Restating the need to talk to Hamas


by Sunny
22nd September, 2009 at 12:24 am    

Quite predictable, the Jerusalem Post is unhappy that Ken Livingstone interviewed Hamas for the latest issue of the New Statesman. Some idiot government minister condemned him for it.

How shall I put this? I don’t think Ken has great new ideas or particularly represents the future. He was a good stalwart for the left movement, but he represents the past not the future. He filled the New Statesman with editorials and people you could have predicted. Neither am I fan of Hamas, which I think is part a terrorist organisation.

But they are also a political force in Palestinian territories, and it makes no sense for this government to keep their heads in the sand over this. Israel refused to deal with the PLO until it was too late and Hamas became dominant. Now they’re refusing to deal with Hamas, and guess what, even worse people are vying for power. How’s that for brilliant foreign policy? (via Neil Robertson, who made the same point).

Here’s what’s going on. A particularly loud group of people keep screaming hysterically when any attempt to talk to Hamas is made. But governments know they have no choice, so they have to do it covertly. This lets both sides off the hook and a façade is created. The fact is we talk to a whole range of nasty governments around the world because we have to. This false state of affairs allows the Israeli government to pretend it has no partner for peace and keep developing illegal settlements.

Hell, even Tony Blair, a favourite among dhimmis, has said we need to talk to Hamas. The government should accept it has to talk to Hamas and make some progress on Middle East peace because the Tories sure as hell won’t (though Obama might, which is a saving grace).


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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Restating the need to talk to Hamas http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5960


  2. Bob Connors

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  3. AR Mussa

    Pickled Politics » Restating the need to talk to Hamas http://bit.ly/tSJht


  4. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Restating the need to talk to Hamas: Quite predictable, the Jerusalem Post is unhappy that Ken .. http://bit.ly/uhhp7




  1. Badmash — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:36 am  

    Oh no Sunny, what have you done? You’re going to incur the wrath of Harry’s Place, they’re buddies at Spittoon and the ragtag at Quilliam. Talk to Hamas? They’ve spent these past few years smearing and initiating witchunts against anyone who has the guts to suggest such things.

    I fear for you bro. Brace yourself for a Martin Bright/David T/Dean Godson/Ed Husain sh*tstorm.

  2. fentonchem — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:55 am  

    Sunny read this

    http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html

    and this

    http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm

    so why talk to a racist, genocidal terrorist organization?

    Why not boycott racist, genocidal, political groups ?

    Could it be that the Jews are not ‘brown’ enough for you to care about?

  3. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 1:05 am  

    Well,

    We talked to the IRA, didn’t we?

  4. Shamit — on 22nd September, 2009 at 1:05 am  

    Fentonchem

    I don’t like Hamas period and I think like their counterparts in Lebanon the Hezbollah they seek glory from the blood of the people they are supposed to defend and fight for. Quite abhorrent.

    Yet genocide – are you sure you want to try to make that case while defending Israel? I guess Ben Guiron and Moshe Dayan went around requesting people to leave their land so the jews could settle.

    Sunny makes a valid point — an elected group however despicable they might be have earned the right to represent their people. And bringing them to a table of negotiations with public fan fare makes it harder for those groups to commit heinous acts. And it gives them the legacy option which is hard for politicians of all colour, creed ideology to forget.

    So why not give it a shot?

    And that last sentence of yours was -’how do I put it” – not very well thought through.

  5. Sunny — on 22nd September, 2009 at 1:30 am  

    Why not boycott racist, genocidal, political groups ?

    Could it be that the Jews are not ‘brown’ enough for you to care about?

    I like it when other people play the race card. Shows I’m not alone.

    As for your first question: so could you please state all the govts we should not speak to that fit under the criteria?

  6. Ben — on 22nd September, 2009 at 4:23 am  

    What precisely do you want to talk to Hamas about?

    The suspicion is that those who seek to talk to Hamas want to create a diplomatic and propaganda facade that will allow Hamas to become an accepted player in negotiations without it first having to give up its stated aim of destroying Israel.

    Israel and the West have placed three conditions for engaging with Hamas. They are that Hamas renounce terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist and accept previously negotiated agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. When Hamas does these things it will be time to engage them diplomatically.

  7. Cjcjc — on 22nd September, 2009 at 5:32 am  

    Livingstone didn’t “interview” him.
    He sent a list of questions (which make Hello magazine look like Paxman) and someone wrote some answers.

  8. Katy Newton — on 22nd September, 2009 at 7:37 am  

    You’ve linked to the Jerusalem Post, not the Jewish Chronicle.

  9. David T — on 22nd September, 2009 at 9:45 am  

    You should certainly talk to Hamas.

    1. on a day to day basis

    2. once either:

    a – as a reward for a ‘historic concession’: which would be more than a promise to lay off the struggle to turf the Jews out of the Middle East and replace Israel with an Islamic state for a mere 10 or 15 years; or

    b – as was the case in Northern Ireland, when the leadership had become middle aged and is ready to retire, when the military battle has been all but won, and when the organisation has been infiltrated from the top down.

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/06/17/talking-to-terrorists/

    That worked well in Northern Ireland, and it is the model which should be tried again here.

    However, unlike Northern Ireland, where the population has run into the hands of the extremist parties of both sides – a rational calculation, as the settlement entrenches sectarian advantage – a genuine attempt must be made to foster centrist democratic and liberal politics on both sides.

    From the Bew and Frampton article:

    First, the British state had tried to talk to the IRA at various intervals throughout the conflict, starting as early as 1972. At various points, this encouraged the terrorists that momentum was on their side and coincided with a surge in expectations and in violence.

    Second “hard power” also played a crucial role: the IRA only came to the negotiating table after a successful campaign of intelligence and policing forced them to recognise that their military campaign was failing. They achieved barely any of the aims they had set themselves and were arguably further from success than they had been thirty years before. As its star seemingly rises, does anyone expect Hamas to sue for peace with such lowered expectations?

  10. bananabrain — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:00 am  

    what ben and david t said above. the israelis already have backchannels to talk to hamas via the egyptians, which they have been using to try and get gilad shalit released. the fact that he is still being held hostage three years later is evidence they’ve not yet moderated their positions.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  11. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:06 am  

    David T,

    On second thoughts, the IRA is not a good example, because the British (and to a far lesser extent the Irish) States were their direct opponents.

    As far as I know, Hamas is not threatening the UK, so we are not direct participants in that dispute.

    We could therefore afford to adopt a role as peacemakers, for we have no dog in the fight. Or, alternatively, we should simply walk away from the whole dispute. Or do I detect a distinct ambition, on both sides, that UK foreign policy is to be dictated by the cheerleaders with the biggest keyboards?

  12. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:06 am  

    Thanks Katy. Now corrected.

    It is not weakness to talk to your enemies, whaetver they do. It is weakness to concede things without getting something in return. But it is clear that Hamas must understand that Israel is willing to use force against it, otherwise it will have no incentive to negotiate.

  13. David T — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:52 am  

    “We could therefore afford to adopt a role as peacemakers, for we have no dog in the fight. Or, alternatively, we should simply walk away from the whole dispute. Or do I detect a distinct ambition, on both sides, that UK foreign policy is to be dictated by the cheerleaders with the biggest keyboards?”

    We should do what is in our interests.

    There is no obvious British interest to encouraging Hamas to think that it is winning. Better spend our energies on ensuring that those who are ideologically aligned with Hamas in the UK are defeated. That’s the main challenge, as far as I’m concerned.

  14. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 11:50 am  

    David T,

    Better spend our energies on ensuring that those who are ideologically aligned with Hamas in the UK are defeated. That’s the main challenge, as far as I’m concerned.

    Yes, I’d assumed that that would be your position David.

  15. David T — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

    Well, you were right!

  16. Sunny — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:37 pm  

    he is still being held hostage three years later is evidence they’ve not yet moderated their positions.

    Or it could be evidence Israel were refusing to give something in return.

    Or, alternatively, we should simply walk away from the whole dispute

    Don’t think its in our geo-political or moral interests to do that.

    as a reward for a ‘historic concession’: which would be more than a promise to lay off the struggle to turf the Jews out of the Middle East and replace Israel with an Islamic state for a mere 10 or 15 years;

    You mean like the offer of a ceasefire for about 15 years?

  17. David T — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:46 pm  

    There seems to be a ceasefire in Lebanon. Hezbollah is using it to consolidate its position and increase the range of its missiles. The peacekeepers seem unable to prevent that breach of the ceasefire agreement taking place.

    My guess is that war will erupt again, just as soon as Hezbollah decide to launch one of those new missiles.

  18. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:46 pm  

    But David,

    I am finding it increasingly difficult to see any solution to the I/P affair without some movement amongst the protagonists. And when you write on this subject, on which you have an undoubted grasp, it becomes a series of tit for tat between you and them.

    You and bananabrain and Ben have all made your position quite clear, we would only negotiate with preconditions.

    I’ll ask you again, why should the UK invest anything whatsoever into either side, except for humanitarian or R2P reasons?

    Frankly this proxy, poxy ‘debate’ between supporters of Israelis and Palestinians does more harm than good in a UK context.

  19. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 12:52 pm  

    Sunny,

    What geo-political interests do we have nowadays? None that I can see that aren’t shared largely with other European nations that seem to be able to avoid the sort of showmanship that we indulge in.

    The moral issue is different but R2P has been set back enormously by Iraq, and we still do do humanitarian aid.

    Perhaps it’s another Westminster bubble thing but we ceratainly can’t act on a geo-political stage except under the auspices of the US, or perhaps in the future under the EU. We just haven’t got it any more.

  20. David T — on 22nd September, 2009 at 1:17 pm  

    As I’ve said, my main focus is on those who are ideologically in step with Hamas and other extreme fascist groups, in the United Kingdom.

  21. David T — on 22nd September, 2009 at 1:37 pm  

    Although – not entirely off topic – here is a good post on why Islamist parties in the Middle East don’t make for a good choice of partner…

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/09/22/new-ippr-report-fuck-the-arabs/

  22. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

    There is a difference between the I/P dispute and standing up for democratic or humanitarian rights in Arab nations. Whilst the latter might aid the former, the former is certainly not helping the latter.

    Your colleagues piece is completely silent on the subject of Hamas, btw.

