Blogs > HNN > To Succeed Where Clinton Failed, Obama Needs a History Lesson

Dec 31, 2008 3:57 pm

To Succeed Where Clinton Failed, Obama Needs a History Lesson

The renewed Israel-Hamas war in Gaza presents the incoming Obama Administration with its most difficult immediate foreign policy challenge. Yet it also offers Obama a well-timed opportunity to act on his promise to return to the aggressive Mideast diplomacy that characterized the final years of the Clinton Administration.

But with much of the Clinton-era Middle East team working for Obama, what hope is there that the new Democratic Administration will fare any better than its predecessor?

To succeed where Clinton failed, President Obama would be well-advised to leave his deputees to put out this latest fire, which soon enough will burn itself out, however bloodily. Instead, Obama should focus his considerable intellect on forging a fundamentally new American understanding of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its continued impact on relations between the two peoples.

Without such a reappraisal of the conflict's roots and contemporary drivers, President Obama will find it impossible to shepherd Israelis and Palestinian towards a final peace agreement.

To begin such a reappraisal, Obama will have to disabuse himself—and through him, the American foreign policy and media establishments—of the widespread notion that Israel's forty year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been rooted in its legitimate security needs. This claim, long accepted as fact, is easily disproved.

If Israel had been concerned primarily about security when it conquered the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June 1967, it would have cordoned off the Occupied Territories, stationed troops in strategic locations to prevent infiltration and protect their borders with Egypt and Jordan, and explained to the Palestinians that until they demonstrated a willingness to live in peace with Israel they would remain under military occupation, in accordance with the internationally recognized laws of war.

But instead of merely securing the Occupied Territories Israel initiated a settlement enterprise that gradually took over the country's political and military establishments, which today remain dominated by men who from the start opposed the Oslo peace process.

That the number of settlers in the Occupied Territories doubled during the years of the Oslo peace process (1993-2000) is merely the most glaring fact on the ground gainsaying the argument that Israel has continued the Occupation merely to protect its security. The huge swaths of Palestinian land expropriated, homes destroyed, and trees uprooted amidst an ever expanding settlement infrastructure fills out the reality of four decades of occupation.

The settlement imperative did not begin in 1967, however. Settling and “judaizing” Palestine (yehud is the official Hebrew term for this policy) have been at the heart of the Zionist enterprise since the first pioneers arrived in the late 19th century. As Israeli sociologist Gershon Shafir demonstrated in his seminal 1989 book, Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the drive to “conquer the land” helped transform Zionism into a “militant nationalist movement” by 1909, the year the first Kibbutz, Degania, and the first Jewish town, Tel Aviv, were established.

A century later, as Tel Aviv prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the settlement system remains the most potent political force in Israel.

Only by understanding just how profoundly the drive to settle the West Bank has shaped Israeli identity and policies can Obama understand why its been so hard for Israel to abide by the “land for peace” formula underlying the Oslo peace process. Focusing on settlements would also remind Obama and his Mideast peace team that while the current fighting is concentrated in Gaza, the prize over which both sides are fighting remains the biblical heartland of the West Bank.

Perhaps most important, such a focus would illuminate for the new President how important was America's unwillingness to pressure Israel on settlements in dooming the Oslo peace process. It was precisely during the crucial 1994-99 period, while the Clinton Administration was busy enhancing Israeli-Palestinian “security cooperation,” that Israel tightened its matrix of control over the Territories right under America's nose.

By focusing myopically on security as the sine qua non for advancing the peace process, Clinton failed to understand that Israel's exploding settler population was a far greater long term security threat than the mostly non-violent Palestinian opposition to the peace process such cooperation was aimed at neutralizing.

It goes without saying that a deeper understanding of Palestinians' history of failed resistance against Zionism would also help Obama refashion a more successful diplomatic strategy. Three components of that history are particularly relevant today: First, while long ignored by the media and politicians, most Palestinian resistance against Jewish/Israeli settlement has been non-violent. But grass-roots Palestinian activism has always been suppressed, usually violently, by whoever has governed the country—whether by the country's Ottoman rulers a century ago or by Israel today.

Second, from the start the official Palestinian leadership has been riven by corruption, factionalism, and political incompetence that has rendered it unable to put the interests of the people ahead of the economic and political interests of the elite. In the 1920s, Palestinian leaders railed against Zionism by day only to sell land to Zionists at night. Seven decades later, “moderate” leaders like PA President Mahmoud Abbas became rich off of Israeli-sponsored monopolies, while Israel strengthened its economic and territorial control of the West Bank with only muted opposition from the Palestinian Authority.

These two dynamics should tell Obama that supporting corrupt and ineffective leaders merely because they are moderates has in fact strengthened the radicalism that has doomed the peace process. (Obama would hopefully also realize that the same dynamic holds true for America's support of corrupt and authoritarian leaders across the Arab world.)

With such an understanding, it becomes apparent that US diplomacy needs to be refocused away from supporting elites and towards encouraging Palestinian civil society to develop more successful grass roots strategies, when possible in coordination with Israeli peace forces, to oppose an occupation that the United States has for too long enabled.

Indeed, the final lesson of Palestinian history is that as long as ordinary Palestinians are not empowered politically, violence and even terrorism will be accepted by many as the only tool of resistance left to them, even if such a strategy is considered morally, legally and strategically illegitimate or ineffective by outsiders.

The most important outcome of a reconsideration of Israeli and Palestinian histories would be to give President Obama the moral and political authority to put forth a final peace agreement the two parties would find it nearly impossible to oppose. Such a settlement would include the following elements:

- Israel would agree to withdraw to the 1967 boundaries of the West Bank and Gaza. The only exception would be the Jewish suburbs in East Jerusalem established between 1967 and 1993, which most Palestinians have accepted would be retained by Israel in exchange for a an equivalent piece of Israeli territory being transferred to Palestinian control.

- All other West Bank settlements would be dismantled, save for any that Palestinians allowed to remain in exchange for financial and territorial compensation.

- East Jerusalem would become the Palestinian capital, while greater Jerusalem would remain an open city based on the formula of “two capitals for two peoples.”

- Israel would agree to the return of a politically significant number of Palestinian refugees, but one small enough not to change the long-term demographic balance inside the country. Given the presence of hundreds of thousands of illegal foreign workers in Israel, at least 100,000 Palestinians could return without upsetting the demographic balance if an equivalent number of foreign workers departed. Additional Palestinians could be admitted in exchange for an equivalent number of Israelis remaining in settlements inside Palestine.

With history on his side, Obama could take the politically unprecedented step of informing Israel that its refusal to sign this agreement would bring the suspension of all US non-humanitarian economic and military support. In other words, if Israel continues to put settlements ahead of peace, it will have to go it alone.

The inducements to encourage an Israeli Yes would be equally powerful, moving beyond continued military and economic aid to include full membership in NATO and even the European Union (which would significantly advance the much sought after globalization of Israel's economy). It is inconceivable that any of Israel's adversaries, including Iran, would attack it when such an action would automatically invite a full-scale war with Alliance, which would have front line troops stationed in the country.

Crucially, under such an arrangement Israel would be placed under NATO's nuclear umbrella. It could then transfer its nuclear weapons to NATO control, which would take away the most important Iranian justification for pursuing its own nuclear arsenal. This would pave the way for a denuclearization of the Middle East, and in so doing alleviate what is by far the most dangerous threat to Israel's long term security.

For its part, a Palestinian No would mean an American green light for Israel to continue the occupation indefinitely, which would weaken Palestinian society until it is forced to accept whatever crumbs of sovereignty offered by Israel. But a Yes would bring about the rapid establishment of a territorially viable Palestinian state in the vast majority of the West Bank and Gaza, a dream presently beyond the hopes of most Palestinians.

Were Obama courageous enough to put forward such a plan, it would no doubt be vehemently opposed both by the Israeli government (although outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has recently accepted much of its territorial component). The American Jewish leadership, its allies in Congress, and most of Obama's senior Mideast advisors, whom to a person have strong ties to Israel and the Jewish establishment, would also oppose it.

But the American people, including many American Jews, along with the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, would undoubtedly support a plan if if it were put forward in the right historical and political context.

Even more important, a bold yet fair plan would also demonstrate a level of resolve and creativity that have long been lacking in American foreign policy. Such traits would well serve President Obama as he tackles even more dangerous quagmires in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

One thing is for sure, if Obama limits his horizons to the failed visions of his Clinton-era Mideast team, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and with it America's larger problems in the Muslim world, are going to get a lot worse in the coming years.

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omar ibrahim baker - 1/11/2009

The call for "a historical reconciliation" between the Arabs/Moslems and the Israelis/Jews /Zionist leading to a "genuine and durable peace" based on the principle of a "PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS" was made here some ten days ago.
The response from the Jewish/Zionist "lobby" here at HNN was consistently and invariably negative.

This unanimous negative response covers three issues:
A-rejection of a “genuine and durable peace”
B-rejection , in principle, of the hypothesis of a “historical reconciliation” and
C-rejection of the idea of a “PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS”.

What does that unanimous rejection mean, signify and imply??
We understand it to mean and signify the following:

1-Re A :
the only “peace” Israel &Co are ready to countenance is one based on the output of two successful Israeli wars/military campaigns: 1948 and 1967.
**1948 led Israel to control and dominate and officially annexed some 20% of the land of Palestinian More than was allocated to the “Jewish homeland” by the UNGA Partition of Palestine resolution. ( 52 % allocated versus 72 % dominated and annexed.)
**1967 assured Israel of total domination of 100% of Palestinian land. Out of this ” remaining” , un annexed , 28% “ of Palestinian land( 100-72=28%) Israel officially annexed Arab/East Jerusalem and surrounding and unofficially, but de facto, annexed ,via Land Expropriation, Settlements and the WALL ,some 30-35 % of the “remaining” Palestinian land.
Israel is “officially” ready to negotiate the fate of this residual 19% of Palestinian land (.28 *(1.00-.32)=19%) with the Palestinian people for a limited form of self government after fracturing it into several municipal areas!
That is the Israeli present proposal for “peace”!
I contend not only that this is presently overwhelmingly unacceptable to the Palestinian people BUT that should it, or a variation thereof, ever be accepted, it will NEVER be the basis of a “genuine and durable peace”!

2-Re B:
Israel and lobby’s rejection of a “historical reconciliation” categorically implies several things:
a-A historical reconciliation would necessarily include a final delineation of Israeli dominated land.
That would foreclose the possibility of future expansion to achieve “greater Israel” which is from a Zionist stand unacceptable.
b- It would necessarily include general acceptance and agreement for whatever form peace/settlement takes..That is equally unacceptable. According to Israel the settlement should be based on SUBMISSION not acceptance.

3-Re C:
A PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS would per force include a recognition of the Palestinian’s inalienable rights in their homeland.
That is also unacceptable to Israel/Zionism because:
a- it would nullify the output of the Israeli colonialist conquest of Palestine and thus de colonize Palestine
b-negate Israel’s racist dogma of “Jews only”
c-pave the way for Israel’s, and the Jews, de alienation in and for its and their regional integration all stipulating and entailing the negation of the long held Zionist ambition for regional supremacy in and domination of the region.

N. Friedman - 1/9/2009


You accuse me of falsehoods, etc., but then move on. Was I wrong to note that the Ottoman Empire was an aggressive, imperialist empire that colonized lands that it conquered? Was I wrong to note that, in fact, there was not all that substantial a colonization of Arab lands? Was I wrong to note that Arabs and other Muslims were very resentful when they were forced to grant greater equality to non-Muslims?

If I was wrong, cite chapter and verse, showing me that I am wrong.

Regarding your point one, ten percent - and the percentage varied and was not always just 10% - is a substantial presence. Further, there is no way to know the percentage of Arabs who opposed the presence of Jews. My bet is that 20% or more were quite happy with the arrangement while 20% or more were adamantly opposed. After all, large numbers of people sold land to Jews, which is quite inconsistent with your version of the facts.

Regarding your point two, I think you should read your own posts carefully, in which you state - and have stated repeatedly - that you oppose Jewish migration to the country. According to you, that is one of the sins that make Zionists into racists. Now, if we apply your formula universally - not just as an ad hoc proposition to advance your cause, I suggest you might consider what it says about your views.

In any event, the available evidence on this website suggests that you do not favor equality for Jews.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/9/2009

some of Omar's arguments could easily be used by Zionists. It depends on how far back in history one wants to go or is willing to go. If we go back to the year 70 CE, we see that Arab auxiliary troops fought alongside the Roman legions in the conquest of Judea and Jerusalem and the suppression of the Jewish revolt against Rome [Tacitus, Histories, V:1] and destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Likewise, in the Bar Kokhba revolt Arabs were recruited by Rome to suppress that Jewish revolt, according to the historian A Kasher. Moreover, the Arabs overran the lands of other peoples before the Roman conquest, specifically Edom, Moab, and Ammon. That's why the capital of Jordan is called Amman, a shortening of the Greco-Latin Rabbatamana from the Biblical Hebrew/Ammonite Rabbath-Ammon [see Avi-Yonah, et al]. So the Arabs were doing land-grabbing long before Islam. Is it politically correct to utter such a historical truth? Later, during the Arab conquest, the coastal cities of the Levant were mainly depopulated and their inhabitants replaced by people sent by the Arab rulers. On this see al-Baladhdhuri, inter alia.

Now, Omar, on the point made by N Friedman, you might be more convincing if there were any Arab state where Muslim Arabs were willing to share political power at the very top with non-Muslims. How about Egypt? Christian natives of Iraq are being driven out as we speak. How come? How does the Muslim Brotherhood or its offshoot, Hamas, feel about equality for non-Muslims?

