Israel and Palestine: A Story of Modern Colonialism

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By Daniel Avelar and Bianca Ferrari. Avelar is a Brazilian freelance journalist currently studying in the Erasmus Mundus Masters degree in War and Conflict journalism. He is also a member of FFIPP Brazil – Educational Network for Human Rights in Palestine/Israel. Ferrari is an Italian freelance journalist currently studying in the Erasmus Mundus Masters degree in Political journalism. Originally published at openDemocracy

Saint Mary’s Church, in the destroyed Palestinian village of Iqrit. Photo: Daniel Avelar

On a hilltop in northern Galilee, a small church stands alone surrounded by rubbles. It is the last remaining building of the Palestinian village of Iqrit, which was depopulated and destroyed following the foundation of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948.

“This place means a lot to us, it reminds us of where we come from”, says Samer Toume, whose grandparents were among the 600 Christians expelled from Iqrit by the Israel Defense Forces nearly seven decades ago.

The story of Iqrit is similar to that of the other 530 villages that were razed to the ground in a process that came to be known to the world as the establishment of Israel — and to Palestinians as the “Nakba”, the Arabic word for “catastrophe”.

The first European Jews landed on the shores of Palestine and established early settlements in the 19th century. In 1948, Zionist forces systematically took over land, expelling people from their homes and relinquishing many to live as refugees in isolated enclaves.

The foundations of Israel are rooted in a colonial project that has modernized its face but continues to subject Palestinians to military occupation, land dispossession and unequal rights. Seventy years later, the wounds of the Nakba are still open, as Israel prohibits over five million refugees the right of return – while guaranteeing citizenship to anyone who can demonstrate Jewish ancestry.

“Israel doesn’t let Palestinians go back to their lands. In Iqrit, we are only allowed to return as dead people to get buried here”, asserts Samer, 28, pointing to a cemetery not far from the church. Other activities such as rebuilding the demolished houses or cultivating crops, remain illegal.

Nearly six years ago, however, members of the third generation of displaced inhabitants of Iqrit decided to challenge the rules that keep them apart from their lands and started resurrecting the village.

“Through a rotating system of shifts, we keep a continuous presence here. During the day, we go to our workplaces in towns in the area and then return to Iqrit”, tells Samer, who works in a medical start-up in the city of Haifa. “We also hold weekend gatherings and annual summer camps to engage residents from younger and older generations.”

“We want to keep the memory of Iqrit alive.”

Samer’s powerful story is a rather exceptional one. Unlike Iqrit, many of the areas depopulated in 1948 were either settled by Jewish migrants or transformed into forests and military zones by the Israeli authorities, effectively covering up the traces of the Nakba.

Moreover, being able to visit the village from where one’s own ancestors were expelled is, unfortunately, not possible for most Palestinians. Since Samer’s relatives fled to locations within Israel and were later granted citizenship, he is free to move around. On the other hand, most Palestinian refugees still live in the occupied territories or in other countries in the region, often in camps that were hastily built in the 1950s as temporary accommodations. As such, they cannot cross into Israel without prior permission.

According to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, the forced displacement of Palestinians amounts to ethnic cleansing.

“The tale of Palestine from the beginning until today is a simple story of colonialism and dispossession, yet the world treats it as a multifaceted and complex story — hard to understand and even harder to solve”, affirms Pappe in the 2015 book On Palestine, co-written with American scholar Noam Chomsky.

Over the course of the past decades, the status of the Palestinian diaspora has only deteriorated, or far worse: it has become institutionalized. The Oslo accords of ‘93 and ‘95, while celebrated in the west as the first step toward a two-state solution, did not address the right of return of refugees, thereby condemning them to a limbo of effective statelessness.

The treatise partitioned the West Bank into three areas: area A under Palestinian Authority (PA) control, area B under joint Israeli-Palestinian administration, and area C, run by Israel. The accords, which should have paved the way for the creation of a Palestinian state, instead led to increased Israeli presence in the territory through the expansion of Jewish settlements. Scholar Edward Said pointed out that Palestinian leaders had effectively given up the right to self-determination in most of the West Bank’s territory in exchange for Israel’s acknowledgement of the PA, and referred to the agreement as “an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles”.

Oslo’s failure is particularly evident in area C, a scarcely populated district comprising more than 60% of the West Bank and most of the territory’s natural resources, where Israel retains exclusive control over law enforcement, planning and construction. Moreover, Israel Defence Forces are in charge of all borders within and around the West Bank. These arrangements, which have been repeatedly condemned as attempts to de facto annex area C, begin to scratch the surface of what the Israeli occupation looks like today.

Securitization policies are a double-faced coin: for every measure implemented for the safety of the Jewish citizens of Israel, restrictions are being imposed on the rights to movement and development of Palestinians. The complex system of status-associated rights and obligations has created hierarchies within the Palestinian community. In this apartheid-like structure, individuals are required to obtain different levels of authorization in their everyday lives solely based on where their families migrated to in the Nakba.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are subject to discriminatory practices in education, public services and the legal system. That’s the case of Samer Toume, who lives as a second class citizen in Israel and faces challenges in trying to reconnect with his origins in Iqrit.

But even the lives of Palestinians under PA jurisdiction are heavily shaped by the Israeli occupation. Hassan Darwish (name changed to protect his identity), 27, was born prematurely in an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, but he grew up in the city of Ramallah in area A. The realities of living under a military occupation became all too obvious to Hassan at the age of 12, when he was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers during a clash in the refugee camp where his grandparents live.

“I was playing with my cousin in the Jalazone camp when Israeli soldiers came in”, tells Hassan. “There was a big clash, all the kids started running towards it and I ran too. In my mind, we were just playing, throwing stones around. After that, I woke up in prison.”

Recalling the events brings a note of anger and frustration to Hassan’s voice. “I was 12, you know what that means? I was a child, what could I have done against Israel? Israel, what Israel? I didn’t know anything.”

The loss of personal freedom is a recurring theme in Hassan’s story, and it permeates all aspects of the Palestinian human experience. High unemployment rates in the West Bank have pushed many Palestinians to seek jobs in Israel or in the settlements, where they are hired as cheap labour, often illegally. Leaving the territory without a license means risking imprisonment and, according to Hassan, permits get denied all the time.

“We live in a huge prison”, he continues. “If you, as a human, are working everyday, and you want to go on a trip with your family, or friends or girlfriend, you have nowhere to go. Our seaside is occupied. If you want to travel anywhere you will have to empty your car first, because any tool that could possibly be used to hurt someone, even a nail clipper, could get you arrested or even killed.”

“A friend from Brazil brought me a stone from Jerusalem. It is strange, because it is the city where I was born, but after 27 years I cannot go there and pick it up myself. I showed it to all my friends: they felt happy because we could touch it, and smell it.”

Even more dire is the situation of Gaza, where residents are treated as enemy combatants and subjected to a land, air, and sea blockade that has shrunk the territory’s GPD by up to 50% since 2007, according to the World Bank.

On March 30, 2018 Gazan refugees launched a series of weekly demonstrations called the “Great March of Return”, programmed to end on May 15, the Nakba Day. As thousands have gathered near the border to protest their isolation and symbolically set on a journey back to their land, the Israeli Defense Forces have responded with tear gas and live ammunition, leaving dozens wounded or killed.

As Israel continues violating the rights of Palestinians, the international community has repeatedly turned a blind eye. Initiatives in favour of a political solution to the decades-long conflict are often blocked by the US in the United Nations Security Council.

According to Eitan Bronstein and Eléonore Merza, founders of the Israeli NGO De-Colonizer, it is also in the interest of Israeli Jews to acknowledge Palestinian narratives.

