17 March 2010

Israel -- a serious liberal view

Thre are three issues on which many liberals hold views which are in serious conflict with essential principles of liberalism. On two of these -- gun rights and illegal aliens -- I've written a lot already, though not recently. But it's the third -- Israel and its conflict with Islam -- on which the desertion of principle is most flagrant.

There are very few cases in which it is so blindingly clear, from a liberal viewpoint, who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. It's sometimes said that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East (not quite true -- Turkey mostly qualifies), but the more important point is that it's the only liberal society in the region, the only one which accepts a broad pluralism in ways of life. It's the only country in the region where women, gays, and atheists can live free and normal lives -- the only one in which my own life would not be in immediate danger if I were there and the people around me knew what my beliefs are. The only place nearby that even comes close is the exception that proves the rule -- the enclave of Lebanon where non-Muslims and non-Muslim influences dominate. The Muslim countries around Israel are deeply under the benighted sway of religion, where women risk honor killings if they get out of line, gays face the harshest penalties (Jordan is an exception), and open atheism is almost unthinkable.

Israel does have some onerous religion-inspired laws, but this is due to its electoral system which gives the small ultra-Orthodox religious minority an excessive political influence. The secular majority resents these laws as the secular majority in the US would resent, say, a re-imposition of blue laws by the Christian Right. Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel looks pretty much like hard-line religion looks anywhere else -- pious old bearded men in charge, restrictions on women's dress and social roles, etc. -- but the vast majority of Israeli society is nothing like that.

Zionist settlement in what was then Palestine extends back to the late nineteenth century, almost as far as the settlement of much of the western United States. During the decades between then and 1947, the Jewish and Muslim populations both grew rapidly, both fueled largely by immigration -- Jewish settlers came mostly from Europe, Muslims from surrounding countries due to the attraction of the economy the settlers were building.

Soon after the British mandate of Palestine was established after World War I, the British separated the eastern three-quarters of its territory to form the state of Transjordan (later Jordan), which became fully independent in 1946. There is already a Palestinian state making up three-quarters of Palestine's original territory. The remaining one-fourth, a bit larger than Wales, comprises Israel proper plus the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

During Israel's 1947-1948 war of independence, around 700,000 Muslims fled or were expelled from what became Israel proper, to the West Bank, Gaza, and nearby Muslim countries. A similar number of Jews fled or were expelled from Muslim countries and took refuge in Israel -- there was an exchange of population. Israel successfully assimilated this influx, despite the fact that it actually outnumbered Israel's existing Jewish population at that time. During roughly the same period, Germany assimilated millions of refugees from the trans-Oder-Neiße region and the Sudetenland, India and Pakistan absorbed millions of refugees from each other, large numbers of refugees from eastern Europe were resettled in western Europe and the US, etc. Two decades earlier, war between Greece and Turkey had driven hundreds of thousands of refugees in both directions, which both countries also assimilated. Losses of territory and flows of refugees were a common result of major wars at that time. Only the Palestinians reacted (or in some cases, were pressured by Muslim regimes to react) by clinging to an impossible irredentism instead of assimilation into the countries where they had taken refuge.

Various coalitions of Muslim countries have launched several wars and terror campaigns with the intent of destroying Israel; in one of these, in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, giving the conflict the geographical configuration it still roughly has today. Note that between 1948 and 1967 when the West Bank and Gaza were in Muslim hands, there was no move to make them a state; the West Bank was part of the real Palestinian state, Jordan.

Israel's often-harsh policies toward the Muslim population under its rule may be rooted in the fact that half its Jewish population is descended from Jewish refugees from Muslim lands -- victims of centuries of oppression who now have the upper hand over the former oppressor. By analogy, imagine if, after our own Civil War, ex-slaves had been given a slice of Confederate territory to set up their own independent nation, and had then fended off several efforts by the surrounding "white" states to re-conquer them.

The misinterpretations of all this history which are rife on the left result from trying to force it into a "Western colonialism" template which it does not fit. If anything, I view the establishment of Israel and of the Maronite enclave in Lebanon in the same light as the earlier European re-conquest of the Balkans, Spain, and Sicily -- a rolling back of the wave of Islamic colonialism which had swept over so much of the world centuries before.

