US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem to Praise and Violence

US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem to Praise and Violence

Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has long been discussed. On Monday it became reality, along with sharp divides over what such a move means both to the region and the United States role in ever-elusive Middle East peace. Those that predicted that such a move would be accompanied with violence, were tragically not disappointed.

NBC News:

Fulfilling a campaign promise, and with deadly protests occurring less than 50 miles away, the Trump administration opened the new American embassy in Jerusalem Monday. During an elaborate dedication ceremony, Trump addressed a small crowd via taped video message, saying that the opening had been “a long time coming.”

“Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the Israeli government, the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli Supreme Court and Israel’s prime minister and president,” he said. “For many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious … the plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israeli David Friedman, as well as Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump also gave remarks.

The controversial move fulfilled a promise by Trump to bring the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, having already recognized the disputed city as Israel’s capital.The decision has delighted the Israeli government but angered the Palestinians, as well as concerning some Western allies who say it will further destabilize the region and hamper the peace process.

Trump, however, maintained that his “greatest hope is for peace” and that the U.S. “remained committd to facilitating a lasting agreement.”

President Trump, who was not present, instead made remarks by video:

 

But on the Gaza border, the on-going “Great March of Return” took an even more violent turn, with 40+ reportedly killed. BBC:

Palestinians hurled stones and incendiary devices while the Israeli military used snipers, as black smoke poured from burning tyres. The Hamas-run health ministry said children were among those killed on Monday.The mass demonstrations, led by Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, are part of a six-week protest dubbed the “Great March of Return”.

Israel’s army said 35,000 Palestinians were taking part in “violent riots” along the security fence and that its troops were operating “in accordance with standard procedures”. Israel says the protests are aimed at breaching the border and attacking Israeli communities nearby.
The Israeli military said it had killed three people trying to plant explosives near the security fence in Rafah. It said aircraft had also “targeted Hamas military posts near the Jabalia area after troops were fired upon”.

There have also been violent clashes between Israeli police and protesters who raised Palestinian flags outside the new embassy. Several protesters were detained.

Palestinians have held weekly protests in the run-up to their annual commemoration of what they call the Nakba or Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of their people fled their homes or were displaced following the foundation of the Israeli state on 14 May 1948.
Scores of Palestinians have been killed since the protests began. Thousands more have been wounded.
Hamas, which is in a state of conflict with Israel, had said it would step up protests in the lead-up to Tuesday, the official Nakba commemoration.

Hundreds of people have been injured, according to Palestinian officials
It says it wants to draw attention to what Palestinians insist is their right to return to ancestral homes in what became Israel.”Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied forever,” a science teacher in Gaza, Ali, told Reuters news agency.

Sky News tweeted a split screen that is widely found in media today, appropriate to the complex issues of the region:

 

 

Israel’s Arab neighbors continue to denounce the move, even now that it is completed:
Al Arabiya:

The Arab League will hold emergency talks Wednesday to discuss Washington’s “illegal” decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a senior official said.

The meeting will focus on “ways of countering the illegal decision by the United States to move the embassy to Jerusalem”, the organization’s deputy secretary general for Palestinian affairs, Saeed Abu Ali, said. He told reporters the permanent representatives of members of the Cairo-based Arab League would meet “at the request of the state of Palestine”.

Jordan denounced the embassy move as a “clear violation” of the UN charter. In a statement, it also “condemned” a unilateral decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Palestinian claims to part of the disputed city.

Jordan is the only other Arab country besides Egypt to have ties with Israel, and it is also the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

The status of the holy city — home also to Christian and Jewish shrines — is perhaps the thorniest issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

While such a response was predictable, the moving of the embassy was anything but. Though long a talking point, and a frequently heralded position by US Presidents, taking no action had become the norm, with many speculating an avoidance of just such a violent reaction being the motivation.

NY Times:

“Jerusalem is a symbolic, emotional and real issue,” said Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and president of the Israel Institute. “It matters to many Israeli Jews because it would indicate that the United States actually recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which now it effectively does not.”

Which is why Arabs object so strenuously to such a move. “This is a sign that he’s going to side with Israel,” said Mustafa Alani, a scholar at the Gulf Research Center, a research organization with offices in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. “If he does it, it’s going to be a wrong start for his relationship with the Arab world.”

