Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DIFFICULT SUBJECTS....Commenting on a couple of essays about the future of Israel, Matt Yglesias makes one very brief remark and then stops short:

I could say more on this, but like many bloggers I've come to feel that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I feel his pain. But of course, that's the whole problem, isn't it? Too many of us with non-fanatical views on the subject have simply decided that it's not worth engaging with something that routinely attracts near-insane levels of vituperation from partisans on both sides. As a result, the debate is left primarily in the hands of the fanatics.

There are other difficult subjects that have ended up ghettoized the same way in the blogosphere. I'd say that race and feminism, for example, are largely ignored by all but dedicated partisans because a lot of bloggers have decided it's just not worth the grief. Ev psych and the whole issue of biological/cultural differences probably falls in this category as well.

That's a shame, because if there's anything the blogosphere ought to be good at, it's encouraging people to talk about the things that niggle at the backs of their minds but that they're afraid to air in more formal forums. Unfortunately, it really hasn't worked out that way. The problem, as Dahlia Lithwick put it last year, is that people are often terrified to open their mouths on difficult subjects "because the inquiry is so fraught with the possibility of career-terminating levels of politically correct blowback." (She was specifically addressing the topic of women on the op-ed pages, and via private emails I know that several prominent male bloggers feel the same way. They figure that saying nothing is better than the risk of getting crucified for saying something wrong.)

But guess what? The fact that we shut up about these things doesn't mean we don't still think about them. It just means we don't explore them. There's obviously no simple fix for this, but a little less venting and a little more empathy might help make conversations on difficult subjects more widespread in the blogosphere, something that would do this medium a world of good. After all, if you miss ranting, there's always Fox News.

Kevin Drum 3:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (126)

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Comments

I recommend a book called something very similar to "The Israeli-Palestinian Confilct: A Documentary History".

It isn't really an authored book so much as it is an anthology. It's full of papers, essays, letters, statements, etc from the beginning of the 20th century from & to Zionist/Israelis or Palestian (supporters). Quite an education in that book.

Posted by: cdj on January 6, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think the least understood aspect of the problem relates to the Israeli policy of settlement expansion. The least understood/reported single event is the Israeli construction of the wall on Palestinian land.

To be sure, I have huge sympathy for Israel. (If anything I'm pro-Israel.) But understanding why and how the Palestinians feel backed into a corner is key to understanding the tension. Truth is, they really are backed into a corner...

Posted by: Saam Barrager on January 6, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I agree 100%. The flipside is that a lot of the best bloggers out there give hate sites like Pandagon and bigots like Amanda Marcotte a pass that is no longer deserved.

Bigotry of low expectations, fears of political blowback, or just PC in general?

Posted by: jerry on January 6, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

The issue here isn't Jews, women, or blacks (Israel, feminism, race)--it's that these are all groups which tend to huddle under the umbrella of 'liberal' ... but them often feel themselves excluded, insulted, or betrayed by the liberal (and non-Jewish, female, or black) policymakers and pontificators.

It's not -despite- the fact that they are liberals that liberal blogs tend to shy away from controversy, it's -because- they are liberal. There's no war like civil war.

Posted by: adam on January 6, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

How about if I mention that many of our policy makers hold dual citizenship with Israel! If they held it with other countries,people would complain but you're not even supposed to say anything if its Israel. Let the rants start!

Posted by: R.L. on January 6, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Good point, Kevin. I eagerly await your posts on feminism, Israel, race and biology versus culture.

Posted by: RM on January 6, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

but shouting at each other, sticking to the talking points no matter how absurd they might be, is so much more fun. why try to be reasonable, why try to understand the other side when that only muddies the water? hell, if you try that you might even find common ground and make real progress toward solving the problem. where would you be then?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 6, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I got started organizing my town's Democrats during Howard Dean's campaign. I raised the Israeli-Palestinian question once in our first meeting, and was met with such anger from my ordinarily even-tempered co-chair, who I did not realize was Jewish, that I never raised the subject again. I tell myself that there are so many issues facing us that I can leave that one off the table, but I know I am simply being a coward, feeling in NH still such a minority as a liberal Democrat, that I don't dare risk alienated another Democrat.

Posted by: nhselectwoman on January 6, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

One reason you might be reading such expressions of reserve from people like Yglesias is that those who sympathize with the plight (not the tactics) of the Palestinians have been pretty wrong the last few years. I include myself among this group. As a general proposition, we've felt that talking, a la Oslo, was the solution, not violence. We nearly all opposed Bush's marginalization of Arafat, and his support of Sharon tough policy using assassination and physically trapping Arafat. It turns out that Bush's and Sharon's strategy was pretty good, and Sharon's incapacitation is now seen as a blow to peace (despite his sneaky wall-building). I think Matt's last line about not engaging in this debate right now is evidence of a respectable degree of self-awareness: its a complex situation over there, and we would all benefit if we'd all just shut up about it for a bit long enough to find a sensible solution.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on January 6, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

This whole post is a cop out. The blogosphere isn't particularly civil about anything, and bloggers don't lose their readerships by starting controversies. Bloggers don't generally say much about Israel because they don't care enough to spend a few days researching the situation so that they have something interesting to say.

There have been some well-behaved discussions of Israel on Dailykos. The boogeymen that people are worried about often fail to materialize.

What insult could you possibly be called that you haven't already been called?

Posted by: reino on January 6, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

What insult could you possibly be called that you haven't already been called?

Are there going to be prizes awarded for this contest?

Posted by: jerry on January 6, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I find the dual citizenship question interesting. Frankly, I don't see how anyone should be allowed to hold a senior position at the federal level if he holds dual citizenship---it's obviously questionable.

Posted by: marky on January 6, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

hate sites like Pandagon

personally, i wouldn't call it a "hate site", but it's certainly not a fun place to be anymore. and that's really unfortunate because it used to be one of the best. more specifically, Jesse was one of the best; but when he left, i stopped visiting.

and i totally agree with Yglesias, and Kevin - there is no almost position to take about Israel that won't get you attacked by zealots. it's almost the same with abortion. and, in the case of Pandagon, any position out of line with the proprietor's guarantees you a hail of "woman hater!" comments.

Posted by: cleek on January 6, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

There are few other reasons for opting out of some of these discussions beyond the extreme rhetoric.

1) Some of these discussions feel pretty hopeless. How many smart people, and capable Presidents have thrown themselves at the Arab - Israeli conflict? And other than our great bribe to both sides Sinai deal - how much does anyone got to show for it? If two sides hate each other so much, maybe the best course is just to make sure that they don't sink us too.

2) The intelligence and race or gender debate also get futile since so much of the discussion gets so hazy so quickly. In these debates a lot of disinformation and outright racism has flourished for years. Because what appears to be overwhelming true is that the commonalities between people vastly outweigh the differences.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 6, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

The failure to openly discuss the Middle East situation, and its resolution, is at the heart of our biggest national security and foreign policy problem. Thus, this failure is clearly dysfunctional, no matter how you ultimately stand on the issue.

There is no excuse for this issue not be at the forefront of political discussion, as the current situation feeds hatred around the globe, it was cited as the chief motive of the mastermind of 9-11, and we are quite clearly collaborators with Israel, for better or for worse.

Any pretense of our neutrality, or ignoring of the vast arms and aircraft we have sent to Israel, is dishonest.

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

The basic human rights of Palestinians is so far off the table for discussion by US media and US politicians (see, for instance, Pelosi's support of Israel's apartheid security wall) that even to mention Palestinian rights causes fear and trembling among armchair liberals. It's too bad because what's happenning to Palestinians today will be happening to progressives tomorrow.

Posted by: baked on January 6, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Any pretense of our neutrality, or ignoring of the vast arms and aircraft we have sent to Israel, is dishonest.

I should also say, along with "dishonest", "lacks integrity". The obvious reason we ignore the issue is at the heart of why our political system is so rotten in the first place - special interest influence and corruption. Anyone who dares stray from the silent party line on Israel is directly threatened with large mobilization of dollars and resources to ending their representation.

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Truth is, they really are backed into a corner..."

Pretty much of their own making if Dennis Ross and Clinton can be believed.

A new tactic which may blow open a lot of sub rosa stuff is the class action suits coming against big banks that are supporting Hamas fund raising. There are 10 or so plaintiffs now, victims of terrorist attacks, and more to come.

The article is behind the WSJ wall but an excerpt from Instapundit is:

"Three years ago, Tzvi Weiss, an American, was badly injured in Israel by a suicide bomber on a mission from Palestinian terror group Hamas. Now, he and his family are seeking damages from a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, one of the world's biggest banks, for what he alleges is the bank's liability for his wounds.

Mr. Weiss's case, in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., raises the prospect that the world's biggest banks -- which have paid heavily for their alleged involvement in frauds at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. (the current MCI Inc.) -- could now find themselves under attack by the victims of terrorism for wittingly or unwittingly acting as conduits for terrorist funds. Mr. Weiss and his family are one of many affected by some 10 terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2003 who are bringing the claim.

The complaint alleges that a London-based charity that had accounts at Royal Bank of Scotland's National Westminster Bank unit acted as a fund-raising arm for Hamas. The complaint, which lists Mr. Weiss and five family members as plaintiffs, was filed in September; NatWest filed for dismissal late last month. According to court documents, an amended complaint is expected to be filed soon.

The London-based charity in question, called Interpal, was named by U.S. authorities as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist after the 2003 bombing that injured Mr. Weiss. . . ."

This is a new tactic as far as I know. It might pry out a lot of documents about European support of the PLO and Hamas.

Posted by: Mike K on January 6, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree 100%. The flipside is that a lot of the best bloggers out there give hate sites like Pandagon and bigots like Amanda Marcotte a pass that is no longer deserved.

Hate site? Like Stormfront?

Wow, they must be pretty bad over there if you're saying they're worse than neo-Nazi sites.

So what do they do? Call for the castration of all men? What hateful things has Amanda said lately?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 6, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I have a friend who is a professor who has spent time in Israel with students. Last holiday season we had a chance to speak and he told me the Israeli - Palestinian conflict was intractable. I became a little upset because he did not acknowledge the US participation in the conflict, namely over $3 Billion/year in financial and military aid to Israel. As a US citizen I may or may not have an opinion about the conflict BETWEEN I and P, but I certainly do have an opinion about all of the aid the US sends to Israel, allowing Israel to stay on the offensive rather than seeking a resolution to the conflict. My friend, the professor, had decided to overlook that little fact that keeps the conflict funded.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 6, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I think part of the difficulty about carrying on such a discussion is a lack of direction and continuity.

I think most informed observers would agree that the boundaries of a possible deal have been pretty well determined, and the issues defined and prioritized, over the past few decades. Any serious discussion should at least begin there and try to work inward.

I also think the questions of what would be fair and possible as a lasting outcome, and how that outcome could be brought to pass, could be discussed separately, at least to begin with.

Doing that would require bringing participants up to speed on the basics, and it would require that the participants agree to respect both the process and the goal of the discussion. Both of those are rather difficult requirements to fulfill in blogspace.

So the difficulty may be inherent in the medium. It's just TOO freewheeling.

This may also be why the problem can't be expected to be solved in the real world via grassroots or parliamentary processes, but instead likely will both require strong leadership and be carried out by a small group of seasoned and knowledgeable negotiators.

Posted by: bleh on January 6, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's kind of astonishing to read that most people seem to believe that Israel has simply "won", without ceding anything of importance to the Palestinians.

Look, Israel is a moral timebomb. Everybody knows that the non-Jews in Israel are winning out in numbers demographically. Toward the middle of this century, by all sensible projections, even within Israel proper, non-Jews will exceed Jews. And anyone looking at the forces in play here understands that there is no way out of this; Jews are NOT settling in Israel anymore in appreciable numbers, are not reproducing at a good rate, and the Arabs have a high birth rate.

