Sunday, January 04, 2009

For Want Of An Actually Existing Anti-War Movement, Palestine’s Agony Deepens

One cannot help but wonder how things might have turned out for the Palestinians these past few years had there been a real "anti-war" movement abroad in the rich countries of the west, rather than what that movement has become: the primary developed-world vehicle for activism, apologetics and propaganda on behalf of Hezbollah and Hamas.

It's not as though there aren't any real anti-war activists in Palestine and Israel at whose side we might stand and to whose cause we might dedicate ourselves. There's Combatants for Peace, for instance, which consists of former combatants from "both sides" of the Palestine-Israeli tragedy. There's also the One Voice Movement, endorsed by 331,727 Israelis and 295,720 Palestinians so far. One Voice aims for "a two-state solution guaranteeing an end to occupation and violence, and a viable, independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel."

They could use our help. Instead, we've been giving them this kind of thing.

In Canada, long before Israel's recent barrage upon Hamas, the anti-war movement had degenerated to the point that it was absolutely incapable of making any credible contribution to the conversation. Now, the polemical justifications on hand, such as they are, come from such deranged sources as James Petras, a senior member of the editorial collective of the venerable Canadian Dimension magazine, which was once this country's preeminent socialist journal. If you can bear it, Petras explains that Israel is a totalitarian state that is now engaged in the "mass extermination of the population of Gaza. . . in the open ovens of missile fire." (There it is again, by the way: 'Mass extermination' and 'ovens' add themselves to the rhetorical lexicon that in just the past few days has included 'atrocity,' 'genocide,' 'blitzkreig,' 'holocaust' and 'prison camp' in the most commonplace "left-wing" critiques of Israel's military operations. Makes you wonder.) Petras goes on to tell us that Israel's targets actually include "the entire population of 1.5 million semi-starved prisoners" in Gaza, and the whole thing is being orchestrated by "Jewish-Zionist"Americans of dual loyalty who control the government, the newspapers, the broadcast media, Hollywood - the whole schmeer.

Actually, do read it. It's like an updated version of The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, out of the pages of the Dearborn Independent, circa 1921.

As for just how it came to pass that the "left" now so routinely takes up space formerly occupied by the drooling, antisemitic far-right, Fred Halliday's account is as good as any. Or Paul Berman, via an essay by Nick Cohen.

It is not as though the western "left" - even the much-maligned Marxist left - is utterly devoid of principled analysis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here, the Internationalist Workers Tendency weighs in: "The violence in Gaza suits the agendas of both the eliminationist, antisemitic, Hamas and the Israeli rejectionist, racist right. On the Hamas side, Jews are behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and there is no war that broke out anywhere without [Jews'] fingerprints on it, and on the other, Hamas’ response to Israeli bombardment is ‘proof’ that Palestians are ‘terrorists’ and ‘justifies’ the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination."

You don't need to agree with the IWT line in order to recognize that it is, at the very least, a coherent, intelligent and perfectly legitimate point of view, and not at all like the mere masquerades we're used to getting from self-styled "Marxists" when they address the Israeli-Palestine issue. Personally, I can't find anything in it worth working up the energy to raise an objection.

Still, I do regret to having concluded that another good left-wing analysis raises serious questions about whether simply stopping the attacks Israel is currently carrying out in Gaza will do much good in the long run. That analysis comes from the trade unionist Eric Lee, and his argument is convincing: "Israel is today being accused of over-reacting, of applying disproportionate force to what is essentially a defeated and weak enemy. Actually, Israel is doing what is necessary to bring the long war to an end."

I mean it when I say I regret it, because I do tend to place my hopes in the capacity of Palestinians of good will to "resist" the Hamas tyranny (and elected or not, it is a tyranny) even in the absence of effective solidarity and support from a global anti-war movement, and despite that same movement's tendency to make excuses for the worst Islamist enemies of the Palestinian people.