    What I’m saying is that the present path to peace is logjammed and nobody is actually striving for a solution. To that extent it is an impassé that could do with some serious analysis. Why are none of the parties willing to do that? Who benefits?

    Perhaps doing something about that alone would be good.

  23. Tom Griffin — on 22nd September, 2009 at 3:04 pm  

    Bew and Frampton’s thesis is a pretty tendentious interpretation of the Northern Ireland conflict, partly because it is designed to satisfy both the Ulster Unionists who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement, and neoconservatives and Likudniks who regard the Agreement as an unacceptable precedent.

    I argued in OurKingdom a while back, that one of the ways they met these requirements was by exaggerating the strength of Hamas and understating that of the IRA.
    http://tinyurl.com/ctvlqm

    This should have been obvious to anyone in the wake of the Gaza conflict las winter, but Bew and Frampton seem to have missed its implications for their thesis.

    If overwhelming military superiority is a necessary prerequisite to successful negotiations then there will never be a better opportunity than the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. Or was that insufficient ‘hard power’?

  24. Leon — on 22nd September, 2009 at 3:10 pm  

    I’m going to look the gift horse in the mouth:

    I’m impressed this thread is as civil and constructive as it is being that it’s about i/p! Incredible, Sunny did you lock up all the loons or something!? :D

  25. cjcjc — on 22nd September, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

    Think #23 might be heading that way: “neocons and Likudniks” – never a good omen.

  26. Tom Griffin — on 22nd September, 2009 at 3:59 pm  

    CJCJ

    Bew and Frampton have both been heavily involved in the Henry Jackson Society. I argue in the link above that their thesis has been strongly influenced by Dean Godson’s thinking on Northern Ireland, and versions of it have been promoted, in a rather less sophisticated form, by Douglas Murray and Melanie Phillips. I don’t think it is unreasonable to gloss this as a neoconservative strand of opinion.

    Likewise, Bew and Frampton put forward a version of their argument last year in a pamphlet published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which is headed by Dore Gold, a former advisor to Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, hence Likudnik.

    I think these links are significant for Bew and Frampton’s argument, in that they are trying to retrospectively justify David Trimble in terms of a neoconservative mold, into which his greatest achievement, negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, does not really fit.

  27. cjcjc — on 22nd September, 2009 at 4:15 pm  

    I see you are associated with “Neocon Europe”, the front page of which contains the (depressingly predictable) entry on the “Israel Connection.”

    I thought HP might have had something to say about this “project” and, lo and behold, they had.

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/08/10/muhammed-idrees-ahmad/

    Oh dear.

  28. Katy Newton — on 22nd September, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

    I’ll ask you again, why should the UK invest anything whatsoever into either side, except for humanitarian or R2P reasons?

    Frankly this proxy, poxy ‘debate’ between supporters of Israelis and Palestinians does more harm than good in a UK context.

    I really agree with this, actually, especially the last bit.

  29. Tom Griffin — on 22nd September, 2009 at 4:21 pm  

    There’s an interesting article in Haaretz today which underlines the point that the kind of conditions that Bew and Frampton say are necessary for negotiations may now be in place:

    “the fact remains that Palestinian terrorism, whether borne by Qassam or suicide bomber, has decreased dramatically.

    “At the same time, terrorism, whether real or not, remains central to Israel’s explanations of many of the most morally problematic of its policies, including the siege of Gaza and restrictions on the movements and commerce of Palestinians in the West Bank.”
    http://tinyurl.com/kl6nbe

  30. cjcjc — on 22nd September, 2009 at 4:33 pm  

    Goodness, I wonder whether the movement restrictions have had anything to do with the reduction in suicide bombing…

    Otherwise not an un-optimistic article!

  31. fentonchem — on 22nd September, 2009 at 4:49 pm  

    Sunny, would you do me a favor?
    Read the Charter of HAMAS, and metally substitute ‘White European’ for Arab, ‘Christian’ for Muslim/Islamic and ‘Brown’ for Zionist/Jew.
    Would you help bring into the mainstream of British politics an organization that was based of Christian/White power; believed that all ‘settlers’ in the UK who do not have four grandparents present in the UK before 1948 should be either killed or enthnically cleansed and wished to revive the ‘good old days’ when the slavery practicing British Empire commanded a large fraction of the Earths surface; with Blacks and Browns in their rightful place as slaves.

    If you think such an organization to be both hatful and unlawful; why do you add your support to HAMAS?

    Just who is playing the race card?

  32. Sunny H — on 22nd September, 2009 at 7:43 pm  

    If you think such an organization to be both hatful and unlawful; why do you add your support to HAMAS?

    I don’t think you can read, can you?

    Tom – good points.

    The peacekeepers seem unable to prevent that breach of the ceasefire agreement taking place.

    This is rather one sided isn’t it? What committments does Israel make to the peace process, and does it stick to them? For example, the continued expansion of illegal settlements. You seem to be condoning that.

  33. marvin — on 22nd September, 2009 at 7:53 pm  

    What committments does Israel make to the peace process, and does it stick to them? For example, the continued expansion of illegal settlements. You seem to be condoning that.

    Whilst provocative, building without houses without building permission is not quite the same as sending off your brethren off to self-detonate or launching rockets in the attempt to and murder as many Jews as possible….

  34. Sunny H — on 22nd September, 2009 at 8:16 pm  

    I did work in the assumption there that you expect more from a democratic state than a terrorist organisation…

    but I suppose I should start every sentence by first knocking down potential strawmen. Well done for whataboutery marvin, as usual.

  35. Katy Newton — on 22nd September, 2009 at 8:16 pm  

    This is rather one sided isn’t it? What committments does Israel make to the peace process, and does it stick to them? For example, the continued expansion of illegal settlements. You seem to be condoning that.

    I really hesitate to get drawn into another of these threads, but I really think the point has to be made: firing rockets into Israel is also illegal, and it seems to me that there is no logical difference between Israel saying “We’ll talk when you stop firing rockets into Israel and recognise our right to exist” and Hamas saying “We’ll talk when you put a stop to further development within illegal settlements”.

    Each is pointing to behaviour by the other side which is illegal and saying the other has to stop first. Clearly neither of them are going to because both positions are equally logical (or, if you prefer, illogical). It can’t seriously be said that it is any less reasonable for Israel to say “Stop firing rockets and recognise us” than it is for Hamas to say “Stop building within illegal settlements”, can it?

    That’s why my personal opinion is that everyone should stop picking a side and demanding that it stop whatever it is doing first, and instead start calling upon both sides to stop their illegal behaviour at the same time.

  36. Katy Newton — on 22nd September, 2009 at 8:18 pm  

    I did work in the assumption there that you expect more from a democratic state than a terrorist organisation…

    I thought Hamas was a democratically elected government. I really don’t think that they can have it both ways. Either they’re an elected government that should be pressurised to behave like one, or they aren’t an elected government and it’s difficult to see why they should be involved in talks. Personally I favour treating them as an elected government and talking to them, because that’s what they are and not talking to them has achieved nothing.

  37. fentonchem — on 22nd September, 2009 at 9:03 pm  

    I don’t think you can read, can you?
    “The government should accept it has to talk to Hamas and make some progress on Middle East peace”

    yes i can read. So I take it that you and the rest of the progressives wish the BNP to enter the political mainstream as they have elected representatives.
    Indeed, engagement is now the accepted policy for racist organizations. I thank you for the clarification.

  38. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 9:35 pm  

    Fentonchem,

    You are rather a master of pointing out one sides flaws, and they are significant flaws to be sure. But you are completely silent on the Israeli actions against Gaza. Which don’t seem to have gone down too well with the international community, do they?

    Why are you so biased fentonchem?

    There has been a bit of a spat in the UK recently what with the EDL and, possibly Hizb Ut Tahir, or Hizbollah – David T will keep us right on that I’m sure – facing off against each other, and others piling in on each side.

    I’d be quite interested to know whether you see only one side of that debate as fascist, or perhaps both, or what?

    I think there were manipulative bastards on both sides, and useful idiots on both sides. And, when it comes to the manipulative bastards, there really isn’t much to chose.

    They are cold blooded, in what I think is another reasonable and undermentioned strand of fascism, the ability to mobilise public opinion through propoganda. Nobody did it better…

  39. FlyingRodent — on 22nd September, 2009 at 9:59 pm  

    Surely Hamas’ position as Gaza’s top psychos is largely dependent on their belligerent neighbours, and the Israeli wingnut faction is only too happy to oblige?

    Hamas maintain their power base and their insane belief that reconquest of Israel itself is even vaguely possible; the Israeli wingnuts maintain their power base and use Hamas as an excuse while quietly locking down more settlements and the rest of Jerusalem, if they can get it.

    That’s the situation, and the boo-hoo They started it/No, they did bullshit is just political cover for the reality that both sides – psychos and wingnuts – are locked in a mutually-dependent dance of ever-expanding lunacy to their own benefit, with their civilian populations stuck in the middle

    In short – of course they should talk. There’s no chance at all of a long-term settlement, but more jaw-jaw and less self-serving aggro bullshit means less munitions flying in both directions. That would be A Good Thing, and it seems to me that should be desired by everyone. I have to suspect that anyone saying otherwise is just carrying water for one side or the other.

    And, by the way, David T’s Oh dear, Hamas are too evil to negotiate with is precisely how the Israelis wound up in the position they are in. David clearly thinks he’s taking up a hard-headed and realistic position here, but it looks to me like he’s really just endorsing the status quo – homemade rockets, white phosphorus and land grabs, oh my! – while keeping his hands clean.

    I’m failing to see how What can we do when the other side is so nasty? isn’t exactly the same as Bombs away, it’s the only language they understand in logical and practical effect.

  40. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:04 pm  

    Or,

    My final paragraph should have said ‘…propoganda, lies and a complete hatred of the other’ shouldn’t it?

    What does anyone else reading this think?

    For there is no way that fentonchem and I are likely to agree about very much at all. So, the thread is wasted.

    Such is life.

    Or not.

  41. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:17 pm  

    FlyingRodent,

    You really cut through to the quick, don’t you? That is by far the best analysis of the insanity of the I/P battle (c.f. two bald men fighting over a comb), that I have read.

  42. TheIrie — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:40 pm  

    Of course the Israeli Government and Hamas are as bad as each other. Both have commited crimes and acts of terror. Both have charters denying the right of existence of the other. Both are responsible for the political stalemate. Meanwhile it’s the innocent that suffer, but that is how the world works.

