Wednesday, January 04, 2006

OF ISHMAEL AND ISAAC

Questions from the middle for the Pro-Israel faction

On a subject where no middle is recognized...

It was the single stupidest deliberate peaceful political act done in the 20th century, in my opinion: The establishment 57 years ago of the Nation of Israel in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. But if a civilization is to be a civilization, it must at some point accept and respect precedents.

Just as I expect the US Supreme Court to respect Roe v. Wade, I accept the existence of the Nation of Israel. Sometimes the only thing worse than a blunder is to attempt its undoing.

I'll repeat that: I'm not on the side of the "drive the Jews into the sea" faction.

But I see that the establishment and continued existence of the Israeli State brings with it a host of built-in problems.

So I have a few questions...

First, I notice that almost any time someone criticizes Israel, someone else drags out the "anti-semite" rant. Ignoring the absurdity of calling support for the ethnically semitic Palestinians "anti semitic," I ask:

Is there any kind of criticism that can be made of Israel without it being anti-semitic?

Next, I notice that people tend to lump possibly unrelated world events together, especially on this subject.

Do you really believe there is a world-wide plot to "get" the Jews, or is "the growing tide of anti-semitism" often alluded to by Israel's supporters just a bunch of scattered, violent loudmouths like Iran's Ahmadinejad or America's David Duke?

Israel at least partly owes its existence to the UN. Yet I often hear the charge levelled that the UN is "anti semitic." Often the many UN resolutions condemning Israel's actions are cited as evidentiary.

Do you think the UN is anti-Israel?

Do you think the UN criticisms are entirely without merit?

Do you think criticisms by other groups - eg, human rights groups - are entirely without merit?

Do you think that the failure of the UN and certain human rights organizations to criticize every human rights abuse negates any value the criticisms they do make might have?

Israel has the bomb. This is almost certain. Yet other Nations are under fire today for attempting to acquire nuclear technology.

Is this a double standard?

If you think the double standard exists and is justified, why?

Should Israel ever be expected to disarm? If so, under what conditions?

Israel is a major recipient of US foreign aid.

Does this aid compromise or forclose foreign policy options for the US?

Israel has benefitted in the past by illegal actions of US citizens such as Jonathan Pollard. Succinctly, the Israeli government has spied on the US government.

Is this acceptable?

Are you certain Israel will always act in the best interests of the US and its allies?

Why?

A big question. I think a Palestinian State, autonomous in all senses, is a prerequisite for long-term peace and the promotion of the general welfare of all peoples in the middle east. I also think the Israelis should not be expected to bear all of the brunt of the necessary realignments. I further think the Israelis should have control of Jerusalem, which is after all their ancient city.

I think Jordan, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and perhaps even Saudi Arabia should be on the list of States that might be expected to contribute territory to a new State.

Do you think there is a legitimate argument for the establishment of a Palestinian State?

Where should it be established?

Should the US lean on its allies - and its adversaries - to make this a reality?

A related question. A lot of people think there should be an independent Kurdistan. Likely its establishment would entail the same kind of dislocations a Palestinian State would.

Do you support the establishment of a Kurdistan?

If you support either one and not the other, why?

How are they different?

A hard question. There is a good possibility the intractable positions of the stakeholders in the middle east will make the establishment of a Palestinian State impossible.

In that case, do the Palestinian people have any right of redress?

A right to violent revolt?

Any "right" to fight for their aspirations?

Last question, this one to the devout Christians who support Israel.

Does the biblical vision of Armageddon and the Christian belief in the second coming of Jesus Christ influence your politics relating to Israel?

If not, what is your opinion of Christians whose politics are so influenced?

Are you comfortable with your answers?

Comments:
Wow, a lot of things to address, but I think I will limit myself to the Nuclear issue.

Israel, unlike the other nations chasing the Nuclear dragon, has a real and tangible threat, not only to its territory, but its very existance. It's enemies have made it very clear, to this day, that they seek nothing less than the complete dissolution of Israel, and extermination of it's people.

No other nation on the atom-track can say this. The only other alternative (which I am not adverse to) is that the US and other nations agree and announce that they will defend Israel from attack, and respond with overwhelming force. But that will not happen in the current political environment.