As it happens, Eric has just sent around an email reminder that today marks the fourth anniversary of the murder of Hadi Saleh, the international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. We might well recall that Saleh and his comrades could not count on the support of the British Stop The War Coalition, but worse, the Stop The War Coalition was cheering on Saleh's murderers at the time on the pretext that the Iraqi "resistance" had the right to pursue its aims "by any means necessary." Which makes such necessary means as binding a brave socialist's hands and feet, blindfolding him, torturing him, strangling him with an electrical cord and then finishing him off with bullets perfectly justifiable, I guess.

In Gaza, Khaled Abu Toameh's sources are reporting that in recent days, Hamas has executed more than 35 Palestinians "suspected of collaborating" with Israel, and Fatah reports that at least 75 of its activists have been shot in the legs and others have had their hands broken by Hamas thugs. Hamas has also placed dozens of Fatah members under house arrest. Meanwhile, Hamas confirms that it is engaged in the pursuit of a "very dangerous collaborators' network."

So why does any of this matter, all this horror in such a tiny, faraway place? Because the sundering of the "left" unto barbarism and senility matters. Because Palestinians matter. Because Israelis matter. Because this little "war" is a much greater struggle than it appears.

"This is a war for the future of Islam," writes Bradley Burston. "Specifically, it is a war over the future of radical Islam, which for the past decade, has vigorously and skillfully labored to surpass settlements, Palestinian misrule, and a host of other factors to become the pre-eminent obstruction to peace in the Holy Land. "

It is also the pre-eminent obstruction to peace in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, and quite a few other places I could name.

Too bad the "anti-war" movement hasn't noticed.


Blogger Peter said...

"Medical officials in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip said Monday that 523 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks, including 111 children. That marks a dramatic spike from the early days of Israeli air strikes that primarily targeted Hamas-dominated police stations, government buildings, mosques the Israeli military said were being used to store weapons, and the homes of Hamas leaders."

Teach those kids to fuck with the jews, eh Terry?

7:40 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Daniel Larison:

"To make one other quick point, comparison with Western reactions to the war in Georgia is useful. Most politicians and pundits deplored Russian “aggression” and disproportionate Russian actions following the initial Georgian escalation. Indeed, I also said that the Russian response was disproportionate, because it seemed to be so, but for most Western observers the importance of proportionality seems to come and go like the tide depending on the military action in question. Two years ago and again this year, Israeli military action has appeared to be proportionate to most of the same people who were deeply offended by Russian actions, or else they will insist that proportionality is irrelevant or impossible to define. If the consensus-supporting politicians and pundits are creative, they may argue both things at the same time. What never fails is their willingness to make excuses for one side while falsely claiming that their opponents in the debate are doing likewise. If there is one thing that most of the critics of U.S.-allied governments have in common, it is the desire to get Americans to stop making excuses for their allies when the allies are in error."

8:20 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Gaza could have been a model of the future Palestinian state. Instead, it is a place of repression and aggression.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed that this blog, which seems to be supportive of an all out assoult on a captive population of poor and dispossed refugess, has not linked to one article or featured a sole perspective of a Palestinian. It's this very invisibility of the Palestinain narrative which is part of the problem. Here's Mustafa Barghouti, an activist, a secular leftist, with the Palestine National Intitive, doing a very good job of illuminating the crisis

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for who those of us here who care for peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis, should be aligning ourselves, I can think of no better voice than long time peace advocate and Israeli activist Uri Avnery. Here's the speech he was going to in Tel Aviv, if the rally wasnrt shut down by right wing Israelis

"They tell us we are traitors.

They tell us we are destroyers of Israel.

They tell us we are criminals.

But we tell them: The criminals are those who started this criminal and unnecessary war!

An unnecessary war because it was possible to stop the qassams by the government stopping the blockade on the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza.

A criminal war because, on top of everything else, it is openly and shamelessly part of Ehud Barak's and Tzipi Livni's election campaign.

I accuse Ehud Barak of exploiting the IDF soldiers in order to get more Knesset seats.

I accuse Tzipi Livni of advocating mutual slaughter in order to become prime minister.

