The Problem is the Settlements: The Lack of Palestinian Ones

President Obama has fingered the settlements as his first item of business, a strategy of dubious merit except insofar as it uses the issue as a pawn sacrifice. As for the ways the Palestinians need to “belly up to the bar,” it’s fairly vague. Israelis, of course (and, I’d argue, anyone who’s paying attention), are worried that despite the Arabs’ extraordinary ability to position themselves as the proponents of the “two-state solution,” are not at all committed to what Western PCPers assume — i.e., that they accept Israel as a Jewish state with a right to live in peace.

On the contrary, too much evidence suggests that they are committed, one way or another, to the destruction of the state of Israel, and that the “two-state solution” is just another term for the “Phased Plan” for eliminating Israel.

I’d like to propose something that can test Palestinian intentions in concrete terms that will not only reassure Israelis profoundly, but benefit the Palestinian refugees. To my mind, the greatest sign that the Palestinian Authority had no intention of pursuing Oslo as a way to achieve peace, but as a Trojan Horse, is the fact that, once they had control of significant tracts of land in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, they never made the slightest move to get Palestinian refugees out of the camps and into real housing. The scandal of how the Arab and Palestinian leadership have treated their refugees is the most revealing story in the long and allegedly complex conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis.

I suggest that President Obama demand, publicly, and in the same strong terms with which he addresses the Israelis, that the PA begin immediately building settlements for Palestinian refugees on the lands available to them in the West Bank, so that they can begin living decent lives. This would be an enormous boon to the Palestinian economy, it would mobilize the significant talents the Palestinians have in the building industry, and would signal to the Israelis that the “right of return” — i.e., the demand that Israel commit demographic suicide — is not lurking in the background of the “Arab Peace Plan.”

Nothing prevents the Palestinians from doing this. They would surely get a great deal of (Western) funding to do it. And it would embody President Obama’s call for Arab governments that are “by the people and for the people.”

UPDATE: Noam, from the Blog Promised Land posted the following on my suggestion:

This idea is somewhat disconnected from the reality of the West Bank, let alone Gaza: one can’t really build anything – certainly not a city for hundreds of thousands of people – without Israel’s consent, and Israel doesn’t allow the Palestinians to do any significant work outside the major cities (which are overcrowded as it is). And in Gaza, Israel doesn’t allow any sort of building material in – amongst many other things, from books to pumpkins – so that the Palestinians there can’t even rebuild the houses that were destroyed during operation Cast Lead.

But if we leave all that aside, what is Prof. Landes really asking? The way I see it, he demands from the Palestinians to give up one of their major claims before Israel has even considered to end the occupation, and just in order to prove that their heart is pure. Why should they agree? I don’t support a return of all the 48′ refugees, but I do understand the Palestinian demand to solve this issue on the negotiating table, much in the same way Israel refuses to define its borders until its security concerns are dealt with.

(Having said this, I agree that from a humanitarian point of view, the refugees problem should be solved ASAP, but we are discussing here the political implications of the issue).

As for the “demographic suicide” – well, Israelis should certainly be worried about that, but not because of the Palestinian refugees, but due to the possibility that the ideas of those who oppose the two-state solution – like Prof. Landes – will prevail, and Israelis will be left with the entire land from the sea to the Jordan river, but also with the choice between an Apartheid state and a non-Jewish one.

To which I responded with the following comment:

    Thanks for the post on my suggestion.

    Altho you do have a “humanitarian concession” clause, I find your position on Palestinian refiugees as “bargaining chips” to be fairly horrific. Should Israel have kept their 800,000 refugees from 1948 in refugee camps for the last 60 years as a counter-bargaining chip?

    The Palestinian and Arab leadership’s treatment of their refugees — the camps are really prison camps — is nothing short of scandalous. It’s index of their malevolence: the misery of their own people is a weapon aimed at destroying Israel. it shows the Palestinian people as the sacrificial victim on the altar of Arab hatred.

    So i don’t think it’s “giving up one of their major claims” to start settling the refugees, i think it’s renouncing one of their most heinous policies. It doesn’t prove their heart is pure, it just proves its not black as night, it proves they’ve stopped the revolting practice of inflicting misery on their own people in order to attack Israel and plan her destruction.

    I think if Israel were to engage in anything even remotely similar to this — say not building shelters in Sderot so they could point to children killed by gaza qassams for international sympathy — you’d be outraged. So what I suspect is going on here is an example of a fairly widespread unconscious progressive racism in which the Palestinians are not expected to behave decently even towards their own people, much less Israel. It’s the soft bigotry of low expectations: just as you don’t scold your cat for catching a mouse, you don’t scold the Palestinians for abusing their own people.

    In the final analysis, getting rid of the refugee problem is not a bargaining chip, its an anti-bargaining chip. If the Palestinians renounced the claim to return, they would bring peace much closer, by reassuring Israel they were serious about real peace.

    Finally, on the subject of the two-state solution — I’m not against the idea, I’m against it now (i’m a member of peace-when, not peace-now). Eventually, when Palestinian leadership show signs of willingness to be a civil polity rather than a rogue and malignant state, I’m all in favor. (And this is something they can start doing right away.)

    Now, “two-states” is not a “solution” but a recipe for war. Does that matter to you, in your support of the ‘two-state “solution”‘?

His response is interesting. I encourage readers here to go to his blog and respond — respectfully. I don’t think the way to argue is to call names. His response to my almost calling him names shows a good capacity for self-criticism.

129 Responses to The Problem is the Settlements: The Lack of Palestinian Ones

  1. abu yussif says:

    The problem is that you suggest, as you put it: “Palestinians [positive constructive action verb]….”. Any such suggestion formulated in this manner is completely untenable and already doomed to fail.

  2. oao says:

    I suggest that President Obama demand, publicly, and in the same strong terms with which he addresses the Israelis, that the PA begin immediately building settlements for Palestinian refugees on the lands available to them in the West Bank, so that they can begin living decent lives.

    good luck with that.

    1st, this would defeat the whole purpose of alibama to put the burden on israel in order to pander to the muslims. it is not alibama’s intention to solve the problems of refugees or to expose the pals’ fraud. he just want to appease islam.

    2nd, i very much doubt that any significant portion of the refugees want to go to the west bank and live under fatah, not to mention gaza under hamas. surveys in the camps reveal that most wanna go to the west. and the real interesting thing would be what happened if it ever would become an obligation of the west to accept them as part of a settlement. then it would become obvious how much they care for the poor pals.

  3. oao says:

    Israelis oppose Obama, favor his policies

    Goldfarb spots some characteristically hard-to-read Israeli polling figures:

    53% believe Obama’s policies are bad for Israel
    56% think Netanyahu should give into Obama’s demands
    52% favor freezing settlements

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0609/Israelis_oppose_Obama_favor_his_policies.html

  4. RfaelMoshe says:

    The issue of the Palestinian refugees is multi-level. By this point, there will be som eisseus deciding exactly who is a third or fourth generation “refugee” or not i.e. if someone had a single grand parent that left pre-state Israel in ’48 for the U.S. and the other 3 grand parents are general American population, is this English speaking second generation American a “Palestinian refugee”? I suspect that alot of the refugees in the Middle East have the pipe dream that Israel will be compelled to pay them vast compensation, the classic dream of getting rich over night without working for it. The ones that dream about returning to Israel proper either seem to be dreaming about returning to an idealized but iretrievable past OR returning to take the place of the Israeli Jews, imagining that they will step into their new apartments and businesses in Tel Aviv.