The status of Jerusalem has always been one of the thorniest issues dividing Jews and Arabs. In 1947, the United Nations recommended that the city be declared a “corpus separatum,” meaning an international city, rather than incorporated into either the Arab or the Jewish states then being contemplated on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But in the war that followed its declaration of statehood in 1948, Israel captured the western portion of the city while Jordan seized the east.

Israel took control of East Jerusalem in its 1967 war with its Arab neighbors and annexed it, declaring that the city would remain whole and unified as its eternal capital (and later building many settlements there that most of the world considers illegal). The United States and most other countries refused to recognize the annexation and kept their embassies in or near Tel Aviv. The last two countries with embassies in Jerusalem, Costa Rica and El Salvador, moved out a decade ago.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both promised during their presidential campaigns to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Both later backed away from those promises, convinced by Middle East experts that doing so would prejudge negotiations for a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
In 1995, Congress passed a law declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital and requiring the embassy be moved there by 1999 — or else the State Department building budget would be cut in half. But the law included a provision allowing presidents to waive its requirement for six months if they determined it was in the national interest. So every six months, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush and eventually President Obama signed such waivers, fearing a violent response in the Arab world if the embassy moved.

“Every president who reversed his campaign promise did so because he decided not to take the risk,” said Dennis B. Ross, a longtime Middle East envoy who advised multiple presidents, including Mr. Obama. “Jerusalem has historically been an issue that provoked great passions — often as a result of false claims — that did trigger violence.”

Rather than an end, this current chapter in the Israel-Palestinian saga very much feels firmly in the middle of the story. An historic day, but it remains to be seen how much change will really come from it.

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126 thoughts on “US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem to Praise and Violence

  1. I’m of two minds here. There is some length of time after which de-facto rule becomes de-jure. If you’ve been holding on to a piece of land amidst resistance for the past 50 years. I think everyone should just grow up and recognise that yes, Israel conquered east jerusalem by force and by right of conquest (and american protection against adverse consequences) rules it. So this is like ripping off the band aid. Painful but necessary.

    At the same time, this is a sensitive matter and people are understandably upset and the status quo seemed good enough anyway. Its unclear whether the possibility of moving forward in resolving the israel palestine conflict is worth the risk of backlash generated by this move.

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    • I’m not entirely convinced the State of Israel is necessarily 100% the same as the Jewish people “Israel” in scripture when it comes to spiritual matters. Israel has other faith groups as citizens, 20% of its population is Arab, and amongst those majority Sunni Muslim but also a Arab Christian minority, Druze and others. So to me the State is separate from the religious people, just for example, so you would have to figure that out. I get where many draw that conclusion, and I’m all for applying prophesy to modern day events, but it has its limits. It’s a deep theological rabbit hole to go down, I personally enjoy such things, not sure how everyone else feels.

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    • hypothesis 1: they didn’t want to blame anyone, especially, uh, Israel.

      hypothesis 2: there were multiple causes, making any specific attribution unlikely to succeed in being fair or accurate.

      what do you think?

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      • It’s weird how we aren’t given any context for those numbers.

        How many Palestinians? How many Israelis? The article doesn’t say! What were the circumstances of the deaths? Bare hands? Thrown knives? Sniper rifles? Poorly calibrated tranquilizer darts that weren’t intended to be lethal but ended up being so because of allergic reactions in those tranqed?

        You pretty much have to read somebody else if you want to know what happened.

        The way that page reports stuff is like there’s a poltergeist. Cabinets opened! Doors slammed! Protestors killed! Injuries suffered!

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      • My favorite is this one:

        UN Human Rights chief says killings “must stop now”
        Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for the United Nations Human Rights Council, called for an end to the violent clashes today in Gaza that resulted in the death of more than 50 people.

        Wanna see the tweet?

        “Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now. The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int'l community needs to ensure justice for victims” – #Zeid. pic.twitter.com/hBb7825Sp8— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) May 14, 2018

        The tweet talks about Israeli live fire.

        The article beneath it returns to the passive voice:

        At least 55 people killed in Gaza clashes, Palestinian Ministry of Health says
        At least 55 people have been killed during clashes Monday along the border fence between Israel and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. More than 2,700 people have been injured.

        This is the biggest number of fatalities suffered in one day since the latest round of demonstrations began more than six weeks ago. By a CNN count, based on Ministry of Health figures, more than one hundred people have been killed in the demonstrations since March 30.

