2015-11-12

Expulsion of the Palestinians: Caution and Discretion during the War Years

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by Neil Godfrey

Nur-MasalhaContinuing the series from Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians. . . .

One bible myth stands out today as bearing a major responsibility for modern wars, ethnic cleansing, and ongoing bloodshed. That myth is that a modern race has a right to the land of Palestine by virtue of a history found in the Bible.

This series of posts has not examined that biblical myth itself (nor wider public receptions and political influence of the myth) but it has been exposing another myth that has ridden on the back of the first, the myth that the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is ultimately the result of Palestinians failing to respect the right and necessity of the Jewish people to settle in peace alongside them. This secondary myth is actually a recasting of the biblical myth of the hostile Canaanites proving to be the ungodly thorn in the side of the people to whom God had given the land. The new settlers, the myth relates, are for most part innocently seeking only a safe refuge in their historic homeland but have been met with unjustified hostility by the existing inhabitants. The impetus for the new settlement came with the revelation that an attempt had been made to wipe out the entire Jewish people in Europe and the survivors and their descendants only wanted a small piece of historical real-estate alongside a hospitable fellow-semitic race.

To support this additional myth another must be sustained: that one race is responding in bad or immature character (as we would expect of biblical Canaanites) while the other is fundamentally decent and caring (as we would expect….). And many of our news sources filter the story through these mythical constructs.

That is all part of the secondary myth.

The reality, as these posts have been demonstrating on the basis of Israeli records, is otherwise.

The modern state of Israel was founded upon an ideology, a belief, an expectation among its key leadership that the Palestinian Arab population would have to be expelled from their long-held homes and lands. This belief among Zionism’s founding fathers that the state of Israel would require the removal of the bulk of Arabs from Palestine preceded World War 2, preceded the Holocaust, and made possible the forcible expulsion of thousands of Palestinians at Israel’s founding in 1948. The difference that the Holocaust made to the argument for Israel’s founding was that it facilitated international support for the new Jewish state. Popular sympathy for the horrors suffered by the Jews in Europe blinded many to the injustices being foisted upon the traditional inhabitants of Palestine.

There are many other secondary myths that serve to support the above myths. Among these are myths about the events that precipitated the flight of many Palestinians in 1948 and the respective views and actions of the governments involved in that war and subsequent wars. I will address these, too, and again on the basis of Israel’s archives, and in particular through the works of Jewish historians sympathetic to Israel.

In May this year Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely addressed foreign ministry staff in Jerusalem and 106 Israeli missions overseas by video link, and declared:

This entire land is ours. All of it, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, and we are not here to apologise for this. . . . 

She afterwards added:

We expect as a matter of principle the international community to recognise Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland everywhere.

The Telegraph‘s correspondent Brian Tait noted that her speech was

laced . . . with biblical commentaries in which God promised the land of Israel to the Jews. 

Hotovely, as we have seen, merely expressed what has been the conventional thinking and beliefs of most of Israel’s founding fathers from the very beginnings of the nation. As we have also seen, the same figures have found it more politic at times to not be so open with Western media about such sentiments.

The situation so far

The previous post brought us up to August 1938 with the British government finally deciding not to support immediate hopes of Zionists for a Jewish state in a partitioned Palestine.

Problems: 

  • It was clear to the British government from the Arab reaction that the recommended population transfers for even a two-state solution could not be carried out without violence and injustice to the livelihoods and deeply rooted feelings of the local population;
  • Without a state of any kind the Zionists understood that there was no way to effect a transfer of Palestinians at all.

The British therefore:

  • Decided it was time to slow the pace of their support for a Jewish state until they took time to consider seriously the Arab grievances;
  • Called for a general conference on Palestine to consist of Arab, Palestinian and Zionist representatives — due to be held in London in February-March 1939.

The Zionist leaders therefore:

  • Continued to press the British government for more liberal Jewish immigration into Palestine;
  • Continued to lobby for more freedom to to purchase land from Arab landowners;
  • Judged it prudent to avoid embarrassing the British government with further public calls for the transfer of the indigenous Arab population.

It was clear that the British were not going to risk antagonizing the Arabs at a time when the clouds of war were rising.

The Jewish Agency therefore turned its attention towards that other promising power and potential supporter, the United States.