    An older Israeli woman told me that before the ’48 war, that Arab men from Jaffa would walk arround Tel Aviv proclaiming to each other,”after we win the war,that will become my house and she will become my woman.”

  5. oao says:

    Fitzgerald: Seminar Time in Washington
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/026495.php

    incidentally:

    Sarkozy: “The Islamization of Europe is inevitable”
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/026481.php

  6. obsy says:

    Bad news:

    May 29, 2009:
    Last week President Dmitry Medvedev formed a government commission on analyzing and suppressing falsifications of history to the detriment of Russia.

    http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=Experts%27+Panel&articleid=a1243619983

    Fri, 05 Jun 2009:
    Russian military historian blames Poland for WWII

    As the Kremlin presses a campaign to recast Russia’s 20th century history in a more favourable light, a research paper published on the Defence Ministry’s website blamed Poland for starting World War II.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Russian-military-historian-blames-Poland-for-WWII/tabid/209/articleID/107309/cat/61/Default.aspx?ArticleID=107309

  7. oao says:

    Great expectations and pious hopes
    By Moshe Arens
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1091171.html

  8. oao says:

    we glimpse here the real reason alibama appeases iran, syria and the arabs and it is not concern for the pals or the arabs, but for himself:

    Ignatius: Breakthrough with Syria
    By David Ignatius
    http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_12503616

    now we are seeing the catastrophe that the iraq war was: it essentially put one of the last nails in the coffin of america.

  9. oao says:

    one more comment on standing up to alibama: americans are increasingly scared stiff experiencing the consequences of the US collapse. they dk how to handle
    a situation where america is not affluent and all powerful, they have no clues.

    that’s usually when autocrats dictators appear, tend to present themselves and be seen as gods, take over and do more or less what they want, which is to concentrate power and make everybody dependent on him.
    that’s their ONLY talent.

    sounds familiar?

  10. oao says:

    michelle,

    here’s one way to collapse education: to focus on gender, rather than skills. it’s done everywhere in every field.

    Colleges: Male Science Profs, Buzz Off! We Want Chicks
    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2009/06/colleges_male_s.html

  11. oao says:

    and the collapse is in security too:

    Janet Napolitano Appoints Jihadist to Homeland Security Advisory Committee: Logical Conclusion to ADC Outreach Bush & Chertoff Started
    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2009/06/janet_napolitan.html

  12. obsy says:

    I suggest that President Obama demand, publicly, and in the same strong terms with which he addresses the Israelis …

    Obama wouldn’t dare to give any order to any Muslim people. Even when it is not about Israel.

    When Obama talked about not killing Americans, it sounded more like a plea. And even that was sugarcoated by exchanging the word “Americans” against “innocent people” and backed his “demand” with Qu’ran verses.

  13. oao says:

    dependency on govt quickly develops into corruption:

    CULTURE OF CORRUPTION:Rep. Barney Frank has already been leaning on GM to favor his Massachusetts district
    http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/79693/

  14. obsy says:

    I’d like to propose something that can test Palestinian intentions in concrete terms that will … reassure Israelis profoundly, …

    This test is dangerous, since it only works because they refuse.

    If the Palestinians would accept, it would shows nothing. If this would reassure Israelis profoundly and I would be a jihadist, I would immediately accept it.

    Let us see that as one of the indicators that the Palestinians don’t strive for something but against the Jews and an indicator that Obama and other western hypocrites do not care about reality, but try to twist their concept of the middle east such that it fits their general line of thoughts conveniently.

    That Palestinians do not build new homes and better lives for themselves does not fit into Obamas “Palestinians are the Blacks of Israel” point of view. Therefore the fault must be Israel’s.
    Obama will except any lame excuse that the Muslims make to save his conception.

  15. Michelle Schatzman says:

    oao, I know why it may be fair to interview and hire a larger proportion of women : they tend to underestimate themselves, and (1) the interview may be a better format for some women then some men : I’ve never observed the same depth of egocentrism in the most egocentrist woman as in many male egocentrists.

    Deciding that an applicant is a better fit than another is a pretty complex decision. There is of course, the scientific ability, which should be a very important point : nobody should be hired if not among the top scientists among the applicants. But given this one point, it may be well possible that some faculty members think that a woman will be more pliant, more dedicated to collective tasks such as sitting on boring and necessary committees, and whatever expectation of subserviance can be stated.

    I’d have to read the paper, but passing from 30% to 32% between the proportion of interviewed women and the proportion of hired women is not necessarily significant. There is a science, called statistics, which has something to say on the interpretation of these figures.

    On the fundamental aspects of the issue, I’m a feminist, and I am deeply opposed to anything looking like quotas in academia. On the other hand, if I look at my career, I feel a significant level of frustration. Recently, for instance, I looked at the list of invited speakers in the International Congresses of Mathematics (ICM), and with hindsight, and knowing how people succeeded and what there scientific value is over, says, 20 years, which is a decent time to get a good idea of somebody’s worth, it became quite obvious to me that lots of discrimination has been going on in mathematics. Some people got the honor of giving an invited talk at ICM, and they turned out to have nice but not outstanding contributions, and people who had outstanding contributions were not invited. OK, we know that injustice exists, but when it turns out that in many of these ICM’s there never was one single man lecture by a woman, and very few sections even had one woman, and names crop up in my mind and I can’t keep thinking “why did they miss her, and why did they miss her, etc…”, I am sad.

  16. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    Are you saying that affirmative action is not the best thing ever for anything and everyone?
    Look where it got us! Colour is worth more than merit. Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t you regret being an ex-natural blonde? Don’t you feel guilty about it? Don’t you realise that your math competence is racially determined hence deplorable? That your scientific contribution is nocive to Humanity because it’s not racially correct?

  17. Diane says:

    The problem with RL’s modest proposal is that it changes “the situation on the ground” unfavorably to the Palestinian cause — undermining the future claims of refugees to return. No Arab nation would endorse it for that reason alone. (BTW, it’s why Israel doesn’t destroy its non-essential WB settlements. Why throw away a perfectly good bargaining chip?)

    Of course, the Israeli settlers don’t live like penned-up animals. But Pal refugees have lived like this for generations. They know and expect no better.

    Here’s an idea: get the UNRWA to organize a grass-roots non-violent movement within the camps to petition for building permits in Gaza.

  18. E.G. says:

    Diane,

    In the early ’80s Israel built some housings and offered Gaza refugee-camp families to relocate there, provided they renounce their refugee status. It was a failure. Not that individuals wouldn’t have liked to get improved living conditions. But the pressure (surely from “Palestinian” organisations, probably also from UNRWA) was too much. I know it from a friend who was there at the time.

