Blogs > HNN > Who Will Save Palestinians From Themselves

Jan 19, 2009 2:33 pm

Who Will Save Palestinians From Themselves

It was a hot September day in Gaza and I was sitting in the office of a Hamas-affiliated newspaper talking with a senior Hamas intellectual. As the French news crew that had given me a ride from Jerusalem packed up their camera equipment, I took the opportunity to change the subject from the latest happenings in Gaza to a more fundamental question that had long bothered me.

Off the record, let's put aside whether or not Palestinians have the moral or legal right to use violence against civilians to resist the occupation. The fact is, it doesn't work.” Suicide bombings and other direct attacks on Israeli civilians, I argued, helped to keep the subject off the occupation and in so doing allowed Israel to build even more settlements while the media focuses on the violence.

His response both surprised me with its honesty and troubled me with its implications. “We know the violence doesn't work, but we don't know how to stop it.”

More than two years into the al-Aqsa intifada, when the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority had demonstrated itself to be incapable either of effectively governing the small parts of the Occupied Territories under its control, or of resisting the ongoing occupation, Hamas was increasingly being seen as the most viable alternative force in Palestinian politics.

Yet on the most basic questions confronting the movement and Palestinian leaders more broadly--how to force Israel to stop expanding the occupation and negotiate a peace agreement that would bring real independence--Hamas's best minds had no clue what to do except continue with a strategy that many in the leadership understood wasn't working.

Hamas's lack of creativity should not have decisively shaped the broader context of Palestinian politics, as polls rarely showed its popularity exceeding twenty percent. But by 2002, with negotiations nowhere in sight, whole regions of cities such as Nablus and Jenin destroyed, and Israel sewing chaos across the West Bank that was destroying the basic foundations of PA rule, Hamas's power was rising quickly.

And aside from adding crudely made rockets to its arsenal the year before, it was fresh out of ideas.

A History of Violence, and Political Failure

There weren't many viable alternative strategies to violence Hamas or any other Palestinian movement could choose from in 2002, or in the century leading up to it. Whether it was an Ottoman state turning a blind eye to early Jewish land purchases, landowners (often with few or no local ties) selling peasant-worked land to Zionists for a tidy sum, urban notables refusing to support democracy or better conditions for workers, or much of the Palestinian elite fleeing the country in the months before the British Mandate's end, in its crucial formative phase Palestinian society did not have a political and economic leadership that consistently put national considerations ahead of more narrow political, factional, economic or personal interests.

Great Britain, which conquered Palestine in 1917, was mandated to support Zionist national goals while merely “safeguarding” the civil and religious rights of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants. Enabling the development of independent and strong Palestinian political institutions would have undercut the creation of a Jewish National Home. And so, in good colonial fashion, Britain encouraged the more conservative and corrupt tendencies of Palestinian society (which also suited the needs of the Zionist movement), while systematically frustrating the emergence of a capable and democratically chosen nationalist leadership.

It's not surprising that the most successful episode of Palestinian opposition the Zionist-British transformation of the country was prompted by the death of Izz al-Din al-Qassam (for whom the Qassam rockets and the Hamas's military wing are named). His failed guerrilla insurgency helped ignite the Great Revolt of 1936-39. But by the end of its first year the British had largely brought it under control, while the Palestinian elite supported the strike's end to staunch the loss of income and political power caused by the largely worker-led strike.

As had happened in previous episodes of Palestinian resistance—1921 and 1929—the Zionist leadership used Palestinian violence to strengthen its political, economic and security position, even as (similar to today) most official analyses of the causes of these episodes of violence placed the majority of the blame on Zionist settlement policies.

When the inevitable civil war in Palestine erupted in 1948, the social, political and economic weaknesses within Palestinian society (most of its leadership had been exiled by 1939), coupled with the opposition to the establishment of an independent Palestine by the very Arab neighbors supposedly invading to support it, enabled a seemingly improbable Zionist/Israeli victory.

There was little room for independent Palestinian political development after 1948, with Gaza and the West Bank under Egyptian and Jordanian rule, even after the creation of the PLO in 1964. Israel managed to frustrate the emergence of a PLO base that would threaten its control of the Occupied Territories after their conquest in 1967. But it could not prevent the development of the sophisticated civil society and social networks that enabled the early successes of the Intifada, which erupted in late 1987.

The Intifada succeeded in good measure because of its mass social base and focus on largely non-violent protests such as commercial and tax strikes and blocking roads. But however powerful the symbolic violence of stone throwing youths pitted against the “Goliath” of the Israeli army, Israel's far superior military power and willingness to use indiscriminate force, coupled with the arrest and long term imprisonment of tens of thousands of Palestinians, wore down Palestinian society, sapping the strength of the Intifada by the time the Gulf War of 1991.

Neither the PLO's renunciation of terrorism in 1988 nor the emergence of Hamas earlier that year could change this dynamic.

Yet Israel clearly took note of the threat posed by local Palestinian activism to its control over the Occupied Territories. The Oslo back channel was pursued in good measure to bypass Palestinian civil society and the locally rooted negotiators who led the Madrid peace talks in the wake of the Gulf War. The Palestinian Authority established in the wake of the Oslo accords was run largely by PLO officials from Tunis, who were not rooted in the Territories.

Whatever their original intentions, their interests quickly morphed from securing a full Israeli withdrawal, which in the Oslo framework was postponed to “final status” negotiations, to maintaining their newfound political power, access to wealth and patronage through Israeli-sponsored monopolies, large-scale international aid, and various forms of corruption.

Israel's leverage over the the Oslo Palestinian elite helped ensure that the PA functioned as much as Israel's policeman in the Occupied Territories—controlling and when necessary repressing opposition to the ongoing occupation—as it did a partially sovereign government preparing the country for independence. The Palestinian Legislative Assembly and Judiciary, both of which were more accountable to the citizens of the Territories, were intentionally marginalized.

Being one of the few groups entirely outside the process, Hamas was well-positioned to offer an alternative strategy towards independence. Instead, the same year the PA was established, 1994, Hamas turned its focus towards the kind of spectacular violence that characterized the PLO a generation before. This strategy achieved little besides strengthening Israel's matrix of control over the Territories (most recently by providing the rationale for the construction of the Separation Wall, most of which has been built inside the West Bank).

Aside from the moral and legal problems associated with such attacks—whether by rockets or suicide bombs—Hamas and other militant groups failed to understand that terrorism rarely succeeds unless the insurgency deploying it is already strong enough demographically, militarily and politically to defeat the occupier. This situation held true in Algeria, Vietnam, and even Lebanon, but it has never existed in Palestine.

With the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada, Hamas's reliance on extreme violence—in its rhetoric as well as actions—overshadowed other forms of Palestinian resistance, giving Israel the necessary cover to deploy an even greater intensity of violence across the Territories. This dynamic generated a level of chaos that necessitated the coining of the term intafawda (fawda in Arabic means chaos or anarchy) to described the chaos and anarchy that often characterized life during al-Aqsa intifada.

The chaos became increasingly more palpable to anyone who traveled regularly through the Territories during the 2000s, particularly once Hamas and Fatah fighters began turning their guns on each other. Both groups engaged in kidnappings, torture and murder of opponents of all stripes, leaving little space for Palestinian civil society to shape a viable strategy of resistance against the occupation.

Hamas's reliance on violence as its chief tactic of resistance provided Israel with the opportunity to use its victory in the 2006 Legislative elections to split Palestinians geographically and politically. In the West Bank, where territorial conflict is now centered and settlements construction continues, Israel helped the more cooperative Fatah-led PA to maintain its power (although the Gaza war may now render the PA unsalvageable). Hamas was relegated to the prison of Gaza. By early 2007 the situation was so bad that Gazans suffered attacks by IDF helicopter gunships and street battles between Hamas and Fatah on the same day.

As Hamas and Fatah veered increasingly towards civil war, Hamas fulfilled precisely the function Israel hoped it would when it tolerated and even encouraged the movement's early development. Israel saw it as an alternative to the PLO that would weaken or split the Palestinian national movement politically and territorially; precisely what ultimately happened.

A Watershed Moment

By early 2008, Israel's siege had made matters so desperate that Gazans broke through the border wall between Gaza and Egypt in order to escape into neighboring Sinai towns for a few days to buy food, medicine and other necessities in short supply because of the siege. Yet when a group of NGOs joined by ordinary citizens tried to build on the momentum at the southern border by staging a peaceful mass march to the Erez border in order, symbolically at least, to dismantle it, a line of armed Hamas policemen stopped the 5,000 strong marchers a half mile south of the crossing.

Rather than seizing the opportunity to shift the struggle towards a terrain—mass civil disobedience backed by international law—on which Israel's footing would be far less sure, Hamas served Israel's interests by stopping the march. Later that afternoon, Hamas launched a rocket assault on Sderot, injuring a small Israeli girl, continuing a cycle of violence that ultimately led to the December-January war.

Jihad, but Which Kind?

Hamas's Charter declares that “There is no solution to the Palestinian Question except by Jihad” (Article 13). Perhaps. But what kind? If “jihad is the path” (Article 8), is violence the only vehicle that can travel upon it?