During the 43 years that the West Bank has been under Israeli control, urban sprawl around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv has spread into it across the old borderline (this accounts for much of the "settlement" activity) -- an almost inevitable development given the small size of the whole territory. Other settlements have been established throughout the West Bank, some by ultra-Orthodox groups and some by the Israeli government, with the explicit aim of making sure that it would remain part of Israel forever.

Which brings me to the recent flare-up of conflict between the Obama administration and Israel over the settlements.

Here is the reality of the situation: Israel cannot give up control over the West Bank. Without the West Bank, Israel's coastal plain, which contains most of its population, would be reduced to a width of between nine and thirteen miles -- a shorter distance than many Americans commute to work. The main cities would be within range of the same kind of rocket attacks which Muslims in newly-independent Gaza recently rained down on southern Israeli towns, until the much-criticized Israeli re-invasion of Gaza put a stop to them. Aside from rocket attacks, such a loss of strategic depth would handicap Israel in a wide range of scenarios. The fact that it has nuclear weapons does not render such considerations obsolete. The US, Russia, Britain, and other countries have much larger nuclear arsenals than Israel, yet they too remain concerned about conventional strategic issues which affect national security.

The situation is analogous to that of Czechoslovakia before 1938. The Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia was geographically essential to the country's ability to defend itself; but because its population was ethnically German, Western democracies forced democratic Czechoslovakia to hand it over to fascist Germany in exchange for promises of lasting peace. As we all know, Germany simply invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia a few months later. Western pressure on Israel to hand over the West Bank to Muslim control (if successful) might not similarly result in the destruction of Israel within a few months, but it is nevertheless a horrifyingly blind repetition of a shameful history.

This is why no Israeli government can stop building settlements on the West Bank. Whatever Israel may feel compelled to say for diplomatic reasons, it needs to keep on integrating the territory irreversably into itself. There can be no second Munich.

It's worth looking, here, at why this conflict has dragged on for so long. Wars normally end when one side decisively defeats the other and imposes peace terms of its own choosing. When a war instead ends with an armistice and negotiations, as World War I did, the result is often a new war later on. If the 1947-1948 war of independence had been a "normal" war, with Israel completely smashing its enemies and dictating terms after an unconditional surrender, that would probably have been the end of the conflict. Instead, every war has resulted in a cease-fire and endless rounds of the grotesquely-misnamed "peace process". Since the conflict has never been allowed to be ended, it simply continues.

The Sudetenland issue was resolved at the end of World War II when Czechoslovakia regained the territory, expelled the ethnic German population from it, and settled it with ethnic Czechs. The eventual resolution of the West Bank issue is unlikely to be so decisive, if only because most Israeli leaders lack the ruthlessness for it. But the much-touted high Muslim birth rate in the West Bank, which was supposed to threaten Israel with demographic conquest from within if it kept the territory, has been decreasing and will continue to do so; Israel's Jewish population has been increased by an influx of Jews from the former Soviet bloc; a trickle of Muslims emigrates from the West Bank to friendlier countries, a trend which would increase if it were made more clear that Israel will never give up the land. Over time these factors in combination will make the West Bank more digestible. Such a victory of a pluralistic society over jihadist irredentism should be celebrated, not obstructed.

That is the reality of the situation. I don't know whether the public American commitment to an eventual (second) Palestinian state on the West Bank, and the resulting on-and-off squabbles with Israel over the settlements, are the real US position or a sort of theater to curry favor with Islamic countries. Either way, such behavior is neither honorable nor realistic. Even less so is the naïve rhetoric of liberals condemning the embattled nation which, alone in the region, shares our pluralistic social ideals.


Blogger Holte Ender said...

Very interesting post, but could it be fair to say, even though Israelis are more tolerant and democratic than their neighbors, the claim to the land is rooted in religion. God granted the land to them apparently, so it must be theirs. The Balfour Declaration suggested that a Jewish homeland should be established in Palestine under the condition that the rights and religion of non-Jewish residents be not interfered with. The fledgling UN wanted Jerusalem to be a international city administered by themselves. That would have been much better. I agree about the "peace-process" such an inappropriate word, I can see no peace, everything has become way to personal.

