Some Information You Should Know About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (From Jewish Voice For Peace)

Wednesday, June 2, AD 2010

It is always time to step back and review the record whenever a discussion starts up on “what’s the deal with that crazy Israel/Palestine conflict?”.  It is tiresome to be on the losing end of the political fight in shaping American policies regarding the Middle East- It is maddening to have to always be on the defense against the charges of anti-Semitism when one is highly critical of the policies of the State of Israel- especially when being anti-Semitic as in being anti-Arab is all the rage today, while being anti-Jewish is one of the worst things any American could be accused of. I am bold in my own words and deeds on this issue because I have nothing to hide, no shameful anti-Semitism, no axe to grind, no family connections- just a strong desire to see the Holy Land be a place that is humane and just, and to see to it that my own nation is a contributor to a positive outcome for the peoples of the Middle East.  That’s it- that’s my storyline- that’s my truth.

I don’t hate America, I hate the sin but love the sinner.  I love my nation but I hate when my nation does something in my name as an American citizen that I believe is really evil, really stupid, or both. It is a glaring fact that America has been the #1 ally and supporter of the State of Israel- both in economic and political terms. This fact of life is not missed by those who believe that the State of Israel has been the primary agent of violence and injustice in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Iagree with this perspective, and I want to change the reality because it is the right thing to do, and many lives all over the region, and even here in the U.S. are in present or potential harm’s way due to some really bad, one-sided, and misguided policies emanating from Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.

I am not going to run over my own story of the time I spent with Archbishop Elias Chacour of Ibillin, Galilee  many years ago- and what I saw in Hebron at that time. And I am not going to run down the list of books I have read to get additional background to the Conflict which has shaped and emboldened my position on this important Catholic and American issue. I am not going to take the chance of being charged with any sort of anti-Semitism with this blog entry because I am going to use a source that is decidedly Jewish. I want an elevated discussion to get going and I don’t want my Catholicism to get into the way- one could (I suppose) make the charge that the organization Jewish Voice For Peace is full of self-loathing Jews, who hate Israel, hate themselves- whatever.  But I think they can manage such charges for themselves- I met some of them when I used to visit San Francisco frequently- they seemed pretty secure in themselves. I think they are a good source of information and here they provide a primer on the Israel-Palestine Conflict 101  (from Jewishvoiceforpeace.org):

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24 Responses to Some Information You Should Know About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (From Jewish Voice For Peace)

  • A: The ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories is the single most destabilizing factor in Israeli-Arab relations. The Arab League has offered full normalization of relations with Israel if the occupation ends

    You touched on so many issues that I’m going to deal with them one by one as the days go by.

    This one being the first that caught my eye.

    As soon as the Arabs recognize Israel’s right to exist then Israel should give up the “occupied” territories.

    Israel was attacked on its birthday by hostile Arab and Muslim forces.

    The lands get returned first only when the Arabs recognize their right to exist.

    Everything else is secondary.

  • Q: Didn’t Ehud Barak offer the Palestinians almost everything they wanted at Camp David in 2000? And didn’t the Palestinians respond to that offer by launching this much more violent Intifada?

    Arafat had nothing to give. It was a farce from the beginning.

    Until the “Palestinians” recognize Israel’s right to exist, the “Palestinians” won’t negotiate in good faith.

  • Q: Don’t we have to support Israel because it is surrounded by countries that want to destroy it?

    A: The ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories is the single most destabilizing factor in Israeli-Arab relations. The Arab League has offered full normalization of relations with Israel if the occupation ends

    Again, the Arabs/Muslims need to recognize Israel’s right to exist before any negotiations can move forward.

    Israel defended itself and won fair and square.

    The Arabs/Muslims can’t have it both ways.

  • And now, a few notes of reality:

    1. Missed is the fact that Israel became the occupier of the West Bank, etc in a defensive war. The Palestine Liberation Organization was formed prior to 1967 – it is designed to “liberate” that part of “Palestine” currently making up the State of Israel, proper. You start a war and then lose, you take the consequences. Sorry, but Israel gained dispositive authority over the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Sinai. They can do with it as they please – Moslems are supplicants at the table of the victor as far as this goes, and if the Israelis volunteer to give any of it back, then that is sheer generosity on their part.