Martin Luther King engaged in holy war, as did Gandhi before him, and Bishop Tutu after. Palestinians too have waged more than one kind of jihad. In fact, for most of the last decade—indeed, throughout the forty-two year occupation—just going about one's daily life and navigating the innumerable obstacles of the occupation, has for most Palestinians constituted a supreme act of non-violent resistance.

There have also been literally thousands of non-violent protests staged by Palestinians across the Occupied Territories, the majority of them ignored by the media and repressed, often violently, by Israel.

Successful non-violent movements, such as in the US, India or (for the most part) South Africa, succeeded because, in Gandhi's words, they sought “to convert, not to coerce, the wrong-doer.” As Gandhi explained it, the goal of non-violence must be to obtain the cooperation of one's opponent to achieve a just end to a conflict, utilizing means that reflect rather than degrade the justice of one's cause.

At the same time, Gandhi also understood that no conversion of the occupier could occur without also transforming oppressive social and economic relations within one's society. As a socio-religious movement heavily involved in the provision of social welfare services, whose popularity has in good measure been tied to its anti-corruption and social justice rhetoric, Hamas was well positioned to follow this path, which could have provided the kernel for the kind of “constructive program” of non-violent resistance and non-cooperation that ultimately made British ruled India or white-ruled South Africa, ungovernable.

Specifically, Hamas could have challenged the new types of economic exploitation and oppression engendered by the Oslo process, through building autonomous local economies that built on the successes of the first intifada and similar experiments by indigenous peoples around the globe.

But instead of learning from the experiences of the first Intifada and successful activism in other countries, Hamas looked backwards, to a vision of revolutionary violence whose record of producing real freedom and development in developing societies has been checkered, at best.

De-Normalizing Israel

According to South African scholar David Theo Goldberg, the example of the defeat of Apartheid in his country points to the importance of “denormalizing” the Israeli occupation—showing the world that its actions are not normal, and cannot be justified with claims of self-defense or security. Instead, however, Palestinian terrorism, first by the PLO and later by Hamas and other groups, helped to normalize the occupation, enabling the Israeli government to transform an occupation that has always been about settlement into one premised on legitimate security needs.

Rhetoric matters too. When during the past year Hamas leaders talked proudly of making “death an industry of the Palestinian people” and creating “human shields” composed of old people and children (, declared Jewish children everywhere to have become legitimate targets of murder because of Israel's onslaught in Gaza (as did Hamas commander Mahmoud Zahar on January 5, 2009 (, or imposed an “Islamic penal code” in Gaza featuring stoning for adultery and amputation of limbs for theft (, the movement helped normalize the intensifying siege on Gaza, playing into deep-seated Western—and particularly American and Israeli—stereotypes of Muslim irrationality and brutality. Indeed, such statements have long made it easier for the media, and the public, to ignore or even justify similarly racist or bigoted statements by Israeli leaders.

In this context, once the truce agreed to by Israel and Hamas in June 2008 broke down, the relaunching of Qassam rockets—even if they were in response to an Israeli provocation—normalized Israel's massive response in the eyes of its citizens, and a large majority of Americans as well.

In this discourse, any “normal” country would feel compelled to respond militarily when thousands of rockets are fired into one's territory by an adversary who uses its own children as human shields while threatening to kill one's children the world over. That such a narrative avoids the larger context in which the Qassams were fired does not change the role played by Qassam's in normalizing the occupation.

Indeed, this discourse is so powerful that in the midst of Israel's bombardment of Gaza the New York Times saw fit to publish adjoining opinion articles, by columnist Thomas Friedman and Jeffrey Goldberg (a former Israeli prison guard), that without bothering to mention the word “occupation” argued that Hamas's hate-filled theology had made negotiations with Israel impossible (;ref=opinion), a dynamic that will likely not change until the movement has been “educated” ( by the large-scale Israeli violence of the Gaza war.

An Opportunity in Gaza's Ashes?
If there is a bright spot for Palestinians in the horrific violence of the last few weeks, it is that Israel's deployment of disproportionate and indiscriminate violence in Gaza has revealed the abnormality of the occupation for millions of people who previously been unable to perceive it (even its own generals describe its conduct during the war as “madness” (

This revelation offers Hamas and the Palestinian leadership more broadly the chance to change the larger terms of the debate over the future of Israel/Palestine. It could help move Palestinian society (and with it Israelis society, however reluctantly) away from the paradigm of two nationalist movements engaged in a competition over territory—which Palestinians have never been strong enough to win and Israel not brutal enough to “finish the job” of 1948—and towards a common future. This process can only begin with the conversion of Israelis and Palestinians to the idea of sharing sovereignty, territory and even identity in order to achieve the greatest good for the most members of the two societies.

Such a strategy might seem incompatible with the kind of Salafi and even mainstream conservative Islamic ideology that most Westerners and even many Muslims identify as the “authentic” version of Islam, and specifically Hamas. Yet it is rooted in traditional Islamic notions of a just society and the common good that are both applicable, and much needed, today. In fact, they are the prerequisite for any just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is worth noting that the far left in Israel has long had such a binational program. For its part, the PLO came close to it with its call for a “secular democratic state” in all of Mandate Palestine in 1969. But such an idea has never had a chance of being considered seriously (even though some on the Israeli Right admitted that in a Greater Israel Palestinians would have to be given citizenship rights) as long as terrorism has been identified as the central strategy for the realization of Palestinian nationalism.

When the two-state strategy epitomized by the Oslo peace process collapsed at the Camp David talks of July 2000, there was an opportunity for Palestinians again to change the terms of the debate. Hamas in particular could have offered an alternative discourse to Yassir Arafat's supposed “No” to a generous Israeli final offer.

But the movement had little new to offer. Indeed, at this crucial moment a leadership vacuum opened across Palestinian society, which Likud leader Ariel Sharon, ever alert to an opportunity to throw the peace process further off balance, exploited with his infamous visit to the Temple Mount.

Sharon clearly hoped to provoke a violent Palestinian response that would shift attention away from the reality that Israel had not in fact offered Palestinians a viable deal at Camp David. His highly symbolic but politically meaningless visit became the spark for the al-Aqsa intifada.

What few considered as the new intifada unfolded was whether Palestinians should have responded to Sharon's visit with violent protests. There were certainly other options. Mosque officials could have offered him tea, and in the in front of the media's glare, asked him politely but firmly to explain how he expected Jews and Palestinians to live together peacefully when the occupation had intensified during Oslo. It's impossible to know for sure what Sharon would have answered, but there's a good chance that he would have thrown him off balance, exposing the abnormality of the peace process-as-occupation for all to see.

Instead, Palestinians played the part assigned to them, and a so-far eight year long intifada erupted. As no less a supporter of Palestinian rights than Norman Finkelstein argues, it has left “Palestinians... [with] little to to show for the violent resistance... It is at least arguable that the balance-sheet would have been better had Palestinians en masse adopted nonviolent civil resistance.”

Israel offered Hamas another opportunity to change the terms of the conflict when in late November, 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Israelis that their country “risked being compared to apartheid-era South Africa if it failed to agree an independent state for the Palestinians.” Specifically, he argued that Israel would be “finished” if it forced the Palestinians into a struggle for equal rights. Even American Jewish organizations, he argued, would “be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”

With those remarks Olmert was revealing to the world what Haaretz commentator Bradley Burston has called the “ultimate doomsday weapon,” one which senior Israeli commanders “could only pray that Palestinians would never take out and use” (

As Burston pointed out, when the opportunity for Palestinians en masse to just “get up and walk” arose with the march to Erez less than two months after Olmert made his remarks, Hamas forced Palestinians to hold their fire, keeping their most powerful weapon under lock and key at the moment it could have been used to its greatest effect.

A year later, much of Gaza has been turned to rubble, another 1,200 Gazans are dead, joined by a bit over two dozen Israelis. The futility of violence as a strategy to achieve either society's core objectives has never been so clearly on display, as has the bankruptcy of a two-state solution that was likely miscaried at the very inception of the peace process a decade and a half ago.

It is not likely that Israel will emerge from this tragedy ready to offer Palestinians a territorially viable Palestinian state. The newly inaugurated Obama Administration could force it to do so, garnering near universal acclaim for salvaging the two-state solution in the process. But it seems more likely that the two-state solution will remain as illusive in the near future as it has in the past.

In such a situation Palestinians face a choice: continue to play by Israel's rules and see their dreams of independence disappear for at least another generation, or change the rules by demanding the same rights enjoyed by Israelis over the entirety of historic Palstine. By taking heed of Olmert's warning, Palestinians can begin the journey towards a future in which Jews and Palestinians can share the land of historical Palestine/Eretz Yisrael for the benefit of both peoples, rather than at the expense of the other.

The road will no doubt be long and painful; but even as the fog of the latest war dissipates it's hard to imagine another path emerging that could lead to an independent, peaceful future for Palestine, or for Israel.

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More Comments:

wm arenstein - 10/16/2009

For a bit of balance, see who this LeVine really is. Go here:

art eckstein - 1/31/2009

Reading Omar's incessent and intentional ignorances, his denials, and his gigantic founts of hatred and denial of responsibility, one indeed is forced to ask with Mark LeVine:


My advice is to take Fahrettin's wise advice, Omar.

art eckstein - 1/31/2009

I have answered the questions, and straightforwardly.

