Middle East

Diary of an Israel Junketeer, Part One

Talking-and dodging-politics in the Holy Land

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(Editor's Note: reason Associate Editor Michael C. Moynihan is traveling though Israel on a program sponsored by the American Israel Education Fund, a travel program for journalists sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He'll be filing observations throughout the week.)

Jerusalem—
Walking toward Jerusalem's Old City, a journalist colleague in my tour group relates, apropos of nothing, that Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show is being cancelled. A brief argument follows over who is the best cable talk show host on American television—I nominate the peerless Robin Byrd—only to be interrupted by two elderly and ornery American tourists: "We came here to get away from politics." The Yanks seem unaware that, in Israel—and we're within spitting distance of the Dome of the Rock—there is no escaping politics.

The constant political discussions in this city quickly annex most of your brain. It's a shopworn observation, but the simple act of entering a coffee shop requires a quick bit of profiling and a wave of the metal detector wand. No one, from what I can make out, seems irritated by this.

Politics and the icons of war are all around. Reading an essay in Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, trying to beat suffocating jetlag, I repeatedly misread a doped-up character named "Sharon" as Sha-rone.

Within the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, plus-sized American tourists are everywhere, waddling through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with their panama hats and chunky white sneakers, oohing and ahhing at various reconstructed tombs and crucifixion crosses. Deeply holy, with a whiff of Six Flags.

Like everything else in the region, the church is subdivided into four quarters. The Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox have their own little Bantustans for which they are responsible. Take away these invisible boundaries and, I suppose, fistfights would break out.

Just outside the church, in the narrow alleyways of the Arab quarter, it is possible to buy all manner of junk: rugs, cheap knives, and, depending on your degree of bravery, either an IDF or Yasser Arafat t-shirt.

Over breakfast, an Israeli political analyst inspires little confidence that a peaceful resolution to this baffling, maddening, intractable conflict is at hand. The three pillars of Israeli politics, she says—the right, left, and center—have all collapsed, all producing similar results.

The latest: Kadima, the centrist party formed by Ariel Sharon in 2005 that took power the next year, presided over Hezbollah's 12,000-missile buildup and an inconclusive war. Sharon's total disengagement from Gaza has, almost everyone reminds you, resulted in a Hamas government and, as we have seen in recent weeks, a huge spike in the number of Qassam rockets fired at civilian population centers in Israeli border towns. As could be expected, recent opinion polling shows that the Likud party, which currently has just 12 seats in the 120-member Knesset (to Kadima's 29), would more than double that number if elections were held today.

Over lunch, an Israeli academic praises the innumerable benefits of the Israeli parliamentary system—no candidates, only party lists—and bemoans "the boring" American election. I wonder, though don't ask, if the parliamentary system in Italy, with its 50 governments in as many years, is an appropriate counter-example to the supposed brilliance of coalition governments and proportional representation. Israel, says the professor, was once a welfare state in the Scandinavian mold and, so I hear, was equally bungling and bureaucratic. But in recent years, he points out, the country "has privatized faster than Russia." It is difficult to determine if this is said with contempt or pride.

In the evening we drive into Arab East Jerusalem for a meeting with a senior Palestinian Authority official close to Mahmoud Abbas (all Israelis call him Abu Mazen). The consensus among our small group of journalists, regardless of their own political hang-ups, is that this guy, like many P.A. officials, eloquently delivers an hour of sophistry and evasion.

It's a pitiful performance. One questioner asks why, if the Palestinian Authority renounces terror, it recently celebrated the life and achievements of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist George Habash. The official becomes agitated and recommends that such issues must be left "in the past." Calling people "terrorists" or calling them "freedom fighters," he grumbles, is an impediment to peace.

For the remaining hour, it is clear that the Palestinian Authority wants to bury the past-except when it doesn't. The rest of the conversation is an argument about the past, with periodic nods to "the peace process." When I ask the official about the massive and well-documented thievery of Yasser Arafat, his eyes narrow. "Arafat never stole money," he hisses. "The people around him did, but not Arafat."

Besides, any corruption in the P.A. was "done with the full knowledge of Israel." If this guy pulls a muscle playing racquetball, he probably blames Israel. While the moderate Likud member of parliament Mickey Eitan told me that his former party boss Ariel Sharon "was the most corrupt man in the history of Israel," and that Sharon's extended family was like "something you would find in South America," the P.A. dare not speak ill of its former leader.

Coming Next: Raver-jihadists, privatizing health care, and the Oprah of the Palestinians.

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  1. Looks like Michael is just shilling for Big Joo!