“The principal victims of this regime are, of course, the Palestinians, but Israeli Jews have also paid the price of conquest since 1948 by living in constant fear, with no hope of peace”, they write on the NGO’s website. “In other words, we believe an essential key to our future here is deeply rooted in our past.”

As for his future, Hassan remains hopeful. “When I was arrested at 12 years old, I didn’t even know what my dreams were. But now, I have been through so much, and all the hardship has made me who I am. I know what my dreams are: to feel that I have a land, not just to live on one.”

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  1. John Zelnicker

    Yves, thank for this cross-post, too.

    Sadly, Israel has become that which they despise.

    1. vlade

      My, anectodal, feeling is that Israel, or should I say it’s latest crop of political elites, is also becoming more and more despised by the Jewish diaspora around the world – well, the younger (fortyish and younger) part of it anyways.

      1. Pym of Nantucket

        I have often wondered if that was happening. It must be hard for questioning minds to hear the “right to defend itself” tropes. How do you know this is happening? (not challenging your claim, just curious).

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          It is certainly true in the US, see this article that caused lot of consternation when it ran:

          Moreover, I have wondered regarding Israel’s aggressiveness in recent years (in terms of their insistence on mixing it up with Iran, when Iran has been clear it’s not going to throw a first punch, but if attacked, will retaliate massively) is that they recognize their support among US Jews is fading as more and more staunch Israel supporters are replaced by younger Jews who don’t identify much with Israel, and they need to secure as many gains as they can before that happens.

      2. Thuto

        True here in South Africa, the younger generation of jewish people aren’t averse to the sounds of truth vis a vis Israel’s atrocities, it’s the older generation who run the important jewish interests organizations like the SA jewish council who still repeat the tired “Israel has the right to defend itself” mantra…

      3. Sid Finster

        My SWAG is that Israel doesn’t care how the Jewish diaspora feels, as long as Israel can count on the unconditional support of most American evangelicals and the leadership of both American political parties.

        1. Wukchumni

          Doesn’t Israel have a starring role in the end-times event future, according to the best laid plans 2,000 years ago, which the evangs fervently believe?

          It’s comical the Israelites embracing the bringer of their doom for a bargain price of just 30 pieces of silver…

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            They think they can play the Rapturanian Armageddonites.
            The Rapturanian Armageddonites think they can play Israel.

            Considering the role the Rapturanian Armageddonites have played in advancing the power of the Likudiform Revisionists and degrading/attriting the power of the Labor Rabinists, I think the Rapturanian Armageddonites have a more reality-based understanding of just who is playing whom.

            I suspect Younger-Jewish distaste for the post-Rabin-Assassination drift of events is indirectly visible in rising rates of passive disengagement from Israel-centric concerns and institutions. They have seen the Likudiform Establishment in the US and elsewhere beat down any effort to redirect and alter what-and-why is supported relative to Israel, so they are giving up and walking away.

            This suits the Rapturanian Armageddonites just fine. Semi-secular sort-of-liberal Jews are having few-to-zero children per what few families they form, and many are marrying non-Jews as they lose interest in an official Israel-directed Jewish Leadership which considers diaspora Jews to be either pets or meat in service to Israel. Jews who feel like being neither pets nor meat are walking away.

            Some of them could still be won back by genuine “confidence-building” measures on the part of the Israel government. By “confidence-building” measures, I mean rounding up all the illegal squattlers at gunpoint and marching them back into Israel Proper. And getting them to agree by killing as many of them as it takes to convince the rest that it is time to move. The only way that would happen is if the “legacy Rabinists” could somehow take power in Israel in a violent coup and begin savage and far-reaching purges against all the various flavors of Revisionist . . . . killing or expelling a couple million Revisionists over a month or so. They probably don’t have the power to do that, or the desire to do that, so expect no “confidence building” measures on Israel’s part.

      4. Oregoncharles

        @vlade: the main institution representing American Jews who can’t stand Israel’s ethnocidal policies is Jewish Voice for Peace,

        In their own words: “Jewish Voice for Peace works for justice, equality and dignity for all in Israel/Palestine.” Wikip. calls it a “left-wing” organization.

    2. clarky90

      The “legal” argument for the creation of the State of Israel is a document, the Old Testament Bible. In that document, the People of Israel made a legal and binding agreement. They agreed to the Covenant (a legal contract) with God. We vow…….!

      “God promises to make the Israelites his treasured possession among all people[Exo 19:5] and “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”[Exo 19:6], if they follow God’s commandments. As part of the terms of this covenant, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments.”

      Note, “The Ten Commandments” are NOT, “The Ten Suggestions”, but rather, COMMANDMENTS.

      A contract (covenant) is null and void if the either party reneges on any of the terms of the agreement.

      It is very straight forward.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yes, and go read the rest of the Hebrew version of history, where time and again the Israelites ‘fell away,” like building a worshiping a golden bull while Moses was up there on the mountain getting his marching orders from YHWH. Or in all the stories of the prophets, who are always calling the Israelites to perform according to their covenant. Not a contract, seems to me, but a claim of divine blessing kind of without respect to actual performance by the human side. I guess the various punishments that YHWH is said to have visited on them were enough of a spanking to let them get back in YHWH’s good graces, or so the claim goes.

        Just one vast hypocrisy. I do see that one of our US Apocalyptic Televangelists has said God wants him to have his own supersonic jet, just $54 million so he can “go spread the bullsh!t Gospel” even thicker than he can already with the other multi-million ‘business jets’ he owns — sorry, that “his ministry” owns, like the Clinton Foundation owns stuff…Dig deep in your pockets, Believers— your rewards will be great in Heaven and courtesy of God’s Lottery that brings you Prosperity ™…

  2. David Jacobs

    Sigh, this leaves out so much context and is therefore wildly misleading.

    First let me say the way the Palestinians are being treated is a travesty of the highest order. But you cannot lay this at the feet of Israel being the sole creator of this problem.

    It helps to remember how we got here. When there was a Palestine occupied by the Brits, Arabs and Jews both took terrorist actions against the Brits to drive them out. After WW2, England was done with Palestine and divided it into two countries, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews, neither one particularly viable by themselves. And with lots of Arab and Jews finding themselves on the wrong side of the division. Fighting broke out almost immediately (I won’t get into who started it). And Egypt, Jordan and Syria immediately joined in.

    Israel managed to carry the day and took over some parts of the Arab sections to make for a more defensible country and in the process created Palestinian refugees. These refugees were not welcomed by any of the surrounding Arab nations and were either kept in refugee camps or forced to return to what remained of Palestine. With each successive war this pattern continued, with neighboring Arab countries bottling them in on one side and Israel fighting for its existence and bottling them in from the other, thereby worsening the Palestinian’s plight each time.

    This is not a problem that is going to be solved by Israel and the Palestinians themselves. The external constraints provide a null solution set. At a minimum Jordan and Egypt (and hopefully Syria) would have to take major roles in any solution. You probably even need Iran to participate. Without that, any solution that only involves the Palestinians and Israel is condemning one of them.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes, it’s so intractable. Guess there’s nothing to be done.

      The truth is that Israel could make peace tomorrow since the stronger party can always make peace with the weaker. Therefore the obvious conclusion is that they don’t want peace and are perfectly happy with the status quo as long as US economic, diplomatic and military support is propping them up. To ensure that this happens they are even getting their lobby to push laws outlawing criticism of Israel within the US, thereby taking away our freedom as well as that of the Palestinians.

      Israel is not something that “just happened.” It was a plan and part of that plan was to dispossess the native inhabitants. Arguments about whether this was morally justifiable in light of the Holocaust are now largely moot since Israel isn’t going anywhere. But let’s be clear that it is a country dedicated to the proposition that two wrongs do make a right. This contradiction is then justified by a great deal of dissembling.

      1. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

        How does one “make peace” with a party who has made it their mission to make the other side cease to exist.