  19. Sophia says:

    This whole piece is interesting, read it – but this paragraph in particular focuses on the refugee issue after 1967:

    http://www.jcpa.org/jl/hit08.htm

    Resettling the Refugees

    Time and again people have asked why the refugee problem was not handled separately. In the first place, this happened because since 1948 all the Arab states, and the PLO later on, wanted the refugee problem to be kept alive and considered as a political problem, not as a refugee problem. The solution would come through the right of the refugees to return to their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and the rest of Israel. Israel had prepared some programs to solve the problem of refugees living in the camps. After the 1967 war we found in Judea and Samaria about 120,000 refugees out of a population of 800,000, as opposed to Gaza where out of 400,000, more than half of the population were refugees. The refugees, except for several thousand, had refused to leave the refugee camps since according to UNRWA rules whoever left the camps lost his refugee status. We did not think it proper to compel them to leave the camps against their will though the alternatives we offered could improve their situation considerably. Facing this situation we tried to improve conditions as far as possible in the camps themselves, which we found in 1967 in a most deplorable condition. However, these improvements could not be very effective since UNRWA objected to plans which might have changed the camps’ structure.

    snip

    If this is true the UN itself has been complicit in maintaining the plight of the Palestinians, it is not merely the Arabs who have been using them as political pawns.

    Also, the author points out the problem confronting the Palestinians who were trapped between various interests including Jordan and PLO.

    In hindsight I wondering what on earth were people thinking when they put Arafat back in charge? Wasn’t this practically a guarantee of disaster, of future violence?

    At the time, it was made to appear (and everybody hoped) that Arafat had morphed into Sadat.

  20. E.G. says:

    Good morning, Sophia!

  21. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG says sarcastically, Are you saying that affirmative action is not the best thing ever for anything and everyone? Look where it got us! Colour is worth more than merit. Isn’t it wonderful?

    Color is worth more than merit you say? Oh my God, can Western civilization survive this?

    Need I point out that this has always been the case. The only thing that’s changed is that now, in some cases where taxpayer funds are spent, a different gender and different colors than usual might be favored. And now indignation finds you.

    As far as the merits of affirmative action. It’s a complicated question. It’s one way that democratic societies try to remedy injustice. As time goes by we might find more equitable ways to do it and hopefully it will become unnecessary some day.

    The RW ideological opposition to affirmative action seems a good example favoring the conclusions of Jost’s et al paper that you linked to recently.

    “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition”

    http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~hannahk/bulletin.pdf

  22. Diane says:

    E.G. writes: “In the early ’80s Israel built some housings and offered Gaza refugee-camp families to relocate there, provided they renounce their refugee status. It was a failure.”

    The difference is that Israel isn’t part of the equation in my scenario. Gaza is in Palestinian hands. The UNWRA is an international body charged with bettering conditions for Palestinians. If UNWRA decided to open the camps in Gaza, no one could be accused of being “a collaborator” with the Zionist entity in resettling Gazan refugees in Gaza.

  23. Happy and Proud says:

    So why didn’t UNWRA open the camps, Diane? Maybe because doing so would both put UN bureaucrats out of a job and take away the ‘refugee’ bargaining chip. It just proves the point that the Arabs don’t give a big about ‘refugees’, all they care about is getting rid of Israel.

    It’s interesting that you use the same terms as Hamas, Hizbollah, and other terrorist organizations. You profess sympathy for the ‘penned in’ penned in refugees, but as stated above couldn’t care less about them, only about achieving your anti-semitic goals.

    You don’t belong here, you racist loser. Get out.

    Because i have a policy of not censoring remarks here, i left the final two paragraphs here in the comment.

    “Happy and Proud” i believe this is the first time you’ve commented here, so your astonishingly flatfooted misreading of Diane’s wry comment is perhaps excusable. But your immediate move to name-calling and banishing her from the site are not excusable. I don’t know what you think you’re doing, or what you think constitutes interaction with other people, but you are not in a position to tell people on my blog whether they’re welcome (or racist) or not.

    So please, in the future, read more carefully and make your comments substantive. Your first sentence was okay. Diane agrees with that, and so do I. It went downhill from there. – rl

  24. oao says:

    michelle,

    when you start hiring based so significantly on anything other than merit you degrade education, which in turn makes the hiring even more pernicious. this is exactly what happened to education.

    if you want to correct discrimination, institute mechanisms to bring all those intellectually capable to the same level at the time of hiring. THEN preferring one gender over the other won’t be a problem. but that is NOT what happens.

  25. oao says:

    Are you saying that affirmative action is not the best thing ever for anything and everyone?

    the current president and his fisrt lady are the clear answer to that.

  26. oao says:

    Here’s an idea: get the UNRWA to organize a grass-roots non-violent movement within the camps to petition for building permits in Gaza.

    you mean the unrwa controlled by hamas?

  27. oao says:

    Need I point out that this has always been the case. The only thing that’s changed is that now, in some cases where taxpayer funds are spent, a different gender and different colors than usual might be favored. And now indignation finds you.

    that’s true. but the real problem is not being solved. see my reply to michelle: bring everybody to the same level BEFORE you hire. that means in primary and high school. not don’t lower the level in university and hiring, when it’s too late.

  28. oao says:

    If UNWRA decided to open the camps in Gaza, no one could be accused of being “a collaborator” with the Zionist entity in resettling Gazan refugees in Gaza.

    1st, unrwa is controlled by hamas in gaza.

    2nd, any attempt to solve the problem of the refugees other than by returning them to israel will be accused of being a zionist plot. the refugees are the main weapon, other than terror, against israel. does anybody think they will give it up after 6 decades, just when isreal is isolated, iran is getting a nuke and america has dumped it? whoever thinks that must have his/her head examined.

  29. Diane says:

    My sense is that UNWRA has been infiltrated by Hamas sympathizers and perhaps a few fighters, but it is not “controlled” by Hamas. UNWRA is controlled by (because it is funded by) the UN, and its mission is to look out for the wellbeing of refugees. Given that Gaza is no longer occupied and the Gazans in the camps are ethnically indistinguishable from the Gazans outside the camps, what possible justification can an aid organization have for perpetuating the dismal status quo? They could even work in some legal language about refugees not renouncing their claim to a future right of return if they accept the arrangement. How could this be interpreted as anything but benevolence?

    Yeah, the UN General Assembly could scuttle such a proposal, but I think it would take more rhetorical skill than the Arab bloc can muster to justify rejecting such a proposal in the eyes of PCP Euros and Leftists who are all about “social justice” and redistribution of wealth.

    Look at it this way: Is holding 2 million people hostage to a 60-year old struggle with no end in sight a “just” action in any PCP world-view? I think not. To borrow from Obama’s absurd metaphor, it would be like keeping black Americans cooped up on plantations until the American government coughs up restitution for the sufferings of their great-grandparents. Of course, Obama and Susan Rice won’t be the ones to make this argument. More’s the pity.

  30. SE says:

    Of course, Obama will never follow Richard’s advice. Obama can only tell a country what to do with its alien residents, not its own. Telling Israel what to do with Palestinians, yes. Telling Palestinians what to do with other Palestinians, no.

  31. oao says:

    My sense is that UNWRA has been infiltrated by Hamas sympathizers and perhaps a few fighters, but it is not “controlled” by Hamas.

    it is controlled in the sense that it won’t ever do what hamas does not want.

    Yeah, the UN General Assembly could scuttle such a proposal, but I think it would take more rhetorical skill than the Arab bloc can muster to justify rejecting such a proposal in the eyes of PCP Euros and Leftists who are all about “social justice” and redistribution of wealth.

    wanna bet?

    anyway, nobody will propose it for the very reason that RL suggests it.

