pacifists is pointless, because it ain't gonna happen.
Steve Broce - 10/10/2003
Jesse, are you really suggesting that the Israeli’s are the only ones with something to give?
In this situation, where the ultimate solution is likely to be a land for peace swap, the Palestinians have a lot to give. Until Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, etc, etc, etc stop sabotaging the process, no agreement is possible.
It seems that whenever progress is made, another 20 or so Israeli’s are murdered.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/10/2003
I think we can agree on most of these points, and as someone with relatives in Haifa (scene of the latest suicide bombing), I have no taste for portraying the Israelis as villains, as the left likes to do. Nor do I believe that the Palestinians, particularly their political leadership, are blameless at all for the situation. This is a messy, tragic situation- for both sides.
That having been said, my point was simply this: it will, ultimately, be up to the Israelis to take the initiative toward cutting a deal. They have the military power, they have the sovereignty. In addition, they are the only side with something to give. It's up to the Israelis.
Gus Moner - 10/9/2003
The historical responsibility of the UK goes much further back than 1948. In 1917, or favours during he war, the UK government declared the willingness to create a Zionist state in Palestine “as long as it does not infringe on the rights of the inhabitants”.
The UK’s inability to stem the flow of settlers and the increasing tensions led to the start of Jewish terrorism directed at the British and Palestinians. Palestinians revolted against the Zionist Jews settling their land.
Finally, the British abdicated responsibility to the UN and there the Zionists got a resolution partitioning Palestine. The British and French are in fact the architects of the current Middle East troubles, having erroneously divided Ottoman provinces amongst themselves without regard for the people’s desires. Artificial countries and the resulting acrimony, have led to the endless confrontations.
Bill Heuisler - 10/9/2003
The original Pappe article proposes the Palestinian people are not responsible for their plight. You seem to agree. I do not.
The implication continues the Said thesis: The West is villain, the Arab/Moslem is victim. Israel in this view represents the West. This proposition ignores the individual and political and economic freedom. Turkey is a significant lesson. Arabs/Muslims need not be ruled, they are capable of self-government. Whether Israelis and Palestinians should suffer the territorial results of four wars is beside the point. The Egypt-Jordan dictatorships have maintained the Palestinian "refugee camps" for a half-century because pawns serve their politics.
Israel is a Democracy; Arabs vote for and serve in the Knesset. Palestinians serve only economic and political dictators while cheering misfortune in the US. Ignoring individual freedom is ahistoric and a ridiculous foundation for any set of arguments. But ignoring US self-interest is foolish. Let's begin there.
That said, my position on Israel and the Palestinians is simply that we in the United States must support our friends and oppose our enemies. That Arafat and those who support his dictatorial regime are our enemies is no longer debatable after 9/11. Further, it behooves a free people in a Democratic Republic to support other free people in direct ratio to their individual freedom. In my opinion, to do otherwise would be immoral and, eventually, suicidal.
We don't agree on the malevolence of Sharon and israel or the victim status of Palestinians, but we agree on Hochschild's article and probably many other things. Our agreements will probably also coincide that US foreign policy should promote the self-interests of the United States before all else.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/9/2003
I'm not going to debate the substance of Hanan Ashwari or any of the other corrupt Palestinian Authority figures, let alone Arafat.
Nevertheless, despite what Mr. Sharon, or his backers in Israel and the U.S., or George Bush says, it is not up to the Palestinians to decide when there is going to be peace and equitable solutions over there. They simply don't have the physical or political power to make that happen.
That power sits in Jerusalem.
Josh Greenland - 10/9/2003
"It's your choice, Jonathan, but challenge Heuisler on socialism, Oliver North, George W. Bush, Islam, global warming and any number of his other pet knee-jerk Limbaughian obsessions and you are more than likely to encounter deep disdain for historical facts accompanied by gratuitous rudeness."
This has been my experience as well, and when you call him on one of his historical falsehoods he ignores you and goes onto his next rightwing talk radio-style attack.
Jonathan Dresner - 10/8/2003
There's very little you've written here that I can even quibble with, except perhaps your overreliance on force as a response to dictatorship and tyranny.
The most effective weapon against any (and I mean any: democracies are particularly vulnerable to this) government is delegitimization. Machiavellian force and fear were never meant to stand alone, but in conjunction with careful governance to the general benefit of the people. Even Hitler and Stalin and Mao, none of whom had any qualms about using the full force of government to impose discipline, had to appeal to legal and ideological forms of legitimation.
Force is a useful tool, don't get me wrong, for defending legitimate governments, for supporting illegitimate governments and for removing them. But it is a means, not an end in itself.
We did choose to dominate Japan: we could have let Russia do it (they certainly wanted it). We could have let the FEC have more direct control. We could have divided it up like we did Germany. For our own reasons we chose to dominate Japan. Even more so did we choose to dominate Iraq. Now we have to find a legitimate way out of it.