        In truth, the Palestinians have refused the 2-state solution at least three times, and never have acknowledged Israel’s right to exist.

        Your suggestion is . . . ?

        1. lou strong

          My suggestion for you is to avoid typing errors. In truth, you changed Palestinians with Israel and viceversa.

          1. Jon Paul

            Return what was stolen, every square inch of it.

            Do we start with the Cherokee, the Lakota, the Nez Perce…

            Oh, sorry, did you mean Israel?

        2. Sid Finster

          So I guess that explains Israel’s expansion via settlements and its unprovoked assaults on its neighbors?

        3. PKMKII

          In truth, the Palestinians have refused the 2-state solution at least three times, and never have acknowledged Israel’s right to exist

          You could just as easily flip that around and make the same argument the other way.

          However, what’s missing in this argument is that “The end of Israel” does not (necessarily) mean the expulsion/slaughter of Israeli Jews. It can simply mean, the end of Israel as a religious ethnostate. Which is the part that gets constantly overlooked in MSM accounts of the conflict, that the Israeli hardliners will never accept anything other than being a religious ethnostate in which citizenship is denied as to maintain the religious/ethnic “majority,” yet want to be treated as a modern, “Western” democracy. The conflict will never end until one of those two pretensions is abandoned.

        4. Edward Qubain

          Not true. The Palestinians have made multiple efforts to reach a two state settlement with the Israelis only to be rejected. This sordid history is recounted in The Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky and many other books. But the Israeli agenda has always been to seize more territory.

        5. Irrational

          I am currently reading “Beware of small states” by David Hirst. If half of it is true, the Israelis really had it out for the Palestinians even before the creation of Israel. I recommend the book though it is heavy reading.
          Also a reply to Mr Jacobs.

        6. Plenue

          1. That’s a lie.

          2. The two-state solution is and always has been a farce that Israel was never serious about and has actively sabotaged whenever Palestinians agreed to often unreasonable concessions.

          3. One side has nukes, a multi-billion dollar arms industry, and reliable political cover from the worlds sole hyperpower. The idea that the *other* side in this scenario needs to ‘acknowledge the existence’ of the power with all the cards is some truly insane ‘logic’.

          Palestinians have no power. At this point, after years of utterly illegal blockade and bombardment, many of them don’t even have money or clean water. It takes a complete lack of moral character to look at the people in the Gaza ghetto (yes, I know that’s a loaded word with an ugly history. It’s also 100% accurate to this situation), surrounded by a containment wall and subjected to periodic ‘lawn mowings’, and berate them as having some sort of obligation to their occupiers.

    2. Edward Qubain

      The Zionist conquest of Palestine was the culmination of years of planning and certainly not an “accident” as you seem to imply. The Palestinians were driven out through a combination of massacres and psychological warfare. 80% of the empty villages were destroyed and the remainder were occupied by Jewish settlers. Yes, there was conflict between Palestinians and Zionists before 1948, which is natural once the Palestinians realized that the Zionists planned to take over their country and drive them out. The Palestinians did not invite the British to occupy their land after WWI; the British imposed themselves and proceeded to lay the seeds for the annihilation of that society.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Why are the Eastern European thugs (mostly) who invade and “urban renew” Palestinian land, destroying the olive trees and wells and habitations, called “settlers?” I guess like the Europeans who killed and dispossessed those poorly armed and unwise-in-the-ways-of-war and tribal and disparate groups of indigenous “Indians” called themselves “settlers.”

        Not to worry, hasbarites — your team is winning the propaganda and political-economic struggle, but don’t get smug— there’s always the chance of some weird and wicked game-changer, and I don’t mean the whipping boy of the moment, Iran… And of course there is no decency, honor or justice, as us mopes wishfully think of those concepts, in this world, and probably not in the next

  3. Peter Phillips

    Is it possible that what we currently witness in Gaza, a concentration camp/prison for millions of dispossessed, created by an ostensibly “democratic” state, is a portent of the future that awaits the 99%?

    When propaganda and the selling of illusions fails the oligarchs, will they have zero compunction about terrorising and marginalising large swathes of their society (as does Israel currently)?

    Will liquidating those that directly confront their confiscation of wealth and denial of basic human rights become “a price that has to be paid”?.

    Am I being overly pessimistic? Could it really come to this?

    The fact that Gaza actually exists..and seems to have no immediate or long term solutions at hand, makes me think we may all one day be Gazans!

    1. Ignacio

      Like the boy that was bred by a violent father and reproduces his behaviour, the State of Israel was poised to commit the same mistake as a son of the Holocaust.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Nietszche: Beware; if you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss as stares into you.” (paraphrase)

    2. John Wright

      You do raise a possibility, with looming resource shortages (water, good growing climate, arable topsoil, ocean depletion), how will TPTB allocate scarce resources?

      Using economic growth as a measure of resource usage, Gaza may be a model for the future but referenced to the past.

      Some of the other ME nations should be powder kegs, as the citizens of Saudi Arabia should be very unhappy that the elite pumped out their nation’s most valuable commodity, sold it, and captured much of the gains.

      Perhaps for most of the 20th century, nations advocated for more population growth.

      The 21st might be the century where migration and population pressures push governments to actions that will be difficult to cast as present day humanitarian.

      The resource protection script is an old one, as I write this from a Northern California area, formerly settled by Coast Miwoks, perhaps thousands of years ago.

      They recently did get an economic benefit.

      Per Wikipedia, “the Federated Coast Miwok, gained federal recognition of their tribal status in December 2000”.

      They subsequently secured $825million to fund a casino, which they built,

    3. mike f

      ” When propaganda and the selling of illusions fails the oligarchs”

      – the only reason for NPR to exist. Failure is not an option.

    4. Peter Phillips

      Having posed my question “Are we all destined to be future Gazans”?… in the early hours of the morning…later thought led me to think that “Gazans” are already amongst us in the USA.

      It is possible to draw a strong parallel between the scale of incarceration of Black Americans to a “Gazan” scenario. Imprisoned (many haven broken laws that white people “get away with” e.g. illicit drug use), denied basic rights, exploited as a super cheap labour source and left with a permanently blighted future, at FIVE times the rate of whites.

    5. Jeff

      Ignorance can be addressed but foolishness and moral confusion are tough to move. Conflating the terms prison and concentration camp is immoral. Can’t we at least agree to discuss things as they are without this type of hyperbole? Too much to ask?

      1. HotFlash

        Conflating the terms prison and concentration camp is immoral.

        Please explain why. While you are at it, can you explain the morality of firing live ammunition on a vastly under-armed (granting, for the sake of argument, that rocks and tires are ‘weapons’ at all) populace.

    1. Katsue

      Because (a) Israel controls Gaza’s border with Egypt and (b) Egypt is an ally of the US and Israel.

      1. Bill Smith

        Israel does not control the Gaza border with Egypt. Egypt controls it.

        The Egyptians have from time to time opened the border in the past without consulting the Israelis. For instance the Egyptians opened it in April (last month) for 3 days. The other day the Egyptians said they would open it for Ramadan.

        Why don’t they just open it permanently?

        1. Edward Qubain

          I think the Sisi regime depends on Israeli and U.S. support. They display contempt for Palestinian or Egyptian life. Their worst crimes are probably against the people of Egypt.

  4. Eduardo Pinha

    If you consider that Israel is colonial project you are denying the right of self determintation to the Jewish. Israel is not a colonial project, the Jewish people have the right to live in peace on its land.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Meanwhile, in other news, the Italian government has announced that the intend to re-colonize their ancient lands of Britannica, especially around the capital of Londinium, as an act of self-determination. They announced that it was not a colonial project but merely taking back lands that were rightfully theirs.
      The present occupants, who have been living there for the past two thousand years, will simply have to be resettled to other places north of the old frontier of Hadrian’s wall the Italian government announced. Furthermore, they denied that there are any plans for a Greater Italy as rumoured.