Ben Gurion’s memorandum

Ben_Gurion_1959

Ben Gurion

If public calls for the British to support Arab transfer were put on the back-burner, more discreet pressure certainly continued apace as we see from a memorandum by Ben Gurion to the Zionist Actions Committee, dated 17th December 1938. Ben Gurion wrote the memorandum because he himself was unable to attend the meeting.

One signal pointing to a new direction was his proposal that the Zionist leadership in the United States be included in future meetings.

The main message, however, was transfer. Ben Gurion made it clear that it was his view that since the Arabs had been given Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — which was “more than enough”, he wrote — the Committee would demand all of Palestine. What of the fate of the Palestinians? Ben Gurion was clear:

We will propose to Iraq P£10 million in return for the resettlement of 100 thousand Arab families from Palestine in Iraq. I do not know whether Iraq will accept this proposal. If this business was only with Iraq — she might listen to us. Iraq needs a larger Arab settlement and of course it would not be adverse to receiving millions [of pounds]. But Ibn Saud and Egypt will also be in London.

The money was expected to come from supporters like the Rothschilds and loans from Banks with British and American government guarantees.

Weizmann’s war-time meetings with British and American leaders

Cited in Joseph Gorny, The British Labour Movement and Zionism, pp. 164-65, 189. According to Weizmann, Attlee nodded assent when the transfer was proposed.
Weizmann

Weizmann

Another major Zionist leader, Chaim Weizmann, met with the British Labor Party leader, Clement Attlee, a month after the outbreak of war with Germany and declared that when the war was over national boundaries would be redrawn and millions of people would uprooted and forced to move to new locations. The Palestinians, he said, must not be overlooked in this general process of uprooting and relocation.

See, for instance, Ussishkin’s conversation with Weitz on 22 June 1941, in Weitz’s Diary. A 246/7, CZA, pp. 1169-70; Weizmann’s Letter to Solomon Goldman, 28 April 1939, in the Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, Vol. XIX, Series A, Letter No. 52. [CZA = Central Zionist Archives]

Weizmann further informed Attlee that he planned to visit the United States and seek President Roosevelt’s support for a Jewish state in Palestine that would be larger than anything the British had hitherto rejected. The Palestinians, he explained, would be removed to make room for 3 to 4 million Jewish immigrants. For the Palestinians to have any chance of being moved they would need to be pressured the the UK and the USA governments, he insisted.

Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, Vol. II, Series B, p.428

Weizmann made it clear to American Jewish delegates that (at a conference in May 1941) that the goal was to resettle Palestinians in Iraq and Transjordan by means of financial inducements.

ibid, p.442

The letters and papers of Chaim Weizmann reveal more. Weizmann recorded that he had been asked in private by the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Moyne, in 1941, whether he really believed a transfer could be accomplished without force and bloodshed.

It could be done if Britain and America talked frankly to the Arabs.

Weizmann again attempted to put the pressure on the British to carry out the population transfer a few months later (9th September 1941):

If, for instance, they [the British] would be able to transfer the Arab tenant farmers. . . . it would be possible to settle in their place half a million Jews.

David Ben-Gurion, “Lines for Zionist Policy,” 15 October 1941, Z4/14. 632, CZA

Ben Gurion’s caution and discretion

. . . the Land of Israel is only a small part of the territories inhabited by Arabs and the Arabs of the Land of Israel are only a negligible group among the Arabic-speaking peoples.

Ben Gurion went on to argue that it was reasonable then to ask the Palestinians to cede a “small part” — noting that both Syria and Iraq were “sparsely populated” … and “if only they were prepared to absorb the Arab population of the Land of Israel, in part or wholly, this would be an assistance to them rather than an obstacle.

But how to implement this “small part” goal?

Ibid., Weizmann wrote in a letter dated 28 April 1939 to American Zionist leader Solomon Goldman about the possibility of the acquisition of a large tract of land belonging to the Druze in the Galilee and easter Carmel. “The realisation of this project would mean the emigration of 10,000 Arabs [to Jebel Druze in Syria], the acquisition of 300,000 dunams.” “It would also create a significant precedent if 10,000 Arabs were to emigrate peacefully of their own volition, which no doubt would be followed by others.” Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, Vol. XIX, Series A, Letter No. 52, pp. 54-55. No such scheme materialized.

