Why Are Liberals So Weak In Middle East?





Ms. Klinghoffer is senior associate scholar at the Political Science department at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East. She is also an HNN blogger. Click here for her blog.

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During a talk he gave at FPRI introducing his new book The Long War for Freedom , Barry Rubin estimated the percentage of democratic liberals in the region at 5% and Islamists at 25%. One may quibble about the exact percentage but it is difficult to ignore the obvious weakness of the reformist forces in the Middle East. The more consequential question is, why? The rote answer is because the region does not have a large enough middle class or its inhabitants are not sophisticated enough to insist on a voice in the running of their own governments. The failure of the genocidal Sunni insurgency in Iraq to prevent millions of Iraqis from casting their votes, demands an alternative explanation. It may be found in a significant part, in the manner so called “moderate” autocrats block any movement towards democracy not only in their own country but across the region. Hosni Mubarak is an excellent case in point because as the largest Arab state, Egypt is not only the region’s natural leader but it is determined to remain so. Moreover, its Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, is the place where Ayman al Zawahiri, of Al Qaeda fame, got his start. Unfortunately, recent events leave no doubt that it is not a Middle East spring but a reconstituted “Holy Alliance,” that the aging Egyptian autocrat is determined to lead and that he considers Islamists' strength and democratic liberals' weakness essential to his success.

In 1981 Hosni Mubarak was a young vice president who came to power because Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamists opposed to his peace with Israel. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by men opposed to his war against the Confederacy. Charles DeGaulle barely escaped an assassination attempt by those opposed to his giving up Algeria. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an opponent of the peace process. In the democracies, the assassinations turned the murdered leader into a martyr and discredited the ideological supporters of the murderers. Last week, Israel commemorated the anniversary of Rabin's assassination. "Thousands Mourn Rabin, 10 Years Later," read the headline. Everybody who was anybody in Israel, and a large number of dignitaries from around the world, gathered to praise the fallen hero united in their determination to delegitimize the assassination and to reaffirm his commitment to peace. No similar commemorations took place in Egypt at the 20th anniversary of Sadat’s assassination. “Egypt quietly marks Sadat's assassination, reported CBC. There were no public ceremonies, no foreign dignitaries. Only a speech by Mubarak praising not his peace with Israel but his “victory” in the 1973 War against Israel. In other words, Mubarak used the anniversary not to affirm Sadat’s peace with Israel but to distance himself from that peace. He did not do so because Sadat’s peace was unpopular with the people. It was not. Indeed, Egyptians were flocking to see the new biopic on his life. Mubarak did it to carry favor with the elite. His spokesman, Tahseen Basheer, said:"I have always believed that the overwhelming majority of Egyptians supported Sadat for making peace, even if they do not particularly like the way the Israelis behave. The opposition comes from the political and cultural elite, who never forgave him for going to Jerusalem to address the Knesset." There is evidence to back this.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leading sociologist and human rights activist, admits that he opposed Sadat's visit to Jerusalem at the time and was"one of the intellectuals who did well out of hating Israel." But opinion polls showing that 70% of Egyptians backed peace with Israel made him change his mind. Prof Ibrahim said:"Sadat has been unfairly treated by the so-called progressive elements in our country."

In other words, the handpicked successor of the martyred Nobel Prize winner, failed to use the assassination to affirm the political direction taken by the martyred man. Why? Because Hosni Mubarak preferred to use Sadat’s assassination to lay permanent claim on state power. Ironically, in this as in other matters, Mubarak followed in Sadat’s footsteps. As Hisham Kassem, the editor of the Cairo Times reminds us, Sadat “was stupid enough to encourage the Islamists as a counterweight to the Left - and they ended up murdering him." In any case, for 24 years Mubarak ruled under emergency law. For 24 years he refused to appoint a vice president. For 24 years he pretended to “fight” the Muslim Brotherhood. For 24 years he made sure the Muslim brotherhood would constitute the only serious alternative to his rule. For 24 years he deflected any suggestions that he democratize Egypt. For 24 years he used Israel and the US as scapegoats.

With the exception of a few dissenting voices outside the government, Washington bought into the Mubarak narative that he is a bulwark against Islamism and blithely ignored persistant and vicious anti-American (and anti-Semitic) propaganda which emanated from his government controlled media. Instead of undermining Mubarak’s claims, the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center organized by Egyptian Sheikh Abdel Rahman strengthen Foggy Bottom’s belief in Mubarak’s value as an anti-Islamist shield. Nor have subsequent Islamist attacks on the US lead to a serious rethinking until 9/11. Minor skirmishes aside, Mubarak did not take the Bush administration’s decision to democratize the region too seriously. Egypt, like Turkey, objected to the Iraq war not because it loved Saddam, but because it feared losing its role as Washington’s premier ally in the region. After the fall of Saddam, Mubarak hoped that the Sunni insurgency or, as the Egyptian government-controlled media calls it, “resistance” will convince the Americans of the error of their democratization agenda and lead to Bush’s defeat.

But Bush was re-elected and Secretary Rice came to Cairo to announce an end to the 60 year old failed American foreign policy. Egyptian liberals were thrilled but Mubarak was not about to permit either them or the American administration to upset his long laid succession plans. Still, he did not wish to confront the new, popular administration directly. Instead, he surprised everybody by agreeing to permit other candidates to run against him in the upcoming presidential elections which were to be followed by multiparty parliamentary elections. But first he passed an new election law. It did not take the Egyptians long to figure out that the fine print in the new election law evacuated the presidential contest of real meaning.

When a young, photogenic Ayman Nour decided to take Mubarak at his word, organized a liberal party named Al Ghad and announced his plans to run for the presidency, he was thrown in jail for having invalid signatures on the petition qualifying him to run. Bending to international pressure, Mubarak freed Nour pending trial. In other words, Nour had to run for the presidency as an indicted man. It signaled the fate awaiting those who take Mubarak’s democratic rhetoric seriously. Mubarak won the obviously rigged presidential contest and diffused complaints about election irregularities with promises that the parliamentary elections would be different.

Indeed, they superficially were. The ballot boxes were transparent, trained monitors were granted access to the polls and, most interestingly, the"outlawed" Muslim Brotherhood was not only allowed to campaign freely but had cut a pre-election deal securing itself a minimum number of seats in the future parliament. Moderate candidates were not only denied a similar deal, but were mercilessly harassed, most especially Ayman Nour, the democratic liberal, who got more votes than expected in the presidential elections. After all, a moderate success would severely undermine the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is the sole alternative to Mubarak’s rule. Tragically, having been told repeatedly by so called experts that nothing is going to undermine a candidate more than outside support, the international community, including Secretary Rice failed to come to Nour’s aid. The distancing backfired. Analyst Rabie explains:"Meanwhile, the US's backing of him has recently been very limited; combined with the seemingly restored warmth in Egyptian- US relations as a whole, it's the perfect opportunity for the government to do whatever they want with him."

The mainstream media not only pretended not to see, but cooperated with Mubarak by describing the Muslim Brotherhood as the only viable alternative and praising its newfound freedom to campaign as a sign of true reform. Even the use Mubarak’s henchmen made of the liberalized press to plant a false rumor about a Coptic play to incite anti-Christian riots in Alexandria got minimal attention. The fact that shortly before the elections, 154 Islamists including Fouad el-Dowaliby, a man directly involved in the assassination of Sadat, were released from prison went completely unreported. Consequently, the first round of the somewhat less flawed parliamentary elections went according to Mubarak’s plan. Nour, the man who came in second in the presidential elections, “failed” to keep his parliamentary seat.

An emboldened Mubarak immediately moved to eradicate the last vestige of remaining liberal dissent in the country, the bloggers. A law student named Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman who opposed Islamist violence was arrested. Fortunately, the bloggersphere erupted in undiplomatic outrage and Abdolkarim was eventually released. He has yet to write about his arrest and he has removed all his previous postings. The final tally of the first stage of the Parliamentary elections is: NDP (ruling party)...... 114 seats* 70%, MB (Muslim Brotherhood).......... 34 seats 20%, Independents........ 8 seats 5%, and NFC (liberals) ........... 8 seats 5%. A blogger named Alaa reports that the turnout was 10%. At least some Egyptians get it:

The astonishing large number of seats secured by the Brotherhood in the first of three stages made a lot bloggers ask a good number of questions. Ramy (Arabic) asked the most important ones:

  • Was it (the results) a deal or conspiracy with the government ?