I have pointed out, however, how narrow-minded the questions are when they are posed the way you pose them, the unwarrented premises behind those questions, the inevitable stance of victimhood taken Islmaofascist Palestinians who ignore the historical impact of their own actions and hideous mistakes and violence as if it never happened..

YOU never answer our questions. What about the fate of the Christians as a warning to the Jews about your "unitary state", Omar? YOUR answer is simply denial!! And the Christians, unlike the Jews, were (a) Palestinians themselves and (b) not subjected to 60 years of sewer-like anti-semitic propaganda by various Palestinian governments. And looks what's happened to THEM!
Have you researched the Mt. Scopus Massacre, Omar? Have you googled Fathi Hamad + Human Shields? Have you google-imaged "Hamas + Nazi salute"?

Omar, I've gotten my rewards from the University (including a new and most prestigious one) because I actually do RESEARCH. This appears to be something you do not wish to do, except for surfing anti-semitic websites.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/31/2009

Anything BUT answering two sraight forward questions!Right Prof??

omar ibrahim baker - 1/31/2009

The Prof's defense for avoiding straight forward answers to straight forward questions is about evry thing EXCEPT answering the questions...more of the same;NOT unexpectedly!

art eckstein - 1/30/2009

You're just a lying, distorting propagandist, Omar. You represent the Palestinian Right of Return as something good and natural, when it is neither (look at Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania), and when it means the suicide of the Israeli nation. And you WHINE about lands YOU lost because of YOUR aggression in 1948--as if it is just that they should be returned to you when you lost them through your own viciousness, bigotry, and incompetence. An Israeli state that needed strategic depth to defend itself against genocidal maniacs was YOUR creation, Omar. The Israelis accepted the UN division, your people did not but instead resorted to violence, and you STILL do not.

Your "offer" of a unitary state is an offer to the Jews to suffer the terrible fate of the defenseless Christian Palestinians at the hands of your Hamas friends--that terrible fate is VERY relevant to your "offer", which is an offer of dhimitude (ASK THE CHRISTIANS, OMAR), and it is impossible to deny the relevance of what has occurred to them. But of course you just shrug it off and pretend you don't see the point, or attack others for bringing up uncomfortable FACTS.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/30/2009

The latest tussle rose out of an attempt to get from the Prof, of many awards, straight forward answers to two straight forward questions to shed some light on the issue of "Who Mandated Violence?" .The questions are :
" A: Did Israel ever offer to cede "peacefully" to the Palestinians their land allocation in Palestine?

B: Did Israel ever offer to implement "peacefully" the Right of Return?"
Both questions are simple, straight forward questions liable to be answered by a straight YES or a straight NO!
Neither the Prof nor Mr. Green, who hurried to the rescue with more diversionary questions and comments, used either the YES or the NO.
Both chose instead to digress to other issues and include in their digression what they believe to be indirect answers "indicative" of a "justified" NO to both questions without daring to spell out that NO outright!

The interesting thing here is that both could spell out that NO and then proceed to justify it to their hearts' content, both chose the round around way.

Herein lies a fundamental truth about Zionism: it was/is never capable of giving straight forward answers to straight forward questions; neither at its inception and early implementation stage nor later nor now.

Zionism, via Israel presently, traditionally prefers to keep all its cards, read ambitions and designs, close to its chest, so to speak, and to keep all options open and unencumbered with any past statements of position, of policy and/or of doctrine !
And that is exactly what we observe here!

Had either or both answered the first question (A: Did Israel ever offer to cede "peacefully" to the Palestinians their land allocation in Palestine?) with the facts imposed NO that NO would unveil and reveal a basic tenement of the Zionist doctrine that maintains that ALL of historical Palestine IS the "land of Israel" and that the “extra” land they conquered was simply a step further to that “phase” , but not ultimate, goal
Similarly had either or both answered the second question ( B: Did Israel ever offer to implement "peacefully" the Right of Return?" )with the inevitable NO that NO would also reveal another basic tenement and objective of the Zionist doctrine: an ALL or a predominantly Jewish Palestine which dictates the ETHNIC CLEANSING of the Palestinians starting with the denial of their Right of Return.

Conversely had either or both answered both questions with a YES that YES would not only be immediately challenged and categorically thrown outright as a naked LIE but that hypothetical YES would flout and contradict the established facts about two of Zionism's fundamental doctrinaire dictates.

Another equally interesting aspect of this modus operandi is that it assumes that the general reader is either too stupid or too ignorant, or both, to see behind their consistent failure and inability to answer straight forward questions with straight forward answers!
(Some might deem that clever which it would be only with the stupid and the ignorant.)

A. M. Eckstein - 1/29/2009

This SHOULD read:

Are you ever going to admit that Arab and Muslim governments engaged in a HUGE ethnic cleansing campaign not only against Jews but Greeks in the 1950s, and that 400,000 more people were affected than were Palestinians in the "Nakhbah" (1,150,000 vs. 750,000)--the only difference being that those 1,150,000 had NOT attacked their neighbors first?

A. M. Eckstein - 1/29/2009

I did answer the questions, Omar. You just don't like the answers.

The answer is that Israel won't offer the Right of Return because it means national suicide--which is what you want, Omar. Poland doesn't offer it, the Czech Republic doesn't offer it, Romania doesn't offer it. It's not unusual, Omar.

NO state will voluntarily commit national suicide, Omar. You are arguing that the Jews of all the peoples in the world don't deserve a state. And to argue that the Jews of all people in the world do not deserve a state, that only the Jews don't deserve a state--when they have CREATED a modern, liberal, democratic and technocratic state, an enormous achievement--is anti-semitism.

Especially when one compares the enormous Israeli achievement to that of the Palestinians. The Palestinians have created nothing, Omar--nothing! Nothing but death-cult, tyranny, and theocratic totalitarianism. And so as to your one-state solution--why should ANYONE want to be part of THAT?

As to question two, Stop whining about the land that Israel won when it was attacked in a genocidal jihad. If it hadn't been attacked, then that land wouldn't have been lost by the Palestinians. Stop whining. In any case, one reason the land was lost was because Israel, facing genocidal attackers, naturally wanted more strategic depth. Who wouldn't? So start taking responsibility for your own irresponsible decisions and actions, Omar, instead of blaming others.

Now, here are some questions for YOU:

Are you ever going to research the Mt. Scopus massacre, like I asked you two years ago?

Are you ever going to admit that the Palestinians engaged in "ethnic cleansing" FIRST, in 1947, in east Jerusalem?

Are you ever going to admit that Arab and Muslim governments engaged in a HUGE ethnic cleansing campaign not only against Jews but Greeks in the 1950s, and that 400,000 more people were Palestinians affected in the "Nakhbah" (1,150,000 vs. 750,000)--the only difference being that those 1,150,000 had NOT attacked their neighbors first?

I'm waiting.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/29/2009

Neither do you answer the questions Green.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/29/2009

You still do NOT answer the questions.Do you think people will NOT notice that?

art eckstein - 1/29/2009

Elliott, these are good facts to know.

We can count on Omar being indifferent to these facts: he will either ignore them, or deny them, or simply change the subject (to, e.g., Palestinian suffering, without admitting that the suffering was a result of losing a war which they started).

But perhaps other readers will find these facts interesting.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/29/2009

The Jews in Israel accepted the UNGA partition recommendation of 11-29-1947. The Arab side --palestinian Arabs and the Arab League-- rejected it. The Arab side was making genocidal threats at that time as now. Consider Abdul-Rahman Azzam Pasha's warning that the coming war would be like the Crusades and the Mongol masssacres. Further, Arab delegates at the UNGA warned/threatened [= the same] that if the partition recommendation were passed, it would lead to violence against Jews in Arab countries. The Arab states were happy to drive the Jews out of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, etc., and seize their property.

On the issue of "Return", Omar may not know that the first refugees of that war were Jews driven out of south Tel Aviv and parts of Jerusalem. The first refugees of that war driven from their homes who could NOT go back afterwards were the Jews of the Shim`on haTsadiq Quarter in Jerusalem, north of the Orient House and the American Colony Hotel, in the part of the city occupied by the Jordan Arab Legion from 1948 to 1967. The Jews of Shim`on haTsadiq were driven out in December 1947. So driving Jews out of their homes was an Arab strategic purpose back in 1947-1949. Now, you complain about Arab refugees, when the Arabs were the ones to drive Jews from their homes --and from the beginning of the war in 1947.

art eckstein - 1/29/2009

Haaretz is a left wing newspaper, and so are the left-wing people at the university. But self-criticism is a sign of a civilized society.

Omar--WHEN do Palestinians EVER protest about the REAL atrocities they commit? NEVER. They GLORY in them!! Like Sheikh Yassin glorying in the disco bombing of 2002. Disgusting.

art eckstein - 1/29/2009

More lies from Omar.

The Israelis offered peace in 2000/2001 and were turned down. Clinton says it. Arafat says it.

