The Courage of those who “Speak Truth to Power”

I dutifully went over to Augustus Richard Norton’s website, Speaking Truth to Power in Boston, to leave a comment at his article that I had just fisked (didn’t seem right to criticize someone behind his back). There is one comment to his post on the Hamas, which runs as follows:

Joe said…

Yes you are quite right.

Palestinians killed Palestinians, but we’re the ones who put the arms in their hands.

To which I responded something along the lines of:

    I’m not sure whether that last comment were meant ironically or not, but I’m a bit less ambiguous about my criticism of your post [with a link to my post].

That was Friday afternoon, and it awaits his approval to appear. Still no sign of it up at his site. Could it be that people who speak truth to power a} have no sense of humor (about themselves) and b) don’t like criticism? (The two are linked, so it’s something of a trick question.) Given that he posted two items on his blog today, it’s unlikely that he hasn’t seen my comment waiting for his approval.

As for my question about his first commenter, I conclude two things. 1) the commenter meant it seriously: his site sells Palestinian Scarves. And 2) Norton read it as approving, and therefore allowed it to post.

Personally, I think it’s hard to come up with a better spoof of MOS — it’s all our fault — than that comment.

25 Responses to The Courage of those who “Speak Truth to Power”

  1. Eliyahu says:

    Yes, it’s true. Joe’s right. The USA and EU and the Arabian Kingdom of the Saudi dynasty put weapons in the hands of the Arabs in Gaza or gave them the money to buy weapons, and probably facilitated their acquisition of weapons in other ways. And as long as those powers mentioned above, as well as Joe himself, believed that those weapons would be used against Israel, why, it was A-OK. It was just hunky-dory. Let the Jesus people [that is, the palestinian Arabs are viewed as a collective Jesus by many in the West] use the guns against the Christ-killers, the filthy ‘mazzacristi. And if the Western and Arab powers had refused or failed to supply weapons to those Arabs now fashionably called “palestinians,” the PLO and Fatah and probably Hamas too, not to mention Islamic Jihad and the liberationist PFLP and PDFLP, etc., and all their adoring Western sycophants who were drooling over the prospect of revenge against the Jews for the Crucifixion and the Bubonic plague and the high cost of oil and uppitiness of Blacks in Chicago, they all would have screamed and whined about the failure to give the weapons to the PLO, etc., in order to govern or to free themselves from the Jews who, among other sins, were repeating King Herod’s crime of the Slaughter of the Innocents [see Hilary or Becky Anderson's rendition of this New Testament event on CNN or BBC 6 1/2 years ago].

    Just think what Joe would have said if the Powers that Be had NOT given weapons to his dear and cherished and idealized, ever innocent “palestinians.”

  2. Richard Landes says:

    it is pretty amazing, that statement. it reminds me of the political cartoon in the nyt during the apartheid struggle in s.a., with white fist holding a disembodied black arm with a dagger stabbing a black man.
    white’s probably also supplied the gasoline for necklacing too.
    it’s the quientessence of robbing any kind of agency from the “resistors.”

  3. A truly amazing flight from reality, in assessing the Hamas Gaza coup. Most Palestinians hold Hamas accountable for what happened in Gaza, and this is an encouraging sign, because it may mark the beginning of Palestinian self accountabliity.

  4. fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    tell, pray, what those who make all the comments and take the plaestinian side, KNOW about the history and nature of the conflict and its protagonists? anything beyond the steady diet of anti-israel hatred and accusations? in fact, what does Norton himself know about this? here’s martin kramer surveying the field a couple of years ago:

    http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/ProfsPalestine.htm

    what’s going on is the logical conclusion of that diet and the tendency of the public to avoid putting too much effort in questioning and thinking for themselves.

  5. joe says:

    I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to be responding.

    Funnily enough, I don’t support armed resistance against the Israeli occupation.

  6. fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    in fact, the nortons of the world don’t even bother to post contrary positions. truly intellectual, aren’t they? and these are the people who “educate” the public, so why wonder?

  7. Joanne says:

    “Palestinians killed Palestinians, but we’re the ones who put the arms in their hands.”

    Oh puh-lease!

    We’re not the ones who put the arms in their hands. We’re the ones who put MONEY in their hands for food, schools, hospitals, and other needed institutions and services.