When those numbers turn against the Israeli Jews, what will happen to the concept of a Jewish democracy? It will simply explode into its inherent contradiction: Israel must choose being a Jewish state and an Apartheid on the one hand, or being a democracy on the other. I find it nearly inconceivable that it will choose to remain a democracy of one person, one vote. Why? Because a true democracy would under those circumstances serve Palestinian and Arab interests, not those of the settlers. How could the settlers stop the new Israel from declaring their settlements illegal, or from instating a law of return favoring the Palestinians? They could not -- which means they would likely foster civil war before they would accept one person, one vote.

The extremists may laugh today about the frustration of the Palestinians. But in fact being able to dismiss the concerns of Palestinians today allows them to make the continuation of a true democracy in the middle of this century all the more untenable, because the Arabs in Israel will only feel more disenfranchised.

So what we can expect that about the time of its first Centennial, Israel will become an indisputable Apartheid, denying the vote to its own citizens.

What moral person will be able to celebrate that Centennial with any amount of pride? Can those people who have seen in Israel a grand culmination of thousands of years of longing, be content that it could not survive a single century without turning into a moral disgrace?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 6, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Most Americans have opinions about Palestine that almost the entire rest of the world disagrees with.

Of course, they also have opinions about the Bible that almost the entire rest of the world disagrees with.

For example, 64% of Americans think "The story about Moses parting the Red Sea so the Jews could escape from Egypt" is "literally true, meaning it happened that way word-for-word."

http://www.pollingreport.com/religion.htm

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 6, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. has the ability, with our Security Council partners, to compel a solution. We should do so along the lines of the Geneva Accord, with democratic affirmation by both people (of course). We should do so for our own national security and for the security and well-being of the world.

The conflict has gone on too long, and it's time to put a fairly immediate stop to it. The absence of Sharon from the process should help the resolution, though I wish him the best personally in his recovery (as I would anyone).

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Well, its the result of marginalizing the great liberal arts tradition of critical thinking because its not a market based value to society.

Anyway, there is a consensus globally from a minority school of thought that the big power players of the world like, the U.S. and Europe, are the source of the problem. Quite often the North and South Korea divide has been used as the central theory of this thesis for analyzing other land divides such as Israel and Palestine. The conclusion is that as long as the big players intervene directly or even indirectly, there will never be a resolution. Therefore, the smaller players have to work out their divide on their own as Korea has wanted to do for decades. Facilitating and assisting the small players with the conflict resolution are non-governmental groups, or non-State players, consisting of people both sides acknowledge and respect and are not threatening as agents of the big players politically or economically.

Posted by: union on January 6, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

like many of the aforementioned controversies attracting the lunatic fringe, we may be better served by remembering that america's right wing is absurdly backward and primitive relative to the rest of the civilized world's conservatives.

excluding them from these discussion (as having nothing serious to contribute) would go a long way towards silencing the most virulent reactionaries on the left, and the exploration of these compelx issues would, in my opinion, be further advanced.

Posted by: Nads on January 6, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I find the dual citizenship question interesting. Frankly, I don't see how anyone should be allowed to hold a senior position at the federal level if he holds dual citizenship---it's obviously questionable.

Not so obvious to me. Why?

Posted by: Brautigan on January 6, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Not so obvious to me. Why?

Dual citizenship implies dual national loyalties, which could be in conflict.

But in a globalized world, we'll all be citizens of the globe (except for the terrorists, of course).

Posted by: pebird on January 6, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

OK, this is fairly off-topic but the current thread is the closest to providing a segue as I can find.

I'd like to commend Kevin for patching things up with Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler after an early December misunderstanding, as evidenced by comments on the Daily Howler yesterday.


Regarding the current thread, I think it's a great thought, there are plenty of us out here who feel unwilling to comment on these "hot button" issues because we can't match the passion that inevitably comes back at us from the hard core fanatics.

Posted by: JonR on January 6, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

The Arab/Israeli conflict will never be settled by any of us.


Posted by: sheerahkahn on January 6, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

"...near-insane levels of vituperation..."

Strike the "near-" .

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on January 6, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK
and i totally agree with Yglesias, and Kevin - there is no almost position to take about Israel that won't get you attacked by zealots.

If people aren't willing to have their ideas assailed by zealots, in general, they shouldn't be sharing them in public. This is hardly limited to either the Israel-Palestine issue or blogging as a medium.

There's plenty of issues where you know the comment threads and other people linking to you are going to go ballistic -- heck, anything touching on abortion, religion, or even school vouchers seems that way, here, even ignoring foreign policy.

That's hardly an excuse to not bring up the issue if you have something to say. And I don't think the "zealots will say nasty things no matter what I say" reason is why bloggers are reluctant to wade into the I-P issue, since its clear that that's true of many of the things many of the same bloggers are more than willing to jump into.

I suspect the real reason is more that people have instinctive positions on the issue that they have trouble rationalizing with their broader opinions, so they'd rather avoid the topic altogether. And, hey, its a hard issue, because by any reasonable standards, major parties on both sides of the conflict are so incredibly in the wrong that it is impossible to excuse their behavior, or even tolerate it, even given the behavior of the other side (or perhaps even particularly with the behavior of the other side, since the wrongs of each side often promote, rather than preventing, the wrongs of the other side), but, at the same time, there is no clear and obvious set of recommendations that would reduce the problems, and most that offer the hope of doing so seem to reward wrongdoers on one or the other side (or both sides).

Its a genuinely tough issue; its easy to come up with things that need to end up happening for a "good" solution (or, at least, that if they happened might enable such a solution), but its pretty hard to sketch out a credible route to those results that doesn't require large groups of people to spotaneously have radical changes of behavior patterns on the hope that other large groups of people will do the same.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 6, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

give palestine back to the palestinians...give america back to the native americans......

Posted by: imbroglio on January 6, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Folks continue to ignore my Nobel Prize winning solution: Split up the three religious groups and move them out of the so-called Holy Land. There are plenty of decent open spaces left in the world, e.g., the American Great Plains, Brazil, the Yucatan, the Antipodes, etc. The peoples now living at the eastern end of the Mediteranean Sea have proved themselves poor custodians of that unhappy land.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on January 6, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Insofar as it is genuinely impossible to have rational discussions of the subject, as partisans of both Arab and Jewish views usually get th eupper hand, I like to propose insanse solutions such as returning the whole kit and kaboodle to the Turks. They were so delightfully corrupt in ruling the area last time, it should unite all in hating them.

Posted by: collounsbury on January 6, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Today, NPR reported earlier, Madeleine Albright raised a couple of issues with Bush during the five-minute discussion before the photo op. She pissed him off by being critical. I say, hurrah Maddie! No one and I mean no one should be safe from challenge in a grown-up world.

The notion that we should shut up about Israel-Palestine because only one side is right is simply absurd. Many of us are set back on our heels by accusations of anti-Semitism, but that kind of ad hominem attack only diminishes the accuser. I don't care which side of the issue you're on, I just know that neither of us has the right to silence the other. The dialogue may be difficult but you'll be defending not so much your opinion as the sensible democratic standard of expressing an opinion. Let's not let ranters have the only say...

Hey, and respond intelligently to some of the neo-kneejerk-feminist junkola which crops up all over the blogosphere. Intelligent response on that subject is much needed, and you'll survive!

Posted by: PW on January 6, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. has the ability, with our Security Council partners, to compel a solution.

Well, certainly we might arguably have a legal authority, if we worked with the Security Council, to do so. Whether we have the practical ability to compel any solution, at a cost that is tolerable, is another question.

We should do so along the lines of the Geneva Accord, with democratic affirmation by both people (of course).

This presumes that both peoples would, indeed, affirm it democratically, which seems optimistic.

We should do so for our own national security and for the security and well-being of the world.

How, exactly, are we going to compel a solution?

The conflict has gone on too long, and it's time to put a fairly immediate stop to it.

Well, yeah. And if you said that 30 years ago, you would have been right, too.

The absence of Sharon from the process should help the resolution, though I wish him the best personally in his recovery (as I would anyone).

I don't think that's particularly true. While I have no personal affection for Sharon -- him being a war criminal, and all -- I don't think he is anywhere close to the biggest obstacle to peace, and I think that his inability to continue as PM and as leader of Kadima probably, at least in the short term, makes things worse, not better, for a peaceful resolution.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 6, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Please, people.

What we're talking about (or, more precisely, not talking about) is the fear of having the "Anti-Semite" albatross being hung around one's neck.

Mr Yglesias himself tackles this to some degree, and good for him, in a post from yesteryear:
http://yglesias.typepad.com/matthew/2005/02/getting_lucky.html

His second to last paragraph pretty much says it all.

Yes, it is a deeply complex issue. But that shouldn't make anyone, least of all Matt, shy away.

Posted by: Monty on January 6, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: It's true that bloggers aren't generally afraid of controversy. But the vituperation level is genuinely different for some subjects, and it's sky high for Israel-Palestine (as well as the others I mentioned). It's fine to say that if you can't take the heat you should quit blogging, but the fact is that most bloggers are just ordinary people and will eventually abandon topics if the attacks start to get too rough. It's just human nature.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 6, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer to read those bloggers who are weird people.

Posted by: pebird on January 6, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

The core problem of blogs in general is the knee-jerk tendency of responding within an argumentative framework. If the purpose of a blogs is simply to provide a space for people to express their opinions and observations or to see if others share their views, thats great, but pounding each other over the head with opposing points of view is little more than intellectual masturbation. Positions get locked into, and there is very little increase in awareness on either side (or varying sides). It is rare, but I have heard bloggers figuratively sit side-by-side and look at the issue, comparing sources, and come to some common ground, or at least a clearer understanding of why the other person holds the view they do. Of course there are those on both sides whose primary pleasure is to agitate a reaction or show off their intellectual swaggerand I admit, its entertaining to read at times. But at the end of the day, its all masturbation. I think that the powers that be, whatever entities you deem are working against your views, surely prefer all of us bickering amongst ourselves and remaining divided. We are much easier to control that way. I would like to see more consensus building.

Posted by: Jonthan on January 6, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely: It's true that bloggers aren't generally afraid of controversy. But the vituperation level is genuinely different for some subjects, and it's sky high for Israel-Palestine (as well as the others I mentioned).

Sure, buts its just as sky-high for otherissues that people that shy away from Israel-Palestine have no, or at least far less, reluctance to discuss (such as abortion).

Its my impression that there is more to reluctance to discuss Israel-Palestine than just the level of zealotry on both sides of the issue.

Beyond what I said above, I think part of it is probably that the alignment on the issue, while it has some correlation with the left-right alignment, doesn't really line up with it that well and, particularly for left-leaning bloggers who deal with their usually left-leaning audiences, there are zealots of both sides in the American Left, and you can't really predict sympathies on the issue based on beliefs in any other area. So that left-wing pundits -- bloggers and others -- are more likely to be attacked with great venom by people that they are otherwise aligned with when the issue comes up, whereas otherwise the most vicious attacks come mostly from the usual suspects which can be counted on -- and ignored -- as predictable sources of violent disagreement on every topic.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 6, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

The absence of Sharon from the process should help the resolution,

another cockeyed optimist seconding what jimm said. just as there were israelis who never would deal with arafat, there are palestinians who would never deal with sharon.

Posted by: benjoya on January 6, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the "we" that appears so "liberally" in Kevin's post up above can answer these questions for me:

1) Where did the Palestinians mostly live before there was an official state of Israel?

2) For how many years did they live there?

3) Were they asked to move? Or were they made to move?

4) What sort of compensation was given?


After the "we" answers those questions... we can begin to dialog.

Until then... you might as well leave the conversation to the fanatics.

Posted by: koreyel on January 6, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK
another cockeyed optimist seconding what jimm said. just as there were israelis who never would deal with arafat, there are palestinians who would never deal with sharon.