  • If it was a deal or conspiracy, who is the winner ?

  • Who called for this ?

  • Was it to frighten the USA to run towards the arms of the NDP instead of Al-Ghad party and the young oppositions?

  • Was it a tactic from the government to release its stronghold or a move to calm people down?

  • Why did the government “leave the door open” for the new opposition and “left” Ayman Nour to be that noisy and for Kefaya to protest and throttled the voices of the brotherhood. Now they have turned their policy 180 degrees and left the brotherhood win and managed cut the hands of the opposition ?

Ibn abdel aziz jokingly nominates himself as the head of the Muslim Brotherhood. This means that he is the first person to nominate himself to this position in 70 years.

With his domestic ducks all in a neat row, Mubarak moved in for the kill. This time the target was the carefully arranged and American backed Conference for Middle East Democracy in Bahrain. It was designed to be a kind of Middle East Helsinki agreement committing the region to the advancement of human rights and democratic reform. As is common on such occasions a draft resolution had been carefully prepared. In this case, 36 -nation “Forum for the Future” had been working on a two-page “Bahrain Declaration” pledging to work to expand democracy. Condoleezza Rice arrived to highlight the American commitment to the process. It was at this final stage that the Egyptian foreign minister lowered the diplomatic boom. He insisted on new language which would restrict the ability of NGOs to promote democratic practices. Khaleej Times reported: “We made a very clear case, there were intensive negotiations,” said one senior official, who asked not to be named. “It was clear at the end that if they [Egypt] were insisting on this language that it would scuttle the declaration,” the official said, but Cairo would not budge.

Instead of budging, the Egyptian left early in an undiplomatic huff. The Conference, ended in chaos and Secretary Rice personally humiliated. “American officials seemed startled that an ally, Egypt, threw up a roadblock. Egypt receives nearly $2 billion annually in U.S. aid, second only to Israel” reports the Washington Times.

I am startled that American officials are startled. Is it possible that they failed to understand the current Egyptian Pharaoh’s disdain of the American democratization efforts or his determination to do everything he could to prevent their success? Have they really failed to see the methodical manner in which he set out to decimate the liberal forces in the country? Have they not noticed his parallel moves to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood in the lead up to the parliamentary elections? Do they really believe that his encouragement of the Islamists is a measure of his commitment to democracy? But, I may be wrong. American officials may have been startled not by the content of the Egyptian policy but by the public humiliation of Ms. Rice. It was much too reminiscent of then foreign minister Villepin’s treatment of Colin Powell. What did Secretary Rice do? The savvy secretary convinced Israel to agree to a risky deal with the Palestinians in order to give her a diplomatic cover. Given the myopia of the Western media, i.e., its disinterest in the Bahrain conference and intense interest in the Israeli Palestinian affairs, she succeeded brilliantly.

Buoyed by Mubarak's success, Egypt continues its leadership offensive. The Egyptian foreign minister announced that Egypt is leading the IOC anti-Denmark diplomatic campaign demanding amongst other things an apology from the Danish newspaper which published cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad. At the same time, former Egyptian secretary of state and current secretary of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, organized a conference in Cairo designed to cut a Lebanon type deal for governing Iraq ahead of the parliamentary elections. While the Shia and Kurds are being browbeaten to rehabilitate the Baathists in Cairo, their people are being blown up in the mosques and markets of Iraq. On Saturday, the Shia and the Kurds, stormed out of the meeting when a Sunni cleric accused them of being American stooges. An agreement by the Sunnis to play by democratic rules will be greatly appreciated by all. So much so, that Mubarak may get away with scuttling at least temporarily the American strategic goal of democratizing the region.

Americans may be too enmeshed in their partisan battles to notice the events in Bahrain and Cairo but the region, indeed, the whole world, is watching and learning. One thing should be clear, the liberal weakness in the Arab world cannot be attributed solely, or even mainly, to educational or economic factors. On the contrary, the weakness should be attributed to the mendacity of tyrants such as Mubarak and their elite supporters. They know that enabling Islamists means riding a tiger but they believe that their own fate is tied to the fate of the tiger. Hence, they are not only continuing to ride the tiger but use it to fight their joint enemy, liberal democrats. If the Bush administration as a whole and Condoleezza Rice in particular fail to understand this dynamic, they do not understand the enemy. In fact, they do not even understand who the enemy is. Democracy fails to make headway in the Middle East not because it appears “imposed” but because it is mercilessly persecuted. Islamism is making headway because it is carefully nourished. Writing articles praising tyrants for the newfound freedoms enjoyed by Islamists is aiding and abetting the enemy. Giving 2 billion dollars to Egypt means giving 2 billion dollars to the man who leads the fight against the American struggle to make the Middle East safe for democracy. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise.



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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

N.
Zionism is the doctrine that is and has consistently been the driving force behind the racist colonialist movement that led to the uprooting, displacement, dispossession, disfranchisement and subjugation of the indigenous Arab Palestinian people, both Moslems and Christians,from and in their homeland while supplanting them with people selected on pure unmitigated racist/confessional grounds .
For such a doctrine to be depicted as:” among the most humane liberation movements…..” is not only a clear symptom of a serious mental/ethical aberration but is equally a telling indication of a long held sick obsession by some as being Divinely “chosen” with special prerogatives and extra rights including, presumably, the right to plunder and deny others, “the non-chosen” i.e. the “goyim”, of basic inalienable human rights.
The precepts of this pernicious doctrine that has been progressively applied for the last 85 years in Palestine first by the Zionist movement then and now by the racist state of Israel has led to an unprecedented global polarization (Arab-Moslem/Judeo-Christian?) that threatens not only the Arab/Moslem and Zionist and non-Zionist Jew alike but the whole world with dire consequences.
That doctrine is what only a racially blinded N Friedman describes solely to him and his like ilk.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007


Professor Klinghoffer’s laments the fate of "reformist forces" in the Middle East without attempting to define "reform" ,in the Arab context , nor even bothering to tell the readers who and which movements, persons are they.
However slightly down the road we find a name: "Saad Eddin Ibrahim" , a political orientation :"Egyptian Liberals" and a cause :" ..Bush decision to democratize" the region.
Therein lays the very shaky foundations of an essay on the Middle East by a presumed scholar on the subject. Note worthy is the following:
-Without any attempt to define "reform" ,in this specific regional context, Klinghoffer safely assumes that it would necessarily be perceived , by the general reader, as a mimic of the Western political/social/economic structure(s) of the 20-21st century.
However in its real regional context "reform", as perceived by the overwhelming majority of the "to be democratized" nationals , would entail first and foremost the fact of direct and indirect foreign domination.
This ranges from outright occupation , by the USA and Israel of Arab lands, to de facto American hegemony over the regimes in power.
-By naming Saad Eddin Ibrahim as a proponent of reform Klinghoffer fails to inform the general reader that he is a an American/Egyptian binational; a fact that raises legitimate doubts, in the Arab mind, as to where his primary allegiance lays!


