The Mistaken Arab Experience

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In the NY Times, Reason Contributing Editor Michael Young limns one of the most destructive dynamics at work in the Middle East:

That the [recently signed Geneva Accord] should have provoked such anger, but also interest, highlights a deeper problem in the Arab world: for all its centrality to the Arab experience during the past half-century, and for all the justifiable grievances it has aroused, the Palestinian fight for self-determination has, in many respects, rendered the Arab world impotent. Through overriding attention to the fate of their Palestinian brethren, Arabs ? whether consciously or not ? have sacrificed much-needed political, social and economic advancement in other domains.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. My take, admittedly uninformed by experience, has been that the Palestinian issue is necessary for the functioning of “modern” Arab states. No bigger scapegoat exists in the world.

    I don’t think the rest of the Arab world could give to shits about the Palestinians otherwise. Why has no one offered space for their ‘brothers’ to live? What about Jordan occupying the designated palestinian lands? What about Syria stirring up problems for them at every opportunity?

    It is the Arabic world’s geopolitical “Look, your shoes are untied …”

  2. Oil and the “holy land” do a dos-a-dos at the US State Dept which tries to kowtow to perverted presidential policy/politics.
    Oil is buried by nature in a bunker Saddam could only dream of so it doesn’t need US protection.
    And the holy land?
    Didn’t we get the chunky, tacky 10 commandments piece of kitsch out of that Alabama courthouse?
    Except for the fact the Baptist Sunday School teacher, Jimmy Carter stuck us with it, why is my tax money going to either Egypt or Israel, much less Yassir, that’s my boy (on the way to Swiss accounts, naturally)?
    Palestinians are the clunky piece of kitsch for fundamental islamists, that the 10 commandments are for southern, bible-thumpin’ compassionate conservative US presidents.

  3. This is the fourth time I’ve seen the word “limn” used on Reason in one week! Shouldn’t there be a limit?

  4. Young makes some assertions about how things would be better if his advice were followed. As far as I can see he makes no effort to convince a sceptical reader.

    One point parallels the suggestion in an earlier article about Wolfowitz. It seems to come down to claiming that Bush will become sincere about promoting democracy, if only enough people pretend to believe him.

    Young also assumes, without discussion, that democracy will be effectively promoted in the Middle East, if only our leaders are sincere about it. Maybe he’s never heard of a government program being counterproductive, or having unforseen consequences. He’s just an editor for REASON. It’s not like he has to read it or anything.

  5. For the reasons Jason points out above, it should be pretty clear the Arabs don’t give a rats ass about the Palestinians. In fact, Palestinians are barred from permanent residency in several Arab countries, having been massacred or harassed into exile.

    No, the only interest the Arabs have in Palestinians is to ask why they aren’t killing more Jews. The “Palestinian question” is the polite Westernized way to refer to the “Jewish problem” – namely, why are so many Jews still breathing?

  6. So how do you explain Israeli anger regarding the Geneva Accord?

    R.C. Dean,

    A large portion of the Jordanian population are “Palestinians.”

  7. “Well, it is generally regarded as treasonous for non-accredited persons to conduct foreign policy in the name of their country. The US certainly has laws to this effect. Can you imagine the firestorm in this country if Howard Dean or another Democrat on their own began negotiating a peace treaty with North Korea next month?”

    I see, so its treasonous for an Israeli, but a Palestinian objection just means they are morally bankrupt. And as to the issue of treason itself, if its treasonable to seek peace and a solution that your own government cannot solve, well, I say treason is the way.

  8. David Tomlin,

    Ouch. Excellent comment.

  9. I long ago gave up trying to influence my own country’s policies, but it would make more sense to keep butting my head against that wall rather than to attempt back-door diplomacy.
    Besides it’s the very existence of governments rather than their policies that causes big time violence.
    Peace can only come about person to person when the two of them conspire to make love or profit or some other mutually beneficial relation. Governments always get in the way of that sort of thing.