  2. Michael Moynihan is a gay man… not that there’s anything wrong with that!!

  3. Would’ve expected a link to documentation with

    When I ask the official about the massive and well-documented thievery of Yasser Arafat, his eyes narrow. “Arafat never stole money,” he hisses. “The people around him did, but not Arafat.”

    But that’s just me.

  4. gets the skinny on large American tourists

    Poor journalist! Too bad he can’t hookup with those awsome IDF chicks in perfect shape and cool rifles 🙁

  5. P.J. O’Rourke described Tel Aviv as feeling much like Miami, and somehow that passage came to mind as I was reading this.

  6. This is how bias is sustained and enhanced over the course of a writer’s career.

  7. my quote of the day:

    “Our people in Jerusalem are under an ethnic cleansing campaign,” Abbas said in a speech. “They are suffering from a series of decisions like tax hikes and construction prohibitions.”

    apparently, we americans are being subject to ethnic cleansing. cool!

  8. As a matter of fact, Arafat didn’t steal money to enrich himself.

    Arafat embezzled money, but it was to have his own private stash to buy support as he pleased (he didn’t like having to ask permission or follow rules). I’m not saying he was a saint, I’m just saying that the man lived simply and whatever he was out to gain from his activities, getting rich wasn’t among them.

  9. Hope they put you in the best lodgings that foreign aid can buy.

  10. Edna,

    It’s not illegal for Americans to build houses within the United States. It is pretty much illegal for Palestinians to do so in East Jerusalem.

    Going on a fact-finding tour of Israel sponsored by AIPAC is like going on a fact-finding tour of Cuba sponsored by the politburo.

  11. adam, are you fucking kidding? ever see suha’s paris digs? the clothes? jewelry?

  12. and it’s illegal for jews to build houses… everywhere else in the middle east.

  13. Edna, Arafat spent the last 4 years of his life living in a pile of rubble. Do you really see, say, Hosni Mubarak or King Abdallah doing that?

    The guy’s frugal image was one of the things that endeared him to his followers (especially compared to the naked self-enrichment of his cronies). Hamas has the same perception – whatever else they are, they’re not thieves.

  14. Michael, I appreciate that the Israeli lobby probably covered the cost of your junket, but in what parallel universe can Israel be said to have done a “total disengagement” from Gaza? Given that it continues to excercise total control over Gaza’s land border (with Egyptian cooperation), coast, and airspace, to impliment blockades of life’s essentials at will, that characterization is ridiculous. And don’t get me started on the air raids and other military incursions that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in response to rocket attacks that have yet to kill even two dozen Israelis. All in the name of maintaining an apartheid state on land that they have taken by force from people who have lived there for continuously for generations. Does an advocate of “reason” really believe God gave them the right to do this?

  15. Poor journalist! Too bad he can’t hookup with those awsome IDF chicks in perfect shape and cool rifles 🙁

    You have been reading too much Philip Roth. On that note, I still get a chuckle thinking of the bathroom scene in Portnoy’s Complaint.

  16. Edna, what does the housing status of Jews in, say, Kuwait have to do with whether the Israelis are engaging in ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem? Either they are or they aren’t. What the Kuwaitis or the Algerians or the Syrians are up to is not particularly relevant to that question. If you want to say they’re worse than the Israelis, fine. But that doesn’t tell you whether the Israelis are any good, just that they’re better than the ocean of dictatorships in which they find themselves. Faint praise indeed.

  17. Oh, this is going to be good…

    *grabs popcorn, watches intently*

  18. Edna,

    You have to understand that the Arabs are animals and can never be held to the same moral standard as human beings. That is why it was evil and wrong for the Jews to expell the Palistinians but a okay for the Arabs to expell hundreds of thousands of Jews in 1947. That is also why the Arabs bear absolutely no responsibility for the state of the Palistinians even though they were free to do the right thing and let them be citizens at any time in the last 60 years. Open borders are something that we expect from civilized countries like the US and Israel, but not Arab countries.

  19. Taktix,

    The sad thing is, you’re right. Is there any subject less amenable to rational discussion?

  20. classwarrior, I think that Michael is saying that Israel went from governing Gaza to withdrawing; the resultant vacuum led to Hamas control. I don’t think he was making a comment on the neutrality of Israel.

  21. You have been reading too much Philip Roth.

    I have been watching them on television. Never heard of Roth.

  22. John,

    You’re probably the kind of person who thinks Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are just fine and dandy since, after all, they’re not as bad as the Soviet gulag or Auschwitz.

    Great, Israel is more humane than the Ba’ath regime in Syria. If that isn’t something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.

  23. You have been reading too much Philip Roth.

    I have been watching them on television. Never heard of Roth.

    Oh, my bad. I thought I spotted a reference. In Portnoy’s Complaint an American Jew feels emasculated by a healthy, beautiful female soldier when he visits the Holy Land.