    It’s the Palestinian leaders who spend the money on arms…whatever funds aren’t earmarked for Swiss bank accounts.

    So what is the US, EU, UN or anyone else to do? If they stopped providing funds, the world would cry “foul.” If they tried to control how the funds were spent, the world would cry “foul.”

    It’s a situation of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

  8. fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    joanne,

    in such a situation, what does logic dictate? if you’re gonna be damned anyway, does it make sense to give them money?

    yet this is exactly what the US, EU and now Israel are doing.

  9. Eliyahu says:

    Joe, I’m glad to hear that you don’t support mass murder of civilians. But I’m afraid that you have fallen for several false or propaganda notions that constitute obstacles to Israel-Arab peace.

    These are: 1) “occupation”; since Judea-Samaria & Gaza were parts of the ancient Jewish homeland and of the Jewish National Home set up by the international community at San Remo in 1920, endorsed by the League of Nations in 1922, etc., these areas rightly belong to Israel, and international law, if thoroughly known, supports Israel’s rights to those areas.
    2) “resistance” too is a misleading notion, conjuring up as it does a vision of the WW2 anti-Nazi resistance in Europe. That Resistance did not specialize in mass murdering civilians.

    Best Wishes to you

  10. Richard Landes says:

    Joe, I’m glad you’ve come. Can you clear up whether you meant your comment seriously or as a sarcastic remark about how people like Norton excuse anything the Palestinians do by blaming it on either the US or Israel?

    also, if you don’t support terrorism, why would you offer Palestinian scarves for sale when they have been, since Munich 1972 at least, a characteristic signature of terror groups like Black September and the PLO?

    is radical chic not its own support for terrorism? why would anyone want to romanticize palestinian terror?

  11. fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    joe, what kind of resistance to the “occupation” do you support?

    and what if, as eliyahu points out, occupation is an invention that does not have legs to stand on, no matter how many ignoramuses use the term?

    in fact, what do you know, at all, about the history and nature of the conflict, and what are your sources?

  12. joe says:

    Joanne, there is some truth in what you say – in that environment it is not surprising that corruption is ripe. For the last few years, no money – zip, zero – has been going to schools and hospitals as the international community in its wisdom has decided to punish the Palestinians for making a democratic decision.

    fp – free countries have a choice who they give money to. However, with all of its borders closed and without access to a deep sea port or an airport, Palestinians have no chance to build a sustainable society. All imports and exports are entirely at the whim of the Israelis. If you close borders and then withdraw funding, how exactly are the Palestinians supposed to feed themselves?

    Eiyahu – to answer your points. The international community recognises the land inside the green line and East Jerusalem as occupied land.

    Moreover, you must consider the experience of the Palestinian – who within 3 generations has had the land they live in reduced by 90%, had land and houses confiscated, many pushed into living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, relatives imprisoned and killed. To them it feels like a national disaster.

    Whatever they consider your legal rights to the land, the fact is that Israel displaced a considerable number of people to create it. Those people also have rights to self determination and self expression and self governance.

    Second, regarding resistance. It is a right of any people to resist occupation and aggression. Most people would see taking land and houses by force and imposition of military action as aggression. Again, whatever you consider your rights to the land, the fact is that the Palestinians, who have been living in the land for generations, consider the way they have been treated as unwarranted and aggressive. And the international community agrees with them.

    Personally, I do not support violence – it only makes things worse. In fact, I believe the only way for the Palestinians to have a prosperous future is to lay down their weapons and make peace with Israel.

    Richard – no it was not sarcastic. Hamas and Fatah must take their own responsibility for their actions, however the rest of us need to be aware how we inflamed the situation.

    Palestinian kaffiyeh is national dress. Many people wear them within the Palestinian territories on a daily basis. Palestinians have a right to a national dress, and other people around the world have a right to wear it if they chose.

    Some have used it to symbolise their acts of violence. In a similar way, in my own country, some have used the Union Flag to represent a form of white supremacy. For many of us, the dress of the Klu Klux Klan disgusts, yet there are communities that have been using it for thousands of years in their religious festivals. Even the swastika is found in ancient temples.