17 March, 2010 07:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

HE: the claim to the land is rooted in religion. God granted the land to them apparently, so it must be theirs.

In the eyes of religious Jews (and American fundamentalists), probably so; I doubt the secular majority today attaches much importance to this. Most countries, of course, hold their territory based on the simple "right" of conquest by their ancestors, if one goes back far enough.

The Balfour Declaration suggested that a Jewish homeland should be established in Palestine under the condition that the rights and religion of non-Jewish residents be not interfered with.

True, but such matters are mostly of academic interest at this point. The US violated many of the treaties it made with Indian tribes more than a century ago, but while this is a fact of history, few people today would argue that it undermines the validity of the US's claim to the land which makes it up today.

One could argue that those provisions of the Declaration became untenable when the surrounding Muslim countries attacked the new state and forced it to fight for its existence. No country worries much about 30-year-old legalities under such dire conditions.

I've often thought it would have been more just if the Jewish nation-state had been established after 1945 on some suitable expropriated area of Germany (Schleswig-Holstein, say) after clearing the German population off. This would at least have given them territory at the expense of their immediate persecutors. But the Muslim historical record of persecution of Jews is as long as Germany's, even if it lacks a specific episode similar to the Holocaust.

In 2010, of course, Israel's claim to the land which comprises it is the same as the US's or Britain's claim to their own territory -- the simple fact that the country is there, and has been there for generations. My point is, it's now no different in this respect from any other country.

17 March, 2010 08:52  
Blogger TomCat said...

Infidel, that's a good analysis of the history, except for one thing. In return for peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, Israel agreed by treaty to a two state solution in which Gaza (formerly part of Egypt) and the west bank (formerly part of Jordan) would be reserved for a Palestinian state. Israel agreed to that treaty of their own free will. The US objection to settlements goes to Israel's treaty violation.

17 March, 2010 08:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

TC: Agreed, or was pressured into agreeing? (Again, as Czechoslovakia was coerced into agreeing to hand over essential territory.) Either way, it's not realistic to expect Israel to abide by such a provision when time has shown it would be so dangerous, perhaps even national suicide. No other country would do so, or would be expected to do so.

17 March, 2010 08:58  
Blogger dotlizard said...

I've always suspected that liberal objections to Israel were rooted in the fact that neo-cons are notoriously pro-Israel. During the early 00's (post 9/11), there was a veritable explosion of neo-con war-hawkery, and they embraced Israel as a powerful ally in an important strategic location -- a nuclear state with mandatory military service for all citizens, and a reputation for enhanced interrogation techniques and general badassitude. These things are a neo-con's wet dream come true.

Bush and Cheney were big fans too, so with all that hawkish admiration, the default position for those who opposed that administration and its supporters was to oppose the things they were in favor of.

It sounds really odd as I type it out, but the truth is, there are damn few things (if any) that could be considered a point of agreement between the far right and far left wings -- if one side takes up a cause, the other seems duty bound to oppose it, almost reflexively.

I'm trying to think of an example of something that either the left or right wing is enthusiastically in support of, that the other side doesn't think is the very essence of evil. Stuff like puppies or oxygen or boobies or pie doesn't count, of course -- I'm just trying to think of one *issue* that you could, say, bring before the House or Senate, and not have them split roughly on party lines.

Or on a smaller scale, imagine a party with RedState and HuffPo bloggers -- would they agree on anything? The hostess's gown, the hors d'oeuvres, the weather? The only thing they'd agree on is that the other side is wrong.

Maybe the neo-cons actually despise Israel, so they say nice things about them to make the liberals hate them?

17 March, 2010 19:25  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

GL: I've always suspected that liberal objections to Israel were rooted in the fact that neo-cons are notoriously pro-Israel.

In the case of hard-liners, that might well be true. There are hard-line leftists who denounce anyone who deviates from orthodoxy as a closet rightist (and right-wing hard-liners who do the equivalent to deviants from their catechism). There are even some substantive objections, of course. I'm no fan of "mandatory military service for all citizens, and a reputation for enhanced interrogation techniques", or militarism in general. But it's also obvious to me that those things are not "natural" to Israeli society -- they wouldn't have developed without the constant external threat, and would probably disappear quickly if the external threat were permanently removed.