We have to examine, first, if this transfer is practical, and secondly, if it is necessary. It is impossible to imagine general evacuation without compulsion, and brutal compulsion. There are of course sections of the non-Jewish population of the Land of Israel which will not resist transfer under adequate conditions to certain neighbouring countries, such as the Druzes, a number of Bedouin tribes in the Jordan Valley and the south, the Circassians and perhaps even the Metwalis [the Shi’ite of the Galilee]. But it would be very difficult to bring about the resettlement of other sections of the Arab populations such as the fellahin and also urban populations in neighbouring Arab countries by transferring them voluntarily, whatever economic inducements are offered to them.

Ben-Gurion (like Weizmann) believed the war in Europe would facilitate a mass population transfer:

David Ben-Gurion, “Lines for Zionist Policy,” 15 October 1941.

The possibility of a large-scale transfer of a population by force was demonstrated, when the Greeks and the Turks were transferred [after World War I]. In the present war the idea of transferring a population is gaining more sympathy as a practical and the most secure means of solving the dangerous and painful problem of national minorities. The war has already brought the resettlement of many people in eastern and southern Europe, and in the plans for postwar settlements the idea of a large-scale population transfer in central, eastern, and southern Europe increasingly occupies a respectable place.

But the analogy with Greece and Turkey was recognized as inexact. That transfer took place after Turkey’s crushing military victory over Greece. The Arabs were friends of Great Britain — allies — so no-one could seriously expect Britain to take responsibility for forcibly transferring them.

David Ben-Gurion, “Lines for Zionist Policy,” 15 October 1941.

Accordingly Ben-Gurion advised caution in making public pronouncements about the transfer issue. It would be unwise to advocate forcible removal publicly. A more strategic option would be for Zionists to campaign to have England and America aim at “influencing” countries like Iraq and Syria “to collaborate” with the Yishuv in carrying out “voluntary” transfer schemes in return for financial inducements.

Ben-Gurion, “Test of Fulfillment,” Jewish Frontier (New York) 9, no. 6 (June 1942), p. 13.

Discretion was essential. Writing for Jewish Frontier in June 1942 he diplomatically suggested that Syria and Iraq

may also have an interest, economically as well as politically, in strengthening their position vis-a-vis their Turkish and Persian neighbours by transferring new Arab settlers to the country, and the only source of such settlers is Palestine.

Weizmann’s lapse of discretion

C. Weizmann, “Palestine’s Role in the Solution of the Jewish Problem,” Foreign Affairs 20, no. 2 (January 1942), pp. 337-38.

But less discreet in America in January 1942 was Weizmann when he published in the prestigious Foreign Affairs journal a call for the Western powers to support the creation of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. The Arab had “to be clearly told” that the land would belong to the Jews, the Jews would control immigration and population ratios and if Arabs did not like it they were to go elsewhere.

[Following is my own reflection and not taken from Masalha’s book. I have read the article and find some fascinating remnants of values that have subsided among many peoples since the Second World War. One senses in Weizmann’s words a touch of the racial superiority, of some sort of spiritual essence in races that binds them to their land, common among the Western imperial powers of the twentieth century: e.g.

when the Jew is reunited with the soil of Palestine energies are released in him which have been stored up and suppressed for thousands of years — energies which, given an outlet, can create values which may be of service even to richer and more fortunate countries.

Such a passage, a clear relic of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries era of racialist-nationalist ideologies, can potentially generate a vast range of observations and reflections today.]

Message from Roosevelt’s personal envoy

FRUS: Foreign Relations of United States: 1943, IV, p. 776, cited in Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe (London: Faber and Faber, 1987), p. 23.

General Patrick Hurley visited Palestine in 1943 and reported to Roosevelt on his return that Yishuv leadership was determined to establish a Jewish state over whole of Palestine and intent on forcing the “eventual transfer of the Arab population to Iraq.”

In such ways the Zionist leadership kept low profile on topic of transfer during the War years.

.

The above post is adapted from pages 125 to 130 of Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians.

 

26 Comments

  • 2015-11-12 21:57:03 UTC - 21:57 | Permalink

    So, Neil, what’s your solution to the Palestinian question?

    • Mark Erickson
      2015-11-13 01:44:51 UTC - 01:44 | Permalink

      Can you state the exact question for the benefit of us all?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-13 05:09:49 UTC - 05:09 | Permalink

      I’m hardly in a position to have a solution given that I’m neither a Palestinian nor an Israeli.

      My interest is in facilitating a wider understanding and awareness among Westerners of the realities behind the myths repeated by our Western governments and media channels, understanding that wider public awareness has the potential to pressure our government leaders to withdraw support for harmful policies. (A blog post alone won’t achieve much but it can be part of a larger package.)