  10. The anger about the Geneva meeting is similar to the anger Al Sharpton is not in jail, or the anger that would arise from Jane Fonda being appointed President of Iraq with Barbra Streisand VP.
    Only a Colin Powell could put up with the Geneva hyjinx.
    To Todd Fletcher, did you mean to say there oughta be a limnit?

  11. It is perfectly legitimate for private citizens to try to persue peace without government approval. They have a right to reach out to the other side and persuade them to abandon violence. One group, seeds of peace, has worked on this for about a decade (see http://www.seedsofpeace.org/) . Citizens who disagree with their governments foriegn policy also have a rights to peacefully protest, to speak against their government, to petition their governments, and to run for office so they can write their own treaties.
    The problem is, the writers of the Geneva proposal skipped the whole democratic election process and decided to write their own treaty as if they were the elected representitives of their nations. A treaty between two nations must be followed by the citizens of those two nations and therefor imposes restrictions of the private citizens of those nations. We authorize governments to make treaties for us, because it allows us to use collective bargenning to get better treatment from other nations than we would recieve as individual citizens. Like lawmaking and imprisioning criminals, it is a power we reserve for governments (and a power that is only democratically elected governments can justly claim). Regardless of the contents of the treaty, when a private citizen makes a treaty on behalf of his country it is as wrong as when a private citizen writes his own laws and imprisons people for violating them.

  12. “So how do you explain Israeli anger regarding the Geneva Accord?”

    Well, it is generally regarded as treasonous for non-accredited persons to conduct foreign policy in the name of their country. The US certainly has laws to this effect. Can you imagine the firestorm in this country if Howard Dean or another Democrat on their own began negotiating a peace treaty with North Korea next month?

  13. Tobacco is a recreational drug. Probably the mildest recreational drug in terms of mental effects in common usage in our society. The problem with tobacco is its delivery system (smoking), which is where almost all the negative health effects of tobacco come from to the user and to people around him. The inherent messiness of smoking and the propensity of smokers to indulge their habit wherever and whenever, regardless of the nonsmokers around them, is undoubtably the source of the hatred engendered against smoking today.

    While there seems to be increasing support for ending prohibition on current illegal drugs, the push to outlaw tobacco appears to be growing in strength and will have equally negative effects on society.

  14. Sorry about that, I thought I had moved to the tobacco thread above.

  15. In the NYT piece; MICHAEL YOUNG wrote:
    “That Egypt and Jordan managed to make peace with Israel says much more about the specific circumstances in which their respective agreements were concluded than about any ambient Arab readiness to break ranks on a comprehensive settlement.”

    That’s for sure. Egypt was bought off for Israel in 1979 and the total US tax dollar aid for the thug Egyptian government is now up to $1.85 billion a year. Israel’s peace with Jordan currently costs US tax payers $.5 billion a year. In comparison, Israel, as usual, will be the world?s largest recipient of US aid and Sharon is asking the Bush administration for $4 billion in grants, in addition to $8 billion in commercial-loan guarantees. This would be in addition to the nearly $3 billion that Israel already receives each year.

    If, as Michael Young contends, the Israeli government’s on going rape of the Palestinian people is giving pretext to certain despotic Arab regimes, then our government is also to blame since they are funding that thieving occupation. If you want this madness to stop, contact your senators and congress person and tell them to stop financing the occupation. There
    is even a growing movement in Israel, now making headlines, that sees US tax dollars as counter productive and rewarding the Sharon regime for hideous behavior.

    Finally, to understand the racist, fundamentalist Jewish religious extremism that Israeli polity is currently gripped by, see the fascinating: “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” by Israel Shahak and also “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” by Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky

  16. Joe,
    I think the evidence favors your characterization of Arafat but he could still hold power in the Palestinian state so I don’t think he’d reject it for fear of losing his grip. Also, the deal was lacking from the Palestinian perspective.

  17. Don’t get me wrong – that was in no way a fair deal that Arafat walked away from. My point is that he must have breathed a sigh of relief when he saw how unfair it was.

    In a Palestine free from this suicidal war, a warmongering terrorist thief like Arafat wouldn’t have a prayer of maintaining real power. He’s got nothing to offer a free and prosperous people.