Bill Heuisler - 10/8/2003
Perhaps we simply phrase things differently. The Right believes in individual rights and responsibilities; the less government the better. The Left believes government is the answer to most problems and subordinates the individual to the whole society.
The United States has become the wealthiest, most free nation in the world by compromising those two extremes.
By definition, the roots of most problems in the modern world - like Palestinian hostility - are political and economic. Notice throughout the world, political freedom and economic freedom go hand in hand with prosperity and well-being. Without exception, where there is liberty for the individual the society prospers.
You say discourse, not domination, solves problems, but how can there be discourse when the press is controlled and people are thralls of a police state? We don't choose to dominate Iraq any more than we chose to dominate Japan. Freedom, not dictatorships is the answer and, unfortunately, dictators only pay attention to guns. Like Nicaragua: give the people the freedom to choose their leaders and their economics and they will become more prosperous and better friends of other free nations.
Bill Heuisler - 10/8/2003
Want substance? Don't cite an Arafat propagandist for support.
Interesting you should use Ashwari to support Palestinian benevolence after 9/11. Hanan Ashwari is a flack for Arafat. Right after 9/11 Yasser Arafat ordered his thugs to stop all newsmen from filming the celebrations. He also ordered film confiscated. See web-site reference in Prof. Dresners post.
She's not a flack? Let me quote a September 23, 2003 AP story:
"An audit of the Palestinian Authority revealed that President Yasser Arafat diverted $900 million in public funds to a special bank account he controlled, an International Monetary Fund official said Saturday.
Most of the cash, which came from revenues in the budget, went into some 69 commercial activities located in Palestinian areas and abroad, said Karim Nashashibi, IMF resident representative in the West Bank and Gaza.
Hanan Ashwari, a Palestinian lawmaker and onetime Arafat spokeswoman, acknowledged there had been incidents of misuse of funds in the past but that the release of the information was an attempt to discredit the Palestinian leader."
$900 Million, Mr. Bailey, and Palestinians live in poverty. Quoting Ashwari to vindicate the Palestinians of schadenfreude is like asking Bustamante to vouch for Davis.
Cary Fraser - 10/8/2003
Ilan Pappe's point is well taken. Britain, as the mandatory power, failed to exercise due diligence in protecting and securing the rights of the Arab inhabitants of the Palestinian mandate.From Balfour to Blair, British policy has been notable for its willingness to facilitate the dispossession of the Arab inhabitants of the Palestinian Mandate territory and since 1967, the United States has been a willing party to this British strategy. Some of the recent debates about Blair's willingness to back the American invasion of Iraq miss the point that both Blair and the Bush administration saw this war as a way to restore the pre-1956 Anglo-American condominium in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. The problem is that neither Bush nor Blair is bright enough to recognize the absurdity of their strategy in the contemporary context.
Jonathan Dresner - 10/8/2003
In the years following the fall of Communism, a new saying circulated in Russia: "Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything the Communists said about Capitalism was true." The converse is also true.
I think the Left (such as it is) is willing to believe the worst of the US because it has often been proven correct: there are powerful forces at work in the US that are hostile to the interests of the vast majority of the population of the US and the world; governments that favor economics over people allow the majority to suffer; government is the best way to carry out large scale community projects; understanding is superior to dominion; societies that don't share, collapse.
I think the Right is willing to believe the worst of the Left because it has often been proven correct: social programs can have unintended consequences; values do matter; centrally organized economies are unresponsive to social needs beyond subsistence; intellectual diversity is an advantage over uniformity; the US has been a force for good in the world. You can make up your own lists.
I prefer the left, mostly, because it is a more optimistic position: the world can be fixed, if we apply our intellectual and legal and economic energies correctly. I prefer to examine the roots of problems, like Palestinian hostility, for potential solutions, than to write off an entire people as "sworn enemies" I choose to believe that discourse, not domination, is the long-term solution.
Roger Wright - 10/8/2003
It's your choice, Jonathan, but challenge Heuisler on socialism, Oliver North, George W. Bush, Islam, global warming and any number of his other pet knee-jerk Limbaughian obsessions and you are more than likely to encounter deep disdain for historical facts accompanied by gratuitous rudeness. The HNN archives are filled with dozens of examples. Perhaps there are some deeply embedded sour grapes at an unsatisfying college education behind his disrespect for scholarly accomplishment, but that is pure speculation and I am neither a psychologist nor a professor.
