From what moral viewpoint should we judge the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Well, the Israelis have been at it again. Boarding a humanitarian flotilla that was bringing humanitarian supplies to a besieged population on the Gaza strip, the Israeli military shot at least 9 people dead and once again displayed a worrying degree of disdain for UN resolutions and basic human decency. It has been roundly condemned in the Western media.

Yet, similar things happen elsewhere in the world with much less media attention given to it. UN humanitarian convoys in Africa are ambushed frequently without making the international headlines. By the standards of that region in recent times, the behaviour of the Israelis shows immense restraint and civility. So I ask myself why Israelis are held to higher moral standards than others; who are we to make any judgments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all; and why should we care at all? As Australians we seem to be outsiders to this conflict, have limited understanding of the history of the conflict, and little political power in the world to influence these events. By what moral code should we then judge the actions in that little corner of the world?

The first moral lens we can use to look at the conflict is a selfish historical one: the bigger the conflict and the more directly Australians are affected, the more it should matter to us and the more entitled we are to a moralising opinion, even if that opinion is uninformed. Through this lens we should be unconcerned by the conflict.  The conflict seems to have little, if any, historical importance at all to us, since we live far away with very few Jews and Palestinians within our borders. So we must be concerned by it because of other moral lenses.

The second lens we can use is the one that economists like to speak of: the world-utilitarian point of view. The bigger the conflict and the greater the potential for escalation, the more an Australian world do-gooder should be involved.

Once again, we can be brief. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a footnote in history, not worthy of more than a minutes’ notice on a grand tour of history. A minor skirmish between two relatively small groups with a death-toll in the tens of thousands (maximum) that doesn’t even appear in a top 100 of the conflicts of the 20th century (see the Oslo peace data and derived sites on the death tolls for the major wars and atrocities of the 20\21st century). For instance, the conflict in Sri Lanka between the Tamils and the Singhalese is much more vicious and violent, and probably much easier to solve if the international community took greater interest. The conflict in Darfur between Muslim black Africans and Muslim Arabs is far bloodier, more cynical, and heart-rending than the odd bomb or boarded ship passing between the Israelis and Palestinians: how can the systematic rape and large-scale displacement of a whole people of millions get less attention than a conflict with less deaths than the road-toll of your average Easter holiday? And we haven’t even talked about the big war of our time, the conflict in the Congo, by far the world’s bloodiest conflict with an estimated maximum death toll of 6 million. This death toll is about the same size as the entire population of Israel.

Even at this very moment, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict wouldn’t make a top-10 list of big conflicts. The oppression of the various minorities in Myanmar, the simmering conflicts in Haiti and the Dominican republic, the internal unrest in Pakistan, etc., are all on a far greater scale and have greater potential for world-level damage than the Israeli conflicts: surely the internal instability of a nuclear power like Pakistan is of far greater world significance than the contest between a spider and its fly?

From a world-utilitarian point of view, one can thus rightfully accuse onlookers of racism for giving more attention to an intra-Semite tiff than the murder and mayhem of millions of blacks, muslims, and Dravidians.

The third lens we can use is intra-group moralising. This is the notion that the world is roughly divided into a few groups and that it is the responsibility of each group to keep its deviant members in line. Within this point of view, the conflicts in Darfur and the Congo are a problem for the Africans, the conflict in Sri Lanka is a problem for India and the conflict in Tibet is no-one’s problem but simply a matter of internal Chinese affairs. Applying this same logic, the conflicts involving Israel are the domain of ‘the West’.

Do the Jews belong to the West? I would say they do, linguistically, genetically, religiously, economically, culturally, and historically. The majority of the Jews live in the West and have intermingled with the West for two thousand years. You cannot intermingle for that long and be a separate genetic and cultural entity. The Jews are part of the fabric of Western culture, and a prominent part at that. The Jews are like the Goths, the Vandals, the Teutons, the Vikings, the Celts, the Slavs, the Huguenots, the Protestants, the Basques, and, yes, the French: part of the rich tapestry of ‘The West’.

Within this lens, Israel is ‘our’ joint responsibility. It is up to us to set the moral boundaries within which Israel can act, and indeed the boundaries within which it has to a large extent acted in the last 60 years. Just think of how Israel has remained within contemporary ‘Western morality’ all these years and has changed with it. Israel has not committed any great genocides, has not engaged in eugenetics, has not forced conversions upon others, is democratic, and is still an integral economic and cultural part of the West.

Even morality within Israel has mimicked the changes in the rest of the Western world. For instance, as the Western world has become more sensitive to the needs of other groups, so has Israel. Homosexuality has become acceptable in Israel in the last 50 years, as it has become acceptable in the Western world. Overt racism on the basis of colour has become unacceptable in the Western world, as it has in Israel. Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens is on the edge of our morality, i.e. it has been of the apartheid variety, again a Western invention (dare I say, a Dutch invention).

A nice example of the way Western morality affects the Israelis is the 2009 promise of the Israeli PM Olmert that they would react ‘disproportionately’ to any future bombs from the Gaza strip, in direct defiance of international law and Western public opinion. Following protests from non-US politicians (!), the phrase ‘disproportionately’ was taken out of the official government announcement.

We thus have the role of being one of the millions of moralising Western onlookers, shaking our heads when our brethren are out of line and supporting them when they are threatened. Club Troppo is but one of millions of discussion groups that perform this vital group role, and though none of these small groups matters individually, together they amount to an enormous degree of pressure on Israel, which has historically felt obliged to respond to this moral pressure because it wants to belong to the Western world (a large part of the moral agonising within the Jews community outside Israel is of this type. This boat incident has sparked another such round of Israeli navel gazing).