I accuse Ehud Olmert of trying to cover up rot and corruption with a disastrous war.

I call upon them from this tribune, on behalf of this courageous and decent audience: Stop the war at once! Stop shedding the blood of our soldiers and civilians for nothing! Stop shedding the blood of the inhabitants of Gaza!

The ground invasion will cause an additional disaster, a mutual massacre, and even more terrible war crimes!

At the end of this war no general will be able to set foot on European soil without fear of being arrested for war crimes.

We are told that there is no alternative. Not true!!! A ceasefire is possible even now, yes, this very minute, if we agree to lift the murderous siege, if we allow the Gaza people to live in dignity, if we talk with Hamas.

I wish to address the people of the south, the people of Sderot, Ashdod and Beersheba: We know your anguish. Even though we don't live with you, we know well. But we also know that this war will not change your situation.

The politicians exploit you; the politicians conduct a war on your back. You too know that!

I call upon Olmert, Barak and Livni: Do not send the soldiers into the Strip! All three of you will be accused of war crimes! All three of you will pay the price!

The masses in Israel saluting you now will punish you tomorrow. That happened in the second Lebanon War. That will happen again this time!

And you who are standing here, women and men, young and old, Jews and Arabs, you who have protested against this horrible war from the first day, from the first minute--isolated and cursed--you are the real heroes!

You can be proud, very proud, because you stand in the middle of a hurricane of hysteria and ignorance, and are not swept away by it! You are retaining your sanity, not only at home but here, in the street!

Millions around the world see you, salute you, salute each one of you.

As a human being, as an Israeli, as a seeker of peace, I am proud to be here today."

8:14 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"I've noticed that this blog, which seems to be supportive of an all out assoult [sic] on a captive population of poor and dispossed refugess [sic]. . ."

You're either completely illiterate or a liar. Stupid and filthy insults are not tolerated around here. Don't do that again.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read your posts Mr Glavin and it appears to me that you are in support of what the IDF is currently doing in Gaza. Is this true? If you're looking for the left here to align themselves with peace activists in Israel then surely Uri Avnery who has condemend the Israeli govenrment and calls for a ceasefire comes to mind. And why no Palestinian voices amongst the literally dozens of articles which you've posted?

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last thing I'll say is that those who support this war on Gaza should have to look at the pictures of its victims

8:53 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You're right about one thing, Anonymous. That is that last thing you will say here.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a desparetly needed voice and sanity and compassion, doctor Gabor Mate speaking against the bombardment of Gaza at a rally in Vancouver

Without endorsing every tactic and action of the Palestinian
resistance, we have to understand that Israeli government policy has
never been one of defense, only of domination. They supported Hamas when it suited them, they will try to crush Hamas when that suits them.

The real crime of the Palestinians are not the rockets, not the suicide bombers, but resistance itself: whether peaceful or violent. Non-violent protests have also evoked brutal and even murderous responses from the
Israeli army. The Palestinian's very existence denies the legitimacy of the Zionist claim of Palestine having been “a land without a people.”

That they don’t agree to being exiled forever, to being denied their human, civil and political rights, that they don’t agree to
disappear—that is the real crime of the Palestinians.

And if some of my fellow Jews assert that after 2,000 years we still have an attachment to the land and claims on it, do we really believe that the Palestinians will, after mere decades, surrender their rights,
no matter how many of them are killed, jailed, tortured, and humiliated?

Peace is possible, and both Palestinians and Israelis have a right to lives of security, to an existence where they don’t have to fear their children being killed nor their children being compelled to kill others. It’s good to recall that there is another Israel, not just that of the
politicians and the generals and the settlers. It’s the Israel of those thousands—that saving remnant--who demonstrate in Tel Aviv against this latest atrocious war, and of those young people who choose jail and social opprobrium rather than serve as jailers, oppressors and murderers of Palestinians.

As the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has said, "In the name of the
holocaust memory let us hope the world would not allow the genocide of Gaza to continue." Pappe, himself the son of Holocaust survivors, uttered those words in 2006. Not much has changed since then, only for the worse

10:21 PM  
Blogger James O'Hearn said...