    Look at it this way: Is holding 2 million people hostage to a 60-year old struggle with no end in sight a “just” action in any PCP world-view?

    you’re putting the world and the UN together with ‘just’ in the same sentence? are you serious? the world has agreed to this for 60 years and it was hardly the most unjust thing it did.

    c’mon, give us a break.

  32. oao says:

    justice by the PCP left — yeah, right. when pigs fly.

  33. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    It’s one way that democratic societies try to remedy injustice.

    What injustice?
    You certainly can’t be suggesting that colour or gender might be just/unjust parameters.

  34. Hard Rain says:

    If the UNRWA ever truly fulfilled its mandate then it would no longer need to exist- hence ending a lucrative gravy train that has persisted for decades.

    The cushy employment of all UNRWA officials rests on the Palestinian question remaining unsettled ad infinitum. Is it any wonder then that they do not have the slightest interest in actually assisting in a real peace process?

  35. E.G. says:

    Diane,

    see http://www.gloriacenter.org/index.asp?pname=submenus/articles/2008/rubin/5_8.asp

    And here
    you’ll find many interesting articles referring to UNRWA, its actions, and their consequences.

  36. obsy says:

    Sophia,

    you sound so astonished when you say:
    “UN itself has been complicit in maintaining the plight of the Palestinians”

    Have you learned something new today?

    The UN is that organization that distributes schoolbooks that don’t have Israel on its maps, that defends and helps financing Hamas and its propaganda, that has Hamas members on its payroll, that produces optimal condition for the growth of the Palestinian population and that condemns democratic Israel more often than all rogue states around the world.

    UN is evil stuff.
    It is good that you learned that. Better late than never.

    The Elder does a very good job collecting wrongdoings of the UN. Feel free to comb through his blog:
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/

  37. obsy says:

    oao: the refugees are the main weapon, other than terror, against israel. does anybody think they will give it up after 6 decades, just when isreal is isolated, iran is getting a nuke and america has dumped it? whoever thinks that must have his/her head examined.

    Actually I haven’t heard much about the refugee problem in recent years. I heard about how hollow the Israeli version of the two state solution is. That Palestine wouldn’t get enough water from Israel. That Israel is undermining those plans by settling the area. And so on.
    Also that sanctions and fights against Hamas hit the innocent Palestinian people and that Israeli security measures are designed to make Pals suffer.

    None of this will change when the Pals move into better housing.
    Also the Pals themselves wouldn’t change much. They are educated to hate for decades now. Moving into now houses won’t make that go away.

    In Europe we talk about expelled people who live in houses. For us you don’t need to live in a camp to count as refugee.

  38. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Are you saying that affirmative action is not the best thing ever for anything and everyone?
    Look where it got us! Colour is worth more than merit. Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t you regret being an ex-natural blonde? Don’t you feel guilty about it? Don’t you realise that your math competence is racially determined hence deplorable? That your scientific contribution is nocive to Humanity because it’s not racially correct?

    EG, this is a fun comment, but not to the point. Maybe I did not make myself clear in my post, so let me try a different axis. My math competence is acquired through talent, hard work and a wonderful environment. My father being a scientist, I learnt many things just by sitting at the family meals, listening and participating in daily conversation. I had lots of marxism, and also complex numbers, the structure of the universe and more.

    If hereditary nobility existed in science, I would not be a queen or a princess, but probably a duchess. I’m glad it does not exist, mark my words.

    I observed in the course of my career in mathematics that I have been passed up for many honors that people of the same age and scientific value got. I am definite that it is gender discrimination, and it happened basically because social networks were more difficult to enter for females than for males. The reason for this difficulty was prejudice, period.

    There is simply no way of repairing this. I am at the end of my scientific career, not because of my age, but because of my degraded health, which forbids me more and more to do serious work. I am quite aware of the mathematical influence I have. It is to the point that, though the “tu” (thou) is standard between mathematicians, there are lots of younger mathematicians who are not willing to talk to me with a “tu”, they choose a “vous” (you) out of respect, and it is quite difficult to get them to relax. And it is not due to the color of my hair.

    So, now the problem is for younger generations. I am definite that hiring people on anything but their competence is crazy. It can make sense for a bank to hire employees who look like their customers, because the ordinary customer may find it easier to relate to people of the same gender or ethnicity.

    It makes no sense to hire a mathematician according to these criteria.

    On the other hand, injustices due to gender and ethnicity exist. So, the question is to push some evolution in society, but not evolution, which would create a worse injustice. In jobs funded by the tax payer, such as mine, the aim of the tax payer is to get the best possible mathematics research and teaching for his money.

    My personal theory is that mathematical and scientific talent lays hidden somewhere among the categories of humans who are under-represented in math and science. In order to discover this talent, environment must be created to let it develop. And this includes excellent education, possibly in live-in institutions for the ones who have a poor family environment. And the necessary scholarships.

    The theories on equality have destroyed most of this type of excellent schooling. In France, excellent schooling is still accessible to the privileged classes.

    But one of the reasons for the disappearance of this excellent education, or rather its reduction, is that the taste, or the lust for education is now very low. It was not always so…

  39. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    It’s very hard to accurately predict human performance. In particular at low age and for the scientific/academic domains. When these imperfect predictive tools get “contaminated” by other, irrelevant, criteria such as sex or colour in order to implement an admission policy, the result is an increased mess. Being a woman has not much to do with being a competent mathematician. Being of some colour does not guarantee a person will work harder or better.

    Furthermore, regarding advance and honours bestowed, Academia is a very political institution (I know it’s a revelation for you ;-)). And indeed lots of not very relevant criteria are applied, de facto, to promotion decisions etc.

    I’m sorry if you got hurt by my sarcastic comment. Of course I didn’t mean to offend you, nor underestimate the importance of your work. Bien au contraire! My point was about the irrelevance of gender and colour to scientific accomplishment specifically, and to accomplishment in other areas in general. Talent and merit are gender and colour-blind. Providing occasions and circumstances for talent to reveal and flourish is definitely within my view. This is not exactly how affirmative action actually works.

    P.S. I smile as I “see” your aura – made of numbers and Greek characters and other “hieroglyphs” – intimidating the young. You don’t need to draw that image. It’s a well known phenomenon.

  40. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Thank you, E. G., I believe that we essentially agree. And should I redraw Croquemichelle with formulas in the curls? Or replacing the curls?

    ;-)

  41. [...] Landes, also on the Cairo speech, writes, The Problem is the Settlements: The Lack of Palestinian Ones I suggest that President Obama demand, publicly, and in the same strong terms with which he [...]

  42. E.G. says:

    Ray & Michelle,

    When I was in high-school, my elementary school English teacher asked me if I’d like to make some pocket money by giving complementary lessons to some kids.
    The first one she sent was a girl of 10 and it soon became clear that she was behind because she never really got the ABC. It wasn’t easy to improvise quickly a method to make her get it fast, by sitting with her twice a week for 1-2 hours (and have her attention focussed), but I was very pleased it worked. Then her reading and writing improved… and it was the year’s end. The teacher assigned her a short poem that she should recite at a celebration, and we dutifully made sure she knew it well by heart. The girl and her mother, as well as my former teacher, insisted that I come to that celebration.
    Walking back after Carmela and her umbrella had been successfully declaimed, my former teacher told me what incredible achievement I had made: she’d never believed such progress was possible for a girl that had been diagnosed with some mental handicap and was to continue her schooling in a specialised school. “And it’s now you’re telling me?!” I couldn’t help asking in a reproachful tone. The effort I had made was indeed under-payed, I felt. And besides, my expectations would have been different, and I would have been less demanding and more patient with the girl.
    In hindsight, I learnt a few valuable lessons that compensate the difference in fee.