Yeah, sure, I won't argue with that. OTOH, I think Sharon leaving the scene right now doesn't make it likely that anyone who Palestinians would be more likely to deal with (or who would be more likely to deal with Palestinians) will be the next PM. Particularly, if another Likud-led coalition government with the more extreme religious parties is formed and Netanyahu is the next leader, I think the prospects for peace in the near future are rather poorer than they would be if Sharon's Kadima led the next government, particularly, as seemed most likely if they won at all, in a coalition with Labor.

Of course, I could be completely wrong (I'm hardly an expert in Israeli domestic politics), or, alternatively, Kadima could find a new strong leader, or Labor could be even stronger than expected.

Or Netanyahu could have a Grinch-like transformation. Who knows?

Posted by: cmdicely on January 6, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Look, Israel is a moral timebomb. Everybody knows that the non-Jews in Israel are winning out in numbers demographically. Toward the middle of this century, by all sensible projections, even within Israel proper, non-Jews will exceed Jews.

That's when you'll see cuddly euphemisms for ethnic cleansing showing up. "Population relocation", "religious rightsizing", "cultural adjustment"...

I'd also like to see some examples of Pandagon's so-called "hate" speech. I've disagreed with Amanda in the past without being grossly vilified.

Posted by: Phoenician in a time of Romans on January 6, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Peace is not just the absence of war. It's a total commitment to going beyond the occasion of war.

There will not be peace while weapons are such a profitable commodity.

We agonize over gruesome deaths yet won't boycott weapons manufacturers.

No amount of heavy-fisted "blow them to smithereens" will ever secure a lasting peace.

Frankly the I/P conflict seems almost indulgent.

What the blogsphere needs to do is create a new paradigm for humanity, one that shows the utter foolishness of warfare and seeks to grasp a way to lasting peace for generations.

And don't give me that "we must be strong against our enemies" crap. Look what shock and awe has done to Iraq. How do you define winners?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 6, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

"give palestine back to the palestinians...give america back to the native americans......"

Posted by: imbroglio on January 6, 2006 at 5:43 PM

But imbroglio, the Zionists (not the same as "the Jews") claim they are the equivalent of the Indians, and the real difficulty is that they were, and are, not.

koreyel on January 6, 2006 at 6:38 PM
On the money!


The US had almost absulute power over Israel until it "connived at" Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons. To our cost the US was threatened in 1973 that israel would use its nuclears on Egypt, so stripped war-ready equipment from its NATO commitment to re-arm Israel.

However, the US has merely, very publicly, to tell Israel that the money stops tomorrow, that the annual forgiving is rescinded, thus calling in the annual multi-billion debts, but that the tap will be turned off slowly as the Israeli Regime applies Resultions 242 and 338, together with all succeeding resolutions, therefore (removes the post-1967 settlements, ceases stealing the Palestinmians' water, and so on), permits absolute right of return with compensation, compensates the Palestinians for each and every destructive act carried out since 1948.

It will be for the Palestinians then to decide if they feel any Jews other than those who can show substantial descent from Jews Resident as found in the Turks' last census.

Posted by: maunga on January 6, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Pretending that this is one group of fanatics equally balanced by another set of fanatics is an order of magnitude more dishonest than saying Abramoff is a bi-partisan scandal.

Within U.S. politics there is one side with carte blanche access to power and one side that gets nothing.

I remember hearing a radio personality in Chicago rationalize the IDF killing 17 Palestinians as collateral damage by saying, "those are 17 Palestinians that will never be suicide bombers." There was no mention of it in the Chicago media, no request to apologize.

What if someone used equivalent eliminationist rhetoric about Israelis? It would be a national media event.

So don't play this off as one set of fanatics against another. That's just what the Israel lobby wants to avoid discussing the details of the real situation.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 6, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

If there were no oil in the middle east, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be of as much interest -- which is to say, of as little interest -- to the great powers of the world as any of the numerous other ethnic conflicts going on all over the developing world, which while horrendous for those directly affected by them, are no big deal to the USA, Europe, etc., do not involve the major powers of the world in seeking "solutions", and are not the subject of endless, hysterically emotional, and extremely repetitious argument in this country.

Nor would the US government be arming one of the factions in the conflict to the teeth with billions and billions of dollars in military aid -- if there were no oil in the region.

It is really all about the oil. Everything the USA does in the middle east is about the oil.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 6, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if anyone will get this far down in the comments, but I have to say I feel like I'm living in an alternate reality reading them. Who on earth is afraid to criticize Israeli policy on the west bank? It is first of all a fundamental feature of ISRAELI political life, with the Labor Party for example and groups like Peace Now arguing forcefully for withdrawal. Second, a second's worth of a google search will reveal hundreds of websites dedicated to the proposition that Israel is vile, the US ought to stop supporting it, the settlements are evil, and so on. Pat Buchanan and the American Conservative Party, to cite a well-known example, have criticism of Israel and American support for it virtually as a daily feature. So does well-known commentator on the mideast Juan Cole. So you get angry emails? Big deal. Live with it. Speaking for myself, in public, I think Israeli policy on the West Bank is a nightmare. One little problem is there never would have been a refugee issue if Arab governments hadn't attacked the nascent state in 1948. Another little problem is that it isn't Israel but Arab countries, Egypt and Lebanon in particular, that have kept Palestinians locked up in camps. (The Lebanese Prime Minister was quoted a few years ago saying that letting the Palestinians out would "upset Lebanon's demographic balance.") And a final little problem is that if Israel withdrew to the '67 borders tomorrow, is there anyone who thinks they would suddenly find their neighbors peaceful? That said, they should never have built those settlements, and the sooner they get out of them the better, because all they do is make a bad situation worse. Anyone who feels they can't say that is a fool and a coward. Try it. I just did.

Posted by: Sheldon Czapnik on January 6, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

One solution availble to any blog author that wants to discuss issues that they are otherwise afraid to tackle is to start a new blog under an assumed name and link to it.
Just a thought.

Posted by: Mark on January 6, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

In the case of U.S. commentary about Israel, you are being less than honest to say that you will get flack from both sides in the debate if you state what you really think about the conflict. Obviously, the abuse will come chiefly from zionists. So zionists have so poisoned honest debate about Israel in this country that you can't even speak honestly about not speaking honestly! The difference between this issue and the others you have mentioned (e.g. race relations) is that our failure to apply tough love to Israel needlessly jeopardizes our national security.

Posted by: Buddy on January 6, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Who on earth is afraid to criticize Israeli policy on the west bank?

Almost every politician in America.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 6, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

" I became a little upset because he did not acknowledge the US participation in the conflict, namely over $3 Billion/year in financial and military aid to Israel. As a US citizen I may or may not have an opinion about the conflict BETWEEN I and P, but I certainly do have an opinion about all of the aid the US sends to Israel, allowing Israel to stay on the offensive rather than seeking a resolution to the conflict. My friend, the professor, had decided to overlook that little fact that keeps the conflict funded.

Posted by: Powerpuff "

Interesting that I see no mention of the equivalent sum going to Egypt. Israel was originally supported by the USSR, then France. We opposed the Israelis in 1956. They even attacked a US ship then.

When the Arab countries mostly became Soviet clients, we responded with more support for Israel. That was after the Aswan Dam incident, when the Republican administration refused to fund the dam because the Egyptians had confiscated the canal without compensation.

The answer to the question about where Palestinians lived is that those who are descendents of refugees are descended from war losers, just like the Germans whose ancestors lived in Sudetenland or East Prussia. The Russians moved Poland several hundred miles west in 1945 and the Germans fled from the land leaving all behind.

Now, your point was ?

Do you think the Arab countries should be forced to accept the 500,000 Jews expelled since 1948 and their descendents ?

Interesting to see the level of anti-Israeli sentiment.

Posted by: Mike K on January 6, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK
What the blogsphere needs to do is create a new paradigm for humanity, one that shows the utter foolishness of warfare and seeks to grasp a way to lasting peace for generations.

While certainly this is arguably necessary for someone to do, I don't see how it became the unique responsibility of the blogosphere.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 6, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely

Peace is a concern for everyone. Cyberspace and realtime blogging itself leads to new paradigms. How else can humans, from anywhere, engage in what often is thoughtful and useful dialog?

So, while I agree with you that the blogosphere should not be the sole creator of a new paradigm of peace beyond war, it is in a unique position to do just that.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 6, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yes Kevin, seems to me many people are afraid to speak frankly about this issue.

If you think about it logically, the way the state of Israel was created was pretty weird. There was no way under the sun that act was not going to cause problems for many years.

But that's water under the bridge. Israel is there and, like Egypt, I recognize it.

Also under the bridge are two UN Resolutions that are decades old that Israel has never been sufficiently pressured to live with. The occupied territories do not belong to Israel, yet look at the extremely aggressive settlements. The longer you hold a people down and push them around, the worse it seems to get.

I grew up being taught to emphasize very different facts about Israel. But as an adult, with a mind of my own, I emphasize these facts.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 6, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

With regard to the Middle East, I must bring to your attention the sad fact that the Syrian, or Golden, Hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, is believed to be extinct in that region, its native habitat. No Syrian Hamsters have been observed in the wild since 1980, when two of them were captured by a rodent control officer in a town in Syria.

Of course, Syrian Hamsters survive in captivity, where they are commercially bred for sale as pets, and for use in laboratories. However, this beautiful, intelligent, inquisitive, resourceful, adaptable and courageous animal has apparently been extinguished from the natural world, a victim of habitat destruction and deliberate extermination (as an agricultural "pest") by humans.

It would be nice if the "new paradigm for humanity, one that shows the utter foolishness of warfare and seeks to grasp a way to lasting peace for generations" that Tom Nicholson exhorts the blogosphere to create would include compassion and respect for the non-human sentient beings who have as much right to live in peace on this planet as humans do.

Others can pray for peace between Israel and Palestine. I will pray that one day, the wild hamsters will return to Syria.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 6, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Gary, the issue was blogger fear. Politicians want to get elected, and that - to them - requires cowardice. Not too many anti-NRA politicians outside LA and NY. But there's no reason for bloggers to feel the need to restrain their own opinions. The greatest arguments against the settlements are proposed by centrist and left Israelis themselves. Surely we don't have to pull punches here.

Thanks Mike K for your comment. To read this series of posts one would think that the Palestinians bear no responsibility whatever for their condition. If they had used non-violence, which MLK used to overthrow much legalized racism, and which Gandhi used to oust the British empire, they would have had tens thousands of Israelis blocking settlement bulldozers with them. Too bad they elected to blow up kids in pizza parlors. But none of that justifies the settlements in the first place.

Posted by: Sheldon on January 6, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

To my memory, Howard Dean's fall was immediately preceded by two comments. One was that the United States had to adopt a more even-handed policy in the ME. Another was a remark that the concentration of the media in so few hands called out for re-regulation, ala something like a return to the former 'fairness doctrine.'

He immediately went from the hottest candidate to a radioactive one, and was swiftly kicked to the curb, perhaps, however indelicate it is to mention, courtesy some Bonesmen love to Kerry in the electronic voting machines.

I don't think the two are unrelated. However, neither I nor anyone in America can state the full thesis without expecting a withering attack.

Posted by: sofla on January 6, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

The tactics of the Palestinians have been a disaster.

Imagine if Arafat had returned with a counter proposal in 2000. Some say Barak could never have delivered but that was an example of the US really pressuring Israel, contrary to some comments above. Dennis Ross has said (and I heard him do it) that venture capitalists were ready to invest in Palestine in 2000 as soon as the agreement was signed. There were millions of dollars ready to build the Palestinian state.

The warm summer the year Breshnev died was attributed by many Europeans to the gates of Hell opening for him. Maybe global warming is the same for Arafat. He killed his people most likely. All of them.

Read Marty Peretz account of Gaza now.

Posted by: Mike K on January 6, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

The only thing protecting the Israelis from the UN and sanctions is the US (countless vetoes over the decades). Also, we enable them in many other ways. If we credibly came down on them in a convincing way that we would no longer support them unless they went to the table and started with Geneva Accord parameters, or they would face the UN without our veto, Israel would likely do so. That they haven't yet is purely the result of our backing them with arms, aircraft, and UN vetoes.

