The Middle East, Part V

Alan writes:
“There is no country of Palestine. Being a Palestinian is only good for being discriminated against. The Israeli right have seen to this as part of the essential plan to drive them out, as Herzl explicitly stated in his diaries and elsewhere. There was never any plan for a viable Palestinian state.”

I get very confused about some of this. I happen to have a pre-1946 postage stamp from Palestine. It has the Dome of the Rock on it. So, weren’t there Palestinians then? And wasn’t it supposedly independent of Britain for some [short] period of time before being commandeered by the Allies as a new home for Europe’s displaced and battered Jewish survivors?

I converted informally to Judaism when I gave birth to a Jewish child, but wouldn’t have done so in any event had I not been a long time admirer of some of the core tenets of Judaism. But I didn’t keep a kosher house, or become a Zionist, or come to believe that the Jews were “chosen”, any more than any primitive tribe thinks of themselves as having some special status with their supreme being. Take away the religious difference, and the Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Arabs, and Lebanese are basically all one ethnic group; of course the European Jews who have dominated Israel’s political development are different…

It has become very difficult for me to understand how anybody can consider this a “holy land” any more. Mohammed was smart not to ever visit Jerusalem; he saw what happened to J.C. there!!

I got no answers for any of this. Teaching hatred seems to be pretty effective. Something about sowing the wind comes to mind…

Boy, lotsa stuff to blog now; all we need is a good conflict to get us started!!!

Mariann Wizard

Yes, that is right, but many Zionists want to claim that there was no distinct Palestinian identity because that harms their position/slogan, ” A people without land to a land without a people”. The Palestinians aren’t people according to some racist theories. They are Arabs after all ( note: sarcasm).


As it stands now there is no Palestinian money, or stamps, or even phone books. There are no Palestinian entrances or exits, only Israeli. There are “Palestinian” check points but that is not where one’s passport is checked. One cannot land a plane or dock a boat in “Palestine” with out Israeli permission. Palestinians have a hard time entering or leaving their own towns to travel a few miles and they cannot enter or leave their “country” without Israeli permission. There is a prison called Palestine but it is not a country at this moment. I walked with Palestinians who had to climb over boulders to leave Bethlehem for Hebron because Israeli bulldozers had destroyed the road.

( I put “Palestine” in quotes because there is no real Palestine but that gets tiresome. The problem with words is that if one uses them then people think there is a corresponding reality to the word or phrase.)

I invite anyone who does not believe this to go to “Palestine”. You will have to fly to Tel Aviv or Amman. Forget Beirut.

There are good maps of the West Bank showing all the “settlements” and their “security roads” and how these effectively carve the West Bank into a checker board with isolated cities. What does it matter if you own 97% of a house if the other 3% you do not own is the driveway, doors and windows? And let us not forget the water pipes you don’t own. That was the great “deal” offered the Palestinians. There is a five bedroom house in Clarksville for $14,000 but after you buy it you still have to ask the previous owner for permission to leave or enter it. And some of the previous owners relatives will live in one of the bedrooms. They will attack you from time to time. What a deal. The Pieces Process.

When you and I talk about a country we usually mean one that can elect its own officials without then being attacked, have its own court system, its own banks, its own passports ( that mean something), its own airports free of external control, control of its own water and mineral resources. Independent foreign cities with their own armies are not a usual feature within a sovereign nation. Palestine is simply occupied territory the Israeli Government Army refuses to leave. The Martial Plan.

To their credit the Israeli Defense Force protect the Palestinians from settler attacks on occasion but then the settlers attack the IDF.

I must work on my book now so I cannot waste time “responding” ( if one can call it that) to Michael and Steve, who shape shift every time an uncomfortable fact comes their way. Now I am a conspiracy theorist because I know more about Zionism than the Zionists. David Hamilton is doing a great job but he has a hard time wrestling with mercury as well. I know the mentality because I once shared it as an Irish Catholic altar boy. Just like a Jehovah’s Witness with a arm load of Watch Towers I knew the stock replies to the questioning of my faith. I knew it was a sin to doubt. The whole house of cards would crumble if I admitted a doubt so I wouldn’t admit any. But in the end I was more interested in the truth than defending the absurdities of theism or imperialism. The existential leap bothered me a bunch but it worked out for the better.

Leaping non-aligned non-theists , O, my!