    I don’t support neo-nazism, the British National Party, the KKK or Palestinian violence. I do, however, support the right of Palestinian people to have a distinctive culture and a distinctive dress.

    fp – occupation is not an invention, it is a daily reality. In Gaza it takes the form of a mediaeval castle siege, where food, water, power and people are only allowed in or out when the occupier feels the need. Given that every international body – from the UN through the USA, to Amnesty International and the ICRC – considers it to be an occupation, it is down to you to explain why it is not. I have seen the effects on the ground and I have spoken to people who feel live it in their daily lives, and it certainly feels like an occupation to them.

  13. Richard Landes says:

    response to Joe:

    Joanne, there is some truth in what you say – in that environment it is not surprising that corruption is ripe. For the last few years, no money – zip, zero – has been going to schools and hospitals as the international community in its wisdom has decided to punish the Palestinians for making a democratic decision.

    what news media are you reading? here’s a piece by CAMERA (which you may consider an “advocay group” but they have the great advantage of linking their assertions of sources). the evidence is that donations to the palestinians are up since the hamas election. the choice to spend them on weapons and belligerence rather than sewage plants — that’s a palestinian/hamas decision.

    the history of this region is actually much more complicated than you imagine or than your MSM (or “alternative media” sources like NGOs and indymedia might lead you to believe.

    fp – free countries have a choice who they give money to. However, with all of its borders closed and without access to a deep sea port or an airport, Palestinians have no chance to build a sustainable society. All imports and exports are entirely at the whim of the Israelis. If you close borders and then withdraw funding, how exactly are the Palestinians supposed to feed themselves?

    why do you think their borders are closed? if you declare that your overriding concern is to attack the civilians of your neighbors, you can’t expect them to let you import whatever you want. all the palestinians need to do, is cease their campaign against israel, and they’ll get a much better situation.

    part of democracy is that not only do you have choices, but you live with the consequences of your choices. choose a party with a genocidal program and expect hostility. why should the west protect the palestinians from the consequences of their depraved choices?

    Eiyahu – to answer your points. The international community recognises the land inside the green line and East Jerusalem as occupied land.

    Moreover, you must consider the experience of the Palestinian – who within 3 generations has had the land they live in reduced by 90%, had land and houses confiscated, many pushed into living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, relatives imprisoned and killed. To them it feels like a national disaster.

    Whatever they consider your legal rights to the land, the fact is that Israel displaced a considerable number of people to create it. Those people also have rights to self determination and self expression and self governance.

    Second, regarding resistance. It is a right of any people to resist occupation and aggression. Most people would see taking land and houses by force and imposition of military action as aggression. Again, whatever you consider your rights to the land, the fact is that the Palestinians, who have been living in the land for generations, consider the way they have been treated as unwarranted and aggressive. And the international community agrees with them.

    Personally, I do not support violence – it only makes things worse. In fact, I believe the only way for the Palestinians to have a prosperous future is to lay down their weapons and make peace with Israel.

    i’m going to let eliyahu answer this one.

    Richard – no it was not sarcastic. Hamas and Fatah must take their own responsibility for their actions, however the rest of us need to be aware how we inflamed the situation.

    i’d say we inflamed it by doing just what you did in your response to eliyahu — instead of telling the arabs to grow up and take responsibility for their deeds (e.g., starting the war in 1948 rather than taking the offer of their own land), we’ve accepted their “victim narrative” and encouraged their irredentism. you seem to think that israel is responsible for the palestinians in the camps for the last 60 years…

    Palestinian kaffiyeh is national dress. Many people wear them within the Palestinian territories on a daily basis. Palestinians have a right to a national dress, and other people around the world have a right to wear it if they chose.

    Some have used it to symbolise their acts of violence. In a similar way, in my own country, some have used the Union Flag to represent a form of white supremacy. For many of us, the dress of the Klu Klux Klan disgusts, yet there are communities that have been using it for thousands of years in their religious festivals. Even the swastika is found in ancient temples.