  24. Adam,

    If any country in the world were being terrorized by a minority population the way Israel is terrorized by the Palestinians it would engage in ethnic cleansing the likes of which hasn’t been seen since World War II. If the Israelis are so bad for East Jerusalem, what the hell are the French for running the Paris suburbs? If France ever has anything approaching the intifada, I guarantee you French Muslims will find out what ethnic cleansing really is. Yet, no one gives a shit about the Muslims in France or Egypt or anywhere else for that matter. But everyone pretends to care so deeply about the Palestinians. There is nothing wrong with holding the Israelis to a standard of moral behavior. What is wrong, however, is holding Israel to a standard that we don’t hold ourselves or any other country to as well. Further, why is what is going on in East Jerusalem so bad yet the 1000s of civilians indiscriminately killed by Palestinians not even worth mentioning?

  25. John, I’m a Jew, and I have to agree with Adam (insofar as he is prepared to be unbiased), what the Jews have done to the Palestinians is inexcusable, as is what the Palestinians have done to the Jews.

    Moral equivalence is just an avoidance mechanism.

  26. “Great, Israel is more humane than the Ba’ath regime in Syria. If that isn’t something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.”

    Fine but can’t you say the same thing about the Palistinians? If you so torn up about East Jerusalem, why don’t you give a flying fuck about the people the Palistinians have killed? This is the group of people who gave us suicide bombing? Don’t they bear some responsibility for their fate? Is it the Israeli duty just to take it and die?

  27. “Moral equivalence is just an avoidance mechanism.”

    It is not moral equivalence. What would you suggest Israel do? Cease to exist? How can they make peace with people who blow themselves up in cafes as a form of warfare? Yeah, the Israelis have been assholes. But I have a hard time throwing many stones at them standing in a country that nuked two cities to end a world war. War sucks. Perhaps the Palestinians should have thought about that before they started killing civilians. Everyone sits around and kicks Israel and acts like there are not two sides to the story or mentioning the outright barbarity of the Palestinians. If the Israelis were 1/2 as ruthless as their enemies, there wouldn’t be any Palestinians left to worry about.

  28. Thank god Reason (wait, wait, reason) is allowing Michael Moynihan to file dispatches from his AIPAC-financed trip to Israel on this site.

    Now we can finally get the Israeli perspective on things, instead of that pro-Palestinian propaganda from the likes of Fox News and CNN.

  29. John,

    I’ve never understood “if anyone was going through what the Israelis are going through…” argument. Are the Israelis really that much more moral than anyone else on Earth? I have no idea how Canadians would react if we were going through what Israelis do, but I find it hard to believe that we’re so much more vindictive than Israelis. Anyway, I do hold everyone to the same standard of behaviour – we just happen to be discussing the treatment of Arabs in Israel.

    I think the Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians get plenty of press. I also think that the much larger number of Palestinian civilians killed by the IDF get less, because (a) there are more of them, making it more of a statistic than an individual death each time and (b) it’s easier for westerners to relate to Israelis as the more westernized party.

  30. john, to be fair, suicide bombing is a sri lankan invention.

  31. “I have no idea how Canadians would react if we were going through what Israelis do, but I find it hard to believe that we’re so much more vindictive than Israelis.”

    We know exactly how vindictive Canadians, Americans and Europeans are, look no further than the two world wars. Basically you sit there fat dumb and happy in Canada and lecture the Israelis how it is their duty to die for the greater good. Further, the number of civilians killed by the IDF is inflated because the Palestinians do not wear uniforms, obey any norms of international law and essentially use civilians as human shields. There is a reason why the laws of war put such a premium on wearing a uniform. It is to keep militaries from having to target civilians. The Palestinians basically piss on that law in hopes of getting the Israelis to kill civilians and getting the good press to go with it.

  32. “If you so torn up about East Jerusalem, why don’t you give a flying fuck about the people the Palistinians have killed?”

    Well, I do. As I said earlier, that just happens not to be what we’re discussing. When I’m talking to people who are pro-Palestinian, I make the case that blowing up civilians in pizzerias is monstrous.

    Anyway, the Israelis don’t need to be ruthless – build a huge wall, surround every village with bypass roads and blockade an entire territory of 1.5 million people and you don’t need to bomb them to create misery on an enormous scale.

    If I made it impossible for anything or anyone to get in or out of your home, would it be a convincing defence after you starved to death to say, “well, I never laid a finger on him.”

  33. “Basically you sit there fat dumb and happy in Canada and lecture the Israelis how it is their duty to die for the greater good.”