    2. Lee

      So, Palestinians bear the burden of the European crimes against the Jewish people.

      “Their” land? Based on what? An old book of fairy tales? God as real estate broker?

      Israel should have been carved out of the heart of Europe.

      1. Wukchumni

        This is what should have gone down, but truth be said, the world pre & post WW2 was still pretty anti-semitic.

        “The Kimberley Plan, or Kimberley Scheme, was a failed plan by the Freeland League to resettle Jewish refugees from Europe in northern Australia before and during the Holocaust.”

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I read and wish I could find the link that repeated archeological efforts to prove the accuracy of various Biblical stories, which were undertaken to validate claims that Jews had lived there before and therefore could argue that they had property rights of sorts, have been a 100% fail.

        1. Michael

          There’s the Arch of Titus. And lots and lots and lots of archeology to the region. And the writings of the Romans and ancient Jews. You’re co-mingling two questions: 1) are bible stories true? (i don’t know why this matters) and 2) did Jews live in Israel and were they thrown out by Romans? (yes).

          As for the European crimes the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, leader of the Palestinians, was a Nazi who encouraged murder in ancient Jewish neighborhoods and helped organize SS divisions.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Don’t straw man what I wrote. I was discussing only claims based on the Bible, which archeologically appear not to check out. The fact that Jews lived in the region is not disputed; the question was the effort to bolster claims to particular places by reference to the Bible.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Don’t hasbara me, bro. You know who else had contact with the Nazis? Jewish leaders who were negotiating passage for some people to leave Europe for Palestine in exchange for land and wealth. Maybe the Grand Mufti was a Nazi. Who cares. Henry Ford was a fan of Hitler. Europeans countries sent whole divisions of volunteers to the German Army, including SS Divisions. Before the war there was even a strong Nazi movement in America too. They had a big rally at Madison Square Gardens and if I recall the details right, there were three giant posters behind the stage – one of George Washington, one of Abraham Lincoln and one of Adolf Hitler. Bush snr. was still trading with the Nazis even after war was declared between the US and Germany but never went to prison. This stuff is all in the history books so it not really hidden. That Grand Mufti argument is just a red herring that is now growing really old.

            1. Michael

              “Don’t hasbra me, bro” ultimately is what’s called an ad hominem attack, implying there is some centralized Jewish scheme to spread disinformation.

              Wipe that sneer off your face, knock off the lies — which are consistent throughout these comments — and think about what you’re writing.

              No, Reverend, Jewish leaders were not Nazi allies. Yes, Reverend — as somebody whose family disappeared into the ovens at Auschwitz — I care very much that the Grand Mufti was a Nazi. I also care, Reverend, that Henry Ford was a rabid anti-semite and racist. And that strong Nazi movement in America – well, there’s plenty of that leftover (you’ll find one in the nearest mirror, Reverend).

              I care a great deal, as should every anti fascist.

              Do you care about racism? Sexism? Homophobia? Or is just Jewish extermination that makes you all warm and fuzzy, Reverend?

              The double standards — one for Jews and Israel — one for everybody else, is what’s getting really old. Really, really, really old. Ancient, in fact. It goes way back in time, Reverend, to a place I’m sure that you’re both familiar and comfortable with.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                1. The comment was not ad hominem. Use a dictionary. Aggressive yes, but ad hominem, no. He did not make an argument based on his jibe at you.

                2. You straw manned his argument.

                So don’t go around copping to argumentation superiority you do not possess.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Here is a wiki about Judea Capta coins. They are from right around the BC/AD turnover period, which is a thousand years younger than Biblical stories times. But still, there they are.

          And here’s image results for “Judea Capta” coins.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The Palestine coins and bills are 2,000 years more recent than the Judea Capta coins. Those coins were struck in honor of Titus Vespasian’s victorious suppression of a big Judean revolt and were gloating over Titus Vespasian’s victory.
              They are merely fossilized evidence that there was a Judea ( “Jewland”) in the area full of Judeans ( “Jews”) for the Romans to conquer and suppress.

              Merely by way of reminding those who pretend that there was no such thing as “Jews” or “Jewistan” . . . . that actually, yes there was.

      3. Jim Haygood

        Israel should have been carved out of the heart of Europe.

        Should an African-American state be carved out of North America? And if so, why? Because every ethnic or religious needs its own state?

        Native American reservations are carved out of North America, but with only limited sovereignty. These have not worked out as hoped, with poverty much more prevalent than in surrounding states.

        1. lee

          Promises were made and broken. To African Americans were promised the lands that they had worked as slaves or 40 acres and a mule. To Native Americans, large tracts of land were promised and then were confiscated when they were found offer gold or other resources.

          As an American ethno-culutural mutt, living in one of the more diverse areas of the U.S., no, I don’t believe every ethnic or religious group needs its own state. I would never freely choose to live in such a state. But I also recognize that persecuted minority groups might reasonably differ. Although, I believe, or at least hope, the historical trend is moving away from antagonisms based on these distinctions. Fighting over metaphysical metaphors and differences in the melanin content of one’s skin is tragically stupid.

        2. Plenue

          Funny how the guy always prattling on about debt can’t seem to grasp the concept of reparations owed for crimes committed against a people.

          As for the reservations not working out as hoped, what makes you think the intentions were pure to begin with? I can conceive that the entire intent was to shove surviving natives into containment zones, in the hopes that they would shut up and rot away. They can certainly be read as a final insult: “Here, have a rump state that makes up a fraction of the territory you once had free range over, and that contains few if any resources.” That Indian reservations make up the poorest counties in America is most likely a feature, not a bug.

      4. Oregoncharles

        If a land claim 2000 years old is still valid, we non-Native Americans are in big trouble.

        At this point, Israel’s real claim is that most of its people were born there.

        Incidentally, the one-state solution that Yves mentions below has been a Green Party position for quite a long time.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Come on. What about “one state solution” don’t you understand? It is Israel that is refusing to allow Palestinians to vote in Israel’s elections, yet restricting their basic rights, like the freedom of movement?

      1. Jeff

        Israeli Arabs vote. Are you referring to Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens but live or work in Israel? If they are not citizens, I’m not sure why they would get a vote in Israel.

        1. HotFlash

          Oh, you mean like my Arab Christian neighbor, who immigrated here? He came on a Jordanian passport as he cannot get an Israeli one, although he was born in Jerusalem. He cannot go back there, let alone vote, as he is not an Israeli citizen. He told me sadly, “I have never even been in Jordan.”

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Disinformation. Keep it up and you go into moderation or get banned for agnotology per our written site Policies.

          This is from 2012 but the general point applies:

          If we exclude Gaza, one in every 4.5 people living under Israeli rule doesn’t have the right to vote in the coming elections; that one person is (almost) always Palestinian. If Gaza is included, it’s one in three who is not represented.

    4. Edward Qubain

      Zionism has destroyed the lives of millions of Palestinians. How does that fit into your “self-determination” calculus? Or do only Jewish lives matter? Since when does a person’s religion give that person the right to take someone else’s country and drive the indigenous people out? If the U.S. declared itself a Christian nation the Jewish community would complain.

      1. Jeff

        Do you think that terrorist attacks by Palestinians against Israelis has ultimately hurt Palestinians?

  5. Eduardo Pinha

    “Gazan refugees launched a series of weekly demonstrations called the “Great March of Return”. It was not protest, it was war, Gazan attacked with fire, stones, knifes and attempted to break into Israel. Israel defended itself like any other nation rightfully would.

      1. Jeff

        I wonder what a US, Russian or French response would be if people from a neighboring country rushed one of their borders.