Once the parties actually sit down and come to an agreement, I imagine that the Israeli people would be happy to sign off on it, and the Palestineans too, if we did a hard sell on it, especially since the Geneva Accord agreement, to my understanding, already is quite popular. I do not assume, however, that they will pass the agreement. If they don't, we'd have to go back to the drawing board, or try to sell it again, but we would be a lot farther along.

So, I should say we can compel a negotiated solution, but we cannot compel democratic acceptance and affirmation of this solution. Being that we can frame this democratic affirmation through the legislatures and elected councils, rather than popular referendum, or vice-versa, we can probably fenagle acceptance.

As for Sharon, he is a very strong leader who was quite clearly opposed to a just solution. He never would have signed off on the Geneva Accord, or something similar, and would have weakened the Labor party by forming a 3rd party. Now that he will not be able to do that, Labor will be in a very strong position, and we can force a negotiated solution to be agreed upon in a short frame of time.

Of course, I don't expect Bush and his neocon brigade to do this, but I would certainly lobby the next leadership team to make this effort. We desperately need to start ramping down tensions in the Middle East region, and this is Ground Zero.

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

The silence around the sensitive topic of Israel and Palestine is orders of magnitude more deafening than other "silent" issues not because of the vehemence per se, which is the same with other hot-button subjects, but that there is no mainstream political divide on the issue.

Both parties are bought in to the Israeli lobby and agenda, and most bloggers, if we're honest, basically frame their topics as mouthpieces for their prospective party. "Pragmatics" they call it when you call them on it. Abortion is a very hot topic, but people will discuss it much more than Israel because it fits safely into the parameters of "Democrats/liberals are one side, and Republicans/conservatives are on the other; and moderates try to mediate". The Israel/Palestine conflict does not fit this metric, so it the most silent issue of all. Both parties are in hock to the right-wing Israeli agenda, and thus most bloggers and blog commenters are also in hock to the right-wing Israeli agenda (whether they realize it or not, because they frame allowable discussion on partisan politics).

I'm not saying there's necessarily anything wrong with that, if that's your objective, but it is an explanation for why we don't dispassionately and rationally discuss one of the biggest issues of the day. It's TABOO - for both parties.

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if anyone will get this far down in the comments, but I have to say I feel like I'm living in an alternate reality reading them. Who on earth is afraid to criticize Israeli policy on the west bank? It is first of all a fundamental feature of ISRAELI political life, with the Labor Party for example and groups like Peace Now arguing forcefully for withdrawal.

It is darkly comical that "allowable" or non-taboo debate and dissent about Israeli/Palestine conflict is far "wider" in Israel than it is in the U.S. Here there is no question what we should do, and there doesn't seem to be any hint that there is a deep conflict in Israel itself.

Reading our mainstream media and bloggers, you'd be hard-pressed to even know there is a popular citizen's peace initiative called the Geneva Accord, or another popular non-governmental initiative with similar proposals (can't remember the name at the moment...there you go!). It's taboo in most cases just to bring it up.

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe one reason that some bloggers don't care to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply that they realize there is nothing to say about it that hasn't already been said millions of times.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 6, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, whenever I talk about the conflict, I don't get distracted trying to debate the merits of who did what or when, but I insist that:

1. U.S. threaten to stop enabling Israel with arms/aircraft/aid and UN vetoes of UN resolutions so they get serious about a negotiated and just settlement;

2. Intensely encourage these negotiations to begin with Geneva Accord-style parameters.

I'm not concerned with debating who is more in the right or wrong. I want this conflict to lighten up, and to give peace and Palestine a chance. Our national and global security depend on it. And, because our national and global security depend on it, American liberty depends on it.

I'm not giving up my liberty for Israel, and especially the right-wing Zionist agenda, so I want to clarify the issues, stop enabling either side, and get a negotiated settlement done (that is fair and just to both parties).

Period.

Posted by: Jimm on January 6, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but in spite of the fact that "there is nothing to say about it that hasn't already been said millions of times", many Americans are still totally unaware that Arab disgust with the United States knee-jerk support of Israel is universal.

Its not just the terrorists who cite treatment of the Palestinians as an atrocity. Its the whole Arab world. The terrorists will never be justified because of this. But they will always be there.

We should not change our policy because of the terrorists. But we also should not their existence stop us from correcting a wrong policy.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 6, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe one reason that some bloggers don't care to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply that they realize there is nothing to say about it that hasn't already been said millions of times.

That's part of it.

The other is that we know perfectly well that absolutely nothing anybody says will change the fundamental political dynamic in this country on the issue.

That dynamic is that there is absolutely no electoral upside for politicians to criticize Israel, and devastating downsides. Justice for Palestinians has no real constituencies in the US, and Israel has just about nothing but.

You might as well argue that an avowed Atheist should be able to run for President and win. Its truth is the least important thing about that statement; its fecklessness is everything.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 6, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

"So what we can expect that about the time of its first Centennial, Israel will become an indisputable Apartheid, denying the vote to its own citizens."

Since the West Bank is ruled by Israel, this is already the case.

There is a highly focussed, active constituency for Israel in the U.S., together with a vast majority that doesn't really know or care about the situation. As with so many other political issues, this means success for the special interest group.


Posted by: Ken C. on January 6, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Since the West Bank is ruled by Israel, this is already the case.

You can make the case that it's like an Apartheid, and, for people willing to face the facts objectively, it's a persuasive argument.

But notice I made the point that when non-Jews exceed Jews in Israel proper, it will become an indisputable Apartheid. It will be indisputable because it will, of necessity, have to deny some of its own citizens an equal vote, or it would become an emphatically NON-Jewish state, with the speed only pent up resentment from a century of callous treatment can enable.

That will be the Day of Reckoning for Israel and its supporters. And projections suggest that it will take place just about on its first Centennial.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 6, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: You're right about American support for Israel. But I think it's a matter of taking the American people a long time to educate themselves about the this issue.

After all, over 40 percent of Israelis have favored withdrawal from the occupied territories and accommodation of the Palestinians for a long time. They think its in their own security interests and morally correct.

And Jimmy Carter went out on a limb years ago and got the most militarily threatening Arab country, Egypt, to make peace with Israel. But he had to pressure Begin pretty hard, while ignoring our right-wingers. Our politicians are normally loath to take such chances.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 6, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Just curious: Why is there no upside for the Democrats in a more balanced Middle East policy when Republican foreign policy has been hijacked by neoconservatives, who are frequently zionist, Israeili spies have infiltrated the government, Israel didn't uncover the 9-11 plot (what exactly are they good for?), and the Iraq fiasco has served the interests of zionists but not the U.S.? We don't have to advocate the end of Israel, just a return to the Geneva Accords etc. as discussed above --- the "tough love" approach mentioned above?

Posted by: Devil's Advocate on January 6, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: I also agree that the fact Israel is supposed to be a "Jewish" state is a long term problem.

The Western democracies are secular and have staying power. I have to wonder about a country with citizens who intend to remain faithful to a particular religion. Going a bit against the grain.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 6, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

In case anyone is under a delusion that Israel is likely to come to peace with the Palestinians before Israel proper becomes predominantly non-Jewish around 2050, it might be worthwhile to contemplate all the tremendous strides that have been made toward peace and harmony since the 1967 war, now close to 40 years ago.

Not much progress, you think? And what makes anyone think the next 40 years are going to turn out in any important way differently -- especially if the Israelis feel smug in the belief that they can just wall out their troubles?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 6, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, Dr MikeyK is full of misinformation - The Eisenhower Administration pulled the funding for Eqypt's Aswan Dam because Eqypt recognized the People's Republic of China. I guess when one is so busy denying work comp claims, it is hard to keep track of world events.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 6, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Back in the pre-blog days, gun control was another one. On the Straight Dope Message Board, where I did most of my political debating back then, I could count on a decent debate over practically any other semi-rational idea. But the moment I'd float an argument for any sort of gun control, the fanatics would come out of the woodwork.

Which is why I figure it's just as well that the Dems have quietly been dropping their connection with the issue. It just ain't worth the trouble, and after five years of Bush, we've got much bigger problems.

Posted by: RT on January 6, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well, what do the readers of this blog think about a country that intends to remain "Jewish". The only was to ensure that is to implement practices that are not democratic.

This is the reason I think it's a genuinely weird country. Its the antithesis of the democratic and secular West. Think about it. What institutions do we have to ensure that a majority of our citizens will remain Christian? None. And thats as it should be.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 6, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting to see the level of anti-Israeli sentiment.
Posted by: Mike K

and so the idiocy begins.

Posted by: Nads on January 6, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

On the subject of a negotiated settlement: That is precisely the reason the problem seems intractable. Who does Israel negotiate with? The Fatah led Palestinian Authority? Under Arafat and now Abbas, the PA has shown that they are either unable or unwilling to actually deliver on any peace deal, period. Every time an Israeli PM demanded any period of cease-fire leading up to any talks, regardless of the length of the proposed cease-fire, the PA has failed to even attempt to deliver. This raises the question of how can the PA deliver on their end of a permanent peace deal if they cannot deliver a 48 hr cease fire? So who is left? Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad? They all have declared that they will only accept the total distruction of the Israeli state. Not exactly a position that Israel is able to negotiate.

So even if you take the religious angles out of the equation there is no way to hold negotiations under these circumstances. Wether or not you agree with the idea of a religious state (and for the record, I don't. Whenever god gets involved in politics it always seems to lead to bloodshed.)
the bottom line is that Israel has no one to talk to across the table. This leaves Israel prone to its own religous fanatics and continuing the criminally stupid settlement program. They refuse to accept that at some point there must be a pull back, only the extent remains to be seen. In the process they are bankrupting themselves both morally and fiscally to placate their own religous zelots.

Posted by: clyde on January 6, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to be the fly in the ointment again, but from these comments you would hardly believe that the majority of American Jews are far closer to the Labor than the Likud side of the issue, and overwhelmingly support removal of most of the settelements. The support for the latter position comes almost entirely from extremely orthodox Jews, who are a tiny minority (about 300-400,000 people of all ages in the US), and Jewish conservatives, who aren't much larger. I think the "power of the Jewish lobby" is a canard. I think a candidate outside NY who said something like "we should support Israel and make sure it can defend itself, but that doesn't mean we should support the settlements" would still get opposition from AIPAC and other groups, but I don't think he or she would lose an election because of it. (They might even get more votes - including many from the many Jews who agree.) For goodness' sake, SHARON has said many of the settlements should go. And the rise of the centrist party in Israel, with Likud now a distant third in the polls, suggests where sentiment even in Israel proper lies. The NY Times has editorialized against those settlements for years. I think some of this resentment and noise about how discussion on this issue is suppressed seems exaggerated.

Posted by: Sheldon on January 6, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, lil ole Jim, here's what you do. Make sure Catholics are exiled, persecuted, and slaughtered for about 2,000 years, then have a civilized country gas about 1/2 of the remainder, and see if Catholics don't decide they need a little country of their own. Just a little thought experiment for you to consider.

Posted by: Sheldon on January 6, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

jerry:
"I agree 100%. The flipside is that a lot of the best bloggers out there give hate sites like Pandagon and bigots like Amanda Marcotte a pass that is no longer deserved."

Mnemosyne:
"Hate site? Like Stormfront?

Wow, they must be pretty bad over there if you're saying they're worse than neo-Nazi sites.

So what do they do? Call for the castration of all men? What hateful things has Amanda said lately?"

Well, actually, no, he didn't say or imply that they're worse than neo-Nazi sites. Nor he suggest anything as ridiculous as that they called for "the castration of all men".

This exchange is the problem in a nutshell: you didn't respond to what he said, but made a strawman caricature of it. Scale that up 50dB, add ridicule and personal insults, and you have Pandagon, or rather, Amanda and me-toos. It's possible to ignore sneering invective, but the frequent argument in bad faith makes useful discussion difficult.

