Sunday, July 02, 2006

Reluctant post about Israel/Palestine

"The territory now known as The West Bank formed the heart of ancient Israel and was the site of many significant events in Jewish history. Since ancient times, the area has been known as Judea and Samaria and was identified as such through the British Mandate period and by the United Nations. In the 9th Century BCE, Samaria (in the northern West Bank) was the capital of the Israelite Kingdom. Much of the Old Testament takes place in Judea and Samaria. While Gaza has less of a presence in the Bible, it does appear in the books of Joshua and Judges. From that time until partition, the West Bank and Gaza Strip were occupied by the Romans, the Ottomans and the British. The Gaza Strip, and particularly the West Bank, are rich in archeological remains of centuries of Jewish communal life.

The 1947 U.N. Partition Plan (UN Resolution 181) proposing an independent Arab state in Palestine alongside a Jewish state was rejected by the Arab states, which instead proceeded to invade the State of Israel hours after its establishment. In the ensuing war, Jordan occupied the West Bank (which it annexed in 1950) and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. For the next 19 years neither Egypt nor Jordan made any attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state in these territories. Indeed, these areas were relatively neglected in terms of economic and agricultural development.

In 1967 Israel gained control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (and at least one million Arabs) in the Six Day War. Israel immediately made clear that it would be ready to redeploy from territories in return for a peace agreement with its Arab neighbors. Israel's offer was rebuffed. As part of the Oslo process, Israel agreed to redeploy from Palestinian population centers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Beginning with the West Bank city of Jericho and a large portion of the Gaza Strip in May 1994, there were a series of Israeli redeployments totaling 40 percent of the West Bank and over 85 percent of the Gaza Strip, leaving 99 percent of the Palestinian population living under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. At Camp David in July 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak reportedly offered an Israeli withdrawal from as much as 95 percent of the West Bank, 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, and parts of Jerusalem. Chairman Arafat rejected this offer, argued that only a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines would be acceptable, and made no serious counter-offer.

In 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced a plan for Israel to unilaterally disengage from the Gaza Strip and some small settlements in the northern West Bank in order to further Israel’s political, security and demographic interests. The disengagement was approved by the Cabinet and Knesset and is set to begin in mid-August 2005." (quote from: Anti-Defamation League)

Many Palestinian leaders acknowledge that violence and terrorism don't accomplish their goals of their own Sovereign State. Israelis live with the fatalistic realization that every day could bring a terrorist attack. When these attacks occur (at schools, in crowded nightclubs, in front of grocery stores) Palestinians celebrate. This convinces Israelis that the Palestinians don't wish to negotiate a peaceful reconciliation. Israelis want to see that Palestinian leaders are serious about stopping the violence, despite the real frustrations of the Palestinian people.

Israel doesn't want to build empires, or rule the lives of the millions of Arab Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank. (This despite the illegal Jewish settlements built by Religious Jews -- but the Ultra Orthodox Jews don't recognize the state of Israel either, and that's a whole other topic.) In 1979, Israel willingly withdrew from the oil-rich Sinai Peninsula in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement with Egypt.

The violence and reactions simply have to stop. They must stop. Rational leaders on both sides realize this, and I am not sure they know how to exit this quagmire. I support a State of Israel, but would like to see Palestinians as full citizens. I would like to see Gaza and the West Bank as a Palestinian State, with Israelis allowed to live in peace. Someone MUST GO FIRST.


betmo said...

i don't generally get into a debate on this subject because it is generally a heated one- and right now i feel that there are bigger fish to fry here at home. i leave it to people who are more articulate on the subject to debate it. if you are interested- you can check out our post for peace that a group of us are doing on july 4th at glenda in the land of oz

the more the better. you can let glenda know if you are interested.

my biggest issue with the whole israel thing was that the israelis and palestinians did not try to work something out. now i know that if i was the people living in israel at the time of the plan- i would harbor resentment and be a bit hostile as well. i don't think that it really was up to jordan and egypt to put up and shut up simply because western nations decided that the jewish folks should be back in their 'homeland.' doesn't seem like the west had any ideas about the middle east even back then.

Yoga Korunta said...

At last, reason enters the picture. As one descended from those who have been occupied, I have no tolerance for aggressors.

DivaJood said...

Betmo, there are much bigger issues here at home, and they terrify me. Our government has sytematically shredded our Constitution, and devolved into a growing dictatorship. Global warming must be addressed now, or there will be no planet to fight about. Good, AFFORDABLE healtcare for all must be created. Minimum wage must be increased.