        1. pretzelattack

          i wonder if you realize canada and mexico aren’t open air prisons surrounded and blockaded by the us.

    1. pretzelattack

      oh shooting down unarmed protestors isn’t war, it’s people trapped in an open air prison who are making all the trouble.

        1. JTMcPhee

          And if one goes back to the Hebrews’ own history, as laid out in the first 8 or 10 books of the Bible, how did the Israelites come by their claim to lands over there? How did they come by that claim? Why are they such affinity BFFs of the American Empire? Because by violence and, dare one say it, “guile,” and infiltration and cutting the throats of their hosts in the middle of the night and when they had the tactical and strategic advantage, they would attack and slaughter the Amosites and Jebusites and Philistines and a bunch of other tribes who had land or resources they wanted, sometimes killling every one of them (occasionally claiming YHWH told them to) and sometimes just the men or the males, and enslaving the rest of the population, and of course taking all their stuff, cattle and whatever tents and grain and weapons and such survived the onslaught. Column of smoke by day, pillar of fire by night, and all that massive
          YHWH Power in the Ark of the Covenant.

          Of course there are good Christian apologists for both the slaughter of aboriginal and indigenous populations by both the Israelites, and the Manifest Destiny Christian Soldiers of the conquerors of the West…

          Might make the Right, or some crap like that… somewhere between 200 and 600 nuclear weapons, and ownership by “contributions” and the blandishments of AIPAC and that set…

  6. Craig H.

    It’s not ethnic cleansing with good enough public relations.

    There is a video interview with Russell Means where he tells the interviewer “what your government has done to the red man, eventually it is going to do to all of you”. Means was very telegenic.

    Russell Means: Americans Are The New Indian

    Also this part is hilarious: it is the Alex Jones tv show.

  7. Ursine Qua Non

    Sadly this blog’s amazing body of knowledge of economics, finance, and truth-behind-the-headlines realpolitik is inversely proportional to its knowledge of the unhappy complexities of the Middle East. If that article had an economic equivalent, it would be Kramer selling shoddy stock recommendations to supposedly ‘clued in’ watchers of American TV, who don’t realise that if you don’t know who the sucker is, then the sucker is you.

    You can take whatever nuanced moral stance you want over the maddening, terrible events taking place in Israel/Palestine. But it’s an intellectual disgrace to post such a one-sided piece of tosh, even if it is designed to encourage free debate – which in and of itself I heartily agree with. And nobody emerges smelling of roses from this all, I agree.

    Let’s start with this gem:

    “The first European Jews landed on the shores of Palestine and established early settlements in the 19th century. In 1948, Zionist forces systematically took over land, expelling people from their homes and relinquishing many to live as refugees in isolated enclaves.”

    That conveniently overlooks the Jewish community that had remained in then Palestine for 2,000 years;

    That the late 19th century was a time of global flux and movement of populations between many locations in the absence of passports and sprawling multinational empires like the Ottomans – including concurrent emigration into Palestine by Arabs from neighbouring countries in some cases;

    That 1948 didn’t ‘just happen’. Rather, the Arab states declared war on Israel immediately to “push the Jews into the seas” – whose population at that time consisted of a small minority who HAD ALWAYS LIVED THERE and a far larger number who had literally just survived the Holocaust and had been forced out of Europe;

    That over 50% of Israel’s current JEWISH population originates in ARAB countries and was also forced out penniless by angry mobs or far-right/left governments for the crime of being the same ethnicity as those who didn’t lose the 1948 war in Israel. They arrived as refugees, and despite genuine initial ‘Occidental vs Oriental’ racism are fully integrated into Israeli society – grudges over past slights notwithstanding in some cases.

    I’m not trying to defend anyone or anything here. I’m just trying to be as intellectually honest as when a reader posts that Greece and Italy can painlessly leave the Euro and Yves points out factually and concretely why that just ain’t so. By contrast, the above article doesn’t have any time for nuance. Or context. Or even some key correct facts.

    Israel isn’t yet honest with itself about the Nakba. And a majority of Palestinians are equally delusional that they will somehow rewind the last 100 years and emerge blinking into an empty Tel Aviv like in the Walking Dead.

    Only intellectual honesty will allow the compromises necessary for a real peace deal – the kind so far rejected repeatedly in the past by one side, and now not on the cards from the other.

    I’d like to think even one mind might be partially opened by what I’ve just written, but I sadly doubt it. All those people who haven’t studied it and haven’t been there, or who have ‘skin in the game’ or one side or the other will leap in angrily that they are angels and the other side devils. **sigh**

    Meanwhile, I wait with baited breath for when we start seeing equally piercing political analysis on the incredible —and very, VERY one-sided– repression taking place in China against both ethnic Uighur or Tibetans.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Come on. What is happening in China is not a geopolitical flash point and a big excuse for US nation-breaking. There isn’t any comparison.

      Nowhere do you make an argument for Jews having a state based solely on religious conformity (I know American Jews with lots of relatives in Israel complain that Reform Jews are not considered Jewish in Israel) and displacing and/or disenfranchising people who’d lived there for hundreds if not thousands of years? Or that Jews had been offered the opportunity to form a state out of part of Turkey but rejected that?

      And you completely ignore that England promised the Arabs that they’d get the Palestine area as an independent state thanks to their support in WWI, while also signing the Balfour declaration promising the creating of a Jewish homeland.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Sorry about the digression, but Tibet is indeed a geopolitical flash point: the border between India and China. That’s two nuclear powers head-to-head with conflicting territorial claims. I would be much better for all of us if there were an independent Tibet in between.

        I have emotional priors over Tibet, because I remember 1956, so a bit touchy. Sorry.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Chinese-lebensraumed Tibet is not a flashpoint right now because China is too big for anyone to challenge it or even complain. But Tibet will become a hot throbbing suppurating fistula-sore-cyst-tumor as China keeps stealing more and more water from its rivers and stealing all that water from a billion downstream non-Chinese people. Some of whom ( India) have atom bombs.

    2. Ignacio

      You want something as equal as confronting stones and sticks with missiles?
      If there is anything unequal/asymmetrical is the relationship between Israel and Palestina.

        1. pretzelattack

          tell me, what does math have to do with recognizing that shooting down unarmed children is wrong? show your work.

    3. marym

      From Wikipedia quoting from and linking to the British Government’s 1920 Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine:

      There are now in the whole of Palestine hardly 700,000 people, a population much less than that of the province of Gallilee alone in the time of Christ…The Jewish element of the population numbers 76,000. Almost all have entered Palestine during the last 40 years. Prior to 1850 there were in the country only a handful of Jews. In the following 30 years a few hundreds came to Palestine.

      There was no particular justification for potentially displacing Jewish people already there any more than for displacing Palestinians, but neither was the Jewish presence a justification for imposing on the Palestinians a homeland for people who historically didn’t live there.

      There has never been an equitable and viable (relative to population size, land distribution, ownership, access to resources, internal and external travel) 2-state solution “offered” to the Palestinians. Conversely, the Zionist movement has always looked to population control, immigration, illegal (by international law) settlements, and ethnic cleansing to achieve a one-state solution solely to the benefit of the Jewish population. Documentation for this preference and intention is as endless as current-day Israeli attempts to achieve it.

      A search on “Uighurs repression 2018” will provide much recent reporting and analysis, though whatabout isn’t an effective argument.

      1. rd

        Both Israel and the Palestinian territories have very high birth rates compared to the developed world:

        So both sides are stuffing more and more people into a pretty small area.