      That’s my interest in the question, not my foreigner’s “solution” to it. What is your interest in the question?

  • David Ashton
    2015-11-13 02:33:12 UTC - 02:33 | Permalink

    Complex questions need complex answers; see e.g. Itzhak Galnoor, “The Partition of Palestine” (NY 1994) pp.262-272.

  • 2015-11-13 16:26:48 UTC - 16:26 | Permalink

    The trouble with focusing on past myths and injustices is that rarely is anything really solved or accomplished that way. As time passes, I find myself less and less a committed supporter of Israel and more sympathetic to the Palestinians, but I am still convinced that the latter are going at the problem the wrong way. History cannot be changed, and focusing on condemning or refusing to accept an historical ‘fait accompli’ will lead nowhere. We need less fixation on the past (for all that we ought to know about it) and more pragmatism for the present.

    I will voice a couple of apologetic remnants first. I have pointed out that all of history shows us one paramount thing: the movement of peoples. It is one of the engines of evolution and progress. And it is usually accompanied by regrettable side-effects and even atrocities. The examples of the Spanish (and other European) New World conquests and the British migration to Australia come to mind. War is also one of history’s engines, and war, too, is almost universally accompanied by displacements. Two great examples in history are the Jewish dispersal at the hands of the Romans two millennia ago, and the redrawing of the map of the world as a result of World Wars 1 and 2.

    Those who suffer in wars or are victims of displacement (as well as genocide), feel a sense of injustice and a drive to correct it. They tend to allow themselves a wider leeway of behavior that is otherwise objectionable in order to deal with that injustice. Every terrorist group in the world feels itself justified in indulging in atrocity because of their perceived grievances. Both sides of the long Arab-Israeli conflict have fallen into that category (and the terrorist activities of both preceded the establishment of Israel).

    What that conflict has long needed is a more far-sighted wisdom on the part of the Palestinians, an ability to accept the fait accompli and move on. Yes, it may be a myth that all would have been well in 1948 had the Palestinians only accepted a Jewish state in their midst and accommodated it. But 7 decades of the PLO and Hamas have only provided Israel with their (perceived) justification for digging in their heels, appealing to biblical mythology, and refusing to seriously move toward setting up a two-state solution. Years ago, Netanyahu openly declared that he would never allow an independent Palestinian state to come into being beside Israel, and Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state only fueled support for that stance, both in Israel and abroad. I think it was 1993 which saw Arafat turn down the most generous terms for a new state that the Palestinians will ever see, partly on the grounds that he was denied the “right of return” which would effectively have destroyed Israel as a Jewish state. And as long as Hamas persists on regularly firing rockets into Israel to make its perpetual statement of intractability and the aim of driving the Jews into the sea, the future will not change.

    No one (politician or sympathizer) advocates restoring the American Indian to all his ancestral homelands, or returning the British descendants in Australia to England. No one advocates redrawing the map of Europe to its pre-World War 1 boundaries. Zionism may have arisen before the Holocaust, but it arose after two millennia of widespread pogrom and expelling of Jews from almost everywhere they tried to settle. That created a powerful sense of persecution and perceived justification for drastic measures, and the Holocaust only topped the scales, especially in regard to Western sympathies and UN cooperation. The result was the state of Israel, for all its imperfections and accompanying injustices. But that’s history. The Palestinians (and the rest of the world) need to work with that. It’s easy for Israel to show its own intractability in the face of groups like Hamas. It would not be so easy for it to perpetuate that intractability if the Palestinians met them half-way, especially in regard to official recognition and acceptance of Israel’s existence. It may be a lot to ask, but I think it is the only real “solution.”

    • Greg Pandatshang
      2015-11-13 18:58:20 UTC - 18:58 | Permalink

      One question is, how far back does history start? I tend to think of it starting around ~125 to ~300 years ago, somewhere in that range, which is super convenient for me as an American because that’s when we acquired all of our land. In practice, of course, I agree that all of Europe’s population transfers of 1918 to 1950 ought not be revisited. But there has to be some situation where, for example, a forced population transfer that happened last year can be remediated.