"Right of Return" means the voluntary suicide of the Israeli state, and Omar knows it. It's never going to happen, Omar.

Your side started a war in 1948, Omar, and you lost. There are consequences to losing. Since YOU started the war, to whine about the consequences of losing that war as you do--the consequences of your own actions!-- is infantile.

art eckstein - 1/29/2009

I cited a Palestinian article in a Palestinian newspaper, Omar--not "Zionist propaganda."

Your response to very uncomfortable facts is what your response always is: denial. It's pathetic, Omar, and you only humiliate yourself. Facts are facts, and that includes the fate of Christians under the PA and Hamas. Stick to the truth, for once.

Nor is the terrible fate of Christians under the PA and Hamas irrelevant to the issue at hand, since the issue is the "equality" you are supposedly offering Jews in your unitary state dominated by Jew-hating Palestinian Muslims. The terrible fate of the helpless Christians shows how deluded (or false) your "offer" to the Israelis really is.

Get real.

The only solution is a two-state solution. Face facts.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/29/2009

Last update - 01:55 29/01/2009

Inappropriate appointment

By Haaretz Editorial

Tags: israel news

The Tel Aviv University faculty members who oppose the appointment of Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, head of the international law division (ILD) in the Military Advocate General's office, to a post at the university's law faculty, are right.

This faculty, the spearhead of academic legal research in Israel, now has a public responsibility of the first order - to examine in depth Israel's conduct during the war in Gaza, to distinguish between what is permitted and what is not, and to offer an alternative and objective set of rules to the self-serving ones formulated by Sharvit-Baruch during her time as head of the ILD.

One of the important reasons not to appoint Sharvit-Baruch to the law faculty is her sanctioning, as head of the division, of the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, many of them children, women and elderly people, during the three weeks of the war.

The division headed by Sharvit-Baruch gave the go-ahead for the criminal killing of dozens of Palestinian policemen by the air force - which bombed them during their graduation ceremony on the war's first day - with the knowledge that these policemen were nothing more than civilian law-enforcers, and on the grounds that they might become participants in the fighting with Israel (as reported in a story that will appear in the Haaretz English edition Magazine tomorrow).

The legal appendix that the division attached to the military orders of Operation Cast Lead did indeed demand that caution be employed in the field, but it did not rule out the use of cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs or anti-personnel mines.

The appendix even stated that it was possible to avoid warning the civilian population that was near a target slated for attack.

Severe criticism is being voiced about the conduct of the ILD. A long list of experts in international law and the laws governing the war on terrorism, including the former head of the division, Daniel Reisner, have expressed their objections to the way Sharvit-Baruch made possible such trigger-happiness during the Gaza campaign.

Han och Dagan, the dean of TAU's law faculty, is misleading in the demagogic argument he employs to justify Sharvit-Baruch's appointment. He says that it is better to expose students to a wide range of opinions and points of view, so long as they are within the framework of the law.

Dagan is misleading, both because Sharvit-baruch's opinions - which are acceptable among the general public and, one can assume, in the corridors of the law school - already enjoy wide expression, to a level far beyond that received by opposing points of view; and also because the reason Sharvit-Baruch's opinions fall within the framework of the law is because she is the one who formulated the law, in her capacity as head of the ILD.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/29/2009

The issue of Christians in Palestine, lies and fabrications ridden by Zionist media as it is IS an extremely important issue BUT IS NOT the issue under discussion now.

Your reference to it here and now is, Prof, merely a diversion of attention ploy from the issue under discussion.

Do you believe that the general reader of HNN fails to notice that??

omar ibrahim baker - 1/29/2009

Eckstein neither answers the questions:
"RE A: Did Israel ever offer to cede "peacefully" to the Palestinians their land allocation in Palestine?

RE B: Did Israel ever offer to implement "peacefully" the Right of Return?"

Nor negates the fact that Israel:
"However having failed, as victor, to countenance and make such proposals, which would have been simply the implementation of United Nations resolutions, and having frustrated all mediation efforts it was Israel who blocked the way, from day one of its establishment, to any "peaceful" resolution of the conflict."

And the fact that:
"It was Israel who insisted on retaining in 1948 the “extra” war land spoils it won and who had the military means to obstruct the return of Palestinians refugees"

Goes on never the less to deny the inevitable conclusion that:
" (Israel)mandated, for itself and for the Palestinians, that MILITARY PROWESS ie violence be the final arbiter in the conflict"

Simply amazing the way these people think and the extent of their contempt for the intelligence of others!

A. M. Eckstein - 1/28/2009

The Palestinians resorted to violence in 1948, backed by five Arab states: the Israelis accepted the UN division, the Palestinians did not accept it, they started a war, they lost--and Omar is still screaming, as if that was unfair when the Palestinians resorted to violence first.

Omar's fundamental position remains the same as that of the Palestinian leadership in 1948: Jews as defenseless dhimmis in a Muslim-ruled land from the River to the Sea.

Compare the fate of Palestinian Christians in the PA and Gaza, Omar. And those suffering Christians are (a) Palestinians to begin with, and (b) have NOT been subjected, as Jews have, to 60 years of the most sewer-like and Nazi-like anti-semitic propaganda, only the same old Muslim "infidels" propaganda.

Omar rejects a reasonable two-state compromise, insists on Muslim conquest of Israel or Israeli voluntary suicide, his sort started war in 1948, and 2001, and 2006, and 2008, and now he complains when they lose. It's irresponsible leadership and the behavior of a child. Become an adult, Omar: Listen to Fahrettin. accept a negotiated two-state peace.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/28/2009

As usual Eckstein starts his post with a falsification and an outright LIE by claiming:
"Omar, the Palestinians CHOSE violence."
If we restrict our "discussion", to spare the general reader from rererepeating our selves, to the most outstanding points of contention between the two sides what do we find?
The major points of contention have been since 1948 and still are:
A-Palestinian land allocation in Palestine.
B-The issue of Palestinians refugees and their right of return to their homes , villages and towns .

RE A: Did Israel ever offer to cede "peacefully" to the Palestinians their land allocation in Palestine?

RE B: Did Israel ever offer to implement "peacefully" the Right of Return?
Of course Eckstein &Co will come up with all sorts of explanations and justification for Israel never, ever, having made any such proposals since 1948, in which year Israel won the war against several Arab armies and some Palestinian fighters, to the present days.

HAD Israel ever made such proposals to settle "peacefully" these two cardinal issues, both of which happen to be the will of UNGA, and had it been turned down by the Palestinians, Eckstein would be justified in his contention.
However having failed, as victor, to countenance and make such proposals, which would have been simply the implementation of United Nations resolutions, and having frustrated all mediation efforts it was Israel who blocked the way, from day one of its establishment, to any "peaceful" resolution of the conflict.

It was Israel who insisted on retaining in 1948 the “extra” war land spoils it won and who had the military means to obstruct the return of Palestinians refugees that mandated, for itself and for the Palestinians, that MILITARY PROWESS ie violence be the final arbiter in the conflict.

Recourse to old arguments, as expected, about who started the war and the "threat" returning Palestinians would constitute etc etc would NOT be the answer to the question "Who chose, who actually mandated, violence as final arbitrator to the conflict?"

Nothing has changed ever since!

art eckstein - 1/28/2009

Omar, the Palestinians CHOSE violence. So you can hardly complain if it turns out that the Israelis, being a modern technological society, are better at it.

Omar, YOU chose the playing field. It didn't have to be this way. The Palestinians could have chosen negotiation and compromise, in 1948 or in 2000. But their always fanatical and/or irresponsible leadership chose the playing field of violence instead. That was unfortunate, but since YOU chose war, you cannot complain because the Israelis are better at it (AND more moral at it AND as careful as it is possible to be regarding civilian casualties, given the situation--UNLIKE the Palestinians who GLORY in inflicting such casualties!)

And why did the Palestinians choose this playing field, which has now led to Omar's complaints?
Omar, you indicated to me in a famous exchange here on HNN in the autumn of 2006 that this was indeed a cultural choice.
You said that the reason the Palestinians chose and choose violence, you said, was because the Palestinians were 'more noble' than, e.g., victimized Germans, Hindus, Middle Eastern Jews, or Greeks. All of these latter groups since 1945 have suffered similarly, more or in greater numbers than the Palestinians. The latter two groups, in particular, had their severe suffering inflicted on them at the hands of vicious Muslim ethnic-cleansing and religious-cleansing governments.

None of these groups resorted to terrorism. The Palestinians have--and from the first. When you wrote that the Palestinians were 'more noble' than these other groups, which is why they resorted to violence, you were actually condemning these other groups as weaklings because they did not, and hence they were less 'noble' than the Palestinians.

You chose the playing-field, Omar. You can hardly complain if the Israelis are better on that playing-field.

Of course, the time may come when that is not the situation, and the Israelis are not so good at what they do militarily. But as Fahrettin said to you, how long are you willing to wait for that possibility, for the possibility that the situation to change? Another 60 years? Is that responsible leadership when you can have peace now in a two-state solution?

art eckstein - 1/28/2009

Readers, I note that Omar has had no response to the last two posts above, which feature a Palestinian Muslim liberal describing the terrible fate of Christians in Gaza and the PA.