        Here is a simple history of current Middle East boundaries, largely formed after WW I after the fall of the Ottoman Empire with re-jiggering after WW II:

        It is likely we would have a much more stable Middle East today if T.E. Lawrence’s recommendations at the end of WW I had been used as the basis for setting national borders:

        Britain and France historically structured political boundaries with multiple ethnic groups inside them so that they wouldn’t collude with each other to overthrow the colonial power, and one ethnic group was usually given bureaucratic power over the rest. Toss in anti-Semitism and racist views to help make boundary determinations, and you get the modern Middle East.

        It is hard to begrudge Jews a land of their own in 1948 after the horrors of the holocaust and other anti-Semitic pogroms. The Arabs also left themselves open to more land losses when they repeatedly attacked Israel in the 50s-70s. When you go to war, you are betting the house. These items however, do not excuse some of Israel’s conduct related to Palestinians in recent years.

        1. pretzelattack

          how about stealing the palestinians’ land in the first place. i can understand them begrudging that.

    4. Dan

      Thank you for your great comment! I too found the post to be very one-sided, and full of glaring omissions. I have many family members who were pushed out of other countries in the middle east under threat of death, imprisonment and torture, and who faced glaring discrimination in Muslim majority countries for years – long before 1948. I live in the US, but have family in Israel, and can attest that the narrative that Israel’s Jews are solely “European colonizers” leaves out: a) the many middle-eastern jews that had to be displaced from their native lands, b) often falsely depicts that Jews in the middle east ilved peacefully and were accepted as equals in Muslim majority countries prior to the “Nakba”, c) overlooks how religious minorities are being treated by Muslim majority countries in current times (ask the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the Bahai in Iran, the Yazidis in Iraq how it feels to live there). Please also read about how much access there was to religious sites in Jerusalem for Jews and Christians when the Arabs (Jordan) controlled the territory prior to 1967, then compare to access that Muslims and Christians have to these sites under Jewish control. Lastly, read about the 1929 Hebron massacre of Jews that were living in what is today the West bank, and you will see that neither side is without its fault. I typically value Naked Capitalism for its balanced reporting, but this piece was very one-sided.

    5. Katsue

      The Jewish community in Palestine around 1900 was a tiny fraction of the overall population. By 1927, two thirds of the Jewish population of Palestine consisted of people who had immigrated to Palestine since the Second World War.

    6. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      There were Jewish communities in Israel prior to 1948 but I have no idea of the number. One such was very close to the village of Dien Yassin whaich was the scene of the 1948 massacre, which depending on who you believe led to the massacre of between 100-250 men, women & children. According to some accounts their Jewish neighbours attempted to intercede when members of Irgun & the Stern gang turned up.

      I would suggest that there is a substantial difference between the two groups – the first living alongside people who lived the same sort of life & the terrorist groups who were likely twisted by their experiences in WW2 Europe – Israel has simply followed the precedent of the newcomers from Begin to the present day.

  8. sharonsj

    I knew this was a completely one-sided diatribe when Jewish survivors of the Holocaust are called “migrants.”

    Gaza is controlled by Hamas, now into the 11th year of its four-year elected term. Its stated aim is the destruction of Israel and the death or expulsion of all the Jews. Meanwhile, it kills off its political enemies and uses the money donated to it, not to rebuild Gaza, but to build underground tunnels and smuggle arms. That’s why Israel blockades it (although Israel also daily delivers truckloads of food and medicine). That Gaza lacks proper water and continuous electricity is a result of the squabbles between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

    Jews have lived in that area for at least three thousand years. It is erroneous to say that the Romans or others expelled them all because many never left. It is also wrong to blame the conflict on the creation of Israel. For example, Hebron, in the West Bank, which is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, was the site of two separate massacres by Arabs well before 1948.

    And to claim that Israel is committing genocide is ridiculous. I read that since 1948 approximately 14,000 Palestinians have died in the4 conflict.

    Finally, I never see mention of what has happened to Jews in the Middle East since 1948. Egypt, Iraq, and Libya expelled all of their Jewish inhabitants and took their property. There are virtually no Jews left in any Muslim country except Iran, where 90% of Jews have already left. Many Arab countries have genuine state-sponsored apartheid laws against Jews, but only Israel gets called an apartheid country.

    1. Bill Smith

      Well, in my opinion there’s gonna have to be a deal made or things will just get worse.

      I think that as a state I would think Israel could uphold their side of a deal (if one could be made) but they need someone who can deliver on the other side(s)? That’s because both sides are going to have to give on their demands to make a deal and that will leave people on both sides unhappy. Frankly at the moment it looks like Hamas would be more likely to uphold a deal in Gaza than Fatah could in the West Bank.

      I thought the story quite interesting that Hamas decided not to use the tunnels before the Israel located and destroy them. That was quite the tunnel that Israel found last week. Hamas has spent a lot of effort and concrete on them.

    2. Carolinian

      Perhaps the most annoying part of this whole tedious discussion is the ongoing attempt to pretend that Israel is still some sort of cowering victim under existential threat. Can we all concede that the one Middle East country that does have atomic bombs is not going to be invaded and destroyed by its neighbors?

      Also your facts are quite shaky. Israel invited those Jews in Arab countries to come to Israel and at least in the case of Iraq they were allowed to leave, not expelled, but told they would have to leave their possessions behind. Historically–before the 20th century–the Arabs and Muslims were quite tolerant of their fellow “people of the Book” and did not persecute the Jews. That would have been the Christians.

    3. Roger Smith

      One can both be a Holocaust survivor and a migrant. For example, you were a Jew from Poland, lucky enough to be one of the extreme few who survived the Nazi camps, then displaced you travel to some other country, say the United States.

      but only Israel gets called an apartheid country

      Are other countries occupying half of their own Jewish population while keeping the other half in an “unlivable” “prison”? Half of the population of Gaza are children drinking water unfit for consumption. Please, enlighten us as to where Jews are currently being persecuted this way so that we may also advocate for their freedom. I’ll wait.

      The grave mistake is too internalize so much your (general on all following accounts) religion and its historical suffering that it blinds you from making any conscious, self-recognition that those you support (and therefore you yourself) are doing the same exact thing. What I see here is more “Holocaust” (which I think is important to distinguish from the historical “Nazi Holocaust”) propaganda. “Jewish suffering is unique!”

      1. Jeff

        Roger, how much in aid has the PA received in the last 20 years, and how much of that aid has gone to building infrastructure like schools, commerce, tourism, etc?

        1. HotFlash

          Excellent question! Would the schools, etc be more or less than the number destroyed in, for example, Operation Cast Lead?

          And a question from me, how many snipers does Gaza have? How many nukes?

    4. tegnost

      Re migrants: there may be a linguistic connection to emigrate, which means to move somewhere permanently

    5. The Rev Kev

      ‘I knew this was a completely one-sided diatribe when Jewish survivors of the Holocaust are called “migrants.” ‘

      Would the term ‘settlers’ be better? If you have someone born and raised in say, Germany or France with that country’s citizenship, and they move to live in another country to live and to take up citizenship, say in Israel, well then yes, they are migrants. Here is the standard definition from Google-

      noun: migrant; plural noun: migrants
      1. a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.

      Same with those survivors from the Pol Pot regime that came out to Australia. We call them migrants too. Their experiences never put them into a super-category either.

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      Please look at the comments immediately before this one. Jews constituted only about 1/10th of a very sparse population in the area in the early 20th century. The migrant label fits.

  9. linrom1

    Israelis are no more colonists than South Africans. Israelis should look to modern South Africa and forever put to rest any illusion of reconciliation. If there is even one Boer left in SA in twenty years, I would be surprised, they’re systematically being “cleansed.”

    For over 50 years, Palestinians waited and schemed for Arab armies to come and drive the Jews out. Now they’re waiting for Iranians to wipe out Israel. How can Israel possibly make peace with these people?

    As the only land in the Middle East and all of Arabia where Christians can worship without fear of being murdered, It is highly propagandist and misleading to imply that Israel drove Christians from Palestine; but, we already know the writer’s mindset.