So our humanistic role during this boat incident is to shake our heads and remind our Israeli brethren that the Palestinians and their supporters are humans too and that we expect Westerners to behave with more restraint when they face a much weaker opponent.

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conrad
conrad
11 years ago

There’s a fourth lens also. We don’t like rich well educated people oppressing poor not so well educated ones, even if they’re not “like us” — all of your examples are poor people oppressing poor people.

If Japan, for example, decided to start oppressing the Ainu to the same extent as the Israelis do the Palestinians, we’d be up in arms about it (gee, we even complain about them eating whales — something we surely wouldn’t do as much if, say, Nigerians starting doing it). Is that because they’re like us or is it something that transcends that? Are the Japanese like us? I don’t know, but I’d think lots of people would think not especially. Perhaps a better test would be if a country like the UAE started doing nasty things to someone close by that was poor (they already do to foreign workers in their own country, but that’s another story). They’re definitely not like us. Would we care about that more than your poor-poor examples, or would we care about it as much as Israel doing it? I don’t know the answer to that, but if it’s more than your poor-poor examples (which I’d bet it is), then it suggests we do hold higher standards for rich people. If it’s less than Israel but more than the poor-poor groups, then there must be a like-us factor also. You can ask the question in reverse also. Let’s say Israelis were poor (but still somehow “like us”). Would we then care as much about what they are doing? I don’t think so.

James Farrell
James Farrell(@james-farrell)
11 years ago

Conrad, I’m not convinced. I expect very little of the Russian oligarchy, for exapmle, in terms of moral standards.

As far as I understand his position, Paul has it right. It isn’t individual Israelis we hold to account — some of them are violent fanatics as unreasonable and lacking in civic virtues as their enemies. But we are holding Israel’s institutiuons to account. They are part of the liberal, democratic franchise, and we want to see that they withstand the stresses the Israeli state is under. If Israel succumbs to tyrrany in the name of self defense, so could other democracies, and the dream is over. That means that the law must be upheld and certain human rights recognised.

None of us knows what room there was to maintain the naval blockade without bloodshed, so we’ll have to wait for authoratative journa;listic accounts (where is Paul McGeough anyway) and eventually an official investigation. As defenders of the ideal of justice, we pray that Israel will, at very least, hold an open, judicial enquiry (preferably they would cooperate with an international one).

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
11 years ago

Thx for the post Paul. It’s sad to see the risks – unnecessary risks I would have thought, at least in this instance – Israel takes with its reputation.

Richard Green (elsewhere)
Richard Green (elsewhere)
11 years ago

It almost feels like Israel is a drug addict friend/relative, pursuing actions that are momentarily good feeling but highly damaging to their long term interests. As someone who is both close and highly empathic you feel compelled to make this known, even as they react hostilely and believe you are antagonising them, but to do otherwise would only excuse their paranoia.

On a relatively unimportant note Paul, when you dare say apartheid is a Dutch invention are you A) Simply make strong se of your own moral viewpoint B) Holding Afrikaners to be Dutch in a way I think would imply Jim Crow laws were English/Scots Irish inventions or C) Finding a link between apartheid and other Dutch institutional phenomena such as pillarisation?

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
11 years ago

richard,

when I say apartheid was a Dutch invention I mainly mean this as a statement of fact. Apartheid is a Dutch word and was inspired by people educated in the Netherlands, including Jan Smuts, Hendrik Verwoerd, Malan, and others of their ilk. They were (I am pretty sure) educated at the Free University of Amsterdam where they were told of Dutch version of ‘living together seperately’. At that time in the Netherlands, the catholics, protestants, and socialists formed separate communities, complete with their own schooling, media, and economic institutions. Of course, translated to the South African situation apartheid did not come with a roughly equal division of the spoils….

conrad
conrad
11 years ago

James,

if you expect very little of the Russian oligarchy, then you must disagree with Paul also, because I assume the Russians qualify for “like us” pretty much as much as the Israelis do. So an additional factor must be at play (we expect more of certain types of democratic governments? Even that can’t be correct because we don’t think too much of Algeria or Venezuela)

James Farrell
James Farrell(@james-farrell)
11 years ago

I’ll leave for Paul to adjuicate, Conrad. But to me Russia’s ruling class doesn’t match the criteria he used in judging Israel part of The West. I’d say it isn’t essentially about wealth, although The West and the wealthy nations are nearly coextensive.

By the way, in case it’s of use to anyone, there’s what seems to me a fairly balanced assessemnt of the raid in The New Republic today.

conrad
conrad
11 years ago

Yes, I think what is really needed is some apriori definition of likeness, in which case the effect of likeness can be tested (Serbia would be another example that I would think falls into the “like us” camp incidentally. Linguistically: Yes; Genetically: Yes; Religiously: Yes; economically: Possibly; Culturally: Yes; and Historically: Yes).

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Conrad, are you serious? Have you ever heard of Chechnya or Ingushieta or Dagestan? How about Georgia?

Russia is a million miles from anything I would call ‘Western’ standards. I think I might expect more from Algeria than Russia!

How about we replace your test with a simpler one: does the government of this country apparently sponsor activities that could make an ordinary person vomit with repulsion were they actually to think about in detail?