    I don’t support neo-nazism, the British National Party, the KKK or Palestinian violence. I do, however, support the right of Palestinian people to have a distinctive culture and a distinctive dress.

    they sure do. i bought several in 1967 in the old city. but, like all things, people should be aware of the meaning of their choices. i would never wear a mao shirt even tho everyone in china was wearing them, certainly once i learned that mao killed tens of millions of people in pursuit of his “ideological” goals. people have a right to wear, i have a right to criticize, and you need to understand that when you offer these things at your site — presumably you don’t offer KKK t-shirts — you romanticize an international symbol of terrorism. for someone against violence, i’d say that’s something worth thinking about.

    fp – occupation is not an invention, it is a daily reality. In Gaza it takes the form of a mediaeval castle siege, where food, water, power and people are only allowed in or out when the occupier feels the need. Given that every international body – from the UN through the USA, to Amnesty International and the ICRC – considers it to be an occupation, it is down to you to explain why it is not. I have seen the effects on the ground and I have spoken to people who feel live it in their daily lives, and it certainly feels like an occupation to them.

    and what they do — e.g. their choice of a really vicious war in 2000 — has nothing to do with this?

  14. joe says:

    Richard,

    Human Rights Watch : “Israel and key Western powers, which list Hamas as a terrorist organization, responded to Hamas’s victory by boycotting the government, cutting diplomatic ties, and withholding the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues (in the case of Israel) and international donor funding (in the case of Western countries), which together accounted for approximately 75 percent of the Palestinian Authority’s budget. These actions caused a severe political and financial crisis in the OPT, which was continuing at this writing. From March onwards, the Palestinian Authority was unable to pay the salaries of almost all of its approximately 165,000 civil servants, salaries on which one-quarter of all Palestinians rely. Poverty and dependence on outside food aid climbed sharply. Because Israel retained effective day-to-day control over most key aspects of life in Gaza, including ingress and egress and thus the economy, it retained the responsibility of an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure that the occupied population has access to food and medicine, and that basic health, security, and education needs are met.”

    Amnesty International : Other factors have negatively affected the Palestinian economy since the victory of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in January 2006 elections. Most notable have been the confiscation by Israel of the import tax (custom duties) which it collects from all goods imported into the OPT on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – some US$50 million to US$60 million a month, representing half of the PA government budget; banking sanctions imposed by Israel and the USA; and a cut in aid paid to the PA by major international donors.As a result, some 150,000 public sector employees received no salaries or partial salaries for several months. However, the stringent movement restrictions remain the main obstacle to economic activity.”

    World Bank/IMF : “Government consumption is estimated to have fallen considerably in real terms in 2006, reflecting the PA’s dire fiscal situation. Resources available to fund the government’s recurrent expenditures—taxes, and domestic and external financing—fell sharply, by more than one third in 2006 compared to the previous year. External support received in 2006 reached almost $750 million, more than twice the amount received in 2005, as donors developed ways to by-pass the Hamas-led government. This was not sufficient to offset a sharp drop in tax revenues, however—largely as a result of Israel withholding clearance revenues—and banks reducing their exposure to the PA. Most of the available resources were used for payments to government employees and to finance fuel imports and utilities. Other operating expenditures and transfers were significantly reduced. Due to the shortage of funds, government employees are estimated to have received on average only about 50–55 percent of their normal incomes in 2006. The only partial payment of government wages, however, resulted in growing numbers of staff not showing up for work during the year, culminating in widespread strikes by civil servants, starting in September. Thus, in real terms, government consumption (and production of government services) is estimated to have fallen by about 10 percent in 2006, based on workdays lost and the reduction in good and services acquired by the PA.”

    These speak for themselves.

  15. Richard Landes says:

    no they don’t speak for themselves. these NGOs have a notoriously bad reputation for being advocacy organizations quick to miss the point. have you read the Camera report and followed up the links?

    the whole point here is that there’s much more going on under the surface and the eagerness of ngo’s like ai and hrw to side with the “victim” palestinians, and accuse the israeli “aggressors” systematically misrepresents what’s going on.

    you can side with them, you can believe them, you can think you’re doing good for the palestinians… but you just victimize them further by reinforcing the grip that their predatory elites have on them by affirming the scapegoating narrative these elites tell in order to disguise the suffering they inflict on their people.

    you can choose to inform yourself, or just to lap up the PCP for whatever reasons you want. that perspective may seem coherent and supported by the data. but if it’s wrong, not only do you betray the palestinians, but you betray the civil society of non-violent resolution to conflicts that you profess to value.

  16. joe says:

    ‘Notorious’ only in the sense that you don’t agree with them, Richard.

    If on one side there is Amnesty, HRW, World Bank, ICRC and other whilst on the other side obviously pro-zionist organisations such as NGO Monitor and CAMERA (which I’ve easily shown above are selectively quoting material by using other materials from the same organisations they quote), it is fairly obvious to most people which have the reputation for fairness and reliability.

