Anti-semitism and apartheid

Andrew Sullivan chooses to sneer at Gaardner’s (admittedly divisive) rhetoric. In doing so, he completely fails to address the key question: “Is there apartheid in Israel?”

Andrew Sullivan at Time Magazine’s Daily Dish says that the author Jostein Gaarder is an anti-semite, quoting an article by Gaarder in the Norweigan Aftenposten.

Sullivan claims that Gaarder is calling for the “obliteration of the state of Israel”, but on reading Gaardner in translation, I think that’s a serious misrepresentation of what he is trying to say. Gaardner repeatedly uses the word “apartheid” to describe Israel’s policies and structure. And if he, like many of us, sees an apartheid regime in Israel, then why should he not wish to call for its demise?

All too often “we do not recognize the state of Israel” is equated to mean “Jews into the sea”, or some variation thereof. When Hamas says it in their covenant, I think that’s a fair comparison… But there are many forms of non-recognition. A few months ago, I was chatting to a sixty-year old Palestinian woman, Ana, who used to live in West-Jerusalem. Her family was driven out of their house, without compensation. She fled to the Lebanon and then to Britain, and has no legal right to become a citizen of the state that currently surrounds her old house.

“Do you recognise the state of Israel?” I asked her.

“Why should I?” she replied, and I had no answer. If your house has been taken away in the name of a State, why should you then regard that State as legitimate? Of course Ana doesn’t recognise Israel, but that doesn’t mean she wants all the Jews out of the Middle-East, and she says as much.

She just wants her house back.

I think Gaarder uses the phrase in a similar manner. At each step, he declares the framework of the State of Israel to be immoral, and advocates a paradigm shift. The comparisons with South Africa are apt here. Why recognise and perpepuate the apartheid system, when you can have a Rainbow Nation? South Africa implemented a new constitution in 1994. We could therefore say that South Africa was destroyed and reborn when the change took place. But no-one was driven into the sea. The whites were considered ‘liberated’ as much as the blacks. They all stayed where they were, political equals with their neighbours.

Andrew Sullivan chooses to sneer at Gaarder’s (admittedly divisive) rhetoric. In doing so, he completely fails to address the key question: “Is there apartheid in Israel?”

From the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2003)

The Committee reiterates its concern that the “excessive emphasis upon the State as a ‘Jewish State’ encourages discrimination and accords second-class status to its not-Jewish citizens.

When the state denies Arab Bedouin access to water and healthcare, while their Jewish neighbours live in in luxury, then something is wrong. When American or British Citizens, born and bred in The West, can make alyia at a moments’ notice, but Ana cannot visit the town of her birth (let alone be recognized as a citizen of that town), then something is wrong. When universities favour Jewish students over Arab students of other faiths, then something is wrong. When the state builds walls through school playgrounds in the name of ‘security’, and children are legitimate terrorist suspects, then something is wrong.

Should a country called ‘Israel’ exist? Sure thing – the millions of Jewish people who already live between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan should be allowed to live where their heart dicates. However, it must be achieved without recourse to an aparthied system. Otherwise, it is not worth the effort, and we would be right to shun it, as Jostein Gaarder advocates. It is inequality which defines the current status quo. Primacy should not awarded to one group over the other. If the current system does this, then it is unviable, and unworthy of support in its current form. This, I beleive, is the only genuinely pro-semitic position. Everything else is unwitting prejudice.

The religious idea that a group of people have a divine right to the Holy Land, can never be part of the philosophy of a state – be it Jewish or Islamic. The messy conflicts, and sticky diplomacy which will guarantee the safety of everyone in the region, can only begin once this central tenet has been agreed upon. We count the bangs as we wait.

Update

I’ve made some more comments on Gaarder’s problematic essay.

59 thoughts on “Anti-semitism and apartheid”

  1. Robert, you disappoint me. The article by Jostein Gaarder is a melodramatic, inflammatory disgrace, but then anyone who read Sophie’s World will know that he isn’t much of a writer. What he is calling for is the destruction of Israel. If you want to criticise the state of Israel, and I know you generally do, you must be able to find better source material than that sort of rubbish.

    The comparisons with South Africa are apt here. Why recognise and perpepuate the apartheid system, when you can have a Rainbow Nation?

    This is just another example of the typical overstatement that characterises current criticism of Israel. The comparisons with South Africa are not apt here at all. There is racism and discrimination in Israel, as there is in every single country in the west including the UK and in the countries that surround it in the Middle East. But Israeli Arabs have a vote, they stand for government – as a result of which there are Arab political parties in the Knesset; they are able to apply for the same jobs as Jewish Israelis, they teach at the universities, some choose to serve in the army, they own property, they are not forced to live in certain areas – they have the same civil rights as Jewish Israelis. The example of discrimination in relation to university housing that you give applies equally to those Jews who exercise the religious study exception to military service, many of whom also go to university. Where’s the Jewish, homosexual or feminist representation in, say, the Saudi government? (Did you spot what I did there? Did you? That’s right, there is no Jewish representation in Saudi because Jews aren’t allowed in Saudi at all! Ho ho ho.)

    There is undoubtedly racism and prejudice directed at Israeli-born Arabs but to say that the position of Israeli Arabs is the same as the position of black South Africans under apartheid rule is utter, utter arse.

    The religious idea that a group of people have a divine right to the Holy Land, can never be part of the philosophy of a state – be it Jewish or Islamic.

    When was the last time you heard a Jew say that the right of the Jews is based on some divine right? The Jews who believe in divine rights don’t support the State of Israel. The Jews I know will tell you that their right to Israel is based on continuous Jewish presence in Palestine from Biblical times to the present day, plus the UN resolution in 1948, plus the fact that Jews have held Israel against repeated Arab attempts at invasion since Israel’s birth. It is as simple as that.

    I am a moderate, evenhanded and fair person. I recognise that the Palestinians need a homeland, I wish that the conflict with Lebanon would stop, I wish that Israel would withdraw within its pre-1867 borders. My patience and goodwill are sorely tried when Jostein Gaardner publishes that sort of “apartheid state” claptrap and when intelligent men like you promote and support it.

  2. Phenomenally, you’re both still talking to me, so I say I win. For the moment, at least…

    I’ve made some more comments on Gaardner’s essay in another post on the blog. What struck me about Andrew Sullivan’s criticisms was that he highlighted the “do not recognise Israel” excerpts over the the more distasteful stuff I’ve subsequently highlighted.

    However, I must stress that the “apartheid” moniker is not something I’ve simply adopted from Gaardner, or any Galloway-style pressure group. I did apply it of my own free will. Its a shocking and melodramatic term indeed, and I use it precisely because it jars.

    But you’re right, of course that the parallels should not be so easily drawn. Others (such as Intifad Kid I guess) will disagree, but if you’re tired of that debate I can take back the melodrama. “Apartheid” is a specific Afrikaans word with a specific meaning, after all.

    But I cannot take back what I’ve seen, and I cannot take back the assertion that Palestinians, whether in Gaza, West Bank or citizens of Israel, are treated as second class citizens. It’s a widespread inequality, and its wrong.

    I was in Jerusalem last year, and it was fucking horrible. Pretty photos in places, but generally, really horrible. The Wall is a wall not a fence, and it is one of the most dehumanising things I have ever seen. Not, however, as dehumanising as the bypass which links two new settlements, separated by a refugee camp. The bypass has high, walled sides, painted with green pastoral scenes of flowers and livestock. Stop the car and look over the wall, and you see the camp.

    (Jerusalem, by the way, could be the centre of the world, a beacon of multiculturalism. I was overjoyed when they booked the 2006 World Gay Pride event there, and devastated when the Muslim and Jewish clerics united to try thwart it. Oh, how many ironie therein!)

    Lurking at one of the check-points from Ramallah into East Jerusalem, we saw the Palestinian workers queueing to gain entry past the barbed wire. Different coloured passes for different types of permit! Movement for these people is severely curtailed. Not technically South-African pass-laws, I agree, so not technically apartheid. But two classes of citizen, nonetheless. Check out ‘The Unrecognized’ film I linked to above, about the Bedouin in the Negev/Naqab. “How can you call yourselves a democracy when 70,000 people are without water?” asks one interviewee. The crisis in the Naqab is within the 1947 boders.

    Why, you might ask, are we more critical of Israel than any other place (e.g. Saudi)? I am very critical of Saudi, but on the most basic and trivial of levels – I don’t seem to share their values. Any of them. But I think Westerners have a cultural and historical affinity with Israel, on which I try to embellish here. (Plenty of harsh comments for me there too, but my initial post was sincere, and I stand by it): “But China? Well, that’s a homogenising dictatorship. Sudan? A desert pockmarked with genocide. Criticising these places for even five seconds seems to be overdoing it – You could make your point in four.”

    I do genuinely feel that it is in Israel’s interest to address this terrible disparity. This does not entail ejecting the Jews. Whether they and Muslims can live together in a single, secular state is another debate. I say they can (Uri Gordon in The LIP Magazine agrees). But I also say that they must, on the basis that it is the only moral, egalitarian arrangement.

  3. Since the proposed Palestinian Constitution states that “Palestine” will be an Arab, Muslim state, it’s hard to see much hope that a single secular state is a viable option. And given the history of Jews and other minorities in Arab, Muslim regimes, even when there were no scores to settle, Israeli Jews would be suicidal to allow it.

    You say folks in the West Bank are “second class citizens.” That’s because they are not citizens, they are in disputed territory that Israel has not claimed as its own. You should really know that much if you want to write about this.

    Also, there were no checkpoints or walls before there were suicide bombers, started by Hamas. Jews and Arabs used to go freely between the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel. Don’t take my word for it, you can look it up.

    If you look at the Volokh Conspiracy next week, you will find that there are many nations, including many European ones, that have an explicit ethnic basis.

    Finally, did you ever ask your friend WHY she fled West Jerusalem? The Arabs who stayed and didn’t make war on Israel in 1948 are now properous, full citizens, and on good terms with the Jews. There is a town like this right on the outskirts of the Jewish part of Jerusalem. Your friend probably left because she was convinced that the Jews were going to lose, and get slaughtered, and she was at least sympathetic to that aim, and figured she’d come back when the mess was over. Why would Israel want her back then?

  4. “Should a country called ‘Israel’ exist? Sure thing”

    Sensible enough, but Hamas, IJ, and Hizbollah disagree. Their goal is to destroy Israel (as well as democray and secular government) throughout the region.

    I wonder if have enough respect for Arab people to take them at their word?

  5. Robert, name me one country which doesn’t have these so called problems, including your Britain. Maybe France is better, right? Just ask the Arabs who rioted last year. Just come out and admit it that you just hate Jews, instead of putting forth these phony intellectual arguments. Harping over and over on Israel’s problems while ignoring everyone else’s is Anti Semitism and nothing else.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Aaron. You’re right: other countries do have these problems, and I complain about them. Indeed, the problems in Northern Ireland mirrored those in Israel in many ways. Please have a read of my post on abolishing the cross of St George for what I think about other countries who ascribe a religion to themselves. I was also pretty explicit above suggesting that Islamic states suffer from the same structural problem.

    But there definitely isn’t any Jew hating here. I’ve already linked to my parallel post on other aspects of Gaarder’s article. I think you extrapolate my arguments along your own preconcieved lines. I suspect that you are reading my “do not recognise” to mean “destroy Jews”, a false lemma that I was specifically exploring in the post. If I suggest a single-state solution, I am most certainly not advocating one that would result in the “suicidal” carnage that David B fears (above).

    If you think any other one-state-solution is impossible, then we disagree, and the debate is there to have. You may also disagree with my analysis of “apartheid” – and the debate is there to have. Do as Katy did, and fill me up with some counter-examples. I never get the last word, even in my own blog comments box.

  7. Robert, I was thinking about your take on why Israel is subject to more criticism than other regimes.

    I am not sure that it holds up, for this reason: countries like China, or Russia/Chechnya (I don’t think you can say that Russian values are alien to ours in the Saudi sense, by the way), or India/Pakistan, or the Darfur situation, or the Ivory Coast situation, or Sudan, or Zimbabwe… the information on the crises and the human rights abuses in these countries are all reported ad nauseam on the internet by human rights groups, pressure groups, interested charities, etc, etc.

    The information is there to be found. Easily. And occasionally you might get an article hidden away on page 27 of the Times or the Independent, enough to let you know (if you are interested in human rights abuses) that there is something going on that is wrong, and that perhaps putting the world’s spotlight on it might push the wrongdoer into putting the wrong right. It’s just that the MSM has no sustained interest in it. And that does give the lie to the suggestion that the spotlight is on Israel because it is seen as a human rights abuser.

  8. Katy, I’m not suggesting that the criticism of Israel is justified on the basis that we “don’t know enough” about Zimbabwe. As I said, its more to do with whether my government is already on the case, and a lot to do with the nature of the regime being criticised. Israel is a democracy in a way that Zimbabwe is no longer.

