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Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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Chris OConnor

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Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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This thread is for discussing Massimo Pigliucci's December 2003 Rationally Speaking article entitled Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace.Quote:N. 44, December 2003Israel, anti-semitism, and world peaceThis past October, the European Union conducted one of its routine surveys of what its citizens think of various political and social issues. The results, in this particular case, generated an outcry by many conservative politicians at the way the survey was conducted, and even at the alleged motivations of carrying it out to begin with. The problem? One of the statistics emerging from the EU survey is that 59% of Europeans rank Israel as the number one threat to global peace.Israeli politicians have immediately denounced the survey as an example of anti-semitism, and many European leaders (mostly on the right of the political spectrum) have joined the chorus of outrage. According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Nathan Sharansky, Minister for the Hebraic communities of the Diaspora, has commented that political criticisms of Israel are a thinly veiled form of anti-semitism, and that "as in the past Jews were considered like the Devil, responsible for the world's evils, so today the 'civilized' world attributes the world's problems to the Jewish state, Israel." And yet, it is hard to see how the EU's survey was "tendentious" and slanted against Israel. One of the fifteen questions asked respondents to rank a total of twelve nations in accordance to the perceived degree of threat they pose to world peace. The list of nations inclunded not only Israel, but Russia, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan, India, and the European Union itself. Israel came out ahead of everybody (especially in the Netherlands, with a whopping 70%), followed in decreasing order of perceived threat by North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States.Now, my own rankings would have been quite different. (If the reader must know, I would have put Pakistan first, since it is a non-democratic nuclear power; followed by North Korea and Iran, because they are run by nutcases who could potentially develop nuclear weapons; then would come the United States -- also run by a nutcase with nukes, but at least it is a democracy; finally, to consider Afghanistan a threat to world peace is, I think, simply not to understand what a threat to world peace is.) Indeed, I don't believe that Israel is dangerous at the global level, although certainly it hasn't helped the middle east peace process of lately. Then again, the latter has stalled largely because the United States insists in not behaving as an honest broker: without US support, Israel would simply have to agree to whatever peace plan would be put forth by an American administration or the United Nations (and, I add, it would be about time, too).What I think is interesting is the use of the "anti-semitism" charge on the part of the Israeli government to shield its policy toward the Palestinians from criticism, a policy that can only be defined as fascist -- as in consisting of the application of brute force with complete disregard to human rights or international law. Most Europeans are not anti-semite, and they have repeatedly demonstrated so with continuous aid to Israel for the past several decades, with countless amends to the victims of the Holocaust, be that monetary in nature or more generally through books, articles, plays, movies, and all sorts of other recognitions of the horrors of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. And so it should have been. But it is a travesty to use the sympathy generated by the Holocaust to render a government immune from international criticism. Israel stands almost alone in the world (except for the support of the United States) for good reasons to be found in its own Holocaust-like behavior toward other religious or ethnic minorities.Another twist to the European-Israeli saga came in November, when Gianfranco Fini, the head of the Italian neo-fascist party (Alleanza Nazionale, National Alliance -- have you noticed how right-wing extremists always play the patriotic card?) decided to visit Israel and to publicly denounce Mussolini's errors in supporting Hitler and establishing "racial" laws in the 1930s. It was a rather gutsy thing to do, even though it came with more than half a century delay. Well, that got Alessandra Mussolini, the dictator's granddaughter and a major exponent of Alleanza Nazionale, enraged, accusing Fini of "betrayal" of the party's "ideals"; she immediately left Alleanza Nazionale and established a "true" fascist party. It seems that an honest neo-fascist can't afford to have even a minimum of conscience these days... To complicate things, of course, Fini was welcome in Israel by what is in fact a fascist party of its own (with respect to its treatment of Palestinians), which makes for an almost unbearable degree of irony in the whole story.The point is, however, rather simple. The Holocaust was, in fact, one of the most horrific events in human history, and there is absolutely no justification for it at all. On the other hand, it was done to people and by people of another generation, and those of the current one simply should no longer apologize for it (since they haven't done it) or use it as a shield to then feel free to commit human rights abuses of their own. Europeans are right to be critical of Israel, not because it actually is a major threat to world peace, but because it is acting in an increasingly despondent and despicable manner against largely defenseless people. This is so close to what the Jews themselves suffered at the hand of the