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  1. #1
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    Israel and Palestine

    Apropos that I begin with a joke a Jewish friend of mine relayed to me:

    A tourist goes to the Western Wall and sees a clearly Hassidic man crying hysterically, pulling at his beard and stuffing messages with braids tied to them into the cracks. The tourist was quite moved by this display, and after the Hasidic man was done with his addresses to the wall, the tourist asked him: "That was a very emotional prayer, may I ask what you were praying for?"

    The Hasidic man says: "I was praying that there should be peace and understanding here in the Middle East, that our politicians can end all this fighting so that we Israelis and Palestinians can live in harmony."

    The tourist asks: "How do you feel?"

    The Hasidic man shrugs and says: "It's like talking to a wall."

    ------------------------------

    I have recently watched a documentary film called "The Gatekeepers," a film that takes quite a bit after Errol Morris' "The Fog of War," both films I cannot recommend highly enough. "The Gatekeepers" comprises of interviews with six past heads of the Israeli Shin Bet (for those who do not know of them, they are roughly equivalent to the FBI, except this is J. Edgar Hoover FBI and twice as scary and at least as many times more competent, and if it can be imagined, feared even more than Mossad). The film paints an incredibly complex picture of these men; some are genuinely repentant for their tenures as the head of Shin Bet, others while acknowledging the immorality of their actions remain convinced they would do it all over again, and some even criticising the actions of other heads (one goes as far as to say when you retire from the intelligence service, which I think can also be said about the armed forces to a degree, you become a big lefty). However, they all come to a single conclusion at the end of the film: "If Israel is to have any hope of justifying its existence, the blatant disregard of the Palestinians by the Israelis, the siege of Gaza, and the continued settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem must come to an end." The film is also extremely relevant to discussions over the United States' current approach to the War on Terror with unmanned strikes and targeted killings without due process.

    My beliefs over the matter come from a single event in my life: In the 5th grade, the Second Intifada was in full swing, which came up in discussions occasionally in our social studies classes (these discussions were very well moderated by the teachers, but of course no one in the class knew enough about it to take defined sides, and we lived in a neighbourhood where there were enough Jews that we had days like Yom Kippur off). I come from a Chinese background, my grandmother having lived in Guangzhou during the Japanese occupation. When I had come home, she asked me what I learned in school that day and I told her; she then asked me a very, very simple question that has informed my beliefs over the conflict to this day: "How would you feel if someone came to your house and told you to get out, because it was *his* house now?"

    We're going on Kerry's fifth trip into the region since he took office as Secretary of State to try and restart talks, and while very cynical motives can be read from this, I at least find his persistence commendable. What are your thoughts on the matter?
    Last edited by Kevin; 10-07-2013 at 02:47 AM.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Yeah, you sound like you are looking for a discussion alright...

    Just one comment to make
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    "How would you feel if someone came to your house and told you to get out, because it was *his* house now?"
    How would you feel if you bought a house and the guy who used to sublet a room from the previous owner refused to leave?

    Because much of the land WAS legally/"legally" purchased from the people who actually owned it: They just didn't happen to be the people living on it. It sucks to be them, but if your landlord sells your home and you didn't have a contract saying they couldn't, you have issues with the landlord, not the buyer.

    Note: That is not to say all the land was legally obtained. A lot of it was treated as "abandoned" after various activities (many not so nice) resulted in the people living on the land leaving. And much of the land obtained in "recent" years have largely been a result of war (many of which were "defensive"), so that further muddies the waters.