  9. Actually, Katy said just about everything I wanted to. I do disagree with your definition of apartheid. Israel has about 1 million Israeli Arabs living there with full rights-more rights than any other Arab country-including apparently even Turkey, (remember the brouhaha a while ago against the wearing of the headscarves in public?) So these over the top accusations are just plain absurd.
    I have a question for you. Is it anti-semitic if individuals or organizations focus only on Israel’s alleged sins while constantly ignoring, (except for some token bland statements), the same and worse sins of other countries? Before you answer, imagine if a newspaper decided to only report crimes of one ethnic group every day while ignoring everybody else’s crimes. What would be your reaction? What would be the reaction of the readers of this newspaper? It would cause virulent hatred of that ethnic group, don’t you think? That is exactly what is happening with regard to Israel, and I might add, happened in Nazi Germany. We have here statements from people how Israel is deliberately (as opposed to collateral damage) targeting civilians. We all know that’s not true-even Hezbollah knows that-that why they spent all this time hiding in civilian areas in the first place!! They wanted to be safe there. What’s ironic about all this is that all these people who are protesting the civilian deaths have no problem with Israeli civilian deaths. (Go to sandmonkeyblog.com for some eye opening comments from arabs about Israeli civilian deaths).Either you are for it or against it, you can’t say Israeli civilians deaths are Ok, but not Arab civilian deaths-again, I don’t agree that Israel is deliberately targeting them anyway.

  10. Sorry, my bad phrasing. You said that whereas you can produce detailed criticism of Israel you can’t do the same with other countries like China and Sudan. I don’t think that’s true. The detailed information is out there and readily available, but no one picks it up.

  11. That was what you said in the post that you linked to, not this post. I am tired, and should take more care over how I phrase things. But I understood you to be saying that it is easier to list specific instances of Israeli wrongdoing than it is to list specific instances of wrongdoing of other nations, and the point I was making was that actually one could, if one cared enough about it, but it seems that people don’t.

  12. I’m afraid I have comments on all the above comments, as well as the original post. This will take some time.

    Rob – Although you appear to be advocating a (secular?) one state solution in this post, to which I am open, under the current circumstances, your comment that “the millions of Jewish people who already live between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan should be allowed to live where their heart dicates” puts you at odds with international law and numerous UN resolutions. According to the Fourth Geneva Conventions, an occupying power (in this case, Israel) may not transfer parts of its civilian population to territory under its occupation (in this case the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Shebaa Farms). Unless the Jews you refer to are Palestinian Jews (and there are some), they have no legal right to live “wherever their heart dictates.” By contrast, Palestinian refugees from areas inside Israel (like your friend Anna) have an internationally recognized right of return, reaffirmed by UN Resolution 194.

    On the issue of World Gay Pride: I disagree that holding this in Jerusalem, the Eastern part of which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, should be a cause for celebration. There is a growing movement against this idea, supported by progressive and informed activists for sexual rights based locally and globally. See: boycottworldpride.org.

    Katy – I actually agree that the muddled piece by Gaarder doesn’t make the most eloquent or sensible case for boycotting Israel (although I support such a boycott, and I don’t believe his article should be dismissed as anti-Semitic). But I must correct you on your assertion that Palestinian citizens of Israel (which you follow the government of Israel in labeling ‘Israeli Arabs’) ‘are not forced to live in certain areas’. The Israeli government follows a policy throughout historic Palestine (ie: on both sides of the 1967 boundary) of minimizing the amount of land available to non-Jewish indigenous Palestinians and maximizing the amount under its state and para-statal institutions including those mandated to work exclusively for the benefit of the Jewish people worldwide, such as the Jewish National Fund. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, approximately 7% of land was under Jewish ownership.

    According to Adalah- The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel & Habitat International Coalition: “Since 1948, large tracts of Arab-owned land have been confiscated or otherwise appropriated by the state or Zionist “national” institutions such as the JNF, for the exclusive use of Jewish citizens. The JNF acquired approximately 78% of its land from the state in 1949 and 1953, the majority of which belonged to Palestinian refugees.” [Note: some of these Palestinian refugees remained in Israel as internally displaced Palestinians and acquired Israeli citizenship].

    The Israel Lands Administration, a state institution, now controls 93% of Israel’s territory, of which approximately 13% is held by the JNF. As Adalah and HIC continue: “The JNF enjoys a special status under Israeli law. For example, Israel signed a covenant with the JNF in 1961, declaring that all JNF lands would be administered by the ILA, subject to the JNF’s objectives, namely to purchase, acquire on lease or in exchange land in Israel “for the purpose of settling Jews.” The JNF interprets this as prohibiting the allocation of its lands to “non-Jews.” This prohibition is racist in nature and effect. Israeli law also confers upon the fund privileges usually reserved for a public authority. As the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has recognized, the JNF executes many governmental functions. Meanwhile, this discriminatory institution operates in several of the Member States of this Commission, registered as a tax-exempt charitable organization.”

    See: http://www.hic-net.org/documents.asp?PID=170

    Thus, even in Israel, there is for example, a very brutal policy to concentrate the Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel in the Naqab/Negev in a limited number of townships, instead of allowing them to continue living in over 40 villages that the Israeli government refuses to recognize.

    You also ask: “When was the last time you heard a Jew say that the right of the Jews is based on some divine right? The Jews who believe in divine rights don’t support the State of Israel.” I’m afraid you haven’t met Israel’s many right-wing religious Jews, some of whom actively colonize the occupied Palestinian territory precisely because they believe they were sanctioned by God to do so. Come and visit, I’ll introduce you to some of these people. (Incidentally, they are not alone. A substantial number of Christians believe the same, and many of these are among the political and financial supporters of the Bush administration.)

    We discussed some of the reasons Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens betray its pretensions to be a democracy on Pickled Politics in January. It may be worth revisiting to see the arguments for and against. As someone asked in the discussion above, why juxtapose Israel, a supposedly enlightened Western democracy against Saudi Arabia? Who has argued in this forum that Saudi Arabian rule is a respectable model of government, let alone an enlightened Western democracy? It is the lie that Israel is a respectable democracy that is most offensive to Palestinians like myself and other informed progressives. But if it admitted its apartheid-like practices, we would greater discussion about the cost and benefit of such practices.

    Finally, I agree that our conflict probably gets more media attention per casualty (especially where the casualty is a Jewish Israeli) than other conflicts, and perhaps greater attention ought to be given to other grave and serial violators of human rights besides Israel. But there are two retorts to this. First, the persistence of this conflict has a destabilizing negative influence on the entire world, which is much greater than any other, as far as I’m aware. Second, is there any other state that commits such grave violations that receives the level of political and financial support of Great Britain and its principal allies, especially the US that Israel does? The US has vetoed numerous UN Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel and refuses to pressure Israel to comply with those resolutions that were passed and have been ignored by Israel for decades. (The discrepancy between US-Israeli enthusiasm for the implementation of 1559 and their ignorance of Israeli-related resolutions is not lost on people here, by the way). Moreover, the US has provided Israel with $100 Billion worth of aid since 1949. See:
    http://telaviv.usembassy.gov/publish/mission/amb/assistance.html

    For its part, the EU has a trade agreement with Israel that Israel is currently violating due to its human rights provisions. Or as the EU puts it: “In line with the new generation of Association Agreements between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, the preamble emphasises the importance of the principles of the United Nations Charter, in particular the observance of human rights, democratic principles and economic freedom. Respect for human rights and democratic principles constitute an essential element of the Agreement.” Despite its ‘essential’ nature, the EU has yet to punish Israel for this by even suspending it preferential trade relations with the state. See: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/israel/intro/index.htm

    David B – You write: “Since the proposed Palestinian Constitution states that “Palestine” will be an Arab, Muslim state, it’s hard to see much hope that a single secular state is a viable option. And given the history of Jews and other minorities in Arab, Muslim regimes, even when there were no scores to settle, Israeli Jews would be suicidal to allow it.”
    Oh yea of little faith! Article 5 of the proposed Palestinian Constitution contains the following: “The constitution guarantees equality in rights and duties to all citizens irrespective of their religious creed.” See: http://www.pcpsr.org/domestic/2003/nbrowne.pdf
    I agree that while some of the history of Jews and other minorities in Arab, Muslim regimes has been very positive, some of it also leaves a lot to be desired. The same could be said, (and on a much more horrific scale) for the history of Jews and other minorities living under European regimes. Do you advocate separating European Jews from their compatriots? Moreover, Israel is currently practicing discrimination and some forms of ethnic cleansing (largely non-violent) in the territory under its control, due to its own self-definition and aspirations to function as a “Jewish and democratic” state with all of the demographic engineering that entails. To remain consistent, you should also find this inexcusable. Obviously, a one state solution would involve a constitution acceptable to both major national groups, like South Africa’s post-Apartheid constitution.
    You write: “Also, there were no checkpoints or walls before there were suicide bombers, started by Hamas. Jews and Arabs used to go freely between the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.” First, you are wrong. Israel actually held the indigenous Arab Palestinian population in Israel under military rule between 1948 and 1966, with very great restrictions on their ability to move about, so the current situation for Palestinians in the oPt is not unprecedented. Secondly, there were no suicide bombers before US-born Baruch Goldstein went on his own suicide mission in 1994 and massacred tens of Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Incidentally, some apparently mourn his death.) Most political actions that take place in the context of a conflict are justified as responses to previous actions by their political opponent/s. The question is not what preceded the proliferation of the checkpoints and the terrible wall that snakes though our occupied territory in violation of international law and the July 9, 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice, but what will come after it. http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/ipresscom/ipress2004/ipresscom2004-28_mwp_20040709.htm Will it serve to resolve or exacerbate tensions? I can promise you that it is doing the latter, (not lease because the route of the wall renders an independent Palestinian state unviable) and Israel is no safer for it. If I want to sneak into Tel Aviv illegally, I still can.

    Your final comment is truly offensive and, I imagine, willfully ignorant. You write: “[…] did you ever ask your friend WHY she fled West Jerusalem? The Arabs who stayed and didn’t make war on Israel in 1948 are now properous, full citizens, and on good terms with the Jews. There is a town like this right on the outskirts of the Jewish part of Jerusalem. Your friend probably left because she was convinced that the Jews were going to lose, and get slaughtered, and she was at least sympathetic to that aim, and figured she’d come back when the mess was over. Why would Israel want her back then?”

    If you wish to take part in sensible debate, please take some time to read up on the history of the 1948-49 War. You will come across episodes like the massacre at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948. This is a village on the outskirts of the Jewish part of Jerusalem which has now been incorporated into Jerusalem Municipality but in which there are no “prosperous”, “full” citizens “on good terms with the Jews”. This is because over 100 Palestinian civilians were killed there by regular Zionist forces, while the rest fled or were forcibly displaced. News of this and similar massacres, some of which was disseminated by Zionist forces to encourage Palestinian flight, had a great impact on the large numbers of Palestinians who fled their homes during the conflict. In any conflict, civilians tend to take flight, (witness the thousands of Lebanese today). They are guaranteed a right to return to their homes after the end of hostilities. However, because Israel has a mania about its demography and because these refugees are the wrong ethnicity, they have been denied their Right of Return since they fled. I also take exception to your suggestion that Palestinian citizens in Israel are hardly prospering. To take just one example, the seven government-planned Arab Bedouin (recognized) townships in the Naqab/Negev are all among the ten poorest municipalities in the entirety of the country. http://www.phr.org.il/phr/files/articlefile_1151916563994.pdf As the Jewish-Iraqi-Israeli writer, Sami Michael, once said, in Israel, poverty has color

    John – I will ignore your comment on ‘respecting Arab people’, which seems at the very lease disingenuous, but your comment that Hamas, IJ and Hebollah’s goal ‘is to destroy Israel (as well as democracy and secular government) throughout the region [sic]’ is misplaced. Hamas and Hezbollah at least are very active participants in the burgeoning democracies of Lebanon and Palestine, and although IJ chose not to participate in our national elections in January, it does participate in student elections. In general, Islamist movements throughout the region are promoting democratic reform because they are confident that they have massive local support which they could only fully capitalize on through elections. Hamas and Hezbollah’s presence in governmental institutions in the occupied Pal territory and Lebanon confirm that. (Incidentally, the popularity of the Islamists appears to be rising in parallel with the escalating toll of death and destruction wrought by Israel’s military.)

    Secondly, you may not have been informed, but Hamas recently endorsed the two-state solution to the conflict (one of which is Israel) in the National Conciliation Document.

    Finally, your comment also neglects the fact that since the launch of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, Israel has been explicitly offered full peace with all its Arab neighbors in return for full withdrawal from all the Arab territory it occupies. http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/league/peace02.htm

    Thus far, Israel has chosen continued occupation and colonization of Arab territory with its attendant conflict, over an end to both.