Germans, that it is hard to conceive how they don't see the striking parallels and immediately stop what they are doing. A tragedy like the Holocaust generates an enourmous amount of human sympathy, but sympathy cannot (and should not) be infinite, and the current Israeli government is simply squandering such capital without gaining much for its people. Doesn't anybody learn anything from history? "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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I am in full agreement with this writing.Israel has an interesting problem which could visit United States shortly. Israel is a democracy but it has a changing face. The majority was liberal with with a kinder, gentler face toward Palestine. They tended to be more secular, and have two or less kids.The orthodox Jews on the other hand through agressive immigration and huge families of seven plus kids went from a cute curious minority to a large enough political conservative block that undermined the will of the modern secular population. And the governmental attititude toward the Palestinians went hostile.Eventually, this conservative orthodox group will convert Israel into a Theocracy. We too in America are facing the same pressure but not to the same degree.Democracy doesn't seem to have built in protection against the mob majority--That is what our Bill of Rights are for; too bad they do not apply to Palestine citizens, or to all world citizens for that matter.Monty VonnMeme Wars!
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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Its wonderful really isn't it. So childlike. You just throw a name at your enemy and it makes anything that they said irrelevant.
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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Quote:This is so close to what the Jews themselves suffered at the hand of the Germans, that it is hard to conceive how they don't see the striking parallels and immediately stop what they are doing.This is such a horribly despicable statement, that it has taken me a week to calm down enough to type a reply. COUNT for me, xxxxxxx, all the Jewish suicide bombers who killed German civilians before Krystalnacht. Go ahead, make an estimate. WHY do so-called liberals continue to deny Israel, of all places, the right to defend itself? If Mexico was demanding the return of Texas, and blowing up American civilians every day that we refused, exactly how long would the U.S. government put up with it? How long would YOU put up with it? And yet this is what you expect from Israel: "Oh, they bomb your women and children but hey, be a good guy and don't retaliate, ok?" No, not even don't retaliate: don't even try to stop the sons of bitches from coming in to the country. I suppose after 9/11 we should have an exception to our security policy; anyone from Saudi Arabia gets a free pass. After all, that's what you ask of our democratic ally. Maybe the wall goes too far. Maybe not. I am not in a position to make strategic decisions for a people under attack. What should be obvious to anyone with half a brain is that hostilities could stop tomorrow if the bombers would stop.And about anti-semitism: if 65% of Europeans see Israel as a threat to world peace, yes, it makes them anti-semites. It has nothing to do with the Holocaust. It has to do with right now, according to your numbers, people aren't supposed to defend themselves if they are Jews. You know damned well that every single one of the people who made that assertion would demand that their own military do something if THEY were the ones under attack. So what is your theory for this bizarre exception? If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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I disagree, Jeremy. There's two levels that Israel can act on; defense, and overkill. Taking out palestinian resistence groups is defense; doing it with missiles in heavily crowded areas is overkill. Violence such as this begets violence--it's not just the palestinians who are killing innocents. Face it, Israel is taking defending itself too far. Rather than even TRY to do so in a rational manner that any normal state would use, they send in waves of troops, or utilize heavy explosivesIf Mexico was demanding the return of Texas, and blowing up American civilians every day that we refused, exactly how long would the U.S. government put up with it?That's a poor analogy, and you know it. Texas was largely won because Mexico didn't care to continue to go to war over it; Mexico granted the US Texas. Now compare this to Israel, which was granted to the Jewish People not by the Palestinians, but by Britain. In Texas, the land was largely uninhabited enough that American settlers didn't come into conflict with Mexicans living at what was essentially their fronteir as well. In Israel, jewish immigrants flocked en masse to the new country, displacing the already heavily populace palestinians. How would you feel if your state was ceded to all the refugees fleeing Indochina, and the country did nothing to stop these immigrants from displacing your family and friends?To blame Israel alone is stupid; they wouldn't be driven to this extent without further retaliation by palestinian militants. To deny that they're doing wrong is likewise stupid. You don't trap a mouse with a land mine.In this vein, to consider people who think Israel a threat to global safety as anti-semitic is pretty stupid. Being against Israeli policy and actions isn't to be against jews. I can hate the actions of North Korea and not be anti-Korean--it's the governance, not the population that is despised. Ignorant, perhaps, and yet Israel is a heavy-handed player in the nuclear stage, with one of the finest militaries in the world, and a proximity to many who could be seen as threats to its national security. If they chose the wrong options on the global stage to defend themselves, then we would indeed have something to fear.