    John, go away. If you’re going to put words in my mouth, at least make it interesting. For example, you could claim that I’ve said that I enjoy touching young boys and eating babies.

  34. The sad thing is, you’re right. Is there any subject less amenable to rational discussion?

    Whoa!

    Since when is it a “sad thing” that I’m right? I demand an apology, or I’ll go all Bus Bomb on your ass…

  35. Taktix,

    My apologies. And anyhow, I think our friend John up there pretty much proved your/our point.

  36. Can we add a caveat to the First Amendment that permits Congress to ban public debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, or at least on cable news shows and comments in blogs? Has anyone’s mind ever changed on this issue?

  37. Daniel,

    If the amendment also barred any further direct government aid to the Middle East (yes, including Egypt) I’d be all for it.

  38. Taktix, pass the popcorn please.

    (picks nose where Taktix can’t see)

  39. If you so torn up about East Jerusalem, why don’t you give a flying fuck about the people the Palistinians have killed? This is the group of people who gave us suicide bombing?

    That was the Tamil Tigers who gave us suicide bombings.

    The middle east is a shithole of violence and ethnic animosity, and Israel is really no better than anyone else. They just have the strength to appear beneficent, whereas the Palestinians simply look desperate.

  40. *Sees green, slimy kernel of popcorn*

    Damn ethanol subsidies!

    *Squishy-crunch*

  41. I should add that following the Israeli-Palestinian debate is like not being able to stop rubbing a painful canker sore.

  42. Suggestion:

    Hit & Run creates a permanent thread regarding Israel. It can float as the second posting here at all times.

    All people who care so very much about the preeminent Middle East conflict can go there.

    However, there’s a trick–once you go in and post, you can never get out. All links lead back to the thread.

    All Israel haters and lovers can be caught in their permanent argument for real instead of just figuratively, and spare us their endless dogfight.

    Sound good?

  43. Adam,

    You are right, they don’t need to build the wall. Israel has with out doubt created a lot of misery. But that misery has been as a result of the intifada. What a disaster this has been for the Palestinians. Had they never listened to two bit thugs like Arafat and never launched a completely ruthless and pointless war, Israel wouldn’t be building the wall. The Palestinians had a chance for a two state solution at Oslo and walked away from it and launched a war instead and have basically been getting their asses kicked since then. I am sorry but at some point they bear some responsibility for where they are and some responsibility for the actions of their government.

  44. There is a reason why the laws of war put such a premium on wearing a uniform. It is to keep militaries from having to target civilians.

    Are you really surprised that insurgents wouldn’t wear uniforms? When you’re in occupied territory and vastly outgunned, you don’t exactly want to put on a red coat and walk toward the enemy in a straight line.

  45. The Palestinians had a chance for a two state solution at Oslo and walked away from it and launched a war instead and have basically been getting their asses kicked since then.

    The Oslo Accords didn’t deal with Jerusalem, right of return or the settlements, which pretty much made them worthless.

  46. Tacos MM,

    Insurgents have traditionally been called partisians and partisians have always been harshly dealt with. There are few things worse for a population than a partisian war. When you choose to launch one you are basically ensuring death and misery for your own people.

  47. uh…how much longer is Moynihan in Israel? I can hardly wait for all of the threads for those dispatches…

    I’m agreeing with whoever is saying that both sides have done bad things.

  48. “The Oslo Accords didn’t deal with Jerusalem, right of return or the settlements, which pretty much made them worthless.”

    That is horseshit. It gave them a state of their own and a right to live in peace. What it didn’t give them was the right to over run and destroy Israel which is what they really wanted, which is what the right of return would do. The alternative was take half a loaf and have a chance to have your own country or get your ass kicked in a pointless war over issues you are never going to win on and the Palestinians took the later.

  49. “The Palestinians had a chance for a two state solution at Oslo and walked away from it and launched a war instead and have basically been getting their asses kicked since then.”

    The Palestinians were offered crums which amounted to and insult and a slap in the face. I don’t blame them for rejecting them.

  50. You know, I’ve taken my fair share of t-shirts from lab equipment vendors, and I did eat free cookies once provided by a tech support person giving a tutorial of something I’d just bought.

    But taking a free trip from a lobbying organization taking a strong stance on a volatile conflict seems a bit much for a journalist.

  51. John,

    You’re right, the intifada has been a total, complete and utter disaster for the Palestinians. But my point is that Israel’s hands are very, very dirty, too. Oslo was all well and good, but how can you engage in land for peace when you keep grabbing land (the massive post-1993 expansion of West Bank settlements, encouraged by the likes of Ariel Sharon)? You can’t, any more than you can when you’re blowing up civilians in pizzerias. Both sides have a lot to regret. What the hell are 400 Jewish settlers doing in Hebron, in the middle of over 100,000 Arabs? Even the IDF soldiers sent to protect them think the settlers are nuts.