        Since March 30. That’s enough time to have more than merely a preliminary report…

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          • So I wondered whether CNN’s competitors did any better. I’m just looking at the opening paragraphs and looking for some kind of active voice.

            Here’s Fox:

            At least three of the 52 Palestinians reportedly killed Monday in clashes ahead of the Jerusalem opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel were “armed terrorists” caught trying to plant a bomb near the Gaza border fence, Israel’s military said.

            There you go. Not as active as I’d like… they don’t come out and say who “reportedly killed” the Palestinians… but there are a lot of details in there and it’s possible to make the reasonable inference that the Israeli forces are the ones that “reportedly killed” the 3 terrorists (and the 49 non-terrorists).

            Here’s MSNBC:

            GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — At least 52 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and almost 1,960 others were wounded Monday after thousands of protesters converged on the razor-wire fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel as the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem.

            Holy cow! It says what happened!

            CNN is, like, uniquely bad at this.

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  2. Yair Rosenberg at Tablet has the best take. The TLDR version. (1) Congress voted to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital since Israel was established. (2) Past President’s used the national security waiver to not to do this. (3). This lays the ground of a future administration to create a US embassy in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the West Bank for Palestine regardless of what the Israeli government wants.

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    • The likelihood of that happening is quite low. It is one thing to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Israel has held Jerusalem for the past 50 years. When all is said and done, the Israeli government has still held on to that piece of land and can still prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. The recognition merely makes official what was de-facto the case. Singaporeans couldn’t just because they wanted to declare that Johor Bahru was their capital. JB is just not among the lands that the Singapore government has effective control over. An even better example is if Taiwan wanted to have its capital in Beijing. Even if there was some legal and moral basis for the taiwanese gov (Republic of China) to rule all of mainland china (For instance we might think that the maoist insurgency against Chiang Kaishek was wrongful and illegitimate), as a matter of fact, it does not control mainland China and hasn’t done so for a long time. It would be absolutely bizarre to recognise Beijing as the capital of the Republic of China (i.e. Taiwan).

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      • The purpose of not officially saying Israel is the conquering power and now own the land forever is to hold out hope for some sort of peace. If there is absolutely no hope of peace then that will turn even more towards war/resistance. Lord ( all of them) know that many already see violence and reconquest as the only option for the displaced. It doesn’t create any hope of settling the long term population problem Israel has to confront. Do they want a state with a Jewish minority ruling a non-Jewish majority of second class citizens? That is the existential conundrum facing Israel as they have no military peer.

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        • Yep. Jehovah help the Israeli’s if the Palestinians ever get a clue and start saying “You know what, the two state solution is dead. We’re all Israeli’s. We hereby dissolve the sham that is the Palestinian Authority and we’re going to demand our rights and votes within Israel.”

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          • Isn’t the bulk (population wise) of the West Bank not officially Israel’s?

            I think the overall plan is for Israel to take what it wants and then leave the remainder to whatever rump of a state(s) can be formed. Doesn’t South Africa have micro-states landlocked within it?

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            • Isn’t the bulk (population wise) of the West Bank not officially Israel’s?

              Sure. But Israel is occupying them anyway. The beauty of saying “if you’re going to rule us, then we’re going to be citizens” is that it puts the ball squarely in Israel’s court. They can say “Modus Ponens” or they can say “Modus Tollens”.

              Of course, it’s most likely that Israel will say “meh. How’s about we occupy you guys, but let you have elections, but you can elect Hamas, and then we can do this again for another 10 years because, let’s face it, you bastards are pretty damn unsympathetic!”

              But, ideally, Israel would be forced to poop or get off the pot.

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              • The beauty of saying “if you’re going to rule us, then we’re going to be citizens” is that it puts the ball squarely in Israel’s court.

                Israel: If you convert to Judaism then you’ve got a deal, otherwise normal nations get to decide who is a citizen and whom is not.

                Of course, it’s most likely that Israel will say “meh. How’s about we occupy you guys, but let you have elections, but you can elect Hamas, and then we can do this again for another 10 years because, let’s face it, you bastards are pretty damn unsympathetic!”

                Unsympathetic isn’t the word I’d use for a group with genocide written as a goal in their charter.

                But, ideally, Israel would be forced to poop or get off the pot.

                Historically the best way to do that would have been to offer Israel a peace deal that doesn’t include the destruction of Israel. Problem is that, as an idea, is considered unthinkable in certain (armed) circles.