Alan Pogue

David pH writes:
Dear “Moral Coward”,
I was nicer than Michael King. I said “intellectual coward”. May have to resubscribe to your pitiful rag if Chomsky kicking your flacid intellectual ass is to become a regular feature. Please write a rebuttal so we can watch you twist slowly in the wind. Still willing to bet $100 you’ve never read “Manufacturing Consent”.

David – is this a copy of a letter to the Snakeoil?? Oh, they must love you!!


To my buddy, Rich Oppel, inspired by Michael King’s article in the current Chronicle. I probably shouldn’t have.


You win the $100. But I will. “Manufacturing Consent” is an interesting title and I know George didn’t read it but I will bet that Karl Rove has. With Fox News as their spokesman the bureau of information is very busy manufacturing our views.

Charlie Loving

Steve – if disarmament could lead to fighting with clubs and hand-to-hand combat, that would be a vast improvement over what’s going on now. Gotta go with my peacenik Sistah Val on this one! Yew wanna fight about it, I already got a rock here to knock your big ol’ head upside with…


Eisenstadt/Hamilton on Israel.

DH1 (David Hamilton) – Let’s not reduce this to a discussion of the meaning of the word “theocracy”. Israel identifies itself to the world as the homeland of the Jews. To establish such a homeland was the core rationale for Zionism. Israel is a nation where Jews have unique privileges. Any Jew can move to Israel and become a citizen. Not so with others. Property rights that produce housing segregation for Jews are recognized in Israeli law.

ME – Except for the last line which I don’t understand, what you say is absolutely true. Most countries restrict immigration for one reason or another; some do so on racial grounds as for example Germany where German ancestors permit Russian “Germans” and “Germans” from other eastern european countries to immigrate to Germany freely on the government’s nickel; some countries bar immigration entirely. I fail to see why Israel should be expected to receive anyone who might want to immigrate there.

[DH2 – This point is that Israel discriminates on a religious basis in immigration and in myriad other realms, which you acknowledge, and especially so in relation to Palestinians.]
DH1 – The wall of separation is being built to preserve a Jewish majority within it. (Excerpted from a longer statement.)

ME – WRONG. The wall was proposed by the Laborites to separate Israel from the West Bank and Gaza and prevent infiltration of terrorists. The Likudists and other pro-settlers long opposed it because it would put many settlements on the wrong side of the wall. As the number of suicide bombers increased, killing civilians on buses and in cafes and making public life a dangerous activity, it was finally agreed to by the right-wing government. Now that the wall is in place (most of it), suicide bombers have been virtually eliminated. The wall does not follow the Green Line (as I believe it should) because the Israeli government wants to include as many settlements as they can. If you look at a map of it, it is placed mostly on the Green Line. Palestinian Arab landowners have sued in Israeli courts to change its placement and have won in some cases. How’s that for innate Israeli cruelty? Finally, how would the lack of a wall threaten the Jewish majority as you say? That makes no sense.

[DH2 – “Meanwhile, the takeover of the West Bank continues. Haim Ramon, minister in charge of Greater Jerusalem, conceded that the goal of the Jerusalem segment of the Separation Barrier is to guarantee a Jewish majority. (emphasis added) The barrier was therefore constructed to cut off over 50,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem and include Jewish ‘neighborhoods’ extending well into the West Bank. Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem immediately after the June 1967 war was immediately condemned by the UN Security Council, which ‘urgently calls upon Israel’ to rescind any measures taken with regard to the legal status of Jerusalem and to take no further measures (Resolution 252 of May 21, 1968). The annexation is officially recognized almost nowhere outside of Israel, where state law stipulates that ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, East Jerusalem is Israel’s territory and Israel is sovereign to act there regardless of international law’ (Aharon Barak, the chief justice of Israel’s Supreme Court).” Failed States, Noam Chomsky, p. 198.]
DH1 – What is preposterous is to claim that it is a pure secular democracy where everyone has equal rights. That takes blinders.

ME – Arab Israelis who were under martial law from 1948 until 1966 as I pointed out earlier do not have all the rights of Jewish Israelis. I don’t wear blinders. They were after 1948 of course hostile to their new Israeli government and in some (many?) cases provided assistance to the Fedayeen fighters who infiltrated the border and carried out operations from the West Bank and Gaza during those years (the casus belli of the 1956 war). That is why they were under martial law. Fast forwarding to the present, Arab Israelis enjoy free medical care, a state pension when they retire, but do not serve in the military nor can they rent and buy real estate freely, nor with rare exceptions in certain professions such as medicine can they expect to hold managerial positions in the economy. As you must surely know, they can if they wish emigrate elsewhere but virtually none do so.