-Last, but not least, Klinghoffer devoutly refers to the " ..Bush decision to democratize" the region.
With a specific aim in mind she bypasses the fact that foreign, including American, polls have consistently shown that the general public in the Middle East, in spite of his wariness to speak on such "sensitive" issues and with the US political record in mind, never believed in the authenticity nor accepted the sincerity of this American/Bush “mission”.
With the absence of any reference to these basic factors, doubtlessly well known to her being the ME scholar that she is, one is bound to ask:” What is it that Klinghoffer is really after?”
I contend that it is a subtle mode of disinformation that is designed to lead the general, but mainly American, reader to the conclusion that :”..in spite of relentless American efforts the Arabs are hopeless and what is being done to them , by the USA and Israel, is right and proper and should continue without any reevaluation of American policies”.
A message that certainly does not serve American interests nor aims at bridging the divide between them.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

N.
A facile reply and a witless attempt at witticism.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

For a presumed Professor to reach a general judgment on a major national concept such as Arab ,or French or Chinese, land based , as does Klinghoffer, on one, or several, villainous acts is sad indeed.
It goes to show how petty and unbalanced one can become when saturated and blinded by a pernicious and racist doctrine as with Zionism.
It is futile to remind "Professor" Klinghoffer that all wars and severe civil disturbances are, sadly enough, always accompanied by evil acts .
Such acts can be part of a plan as was the disembowelment of pregnant mothers in the Zionist massacres of Deir Yassin or the rape of woman as in Tantoura by the same Zionist gangs or the acts of evil persons benefiting from lawless conditions.
Re Darfur I can not in all honesty claim it was this or that but of one thing I am certain : there are many different and very often conflicting reports on what is going on there and what is being done by whom!
Blinded as she is by her hatred of anything and everything that is Arab and/or Moslem "Professor" Klinghoffer readily adopts that which serves her Zionist mission to demonize the Arabs and the Moslems.
Nothing unusual here from her ilk except that as a "Professor" she is expected to show some balance and objectivity


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007


Two other points in Klinghoffer's erudite essay on reform in the Middle East deserve an additional comment.
A- The juxtaposing of the fates of President Sadat and Prime Minister Rabin both assassinated by their respective "extremists".
Whereas both Sadat and Rabin are eulogized the non "peaceful" intentions of his successor, President Mubarak, are stressed while absolutely no mention is made of Rabin's successor ; the rabid Likud with the master mind behind the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, Ariel Sharon, at its head.

B-Klinghoffer is deeply resentful of and is taking the American Administration to task for allowing the nation, Egypt, which receives 2.0 billion dollars a year in aid, “second only to Israel”, to:

“At the same time, former Egyptian secretary of state and current secretary of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, organized a conference in Cairo designed to cut a Lebanon type deal for governing Iraq ahead of the parliamentary elections. While the Shia and Kurds are being browbeaten to rehabilitate the Baathists in Cairo, their people are being blown up in the mosques and markets of Iraq.”(End of Quotation)

What she really wants is for the war to continue, for the insurrection to escalate, for the killing to increase and for the dismemberment of Iraq to proceed!

Why not since those that are being killed are Arabs, Kurds and AMERICANS and the net profit from the whole ill fated enterprise is Israel?
Why not since the war is being paid for in blood and treasure by the Arabs and Americans and the real beneficiary is Israel?
Why should it NOT continue?
Why should it NOT escalate?


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Two other points in Klinghoffer's erudite essay on reform in the Middle East deserve an additional comment.
A- The juxtaposing of the fates of President Sadat and Prime Minister Rabin both assassinated by their respective "extremists".
Whereas both Sadat and Rabin are eulogized the non "peaceful" intentions of his successor, President Mubarak, are stressed while absolutely no mention is made of Rabin's successor ; the rabid Likud with the master mind behind the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, Ariel Sharon, at its head.

B-Klinghoffer is deeply resentful of and is taking the American Administration to task for allowing the nation, Egypt, which receives 2.0 billion dollars a year in aid, “second only to Israel”, to:

“At the same time, former Egyptian secretary of state and current secretary of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, organized a conference in Cairo designed to cut a Lebanon type deal for governing Iraq ahead of the parliamentary elections. While the Shia and Kurds are being browbeaten to rehabilitate the Baathists in Cairo, their people are being blown up in the mosques and markets of Iraq.”(End of Quotation)

What she really wants is for the war to continue, for the insurrection to escalate, for the killing to increase and for the dismemberment of Iraq to proceed!

Why not since those that are being killed are Arabs, Kurds and AMERICANS and the net profit from the whole ill fated enterprise is Israel?
Why not since the war is being paid for in blood and treasure by the Arabs and Americans and the real beneficiary is Israel?
Why should it NOT continue?
Why should it NOT escalate?
SHE LAMENTS!



N. Friedman - 11/27/2005

Mr. Marshall,

You cannot procede because you lack the knowledge to discuss the issues raised.


Ed Marshall - 11/27/2005

This is what I'm talking about.

You may as well ask if there was ever a more humane national liberation movement than French Algeria or Rhodesia.

I can't procede from here because it's utterly insane.


N. Friedman - 11/27/2005

Mr. Marshall,

Name me a liberation movement more humane than Zionism.

Was the Greek liberation movement more humane? By the way, what happened to the Muslims of the Greece? Here is a hint: there were ALL forced out over the course of quite a long time while some left by agreement. Was the Muslim Pakistani movement more humane? What happened to the Hindus of Pakistan? How many million refugees were created? You may know that a million people died in connection with the creation of Pakistan. Was the French liberation more humane? What about the reign of terror? And the Russian revolution? How many million died there? Now, is that your example of a non-violent liberation movement?

By the standards of any of these movements, Zionists can hold their heads rather high. All of them make what occurred in historic Palestine look like a picnic.


I await your enlightenment.


N. Friedman - 11/27/2005

One other point. I note arguing previously to you that the world has a moral issue that pits the stateless without rights against people with states and rights. That stands, notwithstanding my comment immediately above that no individual state has an obligation to take stateless people in nor should any under today's existing system of states.

Unless and until the world comes to a resolution of what to do about the problem of stateless people, we shall have to accept various approaches taken including the approach taken by Jews. Which is to say, where a state permits immigration of stateless people, such people have the right to move where they can and to pursue their politics in that state. That is what Jews did and they acted within basic norms of human endeavor.

That you prefer Jews to remain stateless is your problem, not mine. My only point is that there is a moral dilemma in response to which the Jews of what is now Israel adopted one approach which, in fact solved their problem. Had the Arab side cooperated from the beginning, there would be no problem today. The Arab side, however, would not accept Israel because the notion of equality is contradictory to their notion of Arab Muslim supremacy.


N. Friedman - 11/27/2005

Mr. Marshall,

CORRECTED

I do not recall employing an international flavor. I used a bit of prose to unmask the ad hoc nature of your position.

I reiterate my view, so far as Israel is concerned. I do not think that Israel has done anything seriously wrong. I think she faced a war and in the course of that war, she defended herself including doing to Arabs what they were do and trying to do to Jews. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

The Arabs refused to accept Israel after the war, so the people expelled or who fled - by International law - had no right to return as they refused to accept the results of the war.

At this point, it is too late for those who were expelled as the vast majority are dead from old age. As for their children, they have no claim by any ordinary understanding of International law and they do not accept Israel's legitimacy, which is a necessary prerequisite to Israel taking any of them in. No country, including Israel, has any legal or any other obligation to accept stateless people, much less people who vow vengeance. And, if a country did, no country would follow that law in any event. Nor should any.

Now, so far as Muslim supremacy is concerned, here is a bit of scholarship for you. You will not like it but, in fact, the material comes from a seminal work. What follows comes from Chapter 1 of Vahakn N. Dadrian's renowned book, The History of the Armenian Genocide (pages 3 - 5):

As a first step toward a full analysis of the nationality conflicts, it is necessary to examine Islam as a major determinant in the genesis and escalation of these conflicts. The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam, as interpreted and applied within the framework of a theocratic Ottoman state organization, encompassing a congeries of non-Islamic nationalities, proved to be enduring sources of division in the relationship between the dominant Muslims and the latter. In many ways that conflict was a replica and an extension of conflicts plaguing the relationship of the various nationalities in the Balkans with the Turks who, as conquerors, played the role of overlords towards these subjects over a long period of time. In this sense, it may be observed that Islam not only functioned as a source of unending nationality conflicts both in the Balkans and Turkish Armenia, but it also functioned as a nexus of the correlative Eastern and Armenian questions, through the explosion of which the issues of creed and religious affiliation for decades were catapulted into the forefront of international conflicts.

Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation. Islam's bent for divisiveness, exclusivity, and superiority, which overwhelms its nominal tolerance of other religions, is therefore vital to an understanding of a Muslim-dominated, multi-ethnic system such as Ottoman Turkey.

The Islamic character of Ottoman theocracy was a fundamental factor in the Ottoman state's legal organization. The Sultan, who exercised supreme political power, also carried the title of Khalif (meaning Successor to Mohammed, and a vicar of supreme authority) and thereby served as the supreme protector of Islam. Thus, the Sultan-Khalif was entrusted with the duty of protecting the canon law of Islam, called the Şeriat, meaning revelation (of the laws of God as articulated by the prophet Mohammed). The Şeriat comprised not only religious precepts, but a fixed and infallible doctrine of a juridical and political nature whose prescriptions and proscriptions were restricted to the territorial jurisdiction of the State.

The Islamic doctrines embraced by the Ottoman state circumscribed the status of non-Muslims within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman system was not merely a theocracy but a subjugative political organization based on the principle of fixed superordination and subordination governing the legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and entailing social and political disabilities for the latter. [footnote omitted]. The Koran, the centerpiece of the Şeriat, embodies some 260 verses, most of them uttered by Mohammed in Mecca, enjoining the faithful to wage cihad, holy war, against the "disbelievers," e.g., those who do not profess the "true faith" (hakk din), and to "massacre" (kital) them. [footnote omitted]. Moreover, the verse "Let there be no coercion in religion" [footnote omitted] is superseded and thus cancelled (mensuh) by Mohammed's command to "wage war against the unbelievers and be severe unto them." [footnote omitted]. The verse that has specific relevance for the religious determination of the legal and political status of non-Muslims whose lands have been conquered by the invading Islamic warriors has this command: "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [ciziye] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." [footnote omitted]. This stipulation is the fundamental prerequisite to ending warfare and introducing terms of clemency.

The Ottoman Empire's Islamic doctrines and traditions, reinforced by the martial institutions of the State, resulted in the emergence of principles of common law which held sway throughout the history of the Ottoman socio-political system. The Sultan-Khalif's newly incorporated non-Muslim subjects were required to enter into a quasi-legal contract, the Akdi Zimmet, whereby the ruler guaranteed the "safeguard" (ismet) of their persons, their civil and religious liberties, and, conditionally, their properties, in exchange for the payment of poll and land taxes, and acquiescence to a set of social and legal disabilities. These contracts marked the initiation of a customary law in the Ottoman system that regulated the unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ottoman common law thus created the status of "tolerated infidels [relegated to] a caste inferior to that of their fellow Moslem subjects." [footnote omitted]. The Turkish scholar N. Berkes further pointed out that the intractability of this status was a condition of the Şeriat, which "could not admit of [non-Muslim] equality in matters over which it ruled. [Even the subsequent secular laws based on] the concept of the Kanun (law) did not imply legal equality among Muslims and non-Muslims." [footnote omitted].

This principle of Ottoman common law created a political dichotomy of superordinate and subordinate status. The Muslims, belonging to the umma, the politically organized community of believers, were entitled to remain the nation of overlords. Non-Muslims were relegated to the status of tolerated infidels. These twin categories helped perpetuate the divisions between the two religious communities, thereby embedding conflict into the societal structure. Moreover, the split transcended the political power struggle occurring in Ottoman Turkey during this time period. Even when the Young Turk Ittihadists succeeded Sultan Abdul Hamit into power in 1908, they reaffirmed the principle of the ruling nation (milleti hâkime). While promising liberty, justice, and equality for all Ottoman subjects, they vowed to preserve the superordinate-subordinate dichotomy. That vow was publicly proclaimed through Tanin, the quasi-official publication of the Ittihad party. Hüseyn Cahid, its editor, declared in an editorial that irrespective of the final outcome of the nationality conflict in Turkey, "the Turkish nation is and will remain the ruling nation." [footnote omitted]

Now, the above does relate to the Ottoman Empire but, as you may know, the Ottoman Empire ruled historic Palestine for a very, very long time. The manner of rule was religious and the noted religious precepts and what they imply - including shari'a and the common law created in connection therewith - were accepted by Arab Muslims in historic Palestine, so far as anyone knows. Which is to say, the culture was, as I said, supremacist in nature.

If you do not believe Dadrian, you can consult dozens of other works which show that such point of view is and has always been endemic in Muslim countries. And, such view survives to this day. In fact, it is likely the main source of tension between Muslims and the rest of the world which does not accept Muslim supremacy. That, after all, is part of what re-establishing the Caliphate would entail as that is what it is supposed to entail.


N. Friedman - 11/27/2005

Mr. Marshall,

I do not recall employing an international flavor. I used a bit of prose to unmask the ad hoc nature of your position.

I reiterate my view, so far as Israel is concerned. I do not think that Israel has done anything seriously wrong. I think she faced a war and in the course of that war, she defended herself including doing to Arabs what they were do and trying to do to Jews. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

The Arabs refused to accept Israel after the war, so the people expelled or who fled - by International law - had no right to return as they refused to accept the results of the war.

At this point, it is too late for those who were expelled as the vast majority are dead from old age. As for their children, they have no claim by any ordinary understanding of International law and they do not accept Israel's legitimacy, which is a necessary prerequisite to Israel taking any of them in. No country, including Israel, has any legal or any other obligation to accept stateless people, much less people who vow vengeance. And, if a country did, no country would follow that law in any event. Nor should any.

Now, so far as Muslim supremacy is concerned, here is a bit of scholarship for you. You will not like it but, in fact, the material comes from a seminal work. What follows comes from Chapter 1 of Vahakn N. Dadrian's renowned book, The History of the Armenian Genocide (pages 3 - 5):

As a first step toward a full analysis of the nationality conflicts, it is necessary to examine Islam as a major determinant in the genesis and escalation of these conflicts. The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam, as interpreted and applied within the framework of a theocratic Ottoman state organization, encompassing a congeries of non-Islamic nationalities, proved to be enduring sources of division in the relationship between the dominant Muslims and the latter. In many ways that conflict was a replica and an extension of conflicts plaguing the relationship of the various nationalities in the Balkans with the Turks who, as conquerors, played the role of overlords towards these subjects over a long period of time. In this sense, it may be observed that Islam not only functioned as a source of unending nationality conflicts both in the Balkans and Turkish Armenia, but it also functioned as a nexus of the correlative Eastern and Armenian questions, through the explosion of which the issues of creed and religious affiliation for decades were catapulted into the forefront of international conflicts.

Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation. Islam's bent for divisiveness, exclusivity, and superiority, which overwhelms its nominal tolerance of other religions, is therefore vital to an understanding of a Muslim-dominated, multi-ethnic system such as Ottoman Turkey.

The Islamic character of Ottoman theocracy was a fundamental factor in the Ottoman state's legal organization. The Sultan, who exercised supreme political power, also carried the title of Khalif (meaning Successor to Mohammed, and a vicar of supreme authority) and thereby served as the supreme protector of Islam. Thus, the Sultan-Khalif was entrusted with the duty of protecting the canon law of Islam, called the Şeriat, meaning revelation (of the laws of God as articulated by the prophet Mohammed). The Şeriat comprised not only religious precepts, but a fixed and infallible doctrine of a juridical and political nature whose prescriptions and proscriptions were restricted to the territorial jurisdiction of the State.

The Islamic doctrines embraced by the Ottoman state circumscribed the status of non-Muslims within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman system was not merely a theocracy but a subjugative political organization based on the principle of fixed superordination and subordination governing the legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and entailing social and political disabilities for the latter. [footnote omitted]. The Koran, the centerpiece of the Şeriat, embodies some 260 verses, most of them uttered by Mohammed in Mecca, enjoining the faithful to wage cihad, holy war, against the "disbelievers," e.g., those who do not profess the "true faith" (hakk din), and to "massacre" (kital) them. [footnote omitted]. Moreover, the verse "Let there be no coercion in religion" [footnote omitted] is superseded and thus cancelled (mensuh) by Mohammed's command to "wage war against the unbelievers and be severe unto them." [footnote omitted]. The verse that has specific relevance for the religious determination of the legal and political status of non-Muslims whose lands have been conquered by the invading Islamic warriors has this command: "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [ciziye] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." [footnote omitted]. This stipulation is the fundamental prerequisite to ending warfare and introducing terms of clemency.

