Blogs > HNN > Christian Peacemakers and the Failure of the Left

Dec 8, 2005 1:51 am

Christian Peacemakers and the Failure of the Left

Mr. LeVine is professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture, and Islamic studies at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the forthcoming books: Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil; and Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948. He is also a contributor, with Viggo Mortensen and Pilar Perez, to Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation. Click here to access his homepage.

Imagine if Sunni insurgents decided to face down the greatest power on earth with a human chain of non-violent resistance. Or if Hamas threw human shields rather than human bombs at Israel.

This is the kind of movement that the four member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams currently held hostage in Iraq are trying to build, and it's precisely the model that the peace movement should have, but didn't, take as its strategy for challenging the Bush Administration and its imperial ambitions after the invasion. Instead, less than a dozen CPTers have stood virtually alone against 150,000 "coalition forces" and an equally violent and unscrupulous insurgency--a scandal whose reflection on the movement is every bit as devastating as Abu Ghraib and Guantanimo are for the US army.

It didn't have to be this way. The peace movement did not have to settle for the kind of "cheap activism" (as one of the hostages described his activities before coming to Iraq) that has come to see periodic protests in New York or Washington DC as a legitimate substitute for the hard work of facing off against the violence of empire and occupation on the ground. There was a moment after the invasion, before the insurgency took root, when the peace movement could have made a difference in Iraq. Instead of writing off Iraq as lost to Cheney and Rumsfeld, expending energy in tirades against American empire--when is the last time that an anti-imperialist movement ever succeeded in the West?--or worse, actively supporting violent insurgency at the very moment other peace activists have been held hostage (as have some of the most senior members of the movement), the movement could have marshaled its resources and helped Iraqis build a non-violent movement of resistance against both occupation and the violence and hatred it breeds.

This is why, I believe, CPT went to Iraq, and why it's work as been so important in other countries, from Colombia to the Occupied Territories. As I've seen many times in Palestine, with a few dedicated people CPT has brought powerful results in the communities in which they work. To begin with, they serve as first person "witnesses" to the violence of the occupation and war. This is absolutely crucial, because one of the key dynamics that allow both to continue unhindered is the ability of governments, guerrillas, and occupiers to hide the truth from the world.

Second, they act as a barrier between the occupied and the occupier. The death of International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie (killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003) is perhaps the most dramatic example of the dangers faced by activists; but it is in the less dramatic but equally dangerous daily encounters between civilians and soldiers that I've seen CPT prove its worth. It's hard to count how many times I've seen CPT members get in between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians--often too young, old or infirmed to protect themselves--and stop an act of violence that would have scarred both perpetrator and victim for the rest of their lives. Indeed, it is precisely because CPT acts on the recognition of and desire to preserve the humanity of both the occupier and occupied, that it has been able to work small miracles in the Occupied Territories, and why it has made many friends in Iraq despite its small presence.

As one of the founders of the Muslim Peacemaker Team in Iraq explained, "they brought Shias, Muslims and Sunnis together. They help us. We were inspired by their action to travel all these thousands of miles across the ocean to come here in Iraq and speak about peace, promote nonviolence. And they are so steady and consistent in visiting the same place they did visit many times just to lay down their sense of community and friendship."

Sadly, CPT has too rarely been joined by other activists willing to make the same commitment. This isn't for lack of an understanding of the importance of such an enterprise. As a senior member of United For Peace and Justice remarked to me in the aftermath of the US invasion, "Imagine if thousands of college students flooded Iraq, witnessing what was going on, helping build a non-violent movement, and came home to tell Americans the truth about the occupation." Needless to say, UFPJ didn't put much energy into creating such a program (although it was and remains stretched in many directions just trying to manage the programs and actions it has organized, but my point is that the movement would have done well to make the kind of activities CPT has been involved in more of a priority).

Similarly, over one hundred European activists were supposed to join a "peace caravan" to Iraq on the first anniversary of the invasion. They canceled because of security concerns, months before the first activist was targeted by insurgents, when CPT and the few dozen other international activists in Iraq (like those of Ponte per Baghdad and Occupation Watch, which did sponsor more short term delegations by groups like Code Pink, Global Exchange, and UFPJ) were moving around openly, meeting with grass roots and religious leaders on good days and helping carry the wounded out of Falluja and Najaf when the US and UK laid siege to those towns.

But if peace activists were largely absent from Iraq, lots of young republicans left their cushy internships at the American Enterprise Institute or Heritage Foundation, or consulting companies, to make their bones inside the Green Zone. And well over 190,000 young Americans have had little choice but to spend their days and nights protecting it. As for Iraqis, the leaders of the various factions opposed to the occupation would do well to take to heart the example of the CPT members now held hostage.

My last images of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad was of their holding a vigil in Tahrir Square to protest against the detention and mistreatment of Iraqis by the US military in Abu Ghraib. This was in late March 2004, months before anyone in the United States had even heard of Abu Ghraib, or bothered to consider how our armed forces were treating detainees in the war on terror. But CPT knew full well what was going on in Abu Ghraib--that's why they were in Iraq, to "witness" the realities of the occupation--and they were determined to make sure that the Iraqis saw that there were Americans, and westerners more broadly, who were willing to put their bodies on the line to protest against such abuses. It's too bad that it's taken this tragedy to get the rest of us to listen.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"If you want to know why America policy is much more biased towards Israel than is in America's interest, Mr. Baker, I will repeat it to you for about the 3rd time. Maybe you will pay attention this time, for a change.

It is because most Americans DON'T CARE !"

Mr Clarke!

In your tireless effort to create antagonists where no antagonism exists you do over reach sometimes where you should not! Can not you be anything but an antagonist?
I read and understand from the first time; it is not for me that such a sentence, as above, verging on insolence, should be addressed!
To understand is agree is another thing!
Not that I disagree that the American public does not care!
I know the USA too well for that.
However whenever I say, or write, "America" it is the USA as represented by its legislative body and its executive administration that I refer to.
It is not Jack, Dick, Harry and Martha from Chattanooga that I refer to.
I thought that goes without saying when America is mentioned in the context of a discussion about the ME, Iraq, Allende, WMD, International Court of Justice, the Kyoto protocol etc..
"Goes without saying" except, seemingly, with a certain Mr.Clarke!
It is America's total, unwavering and unconditional political, financial, economic and military support of Israel that has nurtured and sustained Israel's expansionist policies and the rapacious Zionist dream of a Jewish state in an Arab Moslem and Christian land; Palestine.
America’s foreign policy, particularly re the ME and the Arab/Israeli conflict, has progressed from strong support to , recently,total identification with Israel’s.
That has, seemingly, started with the Jewish/Zionist financial bail out of the Truman presidential campaign, continued substantially with successive US presidents and reached its climax with the Bush/Wolfowitz administration for what appears to be a dogmatic/doctrinaire, biblical outlook, for President Bush, and oil interests for Cheney & Co.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"Re: Peace in Palestine?! (#72197)
by N. Friedman on December 8, 2005 at 10:25 AM

"Land and peace." Well, the Israelis were willing to cede land, lots of it. The devil is only in the details, not in the willingness."

One thing we, all, must admit; N. Friedman never wavers from the tried old Zionist mode of public address :" obfuscate, deny, digress , lie if need be if confronted with specifics!"

My post "Peace in Palestine" (#72184 of Dec 8/2005) referred to the insatiable Zionist land grab of Palestinian lands as the major past, present and future obstacle to "Peace in Palestine" naming TWO ongoing SPECIFIC policies:
-Building of Settlements on the occupied territories and
-The WALL.
In his reply, indicated above, Mr Friedman had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to say about either of these two SPECIFIC instances of undeniable veracity.
Instead of addressing them he chose, "OBFUSCATE and DIGRESS", to bring up the still obscure and highly controversial deliberations of the Clinton Camp David re the RIGHT of RETURN.
Any thing but specifics “OBFUSCATE and DIGRESS”!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

All means to reach a durable settlement with Israel has failed, and will fail, for the simple basic reason that Israel wants BOTH land and peace.
Immediately after the Oslo Agreement Israel embarked on a new , and more extensive, settlements building program with a new mega project to the south of occupied Arab East Jerusalem!
Shortly after the Road Map Israel launched the building of the WALL!First taunted as a "protective" wall its failure to follow the so called Green line (1967 armistice line) unmasked it for what it truly is: a new land grab that separated Arab villages from their cultivable lands, schools from their playgrounds and neighbouring villages from their only direct land communication means.
Earlier declared as a "temporary", possibly removable, measure the WALL is now , with official American (Bush) and Mrs Clinton endorsement, the starting point for any new "peace" negotiations with the PNA!
With Sharon, the propable future elected leader of Israel, the Jordan Valley lands will be the next land grab!
Israel has never wavered from its Zionist ambition to dominate ALL of Palestine and eventually depopulate ,ie ethnically cleanse ,it from al Palestinian Arabs.
Civil , peaceful, resistance never led nor will ever lead to an "equitable" settlement that recognizes ANY national Arab Palestinian rights in their homeland as long as the Zionist dream of Eretz Israel persists and the USA lends its total , economic, military and political support to any and every Israeli move.
To pretend otherwise is to be totally ignorant, a liar or indulge in self deception!
The Palestinian people has reached this conclusion and Abbas &Co, the "peace party", are loosing ground and public support with every passing day!
Short term Israel, with American overt, often tacit but more often covert total support, seems to be achieving its goals with undeniable consistency.
Israel and the USA are preparing the grounds for a very dark era in the future of the region to the huge loss of ALL.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman,

Your latest attempt at a dodge (#72206) is silly. You started off the conversation here with your outrageous comment #72006 at the top of page. That bit of juvenile hypocrisy deserves every, or at least almost every, word of condemnation I and even Thomas (with whom I do not normally see eye to eye) have thrown out in every comment since.

Your kindergarten playground denial will not work here, Friedman, because any literate observer can see who "started it" at the top of the comments section.

I suppose CPT thinks they are helping show the Palestinians how to organize non-violent protests as alternative to violence against civilians. Whether they are actually doing anything of the sort is indeed dubious, but that is not your point. What you want to do is to ram every aspect of the Mideast, of Islam, of Palestine, into your paranoid view of the world, and then whine on endlessly when someone calls you on it.

Now please go beat up on Baker or Thomas (whose agenda I will not try to divine) and leave me alone.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

What a profound, balanced, and relevant remark(#72533) which Mr. Simon has taken time out of his busy schedule to make. I wonder how he happened upon this obscure discussion 9 days after it began.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. T.,

I find your remarks refreshingly lucid here. Which is not say that I agree 100% with them.

I think the Palestinians would have been better off had they struck a deal in 2000 on something close to Barak's terms. And they might have, if Sharon and Arafat hadn't killed the process. But the failure of the Palestinians to accept 36%, 97% or whatever the number is (though I certainly agree that rotely repeating figures concoted by AIPAC proves nothing), -in any case, a blunder by the Palestinian leaders- does not justify the indiscriminate bombing and slaughter of innocent Palestinians conducted by Sharon's government thereafter. Nothing, not even the atrocities committed against innocent Israelis justifies that government acting in such a brutal and uncivilized manner. All of which has pratically nothing to do with Iraqi hostages which ought to have been the subject of comments here. And everything do to with pro-expansionist-Israel horse fertilizer stubbornly and unendingly recycled by a paranoid dupe.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Go back to high school and learn logic.
This longwinded possibly true story, proves absolutely zilch about what Sharon did or did not do at the wall to torpedo the peace process.