Or:

Does this government of this country apparently sponsor crimes against humanity on a broad scale that makes the Palestine region look like a fairy-themed resort of civility and easy living?

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

conrad said:

Serbia would be another example that I would think falls into the “like us” camp incidentally. Linguistically: Yes; Genetically: Yes; Religiously: Yes; economically: Possibly; Culturally: Yes; and Historically: Yes

???
Well, it’s in Europe so that’s a start … although more Eastern than Western, so does that still count?

Incidentally, if in order to be “of the West” one has to be “like us”, why are “we” the paradigmatic case of “The West”?

As for genetically – seriously? After being informed that one African village can be more genertically similar to Norwegeans than another Afican village only 200km away, I gave up completely on the whole “genertic similarities” game.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

conrad said:

Serbia would be another example that I would think falls into the “like us” camp incidentally. Linguistically: Yes; Genetically: Yes; Religiously: Yes; economically: Possibly; Culturally: Yes; and Historically: Yes

???
Well, it’s in Europe so that’s a start … although more Eastern than Western, so does that still count?

Incidentally, if in order to be “of the West” one has to be “like us”, why are “we” the paradigmatic case of “The West”?

As for genetically – seriously? After being informed that one African village can be more genertically similar to Norwegians than another Afican village only 200km away, I gave up completely on the whole “genetic similarities” game.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

There are a few ‘objective’ factors that might make Israel stand out in a crowd of human rights violators. (N.B. ‘stand out’ doesn’t necessarily imply ‘is morally worse’.) Off the top of my head:

1. Maintaining one of the longest military occupations in current memory, recently involving collective punishment.
2. A unique form of ethnic discrimination in law and in practice, amounting to apartheid.
3. Almost singular persistent opposition to yearly UN resolutions calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict along the 1967 borders, etc. (Only ‘almost’ since the US, and recently Australia back the opposition.)
4. Long-term ethnic cleansing of land outside its borders via settlements and infrastructure development.
5. Unusually open and disproportionate belligerence towards an unusually large number of neighbours.

Of course, one may ask – as Paul has asked – why these factors should warrant our attention given that on the Horror Scale, they don’t come close to, e.g., what is happening in the Congo, etc.

Perhaps part of an explanation is the sheer longevity of the conflict. It is almost inevitable that one will come to know and ruminate more about a conflict, and its peculiar features, the longer it goes on. If one has been reading about the same conflict one’s entire life, as a brute fact of psychology it is just more likely to be present in one’s consciousness compared to, say, a more brutal conflict that has been going on for a ‘mere’ 10 years. An analogy might be the East Timor conflict. It went on for so long that, regardless of ‘relative bloodiness’, it just ‘stuck’ in one’s consciousness more than other more sporadic conflicts. (Incidentally, I seem to recall Ali Alitas occasionally complaining about the undue attention Indonesia received when there were other atrocities happening in the world – not that he called what was happening in East Timor ‘atrocities’.)

There are other factors which might be classified as ‘psychological resonation’, which could also contribute to an explanation of (at least) Australian concern over Israel. (Some of these have been attended to already.)

1. The sense that Israel’s state ideology is a 19th century European relic of ethnic nationalism, and so is in some sense a ‘child’ of European racist ideology, thereby resonating with our own shameful racist past.
2. That Israel’s formation was made possible by European, UK and Australian diplomatic support in the wake of WW2 in the hope that this would result in a Good State, thereby generating a sense of partial responsibility for its subsequent inhumane behaviour.
3. Combined with 2, that Israel was ‘born in sin’ – the requirement and fact of a mass expulsion of an indigenous population – having uncomfortable resonances with the formation of the British-Australian colonies and subsequent nation-state.
4. The sense of cultural and political commonality that when combined with military occupation, ethic cleansing and apartheid, shakes our confidence in the apparently inherent tolerance and justice of our own institutions. If that is what a cultured, vibrant democracy is capable of, are our institutions, which are supposed to be bulwarks against such terrible behaviour, also capable of the same under the ‘right’ conditions? (Basically, James’ point, if I understand it correctly.)
5. A ‘meme’ that coheres with a primal moral response: there is an oppressor and an oppressed, a victimiser and a victim, an ‘over-dog’ and an under-dog, the strong and the weak, a master and a slave.

A related point about resonance (but not for Australia):
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a footnote in history, not worthy of more than a minutes’ notice on a grand tour of history.
I strongly suspect that the conflict punches well above its ‘objective’ weight in the Arab world. It has a ‘psychological resonance’ – it serves as a kind of symbol of diplomatic, military and political impotence in the Arab world. It is often is close to the centre of continuing grievances that Arabs have with the US in particular. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, it really is a de facto recruiting tool of radicals. Clearly, this was wider historical implications and so may be fair grounds for elevating it from the footnotes to a paragraph in the main text.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

whoops re last para:

A related point about resonance (but not for Australia):

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a footnote in history, not worthy of more than a minutes’ notice on a grand tour of history.