Posted by: Ken C. on January 6, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sheldon: and once the Catholics get a country of their own, they can proceed to discriminate against all other religions in order to keep their country Catholic? I dont think so.

People cant agree on religion. You can give a glib and over-simplified version of history if you want, but it will take more than that to justify a country based upon a religion. Do you disagree with separation of church and state?

Maybe Israel should allow only Jew to immigrate? Make it a law? Maybe they should go back to their practices in years past and force non-Jews out of the country?

Just asking.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 6, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Couldn't we get the Wedding Crashers to arbitrate the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

Posted by: Elmo on January 6, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Raise Atlantis out of the ocean and give it to the Israelis.

The subject is one of the worst ideological black holes in the blogosphere, but there are others. You can't talk about climate change either, without reaping a hail of serdar argic (SF author Ken MacLeod's term for ideological spam disseminated by political spambots / humans indistinguishable from)

Or abortion.

Or progressive taxation.

Posted by: sara on January 6, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

I blog more about Israel than I used to, but I completely agree that it's such a hot-button issue that you have to ask yourself before blogging, "Is posting what I have to say on this subject worth the potential deluge of crap in comments"?

Posted by: fiat lux on January 6, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

and so the idiocy begins.

Did the idiocy ever stop?

One of the things that I like about this blog is that it always goes after the really difficult subjects--there are dozens of threads about torture, health care, religion.

I've never been the least bit impressed with Matt Yglesias. Today didn't change that at all.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 6, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:
I wondered why I stopped reading your blog. With this completely stupid & condesending post, I remember. DINO.

Posted by: Rick Penn on January 6, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

I find no lack of will to discuss the Israeli-Arab conflict on the blogs or on the street. Everyone has an opinion. I do find that there is alot if dis/mis information on the subject.

Israel is 80% Jewish and about 15% Muslim or about 20% Arab(including Christians, Druze and others). I havn't seen the projections that you are referring to but I find it hard to believe that Israel proper, not including the occupied territories, will be predominately non-jewish in 2050. I would be interested to know where you, frankly0,get your figures. I know that the birth rates of Jews in Israel is about 2% and the Arabs is about 3% but that also is a fluctuating number and does not account for Jewish immigration into Israel.

To be sured, Israel does recieve an lot of US support, but since the Egypt-Israel peace accord, Egypt receives about the same. In 1998 Eygpt recieved about $5 billion, in 2003 about $3 Billion. Saudi Arabia also receives quite a bit in US support as well as Military assistance. I think the key is this, for peace in the Middle-East the US is willing to deal economically with you. Jordan receives in excess of $300 Million in US aid 2/3 of it economic and 1/3 military.

The UN Plan to partition Palestine in 1947 invisioned a 2 state solution but the Arab countries in the area preferred war and the expulsion of the Jews in Palestine instead.

Israeli Arabs have equal right under the law and have political parties. They can vote and actually have arab members of the Knesset. In 2003 when the parliment tried to ban the arab parties in the election the Israeli Supreme court overturned the decision. Arabs have a vote in Israel. In contrast, Iran has more Jew living within their country than most other Arab nations with around 10,000. Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebonon together have fewer jews than Iran.
To say that Israel will one day deny the voting rights of the Arabs flies in the facts

Posted by: berlins on January 6, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

I wondered why I stopped reading your blog. With this completely stupid & condesending post, I remember. DINO.

What the hell is that even supposed to mean?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 6, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

One of the things that I like about this blog is that it always goes after the really difficult subjects

One of the things I don't like about this blog is the clock is always wrong. Mr. McGill, happy New Year. From your absence I assume you were on holiday. I trust it was all it should have been, and welcome back.

Phil

Posted by: LW Phil on January 6, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

I would be interested to know where you, frankly0,get your figures. I know that the birth rates of Jews in Israel is about 2% and the Arabs is about 3% but that also is a fluctuating number and does not account for Jewish immigration into Israel.

Here's a quote from a source, more or less at random via Google:

Within Israel, Arabs are an increasing proportion of the population. The Arab population doubled over the past 20 years, reaching 1.2 million in 2001. The Jewish population grew from under 3.3 million to 5 million, a 67 percent increase due primarily to immigration. In the 1990s, nearly one million Jews immigrated to Israel, a large majority of them from the former Soviet Union. In 1996, just over 60 percent of the Israeli population was Israel-born. Israel continues to encourage Jewish immigration; it expected about 45,000 individuals in 2001.

In 2002, the total fertility rate (TFR) in Palestine of 5.9 children per woman was more than twice as high as in Israel (2.9), which is reflected in their respective rates of natural increase (3.5% annually versus 1.5%). The TFR in the Gaza Strip was one of the highest in the world at 6.6 births per woman (2001). Similar trends can be seen within Israel: Jewish women have a TFR of 2.6 compared with 4.7 for Muslim women (2001).

Look, the basic fact I've been pointing to is a matter of demographics, of simple science, of the most obvious kinds of extrapolations, accepted pretty much on all sides by rational parties. Why are you even trying to spin this obvious demographic problem away? What is even the point? At about 2050, give or take, there will be more non-Jews than Jews in Israel proper. How is your spin today going to stop that fact tommorrow?

Really, some of you supporters of Israel seem so deeply in denial that it just takes my breath away.

Yes, you can pretend that today there is no problem. But tommorrow comes. And tommorrow, Israel must choose either to be a democracy or a Jewish state. And if it were to choose to be a democracy, it would become powerfully NON-Jewish, literally with a vengeance.

You can deal or not deal. Obviously, you choose not to, but I have no idea what it gains you -- it sure isn't do anything for your kids if you have them.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 6, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Just to respond a bit to the precise point Kevin made in his post, I do think that discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict IS mostly fruitless on blogs.

But one reason I favor pointing out the existential moral dilemma facing Israel in the future is that it really IS a matter of science and fact that that day will come. How can any rational person pretend it will turn out otherwise, having seen the numbers?

And it is always striking to me how decisively this fact shuts up the Israel-Right-or-Wrongers. What can they say? They have NEVER, in all my discussions of this issue, come up with anything approaching a satisfactory response. There is indeed simply nothing to say.

They are waiting for the hangman, and they know it. It will be the end of their claims of any moral stature.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 7, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

The Palestinian Territories, comprised of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, operate under a transitional government. In 2002 they had a population of 3.4 million people. About one-third of the population lived in the Gaza Strip (slightly larger than Delaware), while the remainder lived in the West Bank (twice the size of Washington, DC).

Jews currently make up just over half of the population of the region, but due to high birth rates, Arabs will become a clear majority within twenty years. In 2020, the region will be home to about 6.4 million Jews and 8.5 million Arabs.

By 2050, the Palestinian Territories are projected to have approximately 11.2 million individuals, compared with Israels 11.0 million.

From your own link the numbers indicate Palestinian territories to include the West Bank and Gaza, not Israel proper. I am not trying to spin just get out the facts. Israel proper today consist of 80% jewis nad 20 % non jewish. I don't see how you can say that by 2050 Isarael will be majority non Jewish.

Frankly, it seems the only one spinning here is you.

Israel is a country of laws with a court system that that has a secular court, a Jewish court and a non-jewish court. Israel tries to accomodate the diversity within it borders. this can not be said for it's neighbors.

Posted by: berlins on January 7, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that Israel is an island in a sea of Arabs is nothing new. I suggest you read The Arab-Israeli Wars by Chaim Herzog for another perspective on the situation.

Posted by: berlins on January 7, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Look, berlins, what are you seriously trying to argue here, that in fact from now until eternity the Jews are going to be a majority within Israel proper? Is that your argument? The problem Jews in Israel have, demographically, is that the growth of the Jewish population in the past was MOSTLY fed by large scale immigration -- immigration that has stopped. The birth rate of Muslims in Israel, according to the quoted passage above, is not far from double that of Jews. How do you get around greater exponential growth? It's certainly possible that the exact date of the end of Jewish population will not be 2050 -- but how does that matter? The hangman is coming.

Really, your argument is incoherent. Your blathering on about diversity within its borders is utterly irrelevant. Being an island within a sea of Arabs is irrelevant, if there are more Arabs than Jews within Israel proper.

Your problem is that, within a few decades, you can't both have democracy and a Jewish state in Israel.

I had said earlier that I have never gotten anything like a responsive response from an Israel-Right-or-Wronger. Your "response" is exactly a case in point.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 7, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

It's certainly possible that the exact date of the end of Jewish population will not be 2050

Should of course be

It's certainly possible that the exact date of the end of Jewish population majority will not be 2050

Posted by: frankly0 on January 7, 2006 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

I guess my point is that you have distorted the numbers. The Gaza strip and the West Bank are not Israeli proper. Immigration to Israel has not stopped, and Israel is a democracy with voting rights for all of its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

Posted by: berlins on January 7, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

My, my, some of the comments here! Where to begin?

Monty: "What we're talking about (or, more precisely, not talking about) is the fear of having the 'Anti-Semite' albatross being hung around one's neck." I write this in fear of having the opposite albatross being hung around mine.

Jimm: "The U.S. has the ability, with our Security Council partners, to compel a solution. . . . The conflict has gone on too long, and it's time to put a fairly immediate stop to it." This is not far from the logic that got us into Vietnam or Iraq. We cannot necessarily impose a Pax Americana.

koreyel: "Where did the Palestinians mostly live before there was an official state of Israel?" His probable answer: what is now Israel with the occupied territories. Correct answer: What is now Jordan.

koreyel: "Were they asked to move? Or were they made to move?" Correct answer: some of both.

koreyel: "What sort of compensation was given?" Question in response: What sort of compensation was given to the equal number of Jewish refugees who fled Arab lands for Israel in and shortly after 1948?

Maunga: "Zionists (not the same as 'the Jews') claim they are the equivalent of the Indians, and the real difficulty is that they were, and are, not." Actually, the first modern census of Jerusalem in 1844 showed that there were more Jews than Christians or Moslems, and historically, the Jewish people never abandoned the Holy Land.

Powerpuff: "I certainly do have an opinion about all of the aid the US sends to Israel, allowing Israel to stay on the offensive rather than seeking a resolution to the conflict." Israel has sought and continues to seek a resolution to the conflict. Like any other country, Israel is sometimes guilty of moral transgressions, but never forget that Hamas and other Palestinian organizations remain committed in 2006 to the total destruction of Israel.

baked: "Israel's apartheid security wall": This muddles the issue of the part of the wall that follows pre-1967 borders with other parts of the wall that illegitimately separate Palestinians from their farms, livelihoods, and each other. The part that follows pre-1967 borders can no more be considered "apartheid" than any international border control, such as between the U.S. and Mexico.

Buddy: "Obviously, the abuse will come chiefly from zionists." In the progressive media, there's far more abuse the other way. Pacifica Radio indulges the wildest pro-Palestinian rants and offers no opportunity to anyone to challenge even their most ridiculous statements. (This is not to say that nothing on Pacifica about the Middle East is correct. Many of their criticisms of Israel are reasonable and fair. It is merely to say which side is favored and which side is shut out of the debate.) Pacifica is not unique; there are plenty of progressive media outlets that share this pattern.

Sofia: "Howard Dean's fall was immediately preceded by two comments." Ahem, Howard Dean's fall was precipitated by a media frenzy about a scream — a tone of voice that was entirely appropriate under the circumstances. His statements about the Middle East contributed little if anything to the drop in his campaign.

FranklyO: "it might be worthwhile to contemplate all the tremendous strides that have been made toward peace and harmony since the 1967 war, now close to 40 years ago." How about these: 1978: Israel-Egypt peace treaty. 1994: Israel-Jordan peace treaty. 2005: Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on January 7, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

It's frustrating because everyone knows the answer, but no one can make it happen. Israel has to get back to the 67 borders or else negotiate compensation.