    If you want to change that situation, you have to talk. I can see no sensible reason to reject the offers of 10-15 year ceasefires that have been made by Hamas. A lot can happen in that amount of time, and just as violence begets violence, so giving people the chance to live peaceful lives, combined with democratic control over their governments is much more likely to lead to a peaceful outcome than the current policy of extermination of terrorists.

  43. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:49 pm  

    TheIrie,

    I can see no sensible reason to reject the offers of 10-15 year ceasefires that have been made by Hamas. A lot can happen in that amount of time, and just as violence begets violence, so giving people the chance to live peaceful lives, combined with democratic control over their governments is much more likely to lead to a peaceful outcome than the current policy of extermination of terrorists.

    That is the whole bloody point, isn’t it? Obtain a bit of space, And work it out?

  44. TheIrie — on 22nd September, 2009 at 10:56 pm  

    I think so. As Gandhi put it “There is no path to peace. Peace is the path”. In other words, using war as a means to achieve peace as an end doesn’t work (i.e. Israeli state policy, and Hamas policy). If peace is the ends, it has to be the means.

    Quick verse of Kumbaya anyone?

  45. fentonchem — on 22nd September, 2009 at 11:37 pm  

    I see that my premise is correct; you think the fact that because a terrorist organization, shown to be war criminals and in direct defiance of the UN declaration on genocide should be treated as on par with the government of a nation state. Such a stance must surely mean that you would be happy for lesser fascist organizations to march, meet and grow in the UK.
    If a group that is in breach of international law with respect to the conventions on genocide, mines and child soldiers; as well as in breach of the Geneva conventions and being recognized as terrorists by the EU and USA is to be respected; why not the BNP?
    You are either moral perverts or racists; which is it?

  46. falcao — on 22nd September, 2009 at 11:45 pm  

    Israel is the modern day version of apartheid south africa. How it is not put under sanctions and boycotts shows the hypocrisy of the so called civilised world!

  47. sonia — on 23rd September, 2009 at 2:36 am  

    35 and 36 ; very well said Katy.

    the analogy of a dysfunctional couple always strikes me. they are like a warring couple stuck in a quagmire..stuck in a silent, aggressive, marriage punctuated by outbursts. both need to see the other side’s point of view..if they want any quality of life for their own self.this is where it becomes clear how difficult it is to compromise and be graceful and giving.

    thing is, you can’t really have a marriage counselor who isn’t neutral, or criticises one side more than the other (whether that is ‘warranted’ or not). the marriage counselor’s job is to try and get both sides to see the other side’s view and that their interests and well-being are intertwined, that hurting the other is hurting one’s own self/side. human nature being what it is, each ‘person/side’ wants validation for its own point of view/justifying its own behaviour. when external parties feed this dynamic, it can add fuel to the already raging flames

    so the only thing a counselor can do is to ‘facilitate’ the desire each party might have to ‘go forward’ somehow, and highlight (when it becomes muddy and the partners are actually enjoying torturing one another) that it is actually in their joint interest to think about each other’s well-being.

    How to resolve this when the circle of violence has been established: Is Not an Easily Answerable Question. Basically it boils down to the question of whether either party has any desire to be “good” to itself. If both sides are showing a lack of this, the only thing inter-mediaries can do is to get each side to think about what constitutes its ‘well-being’ and whether it really is about what they might think it is.

    So : these are the things to ponder for those who want to be ‘inter-mediaries’ and those who desire ‘glory’ for “sorting out” the mess. and those who seem to want to keep stirring the flames.

    Of course, at the end of the day, we should really be offering individual humans the ability to move the globe freely and not have to fight these ‘my nation/your nation’ wars (because right now, the Statelessness issue/crappy asylum realities mean that actually, folk out there probably can’t really see any alternatives, and this feature of the global system is the major enabling factor/ostensible reason for the struggle)

  48. sonia — on 23rd September, 2009 at 2:47 am  

    Very sad (yet ridiculously silly at the same time) isn’t it. this Israel/Palestine is so revealing of the human condition and the failures/gaps in our globalised system of social governance through nation-states which historically have been set up through land-grabs and victory of the strongest.

    I personally see NO “solution” to the Israel and Palestine “its my dolly, no its mine” stalemate. (or any other similar tug-of wars anywhere else on the globe e.g. in the Balkans, etc. Moral of the story: we need to learn/teach ourselves that It is everyone’s dolly and everyone has to learn to share. Or Else we have Continuous War.

    Well i do see some solutions but they are not the kind people want to hear – who gets which bit of the doll, who gets nothing. Not a solution. Fuck “groups” bickering over land. Global thinking global community solutions for individuals are what we need to consider.

    I say, let’s try to help to give those who are Stateless a decent chance to build a decent life “somewhere else”.

    If people then want to stay and fight over a patch of land, whose “nation” it is, well stuff it. I certainly don’t think we should encourage any of this kind of ‘belonging’ to this particular piece of land. That’s the source of the problem! We need to get over the idea that certain ‘peoples’ are entitled to certain bits of land. If both sides want to entertain the idea that land is so strongly tied to God, well more fool them. If people are so obsessed with nationalism and ‘countries’ that they can’t go somewhere else to live (assuming they have the ability to, are ‘welcome’ there, can make a living there) well, that is sad, and silly. What we need to do – is to find ways around these ‘my nation/your nation’ fights. they can’t be resolved ‘within’ the nation-system framework, that much is clear. the globalised system of nation-states is the root problem here. some ‘nations’ have managed to ‘find’ and maintain their states, and some didn’t. by now if you haven’t, you ain’t going to manage the ‘old way’. If i were Palestinian, (or any other person whose human rights are at risk) I would be campaigning for global freedom of movement rights. Shame most people have their head in the sand on this one.

    Because if we don’t, its just going to be out and out war all over the globe. Especially with the growing environmental crisis. We need global freedom of movement for all individual humans- its about time someone recognised that is the Ultimate thing we need.

  49. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:49 am  

    fentochem @ 45,

    And I see my assumption, for that is all it was, that you are captured into an oppositional arguement, also proved to be true.

    I think, if you cared to look at the UNs’ deliberations on Gaza, you would find that a ‘nation state’ had, indeed brought disgrace upon intself. And that state is Israel. Denial of that evidence is an affront to common sense. Which is what the more evil supporters of Israel do, c.f.:

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/09/22/un-human-rights-council-report-a-media-round-up/

    I fail to see much to commend in that.

    There is absolutely no worthwhile demarcation to be drawn.

    ‘Tis you, sir that is the modern moral pervert and racist, not I.

  50. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 6:05 am  

    Getting support from Falcao (@46), who is a completely Ummahtastic lunatic, drives me nuts – I have even less time for Falcao than I have for you. Nor his very strange little pals.

    There is a third way, whether you or your bastard child, Falcao, can see it right now. And that is trying to use your brains to escape your mutual aggression. Frankly, you both enjoy it too much for that to be a possibility.

    Testosterone as Foreign Policy, what a joy!

  51. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 6:21 am  

    Sonia @ 48,

    I agree. Now there’s a surprise!

  52. Dr Anonymous — on 23rd September, 2009 at 7:25 am  

    I agree with the basic point that it is in everyone’s interests if Israel and Hamas negotiate at minimum to halt or even reverse the cycle of violence. However, there are some problems with the historical narrative presented above.

    1. The Israeli state supported Hamas, it didn’t just put up with it. This was a direct attempt to undermine the then-secular PLO by promoting Hamas.
    2. The American government and the Israeli government pushed for elections in Palestinian territories, and Hamas was democratically elected. They were then subsequently stopped from taking power, resulting in what was basically a civil war among Palestinians.
    3. Successive Israeli governments have been collectively punishing the people in the territory controlled by Hamas for several years now, in addition to all of its other actions that have been discriminatory and/or violent.
    4. Israeli electoral politics has moved so far right as to be almost indescribable.
    5. There is no meaningful distinction that I can think of between the actions of Hamas which are labeled ‘terrorist’ and the actions of the Israeli government, which most frequently are not. The only distinction I can think of is that Hamas was (and only by dint of American and Israeli policy still is) a non state actor, whereas Israel is a state actor. But how is that meaningful in terms of the effects on the people of the actions of both organisations?
    6. Most importantly, the balance of force is clearly and indisputably on the Israeli side. This needs to be kept in mind, even while calling for all sides to cease and desist.

    I am not going to defend Hamas – particularly with regard to its ideology or its practices within Gaza – but an adequate assesment of the situation from someone who’s not party to it and has no vested interests in it other than empathy with people who are suffering has to actually assess the situation. The realpolitik argument of having to negotiate with Hamas because it quite clearly is the only legitimate negotiating power on behalf of Palestinians is inadequate if one is not identifying with some other power.

  53. falcao — on 23rd September, 2009 at 9:29 am  

    the israeli state is overwhelmingly supported by the EU and the US, the Palestinians have never got a fair deal out of this and never will in the current climate.

  54. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 9:59 am  

    falcao:

    the israeli state is overwhelmingly supported by the EU and the US, the Palestinians have never got a fair deal out of this and never will in the current climate.

    Perhaps that is true. Do you ever wonder why that might be the case? Do you ever wonder why I think that Sunny speaks sense to power? Do you ever live outside the idea that you are the right wings cliché of a Muslim nutter?

    Just occasionally add something to the debate that suggests otherwise, why don’t you?

    Because you can’t, or summat?

    falcao, you are a prime idiot, you couldn’t cross a dance floor to look at the other side.

    Probably halal.

  55. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 10:20 am  

    Sunny,

    re 54

    This is a part of my project to fall out with everyone that has a point of view on the Israel / Palestine arguement, that isn’t in favour of peace. I consider the lot of them objectionable cunts…

    So far that includes David T, falcao and his mates, and a growing list of like minded idiots.

    Just so you know, and can consider that when the requests to ban me come in.

    For I am unlikely to give up on this, for the idiocy is too prevelant.

  56. cjcjc — on 23rd September, 2009 at 10:54 am  

    I’m sure he can speak for himself, but is David T not in favour of peace?

  57. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 11:29 am  

    cjcjc @ 56,

    Perhaps, perhaps not. Where do you stand on the subject? You have never unequivocally denied your warlike tenadancies, have you?