I strongly suspect that the conflict punches well above its ‘objective’ weight in the Arab world. It has a ‘psychological resonance’ – it serves as a kind of symbol of diplomatic, military and political impotence in the Arab world. It is often is close to the centre of continuing grievances that Arabs have with the US in particular. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, it really is a de facto recruiting tool of radicals. Clearly, this was wider historical implications and so may be fair grounds for elevating it from the footnotes to a paragraph in the main text.

conrad
conrad
11 years ago

Patrick,

I’m just wondering what counts as “like us”, which was the initial observation. It can’t just be type of government, otherwise Japan would be “like us” (maybe they are). It may well be that what we expect is mediated by type of government. So for example, Russia, which has a government not like ours, gets off the hook because we think the government is cruddy, and Israel, which has a government perhaps like ours doesn’t. But that can’t be the whole story, as it’s easy to find countries with democratic governments that we wouldn’t care about.

As it happens, excluding government, yes I do think Russia share a common bond with European countries (why else would they let them into the European soccer tournaments :) ). How about music, science, religion, some history (remember who fought the Germans?), etc.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
11 years ago

Conrad,

Russia is a difficult one. On almost any objective scale, you’d have to say they are part of the West, but it somehow doesnt quite feel that way. Perhaps its the legacy of the Cold War experience, perhaps it is this ‘orientalism’, perhaps it is because half of Russia is in Asia and has more Asian features than other European peoples, I dont really know. But when Russia brutalises another region, it somehow doesnt quite resonate as bad as when, say, the Germans do something. Perhaps Churchill was right about the Russians.

Edward,

I wondered some of the points you bring up too. Long-standing stories do have this way of pulling you in, rather like you are anxious to know what happened with the long-standing television series you watched as a kid. But it doesnt really fit Israel that well, because there are other very long-standing conflicts that the World has all but forgotten, like the ‘Army of the Lord’ in North Africa, the long-standing guerrilla wars in some Latin American countries (I believe Columbia still has some rebels in the forest somewhere), long-standing conflicts in Asia (like the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, which is far more violent than anything concerning Israel). Hence longevity simply doesn’t cut it.
I do think it likely you are right that we expect certain things from countries with similar institutions.

As to genetics, whenever someone brings up the notion of genetic differences across groups, there is always the interjection that genetic variances within groups are much bigger than between them. I guess it had to be you this time. The point was less about some idea of genetic uniqueness of the West (because then, we’d have to include much of Northern India and Pakistan too as they are more Indo-European than many groups in Europe), but rather that if you think of the gene pool in Europe 2000 years ago, the Jews will be clearly coming from that pool in no less degree than any other group recognised as Western.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

Boarding a humanitarian flotilla that was bringing humanitarian supplies to a besieged population on the Gaza strip

LOL

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Paul:

But it doesnt really fit Israel that well, because there are other very long-standing conflicts that the World has all but forgotten

I think it fits fairly well if you include the rest of what I said – i.e. combine it with psychological resonance. E.g. the Kashmir case has little resonance for Australians – but significant resonance for Indians and Pakistanis. East-Timor had resonance for Australians, but none for Africans. And so on.

As to genetics, whenever someone brings up the notion of genetic differences across groups, there is always the interjection that genetic variances within groups are much bigger than between them. I guess it had to be you this time. The point was less about some idea of genetic uniqueness of the West … but rather that if you think of the gene pool in Europe 2000 years ago, the Jews will be clearly coming from that pool in no less degree than any other group recognised as Western.

1. The reference was to Serbians, not Jews.
2. My point – poorly and elliptically made – was that surprising findings about genetics based on actual scientific work make me sceptical about 19thC armchair generalisations about genetic similarities. E.g. to the claim “Serbians are genetically the same as Anglo-Australians (whatever that means)”, I would respond, “Show me the genetic mapping you’ve done to substantiate that point. If you have none, then what are you really basing your claim upon if not armchair hunches?”

conrad
conrad
11 years ago

I don’t want to get side-tracked by the genetic stuff, but when I was thinking of genetic similarities, I was thinking of the ones obvious (and hence important) to the average person, which are generally the ones that cause morphological similarities and differences that you can see easily. If you’re interested in actual overlap, there’s a nice wikipedia article here and somewhere or other there’s another graph showing similarity overlap according to percentage of genetics shared as a color map. It’s worthwhile noting that comparisons with African groups are generally qualitatively different(there’s a quick discussion of something close to this on the page), as I seem to remember that there’s more genetic diversity in East Africa alone than the rest of the world minus Africa combined, so if two African groups happen to be clustered next to each other in terms of genetic similarity, the genetic difference may be vastly more than if two groups from the rest of the world are clustered next to each other. This fits with your initial comment about Norwegians and Africans.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
11 years ago

Edward,

I guess I try to unpack what you call ‘psychological resonance’ into identification with recogniseable groups. Your observation that Indians and Pakistanis will ‘resonate’ to the Kashmir issue fits into that perfectly.

I have no wish to go into the genetic issue here, mainly because we seem to agree on all the facts and hence have nothing of substance to argue over. Ken’s post from a while back already tried to brooch that issue with civility and depth.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago
Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Patrick:

Eve Garrard’s piece looks like standard-fare hasbara. Problem with the ‘other side of the coin’ is the implication that flows from it: stop criticising Israel’s abuse of human rights, violation of international law, and never ever mention the 40+ year occupation. Or: until and unless every other abuse of human rights and violation of international law by every other country ceases, it is immoral to criticise Israel for its abuses of human rights and violations of international law. Or: if you single out Israel when there are other abuses occuring elsewhere, there must be some clandestine motive at work – viz. you are an anti-Semite.

One is always on a sticky wicket when attempting to downplay or justify starvation, murder and collective punishment, so I suppose one has to give some points for the sheer chutzpah of attempting it.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

It’s not an “Occupation”. The arabs started a war and lost, and in the process lost some land. That land now belongs to Israel in the same way that the United States no longer belongs to England.