(below, on a slightly different thread, he calls it all distortion by the western media; the Palestinian columnist I quote is not part of the western media.)

The REASON Omar has not response to the facts about the persecution of Christians in the PA and Gaza is because there can BE no response to the facts.

art eckstein - 1/28/2009

The israelis telephoned thousands of people to get out of their homes before they began the December bombing.
They dropped leaflets urging people to flee when they went in on the ground.
The ONLY Nazis are Hamas, Omar--with its anti-semitic "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", with its overtly genocidal Charter, with its children named after HITLER, and its marching Nazi salutes (just google-image "Hamas + Nazi salutes" and see what
you come up with!).

Not every efficient army is a Nazi army. The British and American armies inflicted far more casualties on the Nazis than they took in 1945. That's a better analogy, Omar.

Readers, not that he responds to none of my facts.

Hamas GLORIES in using human shields from behind which they fire missles at civilians. Just google 'Fathi Hamad + human shields', Omar.

NO Israeli glories in civilian casualties, and the IDF Ethics Codes forbids the intentional infliction of civilian casualties.

3/4 of the Gaza casualties are Hamas fighters. That's why Hamas rounded up hundreds of Fatah people as spies immediately after the fighting stopped, and tortured and executed many many of them. (No complaint from Omar about this, no recognition it even happened). But as the other 1/4 of the casualties--these are tragic BUT those who hide behind civilians when they shoot have no jusificaiton in complaining about what occurs during counterattack. The responsibility for civilian deaths lies on THEM, and THEM alone.

Omar's views are a grotesque perversion of reality. And the problem with presenting him with facts is that facts are meaningless to him--which is why he doesn't respond to them. However, one must still present the facts for those who can listen.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/28/2009

So Omar, since the Americans, British, Soviets and Free French eventually defeated the Germans in Europe, that military triumph and military superiority prove that the Germans were the deserving victims whereas the Americans, British, French, and Soviets were the bad guys in the war. Is that your logic?

omar ibrahim baker - 1/28/2009

Having failed to gloss over the utter murderous bestiality of the Israeli Army and its constant deliberate victimization of civilians (Qanaa; an air raid SHELTER twice ,inter alia) the only recourse the herd has is the super "efficiency" of the Israeli Army which, incidentally, brings to mind the "efficiency" of the German Nazi Army!
A historical fact: both armies were/are super "efficient" killing machines and both were/are driven by a racist human hating doctrine!

omar ibrahim baker - 1/28/2009

How does one thing, being Arab, contradicts and nullifies another: being Palestinian?
Exactly in the same way that being American, i.e. a citizen of the USA, contradicts and nullifies being Texan or Virginian!
That is the extent of absurdity Green has reached, has fallen to, in his desperate effort to negate an ipso facto fact.
These people are truly amazing in their contempt of the intelligence of others.
They have, traditionally, gotten away with so many falsifications and so much absurdity they have come to believe anything goes!

art eckstein - 1/27/2009

That's exactly right, E. Simon.

The militarily weaker party is not necessarily the more moral party. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it is not. In the case of Hamas it definitely is not the more moral party, since Hamas is a group of violent and totalitarian theocrats. But the Left loves its old and still potent infatuation with "third world-ism", and so it is now being reduced (or seduced) to the idea that the weaker party gets the presumption of innocence on the basis of weakness per se-EVEN if their ideology descends from the Nazis! (Complete with "Mein Kampf" and Nazi salutes: just goggle-image "Hamas + Nazi salute" and see what you get).

It's intellectually degenerate. For the Left, of course, their sympathy ("We are all Hamas now") is merely the empty politics of gesture. No one actually helped Hamas during the war. Nevertheless, I wear a keffiyeh to show (not least to myself) that I'm a "humanitarian," and perhaps to poke a finger at the Establishment. But I have no idea what the keffiyeh might actually symbolize, and of course I do not actually need to confront (no, not here in Cambridge) the bitter realities and choices of the Middle East.

E. Simon - 1/27/2009

The current Palestinian tactic - one endorsed by significant elements of the left, Europe, internationalists, etc. - is to build a presumption of moral superiority in this conflict. If such presumption cannot be made on the basis of conventional appeals to justice and ethics (and until their goals change, they can't be), then the presumption of moral superiority will be made based on observations that convey a sense of weakness on behalf of the Palestinians.

Such observations can be legitimate if they demonstrate a lack of physical or political agency on the part of the Palestinians in the face of intentions to do right. But Omar's willingness to use military weakness (or incompetence) alone is a way to obscure ethical considerations from being considered at all. By emphasizing physical weakness and loss in a war of choice, he attempts to appeal to Western notions of morality that implicitly favor the underdog, even though they do not mitigate the ethical agency and moral dimension of the choices made by that actor. The problem is that Omar and those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause think that they can completely replace mere sympathy for a weaker party on a physical basis with a positive ethical judgment of the choices freely made by that party - without having to first subject those choices to any ethical analysis whatsoever. He is far from alone in his willingess to make and entertain such stupid appeals.

A. M. Eckstein - 1/27/2009

I too utterly reject Omar's vision of Israeli history: it is in fact a perversion.

Deir Yassin is about 130 people; Jenin is about 50; 3/4 of those killed in Gaza were fighters and the rest are the responsibility of Hamas for choosing to fight from among civilians, using them intentionally as human shields. These were bad things. Since the attackers at Deir Yassin suffered 40% casualties (mostly wounded but several dead), this was hardly an unarmed group; there was a massacre afterwards which was bad.

That the massacre was used as propaganda AGAINST the Irgun who did Deir Yassin by the Haganah shows, however, the basic Israeli attitude--for among Palestinians, attacks on civilians are NOT used as propaganda to delegimitize a group, are they, Omar? Attacks on civilians are used as propaganda to EXHALT a group!!

Omar well knows this. Shall I share with you and the rest of HNN, Omar, an account of Sheikh Yassin of Hamas' glee at the slaughter at the Tel Aviv disco in 2002?

As for the 20-1 casualty rate, one can hardly blame Israel for having a very good and efficient army, which knows how to fight-- although I know it enrages Omar that Jews are able to defend themselves.

I have repeatedly asked Omar to look up "the Mt. Scopus Massacre", where 70 Jewish doctors and patients were killed--burnt alive in busses by Palestinians--a couple of days after Deir Yassin. He's not interested.

Omar is clearly a racist as his latest entry shows. Over the past three weeks he's gotten more and more overtly racist in his comments, and he's also revealed himself not to be against imperialism as long as it's Muslims doing the imperializing. So it goes.

Omar, Israelis are sad when civilians on either side die, but Hamas and Hezbollah are glad when civilians on either side die--if it's Jews, that's great, and if its Arabs, then they use it as propaganda as they hide behind these civilians in the first place. Omar, you know this is true.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/27/2009

I reject your claims of massacres as made above. However, supposing that Jenin, Gaza, etc. were to be labelled as massacres, for the sake of argument, then I would ask you about the estimated 150,000 Sunni Arab Muslims slaughtered by fellow Sunni Arab Muslims in Algeria since 1991, and the tens of thousands of Arab Shi`ites and Arab Sunnis mutually slaughtered in Iraq in recent years. We won't bring up the Kurds, for the sake of politeness. How, though, do you explain all that intra-Arab slaughter?? Is it an innate trait?

After we get your answer to that question, then we can take up the genocide perpetrated against tribal Black Africans in the southern Sudan starting in 1956 [several million murdered]. I for one DO NOT believe that Arabs are innately slaughterers. However, your description of us Jews as innate slaughterers is racist.

Fahrettin Tahir - 1/27/2009

This is true. Moslems traditionally thought of themselves primarily as moslems and not regional or ethnic groups. This differentiation was introduced by the europeans to divide and rule. Ever since then people have been slaughtering each other. It is interesting to note that the spanish jews who escaped christian prosecution in 1492 to the ottoman empire led to a win-win situation, where everybody gained. after the british took over the middle east, the european jews escaping christian prosecution there led to the present lose-lose situation. the solution must be to make peace, kick out the oil thieves and build a peaceful future with jews moslems and local christians.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/27/2009

Omar, I am aware that the soil and the mountains and rivers and lakes were always there. The point is that the Arabs did not traditionally consider the Land a separate country nor did they perceive or believe in a separate people called "palestinians." The PLO charter innovates by asserting that there is a "palestinian people" but it asserts [Article I of PLO charter] that this people is simply a sub-group of the Arab nation and that "palestine" is "an integral part of the Great Arab Fatherland" [watan].

omar ibrahim baker - 1/27/2009

We all here have here the unique opportunity to observe human behavior at its worst.
We have here the opportunity to observe human perversion of some unadorned and incarnate.
Seldom it is unveiled and presented in such a stark manner as it is here!
Despite the fact that the history of Israel is a continuous series of mass massacres of civilians that includes, in the last five years only: Jenin, Qanaa, twice, al Dahia, and ,recently,GAZA among other innumerable but less “spectacular” acts of cold blooded massacre of civilians.
Despite the fact that Palestinian and Arab civilian casualties of Israeli murderous attacks outnumber Israeli civilian casualties by something like 20 to 1
Despite that we have those who write about :"(the) hyperviolence and savage attacks on Israeli civilians."
The shamelessness, the gall and the insolence of such people is truly amazing but is also thought provoking.
-What kind of "moral" standards do these people adhere to ?
-What kind of human beings are they ?
-Is it that now that they have achieved some temporal power they are embarking on a long held desire to avenge all their past and present woes in one go ?
More than anything else the cynicism and insolence, the psychological underpinnings of innate racism, of their attitude and of their words betray their innate nature.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/27/2009

How absurd one can be can be seen by observing the extent Mr Green had to stretch things to support an inanity: that there is no Palestine and, consequently, there is no Palestinian people and there are no Palestinians!