      I have proposed a Big Plan for resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict to the general benefit. Of course, I enjoy proposing big plans for things even though I am not someone whose big plans anyone pays attention to. Moroever, my Big Plan is tongue-in-cheek not because I don’t think it would work but because people are understandably reluctant to accept big changes in their lives, because of the sense of instability it creates and because once big changes start getting made, there’s no obvious point where the big changes stop. So, maybe I agree to a big change in my life today that’s good for everybody, but then 6 months or 5 years from now, perhaps somebody else feels licensed to try to implement another big change that would be disastrous for me. Even if I have an entirely rational reaction to the instabilities of making big changes, I have to take into account other people’s predictable irrationality.

      That being the case, people will almost never accept a Big Plan except during or after or under threat of a war, i.e. when everything is shot to hell anyway. The only workable plan is usually making the best of the way things are already. Therefore, I continue to think the two state solution is the best possibility for peace. However, the problem is that both sides are consistently intractable. The Palestinians seem to insist on resorting to violence even when they cannot possibly win. The Israelis won’t put a stop to their settlements, which makes a joke of “history” and “fait accompli” since it’s the same damn thing ongoing right now, and they keep electing a prime minister who is committed to keeping the Palestinians stateless. At a certain point, all I can think to say is a pox on both their houses.

    • Bob de Jong
      2015-11-14 13:21:03 UTC - 13:21 | Permalink

      Earl Doherty, you have eloquently worded much of what I was so clumsily trying to convey in my comments on “The mufti and Hitler”.

      I don’t think peace between Palestinians and Israel will be forthcoming from quoting meetings that were held (in very different circumstances) more than 70 years ago.

      My main point: the key issue is not settlements on the West Bank, alleged desecration of the Al Aqsa mosque, or shortage of chocolate in Gaza: instead it is the Palestinian’s denial of the reality of the state Israel, and the uncompromising pursuit to wipe it off the map. Once the Palestinian leadership comes to terms with that key point, a negotiated peace and co-existence will be possible.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-16 03:06:56 UTC - 03:06 | Permalink

      The trouble with focusing on past myths and injustices is that rarely is anything really solved or accomplished that way. As time passes, I find myself less and less a committed supporter of Israel and more sympathetic to the Palestinians, but I am still convinced that the latter are going at the problem the wrong way. History cannot be changed, and focusing on condemning or refusing to accept an historical ‘fait accompli’ will lead nowhere. We need less fixation on the past (for all that we ought to know about it) and more pragmatism for the present.

      I do not address any “past myths and injustices” in these posts. I am addressing present-day myths that are used to cover and deny present-day injustices.

      A past myth and injustice would be, say, if Catholic and Protestant Irish were fighting over the rights and wrongs of a historical event centuries past.

      On the contrary, these posts demonstrate the reasons for the foundation of the State of Israel today and demonstrate that the State of Israel today continues to act in accordance with its original purpose.

      The subtext of these posts is the exposure of myths spoken right now today in order to hide the reality of that historic and ongoing purpose justify contemporary here and now injustices.

      Hence my introductory quotation of Hotovely. Hotovely cut right through the myth and expressed unambiguously exactly what the State of Israel’s intention and purpose is today and made clear that no-one should have to apologize for driving out the Palestinians from their lands as and whenever Israel sees fit.

      Hotovely’s blunt honesty is considered “right wing” and “extreme” because it dispenses with the myth that is usually used to express Israel’s justification for the expulsion of the Palestinians.

      Hotovely’s instructions to Israel’s embassy staff were exactly in accordance with the statements made by Israel’s founding fathers as these posts demonstrate. Normally Western audiences don’t hear this honesty. Instead they generally only hear the myth that Israel has always sought to live alongside the Palestinians in peace.

      The myth that Israel has always sought to live alongside the Palestinians in peace is the basis of ongoing Western popular support for Israel and condemnation of the Palestinians. That myth is the filter through which all events in Israel-Palestine are reported and interpreted. The narrative thus becomes “Israel is only retaliating and trying to defend itself against Hamas rockets” etc.

      I have pointed out that all of history shows us one paramount thing: the movement of peoples. It is one of the engines of evolution and progress. And it is usually accompanied by regrettable side-effects and even atrocities.

      This statement hits me as the sort of chilling rationale for “regrettable side-effects and even atrocities” that many had hoped had been left behind seventy years ago. (Still, it perhaps gives us encouragement to see evolution and progress from the current waves of migrations out of Africa and the Middle East?)

      What that conflict has long needed is a more far-sighted wisdom on the part of the Palestinians, an ability to accept the fait accompli and move on. . . . And as long as Hamas persists on regularly firing rockets into Israel to make its perpetual statement of intractability and the aim of driving the Jews into the sea, the future will not change.