Radicals at both ends of the political spectrum may well choose some of their views just on the basis of being opposite to the other side, but most people aren't radicals, even if the political establishment ends up being dominated by the most ideological (or venal, which is another problem) people. I've been surprised how many ordinary, rank-and-file liberals agree with me about illegal aliens, for example, even if the ideologists are inclined to scream nasty names at any hint of dissent on that issue. My most recent girlfriend was probably more "left" politically than I am, but she owned a gun. I've heard that support for Israel is fairly strong among the generally-liberal US gay community, at least, because of the kinds of reasons I state in the posting -- they know they could exist in Israel without being persecuted, but not in any islamic country.

The same applies on the other side, too. Polls have shown that significant numbers of rank-and-file Republicans favor things like a public option as part of health reform, even if the hard-line Republicans in Congress view the idea as almost the mark of Satan because Democrats support it.

there are damn few things (if any) that could be considered a point of agreement between the far right and far left wings

I can't think of any examples either. We need to actively work to marginalize the extremists -- our own as well as the right-wing ones. Most liberals and conservatives are more moderate and there are potential areas of agreement or at least collaboration.

Israel is an example. If it weren't for one bunch of nuts yelling about colonialism and "oppressed" Muslims, and the other bunch of nuts praying that it's a sign of imminent Armageddon and the return of Jesus, we'd probably find that most people would see basic sense, at least if they were better informed.

Thanks for visiting, as always.

17 March, 2010 19:51  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

This is a truly outstanding post, at least in my opinion, having lived and worked in Israel (for non- religious reasons) and having had dealings with Israeli Jews, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and Bedouins.

I hope you will not mind my making a few comments:

1.There was an Arab presence in Israel, although small and relatively backward. If you are interested, I suggest you read the relevant parts of Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad," which contains a description of Israel from the late 1860's, by someone with no axe to grind. As for Jews, they had always attempted to return to Israel, but had been largely kept out for centuries by the Ottoman Empire, until its decline made it so desperate for money that it began to allow Jews to develop the land, as no one else seemed to be interested in doing so.

2. In the early 1920's, Britain, which had the mandate over large parts of the Mideast, decided to combine three Turkish vilayets into a new country, ruled over by a puppet king, because they (largely in the person of one Winston Churchill) didn't want to bear the cost of their mandatory duties. Unfortunately, this puppet king had a much more aggressive and intelligent brother, who the British bought off by making him the king of a new country- what we now know as Jordan. This country is now known as Iraq. Thus, self-serving British tampering left the Jews and the Palestinians to fight over the land that was to have been the Jewish state.

3. Your point about the Sudetenland is so important. The population transfers after 1948 were clearly based on the precedent established in the Sudetenland and must be understood in light of the international acceptance of such arrangements.

4.Having, as I said, lived in Israel, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about Sephardic Jews displaced from Arab lands. In this country we rarely encounter Sephardic Jews, and most people are unaware of their existence, let alone that it is they who have always made up the bulk of Likud voters.

Now, I must say that I feel you have gone rather lightly on Israel. Over the years, the Israelis have engaged in conduct which has been unhelpful to say the least, and this should not be forgotten. Nevertheless, you are so right in your rejection of the notion of Jews as Western colonialist oppressors and Arabs as freedom fighters. Thanks for going over this history.

17 March, 2010 20:20  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Just wanted to say that I thought this was an excellent posting. I have wrote some myself on this in the past, and it seem's to be a difficult subject for many American's. Thank You Sir!

17 March, 2010 23:56  
Blogger dotlizard said...

Marginalizing the fringe elements -- on both sides -- is an awesome idea. I think liberals in general already have a pretty good handle on marginalizing within their own groups (see "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"), and more and more I see reasonable conservatives disassociating themselves from the wingnuts, so there is reason to be hopeful.

The thing that's working most against us is the MSM -- fringe elements make excellent infotainment, but, I do hear more and more thoughtful voices these days, so again, hopeful :)

Whether you're left or right, a powerful, socially progressive (by comparison) ally in the middle east is a very good thing.