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                • Israel: If you convert to Judaism then you’ve got a deal, otherwise normal nations get to decide who is a citizen and whom is not.

                  I can’t even *IMAGINE* this being said in 2018.

                  The argument will just flip back to “if you are going to occupy me, then I am going to be a citizen… it has nothing to do with my relationship to whatever gods you worship but your relationship to Power and Power’s relationship to me.”

                  Also, we’re in a place where “normal nations get to decide who is a citizen and whom is not” is not a statement that is obviously true on its face.

                  Unsympathetic isn’t the word I’d use for a group with genocide written as a goal in their charter.

                  So long as we agree that it’s accurate, I’m okay with that.

                  Historically the best way to do that would have been to offer Israel a peace deal that doesn’t include the destruction of Israel. Problem is that, as an idea, is considered unthinkable in certain (armed) circles.

                  Oh, I agree. But this is a situation that strikes me as being unstable. Maybe Israel could hold onto this situation for another generation… maybe two… but eventually the situation *WILL* change.

                  I’m a fan of the three-state solution, myself.

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                  • Well, the Palestinians are at least People of the Book… maybe a political theory where they have not-quite-citizen status, but pay extra for their subjugation in return for a modicum of self-rule within strict limitations? Over time, they could join the ruling faction following a few simple requirements, practices, and allegiances.

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                  • Also, we’re in a place where “normal nations get to decide who is a citizen and whom is not” is not a statement that is obviously true on its face.

                    This is a very “American” statement, but we’re the exception, not the rule. Other countries have EXTREMELY different rules on citizenship and who qualifies, even to the point of having multiple generations of people grow up in the country lacking citizenship.

                    It’s common to insist you know the official language, be there for years, swear loyalty to the nation state, and so forth. It’s well within Israel’s rights to insist the “Death to Israel” (or even “Right to Return”) crowd doesn’t qualify for citizenship. It’s even well within their rights to insist they’re going to treat different demographics differently for whether they’re welcomed into the country for citizenship.

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                    • It’s a lot harder to support these arguments when the people in question are in territory that you’ve occupied militarily for the past 50 years. Nation states get to choose who enters and under what conditions they can stay; they don’t get to deny people who are subject to their government and no other basic rights and political representation.

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                    • It’s well within Israel’s rights to insist the “Death to Israel” (or even “Right to Return”) crowd doesn’t qualify for citizenship. It’s even well within their rights to insist they’re going to treat different demographics differently for whether they’re welcomed into the country for citizenship.

                      Sure. But we live in a society. Ethnostates are a very 19th Century idea for dealing with 20th Century problems.

                      And it’s 2018.

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                      • Ethnostates are a very 19th Century idea for dealing with 20th Century problems. And it’s 2018.

                        Bringing the Middle East into the 20th Century would be a VAST improvement. Giving the various factions there ethnostates is probably more realistic than expecting them to live together in peace. Especially so since “because they’re Jews” reasoning is common and is driving much of the conflict.

                        No one is shooting at Poland, Poland is a member of the EU, and the West’s influence on Poland is vastly greater than the West’s influence of Israel. For all of that, we lack the ability to get Poland to live their lives and structure their country the way our morality insists it should be done.

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                        • Without getting into whether Poland’s borders have been the same for too damn long, there is a dynamic about the Middle East that does strike me as transparently troublesome. It’s the “we have this set of expectations for Israel and that other set of expectations for the other countries surrounding it”.

                          Because, apparently, we have higher standards for civilized peoples, I guess.

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                          • Without getting into whether Poland’s borders have been the same for too damn long…

                            Poland didn’t exist before WW1, and its borders were seriously moved (requiring massive population moves) after WW2. We don’t hear about it much because it was handled in a way which let everyone move on with their lives afterwards, but I wasn’t kidding about the various population exchanges being roughly 50x larger than Israel’s (that’s a WAG, not back of the envelope).

                            So it, in ’45, is roughly a scaled up version of Israel in ’48.

                            “we have this set of expectations for Israel and that other set of expectations for the other countries surrounding it”.

                            Israel is a liberal democracy. Them running around killing people shows graphically that any liberal democracy might have to do the same. That’s a really nasty thought for a lot of people and it’s easier to blame the messenger than accept the message. Notice Israel’s treatment of terrorism became more respectable when the rest of the world needed to deal with terrorism.