On the other hand, thank you for admitting that you are either a pan-Arabist or a pan-Islamist or both. You do that when you write: "Our Iraq." Since you also claim to be a "palestinian," you confirm that "palestinian nationalism" is just a sub-set or species of pan-Arabism, which is clear in any case from the PLO charter.

Another point that I object to is your classifying Jews in Europe or elsewhere as simply "Europeans." You ought to know that Jews were never accepted in Europe as simply Europeans. Jews came to Europe as migrants [sometimes as slaves] from Judea [ancient Israel] or elsewhere in the Orient, now called the Middle East. Jerusalem had a Jewish majority in modern times as early as 1853, within the Ottoman period [reported by Karl Marx in 1854]. In 1853, the Jews there, whether Ashkenazim or Mizrahim [Oriental Jews] were subject to jizya, the special tax on non-Muslims [including Christians], as well as to other restrictions, legal humiliations, etc, imposed by a Muslim state on dhimmis. Moreover, as stated above by others, the Ottoman empire ruled much of southeastern Europe, including most of central European Hungary. For a while, that Empire ruled over the Kamenetz-Podolsk region of western Ukraine where most of my wife's grandparents come from as do, I believe, my ancestors on my father's side. Indeed, my father's folks lived in southern Ukraine, a region taken by Russia from the Tartars and under Ottoman suzerainty. As much as the Russian Empire disliked Jews, it gave even Jews special privileges if they would settle that zone. These paternal ancestors of mine probably came from the Kamenetz-Podolsk region. They were thus colonists in behalf of the Russian Empire in a zone taken from the Tartars who had the nasty habit of raiding the dar al-Harb for kuffar slaves.

Now where do Omar and the Arabs come into this story? In fact, as both Zeine N Zeine [an Arab historian] and Zia Gok Alp [Turkish sociologist/nationalist] tell us, the Ottoman Empire was a Turkish-Arab empire. The Arabs identified with that empire as Sunni Muslims. They never complained, as far as I know, about how the Ottoman Empire was ruling over alien peoples who loathed Ottoman rule. Many high officials of the Ottoman Empire were Arabs, including members of the Khalidi, Husseini, and Abdul-Hadi families of Palestinian Arabs. Hence, Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs, were imperialists, gladly ruling over non-Muslim peoples in Europe and Anatolia [Greeks, Armenians] and elsewhere. Therefore, Omar, can we hear less self-righteousness from you over the issue of imperialism, colonialism [the Ottoman state also colonized Turks and others in Europe], etc???

art eckstein - 1/9/2009


The second sentence of the second paragraph in my entry above should read:

Omar's view of Jews in his future state is not that they would be "sharing rule" with anyone; they would be ruled by the Arabs and Muslims.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/9/2009

Mr Green
Re #130849
Is it your ignorance or your obsessive hatred of Arabs and Moslems that drives you to ask such a stupid question?

Are you or are you NOT familiar with the fact that, historically, nations quite often go through periods of intense internal turmoil and savage in fighting particularly in the phase of passage, transition , from one era to the other??
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH; did you ever hear of :
a-The American Civil WAR?
b-The Spanish Civil WAR?
c-The Russian, post 1918, Civil WARS?

art eckstein - 1/9/2009

We have already established that Omar's plan of "a Palestine for all Palestinians" involves the destruction of the independent state of Israel and the reduction of Israelis to a helpless Jewish minority in a Palestinian and Muslim-dominated state.

Mr. Friedman is exactly correct in his depiction of Omar as "not wanting to live with Jews if it means sharing political rule with them". Omar's view of Jews in his future state is not that they would not be "sharing rule" with anyone; they would be ruled by the Arabs and Muslims. This is the way that Omar thinks is natural, Allah-ordained, and it is the way he wants it.

Omar, does the Israeli Arab minority in current Israel, which elects Arab Muslim representatives to the Knesset "share rule" with the Jews in israel? I don't think that's your position!!

omar ibrahim baker - 1/9/2009

Mr Friedman
Re your post # 130873
Perusing your "tour de force" that is meant to show that YOU KNOW although it is riddled with falsehoods,fallacies, ommissions, inaccuracies, misinterpretations, extrapolations, all consciously undertaken to deceive and misinform the non specialist, I can NOT fail to note two items to comment on:

1-Your assertion:
"The lands in which Israel was built has always had a substantial Jewish presence."
By which you mean the 10% Jews of total population in the pre British imperialist empowered and enforced demographic conquest/emigration rejected and opposed by the majority of the Palestinian people
you fail to high light, and draw pertinent conclusions from , the fact that the 80% Arab, at the same era, were totally opposed to this colonialist conquest and demographic distortion of their homeland!
(Or is it that 80% Arab (goyim )is "insubstantial" relative to the 10% Jewish which is "substantial"??)

2-Your assertion that:
"So, frankly, your argument suggests that you just do not want to live with Jews, if it means sharing political rule with them. "
which flies smack against, and is categorically belied by, my very recent call for "a historical reconciliation" and a "PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS" with "total equality" in civil and political rights between Palestinian Arabs and Jews.
How dare you make such a false accusation and perverted deduction as in your above assertion while the whole thing is still very fresh in the minds of the readers of HNN and still on display at the second page of HNN??
However none of the above surprises me for that has been throughout your, plural, mode of operation: application of brazen racist criteria (10% versus 80%) , outright falsification and shameless contempt of the intelligence, and memory, of others!

N. Friedman - 1/8/2009


I pointed out why Westerners are concerned about Muslims. I am well aware that there has been interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims going way back. However, it is the action of today's Muslims, who seek to impose their will on non-Muslims by killing and terrorizing innocent people for purposes of imposing an anachronism on non-Muslims which makes what Muslims do into everyone's business.

In any event, I now address your post.

You write: "Do I have to remind you that non Moslems chose to invade our countries and colonize them for generations past and lately to invade, occupy and destroy our Iraq?"

My history books relate somewhat different events. As I recall, the Ottoman Empire was doing its best to conquer as much of the world as it could as late as the 17th Century until the tide began to turn in the middle of that century. Hence, Muslims were holding swaths of what is, today, Southern Europe and up into central Europe. By the end of the 17th Century, Ottoman Sultans were, for the first time, forced to enter into treaties that were clearly favorable to Europeans.

So, before the 18th Century, the Ottoman Empire was an aggressive, imperialistic empire that ruled very large numbers of non-Muslims and colonized Christian lands. In fact, the colonization was extensive and far greater than what Europeans did in Ottoman lands.

Thereafter, the fortunes of the Ottoman Empire tended to grow dimmer and dimmer. But, to note, Ottoman Turkey was never colonized. Most of the so-called Arab lands were never colonized.

This is not to say that Europeans did not attempt to force their will on the Ottoman Empire or on the various nations which, while formally part of the empire, had separate rule. But, create colonies - as occurred, for example, in North America - did not widely occur throughout such lands, although, clearly, the French created colonies in places like Algeria.

And, the US created no colonies so flying planes into buildings in the US does not respond to colonizing by Europeans. In fact, the US championed the Ottoman Empire, building colleges in, for example, Istanbul. During WWI, the US did not even go to war against the Ottoman Empire, even though the US allied with the UK. So including the US in your colonizing argument - an overblown argument even with Europeans, at best - is nonsense.

Now, what European countries did was, to gain influence in Muslims lands, to champion non-Muslims in such lands by forcing the Ottoman authorities to adopt non-discriminatory laws providing equality of right for non-Muslims before Ottoman courts and providing for inclusion for non-Muslims in the affairs of government in the Ottoman Empire.

These reforms - the Tanzimet reforms and similar such reforms - led to widespread resentment by Muslims, who had lost privileges they expected over non-Muslims, both out of habit of having privileges for centuries on end but also because Islamic law explicitly sanctioned such discrimination.

The Europeans, no doubt, did not help Christians and Jews in Muslims countries wholly out of love but primarily in order to control the Ottoman Empire. Be that as it may, such was not the same thing as colonization.

You write: "Or shall I tell you about the Joint Western Christian/Jewish colonialist conquest that implanted an alien, aggressive and racist state, Israel, in our midst?"

That is a lie. The lands in which Israel was built has always had a substantial Jewish presence. More recently, Jews moved to the land, buying land. They were assisted by Arabs in the purchase of those lands. And, Arabs profited substantially from making the sales, since they were paid far above the market rate. That is not a crime. It is not racist.

What is racist is the position taken by Arabs, who decided that only they had political rights. Hence, they took the view that Jews, unlike other people, do not have the right to migrate in order to escape oppression in order to live on land Jews had purchased. This, notwithstanding that such right had been granted by the ruler of the land.

No doubt, you will respond that no one asked the Palestinian Arabs. That is true. But, it should also be noted that for thousands of years on the very same lands, no one asked the local population who could buy land and live on it. Hence, the large percentage of people relatively recently settled on that land by the Ottoman Empire - without ever asking the local population. Hence, the large number of Christians who fled to such lands from Arab and Turkish lands, again without asking the local population.

So, frankly, your argument suggests that you just do not want to live with Jews, if it means sharing political rule with them.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/8/2009

Mr Friedman.
That, flying the planes etc, was a vicious act.
However I find it interesting that that is the ONLY thing you know about us!
Do I have to remind you that non Moslems chose to invade our countries and colonize them for generations past and lately to invade, occupy and destroy our Iraq? (This is far from being the whole story.)
Or shall I tell you about the Joint Western Christian/Jewish colonialist conquest that implanted an alien, aggressive and racist state, Israel, in our midst?
That the "planes" is the only think that you recall, or know?, or feel the need to mention is, with your phony erudite approach, truly telling and symptomatic of your, plural, outlook both as an American Jew and as a Zionist Jew!

art eckstein - 1/8/2009

Not to mention blowing up dozens of innocent civilians in London and Madrid in the name of Allah.

Or undermining civil liberties throughout western civilization by arguing that though they are voluntary immigrants to the West, they are so "sensitive" about being criticized--and so ready to use violence if they are criticized--that traditional freedoms of speech in the West now have to go by the boards on, um, certain topics in order to avoid "offending" them. And, disgracefully, they are being successful at this, in Britain and in Canada, for instance.

(NF: you will be familiar with the legal principle here: "the heckler's veto" on freedom of speech, which was ruled unconstituional by the U.S. Supreme Court, but which Muslims employ with vicious energy.)

So, when Muslims come into the WEST and radical Muslims seek to impose their totalitarian religion and ways on others who are free, while all the others remain silent and do not protest out of "solidarity with Muslims", then, yes--their culture is everybody's business.

N. Friedman - 1/8/2009


If Muslims kept to themselves, it would be only the concern of Muslims that they want to live an anachronism. Unfortunately, Muslims see fit to fly planes into skyscrapers, etc., etc. That makes it everyone concern.

art eckstein - 1/8/2009

Omar, your response to Bernard Lewis shows you are a racist.

Omar, can Jews buy land in the PA, if there are willing sellers? The answer is: NO. Jews (not just Israelis--Jews) cannot. Who's the racist again?

Elliott Aron Green - 1/8/2009

Omar, far more Arabs have died at the hands of fellow Arabs than at Israel's hands, in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, etc. So are we to conclude that the patent and virtuous anti-racism of the Arabs is far deadlier for the Arabs than Israel's alleged racism??

omar ibrahim baker - 1/8/2009

Mr Friedman
I find it utterly presumptuous for you to prescribe for us which way Arab and Moslem reform should take.
Not only because an enemy, a usurper of our land and aggressor is hardly the proper venue for advise but equally for the absurd notion that you would know more about our needs and aspirations than we do .
You are here reiterating Bush's stupid notion on how should we reform that was not only laughed out of existence but was equally dropped by Bush and Co.

Arab/Moslem reform is an internal matter to be solely determined by the Arabs and Moslems themselves; neither by the USA nor particularly by our declared enemies.
Your presumption is only equaled by Green’s attempts to tell us how to read and understand the Koran which ,except that we are here dealing with a very serious matter, would be a first class joke in black humour!
We have been here before and there is absolutely no need to rehash it.

However what I find to be of most interest is that you reject, in principle, the notion of a historical reconciliation in your effort to maintain and sustain a Zionized Palestine ie the aggressive and racist nation/state of Israel which denies and rejects the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian people in his homeland.
That is NOT only very short sighted but IS ultimately self destructive.

N. Friedman - 1/7/2009


You write: "Lewis as a Zionist is, by definition, a racist...."

That is nonsense. Zionism was a liberation movement and, at this point, refers to the view that Jews can maintain their nation.

You add that Lewis, since he is a Zionist "favours the admission of alien Jews into Palestine while negating that ability, which in the case of the Palestinians is an inalienable right, to return to their homeland."

There is no inalienable right for anyone or any group to live any specific place.

Moreover, there are compelling reasons not to let more Arabs into Israel. Just look north at Lebanon, which is all anyone needs to consider to realize just how only people who hate both Jews and Arabs favor what you claim to support.

You write: "My point is : to spare the region untold miseries Israel should seek, for the ultimate benefit of its Jews, a genuine, lasting peace that could only be achieved through a historical reconciliation with the Palestinians, the Arabs , the region and Islamdom in general."