OK, I will comment on one other item: no, I am not happy that Israel spies on the US, but so do all of our other allies, so if we are going to punish them for it, we must punish South Korea, all of Europe, and the ANZac's...
 
At one time or another the "Palestinians" have been kicked out of their neighbors' countries, from Jordan on down the line. So I agree that Israel shouldn't have to bear all the weight. But I have a feeling the arab states in the region like it that way as it puts pressure on Israel, and as demonstrated by their actions, they want nothing to do with the Palestinians except to support their terrorism.
 
My support of Israel comes three-fold:

1) I am a Jew.
2) I believe that Israel is sitting on a large oil-field. And I stand to profit from the exploration therein.
3) They haven't been defeated on the battlefield. 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973. All won by Israel.
 
This has been said bfore many times, better and with great detail by others. However, as a Christian of Jewish descent, holding a degree in theology and being a student of history, let me say that two things obscure the general public's understanding of Israel's "rights" to the land. One is the lack of belief in God as revealed in the Bible and two is the lack of knowledge of the history of Israel. If one persists in these two lacks, there can never be any meaningful change in world perception of this issue. I am not going to provide for these lacks here, but it is not hard to fill them with a little effort on the part of anyone truly interested in ascertaining the truth. The conclusion of the matter will, however, not be affected by the general public's lacks, nor by the mighty efforts of world leaders who also share these lacks; it will be determined by the power of the God of history to bring history to conform to His Story, as foretold in Scripture. So, yes, there will be an Armaggeddon and all the rest, because mankind in general, like Frank Sinatra, want to "do it my way".
 
The hebrew have been proven to have lived in the same area for 3000 years, they seem to have the root language of the area to include the greek language. They have no doubt heard for 3000 years all that you and others have to say against them, about them, so when does something said the upteeth time have value?
As the written history of the Hebrew states and the archilogical history is in the process of proving,they came to this area thousands of years ago. The fact that they were made a state by the UN is of no relevence, the Jews attempted to form a state, the UN would not recognise nor accept it. The countries around it became aggressive to this because of their own religion beliefs that no jew or christian can hold land. UN has a majority of muslim countries who were overruled and out voted by the USA who was the only one who stood by the rights of hebrew to be recognized as a state.
The Palestinians have lived among and beside the jews since they were brought there by the romans to tend the fields as slaves.They lived peacefully there until their complicity with the arabs in the war of 1948, when they knew of probable attacks and instead of being a neighbor abandoned the land when told to leave by the arab countries. Should they now be allowed to return from the land they abandoned?
Lets face it the jews were the people in the area with the first written language, considered by us today as more intellectual on this basis alone what do you suppose they were considered then?
Hard for less learned to keep up, with economy, money,contracts,laws business dealing that are provable not just he said she bartering as most tribes did. Not to hard to end up on the top of society in Mid east where religion for centuries did not allow for even primary educations. This usually causes ethnic hate. As it has for jewish groups in most countries over the past history of the world.
The state of Palestine is within the grasp of the Palestinians as soon as that right means something to them they will have a state. Allowing Terrorist groups to take over is not going to get them a state. Are the Palestinian people in need of American help to rid them of this Terrorists that are now killing them as easily as jews and christians? Aren't a sizable amout of Palestinians Christian?
 
In my view the Palestinians are the interlopers. There has never been a county by the name of Palestine. The people who call themselves Palestinians are a conglomeration of many different nationalities who are supported by the Arabs and others who oppose Israel.

I don't think that the Israelies should have given back the Gaza strip, the Golen Heights or the West Bank or any other property they have or had. Most of those were won in a war, just like other countries have won lands.

The corrupt UN has not really been a friend of Israel and never will be but the Security Council should firmly and definitely relay its support for Israel and tell the Palestinians to lump it.
 
Anonymous last two posts... Have either of you heard of the biblical people called the Caananites? How about Philistines?

Figure the truth out for yourselves... If you have the courage...
 
I think if you gave the palestinians 1/10 of every surrounding country, built infasructure they still would'nt be happy and would try to run Israel into the sea.FROM EMBARASSED TO BE PART ARAB
 
I think what you are trying to do here is set up what is essentially a list of comparisons, and unless one condemns both sides of the comparison; one is a hypocrite or hasn’t been circumspect.