                            That’s over and above the whole “they’re not supposed to be there, nor even exist” thing.

                            Israel is also a safe target. The US has a lot of levers to pull and can escalate conflicts in all sorts of ways so pain is felt by whomever.

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                            • There were people with a Polish identity and on that land for a long time. The country was created in 45 but the people had been on the land in large numbers for hundreds of years at the least. There were Polish political units, though often under control of a distant power, since around 1000. 45 vs 48 is not an apt comparison.

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                              • I was unclear. I’m not trying to compare the Polish to the Jews.

                                I’m comparing the forced Palestinian/Jewish movement of people to the forced Polish/German movement of people.

                                The later was handled MUCH better and was inflicted on MANY more people. The big difference was not forcing people into “temporary” camps for generations.

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          • Somehow, I doubt that the Palestinians will ever get a clue. Enough of them want some form of Islamic political entity that even using the word Israel is an anathema to them. Plus, most of them don’t want any Jews in their country or in the rest of MENA.

            The LGM thread on this topic is particularly dumb variety of lefty anti-Israel virulence. (Sarcasm on) “If we just wrote the right constitution in 1948 than Palestine could be a secular multicultural democracy never mind that isn’t what the Arabs or Jews wanted. With the right constitution, the Palestinian Arabs would have been immune to all the other political trends going on in the Arab and Muslim worlds despite being geographically in the center of the Arab world and the third most holy place on the planet to Muslim. Their would be no virulent Arab nationalism or Islamism if the Israeli Jews treated the Palestinian rights.

            Meanwhile, how dare Jews respond to centuries of war against them with a peculiar nationalistic response. What do they think they are, genuine third-world Marxist feminist people of color. The persecution of the Jews isn’t real persecution, especially when done by people we like.” (Sarcasm off).

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            • Regarding counterfactuals, Singapore found itself in the middle of a bunch of Muslim countries. Singapore’s more secular constitution (out of necessity since it did not have a Malay majority) made a difference to how Muslims in Singapore regard themselves and whether they consider having an Islamic state desirable. By contrast, an Islamic state is still fairly popular among Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia.

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              • If Palestine somehow emerged as one state without any expulsions, it would be a Muslim majority state with a big Jewish minority. There were one million Arabs, mainly Muslim, and 650,000 Jews in the area at the time. The most likely peaceful solution is some sort of confessional state like Lebanon with Jews replacing the Shi’a. There might also be an attempt at a purely secular state but I doubt it.

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        • Israel’s long term problem is pretty much orthogonal to whether we recognise Jerusalem as only Israel’s territory or as Palestine’s as well. It might be my ignorance, but I’m not aware of any single territory as officially being recognised as simultaneously belonging to two different states. Neither was I aware that the two state solution proposed to share Jerusalem as a capital. If it did, it would have been deeply unrealistic. The only plausible two (or maybe three) state solution would have been to accept current territorial boundaries (and perhaps for Israel to cede recent settlements on the west bank).

          The comparison to Taiwan is relevant here. The ROC did not go about moaning about the territories the PRC had taken from it. They worked with what they had and are in a better position (at least on a per capita basis) than the PRC.

          There never was any realistic scenario in which Jerusalem would have been recognised as the capital of palestine. The failure to acknowledge it merely held out false hope and prevented the Palestinians from moving forward to a workable solution.

          Give this time. As long as Israel manages to hold out against any stones or rockets lobbed their way (which seems highly likely), other countries will eventually follow suit in moving their embassies to Jerusalem. It is one thing for the Palestinians to demand Jerusalem when no one acknowledges that the claim is unrealistic. It is another thing to do so when basically everyone has told them to fish themselves. When enough countries move their embassies to Jerusalem, Palestine will either have to go to the one state solution or form their own country at the current borders. Any long term hope of taking back the settlements on the west bank involves them posing a credible military threat to Israel. For that they need to be recognised as a state pronto and for their economy to develop. The only way that will happen is if they stop muttering about conquering Israel etc. There is no way the UN will recognise a Palestine which does not recognise the right of Israel to exist.

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          • ..but I’m not aware of any single territory as officially being recognised as simultaneously belonging to two different states.