  18. joe:

    I extrapolate from history, much as you do to divine the Israeli fundamentalist racism. I get my clues from western news sources, but I haven’t found a compelling reason to blow up civilians drinking coffee, school buses, and so forth.

    I somehow remain unconvinced that a visit to a disputed holy site that the PA knew about for weeks in advance of September 28, 2000, is the cause of more than three years of intifada, several ‘days of rage’, and most importantly, the election of Israeli hawks. I am more than willing to make a distinction between Arafat and the general mindset of Palestinians if someone could explain his popularity and the popularity of his platform of perpetual war.

    Rick,

    In the middle of talks, there are several ways to go about things. One might be to try to renegotiate your key points of discussion, like water. Another is to declare war on the other party in the discussion.

    “There have been long stretches of time with no (zero) terror attacks. The frequency tends to increase with the aggressiveness of the occupation.

    If your desire for the withdrawal from the occupied territories were to come to fruition the Israeli people would be great beneficiaries as well.”

    Ahh, the put upon innocence of Hamas and Co. Of course they just want to be left alone. Who knows, you could be right. Just because it has never worked in the past and we are dealing with the same personalities doesn’t mean it can’t be tried again. I would love for Israel to pull back from the west bank and gaza, and I would love for the Palestinians to have a place of their own to live in autonomy, but I wonder what apologists will say when Hamas is still in operation and not a single terrorist is arrested by the palestinian government.

  19. rick:

    There are also all sorts of faqs to be found:

    http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/myths/mf19a.html#a

  20. Or, when you assert that Arabs don’t really care about the Palestinians, are you just talking out of your ass?

    joe, I don’t care what the Arabs say, I care about what they do. Their persecution of the Palestinians easily measures up to the worst the Israelis have dished out. Massacres, expulsions, second-class treatment of “guest worker” Palestinians, refusal to allow Palestinians to settle, become citizens, own land or businesses, etc.

    Merovingian –

    I am fascinated by your assertion that most Jordanians are Palestinians. Without delving too deeply into the muddy waters of Mideast ethnicity, I would say it is more accurate that the Palestinians are really Jordanians whom the Jordanians have chosen to exclude from their country. The Jordanians expelled the PLO in 1970, and refuse to allow Palestinians to enter Jordan to this day. Why? The better to torment the Israelis, of course, and to prevent the more thoroughly barbarized among the Palestinians from causing trouble in Jordan.

    Of course, I tend to believe that the whole “Palestine” thing has been invented, or at least inflated wholesale, since the creation of Israel, the better to serve as a platform for driving the Jews into the sea. But what do I know – that’s just what the Palestinians and their Arab “supporters” say. In Arabic, of course, when they can be sure the likes of joe aren’t listening.

  21. Has anyone ever wondered why, if Israel is in a war of extermination of the arab world, they haven’t yet? Exterminated anyone, I mean.

    It’s not like the US or old Soviet Union would have done boo about it if faced with a fait accompli.

    Even less would be said now, although I suppose Pakistan might shoot a nuke or two their way in defense of the ummah.

    I dunno, just something I’ve always wondered about.

  22. “joe” asked: “Jason, how many Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists between the White House handshake and Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount?

    Answer: Zero.”

    That’s just BS. Don’t make me go through ha’aretz or jerusalem post archives, but I will if you don’t back away from that ridiculous claim. Is it really your position that between the signing of the Oslo accords in ’93 and Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount there were no Israelis killed in terrorist attacks? You must be high.

    By the way, what a crock that Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount was what sparked the 2nd intifada. I’ve been to the temple mount along with millions of tourists every year. It’s where the Jewish temple mentioned over and over again in the Bible (and even the New Testament, e.g. where Jesus chased out the moneychangers). It’s a pretext that that visit is what caused the war. Intifada is a war started by the Palestinians. Israel agreed to give up land and to allow the PA to administer and even have an army over sections of Judea and Samaria to eventually lead to a state. In return, they got terrorism from the Palestinians.