[DH2 – So, Arabs have the option of either accepting a second class citizenship with a second rate payoff to compensate for Israeli discrimination and oppression or leaving their ancestral homeland. You make my point.]
DH1 – Meanwhile, let us return to a few questions I raised earlier: Question 1. How is your position relative to the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah any different from George Bush’s position?

ME – I am surprised to find myself thinking that it is lucky that Bush is in the White House at this time as a Democratic president might have been more diffident in supporting Israel. The debacle in Iraq doesn’t help matters of course.

[DH2 – The use of “diffident” confirms that your position does not differ from that of George Bush.]

DH1 – Question 2. Why is Israel typically isolated with the world’s principal imperialist power in global political conflicts – all those 180 to 2 votes in the UN General Assembly?

ME – The answer is either that Israel is in reality a manifestation of the Evil principle and the culmination of a cruel century-old conspiracy (Alan’s position) or it is the long time whipping boy of the Soviet bloc, before its dissolution, Arab countries and other corrupt third-world countries. Take a look at the names of the countries which condemn Israel’s behavior. Quelle galere! Nigeria and Sudan are to be the arbiters of justice. Taking you at your word that you really believe that Israel is “the world’s principle imperialist power,” I am nonplussed as to what one might say.

[DH2 – As I said clearly above, I am talking of the many 180-3 like votes in the UN General Assembly where the US and Israel and some other paid off sycophant defy the rest of the world united, not just Sudan and Nigeria. Also, I assumed that anyone who has read anything I ever wrote knew that I consider the world’s principal imperialist power to be the United States of America. I trust this concept is not alien to you.]

DH1 – Didn’t the current war increase that (Israel’s) isolation?

ME – Probably.

[DH – So who won?]

DH1 – Question 3. How do you account for the Israeli history of support for right wing military dictatorships in Latin America?

ME – Happily most of those dictatorships are toast. Israel’s relationships with them was a moral lapse.

[DH2 – These particular moral lapses involved very severe crimes against humanity to the point of genocide while in league with outright fascists and their US imperialist overlords for which Israel has made no compensation or even an apology. In Guatemala, we call it the Maya Holocaust. As someone once said, “Never forget.”]

DH1 – Question 4. Why should anyone accept the notion that Israel’s illegal nuclear weapons are benign?

ME – Because they are intended as deterrence unlike those of Iran should it get ahold of any.

{DH – I have your word on this, but Israel has signed no treaty disavowing a first strike. Nor has it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of which it is in obvious violation, or even acknowledged that it has the 200+ illegal nuclear weapons it has. The man who disclosed their nuclear weapons program was kidnapped in London and by Israeli “terrorists” and still rots in an Israeli jail. In other words, your position is entirely subjective and your subjectivity is entirely based on your tribal allegiance.]

DH1 – Question 5. Should Israel continue to receive billions annually in military aid from the US, but Hezbollah be prohibited from receiving military aid from Iran and Syria?

ME – Israel prospering as it is economically should not accept US handouts. So say I as do many in Israel. It should be noted that most or all of these monies must be spent by Israel in buying US military hardware so this kind of arrangement is also a way of subsidizing US manufacturers of military hardware by increasing their sales. Iran’s present government as their president himself says holds that Israel should cease to exist. As does Hezbollah. Should I, sympathetic as I am to Israel, be in favor of Hezbollah getting Iranian rockets and shooting them at Israel? Are you in favor of Hezbollah rocketing Israel? Is Alan?

[DH – A more even handed approach would be an arms embargo to the whole area. That approach would also require Israel disarming and destroying its nuclear arsenal. However, I firmly believe that were the US to cut off military subsidies to Israel altogether, Israel would make a mutually acceptable peace with the Palestinians shortly thereafter. In the meantime, using violence in an anti-colonial struggle against a violent occupation can be quite just indeed. Think Vietnam. Whether that violence is well targeted, proportional or effective is another question. Car bombs and F16s are moral equivalents.]

DH1 – Question 6. Why are Palestinians being routinely brutalized in the occupied territories?

ME – They are brutalized because that sort of behavior is a result of a military occupation. The occupied population resists and there ensues a cycle of increasing resistance and increasing repression. Look at American troop behavior in Iraq. You wouldnt therefore conclude that American troops are innately cruel. Behavior deteriorates due to the circumstances. An inherently unjust situation begets unjust behavior.