Your basic problem is that you cannot get it through your dense skull that BOTH Israelis and Palestinians might be to blame for the mess they are both in.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Welcome back to the Hypocritical Nonsense Network, Mr. Friedman. I regret to observe from your remarks on this page that your absence has evidently not reduced your devotion to long-winded prejudice against Arabs and Islam. Pretending, for instance that so-called "Palestinian Jihadis" are some kind of representative sample of the Palestinian population generally.

It is absurd to posit moral equivalance between criminal terrorists and a supposedly legitimate law-abiding democratic government. Yet that is what you essentially do by insisting that non-violent protest movements in the West Bank devote equal time to "condemning terrorism". Should Ghandi have spent half his days on hunger strikes against pick-pockets in Bombay ? Do we decry Martin Luther King for not having conducted half of his sit-ins against muggers in Harlem ?

I doubt whether that CPT is in the same league with Ghandi and King in terms of either practical relevance or moral effectiveness in Palestine, Iraq or anywhere else, and I certainly do not agree that theirs is the best, let alone the only path towards a saner U.S. policy in the Mideast, but by no stretch are they obligated in any moral sense to kowtow to Israeli settler fanatics just because much of the American press, including murderer-defenders such as Dershowitz do so.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

In any event, the reason that groups such as CPT receive moral support from HAMAS, etc., is that CPT is instrumental in the Palestinian terror strategy.

In any event, the reason that groups such as the Israeli government receive moral support from JDL, etc., is that Israel is instrumental in the JDL terror strategy.

In any event, the reason that groups such as the Bush Administration receive moral support from the convicted abusers at Abu Ghraib, etc., is that the Bush Adminstration was instrumental to the horrors of Abu Ghraib.

In any event, the reason that the Republican Party was supported, in every roll call vote, by crooked Congressmen De Lay and Cunningham is that the Republican Party was instrumental to their corrupt money laundering and bribe-taking.

In any event, the reason HNN allows Friedman's paranoid, illogical and biased posts here is that HNN is instrumental to Friedman's prejudiced bias against Palestinians.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman,

You continue to insult the intelligence of your audience.

Despite your predictable refusal to accept criticism in the above post, you have never made it "clear" that you were "not speaking about those held captive" in your one-sided denuciations of the peace activists as accessories to terrorism.

You didn't even mention the hostages in your first post which started everything off here.

In your third post you did, but also began immediately to weasel saying:

"I was making a comment regarding the type of people who belong to such organizations, not regarding specific individuals."

Well this disingenous attempt at an evasion may fool yourself, but it quite obviously does not fool anyone else here.

The hostages ARE OF COURSE "specific individuals" who "belong to such organizations."

What are you accomplishing here ?

First you initiate the discussion by rude insults and the hurling of sweeping and dubious accusations amounting to guilt by association. Then you deny this. Then you resort to incessantly repeated longwinded nitpicking on about what one sleazy lawyer said about one impeached-for-lying president said about what one half-credible Arab leader thought happened during one small part of a set of peace negotitations very remotely tangent to the topic at hand. Then you try to play grade school word games to cover up your arrogant silliness. Its all there for the world to read in your dozens of useless posts above.

Why ?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, Your fears of and obsessive bias towards Arabs and Moslems are all over HNN in hundreds if not thousands of posts over many past months. No objective reader could fail to detect this, no matter how deep your denial nor how incessant your refusal to confront it. Your absurd blanket generalizing is yet again evident in your first post here above.

The Palestinian and Israeli governmental authorities have recognized each other's right to exist: such existential questions are of concern to fanatics on both sides, but not significant factors shaping the actual situation in the Near East. The issue in this comment thread is your asinine position that any organization involved in the Mideast that does not make condemnation of Palestinian terrorism a central plank of its agenda is therefore complicit in that terrorism.

There are plenty of valid reasons for questioning the argument made by LeVine in the article. His failure to include your variants of Islamophobia and prejudice against Palestinians in his remarks is not one of those reasons.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

1. Obviously HNN no longer has any length limit on comment posts as it once did. That was one rule that should not have been changed, in my humble and utterly irrelevant opinion.

2. You again have way too much time on your hands. Whatever you were doing over the past few months is probably worth continuing to do now, instead of trolling the web for prejudice rationalization.

3. For once, you seemed to have found a legitimate source in your Palestinian polls even though you are fairly clueless about how to properly interpret it:

a) I wonder how you found this website for the Palestinian polls.

b) What are the details re the sample of people polled, I wonder. This is not Gallup, who has been known to come up with weird results even in a country that is not being bulldozed, bombed, encircled with barbed-wire checkpoints etc.

c) The question you cite certainly does not bode well for the so-called road map, but it in no way proves what you think it proves. Large numbers of Palestinians wanting their schools to teach children to hate Israel does not mean Palestinians don't accept Israel.
That would be like claiming that because 25% (or whatever the number is) of Americans want schools to teach "intelligent design" (which I suppose you would not disagree is a religious ruse in disguse) that therefore 70 million Americans plus or minus don't accept the American constitution (as long interpreted re church and state separation).

d) I wonder how the same question asked of a similar group of Palestinians 10 years ago would have been answered

e) I wonder how an analgous question posed to Israelis 10 years ago and today would be answered

f)From your poll website, To the Question #32: "If a peace agreement is reached, and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel, would you support or oppose the efforts to reach full reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinian state?" 75 % said they would support it

There are lies, damn lies, statistics and polls, Friedman. But at least numbers are numbers. Huge never-ending quotes lifted from God knows where, out of context, on extraneous matters...?


The topic here is supposed to be Christian hostages in Iraq, not what some weird philosopher dude thinks he thinks about Turkey in World War I.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman:

Is it really true what you just said above: "I have no more time for you" ?

It is interesting to hear that you may finally have found the maturity to allow somebody other than yourself the final word in a thread.

Neither you nor I am under any obligation to apologize to the other nor answer one another's questions. This is supposed to be a forum for the discussion of current issues in a historical context, not a personal therapy session.

If you don't enjoy insults I suggest that you try, in the future, not to start off a discussion thread with a comment that is full of them.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I. R. A. Q.

That is the subject.

Not Hamas, not Hezbollahm and not your historian whom I will look up and who may be worth reading some day when I want to know more about the Armenian genocide which was of course a fact and I never said it wasn't. And when I want to know about what Stanley might have said to Livingstone on the road to Timbuktu I will read up on that too. There is a difference between not following every one of your irrelevant mangled tangents and being ignorant.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


The world can read what you wrote in the very first comment post above:

"most of these people are bigots. They hate Jews...[they are] plaster saints who, in fact, are today's bigots"

There are no such "facts" anywhere in your dozens of subsequent motor-mouthed posts on this page. You deliberately insulted an entire movement including American hostages being brutalized in Iraq based not on careful analysis but irrelevant kneejerk, hypocritical, propanganda-laden paranoia.

And you are a coward to boot, first saying you would have "nothing to do with me" and then immediately going back on your word because it would force you to do the one thing you which is even more difficult for you than admitting a mistake: shutting up. This is History News Network. Not Friedman's Whining Network. Enough already.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman:

I am really not interested in beating up on you, but your incessant insulting of my intelligence and that of any other stray visitor to this page, does not encourage me to cozy up to you either.

Your most recent post amounts to little more than a childish refusal to admit a mistake:

Re: IRAQ (#72162)
by N. Friedman on December 7, 2005 at 3:58 PM

“You, not I, changed the topic. My post related to CPT. It was pertinent. You then attacked me.”

This is nonsense.

Your original post (Moral bigrotry, #72006) was an irrelevant slam, probably hastily written, certainly hastily conceived. It mentions neither Iraq, nor the hostages, nor the “left” which are the subject of the article. This cliche-laden outburst of yours is not something one would ever expect to see in any forum conducted by genuine historians. You may well have legitimate desires for better factually understanding the Mideast, and promoting such understandings publicly, but tossing around grand insults against millions of people based purely on their ethnicity or nationality and making preposterously extreme blanket claims do not advance such understanding in any meaningful way.

Read what you said again:

“the only issue which divided Israelis and Palestinians in December of 2000 settlement...1948 refugees.”

This is absurd. No responsible journalist or historian would ever make such a crass claim. The intractable disagreement over how to divide up Jerusalem was all over the headlines and news stories the previous summer, when Clinton called it quits, for example. Sharon's strategic and foolishly tolerated insult at the wall had already poisoned the atmosphere by then as well.

“Arafat lied”
“most of these people are bigots. They hate Jews”
“You write on behalf of plaster saints who, in fact, are today's bigots”
“Israel's demise, which is the cause of the Palestinians”

These are the statements of a rude and biased hypocrite. You should be ashamed. Apologize for that first ridiculous “tough man” post, and maybe we can talk further. At the very least, count to ten before you dash something like that off next time. You could at least bother to pretend to be relevant and open-minded. And to spell check your subject line.

And I was serious, a few posts back, about going back to your day job (or whatever kept you away from HNN for some months). Your hot air crusade against Arabs and Moslems is not doing you any good, and is not advancing genuine solutions to the genuine and grave challenge which Islamic fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism pose to the civilized world.

Fewer posts, more open-minded, better researched, fact-checked, bias-checked and documented, and with 1/10 the verbiage would do you a world of good, and might make actually make you worth taking seriously. I don’t doubt, for example, that there is much about the ISM and CPT worthy of criticism. But you can’t argue against one-sidedness and bigotry by being a one-sided, closed-minded bigot, and expect to achieve anything more than an embarrassing sermon to the choir.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are reverting to full Kindergarten behavior, Mr. F. I'm not going to chase down your undocumented "Harvard Website". What a joke ! What should I do, check the index of cheerleaders for the football team ? Can't you learn 6th grade citation ? It would not prove anything relevant to the topic here anyway. Clinton also said he didn't have sex "with that woman". So what ?!

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is great. Now the two opposing paranoid finger-pointers are together on the same page. Time for me to bow out and let them thrash each other. More hits for HNN's comment count.

If you want to know why America policy is much more biased towards Israel than is in America's interest, Mr. Baker, I will repeat it to you for about the 3rd time. Maybe you will pay attention this time, for a change.

It is because most Americans DON'T CARE !

They don't care because they are naive, stuck-up, ignorant, foolish, fat and lazy, of course, and because the Israeli lobbyist are less stupid and less corrupt than Arab lobbyists, and because Israelis don't blow up buildings in New York City containing thousands of innocent civilians from all over the world BUT

they also don't care because they are SICK and TIRED of Kindergartners like you and Friedman trying to blame 100% of the mess in the Mideast on either the Israelis or the Arabs. Any half-wit with an ounce of objectivity can see in less than no time that there are galactic cubic light years of guilt and shame and prejudice and inhumanity coming from BOTH sides and incessantly prolonging the vicious cycles of hate, oppression, prejudice, and mindless violence.

The rest of the world, particularly the USA and Europe are by no means blameless either when it comes to these intractable conflicts, but we are not quite in the same league when it comes to idiotic caveman-like feuds that go nowhere, solve nothing and disgust the civilized universe.

Go ahead and bash each other into oblivion. Good riddance.

Shawn McHale - 12/19/2005

Well, I think that Menonnites, some Anabaptists, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Church of the Brethren fit into that grouping of "obscure religious sects." ! So they are partly off the hook.

Historically, many of these individuals belonging to such churches did not simply engage in idle intellectual talk about pacifism but occasionally suffered or died for their beliefs. But more recently -- in the last 50 years -- such sacrifice has been rare. It has been a lot easier to engage in what Orwell thought of as intellectual posturing. It is pacifism without personal consequences, personal danger. I agree that it can be a big problem.