18 March, 2010 00:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

GE: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I do know that Arab Muslims were the majority in Palestine in the 19th century and, in fact, up until the war of independence; I mentioned the Muslim immigration from surrounding countries during the mandate period because histories tend to imply that the remarkable Muslim population growth in Palestine in that period was solely due to natural increase, whereas in fact by the 1940s both Jews and Muslims there included large numbers of recent immigrants and their descendants.

There is a certain zig-zag at one point on the Jordanian-Saudi border which the local people call Churchill's Hiccup. The story goes that Churchill was drawing the border on a map when he hiccuped, causing his pen to jerk. Doubtless untrue, but it expresses how casual (and careless) the colonial powers were in carving up land and peoples for new political units in those days.

People nowadays talk about the expulsion of the Palestinians as if it were something unique. As you say, it wasn't unique or even, at that time, very unusual. It's their hopelessly unrealistic response that's unique.

That must have been fascinating living in Israel. It hope you'll write a post about it at some point (or maybe you already have).

It's true that Israel has sometimes done unjust things. I didn't focus on that here because I think Israel's misdeed already receive plenty of attention, and are dwarfed by those of its enemies.

18 March, 2010 06:25  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC: Thanks. It's curious that some people find Israel a difficult subject -- Israel has some historical similarities with the US if you think about it. Maybe some people like to project our own historical sins onto an outside scapegoat they can more comfortably condemn.

18 March, 2010 06:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

GL: I think the left has long done a better job at keeping its fringe elements on the margins, though some on the right are indeed working on it -- see for example the Frum Forum in my links list.

Besides the MSM, fringe elements on each side are propaganda fodder for the other. Right-wing bloggers often take the most extreme and outrageous leftist they can find, declare him typical of everybody of the left, and then take a good long wallow in bloviation. I've see left-wing bloggers to the same with outrageous right-wing fringe types. The best way to de-fuse that weapon is for the moderates on each side to denounce their own nutcases themselves.

18 March, 2010 06:32  
Anonymous MadMike said...

Whew...great post but will require a reread...I shall return :-)

18 March, 2010 13:16  
Blogger TomCat said...

Just to be clear, I fully support a US guarantee of Israel's existence and territorial integrity. In the treaty negotiations, that guarantee, not pressure, was key to Israel's acceptance of the treaty.

I agree that some progressives are anti-Israel, because neocons are pro Israel. I am not one of them. My objections are to Israel's behavior.

19 March, 2010 13:07  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Any bad behavior by Israel is far outstripped by that of its neighbors; it is, therefore, the latter who should be opposed and condemned on that basis.

19 March, 2010 13:58  
Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

At first, I hesitated to respond to this post because this can be a contentious subject even within families.

One of my ancestors perished in the Holocaust, and the reason why Israel was established is not lost on me. When I hear the refrain, “never again,” it holds different meanings to different people. To Meir Kahane of the Kach Party and the JDL, it was a declaration of self-defense.

There are folks who resent attempts to universalize the Holocaust and put it in a humanistic context … who resent turning it into “a teaching moment” for the benefit of human kind without 'the Jew in situ.'

I don’t think my great-grandfather would agree. He was an academic, a scholar, and a leading intellectual of his time. Originally interned in Terezin, he died en route to Auschwitz. If he could speak today, I believe he would have preferred the humanistic view: “Never again to ANY human being,” and I believe he should be honored in terms consistent with his life and values.

Years ago, I was living in London, a graduate student at LSE. When I returned home on holiday, there was a discussion around the family dinner one night about the first Infitada and European press accounts thereof. I mentioned a video clip, specifically an Israeli soldier trying to break the arm of a subdued Palestinian boy as one would snap a twig over one’s knee. If I were the kid’s father, I added, I would probably throw rocks too.

After a moment of silence, this was said to me: “Son, I always knew you were a closet anti-Semite.” I reminded my mother that in Israel, unlike my own family, there was a peace movement where one enjoyed freedom of conscience without being called an “anti-Semite.”

This kind of hyperbole is still used today to disabuse people of their opinions and shut down an honest debate.