But Israel will never get out of East Jerusalem; and there's no compensation that any legitimate Palestinian leadership would accept.

Maybe someone can imagine an American president telling Israel to give up the Temple Mount; but I can't.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 7, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Just raise the name of Rachel Corrie and watch the shit fly.

Posted by: moe99 on January 7, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

In the details of our belief system, we liberals are being torn apart like the candy at an old fashioned taffy pull.

Genetics, evolution biology, neuroscience, all are calling into question one of our most cherished viewsthat all people spring from the womb more or less the same and it is only culture and opportunity that makes the races and sexes different. But nearly every new scientific discovery or study shoots another nail into the sameness doctrine. It is becoming clear that group characteristics can be described. In large part we are the way we are because we were born that way. So what is a liberal to do now?

Then there's the Israel question. So many Jewish liberals, so wonderfully involved in labor and civil rights struggles. Are we betraying them by questioning whether supporting one theocracy against others is a viable idea in the 21st century?

It has happened many times before, friends. Whole widely accepted social themes have been overturned in the blink of an eye. The process has always been shot through with the wailing and gnashing of teeth of those who refuse to give up previous ways of thinking.

If you really want to serve, Kevin, you will not avoid, but dive into these topics that cause the loudest discussions because these are the areas of really dynamic and far-reaching change.

As for the future of liberalism, embracing change with a scientist's acceptance of truth, even though it challenges our dogmas, has always been one of our distinguishing characteristics, which is why the liberals always win in the long run and evolution of consciousness happens. Whatever it turns out to be, the truth shall set us free.

Posted by: James of DC on January 7, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Rubenstein, for you own cause, don't mess with me. I will undress you.

Posted by: Jimm on January 7, 2006 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

I don't give a god damn about Israel's demographics. If Israel thinks they will prolong a situation that threatens American liberty, and the Constitution the U.S. military is sworn to defend, then Israel gets puts in its place.

I'm not fucking kidding.

Posted by: Jimm on January 7, 2006 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Sheldon and Mike K, there you go, uttering Zionist-manufacturd "facts" again.

Zionism is a European manufacrture. "Israel" is a completely manufacture. Israel was a "country", and organized society, in the north of Palestine, inhabited by people who were a mixture of Canaanite, Assyrians, Philistines, Arameans. what became Judaea wasd inhabited by completely unorganized, societally, semi-nomadic tribesmen. The Old Testament was cobbled together from ancient legend and made-up "history". There is thus no historic justification for the existence of Israel. (For starters, read Ms Doxer 'The View From Mt Nebo', and Finkelstein's 'The Bible Unearthed'.)
One of you pointed out the similarity of the amounts in aid given to Israel and Egypt. You do know, don't you, that Egypt's population is about 20 times that of Israel, and the land mass about the same amount bigger. I think, too, that Egypt's loans are not "forgiven" every year as are Israel's.

I should still like to hear how Europeans and Americans consider themselves justified in throwing out the continual, indigenous, inhabitants of Palestine for the sake of Jews descended from emigrants (BTW many European Jews are descended from converts.)

Why should the Palestinians have acquiesced in any immigration at all? Why should they have accepted any imposed "solution". It has always been their territory.

Someone has suggested that just adherence to 242 and 338 is unlikely to lead to complete peace. That is darn right, now, but it very likely would have, along with right of return, in 1967, when the Resolutions were passed.

BTW --- USS Liberty was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force in 1967, not 1956. It was listening to the Israeli Army murdering captured Egyptiasn soldiers because they could not be bothered to feed them.

I think that in 1956 the US was already supporting Israel. However, JF Dulles's chief motive in shaping the US stance concerning "Suez" was to piss in the ear of France and Britain, that he cared little for anything else but the golden opportunity proffered.

Posted by: maunga on January 7, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Being fundamentally a structural economic determinist, I believe that those who want the Palestinians to be better off should raise the billions of dollars needed to build an artificial harbor for Gaza. Also a Japanese style offshore airport island for Gaza would be a nice touch. Of course, part of the effect of these improvements will be increased Palestinian immigration to places like France and Sweden, but what's wrong with that?

Israel's much maligned "wall" is probably going to lower the manpower that Israel has to devote to internal security, a plus for economic efficiency. The wall between the Turkish and Greek peoples on Cyprus kept the peace and allowed prosperity to flourish on both sides. The Berlin Wall was more one-sided economically, in that it highlighted the inability of Bolshevism to produce acceptable consumer goods (but they did crank out some fairly good affordable weapons) but when a wall shows up the deficiencies on one side or the other, the point is taken and the wall comes down.

If I were dictator of the world, Gaza would get a big desalinization plant as well. Nothing spruces up a neighborhood more quickly that the availability of lots of fresh water. I'm not too sure what the West Bank needs, but more fresh water would probably be appreciated.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 7, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Good morning,

Maunga,
Since the Soviet Union supported Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan their debt was forgiven by the Soviet Union in exchange for fighting a proxy war with the US who by the 1967 war had Israel fighting a proxy war for us. Egypt was forgiven $8 billion in 1991 by the US and debt forgivness continues to this day. Also, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries outside the Middle-East have also received debt releif of US backed loans.
The Egyptian Population is alittle over 10 times the size of Israel 70 mil to 7 mil.

Why should the Palestinians have acquiesced in any immigration at all?
I would ask the Arab countries who in 1948 told them to leave so that they could push the Zionists into the sea and then take all the land. The UN Plan called for a 2 state solution that the Jew were willing to live with and the Arabs could not. In the 1948 war in which the Jews were greatly outnumbered in men and machine, they wanted peace but would not lay down and be massacred. The 700,000 or so "Palestinians" who left were encouraged to do so by the Arab countries. The 600,000 or so Jews from the surrounding Arab countries were also encouraged to leave by the surrounding Arab countries, and it is interesting to note that in Syria, Lebenon, Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Iran and Iraq you won't find more than about 11,000 Jews, whereas in Isreal proper the Arab Muslim population alone numbers over 1 million. I don't see the Jews pushing Arabs out of Israel.

A return to the 1967 borders is unlikely to happen for a number of reasons not all attributed to Israel. The Temple Mount was captured by Moshe Dyan in the 1967 war and Dyan made sure that it was not destroyed and that Muslims would retain control of the Area. You don't find that happening in any Arab controlled territory. The Arabs in Israel have more freedoms than arabs have in Arab countries that is ironic don't you think?

There is thus no historic justification for the existence of Israel.
Is this some kind of rewiting of history.
There is ample evidence of the existence of Israel and Judea from Roman records of the times as well as Jewish and Arab records and to deny this is really the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

Posted by: berlins on January 7, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Deluded bigots like Maunga are exactly why people don't like blogging about Israel.

Posted by: fiat lux on January 7, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

"As usual, Dr MikeyK is full of misinformation - The Eisenhower Administration pulled the funding for Eqypt's Aswan Dam because Eqypt recognized the People's Republic of China. I guess when one is so busy denying work comp claims, it is hard to keep track of world events.

Posted by: thethirdPaul"

Actually, the Egyptian recognition was part of Nasser's realignment. It didn't do him a lot of good.

As you are a self-proclaimed expert you are no doubt aware of John Foster Dulles dying words said to a British official who was visiting his bedside. The subject of the American threats to the British and French attempt to retake the canal came up. Dulles said he regretted that they had withdrawn and allowed Nasser to consolidate his regime. The British official said "We withdrew because you ordered us to do so." Dulles is said to have replied: "Why did you listen to us ?"

I'm still surprised at the anti-Israel sentiment. I wonder when Jews who support Israel will realize this.

Posted by: Mike K on January 7, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I must take umbrage at Maunga's mangling of the Old Testament. Clearly, parts of Genesis were borrowed from Persian stories. The rest of the O.T. is pretty much a straight-up literary narrative of a thoughtful,record-keeping nomadic people trying to make sense of their ups and downs from the point of view that they were in or out of favor with unseen powers (an extremely common ancient point of view.)

Abraham started Jewish history by migrating from southern Mesopotamia about 2100 B.C.E. He took his tribe (probably a few hundred extended family members and slaves and the flocks and slowly migrated to Canaan. Abraham really coveted Canaan, but it was firmly occupied by Phoenician peoples and Abraham's bunch were so marginalized they couldn't either afford or were allowed to buy land, and by about 1900 B.C.E.
a drought forced the drastic measure of moving to Egypt.

The interesting thing about the sojourn in Egypt is that the Hebrews apparently did quite well as guest workers, but the Egyptians made no effort to assimilate them. More interestingly yet, the written history from Abraham's time kept alive the covetous dream of a place for Abram's bones back in Canaan. This dream of the "promised land" acted so powerfully on the Hebrews that the majority were eventually persuaded to pack up and follow Moses on a really crazy adventure.

The audacity of the "escape" sometimes overshadows the amazing fact that the Hebrews worked up the urge to undertake it at all. There really is no evidence that Pharoah was intolerably persecuting them. Pharoah probably originally convinced to grant permission for them to leave because he couldn't imagine they would actually do it. Why would anyone leave the lush Nile delta to risk everything on the venture of conquering Canaan, which as the crossroads of the ancient world was not only very well fortified, but all the border cities had alliances with interior cities to call up reinforcements against invasion.

Pharoah realized he had made a mistake once Moses and his horde were actually on the road. Realizing the international consequences of his rash decision to let them go, Pharoah tried to un-do his mistake by pursuing them. This gave Moses a real problem. He must have originally calculated that he could confront the Southern frontier cities of Canaan and overwhelm them before reinforcements arrived. But with Egypt's army hot on his tail that would never work--the Hebrews would be caught between two forces and crushed.
So, here is where the first great miracle of the O.T. comes in, the Red Sea parted somehow and the Hebrews escaped the trap. Basically, they made it to Yemen and took over. Any sensible people would have been happy with that, as they would have the ancient coffee trade cornered.

But Yemen wasn't enough. Following the basically natalist precepts of the 10 Commandments, the Hebrew numbers began to swell prodigiously. After two generations, they had enough fighting men they could actually think of marching up the ancient trade route directly to the east of the Dead Sea and attacking Jericho.

But once again, we have to marvel at this project. The eastern route to Jericho was a horrible one to take nearly a million people over. Little water, less food, and an ancient fortress at the end, once again protected by alliances so that it would have to be taken quickly or not at all before reinforcements arrived.

They did it. What a crazy people. Well, must go to work or I would tell of how the Hebrews then held on to the crossroads of the world more or less successfully until the Romans came along. It is really interesting why the zealots and the Romans just could not get along.....

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 7, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Berlins and Joel Rubinstein

To both of you, just not true.
1967 was not a "proxy war". Israel went to war when the tunnel from the confluence of the Yarmouk and Jordan was finished. It was not proxy on either side's behalf. Jordan was not funded/armed by Russia (but was armed by Britain --paid for), but Egypt and Syria certainly were as the US, Britain and France had armed Israel, though Britain and France had been paid for the weaponry.

Sadly, the strident Zionist warping propaganda you have both written is what you yourselves have been told.

Israel is forgiven its debt every year, Berlins, not just 'in 1991'! i think it was $18bn in 2003.

The Palestinians never agreed to Jewish immigration.

The Jewish settlers did not agree to the "Two States" partition, (Jerusalem to be International, under UN government, remember?) hour-glass shape proposed by the General Assembly --- another lie.

Your intellectual dishonesty, Berlins, not mine. You have warped and distorted the truth. For example, "the Romans" did not exist when the Old Testament, all lies, was written.

Did you read my earlier post? ---- You really ought to read Finkelstein, 'The Bible Unearthed'. He is a professor and Director of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University.

There is indeed evidence of the existence of Israel: it is just that Judaeans/Hebrews were nothing to do with it, politically, administratively, genetically. It existed and was subsumed by the Assyrians before the Judaeans were any sort of cohesive group.

Joel, ------ 1844. I just do not think that is true, but I shall investigate.