In the case of Israel this is often done. Generally parallels are drawn that really are absurd, but for some reason are never pointed out. Lets take a two:

The UN condemnations anti Semitism thing you refer to. The parallel between Palestinians killing innocent people and Israel killing innocent people has always left me flabbergasted. They are not the same. When Palestinians carry out a terrorist attack, they generally tend to strap some kid with bombs and send him into the town square. The mission is to kill as many people as possible. When Israelis kill innocent people it is generally because they were there when a Hamas leader or what have you had his house attacked. There is a world of difference. One specifically targets innocent bystanders one does not. That is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. The UN consistently condemns Israel for its reprisal attacks against terrorist leaders. It is unheard of for the same condemnation to ever be issued against the terrorists themselves. Its hard not to see this as either anti Semitic or anti Israel given the motivations outlined above.

Israel has the bomb, so isn’t it hypocritical to condemn other nations in the area for trying to acquire it? NO! Other nations in the area have attacked Israel repeatedly. Currently Iran has a president that every week, it seems, says “we are building a bomb, we are going to wipe Israel off the face of the earth”. Does anyone doubt they will attempt to do it once it is completed? Does Israel ever say anything remotely like this? The attempt to draw a parallel here is astounding. Its about the same as saying the police have guns so it is hypocrisy not to allow convicted felons to have guns.

There are more I could go on about, but to me it seems really a little strange to draw any parallels between Israel and its neighbors. Their motivations are entirely different. Israelis neighbors want the destruction of Israel. How do we know this? Well, they have all attacked Israel repeatedly at various times. Few even acknowledge Israel's existence, referring to it as the Jewish entity. And the big one – a whole bunch of them have leaders who at various times have said “let’s destroy Israel” and the attempted to do so. In comparison, Israel has never launched an unprovoked attack against its neighbors. Israel has ceded territory over and over as a gesture of good will. Israel has the bomb and has never used it. That’s the difference.
 
R Ruse:

No, I'm asking questions. I have built no agenda into them. This is your mirror. If you see a set of comparisons, you brought them there. If you see parallels, they are yours.

And you didn't really answer any of the questions...
 
Are you really saying you are not drawing comparisons or parallels? If this is so, I am at a loss to understand some of what you wrote.

Example:

You wrote:

>Israel has the bomb. This is almost certain. Yet other Nations are under fire today for attempting to acquire nuclear technology.

>Is this a double standard?

There is no way to read the first part as other than as a comparative statement. The use of the word “yet” refers the antecedent, in this case to compare to the consequent “other nations” There is simply no way to read this as a comparative statement.

Are you really saying you did not see me as answering any questions? I answered quite clearly two of them.

First question I answered:

The nuclear double standard question, as stated in the above example I answered fairly thoroughly. I pointed out why I didn’t think it was a double standard. I also gave a comparison to illustrate the point with the convicted felons statement. Im sorry if this wasn’t clear as an answer.

Second question answered:

You wrote:

>Israel at least partly owes its existence to the UN. Yet I often hear the charge leveled that the UN is "anti Semitic." Often the many UN resolutions condemning Israel's actions are cited as evidentiary.

>Do you think the UN is anti-Israel?

I actually say in my response “Its hard not to see this as either anti Semitic or anti Israel given the motivations outlined above”. That pretty much answers the question right there, yes, I see the UN as quite anti Israel.

Im sorry if you took some of what I said to imply that you had an agenda. I can see how one might take it that way, but quite frankly I DO NOT think you have one. What I was trying to do was two things One, to answer a couple of the questions. Two, to point out why I think two comparisons that are frequently brought up (Israel has a bomb, why not neighbors and Israel kills innocents, terrorists kill innocents, is UN anti Israel for condemning Israel). Im sorry if this wasn’t clear in my original post. I wasn’t trying to attack you. I was simply trying to point out why I think two of the comparisons, which have been around for years, should really be dispelled.
 
Thank you, R. Ruse. Good answers and better clarifications.

"I think what you are trying to do here is set up what is essentially a list of comparisons,"

If you include "contrast" with compare - fair enough, and generally accepted, a few of them are compare/contrast. Most are not. I did not consider that.