19 March, 2010 23:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Octopüß: I don't see what that has to do with the post at all. Nowhere in it do I even raise the issue of critics of Israel being motivated by anti-Semitism, though I'm sure some (not all) of them are. I simply point out that they are wrong, based on the facts of the situation. Others may use such "hyperbole", but I didn't -- I didn't mention the Holocaust at all. You're reacting to something that isn't there.

If the implication is that Israel's actions in self-defense (and the very occasional atrocities which happen, as they do in all armies, even the most civilized) are even remotely comparable to the Holocaust, then that's not anti-Semitic, it's as deranged as the teabaggers painting Obama as Hitler because of health-care reform.

20 March, 2010 01:34  
Anonymous NickM said...

A few years ago the annual schlockfest that is the Eurovision Song Contest (look it up Americans - it's outstanding crap) was won by an Israeli transexual. Can you for a minute imagine any Islamic state allowing a transexual to represent them in even this most ludicrous of contests?

No, you can't. And that is why Israel is on the side of the angels.

"In 2010, of course, Israel's claim to the land which comprises it is the same as the US's or Britain's claim to their own territory -- the simple fact that the country is there, and has been there for generations. My point is, it's now no different in this respect from any other country."

Precisely Infidel. It as though I flew across the Atlantic bearing a flag and proclaimed this land the property of George III. It's gone. Us Brits seem to have gotten over that a long time ago.

20 March, 2010 10:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Can you for a minute imagine any Islamic state allowing a transexual to represent them in even this most ludicrous of contests?

I can't for a minute imagine any Islamic state allowing a transsexual, period.

Some of those ultra-Orthodox rabbis must have foamed up pretty well, but I imagine they're used to that.

Years ago I read of a gay Palestinian from Gaza who had moved to Tel Aviv. Asked what would happen if he went back to Gaza, he said, "The police would kill me -- if my father didn't do it first."

It's gone. Us Brits seem to have gotten over that a long time ago.

Without the ability to do this, peace would become impossible. Just imagine what a hash Europe would become if every country were to claim whatever land it held 100 years or so ago.

20 March, 2010 10:32  
Blogger John Myste said...

I rarely post a comment that says "great post," unless I have more to say. Those who compose greatness know. However, this was a truly outstanding anaysis from what I can tell and I think it deserves to be singled out on that basis, as I am sure Tomcat will agree.

07 February, 2011 22:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

JM: Thanks! I do think it's one of my better oes.

08 February, 2011 01:30  
Anonymous Sam240 said...

At the time you wrote this, Cyprus was arguably the only democracy in the Middle East. If the West Bank is an integral part of Israel, as you claim, and if it is also true that most of the people who were born in the West Bank are ineligible to vote in Israeli elections, then how could one claim that Israel is a democracy? It's like calling apartheid South Africa a democracy on the grounds that blacks are really citizens of their own homelands.

More to the point, I cannot accept the position that a country where genocide denial is a national policy is the good guy in anything. Yair Auron's book, The Banality of Denial, makes it clear that Israel has a long history of denying the Armenian Genocide. The Israeli government once tried to shut down a conference on the Holocaust and genocide because some participants were presenting papers referring to the Armenian genocide!

There is a small population of ethnic Armenians in Israel/Palestine. If Israel is the good guy, and the Palestinians are the bad guys, then Israel would treat its Armenian population the way it treats its Jews, and the Palestinians would persecute the Armenians. If the Palestinians were the good guys and Israel were the bad guys, we would see the reverse. Finally, if both sides gave ethnic Armenians the same treatment, there would be no way to

Dr. Albert Aghazarian is a native of Jerusalem whose father was a survivor of the Armenian genocide. He has pointed out that, generally, the Arabs of Palestine have treated ethnic Armenians as equals, while the Jews of Israel have treated the Armenians as non-Jews, and thus as inferior human beings. Note that, since Israel took over Jerusalem's Old City in 1967, not a single Armenian homeowner there has been issued a government permit that would allow them to renovate their homes -- a clear-cut case of discrimination.

Israel treats Armenians the same way it treats Arabs. While the Israeli government claims that national security concerns drive its treatment of Arabs, it has been unable to use that rationale to excuse its treatment of Armenians. It is impossible to come up with any security-related rationale for this behavior. I can only conclude that racism drives the treatment.