    Aaron – Your ignorance and knee-jerk defense suggest you are less than interested in an honest conversation on this subject.

    1) Palestinian citizens of Israel do not enjoy equal rights in Israel. Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights is struggling for equality for all of Israel’s citizens, even those who happen not to have been born Jewish and don’t wish to convert to Judaism to realise their equality in the self-proclaimed “Jewish and democratic state”.

    2) Turkey is not an Arab state.

    3) You are entirely right that it would be morally inexcusable to argue that Israeli civilian deaths are OK if an argument was made that Arab civilian deaths were not. But the converse also applies.

    4) Targeting civilians for political ends is often called terrorism. Israel has been accused of this by Human Rights Watch, though they don’t use that loaded term. http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/08/02/lebano13902.htm

    Can you present an alternative report by an internationally-renowned human rights organization that contradicts the claims made by HRW? If not, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you ‘agree’ that Israel is deliberately targeting civilians. You could be in denial.

  13. Hi Robert!
    I have read both Gaarder’s Norwegian text and the English translation.
    Thank you for some sane words in an insane world!

  14. I won’t bother responding point by point to IK, but I will mention a couple. I know the Galilee was under military rule until 1966, but admit to not being familiar with all the details. HOWEVER, the checkpoints on the West Bank only started after suicide bombs started. Before that, Palestinians on the West Bank used to work and shop in Israel, and Israelis would go to the West Bank to shop, eat, etc. The idea that Israel just randomly put up checkpoints to harass the Palestinian population or to perpetuate “apartheid” is just nonsense.

    The West Bank is not “occupied land” in the usual international law sense of the word because there is no “rightful owner.” It was allocated to local Arabs in 1948, but it was taken over by Jordan. Jordan lost it to Israel in 1967. Until an internationally recognized Palestinian state exists, the land is “disputed” not “occupied.” Tell me, if Israel had decided to give the land “back” in 1967, to whom, other than Jordan, could it have given it to?

    Sami Michael is a Communist, literally, and his comments should be seen in that light. The Bedouin are quite poor, but they’ve been quite poor for generations, and are a lot better off now than they used to be. They still have multiple wives (with no jobs) and many, many children, and try to live a nomadic life. How wealthy are you going to be under those circumstances? And how many countries allow nomads to wander the desert nowadays? As for the rest of Israeli Arabs, they have among the highest birth rates in the world, don’t educate their women, and the women don’t work. They tend to be much poorer than are Israeli Jews, but for that matter so are ultra-Orthodox Jews, who also have many children, and don’t educate their women (and sometimes their men). Another problem is that out of respect for Arab sensibilities, they are taught in Arabic, with Hebrew as a second language. Given that business and politics are primarily conducted in Hebrew, this is not to the Arabs’ advantage, though I suspect they’d protest if you tried to change it. In any event, despite all this, Arabs in Israel do at least as well relative to the Jewish population, often better, than Arabs do in France, Spain, et al. relative to the European populations there.

    Finally, as for Deir Yassin, the history of exactly what occurred there is disputed, though there is no doubt that civlians died. But it’s also true that Arab towns throughout the new state of Israel were launching pads for both local irregulars and outside armies to fight the Jews. With a few unfortunate exceptions, the Arabs who wanted to live in peace with the Jews stayed; the Arabs who didn’t, or who were afraid the Jews would do to them what the Arabs would have done to the Jews if they won, fled. They fled a few miles away. Had they and the other Arabs been willing to make peace with Israel then, Israel would have accepted a significant percentage of them (as it offered to do), and the rest could have been resettled, perhaps with compensation, a few miles from where they started. (Israel allowed tens of thousands back in under family reunification in any event; Israel wasn’t in much of a position to take ALL of THEM in, given that most were intensely hostile to the new state, and, morever, Israel had enough on its hands absoring the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries.). Instead, they were herded into refugee camps and used as a political tool. Hundreds of thousands of descendants now live in Lebanon. They’re not allowed to become Lebanese citizens. They have never set foot in Israel/Palestine. Who’s fault is it that they are stateless? Why is their no cry among the Arab world to allow people whose GRANDPARENTS were born in Lebanon Lebanese citizenship?

  15. I think you’re way off base with your assertions about the Bedouin, David. Its not about rates of education, birth-rates, or the language of business. Its about a hypocritical and contradictory policy towards an entire ethnic group. The State fails to provide proper healthcare and water to these people. It will only recognise their prior claim to the land they owned in 1948, if they first agree to give up that claim! Its about herding people into state-planned townships that are not conducive to business or even basic economic growth, let alone any semblance of self-determination. I repeat: They are second-class citizens in their own country.

    A crucial point from I.K. is regarding the wall and check-points. Since you sneer at Sami Michael the ‘Communist,’ I would hope that you would be equivocally against something that looks so much like East Berlin architecture circa 1961. The wall is really not there for terrorism prevention, but to piss people off. I’ve seen people climb over and around it! But you can’t drive your car down the streets it blocks. Its function is to discourage development and prosperity, not terrorism.

  16. To Intifada Kid

    Nasrallah states explicitely that his goal is to destroy Israel.

    Hanaiyah has been recently asked if he recognizes the right of Israel to exist. He answered no.

    Ahmadinijad (a non Arab actor, I know) has set his goal to wipe Israel off of the map.

    No Arab state recognized Israel’s right to exist between 1948-1967 even though there was no occupation and 20 of the 22 Arab states still do not today recognize Israel’s right to exist.

    Rockets continues to rain out of the Gaza strip even after Israel left. These actions were justified by the Hamas government as their right since they were fighting to liberate all of Palestine.

    Your arguments are typical – and I maintain disrespectul – for Arab (and Persian) apoligists.

    These Arab (and Persian) voices I cite, speak in unity – Israel must be destroyed.

    Most Americans have enough respect for people, that they believe them when they speak. Apparently, you (like most Europeans) don’t seem to believe that Arabs (and Persians) are really capable of speaking their minds and articulate their true views. Instead you argue that what they really believe is something other than what they say.

  17. Robert, the Bedouin are full citizens of Israel, and can (legally) move wherever they want. Many now live in Be’er Sheva, a boomtown. As nomads they never “owned” the land they are claiming, did they? I’m not saying that the Beudouin have the best deal ever, only that (a) they are much wealthier and in better health, etc., than they were pre-state; (b) that Israel’s treatment of them is well within the norms of how modern societies deal with nomadic populations; and (c) that if you want to live the life of a nomad, have several wives and many children, you are likely to be poor whatever the state does.

    As for encouragin them (not “herding them”, as again, no one could stop themif they chose to live in Be’er Sheva) into towns with no good economic prospects, I don’t know if that’s a fair characterization, but if it is, it’s exactly what the State of Israel did over the years to many Jewish immigrants, so it’s obviously not as simple as “racism.”

  18. I think we may be a cross purposes over the term ‘nomad’ here David. Concerning the Bedouin of the Naqab, I’ve always been told that they were semi-nomadic, in that they had a little land that they moved around on, seasonally. They’re not trekking accross the Sahara on camels. Just farmers. And they did indeed ‘own’ the land, it having been granted to them by the British Mandate. Like Ana’s house, whether they continued to own it after 1948 is not so clear-cut.

    But to say “they can all move to Be’er Sheva” misses the point. The state should be facilitating people where they are, and any decision they make to move into a different city or village should not be subject to coercion. The state should make recognition of their prior claims to the land, and the provision of services, contingent on them moving. That’s not how states should work. Freedom cannot be state-sanctioned in this manner.

    Of equal importance is the dire treatment of people who dissent – the unprovoked bulldozing of houses and the willful destruction of crops. Its a waste of Israeli economic output for one thing. It also breeds resentment.

    In many cases, the villages where the Bedouin live are right next to nice Jewish towns, so its hardly the case that their requests for equal rights are impractical. The case of Omer and Tarabin Al-Sana is a stark example of this, although you wouldn’t find the second on any map. Out of sight, out of mind.

    I might also add that in a few cases, these unrecognized villages have won legal recognition – and thus some semblance of basic services – after trawling through the courts. Many in Israel, from all communities, feel that their state should not have to be dragged, protesting, to do what their own constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says is fair.

  19. Most Americans have enough respect for people, that they believe them when they speak. Apparently, you (like most Europeans) don’t seem to believe that Arabs (and Persians) are really capable of speaking their minds and articulate their true views. Instead you argue that what they really believe is something other than what they say.

    Ah, well that’s the Atlantic Divide for you! Over this side of the pond, we don’t beleive any politician when they say anything! 🙂

  20. David B:

    1) Israel’s military rule between ‘48 and ’66 encompassed all Palestinian citizens of Israel, not just those who happened to live in the Galilee.

    2) You don’t live in the occupied West Bank, do you? Checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territory actually began to appear during the Second Gulf War following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. That is three years before the first suicide bombing occurred in Israel. Besides which, you’re still missing the point. The closure system with the wall, checkpoints, ‘terminals’ etc are designed to control us, by hemming us into an archipelago of Bantustans whose entry and exit is controlled by Israeli soldiers. Similarly, the apartheid road system Israel is developing is designed to control us by limiting Palestinian-plated cars to certain roads, and reserving the best and fastest routes for the illegal Israeli settlers. (In this instance I follow the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem in labeling this system apartheid) Of course Israel argues that all of this is driven by security concerns. But it is occupying and ‘settling’ (read: colonizing) our occupied territory in violation of international law, so it is trying to secure the freedom of movement of illegal settlers (who enjoy Israeli citizenship) at the expense of the freedom of movement (and basic human rights) of the indigenous civilian population now living under occupation for over 39 years, much of which is already comprised of refugees from areas inside Israel. As I wrote before, while this makes travel and transport very difficult, it doesn’t totally eliminate our ability to reach Tel Aviv. But even if a convincing short-term security argument could be made for this, it is a morally repugnant form of ethnic discrimination, economically disastrous for Palestinians, indefensible from a humanitarian perspective, and ultimately, politically stupid. See the World Bank report for the economic fruit of Israeli closure methods.

    3) You write: “The West Bank is not “occupied land” in the usual international law sense of the word because there is no “rightful owner.”” David, you are well behind the times. This old-school settler argument hasn’t only been rejected by the entire international community, now it has even been rejected by the Israeli government. During the state of Israel’s legal proceedings against some belligerent settlers in the occupied Gaza Strip last year, the state itself argued that the settlers knew they were living under a “belligerent occupation”, and may therefore one day have to leave. (Keep up, man!) Moreover, as Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg recently exposed, the state was warned that it could not legally colonize the territory it occupied in 1967 by its own legal advisers at the time. Read this if you want to learn more about how the settlement movement developed.

    4) Sami Michael is indeed a communist, or at least used to be. What’s your point? Many Jewish Israelis who seek equality with their Palestinian co-citizens and are members of the Communist Party in Israel. There aren’t many other parties that advocate such “radical” ideas in the Israeli political spectrum.

    5) Your comments on the Bedouin and the Arab minority belie your ignorance. Instead of making unsupported essentialist conjecture about Arabs “not educating their [sic] women”, provide some evidence to support your case. Again, these citizens of Israel are the indigenous population of the country. They didn’t arrive as poverty-stricken immigrants; they were systematically dispossessed of their lands and property by the state established on their homeland. Did you even read the executive summary of the report I attached in my last post which concisely demonstrates that Israel’s policies towards its own Palestinian Bedouin citizens are, indeed, racist? Here it is again.

    6) “With a few unfortunate exceptions, the Arabs who wanted to live in peace with the Jews stayed; the Arabs who didn’t, or who were afraid the Jews would do to them what the Arabs would have done to the Jews if they won, fled.” Wrong, again, I’m afraid. Palestinian civilians, including members of my own family who had until the war enjoyed good neighborly relations with the Jewish community, fled because they were scared. They thought they might be killed in the conflict or even intentionally massacred by Zionist armed forces, as other Palestinians had been. It is a pretty natural response for civilians to flee conflict during war time, as I said before. They thought they would be able to return to their homes ‘and live at peace with [our] neighbors’ (as UN Res. 194 states) after the war ended, but the state of Israel has thus far refused them (and me) that right, because we’re not Jewish.