The Palestinians lived in Palestine up until 1948, not in Jordan. I wonder just how many Palestinian refugee camps both of you have been into, and not at the end of a gun, since 1948? Just how many members of the Palestinian Diaspora have you read, sat with, lived amongst. You the Zionist lobby is awfully keen on the hand-wringing "Look how hard we were done by". In view of Titus' appalling efficiency in massacring the Jews in 70-77AD, it is clear that most of the Jews alive today are descended from Jews of 70-77AD who had already emigrated, voluntarily. The Palestinian Diaspora was not, and is not, voluntary aprt from the minute number who perhaps were not intimidated into selling to Zionist immigrants.

Sadly, I have not yet myself met someone Jewish who is entirely free of propaganda, though there are considerable numbers I know, because I have read what they have written.

BTW, the first record of 'pushing the Jewish settlers into the sea' was Jewish radio: "The Arabs are going to push you into the sea unless you fight" (1947)

Any comment from you guys about the War Criminal Prime Minister and the two self-admitted murdering terrorist ones, Begin and Shamir together with the two fellow-travellers, ben Gurion and Meir??????


Posted by: maunga on January 7, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

One of the first times I ever commented at a blog was at Talk Left, where I said something nice about the website then said I did not like it that they had pulled/censored a news story that apparently someone had complained had a very subtle remark that questioned Israeli militancy. Not only did Talk Left censor the story, they stopped all comments about it and censored my comment, only leaving in my compliment. I have had a rather negative view of TL ever since, but I think their/her action was taken to avoid the flaming rhetoric and corresponding repercussions from the law profession.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 7, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

So Kevin is admitting that he and Yglesias are cowards? There is now a mainstream blogosphere, and just like the mainstream media, all the writers are more concerned with reputation and career than with moving the debate forward.

Kevin Drum = Matt Yglesias = coward

I see the comments Republican partisans make that many of the Democrats supported the Iraq war not because they thought it was necessary or just or even in the best interest of the US, but because they felt they needed to look strong, and that, even if it was the correct policy, not supporting the war would make them look weak. I have no sympathy for the Democratic party because it is true, and I find the defenses mounted against this accusation either amusing or infuriating depending on my mood.

In a similar vein, every time I read another blogger talking about Kevin Drum angling for an op-ed position at a newspaper I know it is true. Only it doesn't amuse me, at least not yet (it'll come later). It's been sad to see the old adage that everything that becomes mainstream is defanged and declawed, becoming unthreatening to the status quo in any real way. In terms of their willingness to challenge the underlying beliefs our society operates under, there is no difference at all between Kevin Drum and the columnists in any major newspaper. The delivery format is different; the ability to correct and update is better; the comments functionality is there (I'm using it). But the only reason why Kevin isn't more milquetoast and cowardly is that his audience isn't bigger. If it was, he would be.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler on January 7, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

"I think that in 1956 the US was already supporting Israel. However, JF Dulles's chief motive in shaping the US stance concerning "Suez" was to piss in the ear of France and Britain, that he cared little for anything else but the golden opportunity proffered.

Posted by: maunga "

I don't think that's true but let's assume it is.

Why would anyone think I am repeating
"Zionist talking points."

Sheldon and Mike K, there you go, uttering Zionist-manufacturd "facts" again.

Here he is in full view.

"Zionism is a European manufacrture. "

As opposed to what ? A Jewish manufacture ? I hear they are pretty good at that.

"Israel" is a completely manufacture. Israel was a "country", and organized society, in the north of Palestine, inhabited by people who were a mixture of Canaanite, Assyrians, Philistines, Arameans. what became Judaea wasd inhabited by completely unorganized, societally, semi-nomadic tribesmen. The Old Testament was cobbled together from ancient legend and made-up "history". There is thus no historic justification for the existence of Israel. (For starters, read Ms Doxer 'The View From Mt Nebo', and Finkelstein's 'The Bible Unearthed'.)"

An expert has appeared !

So these folks were primitive. How about Gaza today ? Is that primitive ?

"One of you pointed out the similarity of the amounts in aid given to Israel and Egypt. You do know, don't you, that Egypt's population is about 20 times that of Israel, and the land mass about the same amount bigger. I think, too, that Egypt's loans are not "forgiven" every year as are Israel's."

That is news. I thought the existence of matching loans was to encourage Arab countries to join the 20th century. I know that's tough.

"I should still like to hear how Europeans and Americans consider themselves justified in throwing out the continual, indigenous, inhabitants of Palestine for the sake of Jews descended from emigrants (BTW many European Jews are descended from converts.)"

How do you justify the expulsion of Jews who have lived in Arab countries for 2 millennia because a country they are not citizens of defeated Arab countries that invaded them voicing an intention to commit genocide ?

"Why should the Palestinians have acquiesced in any immigration at all? Why should they have accepted any imposed "solution". It has always been their territory."

And here I thought it was Ottoman territory and the Ottoman Empire lost the war. Silly me.

"Someone has suggested that just adherence to 242 and 338 is unlikely to lead to complete peace. That is darn right, now, but it very likely would have, along with right of return, in 1967, when the Resolutions were passed."

Does losing a war you started mean anything to you ? Shall the Czechs return Sudetenland to Germany ? How about France returning Calais to Britain ? Charles Martel was obviously racist. Shall France give everything south of Lyon to the Arabs ? How about kicking out that coward Zapatero and installing Ghaddafi in Spain ? After all, the Muslims had it first.

"BTW --- USS Liberty was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force in 1967, not 1956. It was listening to the Israeli Army murdering captured Egyptiasn soldiers because they could not be bothered to feed them."

So I guess we didn't become Zionists until 1968. Right ?

"I think that in 1956 the US was already supporting Israel. However, JF Dulles's chief motive in shaping the US stance concerning "Suez" was to piss in the ear of France and Britain, that he cared little for anything else but the golden opportunity proffered.

Posted by: maunga"

If we were supporting them in 56, why would they bomb us in 67 ?

Those Jews ! You just can't trust them. Right ? Right ? Right ?

Posted by: Mike K on January 7, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

As I was saying, the Hebrews held on to the crossroads of the world for about a thousand years (enduring occasional subjugation and even the exile of their upper classes once, which was probably when the Persian stories were acquired.)
Curiously, though, the Hebrews somehow resisted cultural assimilation even though Phillistines and then Greeks lived around and among them, along with countless other flotsam and jetsam groups passing through.
Well, there was this prophecy thing going on in the Torah. Somehow prophecy holds people together. When the Romans first arrived, the first Herods were apparently more than able to get along, even prosper, as a wing of the new empire. Clearly, a number of residents of Jerusalem were attracted to the Roman idea of taking a bath every day and the Greek idealization of the human body.
But then something changed. It might have been the Romans themselves. Their formula for building an empire had been relatively tolerant in regard to societies that swore allegiance to Rome. Many citizens of the Empire, such as the apostle Paul, were actually Roman citizens, a privilege of some value.
Two forces seemed to be on a collision course--the increasing boldness and zealotry of the Sicarii (Jewish dagger men who assassinated and kidnapped for profit) and the increasing greed of Rome itself, which reportedly would eventually use the plunder from the sack of Herod's temple to finance the fabulous Colliseum.
Consequently the ultimate Hebrew tragedy unfolded, they were dispersed from the promised land.
Two very curious things about that--the Hebrews were scattered as two religions, one of which eagerly proselytized among the pagans and one of which turned inward and seemed to cease welcoming non-Hebrews into synagogues, at least in comparison with earlier periods.
Once in Europe, Christianity went on to become dominant, but the Jews clung to older traditions fixated upon a "promised land" that had been conquered, kept for a millenium, then lost.
I have treated the Old Testament as essentially an interesting social history, which it is, but there is also something else going on in it, something that it shares with the New Testament, and that is prophecy. Ominous prophecy which evokes dreams of national destiny, in fact.
And this is important because it is where modern day Christian evangelicals get back on board with Zionism. Of course prophecy is a completely non-rational, non-Western style thinking phenomenon. There is, however, a certain allure to it because of the curious way present day Zionism has succeeded despite extreme odds. It's kind of like crescendo in an opera, it gets your attention.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 7, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Two more curious coincidences lend a kind of haunting support to the prophecy theme: for two thousand years basically nothing archeological was found found that shed any light whatsoever on the King James version of the Bible.

But then came W.W.II, in which several interesting things happened. First, Nazism came along and in a brief, furious burst (as I paraphrase a dimly remembered quote from Himmler)
"If we accomplished nothing else, we will be celebrated for removing the Jews."

Secondly, the first weapon of mass destruction was created and field tested.

AND then and only then, after thousands of years, at Nag Hammadi in Gaza in a shallowly buried jar another Christian-era gospel was discovered. A year later, at Qumran, the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in an open cave.

The Nag Hammadi gospel was apparently composed about 250 years after the traditional gospels. It contains previously unknown homilistic sayings attributed to Jesus which were apparently circulating in Palestine at the time, and a lot of gnostic philosophy which had been sifted out of the Bible at the Council of Nicea because (1)It was more Persian than Hebrew with its talk of demi-urges and such and (2) the complex deep philosophy, while appealing to the educated classes, only got in the way of what the Council wished the Bible to do--proclaim to the unsaved world the good news that Jesus died to purchase their salvation eternally.

The Qumran documents we think were produced by the Essenes. To me the most interesting thing about them is that they do puncture the myth that various translations of the Torah have drifted in meaning. The translations are amazingly congruent with the Dead Sea Scrolls. We see that the documents are virtually word-for-word with what has come down through the centuries. As for definitions of a word drifting, we are aided by the fact that hundreds of years before Christ Hebrew elders made a concentrated and considerable effort to translate the Torah into the newly-unified (at Aristotle's urging) Greek language. Early Christian accounts went directly into Greek. Later on Christian monks preserved a lot of Greek
writings during the so-called Dark Ages, so we have a fair idea of the context in which many Greek words were frequently used.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 8, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

I have been changing continents.

Mike K. The Liberty............. There is a book "The Assault on the Liberty", but just look up USS Liberty on Google and take it from there. In the Near and Middle East it was taken as a given that the Lobby told told Lyndon Johnson to "Suck it up about the Liberty" or funding would be shortened, and that that was why there were no sanctions against Israel.

Israel started the ar in 1947/8, that of 1956, and that of 1967, but not the one it lost until the US broke its NATO agreement and re-supplied from from NATO, in 1973. In view of the utterly artificially loaded support for Israel in money and materiel, I am not altogether sure it is a very good argument just to say "Who won, then?" Especially not a good idea, probably, in view of the emotions surrounding the particular territory, of those Christian and Moslem who separately and together are a lot more numerous than the Jews........ not to mention the geography of the area, it still being a trading crossroads.

I wonder, Mike, if you know that we Europeans acquired clothes made from nice materials, delicate cooked meals and our early architecture, ----- Norman, Gothic and so on, from Islam, especially from Cordoba? Our numbers come from Islam, too, along with mathematics as we know it. We, of course, in the US are trying to turn ourselves back into scruffs in any old clothing and a people who tear into their food in their hands. (Been watching food ads on the TV lately, Mike? When the actors do use utensils you can tell they are not used to it, and use them like axs!)

You sneer at the Arabs, Mike, which is pathetic. People who live in etc....... how about our wonderful crime and murder rates Mike? How about the fact that about 14% of the ealth in the US is owned by women but that it is about 50% in Sa'udi Arabia. In the mid-1970s, Mike, I saw about 250 gold bars stacked on a sidewalk in Riyadh, and no one stole them from the weedy youth who was more or less keeping an eye on them.

In the 50s and 60s Mike, up to 1967, when I was in the that neighbourhood, just about every UN person in Palestine, and there were about 35 nationalities, lived on the Jordanian side of the border because they found the Arab side more civilized!

BTW Mike, the US lost in 1812: should Britain have taken you back as a rssult?