The Ottoman Empire's Islamic doctrines and traditions, reinforced by the martial institutions of the State, resulted in the emergence of principles of common law which held sway throughout the history of the Ottoman socio-political system. The Sultan-Khalif's newly incorporated non-Muslim subjects were required to enter into a quasi-legal contract, the Akdi Zimmet, whereby the ruler guaranteed the "safeguard" (ismet) of their persons, their civil and religious liberties, and, conditionally, their properties, in exchange for the payment of poll and land taxes, and acquiescence to a set of social and legal disabilities. These contracts marked the initiation of a customary law in the Ottoman system that regulated the unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ottoman common law thus created the status of "tolerated infidels [relegated to] a caste inferior to that of their fellow Moslem subjects." [footnote omitted]. The Turkish scholar N. Berkes further pointed out that the intractability of this status was a condition of the Şeriat, which "could not admit of [non-Muslim] equality in matters over which it ruled. [Even the subsequent secular laws based on] the concept of the Kanun (law) did not imply legal equality among Muslims and non-Muslims." [footnote omitted].

This principle of Ottoman common law created a political dichotomy of superordinate and subordinate status. The Muslims, belonging to the umma, the politically organized community of believers, were entitled to remain the nation of overlords. Non-Muslims were relegated to the status of tolerated infidels. These twin categories helped perpetuate the divisions between the two religious communities, thereby embedding conflict into the societal structure. Moreover, the split transcended the political power struggle occurring in Ottoman Turkey during this time period. Even when the Young Turk Ittihadists succeeded Sultan Abdul Hamit into power in 1908, they reaffirmed the principle of the ruling nation (milleti hâkime). While promising liberty, justice, and equality for all Ottoman subjects, they vowed to preserve the superordinate-subordinate dichotomy. That vow was publicly proclaimed through Tanin, the quasi-official publication of the Ittihad party. Hüseyn Cahid, its editor, declared in an editorial that irrespective of the final outcome of the nationality conflict in Turkey, "the Turkish nation is and will remain the ruling nation." [footnote omitted]

Now, the above does relate to the Ottoman Empire but, as you may know, the Ottoman Empire ruled historic Palestine for a very, very long time. The manner of rule was religious and the noted religious precepts and what they imply - including shari'a and the common law created in connection therewith - were accepted by Arab Muslims in historic Palestine, so far as anyone knows. Which is to say, the culture was, as I said, supremacist in nature.

If you do not believe Dadrian, you can consult dozens of other works which show that such point of view is and has always been endemic in Muslim countries. And, such view survives to this day. In fact, it is likely the main source of tension between Muslims and the rest of the world which does not accept Muslim supremacy. That, after all, is part of what re-establishing the Caliphate would entail as that is what it is supposed to entail.


Ed Marshall - 11/27/2005

Just to add something, the irreconcilable problem seems to lie in the supernatural. I was once told that comparatively zionism was a fairly humanitarian "national liberation struggle". I was just stymied by this. Even if you except the premise, it was a pretty ruthless example, but the premise left me...stymied.

If you take away the supernatural, how does this become a "national liberation struggle".


Ed Marshall - 11/27/2005

The notion that the Jews from Jerusalem were expelled by the Arabs is new? That is not so. You confuse the Jews from Jerusalem, Gaza, Samaria and Judea

These people were a vanishingly small minority, who truely were victims. They were for the most part anti-zionist. To compare the Palestinian Nakba with them is ridiculous.

And, frankly, nothing I have said here is inconsistent with rights for Arab from historic Palestine. So far as I am concerned, they can have a state next to Israel. They cannot, however, have Israel.

What happened to all the international flavor from earlier? I'm quite happy to say to hell with the border and all that (that's where you were when we started), the reason I didn't get all happy with it is I know where it leads: from your formulation that colonization of Palestine is just some happy people saying "forget your imigration laws I'll live where I please" but once the Palestinians were driven out confessional/racial demographics becomes an issue of national survival (i.e "destroys Israel). It's dishonest and wrong.

It's not me putting out the half narrative. As a matter of fact, I didn't even put one out. Rather than decend to name calling, I'd ask that you try and reconcile the above contradiction and possibly consider that the word "bigot" might be Occam's Razor on it's problems.


N. Friedman - 11/27/2005

Mr. Marshall,

"risible"? The notion that the Jews from Jerusalem were expelled by the Arabs is new? That is not so. You confuse the Jews from Jerusalem, Gaza, Samaria and Judea with Jews from Libya, Iran, Iraq, etc.

And, frankly, the reason that the latter group was picked up later was, in fact, that it takes time for people to assess their history. And Ashkenaza Jews have a tendency to note themselves first and foremost, forgetting the history of other Jews.


And, frankly, nothing I have said here is inconsistent with rights for Arab from historic Palestine. So far as I am concerned, they can have a state next to Israel. They cannot, however, have Israel. Your vision destroys Israel and Israel has not done anything, even by your account, by which such a fate would be appropriate.

Now, you did not answer me most likely because you lack the knowledge to respond and/or because you know I am correct. To you, this is a simple drama of people displaced and only their rights count. Which is to say, you accept half, not the entire, story.

Again, even in your telling, the Israelis have done nothing terrible, particularly by the standards of the Muslim regions, not to mention Europe. In my view, your half narrative view is a huge lie put forward by bigots. I gather you prefer to associate with bigots. That is your choice, not mine.



Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

I don't bother with much of what you say, because it's largely tangental and occasionally dribbles off into the superstitious.

The idea that Israel has run out the clock on refugees is risible.

Certainly, Jews involuntarily displaced from the middle east should recieve compenstation. Take it to trial. The idea that there was some sort of "population transfer" is of fairly recent provenance (the 80's) and replaced an earlier and more honest "sixth aliya" narrative.

One way or another, obviously the idea that Palestinians have the same human rights as anyone else is anathema to you. You started all this with "Arab land" and the supposed chauvanism and backwardness this presupposed. Obviously the concept of "Jewish land" is nothing like that.


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Marshall,

Do you seriously suggest that civil rights are bettered protected in Arab couintries than in the US? or than in Israel? Whether or not the State Department is the devil or an angel, facts are facts.

And the fact is that civil rights in Arab countries are among the worst protected on Earth. And, as for protecting the rights of the non-Majority group, the Arab Muslim countries are certainly at the very bottom of the world. Which is why there has been such a mass exodus of non-Muslims from the Arab regions.

If you doubt me, investigate, for example, how Copts live in Egypt. Learn something about the riots and regular pogroms against them. Learn how their pope is under an assasination threat. Learn a bit about the commonly occuring group rapes of Copt women which the Egyptian government does not life a finger to prevent or punish. Learn about the permission that Copts must obtain - and rarely do - even to repair their religious institutions. And Copts are not unusual in the Muslim Arab region or in the Muslim regions more generally.

Again, there is injustice all over the world. Most of it is not in either Israel or the US. And that is by a long shot.


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Marshall,

Benny Morris agrees with me on this point. The massacres which occurred immediately after UN 181 came into being were to prevent UN 181 from being implimented.

But note once again that you have not addressed most of my points. I gather you have been persuaded by me.

Most importantly, this is all ancient history. Israel exists. It has no obligation to the children or grandchildren of refugees. And, to the refugees, both sides have obligations but neither side has the obligation to take them back. The Jewish side has paid conpensation but the Arab side has yet to pay a dime to the Jews they displaced.



N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

This comment was placed in the wrong spot. It is not in response to your ridiculous comment.


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Marshall,

Do you seriously suggest that civil rights are bettered protected in Arab couintries than in the US? or than in Israel? Whether or not the State Department is the devil or an angel, facts are facts.