Whether it was called Southern bilad Ash Sham, as it still is geographically, or XYZZ does not chang historical facts.
The irrefutable historical fact is that that land has been there all the time and the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants has been Arabs, both Moslems and Christians, with some Arab Jews, who rather prefered to be known only as Jews, for the last 15 centuries at least.
An other irrefutable historical fact is that for most of modern , that is say the last 12-14 centuries,Jews, both indigenous and stay over religious emigrants, never exceeded 10 % of the total population of that country particularly when promised a homeland in it.
Another irrefutable fact is that the overwhelming majority of the total population of that country opposed the creation of such a Jewish homeland it !
That country was, still is, known to all and sundry as Palestine and the Jewish/Zionist colony established in it in 1948 is known as Israel!

art eckstein - 1/27/2009

The columnist I have cited above is a Muslim and a Palestinian. Not an agent of "western propaganda and distortion", Omar!

Omar, this is a monster of bigotry which YOU and your Palestinian-Muslim leadership have created. Face reality! And take responsibility for it!

There are political consequences to what people see happening in the PA and Gaza to the Christians. One political consequence is that you can hardly expect the Jews to give up their means of self-defense on the basis of a *promise* of equality from you and your sort.
They see the terrible fate of others, Palestinians but Christians, who HAVEN'T been the victims of 60 years of Nazi-like propaganda!

Get real, Omar. The two state solution is the only solution.

art eckstein - 1/26/2009

Omar, what was the percentage of Christians in Bethlehem in 1980? What is the percentage of Christians in Bethelem now?

As for Gaza, were told by heads of armed Muslim militias after Hamas seized power in June 2007 that they must submit to Muslim rule and that any missionary work will be punished. The owner of the only Christian bookstore in Gaza was murdered in October 2007. The Hamas govt never managed to find out who did it. In Feb. 2008, gunmen attacked the Young Men's Christian Association, and then planted bombs, one of which blew up, destroying thousands of books. The Hamas govt never managed to find out who did it. 70% of the Christian minority in Gaza want to flee because of Islamic persecution or fear of it. Sound familiar? 1948 and the Nakhba come to mind?

This is not the result of "a few fanatics", it's an entire attitude among the Muslim majority. As I said, the fate of Christians is a warning to Jews.

But why listen to me. Here is Abd al-Nassar Al-Najjar, from Al-Ayyam, November 12, 2008:

In his column in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, ‘Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar criticized the persecution of Christians in Arab countries, with a particular emphasis on the Christian population of the Palestinian Authority.(1)

“Let us be honest with ourselves and courageously say out loud that Palestinian Christians are taking many severe blows, yet are suffering in silence so as not to attract attention. I do not refer here to the suffering caused by the occupation… but to actions of the past 20 years at least – that is, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 – involving the confiscation of Christian property, especially in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Al-Birah.

“What makes things worse is that those who are plundering [the Christians’] property are either powerful [in their own right] or are backed by various elements, among them high-ranking military officials or influential members of large clans.

“Attempts by the political leadership to partially rectify this situation have failed. Nor has the judiciary system been able to [resolve] many of the problems, which we still face today. Over the past few years, several of my Christian friends have told me of the harm they have suffered, including various threats, even death threats, for trying to gain access to their lands after they were taken over by influential Bethlehem residents.
“Furthermore, there has been an attempt to marginalize Christian culture in Palestine, even though it is rich and deeply rooted [there]. This began with [accusations] of unbelief [against Christians] – a move that ultimately harmed Palestinian society as a whole…

“Despite all the injustices [against the Christians], no one has seen or heard of any constructive action to curb it and to [defend] the Christians’ rights – whether by the elites, by any of the three branches (executive, legislative, and judiciary), by non-government organizations, or even by the political factions themselves. [Such action should have been forthcoming] not out of kindness and compassion, but [due to] regarding Palestinian Christians as indigenous to this land, and [therefore] no different from us, with the same rights and obligations [as Muslims].

“But the most fundamental problem here may be related to culture. We continue to instill a horrific culture in our children, one that sees Christians as infidels… and as ‘the other.’ We need an injection of humanistic and national awakening; we must raise an outcry and stand up to restore the Christians’ rights, of which they have been deprived – [and we must do this] in order to preserve the demographic balance, which will safeguard the unity of our homeland and the justness the Palestinian cause.

“Enough [examples]! It is not words that we need, but progressive attitudes, and the truth, so that it can be presented to tyrannical rulers, and so that clerics and old men will not be the only Christians left in the Holy Land and in the city of [Jesus’] birth.”

And Omar, these are Christian Palestinians, who have partaken in the Palestinians struggle! Given THIS, how--in all honestly--can you demand that Jews give up their state and their army and their power of self-defense on a *promise* of "equality*. Palestinian Muslim behavior shows the truth of things, Omar.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/26/2009

1-The question of Christians , as presented in the West, is riddled with lies and exageration although, of course, there is always a number of fanatics that behave atrociously in the absence of law and order.
2- what is the Palestinian state, in the two states,that you envisage re land, rights and authority?

omar ibrahim baker - 1/26/2009

1-The question of Christians , as presented in the West, is riddled with lies and exageration although, of course, there is always a number of fanatics that behave atrociously in the absence of law and order.
2- what is the Palestinian state, in the two states,that you envisage re land, rights and authority?

A. M. Eckstein - 1/26/2009

Two state solution, Omar.

Or else, as Fahrettin says, there is the option YOU don't want to face--60 more years of Palestinian defeats, suffering, humiliation, and Nazi-like death culture.

You have to accept that this is a real possibility.

You have no answer, I notice, to the terrible fate of Christians under the PA and Hamas--and the terrible warning this poses for Jews. How can you have an answer? The Christians were supposed to be "equal" too.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/26/2009

AND your option IS???

art eckstein - 1/26/2009

The fate of Palestinian Christians under the PA and Hamas shows that Omar is either fooling himself or lying.

In fact, Omar's expressions of hatred towards the "maruading colons" right in the above posting shows how impossible his solution is. He refutes himself.

This plan is the same old 1948 position. It's simply a cover for Israeli voluntary suicide and Muslim triumphalism.

Omar, the fate of the Palestinian Christians is a huge warning to the Jews. And that terrible fate of the Christians is the responsibility of the Palestinians, and the Palestinians alone.
There are negative political consequences to Palestinian savagery and Palestinian Islamic totalitarianism (such as Hamas' imposition of Sharia on Gaza), and it's time the Palestinians understood this.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/26/2009

Once again Eckstein proves that he suffers from acute blindness, physical ( to certain things) or mental or both.
He fails to see with "EQUAL RIGHTS" and takes refuge in the myth, for modern times, of "dhimis".
He fails to see that new comers: aggressive, marauding colons by any standard, will have the same rights as the indigenous people they colonized…,all , though unheard of before in any decolonization process, are deemed necessary for the sake of a real peace.

He proposes as a compromise the "two states" settlement which, as envisaged by the most "peace" seeking Israelis is exactly as I defined it:
” re land allocation :( 80% + Israeli/Jewish with the ever present capability to acquire more); Right of Return to Palestine :(an exclusive Jewish "right") and sovereignty: (total Israeli except for some Palestinian "municipal" authority under Israeli supervision)!”
He thus rejects both :
“a-A historical reconciliation between the Arabs/Moslems and Israelis/Jews
B-Recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians in their homeland”
without which, as fundamental underpinnings of any settlement, no real ,genuine and lasting “peace” is possible.
He hankers after retaining ALL the spoils of wars ,, 1948 and 1967,which could only mean “total” Palestinian/Arab/Moslem submission.
He fails to see how short sighted that would be and that it would only lead to more strife, conflicts and wars.
He is drunk and besotted by Zionist recent achievements and fails to see that, in a historical perspective, they are transient and unendurable in and for the region….
That is NOT only foolishly short sighted but is a disservice to the Jews for failing to provide them with durable peace and security in Palestine, or Israpal or Palrael, and in the Arab and Moslem worlds!

art eckstein - 1/26/2009

Omar's call for a "Palestine for all Palestinians" is mere subterfuge:

He means the voluntary suicide of Israel, its giving up of Jewish self-protection, and the reducing of the Jewish population to helpless dhimmis in a Muslim-run majority state where the Muslims for 60 years have already been fed a diet of Nazi-like anti-semitism.

That is not a compromise. That is the same old position taken by the Palestinians in 1948. It is why the Palestinians attacked the Jews in 1948, and why they whine about their defeat--it is mere Islamic triumphalism defeated.