    Lastly, I also believe that most Arab governments don’t care about the plight of the Palestinians. The “war of Independence” or the “naqba”, depending on who you ask, was the first betrayal. Egypt, saudi arabia, iraq, transjordan and other states encouraged and particpated in an arab war against Israel, and they lost, and Palestinian arabs were displaced. Again in 1967, the arab states goad Israel into war, and as a result palestinia arabas are displaced. But no state offers those refugees asylum.

    I think if the Palestinian question were decentralized, and not the subject of such intense international scrutiny, peace would be more likely.

    Sharon may be a horse’s ass but, as someone else posted, he wouldn’t be the elected leader if not for the rise in Palestinian terrorism. The PA did nothing to contain the hamas, or the Islamic jihad, or the party of allah, or any other terrorist group. In fact the PA itself was a terrorist group and violated Oslo from day 1.

    That is all.

  23. RC, please show me an example of an Egyptian farmer or Iraqi factory worker persecuting Palestinians. Oh, wait, you’re talking about Arab governments. Funny, you don’t make that conflation when talking about our government vs. our populace, even though a democratic government is, by definition, more closely attuned to its people’s opinions.

    Google away, Abu. But please, recall that the term I used was “Palestinian terrorists.” Rocket attacks by Lebanese don’t count.

  24. RC, please show me an example of an Egyptian farmer or Iraqi factory worker persecuting Palestinians. Oh, wait, you’re talking about Arab governments.

    True enough, but those same governments, and the media they control, are also the source of the pious prosing in the Mideast about the poor oppressed Palestinians. We never hear from the hoi polloi in the Mideast – they are invisible and irrelevant because they have zero ability to influence their governments or the course of events.

    Of course, Egyptian farmers and Iraqi factory workers probably have neither the means nor the opportunity to oppress Palestinians, so I am not sure what to make of this observation on your part. I fail to see how it ameliorates the hypocrisy of the governments involved, or alleviates the suffering of the Palestinians.

  25. Allow me to help out, Abu. Here is a list of the Palestinian terror attacks since Oslo. As you can see, there were several prior to the Temple Mount visit.

  26. R. C. Dean wrote:
    “I tend to believe that the whole “Palestine” thing has been invented, or at least inflated wholesale, since the creation of Israel…”

    What an incredible ignorance of the history of the area! The Palestinians were disposesd en masse (at least 750,000) upon the founding of Israel in 1948. Israeli historian, Benny Morris has documented that 369 Palestinian villages were eradicated, at least 234 by direct Israeli military action. The ongoing and expanding occupation and outright theft of Palestinian land in Gaza and the West Bank via “settlements” since 1967 is also not “invented” or “inflated”. This larceny is now accelerating under the guise of the “protection fence”.

    “I would say it is more accurate that the Palestinians are really Jordanians whom the Jordanians have chosen to exclude from their country.”

    What nonsense! In 1949 the UN set up refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon And Syria. The great bulk in Jordan. The Israeli government was supposed to allow the refugees to choose between return or compensation but has thus far renegged. Tragically over a million Palestinian refugees still live in refugee camps.

    Abu Hamza wrote:
    “I think if the Palestinian question were decentralized, and not the subject of such intense international scrutiny, peace would be more likely.”

    What would make peace more likely is if the US government quit funding the Israeli governments occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

  27. If the Sharon regime’s paramount concern was really the safety of it’s citizens it would not be promoting the illegal settlements in Palestinian territory. The priority of the Sharon regime is the theft of Palestinian land to satisfy the “Greater Israel” agenda of the racist, religious wackos that Sharon has made political league with. The fact that our government is financing that theft is a shame and beneath the people of our country. We
    all, including the people of Israel deserve a cessation to this madness and a safer, more fair future.

  28. We know what ordinary Arabs think because there is a huge diaspora in western countries where they are free to speak. Opposition to Israel seems to be almost universal across the political spectrum.

    Arab dictators appeal to their own people with anti-Israel rhetoric, but in practice have been more concerned with intriguing against one another. Arab democracies would be if anything more opposed to Israeli and U.S. influence than the present governments. That is why I don’t believe democracy is really an objective of U.S. policy in the Middle East, even if it has been elsewhere.