    Arabs need to take responsibility for their actions, sure. Especially when it comes to accepting that Israel isn’t going anywhere. But Israelis have a lot to be sorry for as well. This is what happens when you have a political system (discussed in the article) that gives disproportionate power to small minority parties that have the ability to bring down a government. They will extract concessions that go far beyond their real percentage of the vote, which is why the pro-settler Israeli right has succeeded in entangling the country so deeply in the West Bank. Between the settlements and the by-pass roads, there’s hardly any land (on which you could build a viable state) that’s left to trade for peace.

  52. “It gave them a state of their own”

    Which amounted to such a small amount of territory. That’s why I say it was a slap in the face. Remember, who had their land taken away in the first place? Who’s land is it anyway?

  53. The t-shirts were OK, Dr. T, but nibbling someone’s cookies is over the line. You’re compromised.

  54. Oslo didn’t give the Palestinians a state. It wasn’t even clear in 1993 that they’d end up with a state at the end of the process.

  55. I’ve posted this before.

    Israel has existed fo 60 years now. The statute of limitations has expired. Sorry ’bout that, Palistinians. Ask the Aztecs, Ojibwe, and Taino about how that works.

    Reality is the Palestinians can get the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. They will never get anything other than that.
    The right to return? Ain’t gonna happen.
    Reopening property claims in Israel? Ain’t gonna happen.
    Arab nations coming to your rescue, financially or militarily? Ain’t gonna happen.

    It sucks, but it is also reality.

    If the Palesinian leaders and people accept this reality, they can have peace tomorrow. Until they do, life will continue to be hard.

  56. J sub D,

    I agree with everything that you said except the last two lines. Even if they were willing to accept all that, there are a lot of people in Israel who don’t want to give up “Judea and Samaria.” Just look at what had to happen for Israel to get out of the West Bank – and that was a territory that Israel never even wanted in the first place.

  57. While the moderate Likud member of parliament Mickey Eitan told me that his former party boss Ariel Sharon “was the most corrupt man in the history of Israel,” and that Sharon’s extended family was like “something you would find in South America,” the P.A. dare not speak ill of its former leader.

    Well while I can’t speak specifically about Sharon, it may be the case Arafat is of far greater importance to the idea (and founding) of the Palestinian state than any modern leader of Israel is to Israel’s founding, etc. Indeed, in general founders of states, political identities, etc. tend to be treated with greater reverance than later political leaders (which is why one gets such reverance in the U.S. for our Founders – note the capitalization – despite their very many and varied faults).

  58. “that misery has been as a result of the intifada”

    And the intifada came about as a result of their land being stolen and being treated like 2nd class citizens.

  59. J sub D,

    I think the ebb and flow of history demonstrates that there is no such statute of limitations anywhere. Anyway, the history of such things is rather complex; for example, who were the ultimate victors in Mexico, the Aztecs, etc. or the Spaniards? .

  60. So, has he met that old man who has been praying at the wall for 40 years?

  61. Ah, an Israeli/Palestine thread. I haven’t read the whole thing, anybody been accused of being an anti-semite and/or supporting apartheid yet?

  62. That is horseshit. It gave them a state of their own and a right to live in peace. What it didn’t give them was the right to over run and destroy Israel which is what they really wanted, which is what the right of return would do. The alternative was take half a loaf and have a chance to have your own country or get your ass kicked in a pointless war over issues you are never going to win on and the Palestinians took the later.

    What are you calling horseshit? With Oslo, nothing was settled with east Jerusalem, the right of return, or the Israeli settlements. There will be no peace without settlement of those issues, whether a Palestinian state exists or not. Yes, the Palestinians are stubborn. So are the Israelies. Ergo, no resolution in sight, endless shitstorm.

  63. Is Tom or Jerry winning now?

  64. Adam, J sub D,

    When J sub D posted that comment recently, I think I responded along the same lines. Here

    Moynihan-

    The Yanks seem unaware that, in Israel-and we’re within spitting distance of the Dome of the Rock-there is no escaping politics.

    Spitting distance? So did you do it? Unless you are speaking figuratively.

    I am personally sick and tired of these threads (yes, DRINK!).

  65. Even if they were willing to accept all that, there are a lot of people in Israel who don’t want to give up “Judea and Samaria.”

    If the government signs a treaty recognizing Palestian nationhood, I believe those fuckheads will be pushed to the margins.