      Palestinians have certainly not had the best leadership but that’s not something we can change and our blaming the Palestinians for having bad leaders won’t help them.

      Palestinian leaders, including Hamas, have accepted the 1967 “fait accompli” and dropped their demands for a return to an earlier status quo [See May 2006; Apr 2008; Feb 2010; May 2011 and May 2011; Apr 2013 and Apr 2013; Mar 2014; Sept 2014.] But Israel’s founding and ongoing intention has been constant and most clearly expressed recently by Hotovey, so Israel has acted as expected and refused to accept the 1967 “fait accompli”, choosing instead to continually create “new facts on the ground” with ever expanding settlements in the West Bank. These “new facts on the ground” are contrary to international law which is why Hotovey has made it clear that Israel must not apologize for claiming her rightful control of all the land. These ever expanding “facts on the ground” continue regardless of rocket fire or cease fires.

      [As for the question of recognition of the state of Israel it is sometimes forgotten in this discussion that there are numerous states that do not recognize one another — and several do not recognize Israel — but that does not mean a state of war exists between them. We have also addressed the history and situation with the respective charters of both Hamas AND the Likud Party refusing to recognize any right for a state of Israel and a Palestinian state respectively.]

      Zionism may have arisen before the Holocaust, but it arose after two millennia of widespread pogrom and expelling of Jews from almost everywhere they tried to settle. That created a powerful sense of persecution and perceived justification for drastic measures, and the Holocaust only topped the scales, especially in regard to Western sympathies and UN cooperation. The result was the state of Israel, for all its imperfections and accompanying injustices.

      This statement is the very myth of the reason for the founding of state of Israel that these posts are attempting to expose. This myth should be exposed because it serves to perpetuate ongoing injustices.

      But that’s history. The Palestinians (and the rest of the world) need to work with that. It’s easy for Israel to show its own intractability in the face of groups like Hamas. It would not be so easy for it to perpetuate that intractability if the Palestinians met them half-way, especially in regard to official recognition and acceptance of Israel’s existence. It may be a lot to ask, but I think it is the only real “solution.”

      Again, this is the myth. Hamas has already agreed to accepting the 1967 borders and has agreed to accepting the State of Israel but Israel has refused to meet half-way. And this is quite reasonable on Israel’s part once we understand Israel’s founding principles and long-term goals as clearly expressed by Hotovey and demonstrated to have been integral to the state of Israel from its inception.

      • RoHa
        2015-11-17 05:29:33 UTC - 05:29 | Permalink

        What does “accepting Israel’s existence” imply?

        Palestinians will certainly never accept that the Zionists had the right to come and drive them out of their homes and farms.

        They will never accept that Israel has the right to give special privileges to Jews.

        What is that they have to accept?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-25 20:13:29 UTC - 20:13 | Permalink

      I have pointed out that all of history shows us one paramount thing: the movement of peoples. It is one of the engines of evolution and progress. And it is usually accompanied by regrettable side-effects and even atrocities.

      Hi Earl, your statement above has stayed in my mind. I have to confess that it bewilders me. I cannot see how it differs from what we understand to be the rationales of the ideologues and religious zealots who have themselves been responsible for those “regrettable side-effects and even atrocities”. The naturalistic fallacy comes to mind. The Europeans have justified the “regrettable side-effects” of their migrations and conquests, and even their ethnic cleansings and genocides, as necessary for the grander story of human progress or the glory of God which amounts to the same thing. Explicit appeal to this rationale, I thought, was left behind generally in the ashes of two world wars.

      Has human progress really been contingent on actions that lead to “regrettable side-effects and even atrocities”? I don’t see it in the history that I am reasonably familiar with. I think of the history and conditions associated with our advances in science, in standards of living, in democratic reforms . . . . how have any of these been benefitted by one race “displacing” another? What history texts will demonstrate that thesis?

      Back to the question of Israel and Palestine: nothing good has accrued to Israel as a consequence of their expulsion of the Palestinians. Or maybe they have acquired the best lands and water sources, yes, but at what cost? And what hatreds have to be sustained on both sides as a consequence. Considering the demographics alone, it may well be that in the long term Zionist-Israel will lose and be obligated to give up its race-based state and accept a single democratic state for all.