    At the end of the day, you can describe it in any way you like – as a politically correct paradigm, as lies, as exaggeration, as Islamophyllia, as anti-semitism. But by doing that, you not only accuse me but a whole body of international agencies and governments.

    On top of that, I have been to the West Bank and I have spoken, argued, smoked and walked with Palestinians.

    I know names and faces, have been there and seen it. It is not possible to tell me things that are not real when I have experienced them.

  17. Richard Landes says:

    you are aware of the emperor’s new clothes? it’s possible for the “public sphere” to be all on the same wrong page. you owe it to yourself to consider the possibility that they’ve been duped into thinking of israeli discourse as “advocacy” but to accept palestinian as “reality.”

    tell me, what did you see on your visits to the west bank? what they teach in schools? the bomb factories? the journalists cooking the stories to produce blood libels?

    or was it just people telling you how mean the israelis are with no context? did you meet any palestinians willing to take responsibility — just some — for their situation (other than, we have failed to defeat the israelis)?

    did you go to the israeli side? or were you on a special package tour of the palestinian “vicitm narrative”?

    did they show you their thriving civil society?

    were you surprised by their fratricide when it broke out?

    what kind of “arguments” did you have with them? how did they respond to your challenges?

  18. joe says:

    Yes, Richard, it might surprise you to learn that I am not entirely stupid. I had conversations – some leading to heated arguments – about the situation, the Palestinian authority, a two-state solution vs a one-state solution, the healthcare system, the legal system and the economic and business environment amongst other things.

    I am able to assess the information I am given and am able to decide for myself whether I think it is reasonable or reliable or a loadofcrap. At no point did I accept the Palestinian discourse simply on say-so, and I had the opportunity to witness evidence of many of the things I was told. ‘Reality’ was not something I needed to be told, as I was able to see it for myself.

    I saw no bomb factories, met no militants. My interactions with Palestinians is only for peaceful business enterprises, and the only Palestinians I met were the ones wanting to get on with their normal lives, pay the bills and feed their children. Most Palestinians are like that, you know.

    You ask whether they are willing to take responsibility: I can tell you that I met many who want to live peacefully alongside their Israeli neighbours, along with some who will only be satisfied if Israel is destroyed. I suspect there is a similar balance on the other side of the wall.

    Some I met told me that they felt like they had a right to defend their land, but that the time for fighting was over. Some agree that the path of violence did not achieve what they wanted. Most are depressed, feel that there is no hope for them or their children. Many are short of money and lifechances.

    They are a mixed bunch of people like any other community.

  19. Eliyahu says:

    Joe, Richard is making things tough for me. He wants me to answer you too. But I must agree with him that your information about the Middle East, about Israel and the palestinian authority in particular, is very selective and often false since, it seems, your sources are limited to the shallow, misleading media, to the pro-Arab NGOs, to pro-Arab propagandists, etc.
    One indication of your sincere ignorance [I am not saying that you deliberately lie] is how you describe the keffiyeh. This is a head cloth commonly worn in several Arab countries. It is not peculiar to the palestinian Arabs, although there are local styles, colors, patterns. Then you are wrong to speak of “palestinian keffiyeh is national dress.” The palestinian Arabs do not consider themselves a separate people or nation. The first article of the PLO covenant states that: Palestine is part of the Great Arab homeland [or Fatherland; watan in Arabic] and the Palestinian Arab people is part of the Arab nation. The PLO has long been a member of the Arab League. So the PLO is a pan-Arab body and its covenant is a pan-Arab document. By the way, who said that Arabs don’t have the right to wear the kaffiyah?? I didn’t say it? Did anyone else on this blog say it? Prof. Landes considers it in bad taste for people in the West to wear the specifically “palestinian Arab” kaffiyah because of its symbolic association with mass murderers, as I understand his position.

    Further, the Arabs in the country did not traditionally see themselves as “palestinians” nor did they or other Arabs traditionally call the country “palestine.” There was no division of the Ottoman or the previous Mamluk empire that was called “palestine” or Filastin. Nor was there any official Ottoman or Mamluk territory with borders at all like those of the “Palestine” entity set up by the international community in 1920 to embody the Jewish National Home. The traditional Arab geographic concept was that of Bilad ash-Sham [Syria or Greater Syria]. “Palestine” was a Western name, first applied officially to the Roman province of Judea after the Roman Emperor Hadrian had crushed the Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt. As a Western name for the country, it was chosen again by the Western-dominated international community in 1920 at the San Remo conference.