    And, I for one, would like David T to explain himself. If he is in favour of peace, why is he so warlike? Why is he so up his arse on Israeli aggression as requiring sympathy? Why would that be?

    There is something completely rotten in the defence of Israel, and it is mainly Jewish apologists. Such as your good self cjcjc.

    Which does not mean I agree with your opponents, such as the inestimable falcao. So, a plague on both of you.

    I think we should try for another approach, which does not see either David T or falcao as arbitrers of truth, and, perhaps, make our own minds up.

    Radical, huh?

  58. cjcjc — on 23rd September, 2009 at 12:10 pm  

    “Jewish apologists”?

    Are you sure that is what you meant to say?

  59. chairwoman — on 23rd September, 2009 at 12:21 pm  

    “There is something completely rotten in the defence of Israel, and it is mainly Jewish apologists. Such as your good self cjcjc.”

    And there it finally is.

  60. Katy Newton — on 23rd September, 2009 at 12:23 pm  

    This is a part of my project to fall out with everyone that has a point of view on the Israel / Palestine arguement, that isn’t in favour of peace. I consider the lot of them objectionable cunts…

    Who isn’t in favour of peace? The argument is about how you get to peace, not whether or not peace is a good thing. I don’t think anyone who comments here thinks peace is a bad thing, do they?

  61. FlyingRodent — on 23rd September, 2009 at 1:10 pm  

    Katy, I think everyone is in favour of peace, but a number of people on both sides want it absolutely on partisan, uncompromising terms with few or no concessions to the hated enemy.

    Since that’s not going to happen – everyone knows full well that’s not going to happen – it’s an odd kind of hunger for peace that invariably results in perpetual bloodshed. I think it’s more or less been the default position of the main actors in the I/P conflict for roughly fifty years, during which time it has also been self-serving bullshit.

    Which is roughly why I think more jaw-jaw would be useful, even if it only cuts down a little on the volume of munitions in the air. Less war is, by and large, a good thing in itself before we even consider the knock-on effects.

  62. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 3:50 pm  

    cjcjc @ 58,

    Of course. However otherwise do you describe the nutters that pollute this conversatiion? They are here and there, running around with their commitment as a sort of military medal. Their lack of self knowledge, that they are in fact keyboard warriors, damages any sort of conversation.

  63. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 3:53 pm  

    chairwoman,

    Yes, there it finally is. What do you make of it? Argue if you like but cut out the condemnation. There is room in the middle for both of us, there is no room worth living in for extremists of either stripe.

  64. cjcjc — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:00 pm  

    So you did mean to say “Jewish apologists”.

    Well, at least you’re honest!

    Not “Israel apologists” or even the CiF favourite “Zionist apologists”, but “Jewish apologists”.

    I have to say I’m surprised.

  65. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:13 pm  

    Katy,

    Who isn’t in favour of peace?

    Hamas? Hizzbullah?

    These fundamentalist nutters are interested exclusively in destruction, not peace. There ought to be a large space in the middle that allows compromise, but it doesn’t appear to exist. Because the middle ground has already been captured by nutters. And that includes, although is not exclusive to, commentators on Harrys’ Place threads. If you try to debate the I/P issue from a position that is not compromised by being on one wing or the other what happens? Your own mother sees me as some sort of enemy. I am not the enemy. The enemy of you all is your own commitment to jihad. A waterfall of finding things wrong with the other side, a continual form of verbal diarrhea about how guilty the other party is. It is like being a neutral at a Rangers -v- Celtic game.

    That is how factionalised this sort of debate has become.

    There is no middle ground anymore.

  66. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:32 pm  

    cjcjc,

    Well, in the very best Rachel Maddow tone of voice, ‘talk me down’.

    This discussion started with two people who I know are Jewish – bananabrain and David T – who’s entire contribution to neutrality could be summed up on a pinhead. There is, in fact, no neutral point of view available. We are either with them or against them.

    My position on all of this is now. simply this, a plague on the lot of you!

    Neither side is willing to see reason, no matter what happens. The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is unremarkable, the nuclear capabilities of Israel is persona non grata in any discussion, and so it goes. Dropping missiles on folk in Sideron is completely acceptable to the Yasser Arafat wannabes. Exploding women are expressing their deeply held religious beliefs just as their body parts fly apart. (How many virgins do they get?)

    This is Bedlam, so it is. And yet people I respect pretend that one side of insanity is better than another?

    Why cannot they see that it takes two to dance this insane tango?

    So, talk me down, why don’t you?

  67. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    Only one thing to change:

    know and respect are Jewish.

  68. cjcjc — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:53 pm  

    I’m struggling to see what you have to object to in e.g. post #9

  69. qidniz — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:58 pm  

    There is no middle ground anymore.

    There never was.

  70. Edsa — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:59 pm  

    Kip #62 proposes a just solution. As he put it:
    “,b>Close down the State of Israwl. Give the Jewish Israelis EU citizenship and resettle them in the EU.

    And those Israelis who don’t wish to settle in the EU, can return to their origins in Russia or thereabouts.
    Can the Israelis ever make up for the death and distruction they have wreaked on the Arab lands of the Middle East?

  71. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:08 pm  

    cjcjc,

    Re David T @ 9

    Try his link and compare and contrast it with this:

    http://tinyurl.com/ctvlqm

    One is written from a putatively establishment point of view and the other is not. Which is which?

    Neither, in my view, addresses common ground or opens up a space for it. They are both forms of ‘winning’.

  72. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:09 pm  

    qidniz,

    Perhaps there never was, but if there is to be a solution, there has to be.

  73. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:15 pm  

    Edsa,

    Can the Israelis ever make up for the death and distruction they have wreaked on the Arab lands of the Middle East?

    Sideist! What about the harm bad Arabs have done to nice Jewish folk?

    This is just as ridiculous as the arguement from the other point of view.

  74. cjcjc — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:18 pm  

    I agree Tom Griffin is a bit of a nutter, or certainly associates with them – see #27

    Is what is outlined in David T’s blog a form of “winning”?

    Perhaps it is. But I find case that more convincing myself.

  75. cjcjc — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:22 pm  

    David T’s link I mean…

  76. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 5:43 pm  

    cjcjc,

    Being convinced of a case is the issue, is it not? It’s entirely binary to assume that one side is right and the other wrong without considering the middle ground. That is what I am arguing about, as much with myself as with anyone else it seems to me.

    I am frankly gutted that chairwoman, for instance, seems to think she has ‘outed’ me as some sort of proto fascist. When she actually knows I am no such beast.

    Simply for saying what has been on my mind for quite a while. And that attempting to find common ground now makes that sort of opinion from ones web chums somehow respectable. When it is frankly just another weapon in the armoury of the binary.

    I don’t, actually, expect to win this arguement. All I want to do is open up the debate beyond the ‘Ya Sucks!’ brigade. Who, it has to be said, seem to have a monopoly on this, and other, internet discussions. But mainly this one.

  77. chairwoman — on 23rd September, 2009 at 6:13 pm  

    Douglas, I actually don’t know what to think when somebody says that there’s something “rotten” about Jews supporting other Jews in a, or rather the Jewish country.

    But then it is all part of what I, probably erroneously, perceive as the Scottish psyche (btw though born in London, I was actually conceived in Crieff), the support for what is seen (the Palestinians) as the underdog. How strange therefore that the Scottish Anthem is pride of Scotland, a song that harkens back to a time when the Scots were the victors forcing Edward I to slink home, tail between legs, to think again.

    I’m ending with an anecdote that I hope will not offend anyone.

    I was the proud owner of an Aberdeen Terrier, or Scottie as most people know them. If ever a dog was dour, it was Jock (come on, what else could we call him?), he loved us but in a non-demonstrative way, and while neither vicious nor unfriendly, he wasn’t interested in humans he didn’t know. Other dogs were another matter, at 12 weeks he hurled himself at a Rottweiller guard dog in our local park. He was utterly fearless, but always punched above his weight, the only opponent he was a match for was the West Highland White Terrier from 2 doors away. When his time came he died quietly in his sleep without a fuss.

    And he personified (dogsonified?) Scottishness for me.

  78. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 6:44 pm  

    chairwoman,

    Well, I didn’t have you in mind when I wrote what I writ. Would it be too much for you to assume that I am also saying Muslim support for Palestinians is a bit ‘rotten’ too? It does seem to me that a lot of Muslims and Jews that live here, and perhaps didn’t have the good fortune to be conceived in Crieff, are more invested in Middle Eastern politics than is, frankly, healthy.

    This daft wee protuberance into the North Atlantic is as much your country as it is anyone elses’. But it has a right to form it’s opinions without being beholden to either party in the Middle East. I have never understood the desire to import that particular barney into our body politic as being some sort of a public good. And the only folk that seem to have an opinion on it are Muslim or Jewish, who polarise the debate something rotten. I’m not saying you, or they, aren’t sincere, I’m just saying it looks a bit contrived.

    Ré your anecdote:

    Well, someone has to do it. Bloody Rottweillers, fascists the lot of them.

  79. Edsa — on 23rd September, 2009 at 6:58 pm  

    Douglas #73: consider the fundamentals. Foreign group calling themselves Israelis have been foisted by the Euro powers on Arab lands and fully supported militarily. What are the victims to do? They have to resist, agree? The Arabs have and committed atrocities in the process but it’s a question of proportion. The Israeli brutalities are simply unprecedented by any standards. There are plenty of records available. Let me just append the follonwing extract from Jonathan Cook (17 June 2009) from Counterpunch.com:
    “Beating and Torturing Children
    By JONATHAN COOK, Nazareth.


    The rights of Palestinian children are routinely violated by Israel’s security forces, according to a new report that says beatings and torture are common. In addition, hundreds of Palestinian minors are prosecuted by Israel each year without a proper trial and are denied family visits.

    “The findings by Defence for Children International (DCI) come in the wake of revelations from Israeli soldiers and senior commanders that it is “normal procedure” in the West Bank to terrorise Palestinian civilians, including children.

    “Cabi Ashkenazi, the head of the armed services, was forced to appear before the Israeli parliament to disavow the behaviour of his soldiers. Beatings were “absolutely prohibited”, he told legislators.

    “Col Virob made his remarks during court testimony in defence of two soldiers, including his deputy commander, who are accused of beating Palestinians in the village of Qaddum, close to Nablus. One told the court that “soldiers are educated towards aggression in the IDF [army]”.