    2. If we accept, for the sake of argument, that it is the occupation which causes the problem, then where does “occupation” end and Israel begin? Is there a border line where the Moslem world will agree that Israel has given as much as it can and must not be pressed to give any more? Anyone who looks at the situation knows that the answer to this is, “no”. It isn’t, then, “occupation” but “Israel” which is the bone of contention.

    3. Its a nice bit of gliding over the political differences…Israel is just kinda, sorta democratic and not much better than the Moslem nations. But there are, currently, 14 Arab members of the Knesset – how many Jewish members of, say, the Saudi government? The last time there was a Jewish cabinet minister in Egypt? In fact, how many Jews live in, say, Libya?

    Boiled down we’ve got here a list of half truths – all ultimately designed to undermine the Israeli position. True, it is a Jewish group putting it out…but if ANSWER puts out some opinions about America, would any American of wisdom pay them heed? Should any foreigner rely upon such a group for a true appraisal of American actions and interests? Just because something bears kinship with another doesn’t mean they are on the same side.

    The fact of the matter is that Israel is there and not only must it not go away, it can’t go away – there must be a place in the world where Jews, as Jews, can be absolutely assured of protection. Too much blood has been spilled for us to contemplate a world without Israel. Unless and until the Moslem powers recognize this fact, there simply will not be peace – grasp that: until THEY change, there’s nothing we can do.

    The best form of change would be for the Moslem world to become democratic in governance – I absolutely assure one and all that once the governments of the Moslem world have to cater to the needs of the people, the concern about Israel will dry up…and the Palestinian “refugees” will be swiftly integrated in to their host societies, rather than being kept in cages as political pawns and living title deeds.

    Justice is what works – would you volunteer to go live under Moslem rule? Do you think that if you came in to conflict with a Moslem in Moslem nation that you would receive equal justice under law? You know darned well you wouldn’t – and unjust things cannot demand justice. Its just not possible – until the Moslem world becomes just, all we can do is fend them off and try to change them, but we can’t make peace – and neither can Israel.

  • Q: Isn’t Israel the only democracy in the Middle East, surrounded by dictatorships?

    A: While it is certainly true that Israel?s democratic structures are considerably more advanced than those of its neighbors, Israel fails on many counts. Discriminatory laws and bureaucratic practices in Israel bar Arabs in Israel from many privileges, especially owning land.

    When I see free and open elections in the Arab world like in Iraq, then negotiations can begin in good faith once they recognize Israel’s right to exist.

    And if they don’t, then we know with full certainty the ‘hate’ they have for Jews.

    The blame ‘colonialism’ card only works in the classroom.

    In the real world it’s called racism when your opponent calls lower than apes and dogs.

  • Q: But didn’t the Arab countries kick a million Jews out of their countries after the 1948 war?

    Again with the ‘colonialism’ charge.

    It’s typical that the other is always to blamed for ones situation.

    Arabs invaded Israel and lost.

    Israel has a right to defend itself.

    If you deny that then we have deeper problems to deal with.

  • Q: I see people compare Israeli law to Apartheid, what’s the truth?

    When Christians in Muslim dominated countries can have their issues addressed the same way you all accuse Jews of ‘apartheid’, then we have a starting point.

  • Q: But I have heard that the Palestinians and other Arabs sided with the Nazis in World War II.

    Arafat’s uncle was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that wanted to “wipe the Jews out” of what was then called Trans-Jordan.

    Pretty much explains itself.

  • Q: I keep hearing about the Palestinian Right of Return. What is this about?

    When Christians get their issues resolved of their ‘Right of Return’ then this issue can be honestly addressed.

  • Tim,

    I appreciate that you have great passion on this issue, and FWIW I certainly don’t think that you are anti-Jewish. I would, however, like to point out what I think are a couple of the actual divisions between pro/anti Israel viewpoints on this issue — in that I really don’t think (given what you quote here) that it’s to any great extent the historical facts that are in question or the desire to the Palestinian people live under a stable and just government.