Even saying the word “Occupation” is just an indicator of an Islamist apologist.

The land belongs to Israel, it’s not Israel’s fault the Arab peoples who live there are crazy retards who

A:) Instigated a war against a far superior force
B:) Refused to accept the fact that they lost said war and tried to go on living as if it never happened in the hope that nobody would notice.

There are only so many ways you can deal with people who refuse to accept reality Edward. In Australia we put them in mental institutions, in Israel they build walls around them so they won’t harm the sane people too much.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Yobbo:

It’s not an “Occupation”. The arabs started a war and lost, and in the process lost some land. That land now belongs to Israel in the same way that the United States no longer belongs to England.

Even saying the word “Occupation” is just an indicator of an Islamist apologist.

Well, put it this way: I can either go with the hasbara wording offered by someone called “Yobbo” or I can go with the wording of Resolution 242 of the United Nations Security Council. Call me and the rest of the world (including Australia) worthy of a mental institution, but I’m going to go with the UN wording on this one.

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

I can either go with the hasbara wording offered by someone called “Yobbo” or I can go with the wording of Resolution 242 of the United Nations Security Council.

On matters of this nature it is probably safest to ignore all UN Security Council resolutions. After all, the parties concerned certainly do.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

What country is Israel occupying then Edward?

anon
anon
11 years ago

“once again displayed a worrying degree of disdain for UN resolutions and basic human decency”

Ah yes… ‘once again’.. those israeli bastards, they have absolutely no human decency at all.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/Behind+the+Headlines/Israeli_humanitarian_lifeline_Gaza_25-May-2010.htm
Please note – this was posted before the Flotilla debacle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2eQGPRJdqs&feature=player_embedded
“16 June 2010 — If there is a “humanitarian” crisis, why is the flotilla’s cargo rotting on the pier? for more info, go to http://www.honestreporting.com

AAMilne, nice to see you up to your old tricks.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Yobbo:

Perhaps you should direct your question to Ariel Sharon (when he wakes up). To quote the Great Man:

It is not possible to continue holding 3 1/2 million people under occupation … You may not like the word, but what’s happening is occupation. This is a terrible thing for Israel, for the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy.

When you find out, let me know what his answer was. Thanks.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

So in other words you don’t know, Edward?

I’ll give you a hint, look at a world map and tell us what country the West Bank is in.

Actually don’t bother Edward, I’ll just tell you. It’s Israel. Same goes for Gaza.

So the question is then Edward do you believe

A: It is possibly for a country to be “occupying” their own territory?
B: That part of Israel isn’t really part of Israel due to the vibe, mabo etc?

These are serious questions Edward, because your beliefs don’t really gel with reality. The reason the Israel government doesn’t leave the “Palestinians” alone is because there are no such things as Palestinians.

There is a country called Israel and a country called Jordan (which is led by arab muslims). The hamas-led “palestinians” are simply arab Israelis who refuse to obey Israeli law because they hate Jews. It’s really no more complicated than that.

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

The hamas-led “palestinians” are simply arab Israelis who refuse to obey Israeli law because they hate Jews. It’s really no more complicated than that.

Presumably there would be some way under Israeli law for these citizens to get votes?

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Yobbo:

I’m just using the words used by the United Nations, every human rights organisation involved, the victims of the occupation, the Israeli media, and the Israeli political elite itself. I’m not doing to start calling the occupation something else just because some hasbara email has come out instructing me to do otherwise. Crazy, I know, but I’m going to go with the language used by everyone in the world if for no other reason it avoids confusion.

tell us what country the West Bank is in. Actually don’t bother Edward, I’ll just tell you. It’s Israel. Same goes for Gaza.

Oh, now I understand. You’re one of those insane ones.

But just for fun, are you suggesting that there is no need for a Two State Solution because there is already a One State Solution in effect?

So the question is then Edward do you believe
A: It is possibly for a country to be “occupying” their own territory?
B: That part of Israel isn’t really part of Israel due to the vibe, mabo etc?

I looked for a map indicating that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and bits of the Golan Heights were part of Israel-proper but was promptly innundated by a veritable sea of different maps. Which map do you suggest I use?

Also, is the Sinai Peninsula also part of Israel-proper – after all, that was also designated Occupied Territory at one point. (I’m hoping for an amusing answer here.)

The reason the Israel government doesn’t leave the “Palestinians” alone is because there are no such things as Palestinians. The hamas-led “palestinians” are simply arab Israelis who refuse to obey Israeli law because they hate Jews.

I see. So the so-called Palestinians, being within Israel (i.e. the apparently Occupied Territories) are really Israelis after all. Does the Israeli state – The Only Democracy in the Middle East – intend to give them the vote? I know that Israel extends the right to vote to some Arab Israelis, irrespective of their personal behaviour or views. Why does it deny voting rights to other “Arab Israelis” who, coincidentally, happen to live in certain areas of Israel (i.e. the apparently Occupied Territories)?

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Hasbara-anon @ #26:

Thanks for the links from “inside the Bubble”, but it would help credibility if the sources of your “information” weren’t coming from the State implicated in the humanitarian disaster and flotilla murders. The first link is to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The second link is a slightly better effort because it is at least a couple of degrees removed from the Ministry. Honestryreporting.com (now there’s an Orwellianism) is an extremist advocacy group set up by the borderline insane Aish HaTorah which works for, yes, you guessed it, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Back to the Ministry in 2 moves.)