I generally avoid the Israel/Palestinian debate unless I see people who are forming positions without being truly aware of the history. Then I need to speak out. Don't forget, when Israel was created, 6 Million Jews had been exterminated; this, along with another 6 Million souls comprised of Gypsies, Gays, Poles, Hungarians, and anyone else the Nazis deemed unworthy who were also exterminated is the legacy of hat. Those survivors of the Holocaust were arriving in Israel by the boatload, destitute and starving.

So why were Egypt and Jordan not expected to create a decent infrastructure for those Palestinian Arabs living within what was declared their borders, but Israel IS expected to create this infrastructure? That continues to baffle me.

Thanks for the tip on the Post for Peace -- I will check it out and let glenda know that I'll participate.

DivaJood said...

Yoga, it is an extremely complex situation. I have no tolerance for aggressors either, which is why I want to see Cheney and Bush removed from office, but we know that.

betmo said...

diva- i understand what you are saying- i guess i am not getting why the palestinians had to move to make way for the israelis and european jews- why couldn't they coexist at the time? i really don't know enough about the early history and i am genuinely curious why they were forced to move or were they?

BZ said...


A recent commenter said to me that he doesn’t like to beat a debate to death, but he likes to have conversations, and we are on the fence of turning this into a dead horse. I just wanted to say that I understand your frustration and anger, about the situation, but I do think that sometimes when we are looking at something from up close and have made the same argument repeatedly, we become stifled and fall into a rut. I know more of the history than you think I do, and I am asking you to consider that like everything there are two sides of every story. So while I appreciate your post about the history of the region, you have to remember that history can be a type of fiction. Only the winner can claim to be right.

I seem to recall a lot of bad moves on Israel’s part throughout this history, see 1982 and the massacre in Lebanon for one and there are many more. (See a book called The Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomksy and anything by Edward Said) But again this tit for tat will get us nowhere. I agree someone has to STOP FIRST. But again I ask you this, if you saw two men fighting on the street and one held a gun and the other a stick, who would you try and diffuse first? Who is capable of doing the most damage?

DivaJood said...

Good question, betmo. Prior to the founding of Israel as a state, Jews and Arabs lived side by side in harmony.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclamed "...the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Israel...The State of Israel will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion; will promote development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed, or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations...We offer peace and unity to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all."

Despite the euphoria of the moment, Israel faced imminent disaster with an expected invasion by Arab nations who rejected the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. That invasion came within hours.

Israel wanted to coexist; the Arabs in the region simply refused to accept a Jewish state. And so it began.

DivaJood said...

bz, first of all, I'm not angry. Second, this is far from a dead horse, it's an ongoing tragedy. As for whether or not I would step into a street fight to break that up, I dunno, it's probably something I would not do. I'm a grandmother; I would not step into a dog fight either.

I will remember not to debate this particular issue with you any further. Clearly we have to agree to disagree.

sumo said...

I just hope that something good can finally happen after all of this. I really hope that Gilad will be returned unharmed...who knows...this may be the end and a beginning of a new understanding when all is said and done.

robin andrea said...

Thanks for to writing it down and putting it into perspective, DivaJood. This is one area of politics I just won't touch. Too much of a hot-button issue for so many people. It's nice to see a reasoned and thoughtful discussion here.

betmo said...

not being particularly religious- i don't have as much of a problem wading in as some of my friends do- but we don't talk much about it. i saw a chance when the old guard in the palestinian camp was changed and they held elections. who didn't see the result coming? of course hamas would have a big part. there was progress being made but you have hardliners on the far right everytime in both camps muck it up.

as for the making of the israeli state- well why did they pick there to make a jewish state? they couldn't have picked a spot somewhere else? did they even consult with the arabs in the region or just make an arbitrary decision the way that the west is wont to do? that being said- i would be ticked off too if someone from a different country told me that hey- you are about to get new neighbors whether you like it or not and fyi- you all have been fighting each other on and off for thousands of years and fyi- we are letting folks in from everywhere in europe. might have gotten my panties in a bunch too. anyhoo- that's history. we have to focus on stopping this stupidity today in the here and now and i personally think that the more chaos in the middle east- the more that cheney/rumsfeld like it. my theory is that cheney is really president.