That would be a wonderful idea if it could occur. The problem here is that the Arab regions and Islamdom more generally are doing everything possible to alienate themselves from the rest of the planet. Which is to say, the Arab regions and Islamdom have grabbed on to an anachronism, Islamism aka political Islam as a solution to problems it has no possibility of solving and every conceivable likelihood of making dramatically worse. In other words, the Islamic revival movement is a catastrophe for Muslims and, since Muslims see fit to apply their dysfunctional agenda all over the planet, to the rest of the world as well.

And, political Islam merely replaces another anachronism, pan-Arabism - which has brought only misery and death. The same for its most fascistic version, Ba'athism.

There is no basis for reconciliation with the current Arab world and the wider Islamic region unless and until Muslims wake up and address their only dysfunctional ideologies and governments and education system, etc., etc. Maybe, one could take a page from the great Attaturk, whose agenda, were it to be widely adopted by Arabs and Muslims more generally, would be a major step forward.

So, someday, when the Arab regions and Islamdom wake up to reality, there will be a basis for reconciliation. However, reconciliation is not a suicide pact - which is really what you are asking of the Israelis.

Consider, lastly, Omar, that the Israelis really do not need reconciliation with Arabs and Muslims to survive. It is the other way around. And. the price of admission is the adoption of an ideology and system for life that addresses the world we live in, not the world of our great ancestors.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/7/2009

Mr Friedman
1-Re Lewis, outstanding scholarship does not necessarily entail anti racism.
Lewis as a Zionist is, by definition, a racist who, based on blood/race/ethnicity, favours the admission of alien Jews into Palestine while negating that ability, which in the case of the Palestinians is an inalienable right, to return to their homeland.

2-re the muliawarded Prof I have nothing to add to my earlier statement.

3-Re Iran and by implication Turkey: obviously differences did and some still do exist BUT you should be able to note that when facing a Zionist Israel they are relegated to a very low priority.

My point is : to spare the region untold miseries Israel should seek, for the ultimate benefit of its Jews, a genuine, lasting peace that could only be achieved through a historical reconciliation with the Palestinians, the Arabs , the region and Islamdom in general.

If you fail to see that an ALIEN Israel that imposed and imposes itself by military prowess will never be regionally accepted nor be integrated and that as such it will always be regionally rejected; if you fail to see that you would be making a grave mistake.
A genuine, lasting peace could only be founded on A PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS, both resident and émigré and newcomers, along the basis outlined earlier namely: recognition and implementation of all the inalienable rights of all the Palestinian Arabs in their homeland with total equality , strict parity between the two communities in civil and political rights and in mutual security.

N. Friedman - 1/7/2009


Again, Professor Lewis is not part of any racist school of thought. That is in your head. Moreover, his scholarship is second to none, as even members of the Muslim Brotherhood agree. So, if your comments were not racist, they were ignorant.

Time will tell what happens between Israel and Turkey. However, the changes taking place have to do with underlying issues involving the reemergence of Islamist politics in Turkey, not Israel's behavior. If changes in Turkey continue, Turkey and Israel's friendship may well wither. We shall have to wait and see what occurs.

In the case of the Kurds, I think the same thing can be said, namely, that if Islamist politics come to the forefront, Kurds will tend to be more likely to distance themselves from Israel. Of course, there is also the possibility that Kurds will see Israel as a means of countering potential Iraqi Arab aggression and/or potential Iranian aggression, in which case matters may not develop as I have noted.

In that Turkey - with Islamists in power - assisted Israel in attacking Syria's nuclear facility, the case for Turkey falling out with Israel anytime soon may well be an exaggeration.

As I said, time will tell.

As for Iran, its objection to Israel needs to be examined with reference to Persian hatred for Arabs. Which is to say, the Iranian mullahs and ayatollahs surely do hate Israel; they may someday shoot nuclear weapons at Israel but, if that occurs and succeeds, it will be as big a loss for Palestine's Arabs as it is for Israeli Jews, since the land you so deeply covet will be destroyed - i.e., made uninhabitable. With friends like the Iranians, who needs enemies.

So, I would not gloat to much in receiving support from Iran, which certainly does not have your interests at heart.

Again, I would call on you to apologize to Professor Eckstein and to Professor Lewis, neither of whom are racists.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/7/2009

Omar, you state that the "palestinian people" wants its "homeland" "Palestine." But you know, Omar, nobody ever heard of a "palestinian people" before the 20th century. According to Qur'an 5:20-22, the Holy Land is the land of the Jews, which we can translate as the Jews' homeland. Other Quranic verses refer to the "Jews' land" to which, one verse at least foretells, the Jews will return. Likewise, we read that Allah settled the Jews "in a pleasant abode" or some such phrase. Why do you insist on rejecting your own Qur'an??

art eckstein - 1/7/2009

I think that we see Omar here threatening:

(a) either become minority and defenseless dhimmis in an Arabized and Muslimized "Palestine", or
(b) be destroyed, physically destroyed.

You know, that is the classic choice that the kuffer was ALWAYS offered by Muslims, going back to the imperialist Muslim expansions of the 7th century (which, of course, Omar defended).

omar ibrahim baker - 1/7/2009

Mr Green.
RE post #130782
If being in support of the Kurds' right to Self Determination is a rejection of an "article of faith of Arab nationalism" as you describe it, which is a wrong and malicious designation any way, then Yes I would still reject that stand as being, in principle, in negation of a basic inalienable human right and of being short sight strategically .

Re Iran ; no matter how you interpret its radical change of policy re "Israel" it is a fact that you, in Israel,should consider very seriously for its potential negative repercussions on you.
Turkey will eventually follow suit and possibly more vigourously in its hostile attitude towards Israel.
Both, fact and potential, unmistakeably refect:
- a growing regional awareness of the intrinsic character of Israel as an aggressive and racist alien implant
-as a proxy of international, now mainly USA, imperialism
-growing pan Islamic solidarity .

If you fail to ponder the fact, and consequences ,that serious , genuine enemity to and rejection of a Zionised Palestine has grown exponentially from local Palestinian Arab to pan Arab to pan Islamic and soon to third world you will be making a historical mistake.

Your only way out of this disaterous course, which will gravely affect the region, is a genuine peace in a deZionised Palestine/Israel ie a PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS along the lines outlined earlier.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/7/2009

NF and Art E, note that Omar has not responded to NF's assertion that non-Muslims never enjoyed equality in Muslim lands. Certainly Jews never enjoyed equality. Does Omar think that he can reeducate Muslims to treat kuffar with respect, equality, etc??

The record of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and of Hamas in Gaza in regard to the native Christian population does not bode well for a happy future of sharing the land with native Cjhristians -- let alone Jews.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/7/2009

Omar, if you go back to the 1960s, you will see that the Arab League, not just the Ba`ath in both Iraq and Syria, opposed any Kurdish self-determination. Can it be that you are rejecting an article of faith of Arab nationalism as defined by the Arab League? If so, good for you. However, can you explain why the PLO --arafat and tamimi et al.-- supported Saddam's invasion of Kuwait on the grounds that it was an act of Arab unification? You can find quotes from various PLO spokesmen in a column that I wrote for the Jerusalem Post not long after the invasion. Can you explain why the Palestinian Arabs in Iraq and Kuwait so strongly supported SH's invasion of a sister Arab country? In fact, they so offended the Kuwaitis that after the 1991 war over Kuwait [called the 1st Gulf War] the Palestinian Arab population of Kuwait were driven out by returning Kuwaitis. These were several hundred thousand people. You do recall this episode of Arabs expelling Arabs, don't you?

As for the fall of the Shah and Khomeini's takeover, that was the policy of Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski, neither of them friends of Israel.

As for Erdogan and his movement in Turkey, I'd like to hear him admit some guilt for the Armenian genocide. Maybe you, Omar, could persuade Erdogan and his govt to return to the Armenians the areas of historic Armenia now part of Turkey. Don't you think that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? I refer to Erdogan's recent denunciations of Israel.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/7/2009

Mr Friedman
Re #130761
1-I noted that your agreement with Lewis , a Jew and a Zionist highly lauded by VP Cheney, does NOT surprise me nor bolsters your arguments since all of you belong to the same aggressive and racist Zionist school of thought!
If that is BADMOUTHING LEWIS so be it!
However that is NOT badmouthing Lewis; it is,if any thing, badmouthing Zionism NOT Lewis should you reread it rationally.

2-re the multiawarded Professor I really do NOT care what you think

3-re the Kurds: eventually when they overcome their bad experience with the late Saddam Hussein they will "see the light" exactly as the Turks, once a staunch ally of Israel, did .
I presume you are aware of the radical public, slowly but inexorably followed by the official, changes taking place in Turkey!
Should you ever step back a little and consider the fact that in the last twenty years or so Israel lost its only regional friends, one of which, Iran, became a virulent enemy of Israel and the second, Turkey, is well on the same road, you will better understand the historical dead end predicament Israel is facing in the region that I often refer to!

Arnold Shcherban - 1/6/2009

Whatever the history, Israel was spitting on UN Security council resolutions for decades, without being punished a bit, in a sharp difference with some other countries, which did not violate a single Security Council resolution, but have been imposed severe (often deadly)economic sanctions on by the US alone or by a band of US "brothers".
We already witnessed what happens to any Middle East country, non-friendly to US, when it does just a fraction of what Israel did for the last 50 years: at the very least it gets bombed by "coalition of the willing",
as Lybia, Iraq, and Syria was, at the most - completely destroyed as Lebanon and Iraq were.
That's just a small part of vicious double standards of Western civilization at work...

art eckstein - 1/6/2009

I look forward to your comments, NF!


N. Friedman - 1/6/2009

I'm reading your book Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome. I wish I knew more about the general history of Rome's rise to power so that I could be a better critic.

To my eye, the book is clearly, at least thus far, superbly well researched and written. I shall, when I finish it, let you know what I think about your analytical approach - something I feel more comfortable addressing than Roman history. I have some thoughts about your approach that occur thus far to me. I suspect that you may well supply the answers later in your excellent book.

art eckstein - 1/6/2009

Well, whether it was a rant or not, I'd like Omar to answer my question, but I doubt he will.

Glad you're reading my book!

Er...One of my books. :)

N. Friedman - 1/6/2009

I do not think I claim his post to be a rant. I thought it one you should read.

By the way, I am reading your book.

art eckstein - 1/6/2009

Omar usually gives us incoherent rants NF; the rant you cite above is not incoherent, just false (regarding me) and racist (regarding me, Friedman, and Lewis).

Don't slander the messenger who brings you unwelcome information, Omar--prove his FACTS wrong. That's what a debate among is.

The problem for Omar is that he can't prove the facts wrong, so he is reduced to slandering the messenger. A lot easier than doing research. (I remember when he denied the existence of the Mt. Scopus Massacre, and he still won't research it.)

In any case, I'm waiting for an answer from Omar to my question: are the 850,000 expelled Jews entitled to monetary compensation and/or their property back including any improvements made in the past 50 or 60 years?

Yes or no?

N. Friedman - 1/6/2009


While your post is not addressed to me, I cannot imagine your reason for badmouthing the great Bernard Lewis, whose scholarship is considered seminal by innumerable Muslims including those who have chosen to translate and publish his work in Arabic.

Your attack on Professor Eckstein is outrageous. He posts his own ideas, so far as I know. I think you owe him an apology.

Your defense of the Kurdish is interesting in that in the Kurdish state within Iraq, support for Jews and for Israel is extremely high. Perhaps, Kurds have not quite come to see the light, as you would see the matter.

N. Friedman - 1/6/2009


You may want to note a recent post by Omar. In it, you are badmouthed and, on top of that, the great Bernard Lewis - whose work has been reprinted by the Islamist publishers as being good scholarship - is bad mouthed for being, among other things, Jewish. Here is the post in its entirety:

by omar ibrahim baker on January 6, 2009 at 11:51 AM
Mr Green
1-RE your defence of the "me too ", and multiawarded, Professor the thing is NOT that he agrees with something said by one of you but that he rewrites it in a manner to imply an original contribution .If you are happy with that that is OK by me except that that does NOT change his "me tooism"!
Any way, as you must have noticed, I usually ignore him for being trivial insubstantial and for almost always repeating what the more clever among you said; that is for his "me too" !

2-As to the fact that both of you are in substantial agrrement with Bernard Lewis , a Jew with Zionist convictions highly lauded by VP Cheney, that, reading you, neither surprises me nor bolsters your argument all being borne out of the aggressive and racist Zionist dogma and a blind hatred of Islam.
I did NOT read Cantwell so no comment!

3- Re the Kurdish question;I am on the written record, where it counts, for being 100% pro Kurdish Self Determination starting with Iraq particularly during the Baath era!
The way the late Saddam Hussein, a far from faultless hero of the Arab cause, dealt with this issue was, to my mind, a major failure of convictions and foresight.
I was told by a major Iraqi Kurdish ex official of the Baath regime that almost all Palestinians he knows were of the same opinion.

art eckstein - 1/6/2009

Omar, you have yet to answer this question, or even acknowledge that a problem exists:

I notice that Omar continues to erase from existence the 850,000 Jews who were deprived of their property by Muslim governments between 1948 and 1960 and forced to become penniless refugees. That is more people than were involved in the Nakhba--100,000 more--but they don't exist for Omar, so naturally "compensation" for THEIR suffering, and seeing the larger picture of what occurred, is not an issue.

Of course, one *difference* between these 850,000 Jews and the 750,000 Palestinians is that these Jews did not attack their neighbors but lived peaceably with them before they were expelled.

Well, Omar--are these Jews entitled to compensation? Or, even more to the point, to get their property back, including whatever improvements have been made in the past 50 or 60 years?