    7) John – you say that Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran’s leaders do not recognize Israel’s “right to exist”. I say that in the case of Hamas, this can no longer be argued after they signed the National Conciliation Document. If you have evidence of contradictory statements made by PM Haniyeh since June 27, I’d be happy to see it. But another point must be raised in this regard. You infer that the rhetoric of these groups is a threat to Israel. I don’t believe rhetoric alone can do much damage. (I think rhetoric like that of the Iranian President is more damaging to his own image than it is to anyone else’s.) But whereas Ahmadinejad makes verbal threats to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, Israel has physically, not rhetorically, wiped Palestine off the map. Look it up in your Atlas at home – you won’t find a state called Palestine. Until there is also a state called Palestine, many groups and several states will refuse to recognize Israel. That is a symptom of our conflict, not its cause. But it is Israel who is unprepared for that, not the Arab and Muslim world. As I stated before, in 2002, the Arab states launched the Arab Peace Initiative offering peace (with recognition) for an end to Israeli occupation and a just resolution of the refugee issue. So far, Israel has rejected that idea. Apparently, Israel doesn’t even know where its own borders are. Is it even logical to recognize a state built on the territory, displacement and dispossession of another people that continues to exercise ethnic discrimination and that remains in constant expansion? I’m not so sure it is. Should Israel’s “right to exist” be recognized? Absolutely. But perhaps not before Palestine’s ability to exist is realized.

  21. IK:

    (1) Israel’s military rule between ‘48 and ’66 encompassed all Palestinian citizens of Israel, not just those who happened to live in the Galilee.

    False. The Galilee was under military control. Arabs who lived in e.g., Haifa or Jaffa were not.

    (2) You still fail to acknowledge that the Bedouin were extremely poor before there was a state of Israel, or that no modern country allows nomadic tribesman free range on their native lands. Nor do you have any rebuttal to the point that the Bedouin, with or without their traditional lands, with or without being encouraged to live in new towns, will remain poor so long as their culture does not value education, keeps women in a state of ignorance, and has 8 (EIGHT!) children per family. Again, the religious Jews in Israel with a similar culture are also very poor. I’m sure that the Beduoin sometimes get the shaft, as poor minority groups tend to. But that’s not the underlying cause of their poverty, and it’s utterly dishonest to suggest it is.

    (3) Too bad your family left in ’48 and had to suffer. But if you can come up with ANY example of a country that, after a bitter civil war between ethnic groups, allowed the losing side to have all of its population that fled the war return, in the absence of any peace agreement that solved the original problem, I’d be interested to hear it. Fact is, both the local population and the neighboring Arab states made war on the new state of Israel. They lost. The penalty was that most of the Arabs who fled, expressing at least implicit support for the war, couldn’t come back. Unfair, unjust? Certainly in individual cases. But any time a population’s leaders make war and lose, the populaton suffers. Nothing special about Palestinian Arabs in that regard. The fact remains that if war had not been made on Israel, there would have been no refugees, and if the refugees had not been made into a political tool of the local Arab states the refugee problem would have been solved long ago.

    (4) So, if Israel had decided to “return” the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, even without a peadce treaty, to whom would they have “returned” it? There was no Palestinian government to return it to, and Egypt didn’t even want Gaza back. Jordan would have taken the West Bank back, but that would have left the Palestinians as citizens of Jordan, not of “Palestine.”

  22. Robert,

    “Ah, well that’s the Atlantic Divide for you! Over this side of the pond, we don’t beleive any politician when they say anything!”

    Another typical ‘European’ misunderstanding, which Americans do not fall into.

    Haniyeh, Nasrallah, the IJ, and Ahmadinijhad have no analogy to what you have in mind when you say ‘politician’. Their religious nihilism and fanning of religous passions have not been seen in Europe since the treaty of Westphalia. Their European analog lies with Vlad the Imapler – not with Angela Merkel.

    IK,

    I hope you really believe that the people I mentioned simply don’t mean what they say. Given that Israel has been explicitely attacked in 1948 (5 armies), 1956, 1967, 1973 (invasion well past the 1948 armisitice line, you’ll recall), 1982, 1991, and now in 2006 on the large scale. As well as 700 suicide bombers, 2,500 Katjusha’s, several 1,000 Kassam rockets. As well as Olympic atheletes, Argentinian children, cruise liner passengers, tourists in the Sinai, all murdered in cold blood outside of Israel’s borders (to name but a few I assume that you recall) I believe the case for tangibly matching destructive rhetoric is a strong one.

    In fact I often ask the question what percentage of their available force do the Arabs use to reach their goal of destroying Israel. In the case of Hamas, IJ, and Hezbollah (and the Arab armies of Nasser’s time) it is clear that the Arab armies are doing almost everything within their power to achieve their goal.

    You assert (typically) that Israel seeks to destroy ‘Palestinian land’ (even though the assertion of this phrase requires a theory of property absent from your dialogue as well as without historical precident). You’ll notice that this is neither Israel’s stated goal (as opposed to the stated goal of so many others to destroy Israel) nor do they bring any large percentage of their availble resources to bear on the problem.

    Given that reality your choice to yet again, assert that the motives of Israel’s neighbors are something less than the destruction of the country I hope rests with wishful thinking on your part. But requires you to ignore 85% of the story as you try to cut and paste together an argument that frogets September 1970, 1,000 suicide bombers, 10,000 missiles, 4 invasions, and most importantly 5 decades of stated policy (‘forget what I said those last fifty years, it’s June now’).

    Unfortunately you wasting your effort on me. Try to convince the relevant actors that what they really believe is not what they say but that they are happy to live with Israel as a neighbor.

    You know as well as me, making that argument would put your life at risk in those places.

  23. I think you take account of the Islamist ideologues at the wrong point of the equation. They distract from my central point, which is this:

    Just because these actors advocate the “destruction” of Israel; and just because we agree that their methods and ideologies are morally barren; it does not then follow that Israel should maintain the status quo in the territories it controls. It is that question to which the charge of apartheid applies, not to whether external forces wish to destroy Israel.

    Being sure that your enemies actions are morally wrong, is not the same as being sure your actions are morally right. And the fact that your enemies are morally wrong does not give you a licence to sink to a lower standard that one expects of a democratic country, only to say “well, we’re not as bad as them.”

    As I see it, I’m less confident than I.K. in the idea that a change in Israeli policy will see a change in the attitudes of Nasrallah, Amedinejad, and their ilk. What I do hold out for is that a change in Israeli policy will see a change in attitude of the Palestinans, be they in the Occupied Territories or Israeli citizens. Intifada Kid has persuasively explained why this might be so even after the election of a Hamas government. And with a change in these attitudes comes a weakening of support for those zealots whose minds we cannot change.

  24. Your hate for Israel is truely amazing. Lets take for example the issue of Israel’s unrecognized bedoin villages. The Israeli state would prefer that the Bedoin live in places where water and healthcare can be delivered, and where the bedoins can have access to educational and economic opportunities. For that reason Israel does not recognize certain Bedoin villages. In fact the Bedoins of Israel have the same rights as other Israeli citizens, including access to land, water, and helth care. The Bedoins are loyal to Israel. Many volunteer to serve in the Israeli Army,. Many Bedoins actually vote for Zinoist political parties. Almost no Israeli Bedoin would prefer to be a citizen of a Palestinian state. For the bedoins, Israel might not be heaven, but they would prefer to be in Israel, than living in an Arab state.

  25. IK,
    John, Charles, and David here are doing a fine job of demolishing your arguments so I’m not going to repeat them.

    I notice however that you did not address any of my main points, so I’ll itemize them in simple question form:
    1) Since we know that most of the Arabs approve of the killing of Israeli civilians, how can they at the same time be upset when Arab civilians, Gazans or Lebanese, get killed when they knowingly live amongst Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists?
    2) Do you approve of terrorists firing at Israel from civilian populations knowing full well that the civilians will therefore get killed as long as Israel gets bad press?
    3) Why do you think Hezbollah spent all these years building up their bunkers and fortresses in civilian populations?
    It would be fascinating to know what your reponse tp these issues are.

  26. There is only one Middle Eastern country where the number of christain Arabsd is increasing. That country is Israel. From Some 30, to 45 thousand Christian Arabs present in Israel in 1948, that number has grown to over 150,000. In contrast, there were well over 150.000 Christain Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. Today they number less than 50,000. Under the Palestinian Authority, Christain Palestinians have been subject to persecution. Christians are murdered with impunity. Christain girls are raped without and criminal action aginst the Muslim rapist. Muslims seize Christain property, and Palestinian courts do nothing to protect the property rtghts of Palestiniasn Christains. Palestinian Christains are leaving, not because Israel treats them badly, but because Palestinian Muslims do. Palestinian Christains move to the United States, to Europe, and yes if theyt can to Israel, where they know that they will be treated far better than they will by their fellow Arabs.

  27. Robert there were atrocities on both sides in 1947-48, In 1948 a former Associate of Hitler the Mufti Amin Al Hussani sent an army of 20,000 genmen into Palestine. There was no Palestinian State, but there was a Palestinian army of sorts in 1948. This army engaged in armed assults on Jewish communities, and attacked Jews driving on roads. For example, beginning in November, 1947, the Hebrew University Campus on Mount Scopus outside Jerusalem, including Haddassa Hospital, was beseiged by the Mufti’s genmen, reinforced by local militants. On December 14, 1947, Arab gunmen attacked a convoy of buses, near the town of Beit Nabala . Fourteen Jews were killed,

    The seige created staffing problems for the hospital, and on April 13, 1948, with Brtish Army assurances that a convoy of doctors and nurses would be protected, a convoy set out from Jerusalem. wThe convoy was attacked by Arab gunmenm, while still on the road. The British Army failed to respond to the attack, and 77 unarmed people, including doctors, nurses, medical students and lecturers were murdered. Jacques de Reynier, the local represenative of the International Red Cross refdused to intervien. Not only did the British Army refuse assistance to the doctors’ conboy, but the blocked the Haganah attempting to help the convoy. In all over 77 people were killed.

    Beginning in late November, 1947, A force of 2,000 to 3,000 armed Arabs occupied Jaffa, an Arab city located just south of Tel Aviv. Ara snipers based in Jaffa, began firing at Jewish residents of Tel Aviv. Jews who sat foot in Jaffa, were murdered. And eventlually Dozzens oif Jews were killed, and hundreds more were wounded. The southern Suburbes of Tel Aviv were evacuated, and thousands of people were forced to flee from their homes Eventually the Israelis counterattacked jaffa, and droved the Palestinian gunmen from Jaffa.

    Arab riots in Jerusalem in December 1947, lead to the death of over 60 Jews. Three car bombs arranged by one of the Mufti’s relatives exploded on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem on February 22, 1948, killing 52 Jews and injuring another 123. Following the surrender of the Jewish defenders of Kfer Etzion on May 13, 1948, Arabs murdered around 130 of the survivors, who had lined up under a white flag to surrender.

  28. Charles,
    Of course the international community cares about all those Christian Arabs. On one condition, though, as long as you can blame a Jew. If you can’t, well, they can kiss my a**.

  29. I am truly depressed by this interchange – as I have stated before on this blog, the intricacies of language and people full of their own verbosity means that each is missing the other’s point Charles has completely got the wrong end of the stick when he has “gathered” that Rob has a hatred for Israel – you each see what you want to see and what you choose to argue your point over – I presume you are all intellligent individuals and I could not care less what colour,creed, nationality you are – if you cannot “get” what each other are saying, then what hope for some politicians in any country who may have been voted in for perhaps the wrong reasons or through good PR!

    Now to Katy, who, on reading your post, I would agree with your own evaluation of yourself (if I may be so bold as to do so, on reading one post) but, if you read more of Rob’s posts I would disagree that he is OFTEN criticising Israel any more than he criticises the other side and come on – he is hardly promoting the Gaarder copy rather picking out bits of it which seem reasonable – there is a difference.

  30. Kathy, I am sorry but the accusation that Israel practices “apartheid” is a dispicable, hatful lie. Under “apartheid” natives do not have the right to vote. In Israel, Arabs vote. Under “apartheid” natives do not have the right to live where the choose. In israel, Arabs can live where they choose. Under “apartheid” natives cannot attend school with members of the privlidge class. In Israel Arabs do attend secular schools with Jews. Under “apartheid” natives have limited access to the courts for redress of their grievances. In Israel Arabs have the same rights to approach the courts that Jews have. Is there prejudice and discrimination in Israel? Yes there is, but prejudice and discrimination is not the same thing as “apartheid.” Given these facts, critics who charge that Israel is an “apartheid” state are either astonishingly ignoranmt, or extremely dishonest. in either case the charge is sl slanderous that it must be a regarded as a manifestation of hate.

  31. No Charles, not a manifestation of hate. A manifestation of frustration, at what Israel could be but is not. Re-read what I’ve actually written. Re-read the rest of this blog, where I worry at length about how to criticise a highly specific aspect of this or that. It will bore you after a while, but at least you will see I mean what I say. I do not apologise if your cynicism means you misread this as hateful guff. You are wrong.

    Read my earlier reply to Katy at the top of these comments – I already agreed “apartheid” was melodramatic, and that what we see in Israel is not structurally the same as South African apartheid. But I also think that we’ve begun to debate definitions. The name we give to the “discrimination and prejudice” hardly matters. If “apartheid” offends you then I’ll happily relinquish it, because it really is not necessary to the specific point I’m trying to make.