As for Honestreporting’s insinuation that there’s no humanitarian crisis, to quote Jon Stewart,

You know, whatever you may think of the respective leaderships, the Israelis or Hamas, whatever Gods you pray to or whatever direction you may pray to them in, if you can’t even look at Gaza, and agree that there is suffering there that needs to be alleviated, no matter who’s to blame for it, then your heart is so dead, tourists flock there to float on their backs in it.

Yep.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

Oh, now I understand. You’re one of those insane ones.

Ad hom attempting to ignore the facts.

What country is it then, Edward? What country do sane people believe the West Bank is located in?

I looked for a map indicating that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and bits of the Golan Heights were part of Israel-proper but was promptly innundated by a veritable sea of different maps. Which map do you suggest I use?

Google map will do fine Edward, assuming that google aren’t part of the vast Likudnik conspiracy that you apparently believe doctors maps to edit out a non-existent country.

Also, is the Sinai Peninsula also part of Israel-proper – after all, that was also designated Occupied Territory at one point. (I’m hoping for an amusing answer here.)

No, Edward. The Sinai Peninsula is part of Egypt, now. Israel traded it to them in 1979 in exchange for the right to use the Suez canal. Previously it was part of Israel for 12 years after the six days war.

I’m sure they would work something out with the palestinian arabs too if they had something worth trading for the west bank. However, all they have ever offered is death and destruction.

anon
anon
11 years ago

You are absolutely correct. There is suffering in Gaza. And I suppose, having read the loaded and completely misinformed introduction to Paul’s original post, I should have guessed that posting a link to the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs wasn’t going to achieve any purpose. Maybe this suits your style?

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/a-huge-win-for-hamas-and-a-blow-to-israel/story-e6frg6ux-1225875661807

“Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, is the most influential foreign affairs analyst in Australian journalism. After 25 years in the field, he is a veteran of international affairs who has interviewed leaders all over the Asia Pacific and America.”

I believe he ticks all the boxes on your criteria… 1) not a Jew 2) not an Israeli.

There is suffering in Gaza, and a terrorist organisation called HAMAS is to blame for this. Maybe you have heard of them? They are the same ones that launch rockets into Israeli towns, and also the same ones who use women and children as human shields. Oh yes, and they are also the same ones that left the flotilla aid to “rot on the pier”. Yet where is the statement about Hamas’ lack of human decency?

And Ed, Hebrew doesn’t really suit you.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

Yobbo:

What country is it then.

One answer is that it’s in Israel. The problem with this is that there is universal sufferage in Israel, whereas those Arabs living in the area called the Occupied Territories – as opposed to Israeli Arabs not living in the Territories – do not have the right to vote. That would seem to indicate that the residents of the Occupied Territories are not Israeli Arabs. Since citizenship was obtainable by being a resident of Israel, it would seem that these Arabs were not residents of Israel. The only way that would be possible is if, despite being in the one place, they were not according to the Israeli government, “in” Israel. It seems to me that the issue you have is not with me, but with the Israeli government.

Another answer – and this is the mainstream one – is that it is indeterminate because not all of Israel’s borders have been legally established yet. That is, they are subject to legal dispute, and have been since 1967. Until the dispute is resolved, Israel does not seem to have legally established borders. In that case, your question “What country is it located in” makes an elementary error of presupposition – as in “When did you stop beating your wife?”

anon
anon
11 years ago

James Farrell said:

By the way, in case it’s of use to anyone, there’s what seems to me a fairly balanced assessemnt of the raid in The New Republic today.

It was of use to me. Thank you for the link.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

anon said:

Maybe this suits your style? … Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor … I believe he ticks all the boxes on your criteria… 1) not a Jew 2) not an Israeli.

Greg Sheridan? Surely you jest? You probably offered this because you have presumptively misidentified my criterion, which has nothing to do with being Israeli, Jewish, Catholic or Calathumpian. My criterion is: does the source unreflectively regurgitate the line of the alleged offender – in this particular case, the Israeli government? That’s why I ignore spin-releases by the Israeli government “reporting” on the Israeli flotilla raid. It’s also why I ignore spin-releases by the Iranian government on the Iranian elections; and spin-releases by the Turkish military on the PKK; etc.

Sheridan fails to meet the criterion in spades as is attested to by every single article he has ever written, taken individually and as a body of work. He is, after all, the 2007 winner of the State Zionist Council of NSW’s “Jerusalem Prize”, which, according to President Frank Levy, “is awarded to someone who fosters and supports the state of Israel and its ideologies, the concept of the Jewish homeland and the Jewish community, particularly in Australia.” Sheridan used to unreflectively regurgitate the line of the another human rights abuser, Indonesian government under President Soeharto. I didn’t give his opinion pieces on Indonesia any more credence than I do his opinion pieces on Israel.

anon
anon
11 years ago

So if someone supports israel, or is seen to possess any sort of bias, then anything they say is just a big load of rubbish?

One could quite easily dismiss anything you say, based on your obvious political agenda.

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

So if someone supports israel, or is seen to possess any sort of bias, then anything they say is just a big load of rubbish?