Gotta run --

N. Friedman - 12/18/2005

If you have not already, you must Sign Up before you can post.--;bheaders=1#72162

E. Simon - 12/13/2005

Of course, it's not as if Peter would say anything just to argue with or contradict Friedman. He speaks in such serious, non-condescending tones of "History News Network" all the time.

Stephen Kislock - 12/13/2005

It's the American made Boot on the Neck of Islam, that will Set it Free. It's the New World Order, that will have to have a Resurrection.

N. Friedman - 12/12/2005


My heart goes out to all those held hostage.

I, however, take issue with your categorization of CPT as a peace group. I could, of course, be mistaken.

My view is that those who work for peace ought actually work for peace as an object in and of itself. In this, I am guided by what Orwell wrote (and I am quoting Orwell from an article by Christopher Hitchens on Slate):

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States

I believe that many peace groups working in the Middle East belong to a school of thought akin to what Orwell found objectionable. If they are - and I could, of course, be wrong about CPT (and please correct me if I am), - they are not, in my view, real peace groups. They are advocates for some other cause and use peace rhetoric as a propaganda weapon.

Please correct me if I am wrong as you appear to have information that may be more informed than mine.

N. Friedman - 12/12/2005

Go away Peter. I did not insult you.

I stated my position and stand by it. It is a principled position. If you do not like it, you should have ignored it rather than throw insult after insult.

Shawn McHale - 12/12/2005

Having not read every post in relation to this particular article, I confess that I do not know all your points of view on this matter :) But I would say:

1) your view of Christian Peacemaking Teams seems framed completely by your understanding of the situation in Israel and the West Bank. The article is not about Israel, and one cannot extrapolate from it to Iraq.

2) I have never liked the argument that peacemakers "effectively" support or condone violence. It is an unnecessary argument. By that logic, ANYONE can turn around and argue that an Israeli Jew who supports the end of terror against Jews (but does not speak up or act against violence against Palestinians) "effectively" and automatically supports violence against Palestinians. This is a ridiculous argument. (It is also an argument missing a step of logic.)

If you want to argue that CPTers in Israel/ West Bank/ Gaza are biased, that is a different argument. If you have evidence, share it.

Finally, just a point I have made before but in a different way. I was in Quaker meeting on Sunday and, not surprisingly, two of the messages in the meeting were about Tom Fox. Not surprising, as some people in the meeting know him or have met him. (But probably not the other three.) There is a very human face to this hostage taking. A hostage deadline has passed. Who knows what will happen now? In my humble opinion, the reason why Tom Fox and the three others were abducted is because of a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are and what they represent. Sadly, peacemakers are often pilloried and misunderstood.

N. Friedman - 12/12/2005

I did not start a thread with insults. I stated a principled position with which you evidently disagree.

N. Friedman - 12/12/2005

The groups, Shawn, not the churches themselves, of which a variety of people with a variety of points of view belong. The groups have placed themselves in a position where they, in effect, take sides in a dispute, claiming to oppose violence but in a one way manner.

Tom Sweetnam - 12/12/2005

Is that "Professor Dershowitz" you cite here the same Harvard Law professor who when he was a member of Bill Clinton's White House staff, called for "the torture of radical right wing terrorists" (American citizens), if in so doing, further attacks like the Oklahoma City bombing might be preempted? Is that the same "liberal" reprobate? The one who wanted to start torturing American citizens as a matter of course?

Shawn McHale - 12/11/2005

No, Christian Peacemaker teams would NEVER promote violence by one group against another. And the idea that a Quaker would promote violence in Iraq against Americans is preposterous. Why? Because it goes against a core teaching of the Society of Friends, the Peace Testimony.

That being said, yes, it is true that some can oppose violence in one area and turn a blind eye to it in another. I think that this is a key issue. It is the reason why you are more than suspicious about Christian Peacemaker teams -- you seem to doubt their neutrality. That you doubt it doesn't bother me. It's your certainty about things that puzzles me.

You assert that I am "incorrect" and write about "these groups" as if their identity is clear. But what are "these groups"? That is the crux of the matter.

Personally, it does not surprise me that some, like you, think that these groups are effectively supporters of violence. But what do you know about the Mennonites? The Society of Friends? The Church of the Brethren? So far, I'm thinking that you are lumping together people of those religious persuasions with your run of the mill critic of Israel. That's my guess. If I am right, I'd have to say that you should think again.

N. Friedman - 12/11/2005


Essentially every one of your posts, whether to me or to Omar (or pretty much everyone else) includes an insult - usually without provocation, totally gratuitous and exceedingly nasty of the type employed by a bully -. Before I answer any more of your posts, I expect an apology.

And, while you are at it, how about answering some of my questions. There are a whole lists of questions you have totally evaded, using insults to avoid addressing evidence that does not correspond with your position. I have no more time for you until you both apologize and answer my questions.

N. Friedman - 12/11/2005


I made clear that I was not speaking about those held captive, about which I wished them a speedy release and that they not be harmed. I have said that repeatedly.

It is their organization and the type of people attracted to it that I criticized.

The issue here, so far as I am concerned, is that such organizations and the noted sort of people are not really peace activists. They are activists for one side in a dispute. That to me is legitimate criticism.

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 12/11/2005

i am happy this piece has motivated people to comment, but i must say that it's disturbing to me how some commenters, particularly mr. friedman, have gone after the hostages.

mr. friedman, with all do respect, i think you need to take some time to consider what is going on inside of your mind and/or soul that you would write what you did about the cpt hostages. the base generalizations with absolutely no evidence, the unwillingness to empathize with these peace activists, the uncritical labeling of anyone who has criticized israel or fought against the occupation as anti-semitic--in fact, the raising of israel as an issue and a reason to absolve yourself of any human concern for these people, particularly in a situation that does not even concern it (as they're working in iraq, not the occupied territories)--these do not reflect the kind of reasoned and respectful discourse that should be taking place about the issues discussed on this site. indeed, they reinforce the kinds of prejudices that have clearly so affected you that you can no longer see the humanity or goodness in anyone who disagrees with you. i hope in the new year this situation will change for you.

N. Friedman - 12/10/2005


From the article titled "The Prince - How the Saudi Ambassador became Washington's indispensable operator," was written by Elsa Walsh and was originally published in The NewYorker on March 24, 2003. It now appears on the website of the Saudi Embassy to the US at Please carefully read what follows:

Clinton, who continued to apply his considerable energy to finding a Middle East solution, came to believe, in December of 2000, that he had finally found a formula for peace; he asked once more for Bandar's help. Bandar's first reaction was not to get involved; the Syrian summit had failed, and talks between Barak and Arafat at Camp David, in July, had collapsed. But when Dennis Ross showed Bandar the President's talking papers Bandar recognized that in its newest iteration the peace plan was a remarkable development. It gave Arafat almost everything he wanted, including the return of about ninety-seven per cent of the land of the occupied territories; all of Jerusalem except the Jewish and Armenian quarters, with Jews preserving the right to worship at the Temple Mount; and a thirty-billion-dollar compensation fund.

Arafat told Crown Prince Abdullah that he wanted Bandar's help with the negotiations. "There's not much I can do unless Arafat is willing to understand that this is it," Bandar told the Crown Prince.

On January 2, 2001, Bandar picked up Arafat at Andrews Air Force Base and reviewed the plan with him. Did he think he could get a better deal? Bandar asked. Did he prefer Sharon to Barak? he continued, referring to the upcoming election in Israel. Of course not, Arafat replied. Barak's negotiators were doves, Bandar went on, and said, "Since 1948, every time we've had something on the table we say no. Then we say yes. When we say yes, it's not on the table anymore. Then we have to deal with something less. Isn't it about time we say yes?" Bandar added, "We've always said to the Americans, 'Our red line is Jerusalem. You get us a deal that's O.K. on Jerusalem and we're going, too.' "

Arafat said that he understood, but still Bandar issued something of an ultimatum: "Let me tell you one more time. You have only two choices. Either you take this deal or we go to war. If you take this deal, we will all throw our weight behind you. If you don't take this deal, do you think anybody will go to war for you?" Arafat was silent. Bandar continued, "Let's start with the big country, Egypt. You think Egypt will go to war with you?" Arafat had had his problems with Egypt, too. No, he said. "I'll prove it to you, just to confirm," Bandar went on. Bandar called the Egyptian Ambassador. Bandar reported that the Egyptian Ambassador, who was to join them shortly, was willing to support the peace process. "Is Jordan going to go to war? Syria go to war? So, Mr. Arafat, what are you losing?"

When Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian Ambassador, joined them, at the Ritz-Carlton, Bandar repeated much of his advice. Arafat said that he would accept Clinton's proposal, with one condition: he wanted Saudi Arabia and Egypt to give him political cover and support. Bandar and Fahmy assured him that they would, and Arafat left for the White House.

Arafat was supposed to return to Bandar's house after his meeting with Clinton and, with the Egyptian Ambassador present, call the Crown Prince and President Mubarak. After three hours, when Arafat still hadn't shown up, the Egyptian Ambassador told Bandar that something must have gone wrong. Bandar, too, was worried and called Arafat's security detail. Arafat had left the White House twenty minutes earlier, he was told, and was back at the Ritz. When Bandar called, Arafat said that he needed to talk to him at once. George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, was on his way to the hotel to discuss the plan, and Arafat was then supposed to return to the White House. Bandar, accompanied by the Egyptian Ambassador, hurried to the Ritz.

Arafat said that the meeting with Clinton had been "excellent," but Bandar did not believe him; he thought that Arafat's staff looked as if they had just come from a funeral. The Egyptian Ambassador later privately remarked that Arafat looked dead. Bandar asked Arafat if he wanted to talk to the Crown Prince or President Mubarak. No, Arafat replied. He said that he'd had a great time with the President, but the meeting had turned sour when Dennis Ross joined them. Yet, he went on, he and Clinton were in agreement. Bandar, concealing his disbelief, said that was good news. Soon after this exchange, Bandar got a note from a security officer, which said, "Urgent. Call the President." In the corridor, Bandar called the White House and reached Berger.

"Congratulations," Bandar said, loudly and sarcastically, for he knew by then that the talks had failed. On what? Berger asked. "Arafat is telling me you guys have a deal." Not true, Berger said, adding that he and Clinton had made it clear to Arafat that this was his last chance. Please, Berger said, tell Arafat that this is it. "It's too late," Bandar recalls saying. "That should have happened with the White House, not with me." (A spokesman for Clinton recalled, "At one point, Clinton said, 'It's five minutes to twelve, Mr. Chairman, and you are going to lose the best and maybe the only opportunity that your people will have to solve this problem on satisfactory grounds by not being able to make a decision.' . . . The Israelis accepted. They said they had reservations and Arafat never accepted.")

Bandar believed that the White House had hurt its cause by not pressing an ultimatum. Arafat, though, was committing a crime against the Palestinians-in fact, against the entire region. If it weren't so serious, Bandar thought, it would be a comedy. He returned to Arafat's room and sat down, trying to remember: "Make your words soft and sweet." Bandar began, "Mr. President, I want to be sure now. You're telling me you struck a deal?" When Arafat said it was so, Bandar, still hiding his fury, offered his congratulations. His wife and children were waiting for him in Aspen, he said, and he wanted to go. Bandar could see the life draining out of Arafat. He started to leave, then turned around. "I hope you remember, sir, what I told you. If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy. This is going to be a crime." When Bandar looked at Arafat's staff, their faces showed incredulity.