[DH2 – Brutalizing people brutalizes the brutalizer as well. Tragically, that’s what has happened to Israel.]
DH1 – And do you support Palestinians being able to elect their own leaders or is that contingent on them electing someone Zionists approve?

ME – Why do you keep calling Israelis Zionists? Is Israel for you the “usurping Zionist entity” as Nasrullah of Hezbollah calls them? Israel is prepared to make a deal with Hamas if Hamas wanted to deal. Unfortunately they do not want to deal. Their position is that of Islamic extremism: every land that has ever been under the rule of Islam must be returned to Islamic rule. It is what god wants. I hope it is not what you want.

[DH2 – That does not answer the original question. Not surprising since Israel, like its patron, the USA, only likes democracy when it can control the outcome. // It is my understanding that Hamas has accepted the Arab League proposal of 2002, which recognizes the state of Israel, as a basis for negotiation.]

DH1 – Val hit the essence in one sentence. Your progressive political principals lack universality in regards to Israel. For example, “As for “the right of return” of the 1948 Arabs, ha ha ha. That is non-negotiable.”

ME – It is a univeral rule. Quoting Montesquieu “all regimes are founded on a crime.” Just as the US or Canada or Australia or New Zealand or Russia or Poland and Hungary or the countries of Latin America will not be giving back the land to those they killed, displaced or expelled (American indians, Australian aborigines, Maori, Siberian natives, ethnic Germans, etc.), the Palestinians expelled from the Israel area of partioned Palestine during the 1948 war will never return. As I explained in a previous post, it is now know from the publication of his papers that Ben Gurion did in fact order the Israeli army to expel as many Palestinians as possible in the course of the 1948 war (but not kill them as Arabs would have done). In the light of the corresponding fact that if Israel lost that war they would all be killed or at best driven out of the country, Ben Gurion acted on the principle of *raison d’etat.* IMO he acted correctly. I regret typing “ha ha ha.” I was getting a bit gaga from writing a long letter. The Israelis have suggested compensation but “the right of return” is non-negotiable just as it is for every other country in the world. It is Israel’s bad fortune to have commenced the colonial project late in history and done it in the wrong part of the world, especially now in light of the rising tide of fundamental Islamic sentiment.

[DH – Glad we got that historical “crime” and “colonial project . . . in the wrong part of the world” issue cleared up.]

David Hamilton

Published on Sunday, August 13, 2006 by the Toronto Sun (Canada)
Bombs Not Enough
by Eric Margolis

For the past month, 3,000 lightly-armed Hezbollah fighters have managed to hold off the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), the world’s fourth most powerful military machine.

This wholly unexpected resistance to a major Israeli operation has amazed the world, electrified Muslim nations and stunned Israelis, who previously dismissed Hezbollah as “a bunch of terrorists.” According to Israeli media, Israel had apparently been planning the Lebanon invasion for the past three years and conducted a mock invasion of Lebanon only a month ago.

Bombs Not Enough by Eric Margolis

Posted by David Hamilton

I imagined in subscribing to Ragstaff that I would lurk rather than write letters to Rag people. And wound up crafting defenses of Israel the country long into the night.

Thanks David Hamilton (I saw you for the first time at your recent sale at La Pena but did not come up and introduce myself) for your civil engagement with the thread.

I had ridiculously hoped that after such a brilliant letter as my last you would “get it” about how your understanding of the subject was subpar but to hope that was ridiculous. You have an endless bill of particulars against Israel which could never be exculpated to your satisfaction. “Every regime is founded on a crime” to my mind is a heavy mojo insight and obviously true when you think about it. If it was true in all cases in past history, then it remains true. Steve an American indian sees this. You do not. Consider that you too are a colonist (that it was your grandfather does not make you any less an usurper of the people who preceded you here). You hold Israel to justify its creation by the standard of a political morality which has never existed in the course of history.

Mike Eisenstadt

I will not differ with Val or with you because you are fundamentally right.

I just don’t see the “correct” choice among the choices on the the table, and it is necessary to choose or not play. To not play is to turn it over to the Karl Roves of the world.


David pH writes:

“[DH2 – This point is that Israel discriminates on a religious basis in immigration and in myriad other realms, which you acknowledge, and especially so in relation to Palestinians …”

Who the heck is DH2??? Have you cloned yourself? Are you conducting illicit stem cell research? Have you an evil twin? Is it Mini-You?

Mariann Wizard

And that may remain an unanswered question …. rdj

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