Yes or no?

omar ibrahim baker - 1/6/2009

Mr Green
1-RE your defence of the "me too ", and multiawarded, Professor the thing is NOT that he agrees with something said by one of you but that he rewrites it in a manner to imply an original contribution .If you are happy with that that is OK by me except that that does NOT change his "me tooism"!
Any way, as you must have noticed, I usually ignore him for being trivial insubstantial and for almost always repeating what the more clever among you said; that is for his "me too" !

2-As to the fact that both of you are in substantial agrrement with Bernard Lewis , a Jew with Zionist convictions highly lauded by VP Cheney, that, reading you, neither surprises me nor bolsters your argument all being borne out of the aggressive and racist Zionist dogma and a blind hatred of Islam.
I did NOT read Cantwell so no comment!

3- Re the Kurdish question;I am on the written record, where it counts, for being 100% pro Kurdish Self Determination starting with Iraq particularly during the Baath era!
The way the late Saddam Hussein, a far from faultless hero of the Arab cause, dealt with this issue was, to my mind, a major failure of convictions and foresight.
I was told by a major Iraqi Kurdish ex official of the Baath regime that almost all Palestinians he knows were of the same opinion.

N. Friedman - 1/6/2009


When you write that you want to rid Israel of Zionism, that means destroying the country that now exists, whether or not you admit that such is what you mean. Such is what your words mean - as in, that is precisely what the words you have chosen mean.

I find it difficult to believe you do not understand what you have written, which is why I call your statements BS, which is what they are.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/6/2009

Mr Friedman
What I have in mind is exactly what I wrote and not what you extrapolate and misinterpret in your sick mind.
If you fail to comprehend that due to your overwhelming obssession that is your problem.
RE BS; noting that you have been the sole source of that for quite some time now I second your motion that you should stop!
More is the pity..I used to have some respect for you.

N. Friedman - 1/6/2009


In other words, what you have in mind is what happened to the Soviet Union. That amounts to destroying Israel as a country. Stop the BS

omar ibrahim baker - 1/6/2009

Mr Friedman
RE your post # 130677 presumably your response to my response to your challenge!
Both your replies are LAME, real lame and totally devoid of fact or reason.

1-Reconciliation, of "Israel", with its environment, DOES NOT lead to an Arab character as was your original allegation that I was after that .
It does not lead to Arabization of the whole RECONCILED country of Palestine.
Both Iran and particularly Turkey, erstwhile at war, recently for the latter, with the Arabs, live in a state of deep reconciliation with the Arabs in their common environment/region; neither become Arab, obviously!

2-You accused me of wanting the "destruction " Israel.
That was false even by your own reply.
DEZIONIZATION does not involve destruction; it involves and implies PROGRESS from aggressive racism to a society of equals whose character reflects its demographic composition:
Palestinian; both indigenous, including indigenous Jews, and emigre newcomers.

South Africa was not destroyed but progresseed by deAppartheiding, abolishing all racist laws etc, its political system.

I am truly surprised that you fall so law in defending the indefensible by the truly inane extrapolations you make and the sillier misinterpretation of my words you attempt.

Pity, I had some respect for you!

omar ibrahim baker - 1/6/2009

Mr Hamilton
Your recent posts seem to imply , or insinnuate,that "land ownership" in Palestine is the essence of the conflict.
As paramount in importance as it is still that IS NOT the essence or the only and overriding facet of the issue.
The essence of the issue as we perceive it IS:
the free exercise of the Palestinian people, both resident and emigre, of ALL his inalienable civil and political rights in HIS HOMELAND:

omar ibrahim baker - 1/6/2009

Mr Hamilton
1-My post to which I presume you answered above in #130687 runs as follows:
"Re: Legal damages but not dispossessions?Comments and a question! (#130670)
by omar ibrahim baker on January 5, 2009 at 4:33 AM
Mr Hamilton
1-Which law(s) do you refer to in your legal brief?
British ( for pre 1948),Jordanian ( for post 48 and pre 67 in the West Bank), Israeli (for post 67)?
2-Patently the only thing that is of interest to most Israel supporters is a-Monetary Compensation
b-which, under the circumstances, would amout to "compulsory purchase"
Re (a) :the Palestinians have in their greater numbers have rejected any "monetary compensation" for the all too obvious reason that their homeland is NOT for sale.
Re (b)would NOT the denial of right of return and of repossessing one's legitimate property, including land, nullify the time limitations you indicate?
A QUESTION: does your "legal" brief cover events due to or post of WAR ?
( Iam NOT a lawyer)"

I note that you have not addressed most of the questions therein.Dare I hope for an answer to those questions?

2-Your comment re the majority refusing to sell(that it does restrict individual land owners from selling their personal properties ) is of course so obvious that it hardly deserves writing down, to say nothing about illustrating it with an example.
Be that as it may my point was/still is that since the overwhelming majority refuses to sell, ie accept compensation in lieu of their legitimate property reverting to them, your legal brief does not establish grounds for the resolution of that aspect, land ownership, of the conflict.

Arnold Shcherban - 1/5/2009

As far as the conception of two viable
states go, it was (though, mistakenly in my view) created not by the American President, but by the UN majority. Undoubtedly, the support of the idea by the US and the USSR was crucial for creating that majority, but still...
I mentioned that it was a mistake (turned to be much more tragic than it could have been imagined at the time), because the main ethnicity populated Palestine at the time was
Arab, and it (as well as all other Arab nations) was vehemently against
the new Jewish settlers, not mentioning a formation of the Jewish state on the land they considered their native one (since they had been living there for hundreds of years by then).
Anyway, there remains just one realistic solution to this conflict NOW, which must be declared and enforced, if needed, by the UN, not by the US/UK imperialist coalition, that mostly concerned with uninterupted and cheap flow of oil from the region: briefly - immediate enforcement of ceasefire along all perimeter of Israeli borders aka 1967 and elimination of all Israeli settlements on the occupied territories through placement of the large international peacekeeping force giving the latter the right to open fire on the violators of that cease-fire and the bordering markation.
Creation of Palestinian state within the territory initially (in 1948)demarked by the UN for it.
Implementing the resolution of Arab states on immediate recognition of the state of Israel and its right to peaceful coexistence with bordering Arab nations.
Return of the independent status to Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1980s.
If any side rejects or violates these conditions (which is going to be decided by UN special commision with exclusion of NATO countries, China, India, and Russia) punish it with severe economic sanctions, etc.
Anything short (or long) of that will lead either to one-sided victory, i.e.
catastrophe to another side, or perpetual continuation of the conflict.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009

Mr. Hamilton,

Regarding purchase of land, read Omar. He is not interest in making any payments of money. He does not even want to receive any money. He just wants to destroy Israel.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009

Mr. Hamilton,

You should read Hillel Cohen's interesting but, in spots, flawed book Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948. Actually, a great deal of land was purchased from Arabs who were not absentee landlords or anything of the sort. Many local sellers actually thought that there was a benefit to siding with Jews. Many local sellers wanted to make money. Many local sellers thought that al-Husseini's movement was horrible and saw common cause with the country's Jews.

I was not, for what it is worth, responding to what Palestine Arabs claim - because I think the arguments are bogus. I was responding only to your argument about the bona fide purchaser of land. That scenario - at least using the terminology you originally used - arises due to multiple claims to have purchased the same land from the same owner.

I am not expert non-US real estate law. I obviously have some degree of familiarity - but not expertise - with British law because US law has roots in the British common law tradition. Ottoman law was in flux in the 19th and early 20th centuries and effectively came to an end (apart from British acquiescence in or, where applicable, partial acceptance in connection with the Palestine Mandate) with the demise of the Ottoman empire.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/5/2009

I don't think that in Israel/Palestine, the "race to the courthouse" has caused many problems.

Rather, it is my understanding that much of the Palestinian Arab belief of "stolen lands" rests in large part on the follow common scenario: A Jew bought land from an absentee landlord who lived far from the subject property. When the new owner appears on the property, he finds there are resident Arab tenants who thought they had, in essence, a life tenancy so long as they paid rents or farmed the land or for whatever other reason. Now, under my understanding of Anglo-American law, if such a life (or longterm) tenancy was indeed granted prior to the purchase, then if notice of the tenancy were duly recorded, then the new purchaser would take title subject to that tenancy. I suspect that Ottoman law had a similar "notice" provision. Am I wrong?

R.R. Hamilton - 1/5/2009

Mr. Friedman,

Yes, that's what I meant. The Saudis and other similarly situated oil states could set up a fund for Palestinian Arabs to repurchase lands sold to Jews/Israelis in the West Bank.

Btw, I just noticed this article, which I recommend to you. I'm not saying I agree with it, either in general or in any particular, but it is an interesting analysis of the problem of what I will call ethnic irredentism.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009

Mr. Hamilton,

Other than the last paragraph of your post, I agree entirely with the logic of your argument. I do not understand your last comment, unless you mean that Arabs should buy individual parcels of land, just like Jews did.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009

Mr. Hamilton,

I do not believe that you fully understand the bona fide purchaser doctrine. The point of it is to make, where possible, the registry record control who comes to own property. The issue here is not that a second purchaser for value could have checked on the registry and then not be a bona fide purchaser. The issue here arises because there is an unrecorded deed.

Imagine a circumstance where the same owner sells for value the same real estate to two separate people. Quite possibly, the seller in such an instance is a crook who wants to sell the same property again and again - so long as there are potential purchasers willing to pay money for the land. Further on the above scenario, suppose the second purchaser for value records his or her deed before the first purchaser.

The law, faced with the above scenario, must then determine who becomes the record owner of the land. Depending on whether there is a race, notice or a race/notice statute in place in a given state and depending on how late (i.e. how late after the second purchaser) the first purchaser for value records his or her deed, determines the result. Again, in this scenario, all of the purchasers are innocent. The result would differ, once again, if the second purchaser is on actual notice of the sale to the first purchaser, in which case the end result could be very different.

Your second point is better taken, at least for US law.

Of course, we are not dealing with US law. And, the ruler determines the law which, in turn, determines who owns land. Which is to say, rights in land are not of nature but derived out of law instituted by governments. That is something that our friend Omar fails to appreciate.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/5/2009

Mr. Baker,

Nearly every country on Earth has potential irredentist claims. Where will it end? Should we entertain the claims of Germans to properties in Prussia, Pomerania, and Silesia? Hungarians for properties in Transylvania? Indians for properties in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir? What if Mexico decides that Arizona should be returned to Mexico? Or Canadians decide that the British colonial authorities were wrongfully transferred Oregon to the U.S.? Should we look closely at the Ukranian possessions of Ruthenia and northern Bukovina?

As far as the Palestinian Arabs, they seem to think that law and war are not mutually exclusive alternatives to land control. When they lose in the legal system -- most notably in the U.N. in 1947 -- they appeal to war. Then when they lose on the battlefield, they appeal to law. Unfortunately for them, it is a maxim of equity that "he who seeks equity must do equity" -- also known as the "doctrine of clean hands". The Palestinians, when they appeal to the law, come to court with the dirtiest hands imaginable: hands that oppose with violence the legal decisions (such as the 1947 U.N. decision) that they dislike.

That said, I've sometimes wondered why the Arabs, with their fantastic and unearned oil wealth, don't simply buy (or "buy back") the Jewish-owned properties that they covet.

A. M. Eckstein - 1/5/2009

1. I do believe that in the phrase "it will NOT be nothing!", we have the real Omar, the mask is dropped, and we see the quite definite threat.

2. I notice that in Omar's frantic and narcissistic self-righteousness he has decided to erase the 850,000 Jews who were deprived of their property by Muslim governments between 1948 and 1960 and forced to become penniless refugees. That is more people than were involved in the Nakhba--100,000 more--but they don't exist for Omar, so naturally "compensation" for THEIR suffering, and seeing the larger picture of what occurred, is not an issue.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/5/2009

Mr. Baker says,

"[T]he Palestinians have in their greater numbers have rejected any "monetary compensation" for the all too obvious reason that their homeland is NOT for sale."

It doesn't matter what "Palestinians in their greater numbers" have decided. It only matters what the individual sellers decide.

For instance, say a Syrian citizen buys land in America from an American seller. Can Americans "in their greater numbers" decide, retroactively, that the transaction is invalid and that the property can be seized without compensation to the Syrian buyer? Not under any legal system with which I am familiar.

As far as war and occupation, I doubt that it would be legal for Israel to bar Arab property owners in the West Bank from selling their properties to whoever they want. And it would be an apartheid-level law if people were barred from such transactions merely because of their religion or ethnicity.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/5/2009

Mr. Friedman says, inter alia,

"The bona fide purchaser doctrine would, accordingly, not apply in the case of purchasers in Israel, if such purchasers can check in the registry and trace the chain of title accurately."

Well, of course, if a buyer takes title when he knew or with reasonable diligence could have known of a defect of title, he is not a bona fide purchaser. I accounted for this situation in my first comment.

"The problem [on the West Bank]is that the party which allegedly lost land has always made clear its claim on the land. That makes it hard to meet the OCEAN test."