    “Last week, further disclosures of ill-treatment of Palestinians, some as young as 14, were aired on Israeli TV, using material collected by dissident soldiers as part of the Breaking the Silence project, which highlights army brutality.

    “Two soldiers serving in the Harub battalion said they had witnessed beatings at a school in the West Bank village of Hares, south-west of Nablus, in an operation in March to stop stone-throwing. Many of those held were not involved, the soldiers said.

    “During a 12-hour operation that began at 3am, 150 detainees were blindfolded and handcuffed from behind, with the nylon restraints so tight their hands turned blue. The worst beatings, the soldiers said, occurred in the school toilets.

    ” According to one soldier’s testimony, a boy of about 15 was given “a slap that brought him to the ground”. He added that many of his comrades “just knee [Palestinians] because it’s boring, because you stand there 10 hours, you’re not doing anything, so they beat people up”.

    ” One 10-year-old boy, identified as Ezzat H, described an army search of his family home for a gun. He said a soldier slapped and punched him repeatedly during two hours of questioning, before another soldier pointed a rifle at him: “The rifle barrel was a few centimetres away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me.”

    Another boy, Shadi H, aged 15, said he and his friend were forced to undress by soldiers in an orange grove near Tulkarm while the soldiers threw stones at them. They were then beaten with rifle butts.

    Jameel K, aged 14, described being taken to a military camp where he was assaulted and then had a rope tightened around his neck in a mock execution.

    Yehuda Shaul, of Breaking the Silence, said soldiers treated any Palestinian older than 12 or 13 as an adult.

    “For the first time a high-ranking soldier [Col Virob] has joined us in raising the issue — even if not intentionally — that the use of physical violence against Palestinians is not exceptional but policy. A few years ago no senior officer would have had the guts to say this,” he said.

    One can go on, Douglas. I do hope you see the point.

  80. sonia — on 23rd September, 2009 at 7:22 pm  

    good point Katy in 60.

    Douglas dear, you’re getting slightly carried away – (entirely understandable and passionate of you it is)

    we need to stay calm..but – this goes back to the much-needed neutrality of intermediaries – it requires some understanding of ‘psychopaths’ or humans. at the end of the day, i think its pretty clear that it is not as straightforward to say x people are warmongering they are evil/wingnuts/whatever! (satisfying though it may be, but we want to go beyond that..and try and remedy aggressive behaviour) yes everyone’s ancestors has made war, some people see what they consider ‘their’ own side’s point of view over the other, this appears to be part of human psychology. The point is to explicitly recnognise this as the barrier and try to move beyond it. how are we going to go forward when each side sees the other as the Major Perpetrator?

    if we can do it without getting our collective knickers in a twist = that would be the calmest thing, and seems to me, pretty necessary right now. #

    otherwise we are going around in an Endless Circle.

  81. chairwoman — on 23rd September, 2009 at 7:23 pm  

    Douglas – I honestly think, and have said this many times, The UK, EU, USA, former USSR (look at all those initials) et al, should all butt out and let the middle east sort itself out.

    Frankly we are far more of a problem than a solution.

    *I loved Jock dearly. Apart from immediately after his bi-annual trip to the Dog Groomer (which he loathed), he always looked, (a), totally disreputable and, (b), as though he should have a carry out in his pocket.

  82. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 7:28 pm  

    Edsa,

    Pointing out what your opponent has done wrong, and minimising your own faults is precisely what is wrong about this whole debate.

    Consider some other fundamentals, why don’t you?

    Why, exactly, have the Palestinians been allowed to rot in refugee camps rather than be welcomed into Arab society?

    Why is it necessary for Muslims to attribute ‘The Protocols’ with a near mythical status?

    Why is the only – to an outsider – unifying thing about the Muslim ummah a shared hatred of Israel? Does it have other dimensions? None are apparent. Muslim nations can fight each other for fun, see Iran / Iraq war for an example of this.

    I too, could go on, but I trust you will see the point. Your mutual antipathy might well end in a bloodbath, and remember, they’ve got the nukes. It apparently took enormous diplomacy to stop Israel from replying in kind to Saddam Husseins’ appeal to Muslims through lobbing missiles at Tel Aviv. And, IIRC he went from zero to hero on the Arab Street.

  83. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 7:53 pm  

    Sonia,

    Of course I’m getting carried away. The mutually exclusive cases that are made, pro Israel, pro Palestinians preclude any sort of responsible debate whatsoever. There is, it seems to me at least, a vacuity of genuine engagement in solutions to all of this and almost a joy in proving your opponent to be a worse human being than you are. It isn’t that you are good exactly, it is that your opponent is the spawn of evil.

    This debate is always pre-empted by extremists, who invariably can quote you chapter and verse on the wrongs that were inflicted on them.

    Of course it is wrong of me to adopt their language, adapt their arguements to suit my own agenda, etc, etc. But they get free reign to mangle debate without let or hinderance from anyone except their – as they see it – mortal enemy.

    What I am arguing is that the middle ground needs to be reclaimed from them. And if, using their own language back at them, makes one person move away from extremism, then my work is done.

    And to that extent at least, chairwoman has me bang to rights. I don’t actually care how big the extremist is, nor how substantial their historical case may be, all I know is that there are very few of us attempting to hold the middle ground.

  84. douglas clark — on 23rd September, 2009 at 8:01 pm  

    chairwoman @ 81,

    You should have called him Rab C Nesbitt. Funnily enough I do rather self identify with your wee dug. And I agree largely with what you had to say in your first paragraph too.

  85. bananabrain — on 24th September, 2009 at 9:32 am  

    We could therefore afford to adopt a role as peacemakers, for we have no dog in the fight.

    nonsense. the arabs think the british are in america’s pocket and therefore biased against them and the israelis think the british are in the arabs’ pocket because of oil and therefore biased against them. and both sides still remember the pig’s ear the british made of the mandate, using our tried-and-tested method of “wait until civil war is about to break out, then bugger off and paint a line down the middle of the country and stand around saying ‘we told you so’.” it worked not just in israel/palestine, but in cyprus, india/pakistan, northern ireland and, oh, just about everywhere.

    But it is clear that Hamas must understand that Israel is willing to use force against it, otherwise it will have no incentive to negotiate.

    i think, to be precise, it is important that hamas understand that they’re not going to be able to win by force of arms, because the israelis will always be stronger; i think that’s a slightly different position.

    There is no obvious British interest to encouraging Hamas to think that it is winning. Better spend our energies on ensuring that those who are ideologically aligned with Hamas in the UK are defeated. That’s the main challenge, as far as I’m concerned.

    certainly from the british national interest point of view i would agree with that. that whole pour encourager les autres thing is much underrated.

    Or it could be evidence Israel were refusing to give something in return.

    indeed, hamas’s position has always been that in return for gilad shalit, they want about 500 (i think) prisoners released, many of whom have been convicted of murder, as well as a bunch of other concessions, some of which they might as well ask for sharon to come out of his coma and dance the lambada with his arse painted purple. israel is sticking to the position that until they come up with a more reasonable list of demands, the price is simply too steep, considering what they had to pay for the return of the bodies of goldwasser and regev from hizbollah, like releasing samir quantar to be paraded on tv and feted with a hero’s welcome. you remember him; the chap who bashed in a four-year old girl’s head with a rock in front of her mother as a heroic act of resistance. really, they’re just haggling over the price and until hamas are forced by some means to be more reasonable, that’s how i anticipate it will stay.

    You mean like the offer of a ceasefire for about 15 years?

    and what a superb offer that actually is; you lay off us for 10-15 years, during which we will rearm and then break the truce whenever it suits us (or the iranians) to do, whilst subcontracting ongoing terrorism to islamic jihad who, of course, have nothing to do with us whatsoever, oh no, whilst of course not relinquishing our stated aim of exterminating all jews worldwide, you know, the one in our charter.

    You and bananabrain and Ben have all made your position quite clear, we would only negotiate with preconditions.

    that’s not quite right. i would say that the israelis should only negotiate *officially* (which implies some form of recognition) once the preconditions are met. until then, it’s talks about talks via a third party, which has worked in many other situations.

    why should the UK invest anything whatsoever into either side, except for humanitarian or R2P reasons?

    the only thing i would do is to support trust-building measures on either side, via things like, say, the new israel fund or, on the hamas side, er, er, er, uh….

    q2387oy7qlh\£^”*

    sorry, there, my brain overloaded and i fell onto the keyboard. i don’t think hamas are part of the solution, i think they’re part of the problem. i think the same of many of the israeli factions.

    Frankly this proxy, poxy ‘debate’ between supporters of Israelis and Palestinians does more harm than good in a UK context.

    i agree. i am interested in a sustainable win for both sides, not a tactical victory, which is why i don’t go in for “hasbara”.

    I certainly don’t think we should encourage any of this kind of ‘belonging’ to this particular piece of land. That’s the source of the problem! We need to get over the idea that certain ‘peoples’ are entitled to certain bits of land. If both sides want to entertain the idea that land is so strongly tied to God, well more fool them.

    i’m afraid, sonia, that that isn’t a realistic solution. without our link to this land, a vital part of judaism is lost, as the “progressive movements” discovered when they came out against zionism in the C19th, because it was obvious that the liberal nations of western europe, with their commitment to reason and science, would offer better hope for the messianic ideal than some backwater in the middle east. this, of course, was a popular point of view in many of the places that later ended up as fascist dictatorships. there is of course a *right* way to do the “link to the land” and a *wrong* way. turning the land into an idol to worship and encouraging human sacrifice to it, as many of us have done, is not the sort of thing i can reconcile with the Divine Will. in spiral dynamics terms, the clan values of the “purple vMeme” cannot be switched off and replaced with the “win-win” optimisation of the “orange vMeme”. what you have just proposed is precisely what the australian government did to the aborigines and what the US government did when it herded the native americans onto reservations. if you think this doesn’t apply to jews (and palestinians, too) you couldn’t be more wrong – and that is unusual for you.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  86. Dr Anonymous — on 24th September, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

    without our link to this land, a vital part of judaism is lost

    there is a difference between link and claiming complete and total sovereignty and shifting the goalposts on what ‘this land’ means.

    but more to the point – i would think that a vital part of judaism is lost by allowing the israeli state to collectively punish palestinians on a daily basis, abuse power, and engage in a form of nationalist racism. Since when is colonisation through settlements core to judaism? zionism and judaism are two different things; please don’t conflate them.