    While I understand the reasons why you’re so gunshy to being accused of anti-Jewish feeling, I’d point out that those who take the Palestinian side in this conflict (and oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) have an equally inaccurate tendency to reflexively accuse their opponents of being anti-Arab in sentiment regardless of the evidence.

    1) Many of us have a very low level of tolerance for terrorism as a means to achieving what a faction wants politically, and thus have little sympathy for the idea of making major concessions to Palestinian representatives who are actively engaged in terrorism (which the PLO and Hamas have both been to a great extent). One of the reasons why the more hardline elements of Israeli politics have been increasingly successful over the last couple decades it that Palestinian organizations have, by their actions, lent a lot of credence to the claim that if they are given concessions they will simply make more demands and continue to use terrorism against Israel. I think I can claim a fair amount of consistency in this regard as I had exactly the same attitude towards negotiating with Sinn Fein/IRA leaders the The Troubles which started up again in the 60s and ran through the 90s, despite the fact that I sympathize very strongly with the desire for a united Ireland free of British rule.

    2) I have a lack of sympathy with nationalism and old grudges. At this point, the ’67 war was 43 years ago, and for the 20 years from 47 to 67, Jordan owned the West Bank and Egypt owned Gaza. Prior to that, the whole area belonged to the Brits, and before that Turkey. I don’t think that the Israeli’s had an inherent right to have their own country in which they’re the majority either, but the fact is that Israel exists and has been fairly stable and responsible for 60+ years now. So it strikes me as troublesome and unjust to question their right to continue existing. A Palestinian state, on the other hand, has never existed. And I don’t really see why it should be unacceptable for them to either become part of Jordan or become part of Israel — other than that by this point the region has become so troublesome that no one really wants it. If their leadership can show some ability to behave peacefully and responsibly, I certainly have no objection to Palestine being an independent state. But I don’t see why we should see it as a necessity. Indeed, I think far too many people put far too much energy into ethnic nationalism, and we’d all be a lot better off if everyone laid off on that. It’s been one of the most destructive forces of the last 200 years.

  • Suppose for the sake of argument that Barak’s offer was not generous as the Israelis made it out to be. What was the harm then to take what was on offer and wait for better times? One must recall that in 1996-2000 the Israelis were negotiating from a position of strength. Why rachet up the conflict with suicide bombs? Why engage in an unnecessary war which you are bound to lose? It is obvious that for Muslims, peace mean something different than commonly understood. For them peace means a total vindication of their position, given anything less they would be much happier extending the truce and living off the Israelis. And in the meantime they can justify themselves with stories of Saddam Hussein the new Saladdin, or the return of the Iranian Mahdi or now Erdogan Pasha who will restore the caliphate and banish a thousand humiliations.

  • Lost in all this verbiage is the following:

    1. You will not construct a consensual settlement if one of your stipulations is that one party’s obligation is to bend their neck for the axe.

    2. The ultimate and abiding political goal of the Arab leadership in the West Bank, Gaza, and the camps is an ethnic cleansing extravaganza. There is no indication that the bulk of their constituency objects to this.

    3. One cannot help noticing that mention of Sephardic and Oriental Jews is absent, for all that you said.

    4. One also cannot help notice that mention of other refugee problems on the table in 1948, their dimensions and resolution, is absent.

    5. ‘Palestinian refugee’ is defined by the UNRWA as anyone resident in that territory prior to 14 May 1946. Now, just where was it that Yasir Arafat spent three-fourths of his formative years, and Edward Said spent all of his?

    6. There are currently two sovereign states where speakers of the Levantine vernacular Arabic compose nearly the entirety of the population, and a third where they form half the population.

  • Lot’s of he said, she said going on. Would help if Israel released all video footage taken by the passengers.

  • I write as a Jew who has long been active in the Catholic Worker movement and lots of social justice causes over the years. There is too much above to respond to it all. One thing I want to say though is that the Arab world on numerous occasions, including Hamas, have formally or de facto accepted Israel’s existence. It is Israel that has never declared what it’s borders ought to be in a way that truly would allow a viable Palestinian state to exist.