The argument is with Zionism, Mike, not "those Jews", and about the harm done to this country and its position in the world as a result of its having listened to the Zionist Lobby.

Michael L Cook. Dear, dear! You seem not have understood that the Old Testament is a work of fiction, and political fiction at that! Judaea sprang to life in the 7th Century BC, after Israel had been dismantled as an entity by the Assyrians and refugees/immigrants from that ordered society arrived in the mountainous, rather poor but safe territory to their south. Before that Judaea was inhabited by unorganized tribesmen. So not a thousand years, only 300 before Titus. There was no "assimilation", because Judaea was a very small part of Palestine, so it behoved them to assimilate with the other tribes. BTW, is it not interesting that there is next to no mention in the Old Testament of all that rolling land down to the sea. It is, of course, because it was not their terrotiry, ever. They were always in the inhospitable, hard-scrabble hills.

There has been no evidence whatsoever found in Palestine, or Ur for that matter for the existence of Abraham, despite very strenuous looking. There may be some somewhere, of course, but it is just not in Palestine.

There is much Egyptian record from long times either side of the purported period in Egypt, but there is no mention of Hebrews or any other band of Canaanites, though there would be, if they had been there. Since they were not in Egypt at all, there was thus no Moses, so you will understand why there is no mention of their leaving Egypt again, in any sort of numbers, let alone thousands or your "nearly a million", because there are very good Egyptian records of border crossings again over a wide period either side of the purported Hebrew travels led by the purported Moses. The archeologists are clever enough nowadays to detect encapments in the Sina'i as long ago as that, and there were none!

Neither David nor Solomon built anything that has been found, and I am sure you will agree that if they had it would have been found by now. Mt Nebo is Mt Nebo, and it almost certainly appears in the Old Testament as an attempt to add credibility to the purported history, by attaching the Judaeans to the ancient holy mountain. All one can see from Mt Nebo is a few acres of Jordan Valley south of modern Jericho, and some extremely inhospitable eastern facing hills.

You are a tad breath-taking about the later period, too, Michael L. The residents of Judaea, Hebrew, Jew and others, were subjects of someone else more powerful pretty well the whole time after the area became an ordered society, IE, with an administration, means of distribution, taxes! ----- Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, right up to the destruction by Titus. Did you read elsewhere that today's Jewish inhabitants of Palestine are probably descended entirely from violuntary emigrants from before Titus of 70-77AD? You see, Titus made an almost complete job of exterminating the Jews who lived in Palestine, so there were no residents from whom they can be descended.

Michael L, follow the facts, man.

Posted by: maunga on January 8, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Maunga, your revisionist version of settled history you must take very seriously, but what kind of archeological record do you expect a nomadic people to make with their camps? Logically, they would never have camped anywhere except where many other travelers have camped before or since, and that is where fresh water and forage was available. When the Hebrews left Ur, they would have been indistinguishable from other folks living there at the time, they would not have left calling cards saying "someday we will be Hebrews."

Accepting everything you claim at face value, however, requires one to believe that Hebrews never really conquered Jericho and then divided up the land among the tribes (leaving Dan out for a few generations as no land was available.) Why then, centuries later, were the remnants of the tribes still bickering over how the spoils were split and what was slipping away?

Believe it or not, there is rather a lot of scientific Biblical scholarship devoted to puzzling out authorship of each O.T. book, with no evidence whatsoever to suggest a flurry of basically creating a self-agrandizing history for the Hebrews out of whole cloth in the 7th century B.C.E. Whoever wrote that material you read has prospered from the Karen Armstrong formula--which is to say any outrageous lie you want as long as it is critical of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy and a certain type of reader will lap it up and book sales will soar. It's like creating one's own weather--the reward of telling people what they want to hear and claiming it is scholarship.

Your statement that Titus exterminated everyone has some holes in it. Christian-leaning Hebrews (the faiths really had not pulled apart yet) were particularly adept at making off to Syria and Turkey, where they found plenty of traditional Hebrews with whom to debate. When Paul took off on his missionary journeys he not only found synagogues everywhere he went, one of his main charity fund-raising programs was to raise money to send back to impoverished Christians still living in Jerusalem a generation after Titus allegedly exterminated the original inhabitants.

I didn't claim that the Hebrews had political dominance over the whole area of Palestine for a thousand years. That came and went, as very well described in the O.T. What they did more or less have was continuity of culture.

I suspect that genetic archeology will someday shed a lot of light on some questions you raise.
If you have heard of memes and memetics, I might suggest that these could be the pathway of the transmission of "Jewishness" down the ages, if DNA tracing should be impractical.

And no trace of anything built by David was left, you say? All the Bible claims is that David built a temple. It doesn't say it was built of stone. Had it been built of stone, it would have been destroyed and the stones were undoubtedly used in other construction, or in the second temple built after the exiles returned
from Damascus and compeleted their first great project, rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.

Are you suggesting maybe that someone before the fall of the Northern Kingdom described in Isaiah invented Moses and the rest of the lot? Which king was the first fake after Solomon? Jeroboam?
Johoshaphat? Ahaz?

Solomon did leave one enormous heritage more durable than stone, and that was his unique writing style and point of view. Whoever he was (almost certainly one author) he certainly was a great encyclopaedist and poet. He must have had the leisure time to get it together that few outside of a royal palace could manage. Many Christians today aren't crazy about Solomon because he seemed a bit too depressed about either the ability of worldly success or knowledge to make life seem fulfilling.
If King David is a fiction, he certainly is a compelling one, because he was manufactured warts and all.
In short, Maunga, all this hot new scholarship you are taking as gospel strikes me as a bunch
of wild, undigested speculation. Cite some names so I can look at it. I also would like to see more on the accuracy of Egyptican border records, for instance if they did not become political propaganda themselves when embarassing things happened.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 8, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair, if I had to yield ground on anything, it would be Moses, but will not do that willingly for the reason that the Egyptians were notorious for politically correcting everything, including chiseled in stone stuff.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 8, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Not to change the subject: but what was the role of Israel in getting us into the socalled "war on terror" in Iraq? Where not the neocons all jews? Just what was the role of the Israeli secret police in the run up to the war in this country other than bugging EVERYBODY and the UN? Read the PNAC and tell me what gives. Is everybody afraid to offend the jewish lobbies and are our young people fighting and dieing in Iraq for a little bit of jewish reasons? Think about it? It has been said that the only good indian is a dead indian, might this also be said of the jews? Chief Joseph

Posted by: JoeSmoke on January 8, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

SA writes: "It is really all about the oil. Everything the USA does in the middle east is about the oil."

Please explain why, if this is true, the US hasn't thrown Israel over the side long ago? Certainly, the Arabists in the State Department have for the past 40-50 years been urging the US to abandon support for Israel and tilt towards the Arabs as a way of currying favor with the biggest oil producers in the world. If oil were the only thing that mattered, that's what we'd do. Why do you think we haven't done so?

Posted by: DBL on January 9, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

AIPAC.

Posted by: Anon on January 9, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Michael L ............ Read back through my postings: I named two source books for you to read. This is not revisionist, but the result of sound historo-archaeological search and study by, among others, the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. Finkelstein and Silberman -- The Bible Unearthed, and Doxer -- The View From Mt Nebo, are two I have named many times, but please read all my postings in this thread for some of the information.

Funny, if David's temple was wooden, the Wailing Wall is someone else's, is it. Just read the two books named above. You stumble by quoting the Old Testament as a source for your information as fact. It is not. What heritage of Solomon? Archaeological? There is none. Written? There is none.

Archaeology has indeed become clever snough to date the dteritus of encampments from 3,000 years ago. The difficulty is that there is none for anything like the numbers of people purported, not even 600 in a group, nor 60.

The Hebrews had no culture different from the other Canaanites, Michael, and before 700x BC there is no evidence whatsoever of any sort of cohesive "Hebrew" society, nor of any other group in the area later called Judah.

I wonder Michael L if you are an "Intelligent Designer" who is a Crestionist lurking behind the Intel. Des. title. It seems to me you must be to use the words "Scientific Biblical scholarship". The first two words are wonderful separate, but do not fit together. On the contrary, Michael, absolutely it was not one author, a notion almost universally now held by scholars, though there are religiosos who still maintain otherwise. One wonders why they do not go off to the Mormons.

BTW, Dan was not there when the non-existent Moses could not see over the hills into Palestine, nor Beersheba, so how could the equally non-existent Abraham have been hanging about BS one or two thousand years earlier?

BTW, there is a strong thought nowadays that since the known Essene sites were all defended it would seem they were not entirely peaceful. Indeed it would seem that the Zealots and the Essenes were the same outfit.

You support my point, I see, that there were many Jews who had emigrated when Titus exterminated the Jews resident in Judaea, that thus Jews of today are descended from people who had given up living in Judaea of their own volition.

Posted by: maunga on January 9, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Smoke and DBL

'Anon' beat me to it ---- AIPAC is the beginning and then look who owns the media? Reflect on the relentless propaganda we are subjected to.

When I went to that nbeighbourhood first, all the foreigners arrived expecting to live amongst the civilized Israelis, but everyone who could choose, and fortunately only a few US personnel had to live in Israel, lived amongst the Arabs.

The only country which benefits from a fragmented and non-saddam iraq is Israel. Perhaps one day americans will work out they were duped into a Proxy war in Iraq on israel's behalf.

BTW, Michael L ----- to give you a small window on me, Pere Roland de Vaux took me to Qumran on a personal one-man tour.

Posted by: maunga on January 9, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

The million-man army has always seemed to me to be a bit much, but Jericho has certainly been attacked a number of times and I seem to recall some claims of a good ransack at about the right time period?
Are you saying that Yemen was infertile, unpopulated, and that no one at all used the eastern caravan route to Syria?
"Scientific Biblical scholarship" mainly refers to the systematic literary analysis begun in Germany in the 19th century, carefully comparing grammar, writing styles, use of time specific references, and such.
I guess you are also saying that those who became the Hebrews were basically basically the impoverished hill billies who never had a grand kingdom period that would have been coincidental with David and Solomon. It is a pretty rare people who NEVER have a couple of good generations and are able to shake up their neighbors.
Anyhow, according to my trusty NIT version Bible Jerusalem began as the Canaanite city of Jebus, which David (assuming he existed) captured circa 1000 B.C.E. despite the then 12 acre town already having walls and tunnels dug down to an internal water source.
Besides, I am my own best authority on everything and to me the racy song book attributed to Solomon in the Christian O.T. sounds like something the laid-back son of a warrior king would get into. Putting aside the Goliath-slaying story, David also sounds like a fairly genuine up-and-comer, who may have even fought in some skirmishes on the Canaanite side and whose road to the throne of Judah was anything but easy in the 1 Samuel account, which the scholarship I mentioned thinks might be a compilation of four sources.
1st and 2nd Samuel are fairly involved history writing and NIT scholarship date them shortly after 930 B.C.E., when David died. To me these books seem plausible because they include embarassing warts of Hebrew history, such as losing the Ark to the Phillistines in battle (how can that happen to God, after all) and David's moral lapses. It is also clear that David struggled to hang on to control of Judah and to insure that Solomon would succeed him.

BTW, I see the Essenes as being more interested in cleansing the management of Herod's Temple and the zealots in driving out all corrupting cultural influences. The Essenes proper would have stayed pretty busy producing all that writing and a lot more that was carried back to Jerusalem as propaganda, plus just surviving in Qumran must have been a full time job. Those little ditches along the hillsides would have taken a lot of maintenance to keep water in them.

My impression of Judea at the time of John the Baptist and Jesus is that everyone, all the time, had to worry about security, especially when they were on the road. The zealots were probably less organized than the Essene community, but may have lived off them, like guerilla fighters live off the people. Certainly the remoteness of Qumran would have made it usefull as a "hole in the wall" hideout.

I envy you the personal tour of Qumran. I don't know if the wailing wall was part of Herod's temple or one of the earlier ones, or if anyone knows.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 10, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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