I think the idea of the "big lie" has become more pervasive today simply because more and more people have full and total control of where they get their information from. As the notion of debate becomes ever more quaint, polemical diatribe gains prestige, and is adopted as the standard of discourse. Simply put, people decide in advance what they want to believe in, and reinforce that belief with suitable sources. The big lie used to be something others told us, it is now what we tell ourselves.

Where I live, this effect is quite marked, and it makes the possibility of discussion or debate entirely out of the question. As a case in point, here is Sunday's lead editorial from the Gulf News, which is the New York Times, the paper of record, for the Gulf region.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


Thanks for the link. The scariest line in the whole piece - asserting that the Nazi Holocaust was a Zionist fabrication, no less - was the last line:

"Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa is a professor of sociology at UAE University, Al Ain."

When did you move to the UAE?

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone posted a link to the interview of Mustafa Barghouti a corageous medical doctor in the West Bank, human rights advocate and a member of the Palestine National Initiaive which believes in mass non violent resistance to the Israeli occupation. He has also been arrested, detained and beaten numerous times by the Israelis for his advocacy. For some reason western liberals looking for secular leftitsts to support in Palestine rarely mention him. Notice, too, that he says that Israel is commiting a massacre in Gaza and calls for an immediate end to the slaughter, as well as attacking much of the standard bias and misrespreentation of the western media, He wrote a great piece at Huffington post. I'd be interested to get Glavins opinion

1:16 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"I've noticed that this blog ...has not linked to one article or featured a sole perspective of a Palestinian."

being told he is a liar, the accusation morphs with much ease into:

"it appears to me that you are in support of what the IDF is currently doing in Gaza. Is this true?"

It is clear to me the author of these comments cannot distinguish between malicious bias and support.

The only thing to be is anti-Israel. Anything less or more complex than that is deemed immoral and unacceptable.

It's an example, Terry, between what you called a genuine anti-war movement and a "vehicle for activism, apologetics and propaganda on behalf of Hezbollah and Hamas.".

I blame these voices for the self-destructive intransigence of the Palestinian people. If it weren't for these enablers of terrorism and victimhood, a Palestine could have been celebrating its eighth, or twenty-eighth, or sixtieth independence day. Instead they celebrate "Days of Rage" and count their dead. Some achievement for a movement that pretends to care for Palestinian kids.

3:53 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

...the self-destructive intransigence of the Palestinian people. If it weren't for these enablers of terrorism and victimhood, a Palestine could have been celebrating its eighth, or twenty-eighth, or sixtieth independence day.

I am sorry, this is a travesty of the history of the many missed opportunities for peace and a long and complex diplomacy. The failure is not simply based on Palestinian "intransigence". There has also been a long history of Israeli rejectionism and a consistent failure of international diplomacy.

Sixty years ago there was no hope of a Palestinian state as there was a tacit acceptance by Israel and the great powers of the absorption of the Arab territories into the surrounding Arab states. It is from this mistaken policy that much of what we see today flows. Of course the left were at the time cheerleaders for Israel not the Palestinians. Even recently, if the borders that were offered by Israel at Taba had been the ones on offer earlier at Camp David, there would have been a deal, but the move came too late.

Just as irritating are the anonymous comments repeating the mythologies of the opposing camp, trying to throw all the blame on Israel ("Without endorsing every tactic and action of the Palestinian resistance" - though neatly excusing them of course) and criticising Terry for what he is not saying. For instance, the "land without a people" quote, which is used as evidence for the prosecution, comes from the Jewish Territorialist Organisation. It was a description of an alternative to Palestine for settlement not of Palestine itself. See here:

If you want a quote from Uri Avnery try this:

"The goals of each of the two sides emanated from their basic national interests. They were shaped by their historical narratives, by their disparate views of the conflict over the last 120 years. The Israeli national historical version and the Palestinian national historical version are entirely contradictory, both in general and in every single detail."