And the fact is that civil rights in Arab countries are among the worst protected on Earth. And, as for protecting the rights of the non-Majority group, the Arab Muslim countries are certainly at the very bottom of the world. Which is why there has been such a mass exodus of non-Muslims from the Arab regions.

If you doubt me, investigate, for example, how Copts live in Egypt. Learn something about the riots and regular pogroms against them. Learn how their pope is under an assasination threat. Learn a bit about the commonly occuring group rapes of Copt women which the Egyptian government does not life a finger to prevent or punish. Learn about the permission that Copts must obtain - and rarely do - even to repair their religious institutions. And Copts are not unusual in the Muslim Arab region or in the Muslim regions more generally.

Again, there is injustice all over the world. Most of it is not in either Israel or the US. And that is by a long shot.




Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

Second, your position regarding the refugees overlooks the fact that the war started before the British departed and before the Mandate came to an end. In fact, the war started as a civil war shortly after UN 181 was proclaimed in the UN. And the fighting was started by the Arab side, in the form of massacres.

You know better. Like the Stern gang and even the Haganah hadn't been committing massacres back to 1946. Exactly which massacre are you going to try and pin this whole thing on, and (I know damn well this isn't going to happen) if someone deduced that it was a Jewish massacre instead of an Arab massacre that started this "civil war" would you follow that a massive ethnic cleansing of Jews from the country where they all wound up in garbage dumps was some sort of reasonable pay-back and they should just sit out there?


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Marshall,

You write: Was the zionist rejection of federal plans such as Morrison-Grady similarly based in your organic "supremacy" world view?

That view left the British in power. Why would anyone agree to that? The idea for both Jews and Arabs was for non-British rule, not the continuation of rule under the British Empire. So, your point does not even make sense.

I gather that you expect that every proposal must be taken up by the Jewish side. I suggest that perhaps the Arab side might have taken up a proposal. But, they did not. They preferred a military solution.


You next write: I don't need to torture out any stance on refugees it's fairly simple. No human being should be ran out of their home based on their race or religion, and if that happens they have a right to return. It's enshrined in international law, and it's simply common sense.

People on both sides lost their homes. You might notice the 85,000 Jewish refugees from Jerusalem, Gaza, Samaria and Judea. The land that was ruled by Jordan was governed by Jordanian law. Jordanian law includes explicit provision that any displaced person, other than a Jew (and this is in the law), may return or emmigrate to Jordan. That law governed Judea and Samaria when it was conqured by Jordan in 1948. The law still exists in Jordan. Does that bother you? Evidently, not.

As for International Law, the controlling documents on the subject disagree with you. Those documents are UN 194 and UN 242. In particular, UN 194 includes specific provision for compensating refugees - which Israel has done - particularly where, in fact, the refugees refuse to live at peace with their neighbors. And UN 242 provides for settling refugees, not for Israel settling them and is applicable to both the Jewish and the Arab refugees and calls on all involved to contribute to solving the problem.

Interestingly, if we go by general principles of International law, the children and grandchildren of Arab refugees are not refugees. Most of the actual refugees have long since died off so by ordinary notions of International law, the Arab claim is bogus. By your theory, since time has past, the Jews, not the Arabs, are indigenous to Israel and the offspring of the refugees can be settled elsewhere.


Lastly, you write: What I find maddening here is that you start with a thesis: Jews should form a country in Palestine. It's government should be formed as a western democracy. Obviously the native population has to be systematically driven out. You can be Benny Morris and say "eh, can't make an omelet, etc..", but this blindness to the frankly obvious price that had to be paid to realize the ambition put forward by zionists I find incredible. Most Palestinians were expelled before the Mandate even ended and the last of the British left (and before a single Arab military unit showed it's face) [Emphasis added by me.]

First, you misinterpret Benny Morris' view. His position is that after the Arab uprising of the 1930's, the parties were on a collision course so that the political aims of the parties were not going to work out peacfully - i.e. round peg and square hole -. Moreover, as he asserts, there was no central plan to drive anyone out. People were driven out as a result of the war which, in fact, the Arab side started. As Morris has written: "Critics of Israel subsequently latched on to those findings that highlighted Israeli responsibility while ignoring the fact that the problem was a direct consequence of the war that the Palestinians - and, in their wake, the surrounding Arab states - had launched." [from "Peace? No chance," by Benny Morris.]

Second, your position regarding the refugees overlooks the fact that the war started before the British departed and before the Mandate came to an end. In fact, the war started as a civil war shortly after UN 181 was proclaimed in the UN. And the fighting was started by the Arab side, in the form of massacres.

Your theory, once again, is that people would have lost homes had no fighting begun. On that point, there is no evidence because the Arabs decided to start a civil war. Which is to say, there is no way to make the judgement you make. Your position is merely bald polemic.

What can be said truthfully is that people on both sides lost their homes in rather large numbers. And the Arab side demanded the refugees be settled in Israel under circumstances in which there would not be peace between Arabs and Jews. Or, in simple words, the Arab goal was not to return refugees but to continue their war after they lost.

Further, the evidence that exists, as I noted previously, is that Jews had more substantial problems than to worry about displacing Arabs willing to live at peace with Jews. Which is why a substantial number of Arabs continue to live as Israelis. I might add, since the Jews allied with the Druze, clearly Israelis were willing to live with those of what you call the "indigenous" population which was willing to live at peace with the Jewish population.

I think you have grossly distorted the record for whatever reasons you have in order to make the Jews look like devils when, in fact, they were merely acting reasonably given the situation they faced. And that situation included hostile neighbors and hostile countries surrounding them.

I suggest to you that you cannot possibly understand the view taken by the Jewish leadership without understanding (a) that the Arab side had made clear publicly and repeatedly that they had annihilationist goals (whether or not that was their real, undisclosed, view which, of course, the Jewish side had no way to know for sure) and (b) that the Jewish side, given the catastrophe that had befallen world Jewry, had one goal, namely, to end that catastrophe and what they perceived to be the cause of that catastrophe - which is quite different from the nonsense you are peddling that they had expansionist, expulsionist goals -, statelessness.

Third. The notion that forming a democratic government is a bad thing - which is what you seem to suggest - is, I think, bizarre. That the Arab side did not seek that does not mean the Jewish side should submit to the violence filled politics that the Arab side has adopted. Again, your theory is not consistent with the view that Jews had legitimate rights.

Fourth. You have no idea about my thesis about forming a state as I have not stated it. I have no idea what I might have thought at the time and I have not considered an issue which, at this point, is academic, not real. What I do know is that Israel exists, is a decent country and that the Arab side works rather hard to destroy Israel.

So far as I am concerned, even if Israel committed horrendous sins to create itself, that is not a reason to dismantle the country today. If sins were as basis to destroy an existing country, I suggest to you that Germany, France and Britain have done so much worse than Israel, historically speaking, that they can volunteer first for destruction in order to lead the way by example. Otherwise, your position is merely your prejudice speaking.

My bet is that the destruction of these countries or Israel would lead to far worse than leaving the status quo in place. So, I cannot imagine, even if one seriously had such a proposal, that such would be anything but the view of a person filled with hate.

Frankly, I take your views as being unreasonable polemic to force an ad hoc settlement upon Israel that you are unwilling to force onto countries with far worse records than Israel.

I note that you have not addressed most of my points. Instead, you have addressed a few point and ignored most of what is written. I thus assume, given your silence, that you have no serious arguments against my other points.



Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

Actually, Freedom House is good for something. Find a country that has an incredibly similar human rights situation, note the difference between that numerical ranking and the other and you arrive at a value that reflects the State Department's concern for the more favored regime.


Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

Your version is not a documented fact. What is documented is that the Jewish leadership hoped to have as large a part of the territory as they might, that they knew the Arab side opposed UN 181 (or any other plan giving rights to Jews) and that the Arab side might likely attack. However, there is no evidence that the leaders of the Jewish side would have started any fighting had UN 181 been accepted by the Arab side.