    All that trying to simplify this to something as trivial and uninformed as what your grandmother said does is try to paint one side as being morally right and one side as morally wrong, rather than actually looking at the issue for what it is: A VERY complex situation in which both sides have good claims, both sides have done shady things, and both sides have commit atrocities. As long as people keep trying to pretend one side is "good" and the other side is "bad", there can be no compromise.
    Last edited by gundato; 10-07-2013 at 03:09 AM.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Gonna pull from my archives

    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    Which is one of the reasons i dont like the way people go about Isreal its like the Isreal is the baddies and palestines are goodies or the other way around when its more complex then that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Because people understand simple power politics, and the Palestinians don't have any power.
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    The Palestinians certainly aren't complete angels, in fact, after watching the above movie I believe that these men have the power of introspection, self-criticism, and empathy means they will always be twice the men the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah are (for whom the Palestinians may as well sink or swim) in my eyes in spite of their actions.

    However, many of the displaced Palestinians had land deeds that had been issued and were recognised by the administrators of the British mandate. I don't believe the Palestinians deserve to suffer for the negligence of the British when they hastily partitioned the land and left the framework of the land's administration up in the air.

    As for the current situation, the Palestinian Authority should be commended for having been willing to concede so much for talks to resume. Remember that in the West Bank the PA initially demanded demolition of the homes of settlers as a pre-condition for talks. This turned into a demand for a complete halt to construction, which in turn was reduced to a simple temporary "freeze" (which despite what Netanyahu would have you believe didn't really happen; construction was only frozen for two dozen settlements, when the PA and the UN recognises at least a hundred others where construction continued to be illegal).
    Last edited by Kevin; 10-07-2013 at 03:42 AM.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    How would you feel if you bought a house and the guy who used to sublet a room from the previous owner refused to leave?

    Because much of the land WAS legally/"legally" purchased from the people who actually owned it: They just didn't happen to be the people living on it. It sucks to be them, but if your landlord sells your home and you didn't have a contract saying they couldn't, you have issues with the landlord, not the buyer.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli...ed_territories

    As far as the UN is concerned the continued occupation by Israel of the land outside it's borders as well as the establishment of Israeli only settlements within that land is a violation of international law. The only reason the state of Israel is able to persist doing so is because the US government has exercised the power of veto whenever affirmative action has been proposed since 1967, and effectively propped up what is in the longest ongoing military occupation in history. I'm sure someone like Roman Abramovitch has the capital to buy up a few blocks of New York real estate if he wanted, but he'd have a hard time convincing anyone that the land bought now belonged to Russia.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 10-07-2013 at 06:58 AM.
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    I don't want to get into the politics of the subject but a couple of things from the OP made me think.

    Regarding the interview with the heads: I was watching the docu on Wikileaks some days ago and there was a (I think) former NSA chief there basically being left-after-I-retired. Reading the OP, I was wandering: all this introscpection and scepticism could not have been used when they actually had power to influence the flow of things? I mean you spend decades doing shitty work that influences many people's lives and you only think about it afterwards? Just seems weird to me. 'Following orders' is not an excuse for me...

    As far as I know, Israel's claims to the land is mostly from the Bible, which I always find weird. Even if there was 'scientific' historical data, which can always be fabricated/constructed, to me it's a bit like the Greeks asking for all the lands that Alexander the Great conquered. Or the Turks asking for all the Ottoman lands back. Or the Mongols asking for the lands Gzenkis Khan conquered. Was a Greek a 'Greek' 3000 years ago, when national identity is a fairly modern invention? After how many years does someone's claim on land evaporate or should be put permanently in the dustbins of history?