Bill Bailey - 10/8/2003
Just because conspiracy theories are (suprise,surprise) bogus when it comes to "faked footage" of Palestinians cheering right after 9-11, does not mean that there was any substantive Palestinian involvement or support for the Al Qaeda attacks those day as Mr. Heuisler seems to want to imply. Prominent Palestinians such as Hanan Ashawri roundly condemned Al Qaeda in the days after 9-11, and I think if you do a fair fact-finding search you'll discover that her views are shared by most Palestinians. Timothy McVeigh is not proof that all Americans want to blow up their federal government.
Jonathan Dresner - 10/8/2003
Mr. Heuisler and I don't agree on much on the surface, but we share a respect for logic and evidence and for civic discourse that has produced some very fruitful exchanges. I don't approve of his politics (and he doesn't approve of mine), but if you're actually looking for a debate on the issues, he's a better bet than a lot of the folks around here on either side of the issues.
Don't take him lightly: he'll take you to the cleaners and back. He's got no respect for credentials, either: you say something that's not well founded and you'll get what you deserve, Ph.D. or GED.
Bill Heuisler - 10/8/2003
There's no apology necessary; you've added to our knowledge.
But thank you for confirming my eyesight. The snopes web-site is fascinating. Isn't it a shame how eager the internet world was to embrace such a flimsy story from such an obscure source.
One is forced to ask why so many on the Left are so willing to believe the worst about the US, but anxious to accept even rumors of good intentions from our sworn enemies.
Jonathan Dresner - 10/8/2003
Well, it looks like I've been the victim of bad information. I have read in several places the charge that the Palestinian celebrations were falsely dramatized with footage from other dates (and a quick internet search shows that that story is widely spread and believed).
Turns out not to be true: when in doubt, Snopes.com is as close to truth as any of us will get (http://www.snopes.com/rumors/cnn.htm).
Bill Heuisler - 10/8/2003
Sorry, but your casual demurrer doesn't wash. On the evening of the 11th and the afternoon of the 12th of September, 2001 on either CBS or Fox I watched Palestinians (in Gaza) firing guns in the air and celebrating. American flags were burned also. My distinct impression was that they were reacting to Al Jazeera and their local papers' coverage of our towers falling.
But you say this footage was not Palestinians celebrating 9/11? Please explain what they were celebrating on that particular day? Are you actually proposing the TV footage was of another demonstration on another time? Then why was it shown? Were the TV stations inciting violence? Tell me when/how this fraud occurred and where it was noted for the record.
One more imposition please: explain the differences between and among Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban and Al Quaeda except for their nationality and that of their infidel victims.
Nathan Cale - 10/7/2003
Who knows, maybe George Washington was thinking about "good speech or "well spoken" words in 1780. Personally, I prefer history to mind-reading. I only regret that I have but one voice for my country. Supposing, however, that I could also be Ahmed Arnoldkha Al Heuisl, and disrupt message boards at HNN with dozens of uninformed, irrelevant and caustic messages every week. Then I might reply to your statement:
"Radical Muslims brandishing US-hatred in Gaza are different from twin tower-Radical Muslims only in wealth, education and supplies of unarmed civilians"
Radical Jews brandishing US-hatred from Arizona are different from West Bank genocidal Jews only in cowardice, ignorance and supplies of idle time.
Would that be your idea of a “compelling discussion” ?
“Never mind”. Your remarks in this thread “tell us all we need to know about you”.
Roger Wright - 10/7/2003
"you'll have to find other evidence to support your anti-Palestinian opinion"
Surely you've been around here long enough, Jonathan Dresner, to appreciate that historical evidence is not a concept applicable to someone who thinks that Palestinians were behind 9-11, who thinks the Mideast war of 1967 began with an "invasion" of Israel, and who thinks Oliver North was a "freedom fighter". Why waste your time ?
Jonathan Dresner - 10/7/2003
You've made mention several times of the news footage purporting to show that Palestinians were celebrating the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Unfortunately, that footage was fraudulent, old and unrelated to the events of the day. I'm not going to argue that Palestinians are strong US allies: they have a strong suspicion and even resentment of the US based on our strong support for Israel. But you'll have to find other evidence to support your anti-Palestinian opinion.
Bill Heuisler - 10/7/2003
Your primary compliment is deeply appreciated, since I'm sure you know benedict means good speech or well spoken. Also, your debating technique is masterful and your reasoning incisive - surely products of a very liberal education. Assigning me to Likud, Tel Aviv or kookdom is simply devastating.
A caution, though, the bit about bulldozing Americans may be revealing of your knowledge and intent: The unfortunate person who decided to confront a bulldozer in Israel was also quite emphatic and verbose about her hatred for the US, its policies, people and government. One of your "real Americans", I'm sure.