The next evening, a White House spokesman said that Arafat had agreed to accept Clinton's proposals, with reservations, only as the basis for new talks. Arafat said later that he had not been offered as much as had been described. When Bandar told all this to the Crown Prince, Abdullah was surprised, particularly about the offer on Jerusalem. A few months later, Abdullah asked Clinton, who was visiting Saudi Arabia, whether Bandar's description of the offer was correct. Clinton confirmed Bandar's details, and said that the failure of these last negotiations had broken his heart. Later still, the Crown Prince told Bandar he was shocked that Arafat had wasted such an opportunity, and that he had lied to him about the American offer. Bandar told associates that it was an open secret within the Arab world that Arafat was not truthful. But Arafat had them trapped: they couldn't separate the cause from the man, because if you attacked the man you attacked the cause. "Clinton, the bastard, really tried his best," Bandar told me last week when we met at his house in McLean. "And Barak's position was so avant-garde that it was equal to Prime Minister Rabin"-Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in November, 1995. "It broke my heart that Arafat did not take that offer."


But as violence in the Middle East intensified and Barak blamed Arafat for the failure of the peace talks, Bandar began to worry. The Arab world was watching Al Jazeera, the satellite television network, which was constantly showing images of Israeli soldiers and suffering Palestinians. Bandar understood as well as anyone why Bush did not want to get involved. It was a mess, and Bush made it clear that he had no prestige to waste. Bandar was particularly angry with Arafat because if he publicly defended Barak's account it would make him sound like an apologist for Barak and Israel. "I was there. I was a witness. I cannot lie," he said privately.

Even the Saudi Ambassador agrees with me. Sharon, who was not PM at the time, had nothing to do with Arafat squandering a perfectly good proposal by the US president.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005


I am not a fan of Dershowitz - nor a non-fan -. I merely do not believe him to be a liar. So, when he says, Clinton told him something, I have no reason to doubt.

On the other hand, I have read enough Finkelstein to believe him a phoney and his critiques to be hatchet jobs. I can see someone siding with the Palestinians. I cannot, however, see Finkelstein being the basis to support that position.

Michael Barnes Thomin - 12/9/2005

I guess I did post it under the correct spot afterall!

"As for Mr. Finkelstein, his work has been severely criticized and, in particular, his scholarship has been harshly criticized."

Dershowitz has been severely criticized as well. Ironically enough (or not), by Finklestein in his book, "Beyond Chutzpah." What's your point? Being criticized does not necessarily mean one is guilty of the critics claim. With that said, I'll admit that I have not read any of Dershowitz's books, although I will make it a priority. Honestly, have you ever read any of Finklestein's books? If not, will you read some of them, like I will read some of Dershowitz's (assuming he has "some" to read)?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 12/9/2005

My apologies for posting this twice, and my apologies for not posting it under the correct place to begin with to Mr. Friedman...

I'm saying that he obviously has a bias as well. Whether he lies or not is not the point, although it certainly could be argued. Nonetheless, my point was, like he stated himself, he is not a historian looking back at primary material: he is a lawyer making a case.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 12/9/2005

I'm saying that he obviously has a bias as well. Like he stated himself, he is not a historian looking back at primary material: he is a lawyer making a case.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2005


I take your post to be well intentioned. I just think you are incorrect.

I think these groups are for non-violence in a manner which effectively makes them into supporters of violence. Or, in simple terms, they oppose Israeli violence but not Palestinian violence. I suspect the same is true in Iraq where such groups support, whether or not avowedly as they do with Palestinians, Iraqi violence against Americans.

The case with the US is more difficult as, in fact, the US did actually invade Iraq and it is difficult to claim that Iraq would actually invade the US.

In the case of the WB, Israel was attacked by Jordan and Israel, by International law, has a claim to the land, at least in part (i.e. sufficient to have secure boundaries as indicated in UN 242) and those Jews, as individuals, who settle on the land anywhere in Mandate Palestine have a claim pursuant to International law as set forth in the Palestine Mandate and pursuant to Article 80 of the UN Charter, which re-authorizes the Palestine Mandate. The US is merely in Iraq but has no basis to claim to rule any of the land. So, one might say that the Israeli claim to be in the WB is a lot stronger than the US claim to be in Iraq.

Nonetheless, Israeli and American kids are no less worthy of life than are Palestinian and Iraqi kids. And, to claim to support non-violence but, in reality, only to demand non-violence from one side is to be, in my view, hypocritical. And, in many cases, those involved are, if they believe in this hypocrisy on principle, bigots, racists and, in many cases, old-fashioned Antisemites.

Shawn McHale - 12/9/2005

Let's assume, to begin, that you are a person of good will.

I think you have a fundamental misconception of what Christian Peacemaker teams are and what they do. And I confess that my knowledge is second-hand -- though I have been aware of Christian Peacemaker teams for some time, as various members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) have participated in them.

You say that you are making judgements based on what the "group" has done. The problem is: what exactly is the group? The historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, Society of Friends) set up these teams originally, but individuals outside of those churches/ meetings participate. In any event, fundamentally, these are *individuals* who participate on different teams, all of whom have to have a commitment to nonviolence.

They have worked in Israel/ Gaza/ West Bank, and that is assumedly why you jumped to the conclusions that you did (though I think you are not adequately informed of what they have done).

That there are individuals in this world who hate Jews is, sadly, all too true.

But I really think that in this case, you are talking about individuals with a strong commitment to nonviolence, a commitment which is often misunderstood.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005

Mr. Thomas,

I guess I see the matter differently. I see Israelis who have offered compromise repeatedly, only to be rebuffed. Later, the Arab side comes around to offers no longer on the table. That has happened repeatedly since 1948. I note that such is exactly Prince Bandar's theory.

One other point: the US proposal was published by the US government. It is available online. It says exactly what Dennis Ross says it says.

Frederick Thomas - 12/9/2005


I think Bandar reflected initial Saudi hope that 97% meant 97%, and dearly wanted an end to the process. He was disappointed when the deal came out.

But take a look at the area planned to be enclosed by Israel's "confiscation fence." Do you think that adds up to 3%? It looks more like 20% to me. Do the Likudniks think we are all credulous? Do you notice that all of the deviations from the 1967 line are on the Palestinian side? Notice how the roads are all forbidden to the Palestinians? How would they live under those conditions? Notice the settlements completely monopolizing the Jordan banks? This is a ridiculous thing for anyone to say is a fair or acceptable offer.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005

Mr. Thomas,

Why would Prince Bandar lie about what was proposed? Why would Clinton lie about it? Why would Dennis Ross lie about it? Why would Dershowitz lie?

Why does Bandar say that Arafat lied about it?

Frederick Thomas - 12/9/2005

Mr. Friedman:

I am afraid that your oft-made assertion that the Palestinians were offered 97% of the West Bank needs a little constructive debunking.

They were offered 97% of what was left when Israeli "settlements" including all the best land were incorporated into Israel. All the water sources, all the roads, all the good farmland, and the entire fertile Jordan bank area remained in Israeli hands, in other words, Palestinian Bantustan. The unfarmable lands were given to Palestinians. It was Netanyahu, I believe, who came up with the 97% figure, which is what one would expect from him, and not something which any Palestinian could ever accept, so give it a rest.

As far as European Jewish suffering at European hands justifying Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Jews, they have no relation to one another. Using the holocaust as justification for 59 years of human rights abuses against the Palestinians is the most dishonest and absurd argument of the Likudniks.

You seem to refer to the Nazi plan to relocate the Jews during WW II to first Madagascar, then Palestine, then the concentration camps.

The Grand Mufti of course opposed it, as he should have. You pose this opposition as if it were some kind of human rights abuse against Jews. Actually, the plan, which was dropped by the Nazis becuase of his opposition, was a potential human rights abuse against Palestinians.

And by the way, the killings by well-armed Jews against mainly unarmed Palestinians left the kill ratio totally unbalanced in Israel's favor, at all points in Israel's past. Please do not quote anecdotal information as if it were true in general, which is a logical fallacy.

Have a nice weekend, in any case!

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005


Your points are just fine with me.

Consider: had there been fewer Jihadis blowing up Israelis, there would have been no barrier built. And, the decision to use Jihadi violence is directly linked to bad consequences for Palestinians. So, Palestinians have themselves to blame for their folly because those who make and lose war do not call the terms. You can thus add that to what Prince Bandar calls the list of mistakes made by Arabs - in this case, Palestinian Arabs - with respect to Israel.

Had Arafat accepted the December 2000 Clinton proposal, as recommended by Prince Bandar and others, including Mubarrak of Egypt, there could have been peace today. Instead, Jihadis started blowing people up at weddings - pretty low move, don't you think, Omar, even if the offer could have been improved upon - and Arafat did nothing to stop it when, if Bandar is to be believed, the Israelis had met the PA's red line requirements to settle. Recall that Bandar says that all of the death since 2000 is Arafat's fault.

So, the barrier is a response to violence. It is likely to become Israel's boundary. I might add that it is consistent with the boundary which Arafat claimed to be acceptable in December of 2000. So, the land grab theory seems pretty preposterous.

But let's take it further. Had Jordan not attacked Israel in 1967, Israel would not have attacked Jordan. So, again, the land came into Israeli hands as a result of a war of folly.

As for building on the captured land, my view is that, other than for security, Israel should not do such. But, I can understand building on the view - and reading your posts leads me to think that such people have a point since, in fact, you do not consider Israel as legitimate and do not think any settlement which leaves Israel, as a state for Jews, in tact is acceptable - that there is no peace to be had anyway. Or, in simple terms, if your enemy accepts no settlement, there is no good reason to be nice in return.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005


I share your frustation with Peter. As much as I disagree with you - and, at times, your views are, to me, terrible -, you are a gentleman. While I question your method of arguing, you do not insult, which is a credit to you.

Obviously you and I disagree. One point, however, that might help your theory: the idea that the US supports Israel as part of supporting oil interests seems pretty silly.

As for the land in which Israel exists being Muslim and Christian land, how could that be? I thought the area was filled with land and that Muslims, Christians and Jews, at different times, have ruled the land. However, none of these groups has the ability to actually change the character of the land to be Christian or Muslim or Jewish. In simple terms, what you claim is really a religious claim.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005

Mr. Thomas,

You write: He [Finkelstein] is the only credible historian on the history of the foundation of Israel, who works from facts, and detailed source documents, not empty assertions.

Prove your assertions. I think you are mistaken. I think he distorts the record.

You also write: By the way, he has also debunked Dershowitz' fraudulent "Case for Israel", which was plagiarized from the earlier fraud by Joan Peters, which was itself both plagiarized and full of false source attributions.

Well, not really. I would say that the debunking is a hatchet job. The allegation is that Peters and Dershowitz say some of the same things and that Dershowitz cited to the underlying source, not to Peters. That, to me, is pretty trivial, even if it is true, which I doubt. Finkelstein, you will note, does not question the underlying sources which, in fact, are quite correct.