Part of a peace process is to unravel these nationalist accounts to find common ground and some form of objective historical narrative. There is good (as well as terrible and partisan) history out there and I would urge those who would simply state opposing versions as evidence against each other to go and read it.

6:51 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Sixty years ago there was no hope of a Palestinian state"

Didn't the war begin with the rejection by the Palestinian Arabs of the partitioning of Palestine?

What you are recounting is the result of that rejection, war and the subsequent displacement of the Palestinian Arabs. Do you think that if the Arabs had accepted UN Palestine Partition Plan of 1947 - General Assembly Resolution 181, Israelis would still wage war upon them?

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some comments -

*Sixty years ago there was no hope of a Palestinian state as there was a tacit acceptance by Israel and the great powers of the absorption of the Arab territories into the surrounding Arab states.*

Sixty years ago, there WAS of course `hope for a Pal. state', as this was what the plan was under the UN. the plan that the Palestinians - and indeed, the Arab states generally - decided to reject it under the arrogant assumption that they could blow away any state that was occupied by Jews.

*It is from this mistaken policy that much of what we see today flows*

If the mistaken policy is the Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist - yes, that is the root of all that is happening now.

*Even recently, if the borders that were offered by Israel at Taba had been the ones on offer earlier at Camp David, there would have been a deal, but the move came too late.*

You know this how? It is the same thing that is said again and again: if only Israel would be more accommodating, give away more, conced more, do more, more more more more...

No. The Palestinians - or at least, their leadership - have no interest in a `peaceful solution', other than than the `peace' that will come when the Israelis are destroyed.

the record is clear: Arab states that have made peace with Israel, continue to live in peace with them.

8:31 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

It isn't as simple as that Contentious. Yes they did reject it and if asked today they would grab that deal. However, in the context of the time that rejection was hardly surprising, nor was it unreasonable.

On the causes of the war of 1948 and the preceding civil war see:

Even then there were powerful forces against a Palestinian state. The Jewish Agency had entered into secret negotiations with Transjordan. Bevin thought that a Palestinian state would be non-viable and pressed for the Arab areas to be merged into the neighbouring states and accepted Arab ambitions. The Arab states themselves had no intention of seeing a Palestinian state emerge. In short, especially because of British opposition to partition, there was no desire on the part of the international community to enforce and police partition. This meant that the eventual settlement would be decided purely by military means. It was a conflict the Palestinians, whose own organisation and rebellion was crushed by the British in 1936-39, could never win.

The evidence points to the supposition that even an enforced partition would not have resulted in a Palestinian state, though it would have avoided much of the subsequent chaos.

8:43 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

And Anonymous,

No. The Palestinians - or at least, their leadership - have no interest in a `peaceful solution', other than than the `peace' that will come when the Israelis are destroyed.

This is true only of Hamas, who incidentally also want to deny the legitimacy of the Palestinian Christian community (originally some 20% of the Palestinians, though now eroded by higher emigration). Prior to the rise of Islamism this was the province of the 'leftist' rejectionist front.

It is not true of the mainstream Palestinian political leadership. The deal breaker is the terms of the two-state solution offered. And that involves negotiations and concessions.

Once again the responses to my earlier comment are doing the same thing. They are finding reasons to blame the other side. Pro-Israelis are doing the same as anti-Israelis. This is why Terry has pointed to the views of the real peace movements as they are trying to break this sterile partisan discourse.

Incidentally, I recommend the article that Will has linked to on Hitchens on Gaza in comments above and make sure that you click on the link to the op-ed by Benny Morris. Both are good articles, though Hitchens gets Morris' position wrong on the Palestinian refugee problem.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly recommend Tony Karon's must read article over at the rootless cosmopolitan, which begins with a brilliant dissection of Morris op ed

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the link

10:17 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I am happy to see a real debate occurring here, especially between the Contentious One (who is wise to the pathologies at work in the "left" position on these subjects) and the Plump One (my dear comrade Peter Ryley, who is similarly wise and has spent time in Palestine). I am loathe to offer much of an opinion on these subjects, and in fact have rarely offered anything approaching an opinion on the agonies of Israel and Palestine, my concern being more about the "anti-war" movement and its historic betrayal of the Palestinian people, and also the abdication by the western "left" of its role as a progressive interlocutor on behalf of the oppressed and dispossessed peoples of the world, in favour of a reflexive support role for any "authentic" thug or religious fanatic who claims to speak on behalf of those peoples.