    Christians have been killing Jews and Muslims and Arabs in droves for a long time, but I am not calling for retribution against today’s Christians. I would like us to stop blaming Muslims and Arabs for so much of the violence of the world. The US is responsible for half the arms trade in the world and half the military spending. We’re no real peacemaker. A local synagogue newsletter had an absurd commentary in January about why Martin Luther King Jr (okay, not a Catholic, I know) would support Israel. My general response can be found in the following link, and I hope you will check it out . I also edited the War Resisters League Peace Calendar of 2008 which featured case after case of nonviolent organizing and cooperation across the Arab and Muslim world. Very few Muslims are Wahabists, just as few Catholics are Opus Dei and few Jews are as violent and intolerant as the settlers in Hebron.

    Finally, I hope some of my Catholic Worker and Christian Peacemaker Team friends see this discussion and chime in.

  • “One thing I want to say though is that the Arab world on numerous occasions, including Hamas, have formally or de facto accepted Israel’s existence.”

    Quite right, in English or some other Western language. Then they go back to calling for Israel’s destruction in Arabic to their own populations.

  • Christians have been killing Jews and Muslims and Arabs in droves for a long time,

    Come again?

  • Jim,

    Welcome to the blog, glad to hear your thoughts.

    This is a tangential point to your comment, and I’m not sure if what you say the result of actual misconception, or just reference to pop culture stereotypes, but it’s worth pointing out in reference to your remark:

    Very few Muslims are Wahabists, just as few Catholics are Opus Dei and few Jews are as violent and intolerant as the settlers in Hebron.

    Contrary to popular imagination, Opus Dei is not a remotely fanatical or violent group. (Nor are there such things as Opus Dei monks — even albino ones.)

  • Leaders held Zionists Twenty-three conference since 1897 and the latest conference, held in Jerusalem for the first time in August 14, 1951 to discuss the surface, the issue of immigration to Israel and the question of borders and the purpose of all these Conferences is to study the plans that lead to the establishment of the Kingdom of Zion International, which is one of the most important goals Brotokolathm.

    Met in the conference last hundredth of the hardest of the Elders of Zion, they represent the fifty-Jewish society, and decided in secret plan to enslave the whole world under the crown of king of the descendants of David and through:

    * Come to grips with things in the world

    * Create chaos and pornography among peoples

    * Shed doctrines corrupt and reprehensible calls on the minds of his sons

    * Undermine the foundations of every religion and national ethics and

    Schemes, these criminals, dangerous and highly confidential and it is impossible to give any person (of course this in the past but today they are scattered), but how you became months of fire on science and translator for all languages

    Are the Jews deliberately disseminate these protocols and Tzahero people as confidential, and it leaked to Istfedo of sales or some kind of hype people want to acquire and intimidate those who want to terrorize this expectation can arise in our minds

    But the best known and famous in the history books is to tell the Agreed:

    Is said to be able to master France during the meeting with the leader of the Jews in Akaber hotbed of Secret Freemasonry in France, and misappropriation of those protocols to flee ….

    Received the documents to the ((Alex Nicholas)) a large group of notables Russia East at the time of caesarean section and who pushed her to the world (Russian (Sergei Nilus)), which studied carefully and compare them with the events of the current policy that day and was able to because of it to predict much of the serious events that took place a few years later, such as:

    1. Predicted the fall of the Ottoman Islamic caliphate at the hands of the Jews before the founding of the State of Israel

    2. Prediction of fomenting world wars for the first time in history, losing the victors and the losers together and not accrue Bmganmha only Jews

    3. Predicted the fall of monarchies in Europe were still property already in Germany, Austria, Romania, Spain and Italy

    4. Predictable deployment of strife and unrest and economic crisis internationally, the structure of the economy on the basis of the gold which is monopolized by the Jews