DivaJood said...

sumo: Every day Gilad is held hostage (hopefully still alive), the hardliners in Israel become more furious. I don't hold much hope here.

robin andrea: that's why I put "Reluctant" in my header. I see posts on other blogs that are hateful and I need to respond. I finally realized that rather than hold someone else's blog hostage, I should just say something on my own.

betmo: Jews and Arabs are essentially the same people. Just a brief history based on how the Torah tells it: Abraham was a local idol maker, God told him to follow one God, and so Abe said sure. Abe smashed his idols, fled Sumaria (the West Bank of today) and moved into what is now Israel. Abe had two kids - one, Ishmael, became a great nation (Egypt). The other, Isaac, suffered great parental abuse (God told Abe to go to the mountain with Isaac and perform a sacrifice. God said he'd provide a lamb, and Abe thought that meant Isaac. After binding Isaac, God said whoa -- there's a lamb over there. Isaac isn't heard from again until he becomes the father of Jacob & Esau.)

Muslims follow the same dietary laws as observant Jews. They follow a similar prayer schedule. They came from the same land. Jews were there, and Arabs, for centuries. And, for the most part, they got along. Feuds erupted along the way. But for the most part, they got along.

It was simply the establishment of a JEWISH state that the Arabs in the region refused to recognize. And they hold that in common with most non-Jews. Nobody much cares for us, not at core. If people need someone to blame, they go to the Jews first.

Again, historically, Jews keep separation as part of our heritage and religion. We separate that which is holy from the ordinary -- this covers everything from food to clothing to where we choose to live. We separate our Sabbath from the rest of the week, ending with a lovely ceremony that is intended to bring fragrance into the rest of the week.

Did you know that the first Christians who converted from paganism had to become Jewish first? These three religions recognize most of the same prophets -- but Christians add Jesus; and Islam adds Mohammed.

I am not a religious Jew. But I am Jewish, and I am aware of the similarities of the three religions. As a Jew, I have been the recipient of some vile remarks over my lifetime; I have experienced blind hatred first hand.

Once again, I say that the hardliners on both sides are killing their people. This 58 year old battle is insane. Israel does not strike first; their reactions are to an event against them. But when they react, they react swiftly and harshly.

Hell, if I were the guy with the stick, facing the guy with the gun, I'd put my stick down and go first. I would say "let's talk, let's reason things out."

If Palestinians made the first overtures for peace, and Israel still reacted with violence, I'd be among the first to protest.

Israel has consistently sought peaceful negotiations first. That's always the first choice. But it is a Jewish State, and successful in many areas. Not quite as sexy as supporting the Palestinians for the left.

You are right about Cheney actually being President here. And the more chaos in the Middle East, the more they can move forward their illegal agenda. Bushco is all about deflection -- oh, let's throw in Gay Marriage, and let's throw in illegal immigration to make people worry rather than talk about invading Iraq and probably Iran.

betmo said...

yes- i know about the religious history of the region- i guess i wondered about why a jewish state simply had to be made in the first place. couldn't jewish folks simply started moving there? if the arabs and jews had coexisted somewhat ok- why did the western world have to go in and mix it up? that's my point. i don't blame israel for defending itself now that it is here and i certainly do understand that. i guess i was simply hopeful that now that arafat and sharon are gone- perhaps some progress could be made and i think that i remember reading that the palestinians were reaching out to the israelis when all of this started? i will have to go and look up some news accounts.

i think that it is ok for you to use your blog as a forum for this kind of debate and most people shy away from it because of the religious aspect of things. i will be right upfront and say that i don't believe in religion of any kind- sprituality- yes, religion no. i don't get hung up on that. people don't like to offend folks who are seen as religious or believe a certain way- which is why the religious right is getting away with murder these days. religion and politics should not mix- and this whole thing is why.

DivaJood said...

betmo, a Jewish homeland is part of the covenent with God -- that's the religious aspect. From a more practical aspect, Jews want a homeland where they are free from persecution. Our history has been one of persecution.

I personally am not religious, but I do identify as Jewish. But I'm not observant in a religious sense. I do have a spiritual program that I follow which is really about how to live a decent, sober life.

Blogging is wonderful. It allows an exchange of ideas; it allows one to learn about all kinds of things; it leads people to other thinkers. If we disagree, we can do so (hopefully) with respect. I would never tell another blogger to stop discussing something -- but that's just me. Oh, no, not true -- I've told Especial Ed, the creep who stalks Helen Wheels, to shut the fuck up. But he's insane. And that's a whole OTHER topic.