As for Finkelstein's scholarship, read this:

From the article, which relates to Finkelstein's scholarship about the alleged misuse by Jews of what happened during WWII:

Norman Finkelstein’s work, The Holocaust Industry, begins on a false note. It concludes on a bizarre one. His opening page quotes Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolfe: “It seems to me that the Holocaust is being sold — it is not being taught.” While such a statement may have been half true in 1980 when it was first said, it is disingenuous today, unless Finkelstein believes that the hundreds of university professors and thousands of high school teachers who teach the Holocaust throughout the world are out selling the Holocaust and not teaching it. The statement is offered for its shock value even though it is manifestly false.
As for his bizarre conclusion: convinced leftist that he is, Finkelstein is at once offering us a significant class and political analysis of the “Holocaust industry” and rising to the defense of German industry, Swiss banks, and international insurance countries who are being victimized by the “Holocaust industry.” He conspicuously avoids grappling with the most serious issue, and perhaps the place where true scandal may arise, the distribution of these funds among the various claimants. His claim that there were 100,000 survivors of the Holocaust is without substance.
His research is derivative. He relies upon Peter Novick, and he repeats Novick’s discoveries and builds upon them for his conclusion. Thus, we learn that there was little interest in the Holocaust until 1967. Because Novick did not follow theological controversies, there is no mention of Richard Rubenstein, whose highly controversial work, After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and the Future of Judaism, received significant attention before the Six-Day War and forced Jewish theology to consider the twin revolution of contemporary Jewish life — the Holocaust and the rise of Israel — well before the events of June 1967.
We learn derivatively from Finkelstein, relying on Novick, that Elie Wiesel achieved prominence only after the Six-Day War. Yet Steven Schwarzschild, one of Israel’s most severe critics, had described Wiesel a year earlier as “the de facto high priest of our generation,” the “one man who speaks most tellingly of our time, of our hopes and fears, our tragedy and our protest.”8 On June 4, 1967, the day before the Six-Day-War broke out, a 38-year-old Wiesel was receiving an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary and giving its commencement address. Obviously, Wiesel had emerged long before June 1967, at least among his peers of academics, scholars, and rabbis, ranging from Steven Schwarzschild to David Hartman and from Richard Rubenstein to Louis Finkelstein and Saul Lieberman. But I suspect that Norman Finkelstein may not have heard these names or know of their standing in the Jewish community.

Finkelstein doesn’t share Novick’s caution as a serious historian. Novick maintains that, before the 1982 Lebanon war, “there is little reason to believe that even without the Holocaust framework, American Jews would have seen Israel’s situation in other than black and white terms.” And since then, while remaining on the whole supportive of Israel, increasing numbers of American Jews no longer see Israel’s situation as good versus evil, the few against the many, the weak against the powerful. Novick asks: “How plausible is it to believe that American policy toward Israel has been shaped by the memory of the Holocaust, not very. It was when the Holocaust was freshest in the minds of American leaders ... that the United States was least supportive of Israel.”9
Novick correctly traces the shift of the Holocaust from the margins to the center of American Jewish consciousness from the late 1960s onward. It reflected, and in turn promoted, far-reaching changes in the way American Jews came to understand themselves and their circumstances. Finkelstein writes with little such subtlety.
Finkelstein takes liberty with facts. The Washington Post is described as Jewish-owned in 1961, when Philip Graham was its editor.10 Only a cursory reading of Katherine Graham’s impressive biography would lead one to say that The Washington Post — unlike The New York Times — was a Jewish-owned newspaper. If it was, it would only be in the Nuremberg definition of Jewish, that is, if we consider the religious identity of grandparents. In another example, he presumes in a footnote to document his point that the Rosenberg trial and the Arendt controversy were contemporaneous when they were almost a decade apart.11
His reasoning is glib, not reasoned. Elie Wiesel and Israel Gutman supported Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Elie Wiesel supported Jerzy Kosinski. Gutman and Goldhagen supported Wilkomirski (the author of Fragments who seems to have invented his background and imagined his childhood in the Holocaust). Connect the dots together and this is Holocaust literature. The reasoning is unworthy of comment. I may be a sentimentalist, but I believe that Primo Levi, Nelly Sachs, Jean Amery, and Paul Celan have written important and substantial work. Lawrence Langer is not alone as a brilliant literary student of the Holocaust. One would expect more substantial polemics.
Finkelstein is out of date.

Peter Novick correctly notes that the rise of interest in the Holocaust coincided with the emerging importance of Israel for the American Jews after the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. He demonstrates the growing interest of American Jewish organizations but does not consider whether the American Jewish establishment was merely playing “catch-up” or actually leading the effort. As one who worked on the inside, I think that a careful consideration of the evidence would indicate that the establishment was not leading but following its people. Certainly, it did not welcome the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum until the Museum proved successful. It was also certainly true that professors were following their students’ interests in teaching the Holocaust.
Novick is careful not to suggest a coordinated program, a conspiracy. Finkelstein throws caution to the wind. He writes: “The Holocaust became the weapon for deflecting criticism of Israel. Avowed concern for Holocaust memory was as contrived as the avowed concern for Israel.” Yet in 1982, and during the period of Intifada I, the Holocaust played a rather different role among Jews in Israel and elsewhere who dissented from Israel’s policy in Lebanon and from the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria. Some of the most prominent Holocaust scholars in Israel and the United States ranked in the forefront of such dissent.

And there is more. So read the article.

So far as I can see, Finkelstein is polemic, not serious. He finds the conclusions he wants to find. Now, people can interpret data as they choose. But, to make the claims you make about him seem to me to be absurd. And note: I would not claim Dershowitz employs original scholarship. He derives materials mostly from others. But that does not make Dershowitz a fraud or a liar.

Frederick Thomas - 12/9/2005

Mr. Friedman:

Your only argument with Finkelstein is that he is authoritative and disagrees with the Likudniks' propaganda line. If he were your syncophant, you'd love him.

He is the only credible historian on the history of the foundation of Israel, who works from facts, and detailed source documents, not empty assertions. That makes him a bad boy to you, but not to real historians.

By the way, he has also debunked Dershowitz' fraudulent "Case for Israel", which was plagiarized from the earlier fraud by Joan Peters, which was itself both plagiarized and full of false source attributions. I hope you do not support this miserable fraud Dershowitz. I also hope your opinion of his legal skills is not based on the OJ and KB cases.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005


Other than being a first rate lawyer, what is wrong with Dershowitz's credibility?

Are you saying that Dershowitz is lying?

As for Mr. Finkelstein, his work has been severely criticized and, in particular, his scholarship has been harshly criticized.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005


I thought Dershowitz did a rather good job in the debate. Chomsky rather embarressed himself by citing Pundak and then having to back off because Pundak actually did not have the knowledge claimed by Chomsky.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005

Mr. McHale,

I was making a comment about a group and reaching a conclusion about its members based on what the group does. I certainly wish all who were taken captive a speedy release and unharmed although, evidently, at least one poor soul was already killed.

N. Friedman - 12/9/2005

Mr. Thomin,

In this case, Clinton has said the same thing. I have no reason to doubt the matter as, in fact, Prince Bandar has said essentially the same thing.

Michael Barnes Thomin - 12/8/2005

I think Chomsky put it best when Dershowitz made the CLAIM that Clinton said that to him:

"You can believe what the research shows or you can believe what Mr. Dershowitz says someone told him."

Michael Barnes Thomin - 12/8/2005

I think Chomsky put it best when Dershowitz made the CLAIM that Clinton said that to him:

"You can believe what the research shows or you can believe what Mr. Dershowitz says someone told him."

Michael Barnes Thomin - 12/8/2005

"Quoting Mr. Finklestein does not impress me. I do not take him seriously. He is polemic, in my view, and his idea of what is a fact and my idea do not coincide."

Unlike Dershowitz, right? Laugh!

Shawn McHale - 12/8/2005

You write: "As for your young and old pseudo-Gandhi's, most of these people are bigots. They hate Jews. They see only the pain of Palestinians, not the pain of Jews blown up in restaurants, in religious ceremonies - a Palestinian tactic which, in my view, delegitimizes their entire movement even if they had a legitimate aim, which they do not -, etc., etc."


The article is not about Jews. It is not about Israel. It is about Iraq, and the CPT hostages there. One of the hostages, Tom Fox, I do not personally know, but is a well-loved member of a local Quaker meeting. (I go to a different Quaker meeting in the area.)

To imply that he, or those in the CPT, or whatever, are just motivated by anti-Semitism is tasteless to write at this particular point in time. (If you backtrack and claim that you were not impugning the integrity of this particular hostage, I can only say: well, then why make your comments on an article on Iraq and the peace movement?

We are talking about actual human beings putting their lives on the line. In Iraq. Whose lives are in danger. Now.

Believe it or not, some individuals do have a deep commitment to non-violence based on their faith. You should think about respecting such actions, not denigrating them.

Shawn McHale - 12/8/2005

You write: "As for your young and old pseudo-Gandhi's, most of these people are bigots. They hate Jews. They see only the pain of Palestinians, not the pain of Jews blown up in restaurants, in religious ceremonies - a Palestinian tactic which, in my view, delegitimizes their entire movement even if they had a legitimate aim, which they do not -, etc., etc."


The article is not about Jews. It is not about Israel. It is about Iraq, and the CPT hostages there. One of the hostages, Tom Fox, I do not personally know, but is a well-loved member of a local Quaker meeting. (I go to a different Quaker meeting in the area.)

To imply that he, or those in the CPT, or whatever, are just motivated by anti-Semitism is tasteless to write at this particular point in time. (If you backtrack and claim that you were not impugning the integrity of this particular hostage, I can only say: well, then why make your comments on an article on Iraq and the peace movement?

We are talking about actual human beings putting their lives on the line. In Iraq. Whose lives are in danger. Now.

Believe it or not, some individuals do have a deep commitment to non-violence based on their faith. You should think about respecting such actions, not denigrating them.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005


You did not respond to my first comment. You responded to the comment I noted.

Get real, Peter. You attacked me. Apologize.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005

Mr. Thomas,

I certainly would admit that groups like the Irgun and Stern gang did bad things. And, obviously the dentist who massacred people in a mosque was also bad, as was the killer of Mr. Rabin. I do not defend such things. It is the conclusions you draw from such things which I disagree. I note that very few Israelis or Jews condoned such actions.

In that you see a few Israeli massacres as central to things, I ask that you remember - as what is good for the goose is also good for the gander - the massacre in the 1920's at Hebron, the Hadassah medical convoy massacre, the massacre at Ma'alot, Kiryat Shmona (children in school just like at the Besslan Massacre), the massacre at the Netanya seder, the massacre at Sbarro's, the massacres on busses, the massacres in people's homes, the massacres in markets, the massacres at weddings, etc., etc.,etc., etc. A lot of bad stuff and a lot more than the Israelis have done, Mr. Thomas.

I also ask that you remember the many millions of Jews who were killed in the 20th Century and the many millions who were displaced in the 20th Century, by Europeans and by Arabs, with the Palestinian leadership, with the support of Palestinian Arabs, having a hand in large scale killing - by the hundreds of thousands (i.e. the mufti of Jerusalem who worked hard all over the world, including in Nazi Germany, to prevent hundreds of thousands of Jews from escaping the Nazis - and he knew the fate of those he held back -) - on an scale which places the few massacres you mention into some context. Or, once again, is your version of history that what Palestinians did is all moral and so anything goes, if done by Palestinian Arabs?

We can go on with all of this, Mr. Thomas. Bad as these massacres and events were, none of what has occurred supports your contentions. The Israelis, by world standards, are far better than average, especially by European or Arab standards.

As for the Likud, they are part of Israeli politics, where people are entitled to hold different views. They oppose - or, at least many of them oppose - ceding land to those who would not make peace. That is a legitimate position with which I disagree.

And, if you think Palestinians are willing to make peace under circumstances which leaves Israel in tact, ask Omar. I am sure he will confirm that few Palestinians hold that view.

Frederick Thomas - 12/8/2005

So shall we.

At least take the position that the horrors unleashed by the Irgun and Likud will be recognised here as openly as in Israel itself, where the Likudniks are proud of the assassin who shot Rabin, and the thug who used a US M-16 to shoot down 30 men at prayer. Grant me that much, Mr. Friedman, if you are able.