Language is my main concern; language, and the way it reveals, obscures, and - in the case of the current anti-war left - betrays a politics that owes its origins to reactionary and antisemitic currents, and not to an emancipatory tradition of any kind.

It's weird, what these endeavours will get you. Even my Wikipedia page reports that I "came under fire from some progressives and from anti-war activists for a Georgia Straight column in which he had expressed support of the American and Israeli positions in the July 2006 invasion of Lebanon," when if truth be told I don't know what the "American" position was, exactly, and never offered an opinion on it, and as far as the Israeli position, I'm not even sure about that.

My opinion then, and now, is that there are two wars going on. One is the just struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, dignity, self-rule and their own state - which is eminently worthy of progressive support; the other is a war in which the Palestinians are mere fodder, a global, clerical-fascist war against modernity, reason, women, democracy, and (as always) the Jews. This isn't just some "position" I'm staking out. For my sins, this is the only analysis I am capable of settling upon, because the preponderance of evidence screams out for attention to this reality, and any politics that deliberately ignores this reality, or is uninformed by it, isn't to be taken seriously.

That's why I'm not especially impressed by Uri Avnery, or even by the stirring orations of Gabor Mate, and certainly not the deranged musings of Ilan Pappe. Neither do I see any use in summoning the "Palestinian narrative" (which does not exist in the real world) to deploy against the Israeli narrative (which does not exist in the real world) in times like these. As the Plump observes, this is no way to express one's friendship with the long-suffering Palestinians. It is to reduce the Palestinians to a trope, a polemical function. It dehumanizes them, and can only serve to further nurture the grievances of an already butalized people.

I'm Irish, from a fierce Irish republican family. I know a thing or two about what that sort of "friendship" will get you. Certainly not "peace," so no, sorry, won't do it.

And for these reasons I am not especially impressed with Barghouthi's essay, either. I will not criticize him or dismiss him or deny his contributions to a secular and progressive resolution to the Palestinian dilemma, but I see little in his essay except a justification for intransigence. He does however make an important point about the current Israeli offensive:
"In the end, this will in no way improve the security of the average Israeli; in fact it can be expected to get much worse in the coming days as the massacre [?!] could presumably provoke a new generation of suicide bombers."

A fair point. I may be wrong, by I cannot see a way forward at all in Palestine (or Afghanistan, or Somalia, or Iran etc.) unless phenomena such as Hamas are brutally crushed, and completely removed from the equation. Yes, Israel does have some very real security concerns at the moment, and does have the right to defend itself and so on, but as for the larger challenge, the main question about the Israeli offensive in Gaza must be: Will it work? Is there a better way?

One these questions, the "left" is not just largely silent, but has developed the habit of studiously ignoring the fact of this larger struggle, this other war. To observe this does not mean I have gone over to the right, or that I support the massacre of innocents.

I'm just saying, is all.

10:23 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"It isn't as simple as that Contentious."

Ephraim Karsh:

"Far from being the hapless objects of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who from the early 1920’s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival. This campaign culminated in the violent attempt to abort the UN resolution of November 29, 1947, which called for the establishment of two states in Palestine. Had these leaders, and their counterparts in the neighboring Arab states, accepted the UN resolution, there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place.

The simple fact is that the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence in the future Jewish state of a substantial Arab minority that would participate on an equal footing “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.” The words are those of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founding father of the branch of Zionism that was the forebear of today’s Likud party. In a famous 1923 article, Jabotinsky voiced his readiness “to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone.”