    You are right about one thing. But your historical information is too limited to understand its implications. You write, thinking to rebut me:
    “The international community recognises the land inside the green line and East Jerusalem as occupied land.”
    Indeed, much of the “international community” has become rabidly Judeophobic, particularly in Britain. They don’t want to concede any rights to Jews, let alone the right to a state. But LAW is something else. Law is supposed to be separate from the whims of governments and diplomats. The problem is that because of the prevailing Judeophobia, the policymakers and diplomats have forgottten the international law regarding the land of Israel. Here are some links, which include documents, quotes from documents, and several articles on the subject:

    http://www.israelwhitepaper.org/

    http://www.think-israel.org/green.sanremo.html

    These writings are legally sound, unlike the shallow journalistic and propagandistic publications that seem to be your usual sources. You are right that today, the “international community” does not recognize Jewish rights that were recognized in the past for a very long time.

    Then, you mention “East Jerusalem.” The fact is that Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since 1853 [Cesar Famin, French historian and diplomat; see my blog and search for "Famin" there]. At that time, Jews were clearly oppressed, exploited, and legally humiliated by the Muslim rulers, as was the Christian population. Your “East Jerusalem” became Judenrein because Arabs drove Jews out of their homes in “East Jerusalem” [which didn't exist before 1948] during Israel’s War of Independence. Jews were driven out of several neighborhoods in what became East Jerusalem starting in December 1947, culminating in the fall of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in May 1948. Jews were the first refugees/expellees of that war. In fact, Arabs –with British encouragement or acquiescence– were driving Jews out of their homes in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country in a series of pogroms starting in 1920. The first people “displaced” [to use your word] were Jews, not only in the 1947-49 War of Independence but in 1920, 1929, 1936-38. See my earlier posts on the Augean Stables blog.

    Then, you tell me about “three generations” of Arabs [whom you incorrectly call "palestinians"]. The fact is that just three years before Arabs were displaced in the Israeli War of Independence [after Arab forces had first expelled Jews wherever they could], the Arab nationalist movement was pro-Nazi and the palestinian Arab leadership was collaborating in the Holocaust. I refer to the role of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, and his entourage in Nazi Germany in encouraging the Germans to murder more Jews. See the website Bibliotheque Proche-Orientale, linked to from my blog, which has photographic [pdf] copies of old documents and books in both English and French on this Arab-Nazi collaboration. Further, the leadership body of the palestinian Arabs, the “Arab Higher Committee for Palestine” [see, they called it "Arab", not "palestinian"], demanded that the British stop Jewish immigration into the internationally designated Jewish National Home. The British government gladly complied, basically shutting off the possibility of Jews finding a refuge in their national home when they most needed a home, when they most needed a refuge. This British policy was embodied in the “White Paper on Palestine” of 1939, which was found in violation of internatinal
    law by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations [little did the UK care]. So the palestinian Arab guilt in the Holocaust also exists. Indeed, in some places, such as Baghdad, Tripoli, Aden, etc. Arab mobs massacred Jews during and after WW2, also making sure to loot Jewish property.

    Then you add that Arabs ["palestinians"] “have been living in the land for generations.” Indeed, for more than a thousand years Arabs in Israel and other Muslim/Arab-ruled lands oppressed, exploited and humiliated Jews as dhimmis, as the lowest of the dhimmis, in their view. See the books of Bat Ye’or on this matter. Also see various posts on my blog, posts that are documented with references to books and articles. I even quote Karl Marx who said that Muslims in Jerusalem [circa 1854] were humiliating Jews.

    As to the credibility today of the “international community” and the so-called NGOs, which are mainly funded by governments, well, they have little credibility, almost nil. They serve a propaganda purpose. Would you trust the governments making up the “international community” today to actually work for peace? Or to try to stop the fanatic Iranian regime from getting the Bomb?