If there is a side of the angels in the region, it is much closer to Dr. Aghazarian's position within the Palestinians than it is to the Israeli government.

(A final note about Auron's book: while he doesn't mention it, the rhetoric of Armenian genocide deniers is chillingly similar to the pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian arguments made by Zionists. Perhaps that's one reason Israel wants people to forget about the Armenian genocide.)

15 May, 2013 20:01  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Apparently the Israeli state has had a policy of downplaying the Armenian genocide for the sake of relations with Turkey, its only nearby Muslim ally. This is certainly a morally bankrupt position, but unfortunately it's a common thing for countries to do -- the US has routinely downplayed the crimes of thuggish allies like the Shah of Iran or the Central American caudillo states in the 1980s, while those crimes were happening and not generations after the fact. There's no basis for singling Israel out.

As for the West Bank, either option -- giving up the territory or giving its inhabitants the vote within Israel -- would pose an existential threat to the country. It's easy for people in a safe country far away to demand that Israel put itself in mortal danger for the sake of abstract principle, but such a stance is neither reasonable nor relevant to dealing with the real-world problem. The only long-term viable option for the West Bank is population transfer.

17 May, 2013 04:57  
Anonymous anver said...

great article

24 November, 2015 22:40  
Anonymous Professor Taboo said...

Infidel, a very compelling post on modern Israel. Authentic "history" that encompasses several decades, almost a century even, make conflicts like Zionist-Judaism and Sunni-Islam difficult for most Westerners like myself to fully understand in accurate contexts.

I am very familiar, near an above-average expert on the entire history of Christianity, and therefore HAD TO BECOME an above-average informed expert on late Second Temple Judaism/Messianism. However, intricacies and nuances of Islam and its subgenres or denominations of Sunni, Shia, and other minor sects does not make it any easier. But these two primary sects of Islam are not much different than all of Christianity's or Judaism's many, many sects/denominations! Religion/Faith is a very messy business when history and orthodoxy are introduced. HAH! Understatement of the century, huh? Lol

What really interested me about the broader history of the Levant back in 2016 then my recent discussion with friends was the LACK OF verifiable origins of any Judaism in Jerusalem prior to 1000 - 900 BCE. Canaanites, Arabs, and Muslims have a long established history in the Levant for at least 1,191 years AND those "religious practices" could easily fit in worshiping pre-Abrahamic ideals/doctrines.

Therefore, I see Israel's iffy claims about rights to be a state/nation on the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and parts of Jerusalem no better than us Euro-American descendants claiming today or the last 200-years the Native American Indian lands we invaded, occupied, and exterminated prior peoples/tribes to gain ownership by Manifest Destiny. In fact, during the beginnings of the Zionist Movement in 1899 - 1920's and after those leaders considered making their "nation" in several places around the world, even inside the state of Texas in the U.S.A. Hence, I have difficulty in the legitimacy of Israel in Palestine when Arabs/Canaanites have been there much, much longer.

Any insight into this ancient history? Many thanks Infidel.

28 April, 2020 04:49  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Professor: Oh, I'm well aware that most of the "history" in the Old Testament is actually just mythology and never happened. I just don't see that as being at all relevant to Israel's legitimacy. As I said to Holte Ender, Israel's claim to the land which comprises it is the same as the US's or Britain's claim to their own territory -- the simple fact that the country is there, and has been there for generations. My point is, it's now no different in this respect from any other country.

It is peculiar that we don't see a whole cottage industry of article-writers challenging the legitimacy of, say, Costa Rica or New Zealand or any other country which is similarly the product of settlement just a few generations ago. The only country whose right to exist is constantly challenged on that basis is also the only country that just so happens to be mainly inhabited and run by Jewish people. This is why I say that deep down such challenges are mostly rooted in anti-Semitism, whether any individual who poses them is consciously aware of it or not.

As to the West Bank, as I said in the post, that's a matter of national security. Israel isn't geographically viable without it. In the face of an existential threat, other considerations need to take a back seat. Any country would do the same.

28 April, 2020 05:35  

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