  87. bananabrain — on 24th September, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

    there is a difference between link and claiming complete and total sovereignty and shifting the goalposts on what ‘this land’ means.

    i know. that’s why i said:

    there is of course a *right* way to do the “link to the land” and a *wrong* way. turning the land into an idol to worship and encouraging human sacrifice to it, as many of us have done, is not the sort of thing i can reconcile with the Divine Will.

    to my way of thinking, national sovereignty is only reconcilable with the Divine Will if the nation-state concerned has that kind of religious sanction. i am afraid i find it increasingly difficult to see how the state of israel can see itself as an effectively messianic entity – “reishith semihath ge’ulateinu” as the phrase goes. nonetheless, insofar as israel is the “state of the jews” and a jewish community, it is my concern both that it remains safe and viable but at the same time congruent with the deeply-held jewish values of compassion and morality.

    i would think that a vital part of judaism is lost by allowing the israeli state to collectively punish palestinians on a daily basis, abuse power, and engage in a form of nationalist racism.

    i would agree – and there are certainly organs of the israeli state and factions within its citizenry which engage in this, just as there are others which oppose this, both on jewish and universalist grounds. i would be delighted to see equivalent factions and organs doing the same in gaza.

    Since when is colonisation through settlements core to judaism?

    the commandment to settle “the land” is certainly one of the 613 mandated in the Torah, but the precise means of doing so, what trade-offs are involved and what compromises are possible are rather more complex, subtle and ethically nuanced than the settler lobby seeks to make it. in other words, yes, we are supposed to settle the land, but no, you’re not allowed to harass, beat or murder the people who are already there. this isn’t the bronze age and they aren’t canaanite idolaters.

    zionism and judaism are two different things; please don’t conflate them.

    i think i probably understand the links and the differences better than you do. zionism is not against the spirit and letter of judaism, as the likes of neturei karta would have it (which is why they are popular with the likes of ahmedinejad) but nor is it the whole meaning, fulfilment and purpose of judaism, as the right-wing settlers would maintain – and, more to the point, neither of these are the policy or the practice of the israeli government.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  88. douglas clark — on 24th September, 2009 at 5:30 pm  

    bananabrain @ 87,

    This is becoming increasingly sterile.

    to my way of thinking, national sovereignty is only reconcilable with the Divine Will if the nation-state concerned has that kind of religious sanction. i am afraid i find it increasingly difficult to see how the state of israel can see itself as an effectively messianic entity – “reishith semihath ge’ulateinu” as the phrase goes. nonetheless, insofar as israel is the “state of the jews” and a jewish community, it is my concern both that it remains safe and viable but at the same time congruent with the deeply-held jewish values of compassion and morality.

    Well, firstly it isn’t, currently what you describe it as. Here you go:

    state of the jews

    it has in fact a fairly large Arab / Muslim minority, doesn’t it? Who, for some secular reason are allowed off conscription. Now why would that be? Couldn’t be that they don’t quite agree with your mainstream. Couldn’t be that you have fucked up so much you don’t trust them?

    Or,

    to my way of thinking, national sovereignty is only reconcilable with the Divine Will if the nation-state concerned has that kind of religious sanction.

    What does that mean? Who’s Divine Will. And what religious sanction?

    Och, bananabrain, you know I like you, but this post is utter bullshit, from start to end.

  89. Katy Newton — on 24th September, 2009 at 5:50 pm  

    Who, for some secular reason are allowed off conscription. Now why would that be? Couldn’t be that they don’t quite agree with your mainstream. Couldn’t be that you have fucked up so much you don’t trust them?

    As Arab Israelis are allowed to serve in the Israeli army and a reasonable number of them do, it clearly isn’t that they aren’t trusted, is it, Douglas? They aren’t prohibited or debarred from serving in the army, they just don’t have to – unlike most Jewish Israelis, who do have to carry out national service whether they like it or not.

    I don’t know why you’ve suddenly taken it into your head to be so pointlessly offensive, by the way. There’s quite enough unpleasantness in the IP debate as it is. I’ve always thought it would be a big step forward if people on either side stopped being so fucking rude to each other, personally.

  90. douglas clark — on 24th September, 2009 at 6:24 pm  

    Katy,

    They aren’t conscripted are they?

    don’t know why you’ve suddenly taken it into your head to be so pointlessly offensive, by the way. There’s quite enough unpleasantness in the IP debate as it is. I’ve always thought it would be a big step forward if people on either side stopped being so fucking rude to each other, personally.

    Y’know what? We agree, in a sort of a kind of a way. I am completely fed up with the extremists controlling this agenda.

    Which has been my entire point on this thread.

    It seems to take home truths to try to engage our more militant fellow posters. Would you try reading me at 82?

    Perhaps not. Might blow your brain.

    You see me as militant. How, in light of 82 and passim do you think Muslims see me?

    You have both determined whereabouts you are, and when a third party says, a plague on both of you, you fucking well cry. I only used ‘fucking’ because you did.

    Your sensibilities are yours and yours alone. Stop shilling for one side or the other. You are a lot better than that.

  91. Dr Anonymous — on 25th September, 2009 at 2:12 am  

    i think i probably understand the links and the differences better than you do. zionism is not against the spirit and letter of judaism, as the likes of neturei karta would have it (which is why they are popular with the likes of ahmedinejad) but nor is it the whole meaning, fulfilment and purpose of judaism, as the right-wing settlers would maintain – and, more to the point, neither of these are the policy or the practice of the israeli government.

    Out of curiosity, since you’re the expert – can you imagine a Judaism without a form of communal territorial nationalism? If so, why is that not good enough? Why is that not useful in a context of communal conflict and a death spiral of mutual retribution?

    One could make the argument that the actions of the state of Israel assist, more than impede, antisemitism, and fly in the face of your desire for the Jewish people to be safe and have the right to community (which is social, not territorial, by definition) and free expression of faith.

  92. bananabrain — on 25th September, 2009 at 10:01 am  

    Well, firstly it isn’t, currently what you describe it as.

    i don’t think you quite get what i’m talking about. as a large jewish community, i would like it to be as safe and sustainable as, say, the jewish community of the new york area. the fact that it is a discrete, self-governing entity should not detract from my desire that it, as a community or group of communities of jews, should prosper.

    it has in fact a fairly large Arab / Muslim minority, doesn’t it? Who, for some secular reason are allowed off conscription. Now why would that be? Couldn’t be that they don’t quite agree with your mainstream.

    like katy says, they are able to serve, but for various reasons, including both social disapproval and anti-arab racism, many don’t. however, many – particularly from the druze, bedouin and circassian communities – do serve. you also have to remember that a large segment of the jewish population, the ultra-orthodox, actually refuse to serve and have managed to influence the political system so as to keep this as part of the status quo – so, naturally, as time goes on, the army, which was once a “people’s army” whose strength was that everyone served and had that in common, has become increasingly restricted to the non-religious and moderately religious of both right and left as well as to the dangerously religious point of view held by the “national-religious” camp, which is how the settlers have managed to gain such a stranglehold over the situation.

    Couldn’t be that you have fucked up so much you don’t trust them?

    what bothers me here, douglas, is that you are using the word “you”. i’m not israeli. as a jew, i am connected, i am family, i have an interest, but i am not a voter, nor do i feel its government or in many ways its society reflects my aspirations for the middle east and certainly not the ideal jewish society. when you say “you”, it feels like it’s tantamount to you not understanding this distinction.

    What does that mean? Who’s Divine Will. And what religious sanction?

    this is my point, douglas. you simply don’t get where i’m coming from. from my point of view, there is only one Divine Will, which i try to interpret through my understanding of the Torah and the prophetic and halakhic tradition. i am interested in the establishment of an ideal society which is, for me, synonymous with the messianic age. in accordance with our prophetic tradition, such an ideal society would be not only ideal for us jews, but would involve world peace, understanding and harmony, not armageddon and everyone converting to judaism. if the state of israel is not contributing to this aim – and i struggle at present to see how it is – then it is not, in my view, entitled to consider itself a religious entity and behave accordingly, which is how the *religious* settler lobby sees it but, of course, not how the actual government sees it. at least not so far. in short, you can’t tell me the way the religious settlers want the state to be is what G!D actually Wants. i disagree. most jews in fact disagree. some are more vocal and specific about what they think G!D *actually* Wants – neturei karta are a good example of this – but it is immensely complex and not at all easy to explain.

    dr anonymous:

    i’m not saying i’m an expert, but i think i understand some of the complexities better than you do.

    can you imagine a Judaism without a form of communal territorial nationalism?

    yes. it was epitomised by the various forms of judaism that arose in response to the enlightenment and proposed that judaism was a private thing for the jewish citizens of whatever country we lived in and that we should work for peace, justice and morality as part of the larger universal society. examples: classical reform, “jewish socialism”/bundism and reconstructionism.

    If so, why is that not good enough?

    because of the history of the diaspora and in particular the history of judaism during and after the enlightenment. because it isn’t a sustainable way for judaism to be and, basically, because our connection to this miserable scrubby bit of the earth goes back 3,000-odd years and we pray to return to it three times a day. we know its geography intimately. our festivals are tied to its seasons. our ideas about food and our relationship with the earth come from the relationship we have always had with the “land flowing with milk and honey”. judaism without the land of israel is as inconceivable as an aboriginal without uluru, or a lakotah without the black hills, or a muslim without mecca. if you don’t get this, you don’t get judaism. BUT – and it is a *big* but – the *land* of israel is *not* the same as the *nation-state* of israel, which comes from an entirely different conception of what nationhood and ethnicity is. however, it is not acceptable for the jewish ethno-nation to be the only human group to be prohibited from having its own nation-state.

    Why is that not useful in a context of communal conflict and a death spiral of mutual retribution?

    because it doesn’t offer a way for us to be who we were meant to be without a return to the land. without our link to the land, we cannot be properly jewish – now, of course, that doesn’t mean that we have to be in physical possession of all of it, as we weren’t for much of our history, but we cannot and should not be prevented from keeping that link strong, thriving and most of all healthy and productive. one could argue, of course, that our relationship with the land is not currently all that healthy and productive and i would agree with much of it.