The Bomb: Yes, Israel's neighbors are truculent. But so is Israel, even if most of it is hitting back. Remember, there was once a reactor called Ossiri... And let's do remember there are Arab nations with the bomb or at least the capacity to build it that get little attention.

As to the other question, I think your answer got lost in your comparisons. But fair enough. You think it is anti-Israel. Others in the past have answered my question by insisting the UN has changed since 1948, which can't be denied.

Here's what i'm really trying to get to: I think any Israel supporter should be able to answer all my questions with convincing answers, at least to themselves. It must be admitted this is a unique situation which is so emotionally charged people fight over what constitutes basic fact. I don't think this Nation should make foreign policy based on emotional or faith-based considerations.

Back at ya...
 
When you sell a house or a car, it no longer belongs to you. The Middle East lost the war, so their land got divided according to the whim of the winner. Lesson? Don't lose wars. Israel should never have been urged to give back one inch of land won defending their existence - the Arab world should know that war is for keeps.
 
Oh I definitely agree with you that our foreign policy should not be formed on an emotional or faith based basis. I think it would be a very tough road to hoe to say that is the case with Israel. It is a very dangerous to say in today’s hypersensitive climate but frankly our foreign policy should be founded on two things, what is best for the United States and what is the most righteous course. Sometimes these two are at odds with each other and a choice has to be made. I would say this is certainly true of Israel. It would be far easier for the United States to let Israel be wiped off the face of the map. Israel has little in the way of oil reserves and, possibly, OPEC countries would be less angry with us. It would be the path of least resistance, the easy way out. Some would say that is the best course for the United States. I would disagree.

I cannot say that I have felt this country has acted in the most righteous manner with its foreign policy in every event. In the case of Israel though, I feel no clearer case of being on the right side could ever exist. Israel has been attacked relentlessly since 1948. Virtually all of their neighbors have sworn, to varying degrees, to destroy them. They are the only democracy in the area where Muslims can vote (with the possible exceptions of Afghanistan and Turkey and, hopefully soon, Iraq). Israelis have exhibited a restraint that defies what should be expected of anyone. When attacked within hours of their formation they gave Palestinians who sided with them full citizenship. Muslims vote there and have members sitting in the Knesset because of this. When the attackers lost, they gave the Palestinians who sided with them nothing. They let them twist in the wind to be used as pawns, justifying a false grievance: concern for their supposed brothers in Islam. The neighboring states care nothing for these people. They have let them languish as refugees at best. They have attempted their extermination, in what is referred to as black September, at worst. They simply want the destruction of Israel, pure and simple.

It would be easy for us to take the path of least resistance. We could throw up our hands and succumb to the short-term allure of less hostile relations the oil rich states. We could withdraw our support of Israel and so, assure their destruction. We would save 2-4 billion dollars in annual aid and perhaps get more free flowing oil as a result. We could go along with the fiction that once Iraq, and now Iran, only build nuclear reactors to meet their energy needs. We could play dumb, believing this idiocy, which makes as much sense as Eskimos building ice machines, is fact. It would be easy, and also short sighted. Does anyone believe for a moment that once Israel is destroyed they will stop? Does anyone believe that the blood lust of leaders who send children strapped with explosives into town squares will end with Israel’s demise? Does anyone think for a moment that those who flew planes into the World Trade center, who blew up trains in London and Spain, and countless other horrific acts would have hesitated for a moment if they had completed their reactors and developed a bomb? I realize I have strayed somewhat from your initial post but to me I think it would be impossible to find a clearer cut case of US foreign policy being based not on what is easy but what is hard. In this instance it is based not on short-term gain, but on long-term survival. It is also, clearly, and without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, based on what is just. Our alliance with Israel brings with it an opportunity. It gives the chance to do not only what is right and just, but also what is in our long term self interest, and the worlds. Our foreign policy should always be questioned, as you have done. The times we live in, with recent events, should surely bring these questions to the fore. That is a healthy sign. It should also, when those questions are looked at and answered honestly, only further serve to illustrate the justness of the path we are on in the case of Israel.
 
R Ruse:

Splendid. With your permission I will use some of that in another post.
 
Sure, Im flattered you would want to quote some of it. However, in the interest of full disclosure, you are aware you would be quoting a member of the far right wing?
 
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