    “Prejudice and discrimination” is what I mean. I have witnessed it happen, and I make the charge with sincerity. I did really see a wall fifteen feet high, and it did really make me feel sick. I did really see towns deprived of water and electricity, right next to towns flourishing in economic success. Tell me I’ve just perceived it wrongly if you must… but there is no deceit here.

    Listing every atrocity of the muslim world might be a catharsis. If Israel is being called to account then for peace to reign, the opposition must be called to account too. I have never said otherwise. However, listing the atrocities of the Arab states and militant groups does not make the “prejudice and discrimination” in Israel go away. If you think one mitigates the other, then you have a pretty low expectation of what Israel could be. As I said in the original post, asking that Israel give full equality to all its citizens is the only genuinely pro-semitic position. Why would you settle for anything less?

  32. Robert, I grew up in the segregated American South. There was discrimination and prejudice a plenty. In many cases black communities were deprived of basic service amminities. The black schools in the soutth were far inferior to the white schools. in hact the Artab schools in israel provide far better education thaty was provided to American black kids in my childhood. I would not call the sirtuation in my childhood “apartheid.” We called it segregation. Now there are some elements of segregation in Israel, but far fewer than was characteristic of the American South in my childhood. I would not even call the Israeli system segregation, because there are no formal institutional bars to mixing of people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds in Israeli society. You base your judgement of an entire society on the situation of a relatively few people. There are over 1.2 million Israeli Arabs. Of whom about 9% are bedoins. Now a minority of the bedoins live in illegal villages. If I were running the Israeli government, I would grant those villages lergal status. They are not going away, and it is time the Israeli government recognize this. But having said this, I must add that within the institutions of Israeli socoiety the Bedoins have recourse to seek remidies for their situastion. I do not see their situation as so pathetic that it warrents a term like “apartheid.”

    The israeli government has an ongoing program to upgrade the infrastructure and amminities that serve predomminately Aran communities in Israel. The security situation has ben a major factor in inhipiting the progress of thisd program. Money spent to fight terrorism would have better been used to to improve the lives of both Arab and Jewish Israelis.

    I must add that i am aware of many communities in the United States that have similar problems to those of the Israeli Bedoins. These communites would include white, black and hispanic communities. They lack infrasyructure such as paved roads, water systems, sewer sustems, garbage pick up, decent schools, and access to quality medical care. Should I describe this situation “apartheid?” I think not. “Apartheid” is a highly emotional term. Its use arrouses passions. What i find highly offensive is your dikrection of the term “apartheid” uniquely to Israel. The country that is next to Israel is jordan. Under Jordanian Law it is illegal for a Jew to own property or to reside in Jordan. In the Palestinian territories it is illegal for a Palestinian to sell property to a Jew. PAlestinians make no boans about not wanting Jews to live among them. There public oppen surveys show that the Palestinians do not want to live with Jews. Under Palestinian law, and palestinian who sells property to a Jew, faces a sentance of death. Why do you not denounce Palestinian “apartheid?” Do you have a double standard A low one for Palestinians and another for Jews?

    I am also frustrated with bigoted criticvs of Israsel who take a stance of moral superiority. Mr. Gaarder is a prime exampple. His essay ozes traditional Protestant anti-Semitism that goes back to Martin Luther. He views of Jews and Judaism reveal as pathetic ignorance. His vierws of israel combine that ignorance with a pathological rage. The man is a sick anti-Semite, just as Mel Gibson is. He is completely ignorant of Jewish ethics, and is harshly judgemental of Israel, Judaism and the Jewish people.

    I have given up on trying to find reasonable and responcible critics of Israel. Most of the so called critics of Israel are insane haters, just as insane as Gaarder. Filled with irrational rage, they only wish to lashout verbally, they have not the slighest interest in truth.

  33. Charles – you have again seen what you want to see – Robert has already explained above that he will retract the word “apartheid” but you will not let it lie – he has picked the wrong word and you are hanging everything on that. If you read previous posts you will see this point already made – yes the prejudice and segregation in Israel may not be as bad as what you witnessed in your childhood, but just because it is not as bad -it does not make it right and because Rob points out Israel’s shortcomings (surely a gentle ish term with which you will not find offence) it does not mean he could not write reams about similar wrongdoings in many other countries.

    Also it could be construed as very arrogant to state that someone has a hatred for something or someone on your subjective interpretation of their writings – if by some chance you may be wrong!? then you are being slanderous too by stating that view

  34. You say: “who read Sophie’s World will know that he isn’t much of a writer.”

    – Why has he sold millions and millions of the book then – and what does it have to do with anything what you think of his books??

    You say:
    – “What he is calling for is the destruction of Israel”

    You want to be harsh in your words, but this is not a fact. Did he write that?? you are petty in your accusations. But then again, one can’t accuse the state of Israel without bein an anti-semite, or can you?? Holocaust is not an excuse for own behavior and I’m sick of people using it as a shield against criticism..

    you write:

    I am a moderate, evenhanded and fair person.

    Then let freedom of speach be.
    People like you wil bring this human right in the western civilization to an end.

    We had the Muhammed drawings earlier, and it caused riots, boycots and threats. Now we should take a stand and fight for our rights to express our opinions, beliefs and feelings.

  35. Robert, If you want a reasonable dialogue, you need to avoid terms like “apartheid” In your original posting you allege that Israel has an spartheid system. I acknowledge that there are flaws in Israeli society, but every definition of “apartheid” I have been able to find refers to a unique legal arrangement governing race relations in South African society. from 1948 to 1993. The features of these laws included racial classification, voting rights limited to one racial group, legal seperation of residential areas by race, members of one race were prohibited from living in or owning land in areas designated by another race. You acknowledge that Israeli society is not like South Africa because you state: “I might also add that in a few cases, these unrecognized villages have won legal recognition – and thus some semblance of basic services – after trawling through the courts.”

    In truely democratic societies people should have the right to seek redress when they feel their rights are violated. The framers of the United States Constitutions recognized that governments do violate basic human rights, even democratic governments. They provided for a Judicial check on the powers of the state. The court system in Israel works the same way, as you attest. But rather than seeing the protection of Arab rights by Israeli as a credit to Israeli democracy, you some how manage to turn the redress of bedoin grievances into a black mark for the Israeli State. You take evidence that Israel is an imperfect but a working democracy, and see only evidence that Israel is evil.

    You assert: ‘Many in Israel, from all communities, feel that their state should not have to be dragged, protesting, to do what their own constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says is fair.” Yes well the same thing goes for Western Europe and the United States. That does not stope European governments from attacking freedom of speech, when it comes to criticizing a cerrtain religion. (Not Judiaism as the case of Mr. Gaarder illustrates). It did not stop the statesof the American south in my childhood from depriving black people of their rights. Fortunately in the United States, as in Israel, their is a function democracy that allows people to take action in their own interest.

    Kathy, Robert seems to think that a word can mean anything he wants it too. I have looked up the word “apartheid” in various referances. They all refer to certain arrangements between various races, insituted by law, that was characteristic of South Africa between 1948, and 1993. “Apartheid” is also an emotionally loaded, pojoritiver word. Robert chooses to use this word to describe Israel, even though he admts that Israeli law does not institute an “apartheid” system. His major reason foir doing so is asn administrative dispute between a group of Israeli bedoins, who live in southern Israel, and whose villages were never clearted for settlement. Bedoin claims involve land rights as well as the rights to their settlements. I must say that I sympathize with the bedoins in this dispute. Never-the-less, the problems of the Israeli bedoins do not constitute “apartheid.” In the United States, the state has the right to taked lands from private citizens, If doing so is considered for the public good. In the United States the state has the rigt to zone land as non residential. What Israel has doen to the bedoins may not be fair, and i am sympathetic with the bedoin complaints. Robert has jumpted from the problem of the Bedoins to a sweeping condemastion of the state of Israel in language that says Robert thinks that Israel is evil. In doing so, Robert commits multiple sins against logic and reason. How do I explain Robert’s irrationality? I do not think Robert is either stupid or uneducated. Therefor Robert’s irrational demonization of Israel must stem form an emotional source.

  36. Thanks for the comments Charles. A few responses.

    I don’t think anyone who uses the word “apartheid” to make a factual statement saying that the system in Israel is an exact legal facsimile of South Africa. They use it to mean, as I did, a two-tier system of rights and citizenship, de facto if not de jure. I regret the offence that word causes – especially if it fogs the debate.

    I do not see [the Bedouin’s] situation as so pathetic that it warrents a term like “apartheid”?

    You call it woefully hyperbolic, and yet the Palestinian people say their situation is so bad, that the comparison is apt. Its difficult to go to Palestine or the Unrecognized villages, look at their situation, be so equivocal.

    “You take evidence that Israel is an imperfect but a working democracy, and see only evidence that Israel is evil.”

    You mentioned the segregationist south, and how change was forced through the rule of law on the constitution. But looking back at that time now, we would not say that the situation before the civil rights movement was an acceptable one. Segregation existed in spite of a democratic system, and was institutionalised to the point where, I recall, President Johnson eventually had to despatch National Guard Soldiers to enforce laws that the local police would not. Those in positions of authority were not implementing a policy of equal rights that their own laws were supposed to guarantee!

    In the same way, I’m not saying that if the rule of law prevails, then the entire Israeli state is somehow ‘evil’. I am saying that if the Bedouin or others have to engage in lengthy court battles for their rights, then there is an institutional prejudice within the government. And this should not be the normal order of things. You seem to agree with me on this point, no?

    Incidentally, regarding the Bedouin, there have been instances where the state has changed its policy – first allowing them to build new villages, only then to declare them unrecognized.

    I should stress that I was using the Bedouin an an example of the two-tier citizenship and treatment throughout all of Israel and the Occupied Territories. They are part of the wider Palestinian problem, which I was condemming so sweepingly…

    There still remains the charge that I am out to demonize Israel over and above other countries. I’ve said before that this is not my intention. In fact, the opposite is true. I criticise countries not because I want to demonise them or their citizens, but because I think they undermine themselves and their own ethical standing, and humanity suffers as a result. For example, I certainly think that “apartheid” is more easily applied to other countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, when women’s rights and gay rights are trampled on. In both cases, the perverted logic of those government’s policies undermines the Islamic world, in the eyes of those who would equate the two. Ditto for the Israeli government, and Judaism.

  37. Robert, you are usoing the term ”apartheid” is an equivical sense. First you draw on the emotional responces to South African Legal asnd sociasl practices between 1948, and 1993. Secondly you use this term much more boradly to describe Israli treatment of its Arab citizens from 1948 to present. These Israeli legal and constitutional practrices in no way resemble those of apartheid Souyj Africa. The only reason for using the term ”apartheid” in the case of Israel is to draw on certain emotions in your readers. In other words your use of the term ”apartheid” is manipulative. It is calculated to creat negative feelings feelings toward Israel. You are being fundamentally dishonest when you descrive Israeli society as an aparthied system. I doubt that you are awayre of your own dishonesty. Like many Europens, you distaste for Israel is so deep, so ingrained, that you hate is instinctive. You speak of many societies which you would characterize as ”apartheid,” yet your principle focus for disapprobation is clearly Israel.

    Finally my own study of the condition of Israeli Arabs has focused on self help remidies which Israeli Arabs could utalize to improve their situation and even bring about full equality with Israeli Jews. Limiting family size would be one, and it would help in several ways. First it would alieviate the poverty of Arab children. limiting famiily would also have the potential of increasing the years that Arab children devote to education, since their would be less pressure on Arab families to get boys into the job market. A second step would be to increrase Arab voter participation, since social groips in Israeli society compete for government resources through political influance. Interestingly in the last israeli election, Israeli Arabs appear to have participated at a slightly higer rate than Israeli Jews. This tells me that Israeli Arabs have not lost faith in Israeli democracy. it also signals an increasing Arab sophistication about means of obtaining power in democracy.

    A third way in which Israeli Arabs can help themselves, is to participate in military service. The one componant of the Israelu Arab population which is subject to the draft, the Druze, is far ahead of other israeli Arabs in intigrating into the Israeli social mainstream. There are both costs and benefits to military service. Arabs who do not join the Army, enjoy several extra years of income from participation in the labor market. But they loose the social network ing that comes from army service, they do not qualify for vetrans benefits, and most significantly they loose the social prestigue that accompanies vetran status in Israel. There is no doubt of this, since military service has helped the Druze to improve their status within Israeli society.

    Forthly, Israeli Arabs should make agressive use of the Israeli court system to to establish and protect their rights. the israeli court systen has a good, but not perfect history of protecting the rights of Israeli Arabs.

    Finally the Israeli Arabs should employ all the traditional stratigies used be disadvntaged peoples to improve their situations in democratic societies. These would include social organizations designed to prompte faviorable immages of Arabs in Israeli society. Examples can be drawn from the NAACP and the Anti-Defimation League in the United States. Israeli Arabs should focuse on increasing the education of Arab childrem, for example establishing scholarship funds for their higher education. Finally they should expand their social networking, for example through Arab Chambers of Commerce, and civic organizations.