Consider, the Jewish side never faced the circumstance you propose, as they were well aware they would be attacked. What they might have done in other circumstances there is no way to know. The best assumption, however, is that they would have accepted whatever compromise arose because the circumstances facing the Jewish world, having suffered unimaginable loses and having never had any rights as full, equal citizens in either Europe or the Arab countries, required such to be.


Was the zionist rejection of federal plans such as Morrison-Grady similarly based in your organic "supremacy" world view?

I don't need to torture out any stance on refugees it's fairly simple. No human being should be ran out of their home based on their race or religion, and if that happens they have a right to return. It's enshrined in international law, and it's simply common sense.

What I find maddening here is that you start with a thesis: Jews should form a country in Palestine. It's government should be formed as a western democracy. Obviously the native population has to be systematically driven out. You can be Benny Morris and say "eh, can't make an omelet, etc..", but this blindness to the frankly obvious price that had to be paid to realize the ambition put forward by zionists I find incredible. Most Palestinians were expelled before the Mandate even ended and the last of the British left (and before a single Arab military unit showed it's face)


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Simon,

Mr. Marshall has his own "facts." His "facts" only consider Israel judged against standards which do not exist on Earth and which no other country meets. So, his facts show that Israel is not a perfect country.

What Mr. Marshall does not face is that Israel, with her blemishes - just like all other countries have blemishes -, is still, by the standards of most countries (and, even as judged by European countries, not countries at war), a very decent country. And he will note face that Israel has achieved her high standards despite ceaseless war against her. And he will not face that Israel's accomplishment, given the circumstances, are rather extraordinary.


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Marshall,

You write: What 181 would have done is split the country in two for the benifit of a settler population. The Jewish half of Palestine would have taken away the rights of near half of the population and handed their destiny to a political movement that openly saw them as an existential problem. That it was resisted was inevitable.

Three points:

One. Had the Arab side accepted UN 181, there is, of course, no way now to reconstruct what might have been. Nonetheless, we do know what has happened to Arabs in Israel proper. At present, the "indigenous" Arab population in Israel proper has more rights than any Arabs in any Arab country including the right to vote, to form political parties, to organize labor union, to protest, etc., etc.. Such people (unlike Muslims in France and Germany) have had representatives in the Knesset, on the country's High Court, and in the cabinet. That would seem to cast your theory as simply incorrect.

What you might correctly say is that Arabs in Israel would always be subject to the view that the country is not an Arab cultured country but, instead, a culturally Jewish country. But, that is quite different from what you incorrectly claim.

Two. Your notion of "indigenous" people versus settlers is among the most reactionary theories about which I have ever heard. Consider that there are, according to the Boston Globe, 50 million refugees today and most of them, like Jews until the re-creation of Israel, have no prospect ever of obtaining rights anywhere absent the creation, in some instances, of states and, in other instances, of arrangements which so-called "indigenous" populations might nonetheless find totally unacceptable.

With that in mind, there is an irreconcilable moral dilemma that pits the stateless without rights and those who already have rights in states. Those without states, with as much right, morally speaking, as the rest of humanity to states, will not have real rights without concessions by those with rights and states including concession of land, in some instances to form states. Such, you will note, is by necessity the basis of your argument for the Palestinian Arabs - and otherwise, there is no moral argument to support your claim against Israel -.

The very same argument, you must recognize, supports the right claimed by the Jews which, somewhere, would have pitted them against other people. In fact, since Jews were, at the time, the group with the least political rights either in European or Arab countries, their claim was among the best, notwithstanding any concerns - legitimate and bigotted - the local Arab population might have raised.

Wherever Israel might have been created, other than on land created in the middle of the ocean, large numbers of people might have be adversely or otherwise affected. The Arabs, frankly, made matters far worse by treating Jews according to the theory that only Arabs ought have political rights. That, as I noted, has direct roots in Arab history as it derives from notions embedded in Islam which require Muslim rulers employing Islamic law and, as translated into a more secular time, amounts simply to supremacist ruling notions.

Three. The notion of "indigenous" people suggests that people are like plants and that there is something immoral about the moving or mixing of peoples. Such, however, is simply not the case as no one is really indigenous. People were born in this or that place. However, people also migrate in order to find refuge and for a variety of other reasons and they are no different from those who claim to be indigenous.

Your theory conveniently denies to Jews the right claimed by the rest of humanity - including the entire population (even the Indians who migrated from Asia) in the Americas, in Australia, in Europe (e.g. the migration of settler steppe people into Europe including, among other places, into Hungary) and, most obvious of all, of Arabs in all places except Arabia (and, at some point, likely even to Arabia). And note: by your theory, the Arabs in Israel are, in fact, mostly settler peoples who colonized the area after conquest - unless, of course, you choose an arbitrary date and claim (as in musical chairs) that, as of that date, those with states are the indigenous and those without, are out of luck (i.e. there was no chair for them so they are out of the game). Perhaps, you believe deep down that Jews are the deicide people and must be condemned to wander the Earth forever. Or, do you subscribe to the Muslim theory that Jews - like Christians - can only live as dhimmi.

You write: It's also a documented fact that the support for 181 by the zionist leadership was purely pragmatic and would only have been acceptable for use as a staging ground for further territorial gains.

Your version is not a documented fact. What is documented is that the Jewish leadership hoped to have as large a part of the territory as they might, that they knew the Arab side opposed UN 181 (or any other plan giving rights to Jews) and that the Arab side might likely attack. However, there is no evidence that the leaders of the Jewish side would have started any fighting had UN 181 been accepted by the Arab side.

Consider, the Jewish side never faced the circumstance you propose, as they were well aware they would be attacked. What they might have done in other circumstances there is no way to know. The best assumption, however, is that they would have accepted whatever compromise arose because the circumstances facing the Jewish world, having suffered unimaginable loses and having never had any rights as full, equal citizens in either Europe or the Arab countries, required such to be.

In short, I think your theory is a rather bizarre piece of revisionist "history" - really polemics - that ignores the dominate realities facing Jews everywhere including in the region (i.e. in historic Palestine) most directly affected with absorbing the remnants of the obliterated Jewish population of Europe and the Arab regions. Frankly, the main task of the Jewish leadership was to house several hundred thousand destitude people, not to start wars. War was something they hoped to avoid but, in fact, knew they would face. And that is what the record shows.


E. Simon - 11/26/2005

It would seem to make sense that your evaluative opinion of source material is as arbitrarily malleable as are your positions.


Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

You quite simply can't read. Go fill your skull with some more nonsense from Freedom House, it's easier.


E. Simon - 11/26/2005

I thought according to your unimpeachable account their right to even that wasn't secure. Or do you just wish to disparage voting when your empty accusations against voting rights are exposed? Pretty courageous to so drastically change positions within less than 24 hours.


E. Simon - 11/26/2005

Palestinian Authority-Administered Territories: "6"


E. Simon - 11/26/2005

No funnier than someone's inability to discern a "3" from the rankings on civil liberties in the following territories:

Saudi Arabia..... 7
Egypt............ 6
Lebanon.......... 5
Jordan........... 5
Iran............. 6
Syria............ 7

Now that's funny -- hahahahahaha!


Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

Oh, and "one guy" (whose name is Adel Kaadan), is the only person who even bothered trying to move out of the Arab ghetto. He won his lawsuit in 2000, and they still haven't let him move out. That's how great Arabs have it in Israel. They can vote though!


Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

I used an example, it's hardly the only one.

Administrative detention from the 80's outward has been used to take hostages and against non-violent political opponents in the Arab communinity. Ask B'tsalem.

That you bother using Freedom House for anything is funny.


Ed Marshall - 11/26/2005

As for your second statement, bare majority was not the issue. The issue was to find a settlement so that all involved could have rights. That, frankly, the Arab side rejected.

What 181 would have done is split the country in two for the benifit of a settler population. The Jewish half of Palestine would have taken away the rights of near half of the population and handed their destiny to a political movement that openly saw them as an existential problem. That it was resisted was inevitable.

It's also a documented fact that the support for 181 by the zionist leadership was purely pragmatic and would only have been acceptable for use as a staging ground for further territorial gains.