  20. Richard Landes says:

    response to joe’s comment #18:

    it would surprise me, given your comments so far.

    this is not meant as an insult. i have only your comments to go on, and they fit a pattern that i’ve identified as PCP. you not only fit it, you illustrate it. take, for example, your comment: I suspect there is a similar balance on the other side of the wall.

    you haven’t been to see? then you really have no idea what the difference is. there is no “similar balance” on the other side.

    you say you met with people who just want to get on with their lives. so why did they vote for hamas? and please don’t tell me it was because they didn’t want a corrupt fatah. hamas is a war party and they just voted for a more efficient war party.

    this quote from an interview in der speigel illustrates well just how misguided your comment at Norton’s site was:

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: The militant wings of Fatah and Hamas have been fully armed over the last few months. Are these weapons still in circulation?

    Zahar: There are naturally very many weapons around now. Two years ago, one bullet in Gaza cost around €3.50 — now it would cost 35 cents. The American aid money has been translated into weapons. Thank you, America!,

    .

    you responded to my question about willingness to take responsibility (by which i meant, self-criticism) with an answer about how many want peace. that’s not the point. peace doesn’t come just cause you say you want it.

    peace comes because you’re willing to do things that are difficult (like self-criticize and sacrifice things you really want) for peace’s sake. to believe palestinians telling you they want peace but not willing to admit that they’ve contributed mightily to their state of war, is problematic to say the least.

    hamas’ priorities are clear, and they match the priorities of all the palestinian leaders who have risen to power in that culture: butter into guns, the honor of the religion and the arab people above anything else. keep the refugees in miserable camps so you can continue to villainize and make war on israel for doing a fraction to them of what the arabs have done.

    with how many of the people you argued with did you discuss honor killings? this is, after all, a culture where killing daughters who shame their families is a social imperative. and if they’ll kill their daughters for shaming their families, what will they do to israelis for shaming their religion?

    if you insist on believing that a) all those who tell you they want to live normal peaceful lives, really do (i.e., they are willing to make the sacrifices to tribal and clan honor necessary for that), and b) the scene among israelis is roughly the same as it is among palestinians, then i’d say you don’t really understand.

    does that make you stupid? no. lots of very smart people don’t get this. does it mean you are not capable of assessing the data — i’d say, provisionally, yes. you’re a victim of liberal cognitive egocentrism.

    if you go there and hear complaints about the humiliating checkpoints, but don’t ask about the bomb and hate factories, then how can you assess the evidence?

    i’m perfectly willing to believe you’re not only intelligent, but shrewd. but in order to convince me, show me some signs. tell me about your arguments with them, and their answers? tell me if at a certain point you began to feel that you were pushing too hard and they were getting offended, and what you did. or did you self-censor to keep it pleasant? tell me how much conspiracy theory you heard…

  21. joe says:

    OK listen guys, I didn’t have to come here and I don’t need bad motives applied to me or to be called names.

    Eliyahu, you are quite right, many Arab peoples wear various kinds of kaffiyeh. The ones I sell are distinctively Palestinian and bought from Palestinians in Palestine. Palestinians do see them as part of their national dress – and many Palestinians do see themselves as part of a distinct group within the Arabs. If you don’t believe me, go and ask some.

    I don’t care what Prof Landes thinks about the clothes I wear or postulates about my motives for wearing them. It is none of his business, quite honestly.

    You might call my sources any name you like, but unlike yours, they represent independent international organisations who work around the world, rather than people pushing a particular agenda on the internet.

    I am not going to argue history with you, nor am I defending behaviour of the Arab majority to the Jewish minority pre-1948. Others scorned a previous discussion where I said that a Hebronite Palestinian family I met claimed to have protected their Jewish neighbours during the Hebron massacre. Until, that was, I was able to substantiate the claim on a Zionist historical website. It is a pointless exercise – you only want to hear what you want to hear.

    Hence, the only starting point is the reality of life on the ground – which is a displaced arab community that identifies itself as Palestinian and a surrounding Israeli state.

    Richard – there are Jewish groups who advocate the removal of the Palestinians from Palestine, the mirror image of Hamas. Kindly make no assumptions about me and my travels in Israel.

    I don’t know why so many people voted for Hamas. I suspect it was largely because Hamas did rather better on social services than Fatah and because they wanted to send a strong message of defiance to the international community. Interestingly, many of the more extreme comments I heard were from people who dismiss Hamas as they dislike the mixing of religion and politics.