  43. E.G. says:

    There we go! My nice story just got swallowed by the Beast’s filters!
    RL, please release it!

  44. nelson says:

    Michelle & E. G.

    I don’t know whether you’d agree, but what has been usually called the West is really the modern, post-enlightenment, secular, individualistic and democratic society that has flourished for a short while in limited regions of the world — in socially restricted parts even of the geographic West,

    That’s the environement where individual meritocracy has fared best. Yes: it has been far from perfect. But we cannot even begin to compare its accomplishments with those of any other society, living or dead.

    Its highest peaks have been reached in the decades after WW2. But, I’m sorry to tell you, we have already been in a down slope trajectory for a while. Yes, I know it is hard to believe it but, say, from the 50s to the 90s, we, North Americans, Western Europeans, some Latin Americans in big/modern cities, lived as close as possible to earthly paradise as mankind has ever lived. And women in special, in spite of the still existing inegalities, had never lived so long, healthy, free and fullfilling lives. They’re the ones who have most to lose.

    Anyway, whatever awaits us will be worse. If the next generation, when it comes to old age, still has at least those freedoms that Italian city dwellers had by the end of the Middle Ages, well, they’ll be lucky people indeed. And let me add that today I’m feeling rather optimistic, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing.

  45. oao says:

    Actually I haven’t heard much about the refugee problem in recent years. I heard about how hollow the Israeli version of the two state solution is.

    i dk what you’re talking about. we must be living on different planets. but even if it were true, what would you expect? after 60 year of rabid genocidal hatred, in which the pals proved murderous and treacherous it would not be human for israel to want anything to do with a pal state. we’ve seen how their own arab “brothers” treated them and even butchered them. had it been anybody else instead of jews, they wouldn’t have existed anymore. so pls spare me this crap.

    None of this will change when the Pals move into better housing.

    whatever made you think i am against it? my point is THEY WILL NOT MOVE now, because they either want to go to the west, or return to israel; and they sure don’t want to live under fatah or hamas.

  46. oao says:

    Its highest peaks have been reached in the decades after WW2. But, I’m sorry to tell you, we have already been in a down slope trajectory for a while.

    agreed. all successful societies reach a peak and decline.

    Anyway, whatever awaits us will be worse. If the next generation, when it comes to old age, still has at least those freedoms that Italian city dwellers had by the end of the Middle Ages, well, they’ll be lucky people indeed. And let me add that today I’m feeling rather optimistic, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing.

    there’s a contradiction somewhere in there.

  47. Cynic says:

    For anyone still interested in why the Palestinians are confined in in the manner they are here’s a link worth reading:

    Why Palestinians Still Live in Refugee Camps

    What is perhaps surprising is that the United Nations also opposed the program, and passed harsh resolutions demanding that Israel remove the Palestinians from their new homes and return them to the squalid camps. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution 31/15 of Nov. 23, 1976:
    Calls once more upon Israel:
    (a) To take effective steps immediately for the return of the refugees concerned to the camps from which they were removed in the Gaza Strip and to provide adequate shelters for their accommodation;
    (b) To desist from further removal of refuges and destruction of their shelters.
    Similarly, UNGA Resolution 34/52 of November 23, 1979 declared that:
    measures to resettle Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip away from their homes and property from which they were displaced constitute a violation of their inalienable right to return;
    1. Calls once more upon Israel to desist from removal and resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and from destruction of their shelters;
    Perhaps thanks to this support from the UN, the PLO began threatening to kill any refugee who would move out of the camps. After a few such attacks, the build-your-own-home program died, and that is why there are still Palestinians refugee camps in Gaza.

    Read the complete report.

  48. oao says:

    nelson,

    alibama is an indicator:

    Obama’s brave new deal
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/06/023765.php

  49. E.G. says:

    Nelson #49

    I agree to the 3 first paragraphs.
    As to the 4th optimistic one, I’m not sure. It seems some thresholds have been reached and that PC/ PoMo “culture” is starting to seriously get on quite a few people’s nerves. Maybe it’s too late. Maybe not. The next 4-5 years are crucial.

  50. E.G. says:

    oao #54

    Jaw dropped. Twice.

  51. oao says:

    I agree to the 3 first paragraphs.

    even after cynic’s source????????

  52. oao says:

    Maybe it’s too late. Maybe not. The next 4-5 years are crucial.

    it is. demographics.

  53. Sophia says:

    Hi guys. Boker tov to you too:)

    With respect – the “news” about the UN isn’t news to me.

    I know this history well.

    I argue the opposition position to try and get people to open the door a crack.

    I do think there is room for compromise.

    And, I do have sympathy – empathy even – for the Palestinian people. Their situation is awful. In Lebanon, they are in ghettos. They have been expelled en masse from several countries.

    In the case of Lebanon, I think fear that they would vote for Hezbollah or other radical parties is one reason they haven’t been assimilated – I had not figured that out until Sunday’s election – both Muslim and Christian leaders say they are a “demographic threat” and since they’re mostly Sunni Muslim I didn’t understand that. But in Lebanon the Palestinians have been a destabilizing presence, indeed Lebanon lost sovereignty over her own territory via the Cairo Accord – wars have broken out and Israel is blamed since, the thinking goes, the Palestinians wouldn’t be there in the first place if Israel didn’t exist.

    This is just part of the puzzle. Note, this conclusion that Lebanon wouldn’t have problems if Israel didn’t exist isn’t necessarily true – it’s possible, if there had been no Israel, Lebanon would have been attacked regardless – if nothing else Syria thinks Lebanon IS Syria – but it doesn’t matter – it shows some of what we’re up against.

    Both Jews and Palestinians are trapped in a web of perceptions and we are all pawns too in bigger games – and oddly, though our experiences aren’t equivalent, the path forward must involve us helping each other because I don’t see anybody else extending a hand, not really.

    The UNWRA organization is self-perpetuating, the Great Game is self-perpetuating, the oil interests have huge monies at stake, and the global economy depends on them – the Arabs pledge money to the Palestinians but give little.

    There is no plan that I have seen to compensate either Jewish or Arab refugees, no sensible plan to deal with the ROR issue – there is no simple solution so I think it must come from the ground up, from a network of human beings who care about each other as people.

    So – my comments here reflect the fact that I have an awareness of these issues plus enormous respect for Middle Eastern, North African, other Oriental art and culture and music, it’s part of Jewish tradition too – many of us Westerners and Jews refuse to even look at it, so I understand Obama on this and try to use culture to build bridges and get people to reflect upon our common humanity.

    I’ve been working in this area my whole life. This doesn’t mean I haven’t read history!

    Believe me I am as worried as anybody else – Anne Bayevsky’s piece is probably stated a bit strongly and maybe she is mistaking Obama’s intentions altogether – or misunderstanding how far he could go in Cairo – trying to open a door between “the Muslim world” and America – but her fears and perceptions are at least somewhat accurate.