11:03 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

The problem is that Karsh is an extremely controversial and polemical historian. The idea that opposition sprang solely from the leadership is highly dubious, despite the malign role of the Mufti. Opposition was deep, widespread and began from the first settlements in the 1880's. The suggestion in the article that Palestinians were driven out by Palestinians is not borne out by the evidence published in secondary sources, though I have not seen the archive material. I have only researched the British Foreign Office archives, and that a long time ago.

The trouble is that whatever evidence he is using it is counteracted by vast quantities of documentary and eye-witness accounts (including that of my Uncle who was there!).

It would be worth Googling the spat between Karsh and Morris. I did have the references to hand but can't find them at the moment.

Personally, I see Karsh as the equivalent of Ilan Pappe, thoroughly unreliable and a partisan and propagandist historian.

What I have done is read a fair amount of early Zionist writing (in English and translation), again some time ago before I changed my academic direction, and I can only assume that the position ascribed to that of Jabotinsky and the Revisionist movement is a misrepresentation based on selective quoting.

The relationship between the existing Palestinian population and Zionist settlement was widely and vigorously debated and indeed there were hopes that there could be a Jewish state with a protected non-Jewish minority (not a very attractive prospect for the overwhelming Arab majority). It was an utterly unrealistic wish. To lift this out and pose it as representative only distorts a lively debate. The proposal also flew in the face of the reality on the ground and so it would have been extremely foolish as anything other than a declaratory aim. So on the one hand you had writers like Ahad Ha'am who posed the alternative of spiritual Zionism and those like Israel Zangwill, who at first proposed territorialism as Arab opposition made settlement of Palestine impossible, and then moved to argue, as many did, for transfer.

Here it is important to get it right. The image and language of transfer that we have is that of 'ethnic cleansing'. To use that in connection with early Zionism is anachronistic. This is what the anti-Israel loons are doing, exactly the same way as they misuse the term 'apartheid'. The model that was being proposed was that based on the Treaty of Lausanne. Here there was a voluntary exchange of populations as part of the territorial settlement between Greece and Turkey. I hasten to add that it was voluntary only as far as governments, it was a desperate experience and utterly involuntary on the part of the people who were forced from their homes.

This debate again illustrates my argument of the need to move beyond partisanship. The establishment of a Jewish state, based on immigration and settlement, in a populated Arab country would inevitably mean some form of displacement. This is the reality that Jabotinsky faced. His 'Iron Wall' policy faced that directly and honestly. He also proposed that after the secure establishment of the state (admittedly in much wider boundaries than at present), negotiation should begin in earnest from a position of strength.

This is the tragedy of the inheritors of the Revisionist position. They fixated on the territory rather than the tactic. Karsh is not facing realities, he is using slippery language and selectivity to place responsibility on the Palestinians for their own dispossession. This attempt to play a blame game instead of indulging in the serious business of constructing common understandings is utterly destructive as well as being bad history. I repeat that it is happening on BOTH sides. Never mind historical debates, the time for facing realities and entering serious negotiations over a two state settlement is now. It is urgent and overdue.

12:43 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

PS. I like the position Terry lays out (Though I would add that the defeat of Hezbollah would be a plus as well!). The concern with language is an important one (again on BOTH sides), and our focus should be on principles that us on the left should be supportive of, respect for life, free speech,honest and democratic governance, social justice etc., instead of the practice of apologism.

What I would argue is that the crushing of Hamas is not just a military exercise (preferably carried out less destructively), but one that politically undermines them through realistic progress towards a settlement and a serious economic investment in the development of the Palestinian territories and the fostering of Palestinian well being. Israel needs to be their friend not their enemy.

It is more than possible. The opportunity needs seizing boldly, the alternative is appalling to contemplate.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Stuart Morris said...

Actually, Israel is doing what is necessary to bring the long war to an end.

Interesting that he is making a historical comparison with Dresden, and defending that action as finishing a war. He does not, however, explain why he thinks that the Dresden was necessary to finish the war. In fact, it was not, and the bombing made little strategic difference to the outcome of the war. Churchill himself later said it was the allied action the he regretted the most, which I suppose might classify him as an ex-Nazi or Stalinist in Eric Lee's pantheon.