    It’s the old “you stole our ancestral land” claim. Nobody wants to say that their ancestors stole it from somebody else. Every substantial piece of land on the planet has changed hands too many times in the past to go to war over historical claims. People should realize that it is what it is. I’m of Irish ancestry yet I don’t get worked up over Northern Ireland. The asshole Brits stole it, but as the French say, c’est la vie.

    Oh yeah, the Israelis should be evacuating, not building, settlements in the occupied territories. That’s just adding fuel to the fire.

    And firing rockets into Israel from land Palestinians control doesn’t help matters a whole lot either.

    I’d like to collectively bitch slap both sides, sceaming “Japan and Germany are US allies, dumbshits! We fought total war less than 70 years ago that included unprecedented war crimes, including the nuking of two major cities. Yet we are allies. We trade products, adopt parts of each others cultures and get along pretty damned well.”

    I know it can be done and it’s frustrating as hell that peace in the Middle East is seemingly impossible.

    People are fucking stupid.

  66. It’s the old “you stole our ancestral land” claim. Nobody wants to say that their ancestors stole it from somebody else.

    Who did the inhabitants of Palestine before the 20th century take it from?

  67. Who did the inhabitants of Palestine before the 20th century take it from?

    The Byzantine Greeks.

  68. The Arabs stole it from the Byzantine Greeks (Eastern Romans), the Romans stole it from the Jews, whole stole it from all sorts of assorted tribes.

  69. Didn’t the Turks steal it at some point too? And the Crusaders?

    I say it belongs to nobody, because everybody has at some point stolen it. So we all have to give it back to some paleolithic tribe.

  70. Thoreau, the Turks administered it but never actually constituted a majority of the population. It was Arab from about the 800s or so until 1948.

  71. I’m of Irish ancestry yet I don’t get worked up over Northern Ireland. The asshole Brits stole it, but as the French say, c’est la vie.

    Did the Brits take transfer property to Englishmen on an extensive scale (a la extensive land grabs for settlements and, to a lesser extent, property seizure after 1948) or refused the right of return of the Irish? Yes, there are similarities between the P/I and the I/E conflicts, including terrorism done by the Irish and the Palestinian and extensive state violence by the English and Israelis, but there are many critical elements of the I/P conflict that make it a whole lot harder for Palestinians to “just forget about it”.

  72. Ali yes the British stole land from the Catholics and then had it re-settled by Protestant landlords.

  73. To thoreau’s point about the Crusaders–there were European kingdoms set up in Palestine that lasted 200 years or so IIRC. So, thats why the Arabs still think they can drive out the Jews. Those people have long memories.

  74. Does anyone else think this thing is just going to end with a mushroom cloud and an irradiated Palestine where nobody can live? I sure do.

  75. Who did the inhabitants of Palestine before the 20th century take it from?

    Ali, I’m not going to do a title search. Once upon a time it was “the Jews land”, that they stole from other tribes. Then the Romans ruled it. The Ottoman Turks have a claim. England has a claim. It’s the Middle East, everybody has a goddam claim on every little plot of land. There may be some small islands in the Pacific that have never changed hands. That is, the descendents of the original human settlers have had uninterrupted self rule.

    Nowhere on any of the continents does that apply. It didn’t apply in North America or Australia even before the Europeans arrived.

    That does not compliment human nature, does it?

  76. who were the ultimate victors in Mexico, the Aztecs, etc. or the Spaniards? .

    They don’t speak Aztec down there and the “Church” doesn’t practice sacraments of human sacrifice and beating heart removal….

    I’d say the Spaniards won hands down.

  77. I wish God would just kick everybody out of His land. That would solve the problem.

    But I don’t know how well it would work. Look what happened when Jesus went to Jerusalem. He kicked a few people out of His Father’s house and a few days later the government had him killed. (Of course, a few days after that we learned that the government can’t do anything right!) So you can imagine the upheaval if Jesus kicked everybody out of an entire region, not just one house.

  78. Does anyone else think this thing is just going to end with a mushroom cloud and an irradiated Palestine where nobody can live? I sure do.

    I sure the hell hope not. When I’m in my more cynical moods, I say yes, the people will ruin the land for spite.

  79. (Of course, a few days after that we learned that the government can’t do anything right!)

    Thanks for the levity. This thread needed it.

  80. I had prepared a much longer comment, but much of it has been taken care of actually by the three of you (thoreau, Cesar, and J sub D).

    OK, so we can’t go back in history because ultimately land was owned by no one. 100% in agreement.

    However, as Rothbard (in I think For a New Liberty) and other libertarians would concur, to resolve a conflict we have to resort to the most recent available documents proving ownership. I know many Palestinians whose parents and grandparents have since 1948 kept ownership deeds, etc, to prove property rights. In fact, that is why the whole right of return to many Arabs/Palestinians makes sense because ownership can be proved. And I am not talking about those who either sold or were forced to sell, for they no longer have such proof anymore. Secondly, I believe Israel does have these records, I believe inherited from the British*. But, do I expect the Israeli government to release them? No chance in hell.