    I haven’t been sleeping well lately, fearing that “realists” are the real driving force in the Obama administration, hoping that Obama himself is sufficiently wise and idealistic enough not to abandon us nor make Israel (or Diaspora Jews), nor women, nor reformers, nor democrats – the victims here.

    I’m struck by the demands from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, that Obama “impose” a settlement on Israel, which no doubt includes a retreat to the 1949 armistice lines.

    Does that mean all the Jews outside the Green Line will be dragged out of their homes? Or what?

    I wrote on Solomonia that we went to war in Bosnia to prevent “ethnic cleansing”. Will we create it in Israel?

    G*d I hope not.

    The other problem: Walt/Mearscheimer have created an environment in which defending Israel amounts to “disloyalty” to America (or American interests – not the same thing but how many people see the difference?)

    Walt actually published a piece the other day, asking “Did Obama Defeat the Israel Lobby” and within the article, he referred to those drunken kids in Israel who made nasty racist comments about Obama – as if they are representative of Israelis and/or Jews!

    This is antisemitism.

    In the presence of a weakened press and therefore less independent press, where newspapers are going broke, what stands between America and a really bad scenario? We’ve seen great countries fail in Europe –

    Lord. I am beginning to sound like oao.

    On a positive note, the NYT actually published a piece about the Jewish refugees from the Arab world:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/09/opinion/09aciman.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

    I am so used to getting beat up by the Times, I almost cried when I saw this.

  54. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Thanks for the link. Resumes things well.

  55. nelson says:

    What I meant by optimism was the following: in the best hypothesis it’ll take something around half a century for our civilization to sink to the level Mediterranean Western Europe was around the year 1.400.

    If I were feeling really pessimistic, I wouldn’t even care for writing about it, but I would guess that in 10 years or less we will be where Arabia was in the 7th century.

    In what concerns the fate of the Jews, according to my optimistic outlook their situation today resembles that of the Russian Jews in 1905. According to my pessimistic outlook, on the other hand, they are all Polish Jews in mid 1939.

    By now, there’s no room in my mind even for the Schadenfreude I’d usually feel for the fate of those 70% of American Jews who voted for Obama.

  56. E.G. says:

    oao #62,

    Yes and no.
    Nelson wasn’t referring to Israel in particular, nor was I in my comment to him. Though Israeli zeitgeist (very little reflected by MSM) does go in the same direction as other “Western” (per Nelson’s definition) people.
    The PC/PoMo hegemony is more and more challenged.

  57. E.G. says:

    Nelson,

    As I see it it’s slightly better than 1905.
    See, even Sophia starts getting the sense of things.

  58. Diane says:

    Nelson and oao,

    If you’re so sure the sky is falling, why do you spend these twilight years of the Enlightenment in Cassandra-like wailing at Augean Stables? Why don’t you carpe diem or cavort till you drop in the danse macabre?

  59. E.G. says:

    Diane,

    They’re the counterpoint to the messianic Cantata sung in all MSM Churches and Synagogues.
    Or the Greek Choir in the drama.

  60. nelson says:

    In the 80s I knew quite a few people who, because of AIDS, had one or two years of life left. What made all the difference for each of them wasn’t whether they were still more or less healthy or already sick, but knowing that they were condemned. Once they tested positive, none opted for the Carpe Diem. All of them spent their remaining time deeply depressed. Though this may sound paradoxical, some, out of fear of death, killed themselves. As TS Eliot said: After such knowledge, what forgiveness?

  61. oao says:

    Lord. I am beginning to sound like oao.

    nah. impossible.

    in the best hypothesis it’ll take something around half a century for our civilization to sink to the level Mediterranean Western Europe was around the year 1.400.

    are you sure? it’s building that takes time, taking down is easy and fast. and it does not have to go all the way down to their level to become intolerable. ask some euros. americans are much less capable of handling serious adversity.

    If I were feeling really pessimistic, I wouldn’t even care for writing about it

    there is nothing else to do.

    The PC/PoMo hegemony is more and more challenged.

    yes, but by equally bad people. and the demographic trend is faster than the challenge.

    If you’re so sure the sky is falling, why do you spend these twilight years of the Enlightenment in Cassandra-like wailing at Augean Stables?

    i am passing time.

    All of them spent their remaining time deeply depressed.

    for those of us who think there is only this life, it’s rational. now, if i were very rich i would spend my last days seeing as much of the world (assuming i could afford to travel in nice conditions). failing that…

  62. nelson says:

    “if i were very rich i would spend my last days seeing as much of the world”

    Actually if all one still has is 2 years, much of what’s interesting in the world could be seen spending considerably less than what the below average Madoff investor lost.

  63. oao says:

    Actually if all one still has is 2 years, much of what’s interesting in the world could be seen spending considerably less than what the below average Madoff investor lost.

    i was careful to specify travel “in convenient conditions” by which i mean that my days of student traveling are long gone. if i have to think of whether i have enough to spend, i won’t enjoy the travel.

  64. E.G. says:

    oao,

    AND please don’t forget: You’ve got more than 2 years!

  65. E.G. says:

    Dore Gold on settlements:
    http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371055284&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

  66. Chaim says:

    Perfect article for the Augean Stables….

    THE LEFT’S WAR LIES
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/
    commentisfree/2009/jun/09/
    war-lies-liberal-left-humanitarian-aid?
    commentpage=5

  67. Michelle Schatzman says:

    oao, I see that I am not the only one to question your attitude re. fear, the suicide of the West and your “I (we) have this much time left” statements. About five years ago, I got diagnosed with big bad cancer, and it was not only a enormous physical hardship, but also an immense psychological hardship.

    The statistics I had got hold of told me that the probability of five years survival in my case was about 15%. But I also read Stephen Jay Gould’s pice “the median is not the message”, and being a mathematician, I knew that statistics do not apply to a sample of one. Had I committed suicide five years ago when hearing the announcement, and understanding what kind of medical horrors I was to go through would have deprived me of :
    - dancing at my daughter’s wedding
    - taking my first grandchild in my arms (and delivering him to the other grandmother for the brit)
    - seeing my daughter expecting her second child
    - pushing my son to leave home and become independent
    - getting two prized honors in my profession.

    I consider myself very lucky to have been through all these events.

    Even when we are deadly afraid, we can choose between the most destructive and the least destructive paths.

    Life is usually much more complicated than anything we can picture in our minds. The power of scientific knowledge relies very much on our ability to simplify situations in order to understand something out of this enormous complexity.

    Being a scientist, I am nevertheless aware that there are some instances of knowledge, which cannot be termed scientific according to Popper’s falsifiability theory. Nevertheless, some of these instances can be quite useful, under a proper awareness of their limitations.

    Take medicine for instance: though there is a movement toward evidence-based medicine, it should be pretty clear that evidence-based medicine, which uses statistical studies for validating therapeutical strategies, can work only if there is a large enough number of analogous cases to substantiate the use of the statistical tools. Therefore, if the panel of analogous cases is not large enough, there can be no evidence-based medicine. Once someone finds oneself in a small box, with not enough companions in the same case, one is subject to medical art, period. In other words, probably not scientific, but hopefully better than nothing.

    One should write one’s will, and articulate the main messages one has learnt. You may have read what Dick Feynman pictured as the most important piece of knowledge in physics : he thought that it was the fact that matter is made of atoms (if I remember correctly).