    One could make the argument that the actions of the state of Israel assist, more than impede, antisemitism

    one could, but anti-semitism existed before the state of israel did and i would still say, on balance, we’re better off with it than without it. more to the point, i can’t see how dismantling it would help the situation – even if the ashkenazis went back to eastern europe (realistic or what?) i don’t see anyone volunteering to take back two million jews from the islamic world. no, we have to start from where we are and work to getting the situation resolved.

    and fly in the face of your desire for the Jewish people to be safe and have the right to community ….and free expression of faith.

    well, i wouldn’t say that the jewish community of the state of israel are going to be more safe or have more free expression anywhere else. ok, they’re not completely safe there, but then i’m not completely safe here in london. my child’s school has to have a full-time guard because the police say they can’t protect us. providing one is not actually in a settlement over the green line, one would be safer in israel.

    (which is social, not territorial, by definition)

    i agree that territory doesn’t bring community, but judaism does by its nature require close physical proximity of a community. i don’t know if you understand that.

    look, all i’m saying is that i think the government of israel and much of its society wants the wrong things and is going about getting them in the wrong way in any case. but in any case, nobody is considering dismantling any other country on the planet, so i don’t see why israel should be the only exception to be singled out.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  93. Dr Anonymous — on 25th September, 2009 at 2:31 pm  

    i’m not saying i’m an expert, but i think i understand some of the complexities better than you do.

    Perhaps the specifics of this particular conflict from a (not THE) Jewish point of view, but not in terms of the trends that are evident, as you pointed out above, in many conflicts in former British colonies. It’s generally the same dynamic of communal conceptions of politics + violence that leads to the death spiral, and disproportionate power and geopolitical alliances that leads to legitimacy for one side and not for the other.

    However, you’re welcome to believe what you want. I woudl just note that the insistence on the overriding nature of specificities within the religion or particular interpretation of historyi s one that I have encountered among Tamil eelamists on Sri Lanka, Hindu fundamentalists on India, etc. Not to say there aren’t relevant specific factors, but to point out that perhaps your assumptions based on a few comments about who knows what are slightly misplaced.

    yes. it was epitomised by the various forms of judaism that arose in response to the enlightenment and proposed that judaism was a private thing for the jewish citizens of whatever country we lived in and that we should work for peace, justice and morality as part of the larger universal society. examples: classical reform, “jewish socialism”/bundism and reconstructionism.

    Why ‘was’ rather than ‘is’ or ‘will be’?

    because of the history of the diaspora and in particular the history of judaism during and after the enlightenment.

    During and after the englightenment, it might have made sense for, say, black americans to ask for a homeland in Africa. This would be absurd today. I say this to illustrate that your conclusions, if drawn from several hundred years ago, should be backed up by clear and specific links to today’s realities. For exammple, there is NO danger of the large number of Jewish people in the United States facing anything like what the Jewish diaspora has faced in the past. Further, even if the reality that you discuss is still relevant, there are clearly other frameworks one can use to address it than a Judaised conception of Israeli nationalism – for example, by advocating for the protection of minority communal or religious groups everywhere on the basis of a human rights framework, or an emphasis on social cohesion + nonviolence, or other mechanisms.

    because it isn’t a sustainable way for judaism to be

    And yet it is. (see above)

    judaism without the land of israel is as inconceivable as an aboriginal without uluru, or a lakotah without the black hills, or a muslim without mecca. if you don’t get this, you don’t get judaism.

    That’s a particular reading of both religion and judaism. You’re entitled to it, but religions and people’s conceptions of religion change; particular features become more important, what is literal becomes metaphorical and vice versa, etc.

    BUT – and it is a *big* but – the *land* of israel is *not* the same as the *nation-state* of israel, which comes from an entirely different conception of what nationhood and ethnicity is. however, it is not acceptable for the jewish ethno-nation to be the only human group to be prohibited from having its own nation-state.

    No ethno-nation is entitled to a nation state. It is unfortunate that any nation-state articulates its state ideology in terms of an ethno-state, though possibly inevitable. What the goal should be, therefore, is an emphasis on pluralism, common links with other groups in the state, social cohesion, and tolerance, particularly if the more powerful communal group is represented.

    Secondly, there are many “nations” like Kurdish people, people in Western Sahara, Bengali Hindus, Tamils in India or Sri Lanka, Black Americans, and others that do not have nation-states, so claiming to be a single oppressed ‘nation’ is a false claim. It’s particularly annoying since Israel, in fact, does exist as a Jewish state and in the short term is pretty secure due to geopolitical alliances, military and economic strengtha nd other factors. What is most endangering Jewish people in Israel/Palestine and the ability of Jewish people to have a physical tie to Israel in the long term is in fact that policies of the Israeli state. Where exactly do you think this is going to go, particularly if the United States descends in power?

    Why is that not useful in a context of communal conflict and a death spiral of mutual retribution?

    because it doesn’t offer a way for us to be who we were meant to be without a return to the land. without our link to the land, we cannot be properly jewish – now, of course, that doesn’t mean that we have to be in physical possession of all of it, as we weren’t for much of our history, but we cannot and should not be prevented from keeping that link strong, thriving and most of all healthy and productive. one could argue, of course, that our relationship with the land is not currently all that healthy and productive and i would agree with much of it.

    One could make the argument that the actions of the state of Israel assist, more than impede, antisemitism

    Yes, they do. And you’re enabling them here by restricting Judaism to a narrow interpretation that includes significant elements of Zionism, broadly speaking. This is not exactly a way of preaching tolerance.

    one could, but anti-semitism existed before the state of israel did and i would still say, on balance, we’re better off with it than without it.

    I would say it is more the Holocaust and the decline of British empire and World War II that accomplished that. More to the point though granting your point

    more to the point, i can’t see how dismantling it would help the situation – even if the ashkenazis went back to eastern europe (realistic or what?) i don’t see anyone volunteering to take back two million jews from the islamic world. no, we have to start from where we are and work to getting the situation resolved.

    Then you clearly don’t understand the connection between asylum policy and geopolitics. Why do you think there are Afghan and Cuban political refugees in the United States? However, what I am trying to give you is a way out of the argument that Israel must either be on constant defense or must be dismantled. This is in the interests of Jewish people who have a link to the land (rather than the state) – if you tie your future to a discriminatory Jewish state that rests on territorial partition and then, having established some security, go even more crazy, then the long term (meaning, at some point) is that Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state. There are only two options – the development of social cohesion and pluralism within Israel/Palestine, or the eradication or forcibel removal of one or the other. And perhaps a two-state solution in which both sides are backed up by enough military power externally or have nuclear weapons such that a detente is forced. But that’s a risky game to play given that antisemitism does exist and most likely will increase, and those that pretend to be the friends of the Jewish people like rightwing Christians in the United States will abandon their support as quickly as the Israeli state’s power lapses.

    well, i wouldn’t say that the jewish community of the state of israel are going to be more safe or have more free expression anywhere else. ok, they’re not completely safe there, but then i’m not completely safe here in london. my child’s school has to have a full-time guard because the police say they can’t protect us. providing one is not actually in a settlement over the green line, one would be safer in israel.

    How about the gradual development of a pluralistic, multifaith society in Israel/Palestine? Or a federation? One in which individual people, based on their faith, are able to visit the holy sites that they want, and the only people cracked down upon are those that would keep them from doing so – of any faith.

    (which is social, not territorial, by definition)

    i agree that territory doesn’t bring community, but judaism does by its nature require close physical proximity of a community. i don’t know if you understand that.

    look, all i’m saying is that i think the government of israel and much of its society wants the wrong things and is going about getting them in the wrong way in any case. but in any case, nobody is considering dismantling any other country on the planet, so i don’t see why israel should be the only exception to be singled out.

    You clearly haven’t been reading about the 250,000 to 300,000 Tamils in camps right now. In any case, what I am takling about is a dismantling of a particular conception of Israel. If that step is not undertaken – carefully – and the fate of Judaism and Jewish people in Israel/Palestine is left in the hands of economic, political, and geopolitical forces, given the widespread approbation that the state of Israel faces, the long term fate of the connection to land that you claim to value is not very good. In essence, I am saying that by conceding the exclusive claim to territory in the short run, one can build towards a far better solution in the long run.

    However, that takes a lot of work, a lot of understanding, patience, an attempt to empathise and understand human beings’ needs, and aboveall a willingness to stand up to not just those labeled as extremists on a side, but to any kinds of practices that perpetuate communal thinking rather than pluralistic and democratic thinking. I’m sure there are many Jewish people of various ethnic communities in Israel that would benefit from increased democratisation and demilitarisation of the situation as well. The dynamic of othering, after all, isn’t just a split between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, as Palestinian LGBT people and Black Israeli Jews can probably equally attest to.

  94. bananabrain — on 25th September, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

    Perhaps the specifics of this particular conflict from a (not THE) Jewish point of view

    there’s no such thing as THE jewish point of view. in fact, there are very few things that 100% of jews agree on. i am speaking from a point of view which is intimately familiar with jewish society, both here in the UK and in israel, from the defiantly secular to the eye-wateringly religious and from the extreme left to the extreme right. it might help you understand me a little better if i tell you that although i am a religious jew and, in my own way, a zionist, i am also committed to a sustainable future for palestinian self-determination and society, whether through the two-state path or any other number of potential outcomes. i am a pragmatist and a strong believer in religious and ethnic biodiversity. i regard the nation-state as a C19th idea that we as a species will eventually outgrow. i know other people think that about religions, but i just think we’re learning how to do religion in a new way which honours and integrates both old and new.

    not in terms of the trends that are evident, as you pointed out above, in many conflicts in former British colonies. It’s generally the same dynamic of communal conceptions of politics + violence that leads to the death spiral, and disproportionate power and geopolitical alliances that leads to legitimacy for one side and not for the other.

    but i don’t think you could show that either side in this case has either disproportionate power or geopolitical alliances, despite the tendency of both of these sides to attempt to show that. i also am not arguing for the legitimacy of one side over that of the other, but rather for them to understand each other through dialogue and come to a sustainable resolution.

    the insistence on the overriding nature of specificities within the religion or particular interpretation of history

    which i am also not arguing. i am simply stating as fact the fact that you are going to be unable to convince people that their specificities or interpretations of history should give way to those of others – what is needed is a way for each to understand the other and thus recognise their essential humanity. what i am arguing against is the precisely the idea that there is one side that is right – but i believe that can be done without relinquishing deeply held beliefs and values that i believe to be fundamental to judaism. besides, i think you ought to remember that judaism is a pretty unique culture in that it is the sole surviving diaspora civilisation dating back to the ancient world. this is what annoys historians, because history, statistics and the way of the world says we shouldn’t exist any more. i prefer to see this as probably some of the only (and naturally heavily arguable) evidence of the Divine Will.