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    As far as I know, Israel's claims to the land is mostly from the Bible, which I always find weird. Even if there was 'scientific' historical data, which can always be fabricated/constructed, to me it's a bit like the Greeks asking for all the lands that Alexander the Great conquered. Or the Turks asking for all the Ottoman lands back. Or the Mongols asking for the lands Gzenkis Khan conquered. Was a Greek a 'Greek' 3000 years ago, when national identity is a fairly modern invention? After how many years does someone's claim on land evaporate or should be put permanently in the dustbins of history?
    Y'all are on Iroquois land: kindly gtfo. The Lenape will be repossessing Manhattan now.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tritagonist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    As far as I know, Israel's claims to the land is mostly from the Bible, which I always find weird.
    Most states have their foundation myths, even if they've become less mythical since those of the Ancient World. That doesn't make it uncommon, though. The French (ironically, a name derived from the Germanic tribe) always harp on about 'Nos ancÍtres les Gaulois' - 'Our ancestors the Gauls', for example. In 1795 the Dutch revolutionaries called their new state the Batavian Republic after the Germanic Batavi who inhabited these regions but disappeared from history in about the 4th century; supposedly to back up their claims to independence and sovereignty etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    What are your thoughts on the matter?
    That the people in Israel and Palestine seem destined to continue along this path for the foreseeable future. The Palestinians cannot win a military battle, but at the same time Israel isn't going into their territories, like powers might have in centuries past, to chase them off or wipe them out. There meanwhile seem to be some demographics question marks hanging over the Israeli state. What if in a 100 years Israel is a majority Arab state? Who knows.

    I'm not sure there's much to the 'Two State Solution'. Given the relatively small size of the territories and the large number of Arabs (about 25%) in Israel itself, it seems to me more sensible to attempt some sort of unified but decentralized federal structure.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I have nothing much to add, except that my eyes have been opened by various people I follow that talk about this stuff that unfortunately this arguments, especially from a lot of people in the West that support Palestine just because probably they look like the underdogs in a great sports movie, are very anti Semitic.

    Also I was quoted for some reason I feel quite proud of that fact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    I have nothing much to add, except that my eyes have been opened by various people I follow that talk about this stuff that unfortunately this arguments, especially from a lot of people in the West that support Palestine just because probably they look like the underdogs in a great sports movie, can potentially become very anti Semitic.

    Also I was quoted for some reason I feel quite proud of that fact.
    Fixed that for you or did you really mean to say every discussion about Israel and Palestine is inherently anti-Semitic?

    This is just like the discussions on the NSA leaks. As soon as the government throws out the words 'national security', the discussion is over. As if it's something sacrosanct that cannot be scrutinized or challenged.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Hypernetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    This is just like the discussions on the NSA leaks. As soon as the government throws out the words 'national security', the discussion is over. As if it's something sacrosanct that cannot be scrutinized or challenged.
    What?

    10char

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    I have nothing much to add, except that my eyes have been opened by various people I follow that talk about this stuff that unfortunately this arguments, especially from a lot of people in the West that support Palestine just because probably they look like the underdogs in a great sports movie, are very anti Semitic.
    How is a people being oppressed by a foreign military and having their country effectively appropriated and segregated in a manner that eerily resembles apartheid a good thing exactly Xercies?

    Personally I'd be down with Palestine and Israel being merged into one state, but of course that would never fly because the Arabs would outnumber the Jewish Israelis and the Israeli government doesn't want to give over political control. The fact that there's been talk from some right wing groups of denying Arabs within Israel any political voice is just outright disturbing in terms of what that means as regards human rights. It goes without saying what the history books have to say about how that plays out.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 10-07-2013 at 12:05 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypernetic View Post
    What?

    10char
    I meant that in many discussions on Israel and Palestine especially in the West, as soon as someone throws out the term 'anti-Semite', whether it's justified or not, the discussion dies. In essence, many people are afraid to criticize Israel so they don't get branded as anti-Semites.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tritagonist View Post
    I'm not sure there's much to the 'Two State Solution'. Given the relatively small size of the territories and the large number of Arabs (about 25%) in Israel itself, it seems to me more sensible to attempt some sort of unified but decentralized federal structure.
    The fact that Israel was founded quite explicitly as a Jewish State​ makes this impossible.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Hypernetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    I meant that in many discussions on Israel and Palestine especially in the West, as soon as someone throws out the term 'anti-Semite', whether it's justified or not, the discussion dies. In essence, many people are afraid to criticize Israel so they don't get branded as anti-Semites.
    Yeah, but what discussion has ever ended with "national security"?