The terrible fate of Christians in the PA and Gaza is a warning to the Jews, Omar.

Compromise would be the two-state solution.

It was offered Arafat at Camp David and an even better deal was offered at Doha. Clinton blamed Arafat for rejecting it, and Arafat blamed himself in 2002 for rejecting it. The consequence of the offer at Camp David and Doha was the Second Intifada, with its genocidal ideology of suicide bombing of innocents--the people Omar on HNN has called "civilians" in scare-quotes (he means Jewish women, children, babies). Then came Hamas with its overtly genocidal Charter, and its shooting of 6,000 rockets into pre-1967 Israel.

The Palestinians have always rejected compromise, which is exactly why they are where they are today. Omar, you should seriously consider what Fahrettin's advice on compromise, and you should also note Fahrettin's fifth possibility--60 more years of humiliating and destructive defeats--as one of the futures facing the Palestinians.

If you are an intellectual and a leader, you are failing your people--as so many intellectuals and leaders have failed the Palestinians before.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/26/2009

Blindness is the state in which those afflicted with it seize to see; with some, such as the multiawarded Professor Eckstein , it extends to the inability to read and/or understand what they read.
In severe cases it presumes that ALL are equally blind and incapable of understanding what they read!

Professor Eckstein claims:"As Omar shows, peace and compromise aren't in the Palestinian vocabulary," in which he pretends to have never seen or understood that Omar's recent call for A PALESTINE for ALL the PALESTINIANS embodies a HUGE compromise in that it accepts the presence of some 5-6 million Jewish colons in Palestine as "equal citizens" despite the fact that their admission into Palestine was forced on its indigenous population through Zionist/British imperialist collusion (1918-1948) against the express will and continuous opposition of the overwhelming majority of Palestine's indigenous people.

The one state solution in a Paletine for all the Palestinians is, by any standard, the ultimate "compromise" par excellence in that it recognizes the cultural bonds and attachment of both the indigenous people and the ALIEN newcomers to Palestine and proposes granting them EQUAL rights with its indigenous population and in that it rejects both "exclusivist" doctrines.
But that is, of course, unacceptable to the Ecksteins of this world,as is on the record here at HNN, because it involves two, Zionistic ally, untouchable , unthinkable elements:
a-A historical reconciliation between the Arabs/Moslems and Israelis/Jews
B-Recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians in their homeland.
The "compromise" Eckstein and ilk are looking for should, according to them, involve total Palestinian /Arab/Moslem submission to Israel's will re land allocation :( 80% + Israeli/Jewish with the ever present capability to acquire more); Right of Return to Palestine :(an exclusive Jewish "right") and sovereignty: (total Israeli except for some Palestinian "municipal" authority under Israeli supervision)!

Be that as it may the objective reader, not being as blind as Eckstein is or hopes him to be, can judge for himself who is and who is NOT for a historical reconciliation and a historical compromise, who is an "exclusivist" and who is NOT and who is looking for total submission of the other party.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/25/2009

Art, touche! I would just comment that LeVine wants Hamas to use that ostensibly peaceful tactic in order to win a political/diplomatic victory which crude violence will not bring, he thinks. But he is clearly not on Israel's side.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/25/2009

Fahrettin, Prof. Gideon Biger and other Israeli scholars know how to read Turkish, including in Arabic letters. There never was any Ottoman sanjaq or vilayet named Filastin or palestine.

The independent Jerusalem sanjaq or mutesariflik was not called Filastin & its borders were far from those of post-San Remo Palestine. This sanjaq was separated from wilayat ash-Sham about 1865, as I recall. Check Biger's articles. BTW, I have read Evliya Chelebi's account of the country. He recognizes that the Land originally belonged to the Jews. His account, inaccurate on several points, mentions Filastin as one of several towns in the country, not as the country's name. I'm sure that you can find Chelebi's book in Turkish.

art eckstein - 1/25/2009

One of the things that most strikes me about Professor LeVine's article is that in his view, Hamas "mysteriously" keeps making the wrong decisions when they could do so much to resolve the conflict in a relatively non-violent mass-movement manner--wrong decisions in favor of hyperviolence and savage attacks on Israeli civilians.

Is this really so mysterious? Has Professor LeVine read the Hamas Charter? Does he think it's just "rhetoric" there? Isn't the answer to Hamas' destructive decisions (such as blocking that peaceful march) all too obvious? Hamas sincerely BELIEVES in the "Islamic" morality and "honor" of hyperviolence and in savage attacks on israeli civilians. Perhaps it's a way of dealing with 60 years of "humiliation".

The release of bloodcurdling threats and the glorying in the use of civilian human shields is surely no accident or strange political "mistake" on Hamas' part--or some mysterious playing into "Israeli propaganda." Professor LeVine--the best propaganda is the truth.

That is: Hamas BELIEVES in the genocide enshrined in their Charter, it BELIEVES in using their own civilian population as human shields to cover attacks on Israeli civilians so that either the Israelis can't retaliate because of humanitarian concerns or--perversely--Hamas can claim it's the Israelis who are brutal when they do retailate. It's a well-known tactic, used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon as well. It BELIEVES, sincerely, in the use of hyperviolence.

Such tactics on Hamas' part, like the Second Intifada with its suicide bombing of old people at a seder, have helped destroy the Israeli Left. That is because there is a widespread feeling in israel that there is no one to talk to. Mark LeVine believes there is someone to talk to, but they mysteriously have no power or influence either in the PA, Hamas, or Palestinian popular culture.

So I find his "Hamas; mysterious behavior"--or blame it on the Israelis, I guess-- a strange position for Professor LeVine to take. But here we should remember that Professor LeVine's preferred solution is the voluntary suicide of Israel and its replacement by a one-state solution which would leave the Jewish population at the mercy of a Muslim majority from the River to the Sea. This is an untenable solution at this point, given the Palestinian culture of hatred of Jews, and (as Hamas gleefully admits and LeVine quotes) its love of death.

art eckstein - 1/25/2009

Looking over this exchange, Fahrettin hits the nail on the head.

He does this, first, by pointing out that one alternative Omar doesn't consider is 60 more years of Palestinian suffering and defeat, like the past 60 years. Then Fahrettin points out a historical parallel where people have constructively dealt with terrible trauma. Fahrettin therefore reveals the inherently deeply-destructive and nihilistic irrationality of the Palestinian posiiton; Omar, on the other hand, reveals the Palestinians' helpless intellectual and emotional immobility.

Fahrettin, Omar reveals once again demonstrates the terrible failure of Palestinian leadership which has been a Palestinian characteristic since the 1920s. Quite a contrast with Turkish leadership decisions, it seems to me.

The Palestinians are where they are because of this unequalled record of terrible political and strategic decisions. Along the way, their reaction to one terrible failure after another has been not to learn the lesson of compromise but rather an increasing degeneration of Palestinian society into a Nazi-like death-cult (simply google-image "Hamas + Nazi Salute" and see what you get!)

As Omar shows, peace and compromise aren't in the Palestinian vocabulary, and (as Omar also shows) they won't settle for anything except the destruction of Israel. That is the problem the Israelis are confronted with, and this realization has absolutely destroyed the Israeli left--thanks to the Palestinians' behavior in suicide bombings of civilians and 6,000 missiles from Gaza. But that's the Israelis problem. The Palestinians' problem is different: they want total victory but are in a box because they are totally outmatched by a modern, liberal, technological society. Yet they won't face that reality either, living instead in a wonderland of genocidal rhetoric and medieval theology.

Yes, someone must save the Palestinians from themselves.

Thanks for the historical example of the Balkan Muslem refugees and their descendants now living in Anatolia. Crete too. There are many other cases of such trauma--none have led to suicide bombings of buses filled with children.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/25/2009

1-With due respect you still fail to appreciate what a Zionist Israel really is!
2- The Palestinians will NEVER give up their homeland no matter how long it takes. Nor will the Arabs and , increasingly, the Moslems ever cede Palestine , Jerusalem ( Kudus Sherif )the land of Isra and Al Aqsa Mosque to alien usurpers .
3-In every nation's history there comes a time when resistance, repulsion of the conquerors and redress of criminal injustice take uppermost importance.That is NOW!
Israel is looking for total submission; that will never be!

Fahrettin Tahir - 1/25/2009

Palestine was a county in the Ottoman province of Damascus and nobody had any doubts that it was an Arab land. I think peace should be made but trying to change historic facts does not help.
War is when you mobilize your entire assets against the enemy and for religious people theology is one of those assets. I see both sides mobilizing their faiths, making the issues more complicated than they already are.