E. Simon - 11/26/2005

Oh, and that Israel's civil liberties (which while rated a 3 by Freedom House are not perfect but far better than almost anywhere in the surrounding countries, including among the Palestinian Authority) - but that it is an "empty slogan" to say as much.


E. Simon - 11/26/2005

That apparently a hypothetical demographic concern, one guy (and - oh yeah "people"), and a law from 1979 all amount to something more substantial than "empty slogans."


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

Mr. Marshall,

And your point?


N. Friedman - 11/26/2005

What is the lie, Mr. Marshall? UN 181 was rejected by the Arab side. That is a fact. Before that, all other efforts at compromise were rejected (e.g. the Peel commisino proposal of the 1930's and the proposals by the Zionists leaders during the 1920's). So says Benny Morris.

And, where were the Arab settlement offers? Were there any? Enlighten me.

As for your second statement, bare majority was not the issue. The issue was to find a settlement so that all involved could have rights. That, frankly, the Arab side rejected.


Ed Marshall - 11/25/2005

using words such as voting, property, political participation, due process, etc.

voting- check, they can do that at least until they become a demographic "problem".

property- Well, there was one guy who sued to try and get a house in a Jewish neighborhood. He won a few years ago but he's still unable to get in. You have people still living in Israel as Israeli citizens whose bank accounts and orchards were siezed under the absentee proptery laws of 1948.

Due process- Check something called the Emergency Powers Law of 1979.

Perhaps you shouldn't be so hard on people touting empty slogans.


Ed Marshall - 11/25/2005

In fact, compromise was quite possible. The fact is that the Arab side rejected all efforts at compromise.

As books have been written about this subject, and there is a wealth of primary sources and research which say that's an incredible lie, I'll just assume you know they exist and refuse to educate yourself further on the matter.

The casual racism expressed with "as demanded by the supremacy doctrine which is embedded into Islamic and Arab thinking" probably explains this allergic reaction along with your view that compromise should have meant a bare majority of Jewish settlers who owned a little over 5% of the land be given control of all of it.

I imagine if I credited this to "the supremacy doctrine which is embedded into Jewish thinking", you would immediately see the problem with such formulations.


E. Simon - 11/24/2005

It would indeed be even-handed to balance facts with opinions. The world would be much more peaceful if everyone was forced to find solace in everyone else's opinions. Unfortunately for Mr. Thomas, some of them have brains too, which makes them partial to debating and analyzing those things called facts. Facts often get in the way of the peaceable sharing of opinions, I agree. It's a messed up world. What to do, what to do...


E. Simon - 11/23/2005

Omar doesn't think it's possible for Jews to do anything but oppress Arab citizens of Israel, no matter how much greater their rights than those of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Because one who doesn't admit that what occurs to Arabs in those lands is anything but oppression, is simply fighting for the unfettered realization of unlimited nationalism of Arabs in Israel or Palestine, not rights. Anything but rights - be they basic, inalienable or whatever. But alas, were he only to relate what rights are being abrogated by "disfranchisement" (sic), "subjugation," or whatever, then he would have to make that step of moving beyond rhetoric and actually talking in real terms, using words such as voting, property, political participation, due process, etc. But that just wouldn't be the Arab nationalist thing to do.


N. Friedman - 11/23/2005

Omar,

I read your point. It does not answer what I said.

Some simple questions: About the supremacist doctrine that justifies Jihad, that justifies supremacy over conquered nations, etc., which is at the heart of Arab conquests since the 7th Century: is such ok? And, why should the conquered peoples accept it? What is in that doctrine for the Jews of the Arab regions?

And, moreover, most Israeli Jews are from Arab countries where they were severely oppressed, persecuted, repressed and, in many cases, made refugees. What does that say about Arabs?

Get real.


N. Friedman - 11/23/2005

James,

The Jews who arrived after WWII lived in tent cities for several years. They have nothing at all to do with things or to what happened to the Palestinian Arabs. And there was clearly room for all to live as, in fact, the population of the region has increased from well under 2 million people to well over 6 million people. So, your interpretation makes no sense.

In fact, compromise was quite possible. The fact is that the Arab side rejected all efforts at compromise. Why? In part because they held to the view of Arab land and that Muslims can only be ruled by Muslims - as demanded by the supremacy doctrine which is embedded into Islamic and Arab thinking -. Such is embedded in such thinking in order to create a moral justification for Arab conquests and rule over infidel. Jews have no conceivable reason to accept that doctrine.



James H Dalrymple - 11/23/2005

"The Arabs could have opted for compromise - as Jews proposed repeatedly"

By compromise do you mean that when Zionists arrived by boat after WW2, Arabs should have left their villages and farms to make space.


Frederick Thomas - 11/22/2005


Ms. Klinghoffer discovers anew that Israel is good and just and Palestinians and Arabs are bad and evil. She is supported as usual by the I-team chorus line. No surprise there.

Mr. Baker argues the opposite part and is unable to effect any change. Again, no surprise.

Meanwhile, there is no engagement, and no chance for peace. I suggest that Ms. Klinghoffer surprise us all with an even handed discussion of the situation in the middle east.


N. Friedman - 11/22/2005

Correction:

I intended to note Arab conquest of a good portion of the world, not the entire world. The rest of my comment stands as it is.


N. Friedman - 11/22/2005

Omar,

Zionism is among the most humane liberation movements the world has ever known. Compare it to any other liberation movement and it comes out rather well.

You might also compare Zionism with the barbaric movement which led to the spread of Arab rule across the world on the phoney notion that God's will required such conquests - when, in fact, such conquests were merely for booty and glory - and with the dishonest rhetoric that the captured nations conquered in such wars for booty and glory really wanted to enter into dhimma pacts (i.e. pacts of concession), and there is no doubt that Zionism is on the better half.

And, note: the rule of Arabs included the radical segregation of non-Muslims. I might add, in the early days, there was the radical segregation of even converts to Islam because they were not Arabs. Which is to say, this is not a Muslim thing but a mere question of prejudiced bigotted people who developed justification for their conquests and for exploiting those they conquered.

Now, you may not like that Zionists and the Arabs came into conflict. But the fact is that such conflict did not need to occur. The Arabs could have opted for compromise - as Jews proposed repeatedly -. Instead, Arabs opted for the radically racist notion called "Arab land."


N. Friedman - 11/22/2005

Omar,

Actually, I was quite serious.

When the Arabs come to realize that land is land, not Arab land, then a whole host of disputes will be resolved. When such realization that land is land occurs, it will be apparent that non-Arabs can rule land which, by religious, not rational, reckoning is just plain land.

But, the Arabs, at this point, still largely retaining a nearly Medieval understanding of the world, in which land once deemed "Arab" or, to be more precise, Muslim land (i.e. dar al-Islam), must always be Arab - that is, Muslim - land.

And that understanding by Arabs - really a terrible misunderstanding that causes unnecessary war, in which millions have died over the course of history - is one of the sources of what is wrong in today's world.


Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 11/22/2005

Unfortunately, there is nothing funny about the concept of Arab land. As Kristof reports, it is not only used against Jews but also against Darfurians: Sudan's Department of Gang Rape
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Kalma Camp, Sudan

When the Arab men in military uniforms caught Noura Moussa and raped her the other day, they took the trouble to explain themselves.

"We cannot let black people live in this land," she remembers them telling her, and they used racial epithets against blacks, called her a slave, and added: "We can kill any members of African tribes." (Watch Ms. Noura in the Op-Ed special report, "The Forgotten Genocide.")

Ms. Noura is one of thousands of women and girls to be gang-raped in Darfur, as part of what appears to be a deliberate Sudanese government policy to break the spirit of several African tribes through mass rape.


N. Friedman - 11/22/2005

Omar,

The first thing that an Arab electorate might do, were it to be mature, is to realize that there is no such thing as Arab land. There is only land. Some is ruled by Arabs and some by others. Unless and until Arabs realize that obvious fact, that is bad for Arabs and the rest of the world.

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