It is not at all clear that this is the true situation. Let's say that the government, under its Kelo powers of eminent domain, seizes part of your land, Mr. Friedman, and then sells it to Mr. Baker. It is not enough to cloud title if your neighbors and friends dispute the transfer. You must dispute ownership by filing an action in ejectment or other legal process. If you fail to do so, because you reject the authority of the courts or for any other reason, then you have, in essence, acquiesced to the transfer.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/5/2009

Which, your repost, only proves that to PERMIT is NOT to ORDAIN or DECREE; and the point, rather the insinuation, that you made about UN resolution, is false!
It IS our homeland whether you accept that or NOT as to Compensation or Nothing that remains to be settled historically and I do NOT have the slightest doubt that it will NOT be nothing.
I believe you, plural, suffer from a severly blinding and incapacitating blindness.
That, I contend, if you persist in reading events incorrectly, as you do now, will be a very tragic mistake .
Try to read between the lines Avraham Burg....a much more involved Zionist than most and you will entertain other ideas and other prospects of how evenrs are liable to evolve if you persist in your present blindness and obsessions.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009

Thank you, Art.

Maybe, Professor LeVine will come forward with a justification for his opinion. I rather doubt it, though. I think he is still reeling from being shown to know rather little about General Glubb.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009


You wanted confirmation of your recently stated views about how to resolve the dispute. Here they are:

Re: A Happy Coincidence (#130269)
by omar ibrahim baker on December 20, 2008 at 9:22 AM
Mr Hamilton
Israel ultimately has two and only two options:
1-Perennial estrangement ,regional alienation, to lead to fortress Israel in a constant state of conflict with its environment leading , sporadically, to out right wars
2-A historical reconcilliation with the Palestinians, and its environment, that recognizes their inalienable rights in their homland.
Burg is heading that way as is implicit in the NY Times article.

You provide further confirmation of what I state in your instant post, where you state:

MY answer IS:
-I have always and throughout called for the DEZIONIZATION of Palestine; which I repeatedly defined as:" to forget/abandon the impossible dream/design of a an exclusively or predominantly Jewish Palestine"

In other words, you want to change the character of the country's culture so that it is no longer predominantly Jewish/secular.

You write in the instant post, in further confirmation of what I stated:

As to the charcter of the country I have repeatedly stressed that it would be PALESTINIAN ie reflecting its demographic composition.

I might add that the demographics would not make the country Palestinian, no matter what math you look at, unless you plan to displace large numbers of human beings. Some demographic studies suggest that Palestinian Arabs could obtain a majority of the population of the land, if we include the land from the sea to the Jordan. Other studies disagree. But, in no instance would the population be so tilted either way such that the land would have a Palestinian Arab character, unless, as I noted, you intend to displace large numbers of people. Perhaps, that is your position.

As for equality, where in the Arab region is there equality for non-Muslims? Where is there anything approaching equality? Answer: nowhere.

As for inalienable rights, I again note that it is basic to any claim that it is applicable to all, not just to one special party.

art eckstein - 1/5/2009

That's the problem in a nutshell, N.F.! Well said.

The pro-Arab Glubb Pasha pointed out the same problem 60 years ago, as RRH noted.

I notice that Professor Levine has NOT taken up our challenge to show that Omar's attitude is atypical.

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009


Your "homeland" was never for sale. Had Palestine's Arabs accepted the presence of Jews as equals and not sought their destruction, there would be no need for anyone to be resettled or compensated. The cost of starting a war and then losing it include has actual consequences. The same goes for refusing to move on and make a life, as displaced people all over the world do.

As for UN 194, its acceptance to any extent by you refutes, by the resolution's wording, the position you take, namely, that it is your homeland. That problem, after all, is the exact reason stated on the floor of the UN by the various Arab states for voting against UN 194.

And, the refusal to accept that definitional implication of UN 194 leaves your side with the option of receiving compensation or receiving nothing. You have made pretty clear that you prefer to receive nothing, adopting the all or nothing idiocy which has been the hallmark of Palestine's Arabs over the course of the entire dispute.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/5/2009

Mr Friedman
YES, it does PERMIT; it DOES NOT ORDAIN or DECREE and that, the "permit", applies only, by definition, to those willing to accept the compensation.
You surely know the difference!
Israel directly and indirectly did make many lucrative and quite enticing proposals very few, a tiny ratio, accepted.
OUR homeland is NOT for SALE!

N. Friedman - 1/5/2009


Palestinians claim to support UN 194, which explicitly permits compensation for displaced persons.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/5/2009

Mr Hamilton
1-Which law(s) do you refer to in your legal brief?
British ( for pre 1948),Jordanian ( for post 48 and pre 67 in the West Bank), Israeli (for post 67)?
2-Patently the only thing that is of interest to most Israel supporters is a-Monetary Compensation
b-which, under the circumstances, would amout to "compulsory purchase"
Re (a) :the Palestinians have in their greater numbers have rejected any "monetary compensation" for the all too obvious reason that their homeland is NOT for sale.
Re (b)would NOT the denial of right of return and of repossessing one's legitimate property, including land, nullify the time limitations you indicate?
A QUESTION: does your "legal" brief cover events due to or post of WAR ?
( Iam NOT a lawyer)

omar ibrahim baker - 1/5/2009

Mr. Friedman
***You say:
"Must I quote you and make you look like a liar?"

MY answer IS:

***You claim:
" your real position is that Israel should be eliminated in favor of another Arab state,"

MY answer IS:
-I have always and throughout called for the DEZIONIZATION of Palestine; which I repeatedly defined as:" to forget/abandon the impossible dream/design of a an exclusively or predominantly Jewish Palestine"
I challenge you to prove otherwise.

***You claim that I call for a resolution of the conflict:
" with Jews living as an "equal" but inferior minority."

MY answer IS:
-"equal" YES, I called and still call for that;as to an "inferior minority" NEVER.
I challenge you to substantiate your absurd contention!

***You claim:
"However, the word "equal" has a special meaning for you, since you insist that the country must have an "Arab" character, not a neutral character."

MY answer is:
-Equal means equal and if in your mind it has another meaning that would be your, not my, problem.
As to the charcter of the country I have repeatedly stressed that it would be PALESTINIAN ie reflecting its demographic composition.
That in a Palestine for all the Palestinians would be, mainly, Arab/Jewish or Jewish/Arab.
I have even proposed either of two new names to satisfy both communities : PALRAEL or ISRAPAL!

***Re "inalienable rights" ;neither your nor my interpretation need be adopted. It could be resolved at a World Court of Justice, as in the Hague, or any international legal tribunal that both agree on.

Let us stick to words used NOT extrapolations and/or bent interpretations. Shall we??

N. Friedman - 1/4/2009

Mr. Hamilton,

This story is at least as important as the story of the Jihad against Jews. Thus far and if you ignore collateral damage killing of Muslims, Christians have been the main victims of Jihad.

N. Friedman - 1/4/2009

Mr. Hamilton,

US law, at least, does not wholly agree with you.

The doctrine of the bona fide purchaser is a doctrine that, in real estate law, arises with respect to the record as it appears in a registry of deeds. A bona fide purchaser becomes owner over an earlier purchaser who does not record its acquisition of title in the registry within the appropriate time frame. There are slight variations on the permitted time frame, depending on the state, with race, notice and race/notice statutes determining the outcome. The bona fide purchaser doctrine would, accordingly, not apply in the case of purchasers in Israel, if such purchasers can check in the registry and trace the chain of title accurately.

Similarly, the person who possesses land unlawfully does not necessarily prevail in a challenge in court. Under US law at least, the squatting must meet the so-called OCEAN test, which is the squatting must be open, continuous, exclusive, adverse and notorious. The problem here is that the party which allegedly lost land has always made clear its claim on the land. That makes it hard to meet the OCEAN test.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/4/2009

... for mentioning a story that is too little told: The ongoing campaign of "religious cleansing" of Christians from Muslim-controlled areas of the West Bank and Gaza. I was debating someone in another forum recently who claimed that Bethlehem was still "more than 80% Christian". It is, of course, now only about 30% Christian. Jerusalem, where Christians used to be, I've read, about 50% of the population, is now less than 3% Christian. More Jerusalem Christians now live in Sydney, Australia than in Jerusalem.

It's ironic that the campaign of terror that has driven out many Christians from Iraq has received some media attention, but nothing about Palestinian Christians. I suppose that's because the religious cleansing of Christians in Iraq can be blamed, at least indirectly, on George Bush.

Anyway, I appreciate you raising this little-known story.

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

Dear RRH,

Good points.

Now, ideally and in a just world, such a hypothetical settlement SHOULD also include financial compensation from Muslim states to Jewish refugees or descendants of refugees for the huge amount of real property confiscated by Muslim governments from their Jewish citizens when those governments forced those Jewish citizens to flee their homes between 1948 and 1960. The number of Jewish refugess was about 850,000--that is, 100,000 more people dispossessed than Palestinians were in 1948. Two thirds went to Israel, the rest to Britain and the U.S. They all arrived penniless. The monetary amount of real property that was taken by Muslim governments was huge.

Maybe THAT money from confiscated Jewish property in the Muslim world could be used to compensate the Palestinians...Even-steven, eh? (Actually, the Palestinians would probably come out significantly ahead.)

An attractive idea--but who am I kidding? THIS issue never comes up, and it never will!

I wonder why that is.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/4/2009

Let's assume that Prof. LeVine (and Omar) are correct: That many (all?) Jewish homes in the West Bank are built on land with a defect of title -- because it was stolen, as some like to say, or for any other defect, such as a purchase from a seller who did not himself have legal title. What does this mean, legally?

If the buyers of the real estate are found to have bought in good faith, then they have good title. The former owners may be able to make a claim for monetary damages from the sellers of the real estate, but there is no way that the buyers can be legally ejected from the property. (If monetary damages are to be awarded, then I would suggest that it should be done in connection with a comprehesive settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, with Arab governments paying expelled Jews compensation as well as the Israeli government paying money damages to any similarly-wronged Arabs.)

Now, let's assume that the buyers did not act in good faith, that they are, as lawyers say, "male fide possessors". Even in such a case, they cannot be dispossessed if they can prove title under the legal doctrine of adverse possession. Under this doctrine, if a rightful property owner has failed to eject a wrongful possessor for X number of years (typically 5 to 20, though in some cases 30), then the possessor acquires legal title to the property.

The bottom line is that, as a legal matter, the notion that Israelis in the West Bank can be dispossessed of land is a fantasy -- save for whatever male fide possessors may be found who have not possessed their properties long enough to satisfy the doctrine of adverse possession. Arabs who think they are entitled to compensation should make their case for money damages -- probably as a part of a comprehensive settlement between Israel and all the Arab states (aside from Jordan and Egypt, which have already maded settlements).

Elliott Aron Green - 1/4/2009

Omar, if somebody says a truth, I don't see why anyone else can't agree with him. So if Professor Eckstein is convinced by evidence and rational argument that something is true, then I see nothing wrong with him agreeing with whoever said it first. In fact, what Prof. Eckstein and I said about your selective application of the labels "imperialist" and "colonialist" was said by, among others, Bernard Lewis in The Crisis of Islam [chap. III; Hebrew ed. -p 80]. Lewis was referring to Islamists in general, not merely Arabs. I am not ashamed to agree with Bernard Lewis, although I don't always agree with him. He goes on:
... the word imperialism has a special meaning. The Muslims never used this word to describe the great Muslim empires that Arabs and Turks founded that conquered vast territories... [translated back from Hebrew to English by EAG]

The very pro-Muslim and anti-Zionist scholar Wilfed Cantwell Smith wrote in his book Islam in Modern History [or some such title] that apologetics was an outstanding trait of 20th century Muslim intellectual life. Do you fit that pattern, Omar??

Let's consider a case --shall we?-- in which an Arab nationalist hero, Saddam Hussein, expelled non-Arabs from their homes and resettled Arabs in their place. SH carried out much ethnic cleansing of Kurds, notably in the Mosul area, and settled Arabs in their place who had been brought from other parts of Iraq. Now, I know Omar that the Arab League once called the notion of a Kurdish state "a second Israel" which they rejected. So how do you see SH's anti-Kurdish policy?? Was it imperialism or colonialism or what??

BTW, Syria followed a similar policy towards Kurds in that state at various times since 1945. How do you feel about Syria's ethnic cleansing of Kurds??

N. Friedman - 1/4/2009


Let's be honest here. You have stated your views repeatedly and what you say now does not match what you have said even in the last week or so. You have left out the part that a settlement requires that what is now Israel come to have an "Arab" character. Must I quote you and make you look like a liar?

Removing the BS from your statements, your real position is that Israel should be eliminated in favor of another Arab state, with Jews living as an "equal" but inferior minority. However, the word "equal" has a special meaning for you, since you insist that the country must have an "Arab" character, not a neutral character.

More specifically, your new call for equal rights means, no doubt, the alleged equal rights granted Christians by Hamas and Fatah - resulting in Christians fleeing en masse from Palestinian Arab territories. Which is to say, your proposal really amounts to a demand to rid the region of Jews.

Moreover, you confuse the exercise of "inalienable rights" with the requirement that rights be granted in a specific location. There are no "inalienable rights" to live in a specific location. This is because rights are universal, not specific to Palestinian Arabs or their residence in this, rather than that, location. Hence, Palestinian Arabs are entitled to full human rights where they live and those displaced - and the children of those displaced - should be settled where they live, which is the historical norm and only morally defensible response to the problems faced by displaced people and their offspring - and there are, in the world, 25 million displaced people needing homes, not just Palestinian Arabs who have hijacked refugee problem merely to help their war aims (rather than seeking to exercise a right to be settled in order to have a normal, moral life).

In my view, there are no special rights for Palestinian Arabs, just as the Council of Europe held in 2003, in supporting UN 242 as the only basis for dealing with displaced Palestinian Arab people - people who desperately need to be settled so that they can live a normal life but who prefer, rather than to be settled, to be used as pawns in a war to destroy Israel, a war you want to advance.