  29. D. Tomlin:

    “One point parallels the suggestion in an earlier article about Wolfowitz. It seems to come down to claiming that Bush will become sincere about promoting democracy, if only enough people pretend to believe him.”

    A bit unfair, I think. You really don’t think the Bush administration is sincere in its desire for a democratic Iraq? Much discussion can be had about whether such a thing is feasible or whether or not it is our job, but it is just cantankerous to simply assume that those who promote intervention would prefer to support dictators.

    This is the sort of view born of looking at history as a series of events out of context. In some cases we have ‘propped up dictators’ for little purpose, but in the vast majority of cases, we knew that we were supporting what we percieved to be a lesser evil. Most of the intervention is based on the strategic decision to fight battles on foreign soil as opposed to our own, and this has been largely successful as a strategy.

    Yes, many of these decisions cost more than they helped, but the anti war crowd is very fond of acting as though we just give money to tin pots because we like them, or because dictatorship is what John Ashcroft really wants, or something.

  30. “Finally, to understand the racist, fundamentalist Jewish religious extremism that Israeli polity is currently gripped by, see the fascinating: “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” by Israel Shahak and also “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” by Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky”

    Good thing the Palestinians aren’t gripped by racist fundamentalism. I fully support the withdrawal from the occupied territories, but this is an entirely unrealistic view of causation. What happened last time Israel ceded the Golan Heights? Oh, they got shelled. Wehn the entire occupied lands were ceded once before, what happened? Oh, Israel was attacked by two armies – again. What happened at Camp David when the Palestinians had a the best deal they have ever seen on the table? Did they negotiate for different arrangements to overcome their problems? Did they pull out from the talks temporarily to demonstrate their seriousness about some issues? Nope. Intifada. The Palestinians as much as elected Sharon.

    Sharon is a security freak and probably something of a racist, but he has popular support not because most Israeli jews are racists, but because most Israeli jews would rather not be blown up. No concession to the Palestinians has ever been enough to stop terrorists from blowing up civilians in shopping malls, but an aggressive military state has been somewhat effective. It is a terrible decision, but I don’t know why on earth anyone would believe that the car bombs stop once you open the gates and pull your troops back.

  31. Jason, RC, you seem to have some pretty heavy insights into the political positions of “the Arab world.” You’ve travelled extensively? Spoken to a lot of Arabs? Subscribe to the region’s newspapers?

    Or, when you assert that Arabs don’t really care about the Palestinians, are you just talking out of your ass?

  32. Jason Ligon:
    There have been long stretches of time with no (zero) terror attacks. The frequency tends to increase with the aggressiveness of the occupation.
    If your desire for the withdrawal from the occupied territories were to come to fruition the Israeli people would be great beneficiaries as well.

    “What happened at Camp David when the Palestinians had a the best deal they have ever seen on the table?”

    That “deal” was not that good at all for reasons of water, territorial contiguity and Israeli control of travel and the flow of goods within Palestine, among others: http://www.wrmea.com/html/faq.htm

  33. Jason, how many Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists between the White House handshake and Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount?

    Answer: Zero.

  34. As for the rejection of Camp David, is it really that hard to believe that Yassir Arafat would make a decision that isn’t in his constituents’ best interests, in order to maintain his grip on power? Without a war on the Zionist Entity, that aged kleptocrat wouldn’t have a chance of holding power.

  35. joe, thanks for modifying your statement, but you haven’t completely removed the crow from your mouth. Let’s first establish a simple fact. The list of terrorist attacks that RC linked to are COMPLETED, SUCCESSFUL terrorist attacks. It’s not a link to attempted terrorist attacks, which would be at least ten times as long. When the terror groups attempt an attack, and are thwarted by the army or the police, that is still a threat to Israelis and still a sign that it is the Arabs, not the Israelis, who are fighting a war of aggression here.