    Have you even been to meet any Palestinians, Richard? Because it appears that I might have that advantage over you.

    You seem to be under the impression that violence, bombs and guns are a daily part of life for the Palestinians. They’re not for most people. There are militants, but they are not everybody.

    Palestinians are very argumentative and very difficult to offend, in my experience. On the other hand, they sometimes hold quite bizarre and unaccountable ideas.

    You are quite right to say that the conditions on either side of the wall are not the same. Forgive me for my inexactness. So let me be clear – the life of the average Palestinian is a factor of many times worse than the average Israeli. I hope that clarifies things.

    Anyway, I have now put as much time into this discussion as I have available. Good luck with all you do and goodbye.

  22. Eliyahu says:

    Now, really Joe.

    “You might call my sources any name you like, but unlike yours, they represent independent international organisations who work around the world, rather than people pushing a particular agenda on the internet.”

    One of your sources is the World Bank. You do know that it is made up of governments, don’t you? That hardly makes it “independent.” Then, you mentioned two so-called NGOs. Why don’t you find out exactly who or what finances those two bodies that you named? They do seem to have money for staff, airplane tickets, and whatever else they need to promote their claims.

    Now, HRW claims that Israel controls just about everything in Gaza, including “ingress and egress.” That’s simply a lie. Israeli troops are not stationed at the crossings between Gaza and Egypt. Israel does not control the crossings or control Gaza. Up till the Hamas takeover, the crossing with Egypt was controlled by palestinian authority armed forces on the Gaza side, who were monitored by Europeans. On the Egyptian side, the crossing was controlled by Egyptian armed forces. Then, there were and are many tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, allowing persons and things of not to great size to move across, albeit underground. Some of the tunnels are well and carefully constructed with electric lights, if not other amenities. Do you doubt that Hamas and other terrorist groups have been bringing weapons into Gaza through the tunnels, both before and after the Israeli withdrawal?? Could they have done that without Egyptian cooperation? Are you aware, by the way, that Hamas is an extension of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood [ask your friends in Ramallah about the Ikhwan]??

    Then I have read reports that in fact more money has been coming into Gaza since the election of a Hamas govt than beforehand. I think that I even heard a report to that effect on the France24 cable news network [which broadcasts in English]. Should I believe HRW or Amnesty or other mainstream NGOs more than what I read in the press? Is it conceivable to you that these bodies are not always honest and do not always act in favor of their proclaimed principles? Could it be that maybe somebody thought that it would be effective to hide a political agenda and psychological warfare under the guise of a goody goody “human rights” or “peace” organization? That is, these bodies may be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Now, Joe, if Amnesty is sincere about its “concern for human rights,” then why does it not protest the unusually harsh sentence against Jonathan Pollard? The 8th Amendment to the US constitution forbids “cruel and unusual punishments.” Yet, Pollard’s sentence is much longer, much harsher than the sentences handed down against other spies in the same period [mid-1980s] that Pollard was sentenced in. Why isn’t Amnesty protesting on his behalf? Is it because Pollard is a Jew? Because he spied for Israel? I thought that everyone was supposed to be equal before the law. Does Amnesty agree with that?

  23. Eliyahu says:

    Gazans had less freedom of movement in and out of Gaza during the Egyptian occupation from 1948 to 1957, than they do now. Gaza residents had to get a permit from the Egyptian govt in order to leave Gaza. Such permits were given out sparingly to put it mildly.

    Maybe somebody else here can provide Joe with a list of articles or links confirming that more money came in to the palestinian authority after the election of Hamas than beforehand.

  24. fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    there seems to be a seeminly endless will to engage the joes, calzones, and jeffbs of the world no matter how clear it is that, insofar as the ME is concerned (and probably more) — they are ‘unskilled and unaware of it’.

    they will not acquire any knowledge that counters their preconceived position — that is biased — they are convinced that they are too smart to be fooled/gullible and, therefore, are not amenable to knowledge and reason, but quite amenable to propaganda.

    the reality is that they are truly ignorant about the nature and history of the conflict and they swallow the propaganda lock stock and barrel.

    it is, therefore, a waste of time to bother with them.

    the possibility that ngo’s

  25. fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    the possibility that ngo’s are ignorant too at best, and biased at worst does not occur to them, and they will not accept it even when it is proven with evidence.

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