N. Friedman - 1/4/2009

Professor LeVine,

Anecdotal evidence is fairly meaningless. So far as I can discern, Omar's views are representative. Do you have evidence that they are not?

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

Omar, they are not the rightful owners, and you're not talking about sharing. They attacked, they lost, and there are penalties for losing, new facts on the ground.

THAT is what you won't accept.

This isn't a matter of "sharing". This is a matter of Muslims "taking" what no longer belongs to them. The Germans expelled in 1945 can't go back to Czechoslovakia by law, Omar, nor to Romania nor to Poland. Some Czech or Pole or Romanian is enjoying their property as we speak. The Jews expelled from the Muslim world in 1948-1960? Some Muslim is enjoying THEIR property as we speak. Those are the facts on the ground. The Greeks can't go back to Egypt or Turkey. The Hindus expelled in 1945 can't go back to Pakistan, Omar--and they'd be persecuted on religious grounds even if they could, as ALL non-Muslims are in Pakistan. Everyone accepts these bitter truths--and I agree that they *are* bitter truths. Only the Palestinians insist on turning the situation into a death-cult.

And I'm not being paranoid: take a look at that video. "Jews, go back to the ovens!", Omar--that's your people at work. And that's not in Gaza, that's in Ft. Lauderdale.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/4/2009

Any thing that goes into your sick mind comes distorted to fit your parnoia.
Words and sentences have a definite meaning; for words go to a dictionary , for sentences go to a reading and comprehension session.
Do NOT pervert the meaning of words and sentences through extrapolation; and very inane extrapolation at that.
Have the courage to say :" No we do NOT what to share with the rightful owners.We want to keep the loot, the whole loot, to ourselves" or return to that old litany: "We were exclusively promised that land!"

Have the courage of your convictions and say it as it is, do not hide behind your sick misinterpretations of other's words..that would be at least manly no matter how bigotted and inane.

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

So, Omar, at least you are being somewhat more honest. What you mean is the following:

1. Jews are to be disarmed so that they cannot defend themselves, while being reduced to a minority status in a sea of Muslims, and

2. Jews must give up everything created by their own hard labor outside of that land actually bought by 1948, even though those other lands that were gained were the result of defeating genocidal Muslim attacks. All this achievement will be wiped out--or rather, turned over to Muslims to enjoy, like the greenhouses of Gaza, which the Palestinians then destroyed.

3. Omar, YOU fail to see that there is in fact NO contradiction between this "reconciliation plan" of yours and the situation you defended two weeks ago: your imperialist vision of rightful and natural Arab/Muslim conquest of "declining cultures" by "ascending cultures."

You fail to see that this "plan" constitutes EXACTLY the return of Jews to helpless and powerless dhimmi status within a Muslim-ruled state.

But that's only natural, on your part. As Hamas says, a Jewish state in the Muslim Middle East is "an offense against God." I think you believe that as well.

Have you looked at this video:

THERE you will see the ugly truth: "Jews, go back to the ovens!!" If you want to see the true face of Muslim Arab racism, look at that video. Note that this mob of Palestinian immigrants, who supposedly have bought into the system of U.S. democracy, doesn't start calling for expulsion and mass extermination until after they are led by the imam in prayer worship.

4. THIS would be the reality of "reconciliation" under Omar's plan. This didn't take place in Gaza. This took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Again, I urge EVERYONE here to see this video:

omar ibrahim baker - 1/4/2009

1-In a Palestine for ALL the Palestinians it will be the duty of the state to defend ALL its nationals.
In that state Palestinian Jews, just like Palestinian Arabs, will be equal partners and must be satisfied as to the adequacy of the means provided to defend them as Palestinian Jewish nationals .
The same, of course, must apply to the adequacy of the means it applies to defend its Palestinian Arab nationals .
Both communities must be satisfied to the state means to defend them from external and internal threats including any threat that either community may pose to the other!

2-Of course Jews will be allowed to retain homes and businesses erected on Jewish legitimately owned land ie lands legally purchased from its rightful /legitimate pre 1948 war owner(s) including from Arab owners.
The priority, however, will be for land/home ownership to revert to its legitimate, officially registered owner as per British land ownership records; i.e. pre war , pre dislocation and dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs in their homeland and pre expropriation of “absentee” land owners who were denied the right to Return, records .

Once that is achieved retention or disposal of the land/home will be according to the sole discretion and wish of its legitimate owner whoever he happens to be and irrespective of the confessional affiliation of the seller or buyer.
That is, of course, the rule of both legitimacy and equality!

1-I note you have failed to even attempt any reconciliation of your false allegations with my words in the call for ”a historical reconciliation”.
2-No matter how hard you try to disfigure my position by past and recent false allegations my stand is as in my all too plain to read words in all my posts including recently posts #130549 and 130625.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/4/2009

Prof LeVine, it may surprise you to learn that some people challenge the claims made by Peace Now, B'tselem, and other such groups. Many of their claims about land ownership prior to 1967 have been found incorrect, invented, tendentious, etc.

I can tell you that there was much real estate in the country owned by Jews before 1948 in the areas later occupied by Jordan and Egypt [Judea-Samaria and Gaza respectively]. Much of this land, including around Jerusalem, was not settled before 1948, partly because the British authorities would not give Jews protection in those areas. Moreover, Jews were driven out of their homes in Jerusalem and Hebron before December 1947, that is in 1929 and 1936-39. After the Hebron massacre of 1929, the British removed all surviving Jews [several 100s] from Hebron. They would not protect their lives and property there. Likewise, Jews were driven out of homes in the Jerusalem Old City and New City [ie, Eshel Abraham, Nisan Bak quarters] in 1929 and 19136-39. This includes the many Jews living in the Christian and Muslim quarters.

Arab irregular forces drove Jews out of their homes in the Shimon haTsadiq quarter in what later became "East Jerusalem" in December 1947. They could not return to their homes after the war. They were the first people driven from their homes in the war who could not go home afterwards.

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

Take a look at these demonstrators, Omar:

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

Are Israelis going to be "allowed" their weapons, to defend themselves from 60 years of Nazi-like hate propaganda, Omar? Yes or no?

Are they going to be "allowed" by you to keep all the economic enterprises they have by their own labor successfully built in the past 60 years. Yes or no?

What you are proposing is EXACTLY what existed under Arab/Muslim conquest and domination in the 7th century--the Jews as a minority who exist upon Arab/Muslilm sufferance.

I don't believe a word of your final nicely-worded principle about equal rights. That's why I ask you the two questions above. Answer those questions. Those would give *substance* to your final nicely-worded principle.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/4/2009

In a notable departure from his "me too" mode of contribution the multi awarded Professor consoles himself by celebrating imaginary victories , in which he "me tooed" others by claiming that he "established" that "Omar that he is NOT opposed to imperialism--as long as it is Muslims who are doing it. " and that " Omar simply proposes reducing the Jews to defenceless dhimmis .."

Assuming a very low level of rationality, a daring and almost hopeless assumption when it comes to the multi awarded Professor, how can he reconcile those allegations with a call for “a historical reconciliation " between the Arab/Moslem and Israeli/Jews world based on “ the recognition, adoption and implementation of the following principles” RE JEWS:

“B- The undeniable Jewish/Israeli attachment to Palestine and the cultural, as distinct from political, “rights” emanating there from that led to the presence of a major newcomer Jewish community in Palestine
C-Total equality between the two communities and parity in civil and political rights. “

How can he reconcile his allegations with that call ??
Well I guess he will wait for Friedman, or similar, to “me too” him!

omar ibrahim baker - 1/4/2009

To sum up a call for "a historical reconcilliation" between the Arab/Moslem and Israeli/Jews worlds that leads to " C-Total equality between the two communities and parity in civil and political rights."(Omar:A Palestine for ALL the Palestinians) as "There is nothing but warfare "(Friedman above) does best to illustrate the sick racist minds of those that insist on an Alien racist cum colonialist Israel retaining the war loot and maintaining its denial and rejection of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
That is the the only "peace" Israel, and Friedman, can ever entertain:continued denial and rejection of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in their homeland!

art eckstein - 1/3/2009

Professor Levine, are you saying that there is a great mass of "moderate" Palestinian opinion that is willing to live in peace with an independent Jewish state in a two-state solution?

What's your evidence for that, and that Omar is an eccentric? Please, no slickness about defining terms in response. We're not talking about a peace with a massive right of return, which might swamp Israel, nor are we talking about peace as an intermediate step whereby "peace" is used as a platform for preparation of the final solution, but rather a sentiment truly in favor of living with an independent Jewish state. Evidence, please.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you also know there is an extremely powerful and influential extremist element. I urge you to take a look at this video from a Palestinian demonstration. It didn't take place in Gaza but in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. What we see is disgusting. You should think seriously about the signs, "Nuke Israel"--and the women shouting "Jews to the ovens!, Jews, go back to the ovens!"

I'm not kidding, this should be extremely disturbing to you.

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 1/3/2009

and how many palestinian arabs do you know? how much time have you spent in the west bank or gaza? how many years have you spent interviewing them on the ground? in their homes? on the street? your belief that you can take any one voice and generalize it for an entire people bc it agrees with your view of that people is no better than when hamas takes jewish/israeli voices and generalizes to all israelis from there.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/3/2009

I have to agree with RR Hamilton on the role of Glubb Pasha. He was a great sympathizer of Arab nationalism against Zionism, like manyfellow important Britishers, Arnold Toynbee, Stewart Perowne, Freya Stark, Gertrude Bell, Loder, Christopher Mayhew, and many others. Glubb did not rule Abdullah. Abdullah ruled albeit there were constraints imposed by the British who supplied him with funds. If the British had not wanted the Arabs to attack Israel in 1948, then, according to your description of Glubb's role, the Arabs --Transjordan in particular-- would not have attacked. So if the Arabs attacked, then by your lights, that means that the British an Arab attack on Israel.

I do think that the British wanted an Arab attack on Israel, which is confirmed by British and French documents in the French archives and studied by Meir Zamir. However, I agree with RR Hamilton that Glubb did not control Abdullah who was a shrewd fellow and had his own ideas and purposes.

art eckstein - 1/3/2009

Omar simply proposes reducing the Jews to defenceless dhimmis in a country they themselves have built up in the past 60 years--and at the mercy of Arabs who have been fed a diet of Nazi-like hate for the same period.

To understand why Omar finds this solution satisfying, one must remember about Omar that he is NOT opposed to imperialism--as long as it is Muslims who are doing it. That is natural and right.

This was established two weeks ago when he justified the Arab conquests of the 7th century A.D. as simply the natural consequences of a "declining culture" being taken over by an "ascending culture." A sentiment right out of "White Man's Burden". But okay with Omar because it was Arabs doing the conquering and ruling. Instead of problematicizing Arab/Muslim conquest and aggression, Omar naturalizes it.

So we must take anything he says that is "anti-imperial", or concerning someone's natural rights in the land, with great scepticism.

art eckstein - 1/3/2009

RRH is certain correct about the background, sentiments, and pro-Arab biases of Glubb Pasha.

It is surprising to find Professor Levine making the remarks about Glubb that he does. It's simply not correct historically.

Glubb was very pro-Arab, and not just in words--he trained and led Jordan's Arab Legion. And he reveals in his original remarks cited by RRH exactly what the problem has always been.
Professor Levine simply doesn't want to accept what the problem has always been.

R.R. Hamilton - 1/3/2009

That Prof. LeVine describes Glubb Pasha as "an imperial official ruling over a people almost a century ago for a government that was legally blah, blah, blah" is proof that he doesn't even know who Glubb Pasha is. Like many "professors" I read here at, he is the one most in need of an education.

"Born in Preston, Lancashire, on April 16, 1897, Glubb was the son of an army officer and himself a graduate of the Royal Military Academy. He served in France during World War I. After the war, Glubb became an Arabist. Resigning his British army commission in 1926 to become an administrator for the Iraqi government, he lived among the Bedouins, spoke their language, understood their customs and worked for their greater good."

"In 1930, he left Iraq to work for King Abdullah [of Jordan], who contracted with him to help build Trans-Jordan’s Arab Legion, the Al-Jaish Al-Arabi."

"By 1945, the Arab Legion boasted 16,000 men, all fiercely loyal to their British leader, whom they called Glubb Pasha (general). Transformed from a small police force of a few hundred, the legion was renowned throughout the Arab world as the most effective fighting force since the days of the caliphs."

"For Glubb and his employer, King Abdullah, a new menace began to loom from west of Amman. It came from what many of the Arabs considered an intrusion: the return of the Jews to Palestine."

"The U.N.’s plan [which Glubb favored] called for East Jerusalem to be an open city and for Haifa to be a Trans-Jordan town. But men such as Fawzi el-Kaoukji, commander of the Arab Liberation Army, and Abdul Rahman Azzam, the secretary general of the Arab League, called for all-out war against the Jews and their tiny sliver of a country.

"Glubb apparently had few choices. His adopted countrymen demanded glory and victory, and his king, Abdullah, had a throne to protect and loyal subjects to appease."


Glubb then led his Arab Legion in driving the Israelis from the Old City of Jerusalem, leading to its annexation by Jordan.

So, who should I look to for enlightenment on the Israeli-Arab dispute? My choices are (1) a man who at an early age adopted the Arab cause as his own and was the only commander of an Arab force in history to defeat the Israelis, or (2), an American professor who ignorantly calls the first man "an imperialist tool".

The professor says that for me to choose Glubb's analysis over his own is "insane", but I think my crazy methodology leads me to nonetheless prefer Glubb.