    Next, I am pleased you would agree that a suicide bomb on a bus or elsewhere, or shooting up a family, is still a moral evil even if it takes place on an Israeli settlement in land that under Oslo was to eventually be part of a Palestinian sovereign. However, I think it is in additionto being a moral evil also a security problem. I think Jews have just as much right to settle the judea and samaria territories as Palestinians. I wish the arabs accepted them and didn’t try to kill them, but the fact is they do. So therefore the settlements are segregated, on hilltops, and heavily guarded.

    Lastly, I want to say that many many of those listed terrorist attacks are inside the “green line” so it is just BS that Sharon somehow sparked the violence of the Intifdaa,or the increase in terror attacks against Israelis.

    Israel has shown it can make peace with sworn enemies. There is a treaty with Egypt and with Jordan, botho f whom fought many wars against Israel. Under Camp David Israel gave up the Sinai, and its oil fields and settlements. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. You can’t say that Israel isn’t interested in peace because many times it has traded land for peace. Under Oslo Israel agreed to let the PA have an army and an administration and limited sovereignty over parts of judea and samaria. That was a stupid deal. Israel gave up so much in return for promises from a wretched evil terrorist, promises never kept.

    By the way, if Israel ceased to exist, which is what the hamas and the party of allah and other terror groups plainly state is their goal, do you think for one damn minute that problems such as the civil war in Algeria, the Moroccan/Western Sahara dispute, the Kashmir problem, the Saudi state funding global terrorism, high illiteracy and a lack of freedom, etc. problems of the muslim world would be any different? Israel is a scapegoat.

  36. Rick Barton, you reffer to “the racist, religious wackos that Sharon has made political league with”

    I fail to see how any policies of the Israeli government are racist. Half of the Jews in Israel are Sphardic, meaning they come from predominantly Arab or Turkish countries. That means they are the same race as the Palestinians, because the Jews in any region are more genetically similar to the non-Jews than they are to Jews from other regions. If the Israeli government favors Jews over non-Jews, they are using religion, not race as the criteria.

    To all,

    Religion and state are mixed more in Israel than most Americans would like. If you have an objection to mixing religion and state, I agree with you. However, lets start looking at all the governments in the Middle East and judge them by that criteria. If you object to a government taking privately own land, I agree with you. However, lets look at all the Middle East government policies, including the Arab governments that took land from Sphardic Jews and expelled them from their countries.

    If anyone has has universal moral standards for judging governments, we can look at the governments out there and judge them by those standards. If anyone just has a personal beef with Israel, you’re standing on shaky ground.

  37. ituf,
    I call the actions of the Sharon regime “racist” in the same vein as predudice against Hispanics is called “racist” and anti-Semitism is called a form of racism. Also, when Sharon called for “Jews only” housing areas on government land, Perez called that advocacy “racist”.

    The problem is that the Israeli government is committing it’s crimes with our money!

  38. Abu Hamza:
    “…still a sign that it is the Arabs, not the Israelis, who are fighting a war of aggression here.

    And, when the Israeli government expands settlements and steals vast swaths of Palestinian land under the guise of the “protection fence” it is they who are fighting a war of aggression.

    “….or shooting up a family, is still a moral evil even if it takes place on an Israeli settlement in land that under Oslo was to eventually be part of a Palestinian sovereign.”

    And, it is a moral evil when the Israeli army shoots up or rockets a Palestinian family which happens with tragic frequency.

    “Israel has shown it can make peace with sworn enemies. There is a treaty with Egypt and with Jordan,…Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.”

    Egypt was bought off for Israel in 1979 and the total US tax dollar aid for the thug Egyptian government is now up to $1.85 billion a year. Israel’s peace with Jordan currently costs US tax payers $.5 billion a year. Both treaties included increased US tax dollars to the Israeli government. Israel withdrew from Lebanon because their army was taking large losses.

    “I think Jews have just as much right to settle the judea and samaria territories as Palestinians.”

    If you mean Israeli Jews then of course Palestinians should have the right to settle anywhere in Israel, so were talking a one state solution. Like that?s going to happen with the Ariel Sharon in control, who supported “Jews only” housing on government land; (it might be law by now) discriminating against the country?s 20% Arab population!