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypernetic View Post
    Yeah, but what discussion has ever ended with "national security"?
    A discussion of horrifyingly bad movies from 2003?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli...ed_territories

    As far as the UN is concerned the continued occupation by Israel of the land outside it's borders as well as the establishment of Israeli only settlements within that land is a violation of international law. The only reason the state of Israel is able to persist doing so is because the US government has exercised the power of veto whenever affirmative action has been proposed since 1967, and effectively propped up what is in the longest ongoing military occupation in history. I'm sure someone like Roman Abramovitch has the capital to buy up a few blocks of New York real estate if he wanted, but he'd have a hard time convincing anyone that the land bought now belonged to Russia.
    Yeah, that is much more cut and dry, although using the UN as a metric for being morally/ethically right is pretty crappy.

    I was referring more to their original territories and where the Palestinians actually come into play
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_...e_in_Palestine
    I obviously over-simplified before (mostly to mock the OP's grandmother's over-simplification), but that wiki article seems like a halfway decent summary of the subject.

    Now, how they got a country out of that is anyone's guess, but it definitely makes the "Israel stole our land" (at least, from the Palestinian perspective) much more murky. Whether that claim is still valid is up to you, but I think we can all agree it isn't just "How would you feel if someone came to your house and told you to get out, because it was *his* house now?"
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tritagonist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    The fact that Israel was founded quite explicitly as a Jewish State​ makes this impossible.
    Right, which is why I expect the current situation to remain relatively unchanged in the years ahead.

    Tony Judt, the famous (formerly-Zionist) historian, once remarked that Israel has to tread very carefully because either A) the region and its natural resources become so important to the US that Israel becomes too much of a nuisance or B) the region and its natural resources become so unimportant to the US that it will no longer feel it has a stake in Israel. I think that underestimates the zealous devotion to the Israeli state among many American Christians (you see the same thing here in Europe, the Christian political parties love Israel - though I don't think they often play up that whole 'the Jews must convert when Jesus returns' part).
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Re: Israeli justifications

    http://www.bigsmokestreetcorner.com/?p=1454

    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    The only reason the state of Israel is able to persist doing so is because the US government has exercised the power of veto whenever affirmative action has been proposed since 1967, and effectively propped up what is in the longest ongoing military occupation in history.

    http://www.bigsmokestreetcorner.com/?p=1076


    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    I'm sure someone like Roman Abramovitch has the capital to buy up a few blocks of New York real estate if he wanted, but he'd have a hard time convincing anyone that the land bought now belonged to Russia.
    http://www.bigsmokestreetcorner.com/?p=891

    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Now, how they got a country out of that is anyone's guess
    That doesn't make it murky at all: The reason is clearly the UK and the US, because it was more politically and socially expedient than accepting hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe. And plus, the UK didn't care about keeping its colonial territory Palestine anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tritagonist View Post
    I think that underestimates the zealous devotion to the Israeli state among many American Christians (you see the same thing here in Europe, the Christian political parties love Israel - though I don't think they often play up that whole 'the Jews must convert when Jesus returns' part).
    Yes, because it keeps the Jews over there.

    We are, after all, talking about the same people who annually cry that the Jewish-owned media has declared a war on Christmas.
    Last edited by Nalano; 10-07-2013 at 02:38 PM.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I meant that in many discussions on Israel and Palestine especially in the West, as soon as someone throws out the term 'anti-Semite', whether it's justified or not, the discussion dies. In essence, many people are afraid to criticize Israel so they don't get branded as anti-Semites


    That's probably a good thing since I think most people don't really have a clue, or paint it as black and white when it is not.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    That's probably a good thing since I think most people don't really have a clue, or paint it as black and white when it is not. [/COLOR]
    And you, of course, view yourself as better than them, despite the fact that just about the only thing you've said thus far is that critics of Israel are anti-semitic. I suppose that means Jewish critics of Israel are self-hating Jews.
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