A coin with heads on both sides is still a coin. Gets boring playing two-up that way though! Interesting if you could find a link to somewhere Greg Sheridan has been critical of Israel and supportive of Islam.

http://www.salon.com/news/israel_flotilla_attack/index.html?story=/news/feature/2010/06/16/israel_lobby_genocide_armenia

Then it hit me. Even as the paper was nominating one of my other stories for a Pulitzer Prize, on this story I was an Armenian.

The official explanation was a beauty. The managing editor said I was not an objective reporter because I had once signed a petition stating that the Armenian Genocide was a historical fact.

I had never signed such a petition. But if I had, how did this prove bias? Our own style book at the Times recognized the genocide as a historical fact.

“Would you tell a Jewish reporter that he couldn’t write about Holocaust denial because he believed the Holocaust was a fact?” I asked.

Thus I can spot Sheridan’s small piece of genuine analysis:

The second main strategic result of the Gaza flotilla is the estrangement of Turkey from Israel. Most Israeli strategic analysts believe this was always a deliberate strategy by the pro-Islamist Turkish government, which sponsored the flotilla: that Ankara, having neutered its own military, has now decided to become a Sunni Islamist nation.

Looks like both sides are doing their best to ensure the estrangement continues, with Israel turning around to promote awareness of the Armenian genocide. No doubt a bit of tit-for-tat saber rattling will boost arms budgets. Win-win as they say.

anon
anon
11 years ago

Interesting if you could find a link to somewhere Greg Sheridan has been critical of Israel and supportive of Islam.

Who said anything about Islam? So is it Islam vs Israel now? Or Islam vs Jews? Or the world vs Jews? World vs Islam? What exactly are we talking about?

I might add that some of Israel’s harshest critics are left-leaning Atheists.

As far as Turkey is concerned, it really saddens me that, as an Israeli born Jew, I probably would never be able to go there again in my lifetime. It is by far, one of my favourite countries with some of my favourite people. Muslims included by the way.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

What is there to be supportive about in Islam?

That’s like asking for someone who is supportive of paedophilia or torture.

Hint: If someone is “supportive of Islam”, there’s probably something seriously wrong with them. All religions are malevolent to differing degrees, and Islam is the worst of the lot.

They are tolerated because old habits die hard, but they are for the most part forces of evil.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

Another answer – and this is the mainstream one – is that it is indeterminate because not all of Israel’s borders have been legally established yet. That is, they are subject to legal dispute, and have been since 1967.

Even if that is the case, Edward, the fact is that there are only 2 choices here. Israel or Jordan.

If it was part of Jordan, you might expect the Jordanian authorities to care a lot more about it. But they couldn’t give a toss which suggests that it’s really Israel.

The deluded though, claim that it’s part of some mythical other country, neither Israel or Jordan, which exists purely because Islamist sympathisers wish it to. That is not the case, and never will be, no matter how much the haters of western of society would like it to be the case.

anon
anon
11 years ago

If someone is “supportive of Islam”, there’s probably something seriously wrong with them

uh…… okaaaaay.

You remind me of my father’s stupid wife who believes that all Jews are barbarians because they circumcise their sons, because that’s about the only thing she knows about Judaism.

No offense.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

Circumcision has definitive medical benefits, it’s about as barbaric as Muelsing or tail docking.

But there’s certainly not much to like about religion, no matter which one we are talking about.

It’s simply a way in which primitive humans sought to allay the fear of death, and because that fear is so strong, religion has been used to justify countless atrocities in the past and continuing today.

Religion has very little to be proud of in all honesty. About the best thing you can say about it is that it is a good way to motivate large numbers of people, which probably came in handy in the days before Currency, but is largely unnecessary now.

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

anon @ #37:

So if someone supports israel, or is seen to possess any sort of bias, then anything they say is just a big load of rubbish?

Nope. To repeat, my criterion is: does the source unreflectively regurgitate the line of the alleged offender? If yes, then ignore. If no, then seriously consider what they report.

One could quite easily dismiss anything you say, based on your obvious political agenda.

My “political agenda” is that all actors in the conflict behave in an ethical manner. An example of behaving ethically is: don’t kill innocent people. The same goes for supporters of various actors. An example would be: don’t try to justify, excuse or make a virtue of killing innocent people.

Yobbo @ 41:

Another answer – and this is the mainstream one – is that it is indeterminate because not all of Israel’s borders have been legally established yet. That is, they are subject to legal dispute, and have been since 1967.

Even if that is the case, Edward, the fact is that there are only 2 choices here. Israel or Jordan.

I don’t have time to explain the details of international law to you. Briefly, since Israel invaded and occupied the territories in 1967, over which it had no legal claim, Israel has legal responsibility for the welfare of the population in that territory, however, does not have the right to unilaterally claim that territory now falls within its borders. (This is because it is illegal to unilaterally acquire territory beyond one’s borders by means of war.) As it stands, the Occupied Territories thus does not constitute a nation-state in itself, nor is it ‘part’ of Israel (or Jordan, or New Zealand, etc.). As to whether, in the future, the territories (a) become an independent internationally recognised nation-state, or (b) are legally absorbed into Israel, Jordan, New Zealand or whomever, is a matter for negotiation and decision-making on the part of the various parties. At present, no-one seems interested in option (b), whilst option (a) also seems increasingly impractical due to the Israeli state’s tolerance of continued building of fundamentalist settlements in the West Bank. As such, we can expect more of the same in the future.

anon
anon
11 years ago

Edward, would you say that you are completely impartial with respect to Israel? I mean, it seems that you view them as some sort of rogue state that are illegally occupying land, are the cause of the Palestinian people’s suffering, and are governed by morally degenerate murderers.. and if you believe that to be true (and I can’t doubt that you do), then why would you post/write/say anything contrary to that belief? If Greg Sheridan doesn’t feel it is necessary to write some favourable rhetoric about Israel’s opponents in order to be “neutral” or “balanced” then good!

does the source unreflectively regurgitate the line of the alleged offender?