    “Israel is a scapegoat.”

    Sure… the Sharon government is a “scapegoat”
    like all other racist, apartheid, thieving states
    have been…right. Abu, you really are a “true believer”.

  39. “Abu Hamza” (whose yahoo address seems to indicate that his assumed Muslim identity is a fraud – roll over it, how many Muslims are named “Rayfield”?) sez:

    “I think Jews have just as much right to settle the judea and samaria territories as Palestinians.” Then I’m sure you support the right of Palestinians to “settle” within the recognized territory of Israel. Sure you do.

    “When the terror groups attempt an attack, and are thwarted by the army or the police, that is still a threat to Israelis and still a sign that it is the Arabs, not the Israelis, who are fighting a war of aggression here.” What is it a sign of when groups of settlers fire on Arab farmers as they attempt to harvest their own crops? What is it a sign of when the IDF surrounds a Palestinian village with barbed wire and armed troops?

    “So therefore the settlements are segregated, on hilltops, and heavily guarded.” As any person who reads Sharon’s own words knows, the settlements are on heavily guarded hilltops for reasons of military and political strategy, having been placed in carefully chosen locations in hopes of destroying the contiguity of Palestinian territory, giving armed Israelis the high ground that has proven so important in every military conflict in history, and compelling the Palestinians to live in easily isolated ghettos.

    “Lastly, I want to say that many many of those listed terrorist attacks are inside the “green line” Um, no, I don’t believe they are. The cessation of terror attacks within Israel proper during the peace process was a deliberate strategy of PIJ, Hamas, and the rest, in an attempt to strengthen the hand of the Israeli peace faction. Expansionist/pro-expulsion Israelis, like those who produced the list, often declare that settlements adjacent to Israeli cities, but outside of the recognized border, are neighborhoods of those cities, in an attempt to alter the public debate.

    “Israel has shown it can make peace with sworn enemies. There is a treaty with Egypt and with Jordan, botho f whom fought many wars against Israel. Under Camp David Israel gave up the Sinai, and its oil fields and settlements. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.” Neither the Sinai, nor southern Lebanon, are alleged to be the rightful, God-given territory of Israel by the Likudniks, as the occupied territories are. Nonetheless, both withdrawals were ferociously opposed by that faction, and had to be rammed down their throats by more enlightened Israelis who are more in tune with their nation’s mainstream opinion.

    “By the way, if Israel ceased to exist, which is what the hamas and the party of allah and other terror groups plainly state is their goal, do you think for one damn minute that problems such as… etc. problems of the muslim world would be any different?” If the Israeli/Palestinian conflict were to end, one way or the other (and I hope it doesn’t end with either people “ceasing to exist”), the problems you mention would remain. But the United States wouldn’t be dragged into ithem, because we have little or nothing to do with those other problems. The oppression of the Palestinian people, on the other hand, is being carried out with the help of my government.

    By the way, you mangled the crow metaphor. “Eating crow” means admitting your mistake. “Removing the crow from your mouth” would mean taking back the admission of a mistake. Maybe “You still haven’t removed your foot from your mouth” or “you still haven’t finished eating your crow.” I wouldn’t point this out if I believed you were a non-native English speaker named Abu Hamza. But you’re not.

  40. RC, I was surprised by your link, since it didn’t jive with what I recalled reading in that Jew-hating rag The New Republic. So I went back, and I clearly overstated my case. I hereby amend my comment to:

    “The number of terror attacks within Isreal dropped to almost zero.” Attacks continued within the occupied territories. The link you provide is biased, in that is refers to attacks which occurred in Arab East Jerusalem (outside the Green Line) and in a West Bank settlement north of Israel (whose name escapes me right now) as occurring in “Jerusalem.”

    Now, there is little moral difference between killing people in Haifa and killing them in some settlement, but the issue at hand is not morality, but Israeli security. And the drop to near-zero demonstrates that the Israelis can increase their security by engaging in a peace process, and by leaving settlements outside their lawful territory.

    But thanks for catching my mistake. I am trying to argue honestly.

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