I think the current action by Israel will prolong this unpleasant struggle and weaken their security. I can see little benefit. As near as I can tell, Israel has killed more of their own troops than Hamas ever did, and their bombing of what is essentially a prison is probably going to result in a damaged reputation even among their supporters. In that way, it's a replay of their 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. That too could have been said to be justifiable as "bring an end to the war". Didn't work out that way.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

DPU: You're right. Lee's invocation of Dresden was a really, really bad idea, but his argument stands well enough without it. It was a wholly unnecessary buttress to an otherwise reasonable case.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


Two people, both of whom are cranks, are banned from this site. There is possibly a third, who lately has been posting as "anonymous" (not the other anonymous who posted earlier here), who is also banned, and has been told so.

Yet still, this person posts. And still, I delete. How like life.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Banned. Comments not permitted, not welcome, not allowed.

Always deleted, and yet still, the comments are posted.

Only to be deleted.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The International Red Cross is now calling the situation in Gaza a humanitarian disastor. Israeli airstrikes today have destroyed one a Gaza`s most prominent schools. By any reasonable definition of th word the Israeli government is committing war crimes. At this point I think its important to understand what Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling spoke referred to as `politicide` , the way in which the occupation targets the very cultural fabric of Palestinian society.

People may think that this kind of analysis is one sided. The reality is that what is going on is not a war. War`s dont accumulate nearly all of its casualities on one side, slaughters do. The destruction of Palestinian civilization is what Israeli actions, now and in the past, are intended to bring about. But the Israelis can always claim they are justified, as the rockets from Hamas are serving as justification now. Since 1948, when the Israelis deliberately drove some 700,000 Palestinians from their lands and did not let them come back, justifiable Palestinian resistance to Israeli rule and occupation has always been used as the excuse for yet more oppression and violence against them. Only if the international community does not rise to its responsibilities and put a stop to it

6:37 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

From the River to the Sea
Prolongs Palestinian Misery

8:55 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The International Red Cross is now calling the situation in Gaza a humanitarian disastor. Israeli airstrikes today have destroyed one a Gaza`s most prominent schools."

1. The problem with these prognostications is that by the time they may come close to being true (which I doubt, since Israel is allowing scores of supply trucks to enter the Strip), the term "humanitarian disaster" has lost much of its meaning. Why? Because the term has been vitiated of whatever real meaning it might have held, by being propagandistically used by the likes of Lauren Booth to inflate Gazans' suffering:

and Richard Falk, to inflate his own ego:

The result being very much the consequence of all ultra-hyperbolic analogies (such as Gaza= Warsaw ghetto. etc etc). Start using language with greater thrift and accuracy, and you might actually get people to listen more carefully to whatever it is you want say.

2. While the UN confirmed that 30 were killed and 55 were wounded by tank shells in the school, most reports I read on MSM keep repeating the number 40, again, this need to inflate facts as though 30 were not a large enough number of people to get killed...

Was the school destroyed?

"Dr. Bassam Abu Warda, director of Kamal Radwan Hospital, said 34 people were killed by an Israeli strike outside the school."

The strike, then, did not target the school and I'd like to see some evidence that the school was indeed destroyed.

My son's Jewish school in Montreal was firebombed a few years ago by 2 Palestinian-Canadian youths, destroying the library. If I were to learn from balter here and start describing the event as "my son's Jewish school in Montreal was destroyed by Palestinian-Canadian terrorists", wouldn't this description make me a liar, at worst, or a very unreliable narrator, at best?

And would that get me a few more pity points from the likes of balter?

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Personally, I see Karsh as the equivalent of Ilan Pappe, thoroughly unreliable and a partisan and propagandist historian.”

They might be on opposite sides of the ideological divide but that is a major stretch. Karsh’s books are based on his analysis of primary sources, Pappe, by contrast, simply repeats lefty talking points.

Do you consider Bernard Lewis “the equivalent of Ilan Pappe” as well?

12:46 PM  

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