    Assume that our civilization will shortly collapse, say in the next two years, or the next six months, or whatever. What would be the most important messages to transmit to whoever comes after us and might appreciate some guidance from previously accumulated wisdom? How should it be made available? And so on.

    There are movements who think only in view of the next demise of our society. They can be on the extreme right, for instance in Idaho, or on the extreme left, say deep ecology. They seem nutty to me. On the other hand, thinking of safety measures, thinking of transmission, trust and how to keep wisdom and criticism alive are good questions. This is because we do not live in a science-fiction story. Our story is not written. We write it.

    So, oao, what would be your message to whoever escapes the doom you are forecasting?

  68. obsy says:

    oao: “just watch hamas, arabs and obama gang on israel”

    Didn’t have to wait long:
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371054213&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Hamas says that it won’t be an obstacle to a Palestine in the 1967 borders:

    http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=1&issueno=11152&article=522797

    Now wait for all those article which will claim that Hamas accepted Israel in the 1967 (aka 1947) borders. Or that Hamas would accept the two state solution

  69. [...] LANDES is at least honest enough to try and give a practical test to the Phased Plan concept, one that doesn’t rest entirely on an intimate knowledge of the [...]

  70. obsy says:

    Can somebody give me a hint what causes comments to get stuck in the filter?

    Anyway, watch out for people who will interpret/exchange the word “Palestine” for “Israel” and the phrase “no obstacle” for “accept”.

    This comment might make sense when the other one shows up.

  71. E.G. says:

    obsy,

    Don’t put 2 links in one comment. A bird in hand… that’s wired in the filters. I forgot it, and got a comment that’s still stuck on the other thread.
    It’s not the only reason. Sometimes those &$*%!° filters seem hungry and just swallow a comment. Then, the courageous RL dives a brave hand into their belly and sets the poor comment free.

  72. Eliyahu says:

    Israel had no borders up to the treaty with Egypt in 1979-79, only armistice lines.

    I remember the story about the UN shooting down an Israeli endeavor to build homes for refugees in Gaza. This happened in the mid-70s. It all proves that the UN is NOT a humanitarian body, as if we all didn’t know that already. So it’s the fault of the UN [esp. UNRWA], major powers in the UN, including US that the refugees of Gaza weren’t ressettled way back. The major powers don’t want the refugee problem settled anymore than the UN does or the Arabs do. Only Israell wants real peace. They want the war to go on.

    How do you all like that UN resolution telling Israel to bring the refugees resettled in new homes back to the refugee camps??

  73. obsy says:

    Thank you E.G.

  74. oao says:

    AND please don’t forget: You’ve got more than 2 years

    hopefully, but nobody knows that for sure. besides, those years left are about going down, not up.

    I see that I am not the only one to question your attitude re. fear, the suicide of the West and your “I (we) have this much time left” statements.

    this is neither a surprise, nor very persuasive; the former because it is harder to accept adverse reality, than to hope for the best. the latter because i go by the evidence and i have not seen any evidence to counter mine.

    I am, of course, sorry to hear about your predicament and wish you to overcome the odds. the attitude towards suicide varies by person. i have not advocated suicide under any circumstances. without giving details i will only say that i’ve got some extremely painful and discouraging experiences of my own, in which many others would have called it quits more than once, and yet i never envisioned suicide.

    however, your and my personal circumstances have little to do with the collapse of the west and its consequences and i don’t understand the rest of your post and its relevance.

    So, oao, what would be your message to whoever escapes the doom you are forecasting?

    i very much doubt that my message will have any effect on future generations, particularly if they will be buried under sharia, ignorance and inability to reason. however, even if this were not the case. be that as it may, that message is clear: get rid of superstition and rely on knowledge and reason. they are not perfect, but they are the best we have and without them society is doomed.

  75. E.G. says:

    oao,

    You cannot discount the effects of expectations (not always reasonable) and other fact-detached (even reality antagonistic) quasi-certainties (hope, optimism). Such mechanisms sustain people in distress, often help them avoid passivity and helplessness.
    When emitted, they’re unrealistic and unreasonable. Even for the person who pronounces them. Can lead directly to the gas chambers – or to having fun with great-grandchildren in a free country.

    Of course, I definitely agree on the great weight of knowledge and reason.

  76. obsy says:

    Pingback by Promised Land

    Hi Noam!
    I wouldn’t have thought that you have become theaugeanstables reader.
    Sadly you are still writing in English instead of Hebrew. I guess the psychological issues of the Jews abroad under more or less hostile populations don’t touch you.

    You already told us that you don’t care much about the Palestinians. From that standpoint it doesn’t surprise that you value political power of Palestinian commanders higher than quality of live for ordinary Palestinians.

    What astonishes is that you reject what should end Israeli “racism”. After all that is what you told us you care about. About the Jews (apparently not abroad!). About the rise of “racism” in Israel.
    All that just lies?
    Might it be that you just need to blame your people?

    By the way: If you want to know what real racism looks like, have a look at other countries.

  77. oao says:

    Don’t put 2 links in one comment.

    i’ve had messages with several links go through and messages without any links not go through.

  78. oao says:

    wanna bet you won’t see any coverage of judeophobia in the media?

  79. noam says:

    hi obsy,

    thanks for the comment. I continue reading the AS, but I found the atmosphere too hostile when I comment, so I gave it up.

    I don’t think I said i didn’t care for the palestinians, but my basic point is that i think a two-state solution is in Israel’s best interest. anyway, there is no contradiction here.

    noam

  80. obsy says:

    Noam: BUT LET’S GO BACK to the Camp David summit and Ehud Barak’s “generous offer” on the crucial summer of 2000. According to the Phased Plan logic, Arafat should have accepted the concessions he was offered rather than rejecting them, just as he did in Oslo. He should have got the 90-something percent of the land and the foothold in Jerusalem, build his power, and from that improved position, move to the next phase.

    Arafat had build momentum. The Palestinians where ready to fight hard (as history has proved afterwards) to force Israel to worse concessions and events in Lebanon seemed to have shown that Israel was submissive and generous to those who hit her.
    Arafat could show Israel that he was even more violent than Lebanon and that he must get more than was offered. That is reasonable negotiation.
    Arafat had pushed and Arafat had lost because he judged the hearts and minds of Israelis wrong.

    But maybe you like an other explanation: Powerful Islamic dictators have forced Arafat to hold the Palestinian people in as desperate a situation as possible, so that they can distract subordinates by pointing to the evil Zionists.

    You guys on the left like those evil powerful – good weak story lines, don’t you?

    You should be more careful with lines like: “I don’t claim to know what was in Arafat’s heart, but one thing is sure – his actions contradict the Phased Plan pattern.”

    1. Everyone estimates the hearts and minds of people the are dealing with – i.e: you are doing this too.
    2. Contradictions must contradict something. Phased plan doesn’t say that the Palestinians must take everything bit by bit or that this would be the best way to go. When it looks promising to press for bigger concessions, any negotiator would tell you to do it.

  81. E.G. says:

    noam,

    Be courageous. Try having the same empathy you have for Israel’s foes with Israel’s friends. I hope it fits your conscience.