If you are not, well, I suppose it makes no difference. The propaganda just does not work any more, and I suppose the endless torment will simply continue until some crazy jihadist smuggles a dozen small nukes into Israel, and the entire issue becomes moot. (Or perhaps the Iranians will do it for the jihadists.)

As they vaporize, the Likudniks can at least take comfort that they supported Israel right to the bitter end, and none will be so sad at the needless destruction and death than I, though such is the way of fate in these matters.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005


A number of things. One, I did not stop posting. We merely focussed on different topics.

Two, the post above to which you first commented about me was (#72044). That post was exactly about groups such as CPT. Regarding CPT, I had written:

CPT, the group actually in issue, claims on their website that "CPTers 'get in the way' of Israeli soldiers preparing to open fire on peaceful Palestinian protesters."

{note: In fact, the Israelis do not generally fire on peaceful protesters so the noted statement is incendiary propaganda.]

If CPT were a non-bigotted group, they would, since they clearly have access to Palestinian Arabs, advocate that such people limit their activities to peaceful struggle rather than stand witness to a violent Palestinians struggle and condemn Israel for responding in some manner. Recall, Dr. King had no place in his movement for those who espoused violence. CPT stands with those who have adopted armed struggle as their main tactic.

Does CPT do anything to protect Israelis from terror? Does CPT lift a finger for the Israelis? Does CPT demonstrate for peace by both sides? So far as I can see, CPT equivocates, condemning violence against Israelis but only in the context of condemning Israel for responding to that violence. Which is to say, if Israel did nothing in response to violence, CPT would likely remain silent.

As matters actually exist, CPT will condemn, for example, house demolitions - which, as I see it, is arguably not an appropriate response by the Israelis - but only in that context say something about the Jihadis.

Consider: CPT has unprecedented access to Palestinians and thus the ability to influence their behavior. What do CPT's volunteers do to change Palestinian support for terror tactics? What do CPT's volunteers do to stop attacks on Israelis? So far as I know, they sit by and do nothing - not even words -.

Now, to show solidarity to a group which has, as its main tactic, chosen the massacre is to be a bigot if one claims, as CPT'ers do, to oppose violence. It is to have no regard at all for the humanity of the other. Such people tend to be bigots, in my view.

While the comment was not about Iraq, it was specifically about CPT, as you can see and, frankly, it would apply just as much to Iraq as it does to Israel. You then responded with (#72082). Your very first comment was - and, here it ought to be clear who started with insults and it surely was not me -:

Welcome back to the Hypocritical Nonsense Network, Mr. Friedman. ...

So much for your assertion. I think I am owed an apology.

And that was not the only outrageous comment you made. You wrote at (#72124):

Friedman, Your fears of and obsessive bias towards Arabs and Moslems are all over HNN in hundreds if not thousands of posts over many past months.

I responded to that insult by providing documentation from a well known historian with whom my view coincides. And I also explained my view so that you might understand it. And then more insults from you.

Frankly, Peter, you have a lot of nerve calling me names. You began with insults and never stopped.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005

Mr. Thomas,

We shall have to agree to disagree. It does, however, seem to me that the crimes - if that is the word - committed by the Israelis pale compared to those committee by her enemies. And, even if they did not, none calls for the position you assert, which is hypocritical, to say the least.

Frederick Thomas - 12/8/2005

Mr. Friedman:

I assess you to be a moral person with a moral delimma. The country you and others support has committed great crimes against humanity and has designed a policy of obfuscation, gross propaganda and a blizzard of non-sequiturs to support it, as you have here, with decreasing effect.

You as a loyal member are expected to carry out the propaganda campaign, even to the point of humiliating yourself as you have here by denying even things which Israel politicians and Ha Arretz admit.

Essentially, you are required to support the side which not only murdered and expropriated so many Palestinians, but also murdered Mr. Rabin. The Likudniks are utterly poison to peace, as Mr. Sharon is finding out as he tries to deviate just a tiny bit from their agenda. I predict he will fail and be shot like Rabin, or else back off of peace. And you sir, by supporting that faction's line so strongly, will be partly responsible.

I would feel sorry for anyone in this unenviable position, except that so many victims have piled up over the years that no excuse can be made any more, and there will be no peace, so long as the unsupportable is supported.

I suggest again that you moderate your line and get on the side of peace, and against more policy assassinations and massive land grabs.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005


"Land and peace." Well, the Israelis were willing to cede land, lots of it. The devil is only in the details, not in the willingness.

The Palestinians expect to Israel to create a second state and then expect Israel, not the new state, to take in Palestinians. You cannot have it both ways on that matter. You can have a state but that state, not Israel, should take in displaced Palestinian Arabs. Otherwise, we are not speaking about trading land for peace but, instead, land for civil war.

My question to you: if Israel, rather than the new Palestinian state, is going to take in displaced Palestinian Arabs, why does there need to be a second state since Palestinians will then hold the majority in both states?

If the new Palestinian state for Palestinians and displaced Palestinians is not something acceptable, I can only assume that you really mean that Israel must cease to be which is, for Israelis, neither peace nor land. So, your formula appears to be conquest or capitulation, then peace.

So, make up your mind what you want.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005


As ever, you misrepresent my opinions. I am getting tired of you. Learn to read. Even my cousin Omar does better than you!!!

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005


It was a well publicized debate between Chomsky and Dershowitz. It will not require a lot of chasing. I have better things to do than google the matter for you. However, Dershowitz was quite clear that he spoke directly with Clinton about the matter and Clinton was rather clear in saying the one and only issue was the refugees.

N. Friedman - 12/8/2005


My main point was about CPT and groups of that type. Regarding the December 2000 peace conference, Clinton said exactly what I said. Such was stated verbatim this last week at Harvard by Dershowitz who said Clinton said that to him. It is on tape on the Harvard website.

N. Friedman - 12/7/2005


You, not I, changed the topic. My post related to CPT. It was pertinent. You then attacked me.

N. Friedman - 12/7/2005


The "weird philosopher dude" - your ignorance, not mine, being displayed as those are your, not my, words - is a rather well known historian and sociologist named Vahakn N. Dadrian. He is the leading exponent of the theory - in my view, fact - that there was an Armenian genocide and, moreover, that Germany was also complicit in what occurred. His books are not philosphy but, instead, factual.

He champions a quasi-sociological approach to history. You might, before you display more of your ignorance, investigate him and read his books including, most importantly, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus.

A bit of background on Dadrian: His biography

And his bibliography

Again, I would urge you to read Dadrian's book. It is certainly not a prejudiced book. It provides an excellent backdrop if you want to think forward from the waning years of the Ottoman Empire - which, by the way, ruled the land which is now Israel - to the present.

As for the quote from his book: I copied the above posted material some time ago verbatim from the copy of the book I borrowed from the library. And, you might do yourself some good to read what he writes. You might actually learn something rather than continue your romance with ignornance and, as is common for you, insults.

As for the polling, I tend to dismiss Palestinian polling as opinions collected in an unfree region - in this case, it includes land ruled by the PA and land effectively ruled by HAMAS - is open to doubt. However, the polling is rather interesting and, I might add, the opinions regarding Israel are not something new. And, to be frank, I do know how to read a poll. I looked to the data I quoted with reference to the long term, not the immediate as such are indicators regarding what Palestinians mean when they speak of a settlement to the dispute.

In my view, the real issue is what Palestinians mean by settlement. I submit to you that the Palestinians have the idea of an interim arrangement, not a peace in the sense you understand. I think the polling supports that view, as the noted polling item I quoted suggests. And, quite clearly, the views expressed by Arabs and Palestinians over the years seem to back up my view.

I should note - since you accuse me of misreading the poll - that I said that the polling results are not entirely consistent with what I said. Read back to see that I made that specific disclaimer.

As for finding the polling, there are two groups which poll Palestinians on a consistent basis. They can be found by using google. If you need help, let me know. I have the polling sites listed in my favorites as I follow such things. Somehow, I trust that you are talented enough to find such polls.

I again note that the polling data I cited are consistent with what Judea Pearl believes, based on his discussions and what Halevi believes based on his discussions and what Abdo reports as well. I see no evidence which really supports your view that Palestinians recognize Israel as an entity with which to reach a full, long term peace. So, if you have evidence, cite it.

The polling data you cite, by the way, do not support your position. Reconciliation means, in Palestinian speak, the return to a situation where there is one state and that state is ruled by Arabs.

As for the original topic, it was you who accused me. Read back to your comments. I criticized CPT. You rejected my criticism. That is your view.

My view was and remains that groups like CPT serve the purpose of criticizing Israel's reaction to the Jihad war against it and not really to oppose violence in a consistent and principled manner.

CPT, in my view, is in a position to affect the strategy adopted by Palestinians by taking a neutral stance, meaning, also attacking Palestinians terrorism, which is something supported by a wide majority of Palestinians, and not merely opposing violence in general as window dressing when condemning Israel for reacting to the terrorism. And that does not mean CPT should not criticize Israel. It should. However, Palstinian violence is worthy of criticism in its own right and not merely as window dressing when the real goal of the group is to criticize Israel.

I also reiterate that the reason why groups like HAMAS and Hezbollah have gone to bat for the CPT hostages is that CPT is necessary to the strategy of the HAMAS and Hezbollah. Which is to say, CPT's approach to condemning violence is, as seen by groups like HAMAS, really cover for such groups' violence against Israel. Or, in simple terms, CPT is useful for groups like HAMAS because CPT actually serves HAMAS's goal and not a principled stance againts violence.

N. Friedman - 12/7/2005


You confuse my views regarding Islam as a force in history with my view of Arabs and Muslims.

On this, I am tired of repeating myself. My view is that Islam has often been a force for war. That is due to provision in the theology of the religion which divide the world into two regions, the House of Islam and the House of War. Islamic theology posits eternal war to bring the entire world so that it is ruled by Muslims in accordance with Islamic law. Here is what famed historian of Islam, Ignaz Goldhizer (d. 1921) writes:

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

Now, such categorical imperative has not always governed the behavior of Muslims. But it has governed some of the behavior and it has surely provided an excuse for war. My view is that such language provides the excuse today.

Now, more than the Jihad imperative, there is also the issue of how Muslims have treated non-Muslims. While, in my view, Muslims have done better, more often than not, than have European Christians - because Islamic law provides an actual societal role for non-Muslims -, the fact remains not only that the Islamic system, as set forth in classical Islamic theology, is oppressive and, by modern standards, immoral but also that the system as it was implemented, historically speaking, is, highly divisive.

Here is some information regarding the role of Islam in the organization of the Ottoman Empire. And note: much of what is described, since it is based on religious law, would roughly be the same wherever that religious law might actually be put in place. What follows comes from Chapter 1 of Vahakn N. Dadrian's well known book, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. (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]

I noted the omission of footnotes in brackets. Other brackets are in the original. [Note: You should read the book. It lays out in excruciating detail just how Islam played a major role in what happened to the Armenians. Also note that words such as Cihad - rather than Jihad - are in the original. I believe, but may be mistaken, that such words are in Turkish or are Turkish pronounciations of Arabic words.]

Note that Dadrian confirms pretty much the points I have been asserting over the course of our many cross posts. Do you have any reason to doubt what he says?

N. Friedman - 12/7/2005


I see now that you have regained your pen. Very good - although I think you misunderstand my views and your opinions is, I think, contradicted by the facts -.

You claim: The Palestinian and Israeli governmental authorities have recognized each other's right to exist: such existential questions are of concern to fanatics on both sides, but not significant factors shaping the actual situation in the Near East.