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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ZachSylvanusQuote:That's a poor analogy, and you know it. Texas was largely won because Mexico didn't care to continue to go to war over it; Mexico granted the US Texas.I think its an excellent analogy. The point is the "what if". Use any two nations, or rather, nation and territory. Regardless of the history no nation that can is going to put up with the murder of its citizens, at least not by outsiders.Quote: Now compare this to Israel, which was granted to the Jewish People not by the Palestinians, but by Britain.The United Nations made the original partition. Great Britain sided with the Arabs in Israel's war of independence. And there only was a war, and a country, because the Arabs planned to "Drive the Jews into the sea and kill them all". When they thought they had the upper hand... when they had Britain as an ally, and outgunned and outmanned the small collection of Jewish settlers, there was no talk in "Palestine" of civil rights, or peace. THAT was the land grab that started this all, and it wasn't just some of the land, a moving of a border; their declared intention was to kill EVERY inhabitant and take ALL the land.Quote: In Texas, the land was largely uninhabited enough that American settlers didn't come into conflict with Mexicans living at what was essentially their fronteir as well. In Israel, jewish immigrants flocked en masse to the new country, displacing the already heavily populace palestinians. The land was sparsely populated; the people living there were nomadic tribes. Jewish immigrants bought the land they wanted to live on. They came into conflict with no-one when they arrived; the Arab owners of empty and desolate land were happy to sell it to them. The masses of Palestinians you see on the news today are descendents of poor Arabs who were told by the King of Jordan that they could have free land, easily, by killing the Jews. If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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Oh Jeremy, there are a lot of myths mixed up there.Palestine was not a sparsely populated country in 1945, nor was the land uncultivated, as I have heard so many times. Palestinians were driven off their land in their thousands by terrorists, as they are today.As for suicide bombings, consider this:In the current intifada, if you assume that every adult Palestinian killed is a terrorist, and thus a legitimate target, and you assume that conscripted Israelis are really private citizens, you are left with the stark fact that more Palestinian children alone have been killed than all Israelis. Gruesome.If someone came to invade my country, as almost happened in 1940, I hope I would have the courage to resist, as the maquis did in France, and as the Palestinians are doing in the occupied territories. I believe I would choose nonviolence, but I could not condemn someone who chose active resistance.Opposing the actions of Israel is not anti-semitic. After all, Yasser Arafat and more than 95% of Palestinians are semites. It is to oppose the actions of an international pariah state, who have been beyond the pale of international law for far too long.Don't get me wrong - I support the right of Israel to exist - it was, after all, a socialist goal, and Ben Gurion was a socialist. I just do not support the rape of the region and the oppression of others on the basis of race or religion.As regards the list of other states in the poll, please remember how close the rogue nuclear state of Israel is to us Europeans.