    * edna: please correct me if I am wrong. I do not have resources for this, but please provide any if you have some link.

  81. That does not compliment human nature, does it?

    If understand you correctly, no it does not.

    Nor does that history justify violence, either.

    I full and wholeheartedly denounce terrorism against Israelis. Not only does it kill innocent bystanders, it also hurt the Palestinians’ own struggle. Not only that, extension of the struggle is exactly what the extremists and Hamas (and, yes, the PA, and the Israeli government) want to continue to have a legitimate reason to stay in power.

  82. Not only that, extension of the struggle is exactly what the extremists and Hamas (and, yes, the PA, and the Israeli government) want to continue to have a legitimate reason to stay in power.

    Presidents here get re-elected in wartime. Always. Even if they caused it. As I noted upthread, people are fucking stupid.

  83. * edna: please correct me if I am wrong. I do not have resources for this, but please provide any if you have some link.

    Not “resources”, but should be “sources” (and I mean on-line).

    One thing I am sure of is that Palestinian friends of mine do have proof of ownership since time their parents or grandparents had to leave.

    May be Moynihan, the libertarian that he sure is, can check into some of that property ownership thingy while he’s there, instead of wasting his time on corrupt politicians or trying to seek terrorists for interviews. He’d a lot of good for the libertarian cause.

  84. Damn it, every time one of these threads comes about and I say I won’t comment simply because usually people leave it unchanged. Same talking points, same players, same conclusions, and nothing new.

    OK, this is the last time I will post on a stupid I/P thread (or may be not).

  85. SIV,

    They don’t speak Aztec down there…

    In many rural regions the pre-Columbian languages still remain commonly spoken.

    …and the “Church” doesn’t practice sacraments of human sacrifice and beating heart removal…

    Throughout Latin America the religion of the of the population is as often as not syncretic in nature. Then again, from the very start Christianity (like any number of religions) was syncretic in nature.

  86. ali, your notion of the record-keeping, its orderliness, its reliability, its lack of ambiguity, and the lack of conflict is… charming. they didn’t have chicago title available then.

    All Israel haters and lovers can be caught in their permanent argument for real instead of just figuratively, and spare us their endless dogfight.

    star trek reference! lazarus! drink!

  87. Moynihan, if you have a chance to speak to Moshe Ya’alon, the former IDF chief, and now a Distinguished Fellow, no less, with the The Adelson Institute, could you ask him for me what in God’s name was he doing giving out medals to the surviving terrorist who targeted Americans in the operation that lead up to the Lavon Affair?

  88. star trek reference! lazarus! drink!

    Oh no! Are Star Trek references now part of the H&R drinking game? And I gave up sleeping in the gutter for lent.

  89. j sub, if it’s not, it damn well ought to be.

  90. They don’t speak Aztec down there and the “Church” doesn’t practice sacraments of human sacrifice and beating heart removal….

    No one ever spoke Aztec. The language is called Nahuatl, and it is still spoken by more than a million people. Insofar as hearts go, no one rips them out anymore, but there are a lot of folk practices that go back to prechristian times.

  91. But taking a free trip from a lobbying organization taking a strong stance on a volatile conflict seems a bit much for a journalist.

    *wipes away tear, a tear of pride*

  92. Moynihan already listened at length to a Palestinian spokesman, so it’s not as if evil, all-powerful AIPAC is strangling his information flow.

  93. I’m glad to see this discussion has resolved everyones’ differences. Let’s all go out and get ice cream.

  94. Dave – Remind us again of your skeptic cred…is it the 9/11 conspiracy theories, the HFCS conspiracy theories, or buttered waffle music that makes you the arbiter of skepticism? I’m always getting your street cred confused.

  95. I’m glad to see this discussion has resolved everyones’ differences. Let’s all go out and get ice cream.

    Baskin Robbins or Ben and Jerry’s? I prefer B&J.

  96. (OK, last comment–or not)

    ali, your notion of the record-keeping, its orderliness, its reliability, its lack of ambiguity, and the lack of conflict is… charming. they didn’t have chicago title available then.

    edna, it has been done in other conflicts from that era, I do not see why not here.

  97. Get with the times, Timmerthies — it is, of course, my blog:

    http://fedcirpatentcaseblurbs.blogspot.com/

  98. I do not see why not here.

    yes, i believe that.

  99. SIV,

    They don’t speak Aztec down there…

    In many rural regions the pre-Columbian languages still remain commonly spoken.