Only sort of, Peter.

There is - and this is what you refer to - a letter from Araft to PM Rabin stating what you say. So, in that sense you are correct.

Then, however, there is the Oslo agreement which included provision by which the PLO would change its charter so that it would reflect the understanding you mention. That has not quite occurred. So, in that sense, you are incorrect. The Israelis chose to overlook the failure perhaps on the theory that the end goal was more important than the intermediary goal.

Now, as to the true views of Arabs and Palestinian Arabs on Israel and its legitimacy, I note the following from No God But God, Egypt and the Triumph of Islam (Oxford University Press 2000) by Geneive Abdo. On pages 64-65, she reports the following:

The Grand Sheikh's battle with his conservative critics boiled over in December 1997, when Tantawi hosted an unprecedented meeting at al-Azhar with chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, leader of Israel's Ashkenazi Jews. Held just before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and amid growing outrage in the Arab world toward Israeli intransigence in the stalled Oslo peace process, Tantawi's meeting was nothing short of explosive. Ordinary Egyptians had never accepted the Camp David peace accords, or for that matter any attempt to normalize relations with Israel. Most Muslims saw the invitation of the chief rabbi into the very citadel of Sunni Islam as a complete betrayal of the fifty-year effort against the Jewish state.

Egypt's most respected Islamic thinker, Seleeem al-Awa, spoke for many when he bitterly denounced the visit on the front page of the Islamist daily al-Shaab and wrote a letter of protest to the Research Academy. "I did not believe my eyes when I read that the Grand Sheikh met the Zionist rabbi in Cairo.... It is as if the Zionists want to declare before the whole world that they have achieved normalization with the symbol of Sunni Islam and the entire Islamic world, and with the Sheikh of al-Azhar himself."

"Why did you headquarters become the site of normalization with the Zionists? How are we going to welcome Ramadan with the biggest spiritual defeat of the modern age?" al-Awa asked.

Tantawi was filled with consternation. He had never expected that such a meeting would outrage the Muslim world. Shaken and tense, he defended himself in a long interview with a Qatari satellite television channel that was broadcast in Egypt and across the Middle East. The interviewer asked Tantawi why he had decided to meet the rabbi, when his predecessor, Gad al-Haq, had refused.

"I followed in the footsteps of our Prophet, peace be upon him. He met Jews and had a dialogue with them.... Was I supposed to refuse to meet him, so he'll go to his country and say the Sheikh of al-Azhar was unable to meet me?"

"What is you answer to Dr. Seleem al-Awa who said this meeting is more dangerous than any form of normalization?" the interviewer asked.

"This is the logic of cowards and pacifists," Tantawi replied. "Can Dr. al-Awa deny that the Prophet and his companion Abu Bakr met with the Jews? And after that, they say 'normalization.' What normalization?"

Tantawi's response did little to pacify his critics with al-Azhar. In fact, the controversy handed the traditionalists the evidence they needed to challenge his suitability to hold Sunni Islam's highest position. "What we read about the meeting between the Sheikh of al-Azhar and the Israeli rabbi shocked us all," commented Yahya Ismail, the general-secretary of the Azhar's Scholars' Front. "We must abide by fatwas issued by senior scholars since 1936, which are official fatwas that forbid dealing with the occupying Jews with any weapon other than jihad (holy struggle) until they evacuate from our lands."

What should we make of that exchange, Peter? And, I note that Ms. Abdo is normally understood as an apologist for the Arab position and not someone with information which reflects the Israeli understanding of what Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs, think and desire.

Some more evidence for you. This is from a September 2005 PSR Poll (Public Opinion Poll # 17) . Now, on my view, if we really were working toward settlement with the parties recognizing each other, the following question would have a very different set of answers:

36) After reaching a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state that is recognized by Israel, the following are steps that may be taken in order to enhance normalization between the state of Israel and a Palestinian state. For each of the suggested steps please tell me whether you support or oppose it:

36-5) Adopt a school curriculum that recognizes Israel and teaches school children not to demand return of all Palestine to the Palestinians

Here are the answers (by percentage):

1) Strongly Support (Total)1.8 (WB)1.3 (Gaza)2.7

2) Support (Total)8.0 (WB)7.8 (Gaza)8.2

3) Oppose (Total)48.6 (WB)51.5 (Gaza)43.3

4) Strongly Oppose (Total)39.4 (WB)37.0 (Gaza)43.9

5) DK/NA (Total)2.2 (WB)2.4 (Gaza)1.9

That sounds exactly opposite of what you claim. And there are other portions of the poll - although not all - which reiterate that the above answer is consistent with what Palestinian Arabs really think.

Here is some more information, namely, a portion of an article entitled "Dialogue of the deaf," by the very liberal Judea Pearl (father of slain reporter Daniel Pearl). The article originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post but can, at this point, only be read in third party reposts.

ENTICED BY this aura of civility in Doha, I was curious to find out what the participants had in mind when they pressed for "progress" on the Palestine issue: progress toward what?

Deep in my heart, I had hoped to find the Doha participants more accommodating of the so-called "two-state solution" and the road map leading to it. If this were not the case, I thought, then we were in big trouble again. Muslims might be nourishing a utopian dream that the US cannot deliver and, sooner or later, the whole dialogue process, and all the goodwill and reforms that depend on it, would blow up in the same conflagration that consumed the Oslo process.

I was not the only American with such concerns.

Richard Holbrooke, America's former ambassador to the UN, who was on the same panel with Dahlan, stated that the Arab world must contribute its share toward meaningful movement of the peace process. He reminded the audience that, by now, two and a half generations of Arabs have been brought up on textbooks that do not show Israel on any map, and that such continued denial, on a grassroots level, is a major hindrance to any peaceful settlement.

I had a friendly conversation on this issue with one of Dahlan's aides, who confessed that "we Palestinians do not believe in a two-state solution, for we can't agree to the notion of 'Jewish state.'" "Judaism is a religion," he added "and religions should not have states."

When I pointed out that Israeli society is 70 percent secular, bonded by history, not religion, and that by "Jewish state" Israelis mean (for lack of a better term) a "national-Jewish state," he replied: "Still, Palestine is too small for two states."

This was somewhat disappointing to me, given the official Palestinian Authority endorsement of the road map. "Road map to what?" I thought, "to a Middle East without Israel?" Where was the reform and liberalism among the post-Arafat Palestinian leadership that was expected to breed flexibility and compromise?

I discussed my disappointment with an Egyptian scholar renowned as a champion of liberalism in the Arab context. His answer was even more blunt: "The Jews should build themselves a Vatican," he said, "a spiritual center somewhere near Jerusalem. But there is no place for a Jewish state in Palestine, not even a national-Jewish state. The Jews were driven out 2,000 years ago, and that should be final, similar to the expulsion of the Moors from Spain 500 years ago."

The problem with Muslim elites could be seen again, even at the University of California at Irvine, where the Muslim Student Union organized a meeting entitled "A World Without Israel" - cut and dry. Also in May came a colorful radio confession by the editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Arabi Abd al-Halim Qandil: "Those who signed the Camp David agreement ... can simply piss on it and drink their own urine, because the Egyptian people will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli entity."

Qandil's bald statement drove home a very sobering realization: in 2005, I still cannot name a single Muslim leader (or a journalist, or an intellectual) who has publicly acknowledged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a dispute between two legitimate national movements.

Mr. Pearl seems to disagree with you also, Peter.

I might also ask that you read the article "Letter to Palestinians," by the very liberal Yossi Klein Halevi (and, at this point, the article can only be found in third party reposts). He too seems to disagree with you. Note this passage:

But I learned too, during numerous candid conversations with Palestinians at all levels of society, that, in practice, few within your nation are willing to concede that I have a legitimate claim to any part of this land. I will cite one telling example.

In short, I find troubling your assertion, without reflection of the realities, that Palestinians actually recognize Israel. I think that is a convenient theory that is contradicted by the record. Now, the parties might find an accomodation but, frankly, it will only be an interim one as, in fact, that is all the Palestinian side is really willing to extend.

N. Friedman - 12/6/2005

Mr. Thomas,

Now you have me making comments I never made and asserting positions I do not assert.

I did not assert that Israelis are guiltless. I asserted that your version of events is gross distortion of facts to the point of being untrue - or, in simple words, you position is propaganda, not factually, based -. I stand by that position.

My point was that your idea of a remedy, even if your version of history were true, does not fit the crime Israel is alleged by you to have committed. Otherwise, if a country's right to exist were judged by its behavior, Germany would be no more and the Germans would be scattered across the globe. And not even you can turn the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs into WWII and the 60 million deaths it caused. Which is to say, if Germany can continue to exist, so can Israel.

Nor can you turn the displacement of 400,000 to 750,000 Palestinians Arabs (whatever the true figure is) as rendering unimportant the displacement of Jews from (a) Jerusalem, Gaza, Judea and Samaria, (b) from Europe and (c) from the various Arab countries. A lot of people were displaced, most of all Jews, even more than Palestinian Arabs.

Your view is somehow that the Palestinian Arabs bear no responsiblity in WWII. Well, if they have no responsibility in what happened in WWII, after siding with the Nazis and after their leader worked with Hitler and arranged it so that Jews, in the hundreds of thousands, could not escape the Nazis, then Israeli Jews today certainly bear no responsibility for what the Zionist leadership in 1948 did.

Quoting Mr. Finklestein does not impress me. I do not take him seriously. He is polemic, in my view, and his idea of what is a fact and my idea do not coincide.

His theory does not even make sense. Why, if the goal was to rid the area of Palestinians, did the leaders not just do that when they could? Why only 80%, if there were a real plan of expulsion and there was really an opportunity to expel people? Evidently, it is those clever Jews covering their tracks by only doing the job half way - is that your point?

Again, there were people expelled on both sides. Had the Arab war been more successful, there would have been more Jewish refugees. Instead, only about 85,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in Jerusalem, Gaza and what most people now call the West Bank. As I said before, people on both sides were displaced. Jews, unlike Arabs, decided to take care of their own. Arabs left their brethren to rot in permanent camps. At this point, it is their problem to settle people in Arab lands, not the world's problem to foist such people into Israel so that there would be a bloodbath - something you would no doubt want to avoid, or woudl you? -. And the problem would be solved in a hurry if the world said exactly that and without equivocation.

As for your contention that Europe has abandoned Israel, that hardly surprises me. Europe's main concern is to solve its problems with Muslims and, given that problem, the concerns of Jews do not, on European reckoning - and as it has been for more than a millennia -, count for much. Which is to say, Europe can always be counted on to go to sell out to the highest bidder. And, in the scheme of things, oil has the high bid, at least until it runs out.

Frederick Thomas - 12/6/2005

Mr. Friedman:

Thank you for your comments.

You seem to be arguing two things at once: On the one hand, Israel's future leaders did not do the atrocities I claim they did. On the other hand, you said murder and ethnic cleansing are OK because all governments do it (true in modern times only of Nazis and Soviets.)

Your two contradictory assertions cannot stand against one another. You have to choose one or the other. Of course the early leaders of Israel did these horrible things, and many others:

"Come 1948, the Zionist movement exploited the ‘revolutionary times’
of the first Arab–Israeli war – much like the Serbs did in Kosovo during
the NATO attack – to expel more than 80 per cent of the indigenous
population 750,000 Palestinians), and thereby achieve its goal of an overwhelmingly Jewish state, if not yet in the whole of Palestine." (N. Finkelstein, "Image and Reality..." 2nd ed.)