      • David Ashton
        2015-11-25 21:04:48 UTC - 21:04 | Permalink

        The movement of different peoples and resistance to it have always been a significant fact of human history, and sometimes it has been given a “religious” justification (including the Arab Islamic expansion). It has had different effects, from genocide by the Mongols, to the spread of railways and technology by Europeans. To understand the immensely complex process today is neither to justify arrogantly past “pros” or to wallow guiltily in past “cons”. If there is a political objective, let it be to “minimize pain” and maximize future contentment, but easier said than done.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-25 22:35:48 UTC - 22:35 | Permalink

          I do not dispute the obvious point that there have been historic movements of peoples. We are witnessing it right now today, even. But to link this to the ideological claim of “progress” of civilization is another matter entirely.

          • David Ashton
            2015-11-26 00:27:11 UTC - 00:27 | Permalink

            Agreed. However, there have been various attempts to define the features of “civilization”. The criteria will differ according to cultural or personal preference. But we still take each item in a list and test its application to various societies past and present. This seems to me some way of extricating a little bit sense out of a vast chaos of historical phenomena and values, if the attempt is worth doing at all. Of course, many “facts” will be in dispute, and subject to revision or fallibilism or vested interest. Fashion and propaganda influence investigation. Take the Holocaust, or perhaps better not.

            Why do certain important things occur at all in history – wars, population movements, religions? Can we use any analytical tools from socio-biology (e.g. E. O. Wilson, Paul Colinvaux, &c) or cultural evolution (e.g Pitirim Sorokin, Paul Mundinger, &c).

            There is also the meta-question of “what is ‘history’?” anyhow? Richard Evans, Joyce Appleby, E. H. Carr, Zbigniew Brzezinski….is there no end to it?

            • Neil Godfrey
              2015-11-26 07:22:22 UTC - 07:22 | Permalink

              However we define civilization, what is disturbing about the argument we are addressing is that it assumes that certain races, by virtue of their biological “essence”, are more predisposed/capable of producing those marks of civilization. It is racism — I don’t know how else to interpret it. It certainly lacks any understanding of the historical processes behind technological and other advances and holdups in human culture.

              • David Ashton
                2015-11-26 12:01:45 UTC - 12:01 | Permalink

                I thought this comment, like another one I have just submitted, was deleted on (arguable) grounds of “repetition”. I think there are respectable scientific reasons for thinking there are average variations in psychological as well as physical characteristics among human population lineages, but they are not necessarily decisive in the determination of political systems; e.g. North & South Korea. You can call it “racist” but that word also carries implications of hatred, cruelty, violence and domination, whereas I say “vive la difference!”.

                Since I was planning to post a list of books in my library on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues, I think it perhaps wiser just to send it to you personally, while adding a response much earlier questions put to me about what I mean by “European”, &c. Vridar readers will not thereby be bored, troubled or offended.

  • David Ashton
    2015-11-13 18:16:07 UTC - 18:16 | Permalink

    “Israel has been and will continue to be God’s suffering servant through the centuries, afflicted by many and led to the slaughter….Today, it is the peoples of the Islamic world who have become the proponents of rabid anti-Semitism…. While, contrary to Zionist aspirations, the creation of the State of Israel has fuelled Arab hatred of Jewry, Israel has served as a bulwark against modern manifestations of anti-Semitism that continue to threaten Jewish survival…. In modern times the Arab community has become the greatest proponent of anti-Jewish attitudes, and has transformed the demonic Jew to suit its own purposes…portrayed as an evil force determined to corrupt and exploit the society in which he lives…forming a global conspiracy intent on dominating world affairs….President of the World Muslim Congress, Dr Ma’ruf al-Dawalibi claimed to quote the Talmud at the UN Centre for Human Rights Seminar [December 1984] alleging that it is necessary for Jews do drink the blood of non-Jews…. Nearly 4,000 years of antipathy towards Jews has not diminished…with the threat of Jewish extermination as great as ever.” – From Rabbi Dr Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Emeritus Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, “Anti-Semitism: A History (2002); see his Wiki biography.

    Since similar views are widely held by leading Jewish opinion formers, outside Israel, they raise relevant questions I feel entitled to ask, despite previously intending no longer to contribute to Vridar (as a “right-wing” or “racist troll”):

    Can such an evidently “paranoid passage” be unpacked without accusations of *antisemitism?
    Is the “longest hatred”* entirely separable from the actions of its victims?
    Since the original Zionist project by general consent has failed, could the major powers agree on a security package to preserve both a Jewish and a Palestinian state?
    If so, where should its eastern frontier be located?
    What are the long-term demographic implications for the Middle East?