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 1/3/2009

so you use the words of an imperial official ruling over a people almost a century ago for a government that was legally bound to support the opposing national movement and that has a long history of racist discourse towards the occupied people to determine their 'rationality' today? and of course the fact that said people signed on to a peace process, that their larger ethnic 'brothers' signed onto a peace process formulated by the custodians of the 'two holy mosques'--ie the saudis--that explicitly recognizes israel, that israel has consistently violated said peace agreements far more than that people... all of that is meaningless?

i can see why your methodology has so much more going for it than mine and your understanding of the history is so much more complete and 'sane.' keep up the great work.

N. Friedman - 1/3/2009


Your facts may well be correct here. But, frankly, so what? Read Omar.

His voice is the voice of Palestinian Arabs - the real voice, not one filtered to sound pleasant. There is no negotiated settlement to be had. There is nothing but warfare here and its causes are not Israel's behavior but, instead, Israel's existence, as Omar insists over and over again.

Why, Professor, ought I not take Omar's word for things since he says essentially the same things as Hamas and, at least in Arabic, by Fatah?

R.R. Hamilton - 1/2/2009

I see Prof. LeVine is still chasing the will'o'th'wisp of Arab rationality. What's the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results?

Let's look to a sane friend of the Arabs who, every objective person would agree, is better informed in every possible way on the Arab mind than is Prof. LeVine: Lt.-Gen. Sir John "Glubb Pasha" Glubb, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C.,former commander of the Arab Legion, and conqueror of Jerusalem in 1948. In the general's seminal 1969 book, A Short History of the Arab Peoples, he wrote,

"Zionist policy throughout [the pre-1948 period] showed a remarkable contrast to that followed by the Arabs in one respect. The Zionists always accepted whatever concessions they could get and, having consolidated the ground won, immediately began to work for more. The Arabs repeatedly rejected compromise solutions and insisted on all or nothing."

The lieutenant-general's remarks about the Arabs' mental inflexibility, without question, could be extended past 1948 and down to this very day.

Yet, Prof. LeVine seems to think that he can be come the first person in history to devise a compromise to which the Arabs will agree. It's like he wants to believe that inside every Arab there is a Jew fighting to break free, to make a deal, to move on. Or maybe, if he doesn't believe Jesus was the Messiah, he thinks that maybe he might be. The words of Jesus changed the hearts of savage barbarians like the Magyars, the Vikings, and the American Indians. Does Prof. LeVine think that his words can have the same effect on the Arabs?

But we don't have to look far to find out. Prof. LeVine cannot even convince Mr. Baker, who puts forth in a comment here his plan for a "unitary Palestine with equal rights for all". (Unfortunately, we all know how Muslims view "equality". Mr. Green has noted about the history of Muslim oppression of religious minorities, oppressions which continue to this very day. The Palestinian Muslims have abused both Jewish and Christian holy places, and the Christians in Lebanon learned in their struggle against the PLO that Lebanon's Muslims were Muslims first, not Lebanese. There cannot be a "free and multi-faith Palestine" where Muslims are allowed to have more than a trivial political role. Anything more would eventually result in, as in the Muslim-controlled regions of the West Bank and Gaza the killing or expulsion (or grinding oppression) of all non-Muslims.

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 1/2/2009

you can find full documentation at peace now's settlement watch website ( or at the foundation for middle east peace:

here's an excerpt from my forthcoming book on oslo on the settlements:

During the seven years of Oslo (1993-2000) successive Israeli governments allowed a doubling of the settler population to occur, while the number of housing units increased by fifty percent (from 20,400 to 31,400, excluding Jerusalem). The sharpest increase actually occurred under Ehud Barak's tenure as Prime Minister, just as final status talks were underway in 1999 and 2000.

According to a 2006 study by Peace Now's Settlement Watch, roughly forty percent of settlement land is composed of privately owned Palestinian land that has, according to Israeli as well as international law, been “illegally confiscated” from the owners. Of the remaining land, fifty-four percent is “state land,” an Ottoman legal category that a century ago described land that local inhabitants could obtain rights too if they began farming it, but today refers to land under the control of the Israeli state to which Palestinians effectively have no opportunity of obtaining access or rights (Dror Etkes, Hagit Ofran Peace Now Settlement Watch Team, “Breaking the Law in the West Bank,” October 2006 Report, p. 15.)

All told, the number of Israeli settlers during Oslo grew from 110,000 in 1993 to well over 200,000 in the West Bank and Gaza by 2001; in East Jerusalem, the Jewish population rose from 22,000 to over 200,000 in the same period. Upwards of two dozen new settlements were established and more than 18,000 new housing units for settlers were constructed, over 130 outposts were established (many of which are “laundered” into legality by means of obtaining permits after the settlements were already established), fifty homes were demolished every year in East Jerusalem (with hundreds more during Oslo in the Territories more broadly), and 35,000 acres of Palestinian land were expropriated for roads and settlements. By the time the al-Aqsa intifada exploded, even a mainstream commentator like Zeev Schiff was forced to conclude that “considerable responsibility devolves on Israel because of its deliberate foot-dragging and its disruption of the timetables contained in the agreements - for example, in the implementation of the various stages of the redeployment” ( Ze'ev Schiff, "Oslo may be dead, but occupation is not the solution," Ha'aretz Online English Edition, 24 November 2000.)

An examination of the data on settlement construction reveals that the number of West Bank settlements had begun to plateau by the late 1980s, at between 110-120 settlements (not including East Jerusalem and the outposts).(Sources for settlement construction and population include the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics Israel Statistical Yearbook (various years), not including a "number of settlements" for the years 1967-1981, based on Benvenisti and Khayat, The West Bank and Gaza Atlas, pp. 138-140, Peace Now's “Settlement Watch,” the Foundation for Middle East Peace “Settlement Monitor,” and reports by various Palestinian and Israel peace and human rights groups. See in particular B'tselem report, Land Grab: Israel's Settlement Policy in the West Bank, Tel Aviv: B'tselem, May 2002, p. 18, Table 2.)

Settlers in the pre-Oslo era were aware of this end game, feeling that if the population of the settlements could reach 250,000, “that would be the end of the story.” As one leader explained in 1990, “Even if we record the same level of growth over the next several years as we have had in the last three -- and I think we will be able to do at least as well as before -- we're going to come to a state where the situation is irreversible... So we don't need dramatic decisions by the new government. All we need is continuity” ( Jackson Diehl, “Jewish Settlements Grow In Occupied Territories; Israel Allows Communities to Expand,” Washington Post, June 23, 1990, p. A19).

In fact, as Meron Benvenisti explained in the seminal 1987 West Bank Data Base Project, the settlement movement's leaders had achieved their goal by this time. As Dayan had predicted, by the mid-1980s the Occupied Territories had become so integrated into Israel that it was no longer possible to consider separating them. ( In fact, Benvenisti understood this almost a decade earlier, in 1979, when he argued that the settlements had already “assumed a quasi-permanent nature... the process set in motion after 1967 appears so strong that integration has passed the point of no return.” See Benvenisti, West Bank Data Base Project..., p. 67.)

Robert Lee Gaston - 1/2/2009

Perhaps the problem arises from the conception, or misconception, that there are potentially two viable states in that little piece of real estate.

If the real answer is no, then one has to consider that the majority of southerners supported the Jefferson Davis government in the American Civil war. The logical conclusion is that Israel is in need of a Grant or Sherman to finish the awful business as opposed to an American president trying to split the baby.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/2/2009

Mr Shcherban
The issue, the conflict, as you and Mr LeVine certainly do know, predates 1967 that 1967 only managed to further complicate !
It boills down to the Israeli /Zionist acceptance or continued denial and rejection of the Palestinian's inalienable rights in their homeland!

Tim Matthewson - 1/2/2009

I would like to hear more about the Isreali settlement movement and Isreal's occupation of huge swaths of Palestinian land. A map showing said encroachment would be enlightening.
Tell me more about the huge swaths of Palestinian land expropriated, homes destroyed, and trees uprooted amidst an ever expanding settlement infrastructure fills out the reality of four decades of occupation.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/2/2009

What was of most interest to me in Le Vine’s article is the reaction of the herd to it.
That, their reaction, could also be “construed” as a general Israeli /Zionist Jewish reaction to it.
The reaction was voiced by Mr. Friedman and Mr. Green (mercifully the multi awarded professor was absent; however had he been present he would not have had anything of substance to say except his usual “me too” .)
-Mr. Friedman’s reaction that would sound as “moderate” by international standards, and possibly “treasonous” by doctrinaire Zionist standards, is practically for everything Le Vine espouses EXCEPT the RETURN of even a “token”/symbolic number of Palestinians to their homeland.
-Mr Green’s reaction was an all out “honest” doctrinaire Zionist reaction: against any significant non Jewish , i.e. Palestinian, Presence in Palestine.
What both have in common is the tragic absence, and implicit rejection, of any due historical perception of the issue as one that could only be resolved through a historical Arab/Moslem-Israeli/Jewish reconciliation that de alienates Israel in the region and paves the way for the acceptance and integration of Jews into it as an indigenous presence as distinct from its present “alien colonialist” presence.
Failure to appreciate that the issue, as perceived by the region and the Moslem World in general, is fundamentally a question of ALIEN COLONIALIST, hence illegitimate and hostile, versus INDIGENOUS NATIVE , hence legitimate and neighbourly, denotes a fatal lack of a historical perception of the conflict.
Only such a perception would ultimately lay the foundation of a durable peace .
That can only be founded on a historical reconciliation between the Arab/Moslem and Israel/World Jewry worlds based on the recognition, adoption and implementation of the following principles:
A-the inalienable rights of the Palestinians in their homeland including the Right of Return, self determination and the free exercise of all their due civil and political rights therein.
B- The undeniable Jewish/Israeli attachment to Palestine and the cultural, as distinct from political, “rights” emanating there from that led to the presence of a major newcomer Jewish community in Palestine
C-Total equality between the two communities and parity in civil and political rights.
That would amount to A PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS both resident and émigré indigenous Arab and indigenous and newcomer Jewish!
Short of such a historical reconciliation that would de alienate Israel and legitimize massive Jewish presence in Palestine AFTER or CONCURRENT with the exercise and implementation of the Palestinians’ inalienable rights in their homeland there will be no DURABLE peace!

Elliott Aron Green - 1/1/2009

In regard to your paragraph #1:
Jews were severely oppressed and exploited by Arab-Muslims precisely in the Land of Israel and in Jerusalem in particular into the 2nd half of the 19th century. There are many sources for this, Jewish and non-Jewish. Karl Marx, among others, reported this based on an 1853 book by Cesar Famin, as I discuss in my comment #130504 above. So your response #1 is irrelevant. The Palestinian Arab-Muslims were oppressing and exploiting Jews [and local Christians too, who enjoyed a somewhat superior status to the Jews and sometimes harassed them as well].

Your #3 asserts a specific "palestinian" identity among Palestinian Arabs in the Ottoman period. If so, that does not explain why after WW I when there was no longer an Ottoman empire, the Palestinian Arab leadership sought to have the country become part of Faisal the Hashemite's short-lived kingdom of Syria. One of their newspapers was called Suriyya al-Janubiyya [= southern Syria]. Is this evidence for a "palestinian identity"??

On your #2, the Arabs were the aggressors in the 1947-1949 war, which we call Israel's War of Independence. They began the war by attacks on Jewish civilians throughout the country, including on Jewish neighborhoods in Tel Aviv [south Tel Aviv] and in Jerusalem. Jews were driven out of their homes in the Shim`on haTsadiq quarter in what later became "East Jerusalem" in December 1947. Hence, the first refugees from that war who fled or were driven from their homes and who could not go back home afterward were precisely Jews. Do the aggressors have equal rights with the victims??

Your argument about land purchases in #3 has a racist ring to it. Or seems a justification of anti-Jewish racism. Was the Ottoman Empire oppressing Arabs by confirming the Jewish right to purchase real estate?? And how good or genuine or bona fide were the post-purchase claims of ownership made by Arabs??

In #5 you write of "the entire body of world opinion" taking such and such opinion. Whether your assertion of "the entire body" be true or false, I would remind that for many centuries the body of Christian opinion held that the Jews were Christ-killers deserving of humiliation, punishment, etc., whereas the Muslim world considered Jews the descendants of apes and pigs [which we hear often in the Arab and Muslim worlds today], as well as enemies of Muhammad in Medina, the worst enemy of the Muslims [asserted in the Qur'an], etc etc.

It is hardly scientific to justify an opinion, particularly a political opinion, on the grounds that a majority or "the entire body of world opinion" shares said opinion. Need I remind you that knowledge of history --ancient, medieval and modern-- among the public in many lands [inc. the USA] is deplorably low and weak, much influenced by politically interested media narratives, old prejudices [such as, Jews are the sons of apes and pigs], economic and political interests, etc. It would be tedious to go over the right of Jewish settlement in Judea-Samaria and the international law status of Judea-Samaria. However, a recent book on the international law status of Judea-Samaria & Gaza has been published. I don't know the title but the author's name is Howard Grief [Mazo publishers, Jerusalem 2008].

Now since you dismiss the importance of history for justifying current claims, then you ought to note that the Arab claim of a "right to return"
is based on certain historical claims
and presumptions. Why don't you tell them to forget it and get resettled in the Arab world or elsewhere? Do you want to have it both ways? Arab historical claims justify current claims to rights but Jewish history does not? Now, when did Jewish rights to come settle --or be repatriated [as a Zionist might say]-- in the Land of Israel [now called Palestine by Arab nationalists, although this usage is not traditional] run out?