Elliott Aron Green - 1/25/2009

Prof LeVine,
I disagree with some of your basic assumptions and note several blindspots on your part.
1-- The Arabs did not traditionally believe in a country called "palestine" or Filastin. The Jund Filastin existed before the Crusades starting with the Arab Conquest. This jund [= military district, a term befitting a military occupation] did not comprise all of what the Romans/Byzantines designated as Palaestina, after they had changed the name from Judea [IVDAEA] after crushing the Bar kokhba revolt in 135 CE. Filastin only comprised the Byzantine district of Palaestina Prima, which did not include northern Samaria nor the Galilee nor Golan Heights. Muslim rulers of the Land of Israel after the Crusades [Mamluks, Ottomans] had no district or territory called Filastin nor any territory that even came close to approximating the borders of the SanRemo/League of Nations designated "Palestine" after 1920. The Jerusalem area was long part of the vilayet of Damascus [ash-Sham]. Indeed, the Land of Israel was not seen as a separate country by Arabs/Muslims/Ottomans but rather as an indistinct part of bilad ash-Sham [sometimes translated as Greater Syria]. The Jerusalem area was made into an independent sanjaq [district] some years after the Crimean War in recognition of Jerusalem's political sensitivity for the Western powers.

2-- You also insinuate that Jews were alien to the country that the Romans had called Judea. Jews always lived in the country, although their numbers were reduced by Roman, Arab, and Crusader massacres and oppression. The notion that Jews are alien to the Land of Israel seems to be a reflection of the traditional European notion that Jews are alien to Europe, now transposed to the Jews ancient homeland by a traditional Judeophobia that has transformed itself and the locus of the Jews' alien nature. As to old European attitudes on the Jews as aliens, the German philosopher Kant called the German Jews "the Palestinians who live among us." Ironic, isn't it?

I also note several blindspots on your part. One is the failure to acknowledge that the Hamas is an Islamic body deriving the specifics of its ideology from the Muslim Brotherhood. Hence Hamas believes in worldwide jihad, not just a struggle against Israel. You have read their charter, haven't you? Please pay special attention to Article 7 and its concluding lines. Their Judeophobia has medieval roots, that is, they hate Jews as such. Israel is seen as the most despised dhimmis [Jews] rising out of their proper abased station in life [compare the old American prejudice about "uppity Niggers"], which humiliates the believers [al-mu'minin].
There is much else to disagree with you about, but going on would be tedious.

Fahrettin Tahir - 1/25/2009


Turkey has apopulation of 75 millions. Of that 30 millions are descended from people, whose ancestors were forced out of their homelands. Look at a map of the Ottoman Empire in the year 1750 and you will see which places our ancestors came from. Large areas of the Blkans, Caucasia, Crimea, Crete were moslem majority areas. Now the christians are the majority and the descendants of the people who survived (5 millions were murdered because they were moslems) live in anatolian exile. Even today we would be the majority if we could go back to our homelands. We still speaks the languages of our ancestors: greek, albanian, bosnian, bulgarian, crimean tatar, chechen, cherkess. Ataturk made peace, not because this was justice, or because we are more stupid than the palestinians, but because only peace could allow him to rebuild Turkey.
The Israelis only want to keep the land they got, the people who forced our ancestors out wanted to exterminate us for being non christian europeans. After they failed to conquer anatolia they continued to kill, in cyprus, in karabagh, in bosnia ...
a zionist israel means an island of 7 million people in a sea of about 500 million moslems.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/25/2009

I beg to differ. Obviously:
1-you do NOT seem to treasure a homeland as much as some
2-you fail to understand what a Zionist Israel means in the long run to the entire region.
3-you fail to appreciate that deadly threats should always be dealt with uninterruptedly.

james joseph butler - 1/24/2009

I'm sorry if my praise seems effusive but you've done a really masterful job of detailing the past 61 years of Palestinian futility. The UN says approximately 1,300 Palestinians perished in this latest tragedy and nine Israelis were killed by Palestinians, four Israelis soldiers were killed by "friendly fire". Modern warfare.

Witnessing the madness, its hopelessness and it's impact on the "war on terror", Obama and Holbrooke seem Bushesque, sadly. Good guys and Evil, grow up. Maybe after the next 9/11.

The Palestinians like the American Indians, out of their league when it comes to the subtleties of modern media. The Israelis have generations of experience of plucking Western strings, the Palestinians remain 21st century Ghost Dancers.
Thank You

Fahrettin Tahir - 1/24/2009


Option 5: keep fighting, dying and losing every war for the next 60 years. keep paying for wars the cost of which far exceeds anything palestine is worth. hope they all go to alaska and solve the problem.

It is not only a question of israeli options but also arab options.

Sometimes real friends tell you to give up a lost war and do something else.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/24/2009

Judging by most pro and actual Israeli vociferous negative replies to Qaddafi's recent proposal of a one state solution at the NY Times, and to Le Vine’s indirect call here to which Israelist opposition is mainly expressed in resounding silence, it seems that both their same call is a non starter.

What other options does Israel have?
-Option One: do nothing about it , keep it as is now , settle in as much land as possible, create new "Walls" , create new realities on the ground etc.
That would, barring mass Transfer, ultimately face Israel with an Arab demographic majority and/or an Apartheised Palestine/Israel.
-Option Two: when that Arab majority materializes, it is estimated to need some 25-30 years, or , preferably,before it does preempt it as soon as possible by implementing the long dreamt of ethnic cleansing campaign of Transfer for which academic cum strategic seminars were held including at the highly respected Haifa Techniom.
-Option Three: accept the "two states "settlement , as vaguely sketched, in a highly truncated land poor, and arable land poorer, West Bank, with or without Gaza, that can not possibly house and sustain all Palestinian refugees willing to return to it in lieu of to their original birth right lands and domiciles.
-Option Four: cede the East of the WALL of the West Bank to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt.

Where does that , noting that there will always be Palestinians clamoring and militating for their rights in their homeland, lead us, the region and the world?

-Option ONE has been tried, with USA explicit and W European tacit support, since 1967.It led nowhere except Jenin and Gaza and a radicalized Palestinian population with more and bloodier Jenins and Gazas to come.
-Option Two will only deepen the enmity and aggravate it, further regionalize the problem and radicalize its nations. (Witness the volte face of Iran and the approaching volte face of official Turkey.)
-Option Three will neither be acceptable to the Palestinians, Arabs and Moslems as a final settlement nor can possibly resolve the issues of Palestinian refugees , viability of the "state" and real sovereignty .
-Option Four was tried, 1948-1967, and failed to resolve the problem.

1-None of the options will ever defuse the problem and “normalize” Israel’s status in Palestine.
2-All the options will only increase Palestinian, Arab and Moslem regional enmity to and rejection of Israel.
3-Both outcomes above will only further alienate Israel and increase its dependence on military force
4-Will further radicalize the region against Israel and Israel against the region.
5-None will give the Israelis nor the Jews the long sought after “safe haven”.

omar ibrahim baker - 1/24/2009

An aspect of the Palestinian Question that Le Vine failed to stress sufficiently and that will dominate events for decades to come is the ever widening and ever deepening Regional and Islamic Rejection of Israel.
Ever since the Balfour declaration Zionism was perceived NOT only as a threat to an Arab Palestine but equally as a threat to the region and to Islam.

Both regional and Islamic rejection were late to materialize but are now doing so with a vengeance in the public (The Moslem Brotherhood all over), semipublic/semi official (Hizb Allah and Turkey)and out right official(Iran) domains.

Both ,in a way, transcends the immediate issues of the Settlements, the Wall and even the more basic issue of the Right of Return to the most fundamental issue of Israel's very existence in that particular piece of land in the Middle East and its geopolitical implications for Iran, Turkey and even for a now dormant Egypt and soon to wake up Saudi Arabia.
The future is, and it will increasingly be, a replay of old events with reversed roles in that in as much as local Zionist triumph in establishing Israel in Palestine was primarily due to external forces, World Jewry and US/Europe, Palestinian triumph will come in alliance with deeply involved regional, external?, forces.

If Israel fails to read the writings on the wall it will only lead itself and the region to great suffering and endless strife for which all will pay very dearly. With some paying beyond their capability to pay.

E. Simon - 1/23/2009

Or whatever.

It looks like America will now unfortunately renew another chapter in its sordid history of interventing in the Middle East conflict -- or, as I like to call it, "Terrorism Welfare". Of course, it never occurs to us that coddling the grievance-mongering Palestinians might lead to anything other than a smashingly stable and peaceful outcome. Equally notable, and just as unacknowledged, is the possibility that significant portions of Palestinian society and their leadership see it as in their interest to indefinitely extend their statelessness. It helps them avoid the responsibilities expected of state actors and thus, much more easily gain the sympathy of those willing to grant it to them, the likes of which include the author and many others.

Not bad for a guerrilla outfit with few coherent and consistent goals other than to eliminate their neighbor's right to statehood.

Fahrettin Tahir - 1/23/2009

It is naive to state that Hamas strategy is not working simply because the Palestinians continue to suffer. Anti semitism is everywhere on the rise and Israels military power is being strained.
It reminds me of French strategy after Germany conquered Alcase and Lorraine in 1871, which they could not get back on their own power. They worked on increasing tensions in Europe until two world wars enabled them to reconquer the two areas, one of which, Alsace, was German to begin with. In the end Germany got the blame. Who would claim that the grande nation incited the war, where so many died.

Peter Kovachev - 1/21/2009 more time.

To summarize for anyone who has better use of his time than to meander through Prof. LeVine's labyrinthine logic:

Hamas would like to stop the violence, but doesn't know how. It's Israel's fault.

Peter Kovachev - 1/21/2009