  82. obsy says:

    Noam,

    I continue reading the AS,

    Good choice!
    Maybe you’ll learn something.

    but I found the atmosphere too hostile when I comment, so I gave it up.

    I understand that. I’m always ready to give you a little bit of hostility when you need it. Promised!
    Ever tried to comment with a Zionist point of view at a leftist site? (rhetorical question)

  83. oao says:

    You cannot discount the effects of expectations (not always reasonable) and other fact-detached (even reality antagonistic) quasi-certainties (hope, optimism). Such mechanisms sustain people in distress, often help them avoid passivity and helplessness.

    hope is an emotional sustaining mechanism. what that means is that it also tends to put people in denial of adverse reality and rob them of doing something to prevent their consequences. that’s a major reason why people question my position here.

    it’s one thing to hope despite the circumstances and another to hope based on ignorance of circumstances.

    in the case of the west, unreasonable expectations have prevented it from committing suicide.

  84. oao says:

    iow, there is a difference between an individual’s hope hope to survive cancer — over which you have little control — and the hope for one’s society to survive progress WHILE committing suicide.

  85. E.G. says:

    oao

    #93- The Holocaust museum shooting is covered.

    #105 – it’s one thing to hope despite the circumstances and another to hope based on ignorance of circumstances.

    You’re right. Except that in “despite” there’s always some partial ignorance.

  86. Michelle Schatzman says:

    oao, in any case, we all die someday. Therefore, any concern about the survival of civilizations is about transmission. From this point of view, your concern about education is entirely justified.

    If I take an evolutionist point of view, I can ask about the evolutionary benefits of hope or unlikely expectations. They are just a help for survival. If our minds can accept unreasonable hope, it’s because unreasonable hope is a hedge against depression and passivity. Therefore, the minds which can harbor unreasonable hope help their owners live longer. Now, unreasonable hope must be confronted with facts and estimates and reason. Unreasonable hope must not lead to unreasonable acts.

    Learning about facts and estimates and using reason can also strengthen unlikely expectations. This point of view is very clearly explained in Gould’s piece I mentioned “the median is not the message”. There, he explains how a terrible prognosis (mesothelioma) can be analyzed, and how hope to live and the will to undergo very unpleasant medical care can be found even in the direst data.

    Another fact : some psychological study (can’t remember which, where, when) showed that depressed people have a better grasp of reality than people in a normal mood.

    If we keep to the evolutionary point of view, then societies compete, and the better organized should win. Provided that they are not stuck in some deep potential well, from which they cannot escape.

    If we think of life, we should think of probability, and of fluctuations. So, something can nucleate somewhere, gain an organizational advantage, and this advantage could propagate, exactly as tools and domesticated animals propagated in prehistory.

    I already explained this in some thread. I had no time to look at Olson’s theories. Probably can be found in a library in my town.

  87. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    I tend to agree with you except
    depressed people have a better grasp of reality than people in a normal mood.

    I don’t have the time to search for studies that show the contrary. But There are quite a few.

  88. According to Moshe Dann in his op-ed in the Jerusalem Post:

    “… according to the State Comptroller’s Report for 2009, there are more than 100,000 illegal Arab buildings in Israel, and more than 9,000 in Area C, under full Israeli control. Arab building in Areas A and B (under Palestinian Authority control) is unrestricted – and extensive.”

    So – Arabs ARE building whether we like it, stop it, or not. One only needs to take a drive around to see the very large, very expensive, very expansive houses being built in Arab towns, villages and elsewhere in Judaea & Samaria. That many of them remain empty while people live in filth and poverty is THEIR problem… Israel did NOT create those so-called “refugee camps”.

    The problem is primarily UNWRA and their continued treatment of the “pals” as “refugees” when they are not so, especially in Gaza.

  89. obsy says:

    E.G.

    This article falls into the trap of ill symmetry. The correct comparison would be: “Let’s try to imagine how life would be if the Jews were in the situation of the Palestinians and vice versa.”

    Larry assumes that Jews and Pals are generally the same and that most circumstances do not matter.

    If we look at some other aspect, things look quite different: Palestinians want throw Israelis out of “their” country, so it should be OK if Israelis want to throw Palestinians out of Israel too. Ain’t it? Could it be that Israelis are and behave differently then Palestinians?

    Of cause Larry “understands” some kind of difference:
    But the story of post-1967 settlement and military rule is purely one-sided: We do it to them, they don’t do it to us.

    Hey, Israel isn’t bad after all!
    Nice place in the sun and no enemies at all. No violence, no nothing. Reality looks so good with closed eyes.

    We are the strong one.

    Yep! The basic line of leftist thinking – strong equals evil. No need to think about it. You only have to find the right words to communicate the message to those who do not understand the strong-evil-logic.

    We cross the Green Line

    The Green Line is completely irrelevant. I can’t understand how a guy that argues that history does not matter can talk about the Green Line which is history (and temporary by definition).

  90. obsy says:

    oao, I believe that you are not willing to accept in your heart that culture will go down and stay down for generations to come. Otherwise, how can it be that you do not adapt to the new reality and accept the peak and possibilities of our culture as irrelevant to our future?
    (That includes measuring our future against this past.)

  91. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G., I do not know how to research psychological studies about reality and depression, and worse, I don’t even know how to gauge them… so scrap that line!

  92. Eliyahu says:

    I see that Noam favors a “two-state solution” [a Final Solution?]. This proves the point of a comment of mine in the next thread [on tom brokaw and the MSM]. I say there that the Israeli “Left” agrees with the EU, USA, etc. Noam should ask the leaders of the organizations that he belongs to where the funding comes from. We know that much of it comes from the EU which is interested in covering up its own past vis-a-vis the Holocaust, millenial oppression of Jews, etc.

  93. oao says:

    I tend to agree with you except
    depressed people have a better grasp of reality than people in a normal mood.

    actually there is research that shows this. and it has something to do with 2 fundamental kinds of depression. if one of them is present, there is a logical explanation of why depressed people are more realistic.

  94. oao says:

    michelle,

    hope is a survival mechanism which can easily defeat survival.

  95. oao says:

    I believe that you are not willing to accept in your heart that culture will go down and stay down for generations to come.

    you seem to be confusing what you want to happen with what is happening.

    the culture already went down. no matter what comes next, it won’t be what it was.

  96. oao says:

    The problem is primarily UNWRA and their continued treatment of the “pals” as “refugees” when they are not so, especially in Gaza.

    actually it’s the sources of unrwa support, among them the US.

  97. oao says:

    here’s an article that touches on my collapse of education argument:

    http://spectator.org/archives/2009/06/05/farewell-to-judgment

  98. [...] Richard Landes schließt daraus - eher rhetorisch als im Ernst (Link): [...]

  99. [...] in exchange for agreeing to give up their refugee status (ironically, that’s what Israel always demanded the Palestinians in Arab countries do). Israel conquered and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, and [...]

  100. [...] in exchange for agreeing to give up their refugee status (ironically, that’s what Israel always demanded that Palestinians in Arab countries do). Israel conquered and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and, [...]

  101. [...] in exchange for agreeing to give up their refugee status (ironically, that’s what Israel always demanded that Palestinians in Arab countries do). Israel conquered and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and, [...]

  102. Blog Post says:

    Sheizaf: Two more families face eviction in Sheikh Jarrah; hundreds attend protests…

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