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(ReadWith) OnPalestine

October 2023: Things have now gone to hell. See HamasAttackOnIsrael2023

2023 : Things getting worse, as the theocratic right see their one chance for full blown war to incorporate occupied territories :


Embracing "3 class" solution:

It's horribly messy and complicated. Here's what I thought in 2013.

Quora Answer : Which side is right in the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Mar 27, 2013

If you're looking for a simplistic story of an evil aggressor vs. an innocent and virtuous victim then you're out of luck. Neither is "right" in that sense. Both sides have retreated into an antipathy for the other which ranges from total distrust to abject hatred. Both sides can legitimately claim that their lives have been made a misery by the other. And among both peoples you can find a wish that the other be blasted off the face of the earth.

However, there are two things you can say.

1) It is an injustice that every Palestinian grows up not as a free citizen of a state but as a non-citizen under a kind of martial law.

2) The only AGENT in this conflict is the Israeli government. The Israeli government a) directs its military, b) has the fire-power to enforce the borders that it chooses to enforce, c) is, in practical terms, invulnerable to any threat from the Palestinians or Arab neighbours, d) can be clearly identified with the will of its people through its democratic process.

The situation for the Palestinians is the opposite. They are divided into two regions, with different and competing "governments" neither of which can really claim to speak for all Palestinians when it makes deals. Those who attack Israel are not directly controlled by these governments : some work for Hamas, some for the PLO, some for other terrorist organizations, some for criminal gangs. Many are just pissed-off civilians throwing rocks. None of the Palestinian violence has ANY practical possibility of shifting the borders by force. They can't even stop the Israelis extending settlements into the disputed zones. There is no single and responsible agent there.

As a result, there is no sense that this can be resolved through some kind of agreement or deal between "equals". This is not a negotiation between two agents, who both have the power and responsibility to make concessions. Thinking with this model has given us the last 30 years of impasse.

The problem that Israel faces with Palestinian terror is closer to the US's absurd and cynical "War on Drugs" or the problems of "gang-warfare". In the US (and Europe) militarising the ghetto with regular aggressive police attacks on its oppressed and dispossessed residents has done nothing to resolve the drugs "problem" nor reduced gang-related crime. Israel's occupation is just the same thing written larger.

Israelis who feel themselves to be victims, and their cheerleaders in the US who are more concerned with signalling their political purity than resolving the problem, won't admit this, but the only agent with the power and THEREFORE the moral responsibility to end the problem is the Israeli government. If Israel pulls out of the territories, completely, leaving the Palestinians free to create their own state - or perhaps 2 states, given the physical separation of the two - this won't immediately undo the 60 years of pain and animosity. It won't resolve all Palestinian claims against Israel. It won't suddenly make the Palestinians feel sweetness and love towards Israel. They'll continue to hate it. But it WILL begin a process of healing and normalizing Israel's relations with its neighbours.

Start on this road and in another 30 years, there might be the chance of genuine peaceful coexistence. Stick to the current plan of posturing, refusing to negotiate until you think you've won the concessions you want (a piece of paper that "acknowledges the right of Israel to exist"? Think how vacuous such a treaty would be in practice given that neither Hamas nor the PA fully represent or control the Palestinian people) and in 50 years time we'll still be in the same place.

Except worse because in 50 years time society will have been transformed by the proliferation of drone technology. Either, in the attempt to keep the population under control, Israel will have been led to impose an Orwellian solution of positioning robot observers in every Palestinian home and flying them along behind every Palestinian youth. Or the Palestinian terrorist will have replaced rockets with autonomous drones able to range independently for weeks within Israeli territory before suddenly popping up and killing people. Most likely we'll see an arms race between both tendencies, and a tragic continuation of the waste of lives, wealth and happiness of both peoples.

So neither side is "right". But Israel has the opportunity and responsibility to try to bring it to an end and to create peace and happiness for both peoples. Magnanimity is a winning strategy available to it. Palestinian leaders have no such option. They can't proclaim an acceptance of Israel without looking like they've betrayed their people for a hand-me-down personal power.

See Liddism

Note, I had comments pushing back on that claim about "Except worse because in 50 years time society will have been transformed by the proliferation of drone technology." but see IsraelDroneSwarms for the story of Israel starting to use them.

The legality of Israel

Quora Answer : Some of Israel's enemies seem to believe "Israel doesn't have a right to exist." What does that mean exactly, and how is it different from any other enemy's view of their opponent?

Aug 9, 2014

People make a big thing about this, but it's really pretty simple.

Some wars are about which of two existing countries gets to own some kind of disputed region or resource.

But Israel is slightly unusual in that it's a new country. The fight between Israel and the Arabic inhabitants of the region was triggered by the creation of that country and the argument is about whether that should have been done. (Ie. whether the country should have been created in the first place, and whether it can or should be undone.)

"Apartheid" State?

Palestinian perspective :

Transcluded from JonLansmanOnLabourAndIsrael

Historical Background

Some very useful historical background from JonLansman on LabourParty positions at the birth of Israel :

The state of Israel was born ... not because the Zionist movement won their argument with the US and Britain – both the US State Department and Britain’s Labour government remained actively opposed to it. It happened because of support of Stalin and the Soviet Union as meticulously explained in a recent book by Jeffrey Herf, Israel’s Moment: International Support and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945-1949.

The truth is that the relationship between the Labour Party and Zionism was never ... simple and clear cut ... Antagonism to the Labour Government’s policy on Israel/Palestine was widespread within the party in that period because it was seen as insufficiently supportive of the Zionist cause – exemplified by the title of a 1946 pamphlet by Michael Foot and Richard Crossman – A Palestine Munich? – hardly a flattering comparison of the Attlee government with that of Chamberlain!

Back then, it was the left that supported Zionism more than the right: not just the Labour left but also the Communist Party, which then had a Jewish section as well as a Jewish MP. The Labour left remained pro-Zionist until the 1980s: Tony Benn, for example, recorded in his diary on 30 June 1980 that he was against PLO recognition “not because I am anti-Palestinian but because the annihilation of Israel is the PLO objective.”

His view like Labour attitudes began gradually to change with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 with the election of Revisionist Zionists and former terrorists, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, as Prime Ministers of Israel. They turned an illegal occupation into creeping annexation, undermining or destroying everything positive that the Israeli Labour Party created.

At the last Israeli election, Meretz, our more left-wing Israeli sister party, lost its representation in the Knesset. Ha’avodah, the Israeli Labor Party, has just 4 but realistically cannot be expected to retain any at the next election unless it reaches and agreement with Meretz and perhaps also with Hadash, the Israeli Communist Party, whose Joint List is supported mainly by Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The Labour movement that created the Israeli state and dominated its politics has all but disappeared. The is no peace process nor any prospect of another Labour government anytime soon. Israel now has its first government that includes fascists but not its last. Annexation is now openly and brutally pursued and the current movement for “Democracy” in Israel is concerned exclusively with Jewish rights, not those of Palestinians, whether or not they are Israeli citizens.