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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I'm enjoying this thread, but am laying low and not getting much into the debate. I admit this whole subject is confusing to me, and I think it is dangerous to form uneducated opinions. One of these days we need a book on our poll about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.Chris "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"
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Re: Dec. 2003 - Israel, anti-semitism, and world peace

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Imagine that...someone, myself, has already suggested we dive into these murky waters by reading Rabbi Michael Lerner's recent book Healing Israel/PalestineA path to peace and reconciliation.I think it is a carefully balanced look at a terribly volatile situation, and an excellent starting point for anyone committed to peace with justice in the region.Cheers
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Tikkun Community: A Vision for Peace with Justice

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Tikkun Community: PEACE, JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION FOR ISRAEL AND PALESTINEWe are committed to full and complete reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinian people within the context of social justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel. We call upon Israel to end the Occupation, to return settlers to the pre-1967 borders of Israel (providing them with decent housing), and to take major (though not total) responsibility for Palestinian refugees. We oppose Israel's violations of Palestinian human rights and we insist that Israel adopt a strategy based on open-heartedness toward the Palestinians, repentance for past misdeeds, reparation, and genuine acknowledgement of the ways that we were oppressive, murderous, and oblivious to the legitimate needs of the Palestinian people. We call for an end to the teachings in Jewish and Israeli schools and media which demean or demonize the Palestinian people; instead we seek to replace those with teachings that emphasize the humanity and goodness of the Palestinian people, Arabs and Muslims. Although we affirm Israel as a Jewish state side by side with Palestine, we believe that all non-Jews in Israel, including most importantly Arab or Palestinian citizens of Israel, should have full civil rights in Israel and equal economic entitlements to any Israeli who has served in the army. We call upon the Palestinian people to acknowledge the right of Jews to maintain their own homeland in the pre-1967 borders of the state of Israel, with Jewish control over the Jewish section of Jerusalem (including French Hill and Mt. Scopus and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City) and the Western Wall, and unimpeded access to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. We call upon the Palestinian people to stop acts of terror against Israel and to listen and heed the growing number of Palestinian voices that are calling for a strategy of nonviolent civil disobedience We call upon Palestinians to end all teachings in their schools and media which demean or demonize the Jewish people or Israel and to replace those with teachings that emphasize the humanity and goodness of the Jewish people.We recognize that some Palestinians will respond by pointing out the structural violence inherent in the presence of the Israeli Occupation and the settlements. We agree with these points, but still believe that the breakthrough necessary to free Palestinians from Occupation will only come when the Israeli people feel enough safety to contemplate arrangements based on trust. Just as Israelis must demonstrate that they see Palestinians as created in the image of God and deserving of full respect, so the Palestinians must demonstrate that they see Israelis as created in the image of God and are deserving of full respect.Both sides need to recognize a need for repentance for past deeds that were hurtful and oppressive. Jews must understand why Palestinians were fearful that the more highly organized and politically sophisticated Zionist movement that began to emerge in the period 1920-1948 might lead to the disenfranchisement of Palestinians, and why Palestinians today feel that "the right to return" to their homes is no different from the right of return that was at the basis of Zionism. On the other hand, Palestinians need to acknowledge their own role in helping create the conflict by their armed resistance to Jewish immigration to Palestine in the years when Jews were being annihilated or when Jews were crawling out of the death camps and crematoria of Europe. This is just a sample of the stories we must learn from each other so that we can build reconciliation of the heart, based on genuine compassion for each other. Political arrangements cannot be trusted until there is a serious commitment on both sides to compassionate listening to each other. Its only when both sides can tell the other sides story with compassion and conviction, and both sides recognize that in some important respects both sides are wrong and both sides are right that we can hope to move to a real reconciliation of the heart. All the fancy agreements and all the political maneuvering is secondary to developing an open-heartedness and generosity in both peoples to the legitimate needs of the other. We believe an important step in that process is for both sides to learn how to tell the other other side's narrative in a convincing and compassionate way.We call upon the United States and other world powers to intervene with all their influence and economic power both to stop the cycle of violence and to achieve the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza (minus the most minimal border alterations), an end to the Occupation, and an end to acts of terror. We will support efforts to convince the United States to condition aid to Israel on the end of the Occupation. We call upon the peoples of the world to come to Israel and Palestine and actively interpose ourselves between the warring sides to provide protection to civilians on both sides. And we call for all parties to adopt the nonviolent philosophies and strategies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Although we do not support any form of nationalism as an ultimate good, we understand why, in this historical moment, the Jewish people need a state of our own. With memories of the murder and genocide of our people still fresh and the perception that we would have been far less vulnerable had we had a state and an army
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