    Why ‘was’ rather than ‘is’ or ‘will be’?

    i’m glad you picked up on that. “was”, because the examples in question have either come to understand the significance and importance of israel as a jewish society and state and zionism as a concept, or have ceased to exist. a good example of this is the “territorialist” group of the first zionist congress, which was happy to go along with anywhere as a jewish safe haven, didn’t have to be in the middle east – they voted yes to an offer of territory in uganda, of all places. they are now as defunct as the essenes, the sadducees and the followers of jacob frank. a judaism without a link to israel – of whatever sort – is ultimately no judaism at all; but a judaism with the wrong kind of link to israel will, i believe, ultimately go the same way.

    During and after the englightenment, it might have made sense for, say, black americans to ask for a homeland in Africa. This would be absurd today.

    perhaps someone should tell the liberians. look, the major difference is that black americans are from a vast array of different african areas and cultures, most of which were, sadly, untraceable through the wholesale annihilation of their original cultures through slavery. judaism, by contrast, is lucky enough to have been able to preserve the knowledge of exactly where it is from and how it got to be where it is now. that is the difference.

    For exammple, there is NO danger of the large number of Jewish people in the United States facing anything like what the Jewish diaspora has faced in the past.

    really? well, forgive me if assurances of that were made in europe in the early 1920s. you can see how things can change out of recognition in just ten years. i would say that actually, i can’t remember a time when here in london i felt more likely to be beaten in the street for being jewish, when my children were more vulnerable to attack in their schools, when the synagogues i go to were more at risk of being firebombed and desecrated. you are, i am afraid, sadly ignorant of the conditions under which we have been living since more or less 2001. if you look through the pickled politics archives themselves for december, january and february, you will see the sort of sheer hatred i was facing on this very site just for being jewish. it was then that i started to seriously consider whether the time had come to conclude that this country was no longer safe for me and my family.

    there are clearly other frameworks one can use to address it than a Judaised conception of Israeli nationalism – for example, by advocating for the protection of minority communal or religious groups everywhere on the basis of a human rights framework, or an emphasis on social cohesion + nonviolence, or other mechanisms.

    oh, yes, this would be the same human rights framework that is used at the UN, for example, as a platform for hatemongers from despotic regimes to single out israel and jews as the source of all the evil in the world? you’ll forgive me if universalist pabulum is not the panacea it once might have been, given that it didn’t protect jews one iota during the C19th and C20th.

    And yet it is. (see above)

    no. it isn’t. jewish civilisation is thirty centuries old. what sustains us is our lifelong learning culture, our teleology, our source texts and our interpretative tools, to say nothing of our ability to adapt our perennial wisdom to any human context. yet Torah remains the same. a jew can be a jew in a city or on a desert island, yet one is never more jewish than one can potentially be in the land of israel. unfortunately, i do not believe anyone has yet really reached that potential, including those who now live there.

    That’s a particular reading of both religion and judaism. You’re entitled to it, but religions and people’s conceptions of religion change; particular features become more important, what is literal becomes metaphorical and vice versa, etc.

    precisely – but judaism is more to me than just israel. we need both our rationality and our mysticism, our nature and our nurture, our texts and our food, our music and our medicine, our ashkenazis and our sephardis, our haredim and our secularists. all of these have their place. it is the idea of a monoculture that i reject.

    No ethno-nation is entitled to a nation state. It is unfortunate that any nation-state articulates its state ideology in terms of an ethno-state, though possibly inevitable.

    it’s just how history has turned out. i believe that the nation-state is not the end of history; futurists don’t think it is, religious people don’t think it is. ultimately, i believe ethnicity will become irrelevant to equality, but we are a long way off.

    What the goal should be, therefore, is an emphasis on pluralism, common links with other groups in the state, social cohesion, and tolerance, particularly if the more powerful communal group is represented.

    i would agree, if that had ever been properly tried and had properly worked. it hasn’t yet. jewish communities in both the UK and US are generally considered the epitome of constructive minority group integration, yet that has not guaranteed our safety and security. i don’t believe that declarations of rights can guarantee such things. it never has in the past. the only thing that will is an evolution of human society to a new level of enlightenment which doesn’t see rationality and science, or even “tolerance and acceptance” as the be-all-and-end-all of human society.

    Secondly, there are many “nations” like Kurdish people, people in Western Sahara, Bengali Hindus, Tamils in India or Sri Lanka, Black Americans, and others that do not have nation-states, so claiming to be a single oppressed ‘nation’ is a false claim.

    i didn’t claim that.

    It’s particularly annoying since Israel, in fact, does exist as a Jewish state and in the short term is pretty secure due to geopolitical alliances, military and economic strengtha nd other factors.

    you are right – except that some existential threats do remain, in the shape of weapons of mass destruction and their ability to fall into the wrong hands. everything you are saying is fine up until the point the iranians reveal their bomb, or the taleban take over in pakistan.

    What is most endangering Jewish people in Israel/Palestine and the ability of Jewish people to have a physical tie to Israel in the long term is in fact that policies of the Israeli state.

    i agree that the policies and practices of the israeli state do not contribute to security in the way their framers believe. however, until the issue of the iranian bomb, or their financing of hizbollah’s rocket arsenal and hamas’s terror infrastructure is addressed, these policies and practices will be able to hide behind the existential threats.

    you’re enabling them here by restricting Judaism to a narrow interpretation that includes significant elements of Zionism, broadly speaking. This is not exactly a way of preaching tolerance.

    rubbish. there is a right and a wrong way to do zionism and i have a broader conception of judaism than you probably realise. however, i do have a problem with the conflation of right-wing politics and fundamentalist religion being presented as if it were “THE” truth about both zionism and judaism. i say again: it is a great deal more complicated than they realise. i do not concede their right to be the ones to make the rules on this.

    Then you clearly don’t understand the connection between asylum policy and geopolitics. Why do you think there are Afghan and Cuban political refugees in the United States?

    well, i certainly don’t understand the point you’re making here.

    is in the interests of Jewish people who have a link to the land (rather than the state) – if you tie your future to a discriminatory Jewish state that rests on territorial partition and then, having established some security, go even more crazy, then the long term (meaning, at some point) is that Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state.

    here, i believe, we may well agree. i hope you understand that this is not what i am advocating.

    There are only two options – the development of social cohesion and pluralism within Israel/Palestine, or the eradication or forcibel removal of one or the other.

    i think there are more options, but i agree with your basic scenario.

    How about the gradual development of a pluralistic, multifaith society in Israel/Palestine? Or a federation? One in which individual people, based on their faith, are able to visit the holy sites that they want, and the only people cracked down upon are those that would keep them from doing so – of any faith.

    i don’t have much argument with that. however, israel and palestine are at different developmental stages here in different parts of their population. just ask the palestinian christians who are being forced out of bethlehem. there’s nothing like the tel aviv gay scene in palestine either. and, obviously, there are parts of israeli society that are similarly hidebound and palaeolithic, but the part of palestinian society that is geared to what they call in spiral dynamics the green and orange vMemes is largely in its diaspora; i believe that it will ultimately be the palestinian diaspora that is part of the solution, just as the jewish diaspora is part of the solution – both are too often part of the problem.

    In essence, I am saying that by conceding the exclusive claim to territory in the short run, one can build towards a far better solution in the long run.

    i would go further, in fact – by decoupling the religious claim to the land from the nation-state as a vehicle for religious claims; this would mean that jews could stay in hebron and it would also mean that arabs would be able to stay in jaffa and so on.

    i don’t think we are as far apart as you suppose.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  95. chairwoman — on 25th September, 2009 at 6:03 pm  

    Dr Anonymous – I am a primarily secular Ashkenazi Jewish woman in my 60s and bananabrain is a religious Sephardi Jewish man who is considerably younger and yet…

    I agree with virtually everything he has said to you in his last post.

    From what is laughingly called the advantage of having been on this earth for considerably longer than him I am only too aware of the increase in antisemitism in this country during the last 10 years.

    My very first comment on this site about 4 years ago was how as a child I was both a Londoner and English, and how over the years, whilst always remaining a Londoner, I became British rather than English, and less welcome with every year.

    Apart from the odd misplaced joke, I was unaware of antisemitism in this country until the late 90s, but with every passing year it has got stronger and now the cat’s totally out of the bag, but frequently disguised as anti-Zionism. It doesn’t take a great deal of intelligence to differentiate.

    Like bananabrain I too took a lot of personal abuse on this site early in the year because of my ethnicity, and like him, I have wondered how much longer this country will be a safe place for Jews to live.

    I hope you are aware that although the treatment of Israeli Palestinians could be better, they are still citizens with Israeli passports who can travel abroad without getting special permission,unlike the few remaining Jews in Iraq, Iran and the Yemen to name but 3 countries. It would be wonderful if, like bb says, that Jews could live in Hebron near the Tomb of (our) Patriarchs, but unfortunately the Palestinians don’t allow it now, and won’t allow it in the future. Israeli Palestinians will, no doubt, continue to live in Jaffa.

    I’m probably not very bright, but I really don’t understand why, after 60 years, some kind of compromise, including compensation where appropriate, can’t be arrived at which would allow Jews to remain peacefully in Israel and call it a Jewish State, next to an Islamic State called Palestine.

    By the way, I’ve heard all the arguments and they don’t make a great deal of sense to me, so please don’t tell me again, it’s not good for my blood pressure :) .

  96. douglas clark — on 25th September, 2009 at 6:26 pm  

    Chairwoman,

    To be honest, it would be a terrible indictement on this country if you did not feel safe here.

    I want you to feel safe here.

    No-one who is born in this messed up, post Imperialist, post religious society we call the UK should feel fear. Not for any reason whatsoever.

    And you are nearly an honourary Scot :-)

    You and Anas used to go hammer and tongs at each other, didn’t you? Still, you ended up quite pally, IIRC.

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