Israel's future leaders did not simply murder and expel Palestinians. Menachem Begin set the bomb which brought down the King David Hotel, killing 200 Brits, who, as you say, owned Palestine (July 1946). I assume you are not a denier of this terroristic Begin crime, but will recognise that the Palestinians are simply emulating the Israelis when they use tactics such as bombings.

The UN Refugee Commissions have provided detailed evidence of the scope of mass murder and ethnic cleansing, which you can look up as well as I.

Of course, many Israelis were horrified at what their brothers were doing, which looked like Stalin and Hitler at their worst. This group is often intimidated by a more vocal faction. But today, the fibs do not work any more. Europe has had it with Israel and the US is moving that way.

One little detail-at no time was it considered to protect the rights of those whom they disposessed by, for example, paying for the stolen lands, once the invasion had begum in 1946-47.

Perhaps it is time for some serious peacemaking on Israel's part. Maybe that is possible, despite its past. Come on, Mr. Friedman, get on the side of the angels on this one.

N. Friedman - 12/6/2005

Frederick Thomas,

Your version of history and the histories I have read do not remotely coincide. I hardly know where to begin.

For now: I note that Jews bought land in what is now Israel from the rightful owners and paid for that land. Jews had permission from the ruler of the land to move to such land. The nation of Israel, unlike any nation on Earth, has the express permission of the UN to exist. In wars, when one party loses, there are consequences. In the case of the Palestinian Arabs, one consequence is that Jews now rule and make the rules in Israel. Such is the way of the world.

Has Israel done bad things? No doubt. Were people displaced in the war of 1948? Yes. Large numbers of people and on both sides.

Perhaps in your book, those displaced on the Jewish side are irrelevant. 85,000 people, in my book, are not irrelevant. As the saying goes, the death of one is a microcosm of the death of the entire world. The same goes for the hundreds of thousands of displaced Arabs. And also the hundreds of thousands of Jews displaced from the surrounding Arab states, some related to the Arab Israeli conflict and some due to general oppression, pogroms and repression by Arabs.

If injustice in Israel's founding means the country has no right to be, what does that say about the founding of the US, of Canada, of Australia, of Mexico, of even France, etc., etc., all of which have more brutal foundings than Israel?

And, if injustice is the basis to oppose a country's existence, how on this earth can anybody support the continued right of Germany to exist? Germany, by the standard you would hold Israel to, should be dismembered and its people scattered, as would happen to Jews in Israel if your approach to things came to be.

My view: Israel is as legitimate as any country on Earth. The sooner that Arabs accept Israel's legitimacy, the sooner there will be peace.

Frederick Thomas - 12/6/2005

...which is something rare for me, though not unwelcome.

I understand that Mr. Friedman considers himself Israel's most reliable defender, and he is welcome to consider himself so. But he is not entitled to rewrite history in the process, to benefit Israel with whopping fibs which simultaneously demean the Palestinians, and disinherit them.

Let me work from an anecdote to illustrate this. In 1947 the Irgun terrorist and future Israeli PM Itzhak Shamir, whose face was already well known from British wanted posters, for murder, commanded a unit of Irgun which created the original 20th century terrorist reality of the middle east.

He and his Irgun thugs, seeking to quickly throw all the Palestinians in Quiryat valley from their property, surrounded the defenseless village of Quiryat Arba east of Jerusalem, and viciously murdered 248 of the 250 residents. Then they took the 2 surviving boys and instructed them to run to the other villages in the region, and tell them all what happened. The boys did so, causing the other villagers to flee, about 3000 persons in this one incident.

Almost as quickly, Jews from Europe and North Africa moved into their places, stealing their property. That is the central reality of Israel's founding, which Mr. Friedman (the name means "man of peace") would like to pretend did not exist.

Two other Israelis implementing the same policy were Menachem Begin and David Ben Gurion. These three were as bad as any bunch of Nazi SS thugs you could name, and they were the future leaders of Israel. They implemented mass murder and ethnic cleansing as the founding policy of the state of Israel, and possibly spoiled the discourse there forever.

Among those forced out by this murderous policy were two of the most brilliant youths of Palestine, who fled first to the West Bank, then had to relocate again to Kuwait, when Israel invaded the West Bank in 1967, then again to London when Saddam invaded Kuwait. Today they are married, he a marvelous businessman, who has made and lost three fortunes, then made a fourth. She became an author, and they now live in the US. Their comment is important enough to note here: "Israel should not oppose terrorism; they invented it." Oh, by the way, they are both pacifists, as are their three sons, and they are also Arabs.

I wonder whether Mr. Friedman can feel pity enough for their sufferings and the sufferrings of the others at the hands of Israel to admit that his favorite state was founded based upon the worst possible murderous history, or that it set the standard by which terrorism functions today in the mideast?

N. Friedman - 12/6/2005


Surely, you can do better than that. I answered your idiotic post. The least you can do, if you disagree, is state something intelligent in reply.

Somehow, that is beyond you.

And no, I do not hate Palestinians. That is in your head. What I hate is the Palestinian war to destroy Israel. That and that only.

N. Friedman - 12/6/2005


A quick examination of evidence regarding Palestinian terror shows that it has, over the years, had overwhelming support from the Palestinian Arab person on the street. Further, during the Arafat era, there is overwhelming evidence that his government was financing the terror. Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence from around the Arab regions - including among Palestinian Arabs - that Israel's legitimacy within any borders is rejected.

I do not tell CPT or the like to condemn terrorism. They could, nonetheless, use their influence in order to convince Palestinian Arabs that terrorism is wrongheaded and immoral. That is demonstrated by the fact that groups such as HAMAS and Hezbollah are currently going to bat for CPT in order to win the freedom of the CPT hostages in Iraq. Such would not be occurring if groups like CPT were other than instrumental in the Palestinian strategy.;file=article&sid=603

I do not recall claiming a moral equivalence between the PA and Israel. However, people are people and no one, not even the Palestinian Arabs nor their governmental authorities are above criticism. The strategy adopted by the Palestinian Arabs - and yes, collectively, as the polling shows - is to use acts of mass terror (i.e. the massacre of civilians) for political aims. In that, in fact, the goals stated as aims by the PA were met by Israel in 2000 - with Arafat lying about what was offered, as explained by Prince Bandar -, the logical assumption is that the Palestinians are fighting for broader goals. I note that polling of Palestinian Arabs shows that, over the course of many years, around 50% of Palestinian Arabs claim the fight is to liberate all of Israel from the Israelis.

Now, in your books, Palestinian Arabs bear no responsibility for what Palestinian Arabs do, as if there were no collective will among them. I suggest to you that if there is no collective will among them, then no state for Palestinian Arabs is necessary. Please note the nonsense of that claim and the fact that Palestinian Arabs seek a state and, as the polling shows, are willing, as a group, to use terror in the form of massacres to achieve that end.

In any event, the reason that groups such as CPT receive moral support from HAMAS, etc., is that CPT is instrumental in the Palestinian terror strategy.

N. Friedman - 12/5/2005


You, no doubt, have my comment in mind regarding plaster saints who, in my view, are mostly bigots. I was making a comment regarding the type of people who belong to such organizations, not regarding specific individuals. So, I cannot prove any specific individual is a bigot. However, I can address the ideology espoused by such groups which, in my view, is bigotted and reach the logical conclusion that most who belong to the group are bigots.

In any event, I certainly hope that all those held against their will a speedy and safe relief. Such, to me, is not a question of politics but of basic humanity.

As for those who tend to belong to the sort of organizations in issue, I note the ISM does not condemn terror against Israelis. Instead, according to the group's website: "Internationals with the ISM are not in Palestine to teach nonviolent resistance. Palestinians resist nonviolently ever day. The ISM lends support to the Palestinian resistance to the occupation and their demand for freedom through the following activities: ...." In other words, the ISM does not bother itself with the little fact that Palestinian Jihadis have blown up about 1,000 Israeli and have attempted to blow up thousands more and the fact that the Jihadis have had the overwhelming support of the Palestinian population.

CPT, the group actually in issue, claims on their website that "CPTers 'get in the way' of Israeli soldiers preparing to open fire on peaceful Palestinian protesters."

{note: In fact, the Israelis do not generally fire on peaceful protesters so the noted statement is incendiary propaganda.]

If CPT were a non-bigotted group, they would, since they clearly have access to Palestinian Arabs, advocate that such people limit their activities to peaceful struggle rather than stand witness to a violent Palestinians struggle and condemn Israel for responding in some manner. Recall, Dr. King had no place in his movement for those who espoused violence. CPT stands with those who have adopted armed struggle as their main tactic.

Does CPT do anything to protect Israelis from terror? Does CPT lift a finger for the Israelis? Does CPT demonstrate for peace by both sides? So far as I can see, CPT equivocates, condemning violence against Israelis but only in the context of condemning Israel for responding to that violence. Which is to say, if Israel did nothing in response to violence, CPT would likely remain silent.

As matters actually exist, CPT will condemn, for example, house demolitions - which, as I see it, is arguably not an appropriate response by the Israelis - but only in that context say something about the Jihadis.

Consider: CPT has unprecedented access to Palestinians and thus the ability to influence their behavior. What do CPT's volunteers do to change Palestinian support for terror tactics? What do CPT's volunteers do to stop attacks on Israelis? So far as I know, they sit by and do nothing - not even words -.

Now, to show solidarity to a group which has, as its main tactic, chosen the massacre is to be a bigot if one claims, as CPT'ers do, to oppose violence. It is to have no regard at all for the humanity of the other. Such people tend to be bigots, in my view.

Oscar Chamberlain - 12/5/2005

"As for your young and old pseudo-Gandhi's, most of these people are bigots."

Prove it.

And don't just pull up one quote as your evidence. Prove it concerning the people presently held hostage. You have charged them with bigotry in a public place or, at minimum, that most of the people the consort with are bigots.

Prove it.

N. Friedman - 12/5/2005

So far as I know, he was not "a member" of the Clinton staff. Maybe I am incorrect. I do not much care.

I do not know if you accurately record his views. You may. I have no idea. I do know that having views which you or I find odious does not reflect on his honesty or lack thereof.

So, even if all you say is correct, the facts he cites are accurate, as they are confirmed by other witnesses including Clinton himself and Dennis Ross and Prince Bandar. I gather you do not challenge the facts. So, for our purposes, your comment is irrelevant.

N. Friedman - 12/4/2005


If Palestinians want peace, they could have had it. As Professor Dershowitz stated just last week, the only issue which divided Israelis and Palestinians in December of 2000 was Arafat's demand that Israel allow the settlement in Israel of the offspring of the 1948 refugees.

The rest: boundaries, settlements, Jerusalem, were all resolved. 97% of the West Bank to the Palestinians. All of Gaza to them. A land bridge across Israel so that there would be continuity between those territories. Israeli military out of the WB and Gaza. That was all agreed to.

Prince Bandar made the matter clear, when he was interviewed by the NewYorker. Arafat lied about what occured. That, not the Israelis, are the issue. As Bandar said, Arafat committed a sin against the region.

As for your young and old pseudo-Gandhi's, most of these people are bigots. They hate Jews. They see only the pain of Palestinians, not the pain of Jews blown up in restaurants, in religious ceremonies - a Palestinian tactic which, in my view, delegitimizes their entire movement even if they had a legitimate aim, which they do not -, etc., etc.

Real peace activitists would have nothing to do with an ISM, etc., which fails to condemn Palestinian terror. You write on behalf of plaster saints who, in fact, are today's bigots. The stand by an illegitimate cause, namely, Israel's demise, which is the cause of the Palestinians.