  38. Charles,

    I’m afraid I have to agree with Kathy somewhat in that you are missing the point – but for a different reason than she does.

    Robert’s chose the term apartheid simply to have something new to say. Like most Europeans he doesn’t believe in using language to convey what he really believes (surely having a pint when he should have travelling with Gulliver). His analytical skills are weak (again notice the ‘persuasively explained why this might be so’ sentence of yore) and he really has nothing new to say. So much like the ad execs resorting to the sexy lady to say toilet paper, Robert resorts to rhetoric rather than making a point.

    Where one is correct though is to point out that Israel’s treatment of its minorities should be scrutinized. With a little homework Robert will see that Israel’s recent record puts Europe’s to shame.

    Consider North Africans in France, Turks in Germany, and Arabs in Israel over the past 10 years. All are more or less the same fraction of the population. Now ask the following questions of all three groups:

    What percentage have mastered the language of their host country?
    What is their relative percentage in civil service jobs?
    What is their income as a fraction of average income?
    What percentage of all crime is commited by the relevant immigrant group?
    What percentage of the members of these groups has been immunized to western standards?

    Were Robert to properly analyze and report that data he would find that the lot ot Israeli Arabs are either even or (particularly in the case of crime) far superior to the minority groups in the heart of the old country.

    There is so much idiocy in Europe I must try to control myself to mention but one more…

    Based on the statistics Robert can derive here, a strong case can be made that Israel has more successfully integrated it’s Muslim minority than any other country on Earth.

  39. Then let freedom of speach be.
    People like you wil bring this human right in the western civilization to an end.

    Per, you are a truly ridiculous person. I didn’t suggest that Jostein Gaarder shouldn’t be allowed to write the article. I said that it was badly written rubbish. That is my opinion. If you don’t think I’m entitled to express it then you’re the one trying to do away with freedom of speech.

  40. John I am in complete agreement with your contention. about Israeli Arabs I have been writing in my blog this summer about Israeli Arabs. What i found amazed me. Israeli Arabs have become Isralis who are loyal to their home country. My blog yesterday featured a story about Israeli Arab young men, who want to fight for Israel in Lebonan. My conclusion, which i have not commited to my blog yest, is that by mid century, the arabs of Israel will have achieved economic equality with Israeli Jews. Muslim Arabs will be subject to the draft, and there will be several Muslim generals in ther Israeli army. There will also be an increasing tendancy for secular Jews and Arabs to intermary, and the birthrate of the Arab community will be far lower than that of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

    As for Roberts use of language, do you mean that Robert was engaged in as classic European behavior known as Jew baiting? Your points about Robert’s intellectual shortcommings are well taken. And you say, in effect, that what is true about Robert, is true about the intellectual life of Europe in general. Thank you for your comments.

  41. a strong case can be made that Israel has more successfully integrated it’s Muslim minority than any other country on Earth.

    John, this is a very interesting idea that I haven’t heard before. Charles – if you do expand on this on your own blog I would certainly like to read and link to it. As you’ve seen from my writings here, I’m afraid my own experiences and readings point to the opposite conclusion.

    But as for the “Jew baiting” Charles, I can only repeat that this is way off. I am not flinging words about in order to provoke an argument. That maybe what you are used to on other blogs, but you need to understand that this isn’t what is happening here. I am expressing a genuine concern about the Israeli political reality. You may think I’m wrong. You may think you can prove that I’m wrong. I welcome your comments on that basis. Indeed, that is when you are at your most persuasive. Trying to ‘bait’ me with cod-psychoanalysis of my ‘European’ state of mind smacks of the hystericism you were complaining about in my post.

    I really hate to have to be pedantic about my own post, but I was very careful about the way I put the accusations you find so offensive. I said If If the current system does this, then it is unviable, and unworthy of support in its current form“. I add the emphasis now to stress that I was aware that the question “is there apartheid?” has not necessarily been answered. “If p, then q” does not mean the same as “p”, “q” or “if q, then p”… I was also careful to talk about what Gaarder was saying, which is not necessarily what I believe. You did read my subsequent post, right? I hardly gave him a ringing endorsement as one might expect from a “jew baiter”.

    Along with John, your problem (and I might suggest your prejudice, since you both fling the word ‘European’ around like an insult) is that you think I like calling Israel names. But I do not. I hate criticising a country that I beleive can be the beacon of multicultural co-operation, a centre for spirituality and philosophy. With beaches! If you accept that I am sincere in this belief, then we can have a dialogue. The notion that Israel has the most integrated Muslim population makes my eyes light up. Tell me more!

    Or you can go on assuming that I’m a “wolf in sheeps clothing” (which is what someone called me the last time I was critical of Israel). That would be a shame, because the communication we will have will become less interesting.

  42. Robert, You have my blog link. Look for the repeated heading Arabs of 48. The prhase refers to the Arabs who did not leave Israel in 1948, and their decendants. If you do not wish to provoke an argument, then I suggest you stop using the highly offensive, and highly inaccurate language you are using. The political and social reality of Israel is complex. As John and I have indicated there Israeli arabs, despite prejudice and discrinination appear to be on a trajectory toward a bvery high level in Israeli society. I take this as a very hopefull sign, because it indicates to me that it is possible for Jews and Arabs to live in peace. It aslso indicates top me, the possibility of Arabs comming to terms with modernity.

    You defend the use the highly offensive and emotional term Apartheid as follows:

    I don’t think anyone who uses the word ”apartheid” to make a factual statement saying that the system in Israel is an exact legal facsimile of South Africa. They use it to mean, as I did, a two-tier system of rights and citizenship, de facto if not de jure. I regret the offence that word causes – especially if it fogs the debate.

    The use of the term apartheid, began with Palestinian propaganda. It never was intended as an actual description of the Israeli social system, the Palestinians sole purpose for using the term is to bring about hate for Israel. In this they have been wildly sucessful. Europeans who use the term “aparrthied to mean what you suggest,are being dishonest, since in their own societies immigrants and their children are often treated as second class citizens.

    The term apartheid certainly does not help the Palestinians. They court public oppenion in Europe, but forget that the Israeli public is the one they have to live with. The Palestinians have engaged in a misguided and self distructive war with Israel since 2000. People who are true friends of the Paletinians should encouraging them to stop the fighting and get back to negotiating, hoping that they can get as good a deal out of the Israeli’s as was offered to Arafat in 2000.

    At this point my contempt forf Europeans knows no bounds. Europeans are exceedingly ill informed about the Israel they slander. European intellectuals uncritically buy into Palestinian propaganda. Like Mr. Gaarder, they confuse traditional Christian Judaophobia, with the moral reality of Jewish civilization. Here are my comments on Gaarder:
    http://www.xanga.com/bartoncii/517458192/jostein-gaarders-full-article.html

  43. This comment was held for moderation by WordPress due to the large number of links within. Now reinstated with its original timecode. Apologies to all. Rob

    I honestly don’t know where to begin an attempt too counter the dishonesty, misinformation and prejudice that permeates many of the responses to Rob’s original post.

    Charles, John and others have repeatedly exhibited the most ignorant and prejudiced of thoughts and facile of arguments, which I think is most accurately encapsulated in this final gem from Charles: “It aslso indicates top me, the possibility of Arabs comming to terms with modernity”. The idea that the conflict in the Middle East is rooted in a tension between the supposedly pre-modern or anti-modern Arabs and the modernity of Israel is common among racist apologists for Israel like Charles. Similar arguments about the inferiority and anti-modern nature of indigenous societies were used by White South Africans to justify Apartheid and by all the colonial movements that I’m aware of to justify the oppression of native or indigenous people within the states and societies colonized by European and Eurocentric peoples. In most of the world, the West today recognizes that such colonial thinking is outdated. But with Israel, it seems the jury is still out in the West. This is the greatest example of Western hypocrisy that I’m aware of. And its continuation is very dangerous for us all.

    John has challenged my comment that “Israel’s military rule between ‘48 and ’66 encompassed all Palestinian citizens of Israel, not just those who happened to live in the Galilee.” Let me be clear. By the end of the 1948-49 War, approximately 160,000 of 900,000 of Palestine’s indigenous Arab population remained within the state of Israel. They were concentrated in three regions: the Galilee in the north, the Little Triangle (a narrow strip of land on the Green Line), and the Naqab in the south. All of these areas fell directly under Israeli Military Government, which was based on the British Defense Emergency Regulations (established by British authorities to quash radical Zionist militias – similar laws were used by the Brits against Palestinians). These laws gave unlimited powers to the MG to undertake home demolitions, the transferal of civilian populations from one area to another, confiscate large tracts of Palestinian land, generally curtail the population’s mobility and its independent economic and political activity. (For details, read Sabri Jibris’s ‘The Arabs in Israel’). Arab members and supporters of the Communist Party, which opposed the MG were persecuted by it. The MG remained in place from 1948 until 1966. Months later, Israel occupied the West Bank. It is true that the Palestinians who lived in so-called ‘mixed cities’ (cities where, shock! Horror! Jews and Palestinians actually live together!) did not live directly under the MG, but it is also true that their lives were also very heavily affected by the fact that the MG ruled directly over most of their co-nationals in Israel. If the vast majority of a population cannot organize politically or economically, cannot travel freely and is losing its land to the state of Israel, the ability of the Palestinian minority not living under that rule to resist such practices or even live ordinary lives is utterly compromised. It also had a social impact. A Palestinian living in Haifa, for example could not freely travel to visit family members in Shafa’amr. To this extent the MG affected the entirety of Palestinians who remained in Israel. Moreover, tens of thousands of Palestinians who remained in Israel were not afforded citizenship when it was finally defined in 1952. And those who did gain citizenship were not protected against state-practiced discrimination.

    John also poses a series of questions:

    “What percentage have mastered the language of their host country?
    What is their relative percentage in civil service jobs?
    What is their income as a fraction of average income?
    What percentage of all crime is commited by the relevant immigrant group?
    What percentage of the members of these groups has been immunized to western standards?”

    Certainly such comparative data would make for interesting reading. (Do you have them?) But since you are comparing immigrant Muslim groups in Europe to an indigenous minority in Israel, I think the utility of such comparisons is limited. The fact that the majority of Palestinian citizens of Israel are Muslim and some immigrants in Europe are also Muslim doesn’t seem to me to be of any interest unless you hold essentialist views about Muslims. A far more appropriate investigative study would look at how states founded by European-originating colonizers treat their indigenous populations today. How many of them continue to deny equal rights to their indigenous populations?

    John also writes: “Unfortunately you wasting your effort on me. Try to convince the relevant actors that what they really believe is not what they say but that they are happy to live with Israel as a neighbor.

    “You know as well as me, making that argument would put your life at risk in those places.”

    Which places? I cannot speak about Iran, as I have no experience of living there. I do live in the occupied West Bank, under a supposed Palestinian ‘government’ that is run by Hamas. I have not put my life at risk by making any political statements – we do enjoy freedom of expression over here. I believe in Lebanon, whose government includes Hezbollah members, there is also respect for dissenting voices.

    Finally, John states that I “assert (typically) that Israel seeks to destroy ‘Palestinian land’ (even though the assertion of this phrase requires a theory of property absent from your dialogue as well as without historical precident [sic].”

    The quote used is false. I don’t even know what it means. How is it possible to destroy land?

    David B., you write that I lack “any rebuttal to the point that the Bedouin, with or without their traditional lands, with or without being encouraged to live in new towns, will remain poor so long as their culture does not value education, keeps women in a state of ignorance, and has 8 (EIGHT!) children per family.”

    Your understanding of Palestinian culture is very poor. Education is venerated by Palestinians, despite the large obstacles placed in the way of most Palestinians of attaining a respectable level of education. Bedouin Palestinians, like the rest of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, are denied adequate education by the state’s discriminatory policies. Human Rights Watch has documented some of this in their 2001 report ‘Second Class: Discrimination Against Arab Palestinian Children in Israel’s Schools’.

    They write: ‘Nearly one in four of Israel’s 1.6 million schoolchildren are educated in a public school system wholly separate from the majority. The children in this parallel school system are Israeli citizens of Palestinian Arab origin. Their schools are a world apart in quality from the public schools serving Israel’s majority Jewish population. […] The Israeli government operates two separate school systems, one for Jewish children and one for Palestinian Arab children. Discrimination against Palestinian Arab children colors every aspect of the two systems. Education Ministry authorities have acknowledged that the ministry spends less per student in the Arab system than in the Jewish school system. The majority’s schools also receive additional state and state-sponsored private funding for school construction and special programs through other government agencies. The gap is enormous–on every criterion measured by Israeli authorities.”