    1. Martin Finnucane

      As the only land in the Middle East and all of Arabia where Christians can worship without fear of being murdered …

      But what about Syria? … Oh, wait …

      1. linrom1

        Just look at what Syria did to Lebanese Christians? Lebanon was a Christian country before Syria and Iran “cleansed’ and destroyed it.

        What happened to all the Assyrian Christians? Oh yeah they were massacred along with Armenians.

        1. Martin Finnucane

          Syria and Iran cleansed Lebanon of its Christian population? Really?

          As for your passively voiced assertion/question: Who did what to the Assyrian and Armenian Christians? And to whom do the Assyrians and Armenians look now for support and protection? Israel? The USA?

          Go to tell ya, hasbara aint what it used to be.

          1. linrom1

            Get your facts straight! And FOREMOST stop slandering anyone who utters something positive about Israel as some robotic bot and stop pretending that Islam is not anything but hostile to Christianity.

            1. pretzelattack

              people in islam countries are hostile to christians that are bombing and invading them, yes. stop pretending that isn’t the reason. the poster challenged you on your “fact” that syria and iran “cleansed lebanon of its christian population”. instead of supporting that, you ignored it and misstated the poster’s position.

            2. Katsue

              Perhaps you should get your facts straight. Lebanon was never a Christian country, in the sense of being a country predominantly inhabited by Christians, though according to the last census in 1932 it had a small Christian majority.

              It is now estimated that Christians are about 41% of the population – the main reasons for the demographic changes are differential birth rates and differential emigration rates – it seem it was historically a lot easier for Christian Arabs to emigrate to countries like the United States than it was for Muslim Arabs.

              It should be noted that the country most hostile to Christians and Jews in the world, Saudi Arabia, is presently an ally of Israel.

    2. Jim Haygood

      As the only land in the Middle East and all of Arabia where Christians can worship without fear of being murdered

      Palestinian Christians have steadily emigrated away from their oppressive existence under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.

      A number of Christian denominations have recommended or participated in sanctions against Israel because of its atrocious treatment of Christians as a subset of all Palestinians.

      Israel doesn’t bother to conceal its antipathy to Christians who actually advocate on behalf of their coreligionists in Israel/Palestine:

      The moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was among five interfaith leaders denied access to a passenger jet headed for Israel this week. Rick Ufford-Chase was part of an interfaith delegation of 23 Muslims, Jews and Christians boarding a Lufthansa Airlines jet at Washington Dulles International Airport that was bound for Israel on Sunday [July 23, 2017].

      The five who were barred were from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Palestine. Their plan was to join the larger interfaith group and visit with human rights activists in Israel and the West Bank.

      Earlier this year, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, made changes to the Law of Entry preventing leaders from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from being allowed in the country.

      Better hasbara, please.

      1. Ursine Qua Non

        You are right about BDS, yes. But how odd then that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where Christian numbers are growing and where the (small) community is actively thriving.

        What inefficient oppressors to have crushed Christianity in the West Bank but to have missed what was going on under their noses in Israel proper!

        The only logic proposition is that Christians have left because conditions in the West Bank are poor and they were better educated and hence could leave for opportunities elsewhere. Systematic Christian oppression that is not.

    3. Thuto

      Really now? Boers being “systematically being cleansed”?? I’m tempted to ask where you’re commenting from because your inversion of facts suggests to me you write from some ivory tower geographically removed from ground-zero of this false cleansing you reference. My suggestion would be to stay off the cool-aid you seem to have ingested copious amounts of. I’m in South Africa and nothing that you say is true, if however you write from SA then I can only imagine you’re a loyal, card carrying member of Afrikaans forum.

    4. pretzelattack

      they were looking to south africa to do what when they helped them develop the bomb? you mean boers are being cleansed like palestinians? that’s bad.

    5. The Rev Kev

      ‘As the only land in the Middle East and all of Arabia where Christians can worship without fear of being murdered,’

      No, they just have to tolerate being spat on and having their buildings firebombed and having settlers through legal dodges try to take over Christian-owned lands. The Ultra-Orthodox hate the Christians just as much as they do the Muslims so there is not a great future in being a Christian in Israel. One of these Ultra-Orthodox was spitting on Christian monks as they went to church but made the mistake of spitting on one that was an ex-American footballer. Big mistake.

    6. HotFlash

      Israelis are no more colonists than South Africans.

      Honest question here, do you mean white South Africans or black South Aricans?

  10. Ignacio

    Forgive me for using this expression in spanish about the South African comparison. Éramos pocos y parió la abuela! Could be translated as “that was the last straw” or “that was all we needed”.

  11. shinola

    Perhaps this situation calls for the wisdom of Solomon; and the good ol’ USA could play Solomon.

    Nuke Jerusalem! (or at least credibly threaten to). Ground level blast with the dirtiest bomb in the arsenal. Leave it a smoldering, radioactive crater for decades (centuries?) to come.

    Lets see who really loves “their” ancestral homeland enough to give up their claim. Or let the religious/ethnic zealots fight over radioactive ruins.

    Just kidding (sort of)

  12. JBird

    These questions are not meant to be used in conjunction with some sort of metaphorical scales of wrongs and injustices. Every person, organization, and nation has done things to be ashamed of, albeit some have done an awful lot, but still.

    I ask about right now, in the present, not the past. Leaving aside the past, I ask these questions about the now:

    What are the necessary resources for the current, and whole, population of Israel, including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, to live good lives, and how do we get to the point of fairly distributing them? (what is the path to getting there?)

    What is the ratio or balance of military power? Who can hurt whom?

    Who has the effective control and to what degree do have it and what do they do with it?

    Who has actual, not codified, rights and who does not?

    Who is losing and who is gaining control of the various economic resources such as ground water, gas fields, and fishing waters?

    Finally, and I think this is the least acknowledged, let alone looked at, which set of elites is getting wealthier due to the current set of laws, customs, and practices?

    Actually one more thing.

    Does power tend to corrupt? If so, has anyone been corrupted? And this question is not meant to be answered by any obvious simple answer. The answer might be complex. Big fish in little pond or little fish in big pond?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Well, Netanyahu’s wife is being charged with…corruption.

      To be fair, Israel’s investigative authorities seem to be honest, as long as Arabs aren’t involved.

      1. JBird

        Much of this corruption does have a lot to do with the Palestinians though. The blockade of Gaza has been very profitable for Netanyahu’s family, friends, and I think his political cronies. All the allowed shipments (at very inflationed prices) has been handled by a few companies that have heavy investments by them.

        It drives me crazy when the MSM will not do even the most basic investigation.

  13. Bernard

    As long as Israel can’t be criticized, Israelis has carte blanche. any comment against Israel is considered Anti Semitic. if it weren’t the Palestinians, it would be some other set of people. Winners losers and power.

    too bad they didn’t take Germany and give it to the Jews.

  14. Alex

    The commenters above have noticed some flaws with the article. Mostly it’s a matter of context: what is left and what is mentioned. So for example the fact that Jews that came/were driven from the Arab countries now also can’t visit their former houses and cemeteries (with exceptions of Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Morocco). And the idea of restitution of *their* property or citizenship in any of these countries is so unrealistic that no one is even suggesting it.

    Or that during and after the 1948 war the Jewish settlements on the part of Palestine occupied by Jordan were also destroyed and their inhabitants either massacred or driven out (mostly in Jerusalem and Hebron area).

    This is not to deny there is a lot of injustice done to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But this is an extremely complex conflict and this is a very one-sided treatment.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I”ve checked some countries, and Jews were driven out AFTER Israel was founded and its citizens were displacing Arabs. It’s very clear in the history of Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. They all had substantial Jewish populations prior to the establishment of Israel.