Finally, Radical Muslims brandishing US-hatred in Gaza are different from twin tower-Radical Muslims only in wealth, education and supplies of unarmed civilians. To state otherwise raises your splendid dialectic to the prodigious level of mind-reading. Admirable, but presumptious.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/7/2003
As far as Mr. Pappe's assertion that the British callously left the Palestinians to the tender mercies of "ethnically-cleansing" Zionists, it should be kept in mind that the British left Palestine on the heels of a three-year war against well-organized, well-trained, highly motivated Jewish insurgent groups- a war that was a military and public relations nightmare (British troops stockading concentration camp survivors in Cyprus). Even had they wanted to, the British had no power on the ground to prevent the civil war, or the regional war that followed Israeli Independence on May 15, 1948.
Jesse Lamovsky - 10/7/2003
Kudos to the editors of this site for posting Mr. Pappe, a different voice on this issue...
Nobody residing at 10 Downing is going to have any say in how the situation in Israel/Palestine plays out. Nor will this happen in Washington, but only in Jerusalem. Israel is the most powerful actor, so if, and when, the decision is made that it is time to strike some sort of an equitable deal with the Palestinians, it will be have to be made by the government of Israel. I'm assuming Mr. Pappe knows this, and this piece is an expression of outrage directed at Mr. Blair and the complacent Brits.
No European has any political or even moral standing in this conflict anyway, at least as far as Israel is concerned. All Europe can really offer Israel is carrots- EU membership, EU trade perks, membership status in the European Group at the UN (and the rotating Security Council seat that goes with it)- enticements to better behavior. As long as the billions and the unquestioned political cover come from the United States, the Israeli government and its American groupies can blissfully ignore the Europeans (while occasionally dropping the Holocaust on the perenially guilty Euros). If Tony Blair really thought that he could force a sea change in Sharon's policies, or the American policy toward Israel, by acting as Bush's wingman in Iraq, than he should be voted out. How could he think that?
A further note...
Britain's situation with Israel/Palestine differs from that of other colonial countries, for example Portugal, who controlled Angola for over five hundred years, and then picked up and ran, leaving a three-way civil war in her wake. Britain never formalized its colonial possession (it was a League of Nations "Mandate"), and the Brits were only in Palestine for thirty two years- not as long as Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. The case isn't the same as with the British in Uganda, the Belgians in Rwanda, or the aforementioned Portuguese in Angola. Israel, to put it mildly, is not any of these countries.
Nathan Cale - 10/7/2003
An article about the history and policy of Britain towards the Mideast, and all you can do is shout Likud slogans having nothing to do with the topic. Everyone except right wing Israeli kooks knows that Palestinians had no more to do with bringing down the World Trade Center than some kind of "Jewish conspiracy" did.
Sharon's army is in need of people to bulldoze Americans to death. What are you waiting for ? There are planes to Tel Aviv every day. America should be for real Americans who support our country instead of agitating irrelevancies on behalf of a foreign war criminal.
Bill Heuisler - 10/6/2003
Who killed the Marines in Beirut? The sailors on the Cole? Who bombed the twin towers ten years ago? The embassies in Africa?
My "real" loyalties lie with my country. Arafat's Palestinians Are no friend of the US despite the millions in aid every year.
Just remember them dancing in the streets on 9/11 and ask yourself, where should my loyalties lie? And yours.
Nathan Cale - 10/6/2003
Time to grab your gun and get moving, Bill. Now that you have shown where your real loyalties lie, Ariel Sharon needs your help. There is still one terrorist-loving professor over in Israel who is not yet be silenced. (God only knows how he ended up on this website). It is supposed to be a Holy Day today, so perhaps you might wait awhile before faxing your application to the keepers of the waiting lists for your beloved West Bank settlements.
Bill Heuisler - 10/6/2003
Pulling refugee numbers out of the air and using words like ethnic cleansing will not make you many US converts. Your numbers for '40s Haifa and Jaffa (70,000 and 120,000) aren't supported by census or reputable records. In fact,neither urban area had the resources or economic base to support such numbers. Were they all craftsmen and goatherders? Merchants? Fishermen? Who did they sell to? Tourists? This is political nonsense.
A more compelling discussion would explore the fifty year existance of "refugee camps" on prior Egyptian soil. Perhaps you might explain why Americans should give a damn about the plight of people who dance in the streets when thousands of us are killed in an attack on civilians. Never mind. Your references to the hijackings, murders and destruction of thousands on 9/11 tell us all we need to know about you.
Your words about 9/11 diminish the attack, obscure the identities of the attackers and insult the civilian targets of the attack. Has it slipped your mind that the US has been under attack by these so-called Muslims for the past fifteen years?
"...the foolish attack on the twin towers..." Foolish?
"...dominated after the 9/11 tragedy..." "tragedy?"
Why should any American side with these murderers against Israel?
9/11 was not foolish, not a tragedy, but another in a long series of attacks on the United States by the very same people you say want our support and sympathy. Fat chance.
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