    In fact, your attempt to place the blame for the poor educational and socio-economic levels of the Palestinian Bedouin sounds very similar to that of Israel’s former head of the Educational Authority for Bedouins, Moshe Shohat, who HRW quotes as having said in an interview with Jewish Week that ‘Bedouin who complain about poor living conditions are “blood-thirsty Bedouins who commit polygamy, have 30 children and continue to expand their illegal settlements, taking over state land.” When questioned about providing indoor plumbing in Bedouin schools, he responded: “In their culture they take care of their needs outdoors. They don’t even know how to flush a toilet.”’

    If you had an honest interest in this question, I would also recommend reading some of the work of the (Bedouin Palestinian) Professor, Ismail Abu Saad, who studies Israel’s educational policies toward the Palestinian minority in general and the Bedouin in particular at Ben-Gurion University, despite what you would have us believe is his culture’s disdain for education.

    Charles – You write: “The Israeli state would prefer that the Bedoin live in places where water and healthcare can be delivered, and where the bedoins can have access to educational and economic opportunities. For that reason Israel does not recognize certain Bedoin villages. In fact the Bedoins of Israel have the same rights as other Israeli citizens, including access to land, water, and helth care”.

    The Israeli state is perfectly capable of delivering water and healthcare to the most remote of regions, and hostile of geographies, as we know from its provision of such services to illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. The fact that Israel spends funds subsidizing illegal (Jewish) settlements in the occupied Palestinian (and other Arab) territories under its control and refuses to provide such services to half of its own Arab citizens living in the Naqab (within Israel’s internationally-recognized boundaries) is a further indication of its structurally racism.

    You also write that “Almost no Israeli Bedoin would prefer to be a citizen of a Palestinian state.” This argument reminds me of those white supremacists in the Southern US who used to compare the status of African Americans with Africans in Africa. Why would a family that can trace its roots back to the Naqab for generations not want to stay there? The question is not how does the situation of Palestinians in Israel compare to their co-nationals living elsewhere, but how does it compare to their fellow citizens.

    I think your arguments about Christian Palestinians are the most libelous. You write: “There is only one Middle Eastern country where the number of christain Arabsd is increasing. That country is Israel. From Some 30, to 45 thousand Christian Arabs present in Israel in 1948, that number has grown to over 150,000. In contrast, there were well over 150.000 Christain Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. Today they number less than 50,000. Under the Palestinian Authority, Christain Palestinians have been subject to persecution. Christians are murdered with impunity. Christain girls are raped without and criminal action aginst the Muslim rapist. Muslims seize Christain property, and Palestinian courts do nothing to protect the property rtghts of Palestiniasn Christains. Palestinian Christains are leaving, not because Israel treats them badly, but because Palestinian Muslims do. Palestinian Christains move to the United States, to Europe, and yes if they can to Israel, where they know that they will be treated far better than they will by their fellow Arabs.”

    Charles, you must know as well as I do that what you have written about Christian Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory is utter utter nonsense. We Palestinians (of all faiths) know that there is a massive propaganda campaign being waged by illiterate Zionists like Justus Weiner designed to appeal to the base instincts of US Christian fundamentalists, but to see it repeated here with no shame is astonishing.

    Christian Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from Israel in 1948 and from the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 just like Muslim Palestinians. Certainly many Christians in the oPt are choosing to leave, because the appalling conditions of life under Israeli occupation is driving many people away in search of a better future. Christians are leaving in disproportionate numbers because they often have family members abroad, they find it easier to get visas, they often speak European languages (as many were educated in European-language Christian schools), and many of them are members of the Middle Class, meaning they are not so poor they can’t leave and they are not so wealthy that their local wealth is a good enough reason to stay. That said, Palestinian Christians are also over-represented in Palestinian politics. Afif Safieh, our (Christian) representative to the US compared the over-representation of Christian Palestinians among Palestinian negotiators with the over-representation of Jewish Americans among American negotiators.

    Finally – a personal insight into Muslim-Christian relations: I am a Muslim Palestinian. I live in Ramallah, a city whose Mayor is Christian, with my Christian fiancée in an apartment rented from Christian landladies. We all seem to get on just fine. (I haven’t raped any of them.)

    Instead of believing what Zionist Americans and Israelis tell you about the condition of Palestinian Christians, why not ask the people themselves. I’d recommend you read what the OpenBethlehem campaign have to say on the matter of Israeli policies in the birthplace of Jesus Christ and how they are adversely affecting the most ancient Christian community in the world. http://www.opernbethlehem.org. You can also read this piece by US columnist Robert Novak on the Christian Palestinian village of Aboud.

    Charles also writes “The israeli government has an ongoing program to upgrade the infrastructure and amminities that serve predomminately Aran communities in Israel. The security situation has ben a major factor in inhipiting the progress of thisd program. Money spent to fight terrorism would have better been used to to improve the lives of both Arab and Jewish Israelis.”

    Israel’s so-called ‘security’ concerns do not explain discrimination. Even if the high cost of maintaining the military occupation and sponsoring the colonization of Arab lands is considered a legitimate security measure, it does not explain away the discriminatory approach by which the state distributes the remaining funds among its citizenry, nor other practices of discrimination.

    Charles continues by adding: “[…] i am aware of many communities in the United States that have similar problems to those of the Israeli Bedoins. These communites would include white, black and hispanic communities. They lack infrasyructure such as paved roads, water systems, sewer sustems, garbage pick up, decent schools, and access to quality medical care. Should I describe this situation “apartheid?” I think not.”

    My own contention is that if you can identify a group of citizens in any state that is actively being denied equal citizenship and equal rights in that state on the basis of their ethnic/national/religious or ‘racial’ identity, and in which segregation exists on a significant scale, then a case can be made for using the term ‘Apartheid’, which is after all, only Afrikaans for ‘Apartness’ or ‘Separation’. But Robert is partly right to argue that the semantic debate about the utility of this term in the Israeli context is a distraction – as we have seen from this debate.

    The real issue is, if Israel does not accord equal rights to its citizens on the basis of their ethnic/national/religious or ‘racial’ identity, can it legitimately be considered an enlightened Western-style democracy? I follow Israeli Prof Oren Yiftachel in arguing that Israel is more properly labeled an ‘ethnocracy’. Israel’s democratic status is utterly compromised by two factors: its lack of clearly-defined state borders and the high status attributed to international Jewish organizations, like the Jewish National Fund, in the administration of state resources, not least, of course, land. Hence, Israel is an ethnocracy, which privileges the Jewish majority of its citizenry at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians – including Palestinian citizens of Israel (some of whom are Bedouin), those without Israeli citizenship living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip and those living in the diaspora, many of whom live in refugee camps and are denied their Right of Return to homes in what became Israel simply because they aren’t Jewish.
    See Yiftahel’s article here.

    Incidentally, this Jewish Israeli professor who lives in the Naqab/Negev in the Jewish town of Omer that Robert spoke of earlier does not flinch from identifying what he calls ‘creeping apartheid’ in Israel. http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14250.html

    Charles argues that “[…] the problems of the Israeli bedoins do not constitute “apartheid.” In the United States, the state has the right to taked lands from private citizens, If doing so is considered for the public good.”

    This misses a crucial point. In Israel, the “public” is often considered to be the Jewish people (worldwide), not the citizenry of the state of Israel. Hence, it is perfectly acceptable for the para-statal institutions like the JNF to hold property seized from Palestinians who are declared by the state of Israel to be ‘absent’ even if they remained with Israel’s borders and hold Israeli citizenship, in which case they are labeled with the wonderfully Orwellian title of ‘present absentees’. As stated before, the JNF does not work for the benefit of the “public” in Israel, but exclusively for Jews.

    Some of Charles’s suggestions about how Palestinian citizens of Israel can work to gain equality in Israel and improve their situation are sensible, and there are NGOs and politicians working in these ways. But the question outsiders should be asking is how to support the people who are experiencing this inequality?

    In the US, the success of the civil rights movement was due not only to the work of local groups but the pressure from outside. The US govt was concerned about the disgust at segregation that the families of Third World Ambassadors residing in Washington felt and experienced and in the context of the Cold War, they feared they could not afford to alienate such states. The structural discrimination in Apartheid South Africa only fell after international pressure of boycotts, sanctions and divestment was applied in tandem with the efforts of the local political movements.

    So if you are genuinely interested in improving the lot of Palestinian citizens of Israel or even working for the radical concept of equality in the ‘Jewish state’, you should do more than preach at Bedouin Palestinians on the work that they can do internally to improve their lot, you should also support their efforts externally by exposing the blatant discrimination they face by their own government and calling for international pressure to be applied to change the discriminatory policies of Israel that is at the root of their situation. Finally, you should admit that the problems of the Palestinian minority holding Israeli citizenship are connected to the problems of the wider conflict, and therefore work to bring about an end to the wider Palestinian-Israeli conflict by advocating that the US re-engage in conflict resolution and act as a genuinely disinterested third party mediator, rather than as Israel’s greatest financier and political supporter.

    Charles later states that the use of the word ‘apartheid’ in the context of Israeli policies should be dismissed as Palestinian propaganda. Let us leave aside the fact that Israel collaborated on ‘security’ measures with Apartheid South Africa for years while the latter was considered a Pariah state. Here are some views from some other people. This is Desmond Tutu speaking in 1989: “I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and West Bank could describe events in South Africa.” In 2002 he wrote: “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”

    In 2005, Ronnie Kasrils who happens to be a Jewish member of the ANC, described the situation for Arabs in Israel & Palestine is “far worse” than that of the black South Africans under Apartheid. In May this year he wrote: “Never in the long struggle for freedom in apartheid South Africa was there a situation as dramatic as in Palestine today”.

    If Palestinians living under Israeli rule argue that there situation is analogous to South African Apartheid in some respects (not identical, but analogous), and if Charles disagrees, who has greater moral authority on this subject? A Zionist American living in Texas like Charles, or anti-Apartheid South African activists and Palestinians living under Israeli rule?

  44. Charles, I have to come back now – what is the deal with a complete generalisation of ALL Europeans – all of your points about the Israel of today have some ring of truth and indeed I hope that it is so, but then you more or less negate anything good you might say, by making a sweeping generalisation and I take issue with “traditional Christian Judaophobia”

  45. Kathy the Holocaust did not happen by accident. The history of the hostility of European Christianity towards Jews and Judaism is well documented. Just go to Amazon and do a search for the history of anti-Semitism.

    Actually I should not condem all Europeans. There are a few countries in Europe where Israel receives a fair hearing. And Frinch animosity toward Israel has notably subsided during the last year. Most Europeans know little about Isarael. They rely on the European media for their oppenions, and the European media has chosen to be a conduit for Palestinian Propaganda, rather than truth. An esample of hatefulness of the European Media towards Israel is this cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert as a concentration camp commander, published in a Norwegian newspaper. It is utterly reprehensible.

    http://www.xanga.com/bartoncii/518224074/the-quislings-strik-again.html

    My concers are as follows: 1 Do Europeans judge Israel without knowing the facts? 2. Do Europeans Judge Israewl by the same standards they apply to other states and societies? 3. Do the acknowledged flaws of Israeli society and state policy justify the harsh judgements made against Israel by much of the European media and many Europeans. 4. Do European attitudes betay a prejudice aginst Israel? 5. If European prejudices account for some of the european attitude toward Israel, to what extent can those prejudices be laid to the foot of traditional European anti-Semitism?

    In the case of Mr. Gaarder we have an European intellectual who uses language that has been traditionally used by Christains to express anti-Semitism. Here is an example of the anti-Semitism of a major figure in the history of Christianity in Europe. Martin Luther:

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/luther.htm

    The traditional language used to describe Jews and Judaism by both the Catholic and Protestant churches of Europe portrays a sustamatically false image of Jews and Judaism, and has been repeatyed quite litterally thousands of times in Christain tracts and Sermons. After the Holocaust, European Churches repudiated this language in shame, but now it appears to have come back. What is notable about Mr. Gaarder’s essay is that it manifests a clear link between the lannuage of traditional Christain anti-Semitism, and Israeli-phobic bigotry.

  46. Here is IK’s question.

    “A far more appropriate investigative study would look at how states founded by European-originating colonizers treat their indigenous populations today. How many of them continue to deny equal rights to their indigenous populations?”

    Certainly someone with your education and understanding of the situation can answer this. Certainly someone who can recognize whether your countryman lives in downtown Nablus or the refugee camps merely by hearing Salam Alakhum will know that Baghdad was majority Jewish during the first world war until they were expelled. You will know that Lahore was 100% Hindu before they were expelled, that the Sudeten Land was 100% German before they were expelled, that families from the Hejaz have little claim to rule over Palestinians on the east bank, and that Alawites are fewer than 15% or their underlings.

    Should you hold up the example of South or Western Sudan as the appropriate way to treat indigineous minorites? Or would you rather be born a Christian in East Timor than a Kurd is Iraq? Perhaps the treatment of SE Saudi Arabian Shia’s is the model you seek? Or maybe you prefer to be an Azari in Afghanistan?