      Iran’s Jewish population is actually growing and does not feel threatened:

      1. Bill Smith

        In Morocco last month. Met some Iranian Jews on vacation there. They related that they are somewhat unconformable.with life in Iran. Partially because they are Jewish and thus tied to Israel by stereotype. Thus the heated talk on all sides leaves them in the middle. And by the way WTF is that guy Trump doing!?

      2. Alex

        Was I not clear enough? The Jews of the Jerusalem old city, Hebron area and Dead sea kibbutzim were driven out or massacred during the war (see Kfar Etzion massacre). Their houses were demolished after the war by Jordanians (the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem).

        The expulsion/fleeing of Jews from Arab countries indeed took place AFTER the war of independence. Which doesn’t make it okay! They were in no way responsible for whatever happened during the war in Palestine.

        And finally Iran is not and Arab country and I was referring specifically to Arab countries.

      3. Katsue

        Syrian Jews weren’t driven out of Syria either, at least, not prior to the current civil war when I understand most of the remaining Jewish community fled to Israel. For decades, it was the opposite, Syrian Jews were restricted from emigrating. The restrictions on Jewish emigration from Syria were lifted in the 1990s and most of them left voluntarily.

        I read a story on, I think, Joshua Landis’s site about Bashar al-Assad meeting a delegation of Syrian American Jews circa 2005, and he confirmed to them that they could return to Syria whenever they wanted.

        1. Ursine Qua Non

          From Wikipedia, if one bothers to do any research at all:

          Despite an exodus to Israel or other countries of Jews that occurred throughout the Muslim world, Syrian Jews were not officially expelled. But after Israeli independence in 1948, the situation for Syrian Jews deteriorated once again. The Aleppo Arab riot of 1947 killed dozens of Jews and destroyed hundreds of homes, shops, and shuls. This marked the beginning of mass Jewish emigration from Syria to Israel, despite the Syrian government’s willingness to put to death those who attempted to flee. Other repressive measures against Jews included barring them from government service, not allowing them to own telephones or driver’s licenses, and forbidding them to buy property. The anti-Semitic attitude of Syria’s government was displayed to the world when it provided shelter for Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, an aide to Adolf Eichmann. Initially, Lebanon allowed Syrian Jews escaping to Israel free passage through its territory. This ended when the Syrian government began confiscating the passports of Jews, and Lebanon announced that it could not allow persons through its borders without travel documents.[48]

          Between 1948 and 1961, about 5,000 Syrian Jews managed to reach Israel. Many Syrian Jews also immigrated to Lebanon, but a few were deported back to Syria upon the Syrian government’s request.[47]

          The Syrian Jews in Lebanon, along with the rest of the Lebanese Jewish community, would largely leave that country for Israel, Europe, and the Americas in later years.

          The Syrian government passed a number of restrictive laws against the Jewish minority. In 1948, the government banned the sale of Jewish property. In 1953, all Jewish bank accounts were frozen. Jewish property was confiscated, and Jewish homes which had been taken from their owners were used to house Palestinian refugees.[47]

          In March 1964, a new decree banned Jews from traveling more than 5 kilometres (3 mi) from their hometowns.[47]

          Jews were not allowed to work for the government or banks, could not acquire drivers’ licenses, and were banned from purchasing property. Although Jews were prohibited from leaving the country, they were sometimes allowed to travel abroad for commercial or medical reasons. Any Jew granted clearance to leave the country had to leave behind a bond of $300–$1,000 and family members to be used as hostages to ensure they returned. An airport road was paved over the Jewish cemetery in Damascus, and Jewish schools were closed and handed over to Muslims. The Jewish Quarter of Damascus was under constant surveillance by the secret police, who were present at synagogue services, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other Jewish gatherings. The secret police closely monitored contact between Syrian Jews and foreigners and kept a file on every member of the Jewish community. Jews also had their phones tapped and their mail read by the secret police.[46][49]

          After Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, restrictions were further tightened, and 57 Jews in Qamishli may have been killed in a pogrom.[50] The communities of Damascus, Aleppo, and Qamishli were under house arrest for eight months following the war. Many Jewish workers were laid off following the Six-Day War.

          Or, one can believe what Assad, up to his neck in blood even by regional standards, said 13 years ago.

          The Zeibak sisters: Four Syrian-Jewish girls (three sisters and their cousin) who were raped, killed, and mutilated while trying to flee to Israel in 1974

          In 1954, the Syrian government temporarily lifted the ban on Jewish emigration; Jews who left had to leave all their property to the government. After the first group of Jewish emigrants left for Turkey in November 1954, emigration was swiftly banned again. In 1958, when Syria joined the United Arab Republic, Jewish emigration was temporarily permitted again, again on condition that those leaving relinquish all their property, but it was soon prohibited again. In 1959, people accused of helping Jews escape Syria were brought to trial.[47]

  15. Michael K

    I do believe that support for Israeli policy has plummeted among American Jews, of which I am one (albeit of the secular humanist variety). My support for Israel started eroding about 20 years ago. Growing up in the 70’s, it was assumed by most of us that the lands captured by Israel in 1967 would be returned to the Arabs when they made peace with Israel. (Note: there was no idea of “Palestinianhood”, at least in our community – Palestinians were pre-1948 Israelis.) This was certainly the view of the pro-Labour faction of American Jews, probably a large majority of the total.

    By the 90’s, it was clear that Israel had no intention of relinquishing much of this occupied land, and the “affiliation crisis” began. By the early 2000’s, I was speaking out in the mildest possible way, and was nonetheless viciously attacked by Israel supporters (e.g. what kind of Jew doesn’t support Israel? where does the self-hate come from? and similar garbage).

    I do take issue with the authors’ description of Israel’s roots as a “colonial project”. For European Jews, this was always a return to the homeland. It was never conceived of as the theft of someone else’s land and their subjugation. The facts simply don’t fit the description. India was a British colonial project. The British were not landless, second-class citizens of Europe who had a deep religious and cultural yearning to return to their Indian homeland. The facts of modern Israel’s behavior does not change the nature of its founders’ aspirations.

    In the end, my take on the conflict is that this is a tragedy for both peoples. I don’t see how a two-state solution is any longer possible, given the vastly uneven power of the parties, and the unwillingness of the Israelis to allow the Palestinians meaningful control over their own lives. If I were to advise the Palestinians, I would tell them to turn this into a civil rights struggle – demand equal rights in a bi-national state. I doubt the Palestinians will be able to organize themselves along the lines of the U.S. civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s, but if they did, international pressure on Israel might exceed that placed on South Africa in the 80’s and 90’s.

    1. Wukchumni

      I was in a very Jewish business in these United States, and most I knew were secular Jews, and like your observations regarding Israel, I watched my friends disgust of what was happening there slowly but surely turn them against the country, but not so much in a vocal way, more as say a relative that’s doing time in the slammer, whom you don’t talk about all that much.

  16. everydayjoe

    Europe and USA have enough land to welcome 3-5 million Jews.
    The Arabs have enough land to welcome the 5-6 million Palestenians.
    Let the Jews go to Europe and USA
    Palestinians to Arabia/UAE
    Let all of ISRAEL be a UNESCO site where all can come visit for relegious purposes:Jews,Arabs and Christians.

    1. Ursine Qua Non

      I am reminded of a comment from an elderly Jewish guy born in Poland:

      “As a boy in Europe I was spat at and walked past signs saying ‘Jews, p**s off to Palestine’; now I am spat at and walk past signs saying ‘Jews, p**s off out of Palestine’.”

  17. Wukchumni

    When I was a kid, the only wall of note was in Berlin, in order to keep people in.

    Now that i’m all grown up, the only walls that come to mind are the ones in Israel and the USA, in order to keep people out.

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