That’s funny – because from where I’m sitting, that is exactly what you are doing – regurgitating the line of the alleged offender (hamas, IHH, Recep Erdogan etc).

People who initiate violent clashes with the soldiers, including stabbing, shooting and beating with clubs, are hardly “innocent” in the eyes of our own society’s laws, so why should it be any different in international waters? Does having soldiers board your ship give you a Carte blanche to act like a savage?

On another note, have you ever written or said one negative thing about Hamas?

anon
anon
11 years ago

Circumcision has definitive medical benefits, it’s about as barbaric as Muelsing or tail docking.

Tail docking IS barbaric and should not even be put in the same sentence as circumcision. As for its supposed medical benefits, alas, there are none. It is a common misconception. However…. It is part of Jewish culture, society, religion etc. And my point (no pun intended), which you sadly missed, is that making blanket statements (which are quite ridiculous) about Islam or any other religion (or any ethnic group for that matter) only highlights one’s limited knowledge and limited tolerance.

I wouldn’t get into a religious debate with you, because I’m not even religious, and quite frankly, I couldn’t be bothered.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

Tail docking IS barbaric and should not even be put in the same sentence as circumcision. As for its supposed medical benefits, alas, there are none. It is a common misconception.

It’s not a misconception at all. Circumcision has been shown to drastically reduce the chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections, not to mention making daily hygiene easier (especially for the aged or disabled.)

anon
anon
11 years ago

It’s not a misconception at all. Circumcision has been shown to drastically reduce the chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections

I’m the last person in the world to harp on against circumcision, and now we are really deviating from the topic at hand, but.. from the article you posted, it states that they used a group of 3000 Ugandan men as the test population.. That is hardly “randomized” and any conclusions drawn from this study are a far cry from medical proof. As for preventing HIV or other STDs, what ever happened to a good old fashioned condom?

Edward Mariyani-Squire
Edward Mariyani-Squire
11 years ago

anon @ 45:

I mean, it seems that you view them [Israel] as some sort of rogue state

Rogue is a vague term. If it means that the state is acting in controvention of international law, then yes. That, of course, does not distinguish it as particularly special. Many states behave in such a fashion.

that are illegally occupying land

If we were in, say, 1968, 1969, or even 1970, then I would say ‘no’, if only because it takes time for a state to extricate itself from land it has invaded. But we’re talking about 43 years. That’s more looks like a genuine unwillingness to leave invaded land, i.e., annexation – esp. when it involves building infrastructure (houses, roads, walls, fences, etc.) on that land, and esp. when the government openly declares that it is opposed to ever leaving.

are the cause of the Palestinian people’s suffering

The state is certainly a central cause. I mean, just to take the case of Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, stated quite unequivocally that the Israel govt was trying to be the cause of Palestinian people’s suffering! I’m sure you know the quote:

“It’s like a meeting with a dietitian. We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death.”

This is not to say the Israeli government’s policies are the only cause, of course. Another is the hopelessly inept, inefficient and morally bankrupt Fatah leadership on the one hand, and the increasingly draconian Hamas leadership on the other.

and are governed by morally degenerate murderers.

I think killing innocent people, esp. children, and collective punishment is morally degenerate. This, of course, is not to say that all Israeli politicians – let alone Israelis in general – are morally degenerate. Nor is it to single out Israeli politicians as somehow special. Faced with similar circumstances, I would expect many politicians to be morally degenerate, as is indeed the case in a number of countries right now.

People who initiate violent clashes with the soldiers, including stabbing, shooting and beating with clubs, are hardly “innocent” in the eyes of our own society’s laws, so why should it be any different in international waters?

Because when forcibly boarding a vessel in international waters one is, legally speaking, invading the territory of the country from whence that vessel hailed – in this case, Turkey. Further, when a vessel is in international waters and is boarded by a hostile force intent on taking control of the vessel, it’s called “piracy”. Piracy is illegal and the occupants of the vessel are allowed to attempt to repel and defend themselves against the pirates. In that case, the occupants of the vessel(s) were all innocent under the law.

Does having soldiers board your ship give you a Carte blanche to act like a savage?

It gives the occupants of the vessel the right to repel and defend themselves against pirates, who in this case, also happened to be soldiers.

On another note, have you ever written or said one negative thing about Hamas?

How about this:

Hamas is a awful organisation, first, for its Charter which is both revolting and idiotic, second, for its use (in the past) of suicide bombers and its indiscriminate shelling of Israeli towns without regard for the lives of innocent civilians, and third, for its increasingly draconian enforcement of religiously based laws on the people of Gaza.

Yobbo
Yobbo
11 years ago

Anon, there have been plenty of studies of the effects of circumcision, here’s another one: http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/65D8D8DE-0C2B-4E68-A1B5-BA74EF88EEC1.asp

It’s pretty apparent and you’d be hard pressed to find any serious medico who disagrees – circumcision is a significant protection against many forms of STD’s. That alone makes it worth the 1-2 days of pain a baby might experience from the procedure, when it can reduce your chances of contracting a killer disease by over 50%.