    Yes in the sickness that pervads the tissue of the muslim world you might well find an uninfected corner here or there. There will be the occasional Christian marrying a Muslim. There will be the occasional Hindu marrying a Sunni. One must really respect your penchant for finding these exceptions, linking to them, and attempting to craft an argument based on them.

    You continue in an impressive tradition of Palestianian debate – and one which has had some success. (After all you’ve essentially convinced the European world that you were the only people to have to migrate after WWII to make way for a new order of ethnically defined states. Europeans have of course forgotten the 20 million Hindus forced to leave the Western side of the Durand line, the millions of Poles forced to flee Russia, the 10s of millions of Germans forced to flee Central Europe contemproaneosly with Palestinian migration. The world belittle the 500,000 Jews forced to leave other Arab countries without compensation as Palestinians have convinced them that Israel was a European project instead of finding homelands for the Jews of Arabia as well.) I applaud you for continuing to obfuscate exceptions and general truths.

    After 60 years of that with only less to show for the Palestinian project perhaps you should continue in another direction? No one in the West will be persuaded that the Muslim world is anything but sick when our daily headlines are (like they were two days ago):

    – Muslims in England seek to blow up airplanes
    – Sunni Muslims in Iraq kill 35 Shia in Najaf
    – Rockets from Muslim Hezbollah continue to rain down on civilians

    Of course these are just the headlines burried in page 3 and 4 are
    – President of Muslim Iran again calls for Israel’s destruction
    – India still reeling from Muslims bombing its commuter trains
    – Muslims in the Phillipines continue their violent attempt to found SE islamic state
    – Muslim Sunnis again attacked a Shia mosque in Karachi
    – Muslim Janjaweed continue to prevent Black Muslims returning to the Western Sudan
    – Muslims in south Thailand continue their two year insurgency by bombing local bar

    You typically call for the west to be educated and typically use people’s ethnicity (especially your own) to convey some sort of credibility. Surely you’ve made some guesses about my own ethinicity and skin color (both wrong to good probability) considering your previous comments. But by ‘education’ what you really are saying is you want the west to be aware of some exceptions to the overwhelming sickness in the muslim world.

    Well, you don’t deserve that. It is you, who has the obligation to us. You have to create some example of a healthy society before it is worth studying for us. Perhaps the internecine battles of the last 30 years in the Congo are worth understanding. But why waste our time when every indication is that they are simply more interested in killing each other than in forming a decent society. I’ll spend my efforts studying the economic development of Szenchen or the hydroelectric projects in and around Gujjarat.

    I know the history of your region and have no need of the so called education you offer. I know how King Abdullah came to rule over Palestinians and how ibn Saud came to rule the Penninsula. I know the number of Palestinian refugees from 1948, I know how Palestinians were treated under Egypt and Jordan and I know how they were treated under Israel. (I also know the statistics on Palestinian Polio under those differing regimes, perhaps you do to.)

    What I also know is the difference between an exception and the general truth. The statement ‘America is a rich country,’ is a general truth. Pointing out pockets of destitution is none-the-less appropriate. Pointing out pockets of destitution to argue that America is in fact NOT a rich country, is fallacy.

    In short my advice to you remains stop wasting your time with these exceptions. If you want me to believe the Muslim world is anything but sick stop raining Qassam rockets on Jewish civilians the moment Israel tries to trust you.

  47. Kid, I look at the conflicts between The Palestinians and the Israelis as having social, cultural and historical dementions. Most societies go through prolongede traumas wguke encountering modernity. The Jews of central and eastern Europe began their encounter with modernity in the 18th centrry. Zionism was one of the products of that encounter. Thye Jewish refugees who created Israel dreamed of creating a modern society. Movements like Hamas and Hezballa are idiologically in the middle ages, and therefor have not come to terms with modernity yet. I take them to be anti-moddern reactions. The Jews of Europe began to encounter moderniy somewhat earlier that the Palestiniam Arabs. No Arab society has sufficiently come to terms with modernity, to develop a functioning democracy, and this includes the Palestinian territories. You accusation that I am a racist is absurd. I believe that Arabs, once the throw off the shackles of their past, will acomplish great things. My experience of Arabs has been of intelligent capable people, who love their families, and have many good moral qualities. In no respect do I see Arans as inferiors. You are an idiot for calling me a racist, but even highly intelligent peoplde sometimes give birth to under achievers!

    Secondly, your assumption that the State of Israel expelled its Arab populations is far from accurate. I do not doubt that there were expultions, but most of the Arabs refugees were not forced to leave. In the cases of Lydda and Ramle the evidence of expultion is strong, but in cases like Haifa, and Jaffa the evidence is absurdly weak. In Haifa it is exceptionally weak becausew the Christian Arab population did not leave. It would appear that thiat Christian Arabs were among those who stood for Israel in 1948. Your contention about the poor quality of Israeli arab schools is absurd. The University of Haifa is a world class technical school. 20% of its students are Israeli bArabs. Si9nce admission to the University of Haifa is higly competative, this indicates that Israeli Arabs are receiving a very good education. Surveys of Israeli Arabs show that 90% prefer being citizens of Israel to being citizens of a Palestinian state. Israeli Arabs are volunteering for military service in increasing numbers, and the war in Lebonan has created a surge of Israeli patriotism among Israeli Arabs including offers of militasry service.

    Desmond Tutu like many great men is not beyound the capacity to say stupid things. I have pointed out sigtnificant ways which Israeli society does not in any respect resemble Apartheid South Africa. I suggest you reread my comments on the subject.

    As for The Paqlestinian territories, Since Israel has never claimed sovereignty over them I cannot see how the term apartheid applies. In East Jerusalem, where Israel claims sovereignty, all Arabs have been offered the rights of citizenship. The Jerusalem Arabs like the Israeli Arabs, prefger to be Israeli subjects, rather than be governed by a Palestinian State.

    The Palestinian Authority has been a miserable failure. Arafat behaved more like a bandet than the leader of a democratic community. He stold rapaciously from the Palestinian people. At his death his fortune was estimated to ve 6 billion dollars. Arafats close associates were just as crooked. Palestinians have one moral flaw, before they can realize their true potential. The must hold themselvces accountable for their failings and shortcommings instead of always blaiming the Israelis.

  48. I will ignore John’s useless rant. And I will stop responding point-by-point to every dishonest argument, faulty statement and outright lie from Charles because I would have to be here all day to counter the misinformation campaign. My intention was never to convince John or Charles, but to expose them. I think that has been amply achieved. Their own statements are far more damning to their arguments than my responses.

    I will, however, make the following points.

    1) Dismissing the report of an independent human rights organization on the inexcusable discrimination that Palestinianc citizens of Israel face by pointing to the fact that they enjoy proportionate representation in a single Israeli university is truly absurd.

    Here is an extract from an article published last year that addresses the deep inequalities in Israeli higher education which exposes your dishonest argumentation. Note the figures:

    “Although Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise approximately 20% of the population in Israel, according to official data, “non-Jews” comprise 9.5 percent of undergraduates, 4.8 percent of students in Masters’ programs, and 3.2 percent of students in doctoral degree programs. Moreover, as the civic-equality group Sikkuy has acknowledged, a “non-Jewish” applicant is three times more likely to be rejected from university than a Jewish candidate. As for the number of Palestinian academic staff in Israeli universities, at the last count that figure was found to be a paltry one percent.

    More disturbing still is the reluctance to improve accessibility for aspiring Arab students. When, in 2003, the psychometric examination requirement known to be the principle barrier to entry for Palestinians was dropped, Palestinian university applicants benefited in significant numbers. In direct consequence, the decision was over-turned and the requirement reinstated.

    But the discrimination against Palestinians in Israel’s higher education system does not end there, as the experience of Arab students at Haifa University exemplifies. Two weeks ago, the university administration attended a court hearing in which it defended its decision to refuse to place a Christmas tree in the university’s Main Building during the Christmas period, despite repeated requests from the Arab Students’ Committee, and despite the fact that a Jewish menorah is placed there during the celebration of Hannukah. The administration preferred to ghettoize Christmas in another building, far from the center of campus.

    In the same week, the University Rector, Prof. Yossi Ben-Artzi, attended a conference hosted at the university titled, “Israel’s Demographic Problem and Policy,” discussing the pet-subject of racists everywhere: the demographic “threat” posed to a state by a particular ethnic group. In Israel’s case, this means the Palestinians.

    In addition, the proliferation of indictments filed against successive leaders of the Arab Students’ Committee testifies to the harassment that Palestinian students expressing dissenting views on campus can expect to attract from the university’s administration.” See: http://electronicintifada.net/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/11/3891

    2) Many of the Christian Palestinians who now live in Haifa were themselves displaced from and dispossessed of their own property in villages surrounding Haifa. Your contention that they ‘stood with Israel’ in 1948 is entirely bogus. They were victims of the Naqba no less than were the Muslim Palestinians. And yes, on many occassions, they were ethnically cleansed, just like other non-Jews.

    3) Charles writes “the war in Lebonan has created a surge of Israeli patriotism among Israeli Arabs including offers of militasry service.” This is yet more tired Israelied propagada and is roundly contradicted by up-to-date polls rather than rest on tired Israeli propaganda to make your arguments. It would appear that the longer systematic Israeli discrimination continues, the more restless the Palestinian minority are becoming with the state of Israel. They were radicalised during the second intifada during which Israeli ‘security’ forces shot dead 13 unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel. (No one has yet been charged with these crimes) and they have been further radicalised by the current war. (Not least because the Jewish state did not provide these non-Jews with an adequate number of bomb shelters). Here is the opening paragraph from Yossi Alpher’s latest article on http://www.bitterlemons.org:

    “The monthly peace index published by Tel Aviv University’s Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research found on July 31-August 1 that 68 percent of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel defined Israel’s war in Lebanon as unjustified; 79 percent claimed that Israel’s air attacks on Lebanon were unjustified; 56 percent judged Hassan Nasrallah’s declarations to be credible while 53 percent found that IDF reports were not credible.”

  49. Kid, 1. The number of Israeli Arab students who attend Israeli universities is increasing rapidly, There are demographic factors that inhibit Arab students from persuing graduate degrees. The large size of Israeli Arab families, reduces their per child resourses to support higher education. There is also more pressure on Arab children to complete their education in order to join the labor force in order to support their families, than on Jewish children who come from far smaller families. Another demographic factor effecting the number of Arab students in higher education is the non-participation of Arab women in the Israeli job market. Fewer than 20% of Arab women chose to jin the labor force. Since their education will not bring economic return, large Arab families will prefer to devote their limited economic resources to boys, who will be working.

    Your point about entrance examinations is silly. Young Arab men and women are bright, they have good teachers. In the United States coaching for University entrance examinations has become normal. There is no reason why Israeli Arab students cannot do well on university entrance examinations, given a minimal amount of preperation.

    The story about the conflict over a Christmass tree at the University of Haifa could very well have occurred at an American university. The celebration of christmas in publically financed schools is very controversial now.

    Yout hate for Israel is so transindental, Your animosity is so boundless, that it utterly distorts your judgement. You will grasp at any straw to prove thast Israel is evil. You are a sick puppy. I feel sorry for you.

  50. Charles, you’re right. I’m Arab. Of course I’m sick. I come from a sick culture and society, as others have already made clear. The inequalities between Jews and non-Jews in the historic Palestine can be attributed to the fact that our culture and society are backward and regressive. I’m off to convert to Judaism so I can claim my place in a modern, democratic world. Thanks for the correspondence.

  51. Kid, When Arabs learn how to put Israel in perspective, then I will say that Arab culture has truely come of age. In Israel Arabs are beginning to join the social mainstream, despite discrimination and prejudice. There is discrimination and prejudice on the Palestinian side too. Hamas and Fatah are openly anti-Semetic. There is a Plestinian law aginst Pa;estinians selling property to Jews. In the only survey ever taken on the subject, something like 80% of Palestinian Arabs do not want to live with Jews. Jews certainly have not been invited in the Palestinian territories. Should I as a Jew be sick about Palestinian bigorty?

  52. I come from a sick culture and society, as others have already made clear. The inequalities between Jews and non-Jews in the historic Palestine can be attributed to the fact that our culture and society are backward and regressive.

    “Others” are not me, IK, I hope. That isn’t what I think at all.

  53. My study of present day Israel and scripture prophecy (OT & NT) have convinced me that a radical minority referred to as Zionist are using Israel today, doing so in a mistaken belief they are fulfilling prophecy. This apparently true of the zionist Christian also, Reconstructionist, Dominionist, Dual-Coventist, etc. Conditions within Israel today dispells the notion quickly, even to a secular view. Ezekiel-20 dispells this belief scripturally. That it cannot be conveyed to most, even the Christian in America that I talk with directly, surely is a sign the great delusion promised is here.

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