    And other predictions which have been confirmed in large events over the years that followed the era of world, the Russian ((Sergei Nilus)) such as the fall of the Tsarist Russia and spread communism and ruled by a brutal authoritarian rule and to take a center for the dissemination of conspiracies and Kulql in the world

    What is the purpose of these protocols??? You will find the answer through your reading of protocols, but you sum up some of these objectives:

    Develop a Jewish plan to control the world, as the case led Gmawhm This plan is derived from the hatred of religions

    * Jews seek to destroy governments and the temptation kings persecuted peoples and the lure of the people to disobey the kings, and by disseminating the principles of freedom, equality, and so on with the interpretation of a particular interpretation is impossible to achieve

    * Publication of chaotic and pornography through the secret societies, religious, artistic, sports and Masonic Lodges

    * Jews believed that the methods of governance present in all the world and to increase the corrupting included in until it is time for the Jewish kingdom on the world

    Must Statute governed on the people as vile beasts and have to deal with any others with non-Jews, even of the rulers excellent spare chess in the hands of the Jews and enslave most susceptible to money and women, or lure them into positions and the like

    Search the means of printing and publishing, journalism, schools, universities, theaters and the role of cinema and its role and arts of seduction and speculation, and others should be placed under the hands of the Jews

    * Global economy must be based on Gold, Jews monopolized the most powerful of the labor force and production and other forms of wealth

    Develop a Aloguetsaa’almi founded on the basis of the gold which is monopolized by the Jews to be the gold of the strongest weapons to corrupt the young and the elimination of conscience and religions and nationalities, and family and to arouse public opinion and lure people Blshahuat bestiality harmful

    * The need to make a global economic crises always so for Ajriah the world and never gives in the end of the Jewish control of

  • You know, one of the reasons I am a philo-semite in regard to the Jews is because so many people in this world believe the poisonous tripe that emmy is pushing.

  • except for emmy, a great exchange.

    how about this:

    http://westbankspiralplan.blogspot.com/

  • You really going to allow “Protocols” sort of stuff to remain on the comments?

  • You know, one of the reasons I am a philo-semite in regard to the Jews is because so many people in this world believe the poisonous tripe that emmy is pushing.

    That is exactly how I feel, Donald!

    I have a dear Jewish friend who has developed quite a spiel on the “Jews run the world” theme. She says she keeps hearing about how Jews control this, that, and the other – but the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem has yet to give her a call and invite her to join the plot to control the world. She feels quite slighted.:-) She often says, “I’m dying to be a part of this big Zionist cabal that runs the whole planet, but nobody calls, nobody even sends me a lousy postcard. What am I, chopped liver?”

    A lovely lady. When I was sick with the flu this winter she turned up at my doorstep with a big pot of chicken soup.

  • Indeed Donna, I have a similar friend, a young Jewish judge. I only wish all Christians I have encountered in this life had the same kindess, and wonderful good humor, that I have experienced in my interactions with him from his days as a young attorney just starting out.

    n4nadmin, the hate-filled comment remains up because it serves a useful purpose in this thread of reminding readers of the reality of the irrational hatred that motivates anti-semites.

  • Donald- I also will allow the comment to stand- I just now saw it- not to encourage folks to take the easy way out and go- “Oh see, everyone who criticizes Israel must be a Jewish conspiracy nut!”- but to allow that there are some and always will be some who take their criticism of Israel to irrational lengths- just as some who criticize President Obama do so from ulterior motives like they just believe in the inferiority of black people- but it doesn’t follow that all or even most people who don’t like the Obama presidency are simply angry racists.

    A better discussion of sorts is the one still lingering over at the Gaza thread dealing with my complaint against U.S. Realpoliticking there.

Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel and the Holy Land

Thursday, May 7, AD 2009

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Israel and the Holy Land will begin tomorrow, May 8-15, 2009.

I’ve set up a special blog devoted to the Papal Pilgrimage as a vehicle for rounding up news, coverage and commentary, and where I’ll be posting from now until the duration of the Holy Father’s journey (upon which time I’ll resume blogging here at American Catholic).

Following are some interviews and links which will set the tone for the papal journey:

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