    *The automatic adjective “virulent” is usually de rigueur in modern journalism.

  • David Ashton
    2015-11-13 18:20:45 UTC - 18:20 | Permalink

    Apologies for geriatric typos. One thing you can say about old age is that you don’t have to go through it again.

    • RoHa
      2015-11-17 05:31:32 UTC - 05:31 | Permalink

      I don’t want to go through it the first time. But I’m even less enthusiastic about the alternative.

  • Bob de Jong
    2015-11-15 14:40:10 UTC - 14:40 | Permalink

    Yes, Tzipi Hotovely favours a one-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. And that includes granting citizenship to Palestinians. She has some following in the likud party, to which she belongs. The Likud itself has no fixed policy on whether a one-state solution or two-state solutions should be pursued. So clearly, Tzipi Hotovely represents opinions held by some in Israel, but not any Israeli government position. So to say that she voices “the conventional thinking and beliefs of most of Israel’s founding fathers from the very beginnings of the nation” is unfounded and misleading.

    The rest of your post is just a selection from old documents, still no indication that any of this has relevance to 1948, and even less to today’s situation. How many more posts do we have to get through before we learn about that?

    • David Ashton
      2015-11-17 09:50:37 UTC - 09:50 | Permalink

      The Israelis and Arabs can fight to the finish, and the conflict can spread worldwide, dragging in other peoples, until you have two dying bald men fighting over a non-existent comb.

      Or you can partition the land between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, preferably along the 1967 line, with Jerusalem returned to international status as a protected Holy City for all three “Abrahamic” faiths.

      Comprise or Armageddon? An end to Zionism and Islamism through a security settlement guaranteed by the major world powers?

      • GEORGE A HALL
        2015-11-17 22:52:28 UTC - 22:52 | Permalink

        A return to the 1967 line would effectively partition Jerusalem, much the way it was between 1948 and 1967, where there was razor wire and checkpoints between Jordanian and Israeli side.

        Right now, there’s no razor wire.

        And since when was it “international status?” Real history, it was either one religion/politics in control or the other. No “international status” under such conditions.

        Yet you can see a perfectly-intact minaret right next to the Hurva Synagogue (which used to be still in ruins in 1990) right now.

        • David Ashton
          2015-11-18 14:57:16 UTC - 14:57 | Permalink

          I don’t expect that intransigent Israelis and intransigent Palestinians will be pleased with my suggestion that outside powers should impose a compromise arrangement. They will just go on debating the past until kingdom come. Jerusalem should not be a political capital controlled by one side or partitioned between, but a city of religious devotion. But in all probability the immovable force of Eretz Israel will encounter to irresistible force of Islamic hostility until the only alternative solution to an impossible problem is mutual annihilation, which will affect not only Tehran and Tel Aviv, but other nations remote from the region. This may send delighted US Christian Zionists into raptures, but the English, French, Russians and Chinese might prefer a less Pam-Geller outcome.

          • Neil Godfrey
            2015-11-19 00:58:29 UTC - 00:58 | Permalink

            I think the conflict is over the present situation, not the past, and is about land and homes, not religion.

      • Lowen Gartner
        2015-11-18 18:07:43 UTC - 18:07 | Permalink

        It won’t happen in my lifetime, but the end game for what is now Israel and Palestine is a single (pseudo) democratic non-religious state where, much like Lebanon was with a majority Christian population when created, the Jewish population becomes less and less dominant over the following 3-4 generations until they merely participate in the government. This will only happen as US support of Israel becomes less and less useful and more and more inconvenient, Then, like Apartheid South Africa, when the Jewish state of Israel is totally ostracized and squeezed by sanctions, it will happen quickly over a matter of a few years. The Palestinians understand this and are playing the long game. And yes, Jerusalem becomes the first territory governed by the United Nations.

        • David Ashton
          2015-11-19 00:43:40 UTC - 00:43 | Permalink

          Demography and “democracy” are not always ideal bedfellows – as Sweden, for example, is beginning to realize, the hard way. The Afrikaners may have had to accept the loss of self-government, but the Israelis may not so quickly follow suit. Who knows? I trust this response is not “right-wing trolling”?

  • David Ashton
    2015-11-17 10:40:27 UTC - 10:40 | Permalink

    Compromise, not comprise. Homer is nodding into dementia.

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