I supply additional historical references in my recent article on HNN [The Myth of Arab Innocence]. Source references are given in my article in Midstream [Sept-Oct 2008].

Happy New Year!!

Elliott Aron Green - 1/1/2009

Mr Shcherban, Hamas may have majority support among the Arabs in Gaza, or more broadly among those in Judea-Samaria too. However, I remind you that Hitler came to power through presumably democratic elections in Germany. Although his party, the National Socialists, had won only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the votes in the election preceding his rise to power at the end of January 1933, he won a majority in a referendum subsequent to taking power. So Hitler too, like Hamas, was the people's choice. As you may know, Hitler had eliminated democracy in Germany in a couple of years, and he never agreed to the equality of rights of Jews.

So Hamas has in common with Hitler much of what I mentioned above. They are "the people's choice." They won an election. And they deny equal rights to Jews, no matter where they live. Indeed Hamas, as the bearer of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, places all non-Muslims in a very inferior status vis-a-vis Muslims. The Hamas legislature in Gaza very recently voted to restore Muslim law [shari`ah] more fully there. In traditional Muslim law the non-Muslim inhabitant of a Muslim state does not have the right to live unless he pays a yearly tribute, the jizya, to the Muslim state [based on Qur'an 9:29]. Hamas and its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, believe that that state of affairs is all fine and dandy. But I would say that it is hardly democratic. You do need to distinguish mere majority rule from democracy. To see this in the American perspective, if the majority of folk in Georgia, who are white folk, decide that the black minority should not have equal rights, then that would be majority rule, but would it be democratic?? Do you see the problem??

Arnold Shcherban - 12/31/2008

"Territorial compomise"?
Since when the international law has been degraded to satisfy the desires of the agressor and occupier in order to get justice, i.e. legal possession of the land, restored?
Perhaps, in your mind, sir...
Today's situation, if talking about recent events, was caused primarily by the utter refusal of Israel and the US/UK to even recognise Hamas as the legitimate leading political force that won Palestinian election by a land-slide in a democratic fashion.
That uncompromising stance by itself has blocked ANY diplomatic
development, not mentioning settlement, between Israelis and Palestinians from taking
Israel and the US entertained no illusions on the nature of the Hamas response to their ultimatum rendered to Hamas of dismantling its military branch and giving up all weapons which practically would amount to disarmament of Palestinians leaving them virtually defenseless (when they already did not have much of defense) in a high possibility of consequent Israel's military assualt, which happens too frequently to ignore.
However, Israeli and US goverments have not limited themselves to just political outcasting of Hamas; discarding democratic and real disposition of political forces within Palestinian authority they started deliberate covert campaign of
designing a deadly split among major Palestinian parties which eventually led to fierce internal struggle and a lot of bloodshed.
Mr. Friedman and other secret and open Zionists make innocent faces when someone mentions those undeniable facts of Israeli and American sabotage and outrageous interference in the political affairs of Palestinians, the behaviour for which any other country that does not play ball with their coalition would be and is getting ostracized, at the least, severely condemned by the international community, with the US/UK having the loudest voice in the chorus.
Moreover, it won't astound me to learn that some of Palestinian and Arab terrorists have been recruited by a group of hard-liners within Israeli intelligence to launch a couple of terrorists acts against Israelis here and there when the chances of a peaceful setllement of the conflict become high enough, as it was happening on several occasions before.
The major events of the long conflict post-1967 decisively confirm the author's of the article conclusion that the policy of Israeli settlements on the occupied territories and annexation of Jerusalem by Israel caused major obstacles on the way of peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli
tragic conflict.
Already when Israeli government thrashed the independent status of Jerusalem, announcing it their capital
(in 1981?) I told myself and others that this was going to be a major obstacle to overcome as it is now.
I don't think Israeli officials were any less foresightful; they did it on purpose to build even more barriers for the future generations to clear.
So, Mr. Friedman, don't even try to bullshit a bullshitter, with your perpertual one-sided concept of justice and guilt distribution.

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 12/31/2008

i have no bias towards anyone. i merely an describing the reality on the ground. your claim that jews had a 'substantial part' of the population before the crusaders means exactly what today? what i am talking about is how to arrive at a peace agreement based on two states, which is what seems to be the anticipated denouement of the conflict. i personally don't subscribe to it, but i don't see another way to achieve it save by the course outlined in my piece. if you have a better way to achieve such a solution, please outline it. if you don't support it, provide an alternative that brings both a modicum of justice, development, peace and security to both sides. otherwise, go watch a few more bowl games...

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 12/31/2008

re your comments:

1. i 'ignore' the oppression of jews in arab/muslim countries bc it has nothing to do with oppression of palestinians by israel. there is no allowance for oppressing one people bc you were oppressed by other people in a different country, even if they happen to share some ethnic and/or religious affinity with the people you are oppressing.

2. there were jews in east jerusalem, it's true. and there were also palestinian arabs in west jerusalem. so let's decide: either everyone gets to return to the homes/neighborhoods/towns from which they were forced out, or some kind of inherently unjust but politically palatable division of territory has to be decided on.

3. your claim that palestinians did not view ottoman rule as oppressive is utterly false by the period when zionism arrived. the ottoman state failed to protect palestinians and ignored pleas from palestinian deuptees in istanbul after 1908 about the growing 'threat' of zionism on the ground. in many cases, some of which i documented in my book 'overthrowing geography,' the central government in istanbul overroad decisions by local ottoman officials to stop zionist land purchases which were being contested by palestinians who claimed ownership to the land. the growing rift bt the ottoman state and the palestinian arab population was in fact one of the key drivers in the development of a specifically palestinian, rather than ottoman, identity.

4. what hussayni or any other ottoman/palestinian/arab official did when they were in power over anyone else has no bearing on what israel did/does when in power today.

5. the occupied territories are considered legally occupied by the entire body of world opinion save that of the israeli government and certain legal scholars who support its positions. they were occupied in a war, they remain under belligerent occupation regardless of whom you want to argue was previously in control of them legally, and israel has consistently violated a host of articles of the geneva conventions and related agreements to which it is either a signatory or bound in any case bc they have the status of customary law in settling the territories. period, end of discussion. you can pull out all of the biblical maps you want, and the other side can pull out ottoman maps, and argue till you're blue in the face, but it doesn't change the facts on the ground today.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/31/2008

LeVine has erred and distorted explicitly and by omission on several points. First, he overlooks the oppression of the Jews in Israel and other lands under Arab-Muslim and non-Arab Muslim rule. As I wrote above, Jews were a substantial part of the population in Israel before the Crusader massacres [1099 to ca. 1115], despite several centuries of Muslim oppression following the Arab conquest.

Next, LeVine states:
... grass-roots Palestinian activism has always been suppressed, usually violently, by whoever has governed the country—whether by the country's Ottoman rulers a century ago or by Israel today.
In fact, the Arab Muslims in general and those now called Palestinian Arabs or simply "Palestinians" did not view the Ottoman Empire as alien or oppressive rule. They saw it as their empire, according to the Arab historian Zeine N Zeine, with Rashid Khalidi concurring. Its sultan was the caliph of Islam. It was a Sunni Muslim state. Hence, it was their state. Many Arabs held high office in the Ottoman Empire, including members of the leading Palestinian Arab families, Khalidis, Husseinis, Abdul-Hadis, etc.
Moreover, when Theodore Herzl was born [1860], the Muslim Arabs did not speak of a "Palestinian people." Nor did they traditionally perceive a land called Palestine or Filastin. They saw the country as an indistinct part of bilad ash-Sham [Greater Syria].

The Ottoman Empire ruled over vast regions in Europe and several non-Muslim peoples, Bulgars, Greeks, Rumanians [then called Wallachs], Serbs, etc., as well as the Armenians in northeastern and eastern Anatolia. The Arab officials of the Empire did not mind ruling over other peoples. Indeed, as Muslims they were much privileged over the non-Muslims, whose status was always inferior in the Empire to that of Muslims, although the non-Muslims' status generally improved in the 2nd half of the 19th century due to European intervention. What did Musa Kazem el-Husseini [al-Husayni] do when he served the empire as governor [kaimakam] of a district in Anatolia? Was he humane? If many Armenians lived in his jurisdiction, did he prevent them from being massacred? Was he a kind imperialist or a cruel one?

While LeVine ponders those questions, we note that he also errs on international law. He claims that Judea-Samaria are "Occupied Territories." These areas were part of the ancient Jewish homeland, the Roman province of Judea, IVDAEA [which included Samaria, Galilee, the Golan, etc]. Moreover, these were parts of the Jewish National Home juridically erected by the international community at San Remo [1920], endorsed by the League of Nations [1922], etc. The 11-29-1947 UN partition recommendation did not change that status. Further, there were no borders dividing Israel from Arab states [including Jordan] before 1967. There were only armistice lines. It was the Arabs who refused to make peace with Israel before 1967 and turn those armistice lines into international boundaries. Hence, from a legal standpoint, Judea-Samaria belong to Israel and there is no "occupation."

Then, LeVine wants "East Jerusalem" to be the capital of an Arab state to be called "Palestine." Already when Theodore Herzl was born [1860] what is today called "East Jerusalem" had a Jewish majority population. Indeed, French historian and diplomat Cesar Famin reported a Jewish majority in 1853. Karl Marx quoted and paraphrased Famin's book in his article on the origins of the Crimean War in Horace Greeley's New York Tribune [15 April 1854]. Marx relayed Famin's report that the Jews in Jerusalem were victimized, oppressed, humiliated by Muslims ["Turks, Arabs, and Moors"] and harassed by the local Christians who --according to other contemporary accounts-- dared not raise their hand against their own Muslim oppressors but could take their anger out on the Jews.

Maybe Professor LeVine could enlighten us about how Musa Kazem Husseini performed his imperial duties in Anatolia, and then we could discuss the status of the Jewish majority in Jerusalem from 1853 to 1900.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/31/2008

NF, LeVine is morally way off base, as you note. His nativist position in favor of the Palestinian Arabs can be reasonably considered right-wing. On the other hand, today it is just as common to find such a position among the "Left." Hence, "right" and "left" and the notion of a "right-left spectrum" have no consistent or clear meaning or clear distinctions between "right" and "left" on the spectrum anymore. Nonetheless, if LeVine is sincerely devoted to his nativist principles, he might practice what he preaches and get out of the USA forthwith. He ought to advocate giving America back to the Native Americans or Indians. Likewise, for most states in the Americas, Canada [including Quebec, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Dominican Republic, etc. Likewise, Australia and New Zealand. Next, why not apply the same principle of restoring dispossessed or overwhelmed native peoples in the Middle East. This would mean rolling back Arab hegemony in most of the Middle East, including Israel [partially accomplished] where Jews were in fact a substantial part of the population up to the Crusader massacres [1099 to ca. 1115].

Next, I would like to correct two errors or distortions made by Prof. LeVine.

TERRY TUCKER - 12/31/2008

History is certainly helpful, however in this case it is not and no amount of History contained in any lesson will suffice, why? First, Hamas has firmly stated that they will never agree to an Isreali State; secondly, its a matter of geography. the Palestinian terrority is divided by the Gaza and the West Bank. The PA WILL never become economically viable to support such an arrangement and the Isreali's will NEVER relinguish that territory willingly.

Dr. Terry Tucker

james joseph butler - 12/30/2008

Obama is such the fascinating pastiche, but above all the political animal. So while he has been personally acquainted with Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said via academia and the Illinois Arab community his mentors in Illinois state politics were largely Jewish, traditional Aipac style Jews. None of his personnel decisions so far indicate the kind of fresh thinking that America, Israel, Palestine, the entire Middle East, desperately need. LeVine for Special Advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs would be an encouraging sign.

N. Friedman - 12/30/2008

Except for the return of refugees and their offspring, your proposal was already on the table and the Palestinian side did not accept it. It has not improved for Palestinian Arabs as an idea since that time.

The return of refugees and their offspring, moreover, is a non-starter for Israelis. What state serious about being born (e.g., a Palestinian Arab state) tells another state (e.g. Israel) to take in people who might advantage the state desiring to be born (e.g. a Palestinian Arab state? That proposal is in bad faith if the goal is to resolve the dispute.

Your theory that history is on the side of a particular settlement, as you view the past, is preposterous. The entire world is filled with states that, upon conquering land, settled that land. Where, other than in your mind, has history ever been on the side of states that ceded land?

The same for your assertion that Palestinian Arab opposition has been mostly non-violent. On the contrary, it has been among the most violent oppositions in the world. What best defines that opposition has been that its utter contempt for civilians - from massacres of a school filled with children in the 1970's to massacres of people in a religious celebration in 2000. Disgusting.

The strategy that ought to be considered by Palestinian Arabs is to accept Israel as a legitimate state and Israelis as legitimate actors on the world stage including in Israel. From that conception, territorial compromise becomes possible. Exactly the opposite is the case at present, as our very own Omar repeats again and again for anyone who can read.

Now, your rant amounts to an immoral attack on the right of oppressed people to find refuge where it is made available. The right to move to a land, where the ruler of the land permits such migration, and to settle on it is a right with a long tradition. It is, in fact, among the most important human rights. It is not history that stands against that right but mindless observers with a political agenda. In fact, such is the agenda of the far right wing of landed elites. Hence, your comments against the founding of places like Degania are contemptible and elitist right wing garbage.

Nabil K Alkourainy - 12/29/2008

Comment removed at request of the poster.