    …and the “Church” doesn’t practice sacraments of human sacrifice and beating heart removal…

    Throughout Latin America the religion of the of the population is as often as not syncretic in nature. Then again, from the very start Christianity (like any number of religions) was syncretic in nature.

    Calidore,

    Spanish dominates and only a minority of the vey poorest speak an indigenous language.I believe the language of the Aztec elite is quite extinct. Christianity is syncretic, and Latin American Catholicism much more than most. Mexico has been thoroughly Spaniardized for nearly 5 centuries.The Aztec culture was wiped out and has only vestigial traces in Mexico and none in Spain.

    I’d call that a “victory” for Spain.

  100. I do not see why not here.

    yes, i believe that.

    Huh? I am not sure if you satirizing, or being serious.

  101. From Wiki:

    Today Nahuan dialects[6] are spoken in scattered communities mostly in rural areas. There are considerable differences between dialects and some are mutually unintelligible. They have all been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern dialects are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are generally more closely related to it than those on the periphery……

    ……Throughout the modern period the situation of indigenous languages has grown increasingly precarious, and the numbers of speakers of virtually all indigenous languages have dwindled. Although the absolute number of Nahuatl speakers has actually risen over the past century, indigenous populations have become increasingly marginalized in Mexican society. In 1895, Nahuatl was spoken by over 5% of the Mexican population. By 2000, this proportion had fallen to 1.49%. Given the process of marginalization combined with the trend of migration to urban areas and to the United States, some linguists are warning of impending language death.[26] At present Nahuatl is mostly spoken in rural areas by an impoverished class of indigenous subsistence agriculturists.

    I’d say the Spaniards won hands down.

    I’ll agree with Calidore that there is no statute of limitations on history.Perhaps, one day, Mexico will conquer Spain.the result would have vastlymore in common with 16th Century(and later) Spain than pre-Columbian Mexico.

  102. Please, everyone stop subscribing from this rag. It is a joke. Michael Moynihan consistently posts anti-muslim anti-arab “commentary” and now they’re not even trying to hide their bias. My how far Reason has fallen. You guys destroyed this magazine, it really saddens me.

  103. As a former subscriber to Ron Paul’s newsletter, I am shocked. What happened to America first?

  104. SIV,

    I believe the language of the Aztec elite is quite extinct.

    Nahuatl is spoken by millions of people.

    Mexico has been thoroughly Spaniardized for nearly 5 centuries. The Aztec culture was wiped out and has only vestigial traces in Mexico and none in Spain.

    Given how pre-Columbian influences pervade everything from diet to dance to the visual arts it is difficult for me to accept that conclusion.

  105. My how far Reason has fallen. You guys destroyed this magazine, it really saddens me.

    Drink!

  106. Anyway, the history of such things is rather complex; for example, who were the ultimate victors in Mexico, the Aztecs, etc. or the Spaniards?

    Aztec culture doesn’t exist anymore. The Aztec people don’t exist anymore except as a genetic remnant that has been mixed almost everywhere with European blood. Mexico today is almost entirely a cultural and political descendant of Europe and especially Spain.

    I don’t see how there’s any question about who “won.”

  107. Nahuatl is spoken by millions of people.

    I thought it was an extinct language, although remnants survive in various bastardized dialects.

  108. This whole mess could have been avoided if after WW II the United States invited all the displaced Jews of Europe to come and occupy New Israel, a strip of border territory in the American Southwest adjacent to Mexico. We could have located all the ancient Hebrew monuments and artifacts from Jerusalem to New Israel to make them feel at home.

    This would have raised tha national IQ by at least five points, provided an impenetrable barrier to the hordes of illegals to the south, and given the Jews a homeland not surrounded by 100 million hostile Arabs.

  109. I didn’t know that people still Aztec languages today. I have, however, heard of people speaking Mayan languages, including a lot of people who come to the US. What’s always amusing is the rare instance of somebody complaining about illegal Mayan immigrants and saying “They don’t even speak Spanish!”

  110. lets see, jews have collected millions (billions?) in reparations and reclaimed art work etc. from the Nazis and their collaborators.

    Palestinians still have deeds to land in Israel from the same time period.

    whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

  111. John,

    Every Zionist that I have known over the years has heard that argument many, many times before, and the few I have asked what they think of it consider it a condescending insult to suggest a land trade in the US or anywhere else would be an acceptable alternative.

  112. Besides, displacing Texas ranchers is a really bad idea. These aren’t Palestinians you are dealing with, but Texas ranchers, and as the Cash
    song goes, every single one of them is mean as hell. I would pity the million IDF soldiers who tried to rile even a mere dozen of them.

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