            It isn’t impossible because it couldn’t be done or because there’s no historical precedent. The existence of Vatican City in the middle of Rome for example doesn’t render administration impossible, it just requires cooperation. Wikipedia even has a page on divided cities, current and historical. The reason it can’t be done is because of the conflict.

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              • This is correct, though I don’t think that’s the best comparison since it was forced by outsiders and required a major military operation to keep West Berlin part of the BRD. Though maybe two adversaries finding a way to make a divided jurisdiction function, despite being deep in the heart of one side’s vassal state, does support the point. Jerusalem itself was divided between Israel and Jordan for roughly 20 years. The fact that it didn’t last is because of political and diplomatic decisions.

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          • The comparison to Taiwan is relevant here. The ROC did not go about moaning about the territories the PRC had taken from it. They worked with what they had and are in a better position (at least on a per capita basis) than the PRC.

            The KMT platform is that they are the legal rulers of all of China. This was also enshrined in the ROC constitution until democracy broke out in Taiwan in the late 80s early 90s.

            The main opposition party platform, which has been there for while, is full Taiwan de jure independence – which would also cause an international incident.

            Taiwan is where they are today economically because while they *did* go on and on moaning about the lost territories, and got their diplomatic clock cleaned for good in the 1970s, they have decided not to heighten the contradictions – and still on balance don’t. (and, somewhat reminicent of Puerto Rico, the political status question aligns in a weird way with the other principal ideological and socio-economic factional components of the main political parties)

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  3. I admit that I am approaching a severe moral crisis when it comes to recent Israeli events.

    On the one hand, the actions of Netanyahu and the Israeli right-wing are morally indefensible. Especially today’s actions.

    On the other hand, it is clear that moving the embassy to Jerusalem was mainly to please the Christian Taliban sect and their weird end-times prophecies. This was made clear by the presence of a pastor who said Jews are going to hell. I don’t understand or like the cynical alliance from Israeli hardliners to these Christian fascists.

    Also. A lot of left-leaning anti-Israel and anti-Zionist types still have no fucking idea what they are talking about. They know nothing about Jewish history and don’t seem to care. Every now and then, you will see someone ask why wasn’t part of Europe carved out for a Jewish homeland after WWII. This is asked either so sincerely as to show stupidity or disingenuously. European Jews who survived the Holocaust and tried to get their homes back were often lynched. Even the nice Netherlands gave the Jews a past due bill on property taxes.

    So what the fuck are Jews to do?

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    • Is there a God? Does this deity have a special relationship with Jews that non-Jews don’t share?

      If Jewishness is little more than a Social Construct, there are things that are not on the table than are on the table if Israelites are, in fact, the Chosen People of YHWH.

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      • If you meant something non-contemptuous by this, you could probably find a kinder way to put it. Perhaps something that didn’t use the phrase “little more than” about a meaningful facet of the person you’re talking to’s identity, which remains meaningful whether or not God exists.

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        • I wasn’t going for contemptuous and if it came across that way, then I screwed up badly.

          I apologize. I wasn’t trying to be contemptuous.

          I’ll try to rephrase in a way that isn’t contemptuous.

          The reason that Christians (particularly American Christians) support a Jewish state has its primary emphasis on Jewishness-as-a-religion rather than Jewishness-as-an-ethnicity.

          Arguing for ethnostates in 2018 is going to be an uphill battle. Almost as much as an uphill battle as arguing for the existence of a deity who has a special relationship with Jewish people (a relationship that isn’t available to non-Jews).

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          • I think politically it makes a difference if Israel is a confessional state rather than an ethno-national state. Not really from a Christian perspective (I think those story lines are wildly melodramatic and overblown) but from a governance perspective.

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          • The reason that Christians (particularly American Christians) support a Jewish state has its primary emphasis on Jewishness-as-a-religion rather than Jewishness-as-an-ethnicity.

            I don’t know if this is true.

            One of the most common reasons that Christians, perhaps even particularly Evangelical Christians, become pro-Israel is that they spend time in the country, visit the Christian holy sites there, and develop an attachment to it.

            Not saying the weird stuff with the Jesusthulhu cult isn’t a factor at all, but I’d be shocked if it were a serious consideration for the modal pro-Israel Evangelical.

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            • I’m not sure how many of my evangelical friends have gone to Israel. It’s non-zero… but it’s nowhere near “some”.

              I know more evangelicals who have not so much as gone to Canada than who have gone overseas. If anything, the ones who have gone to Europe are more cosmopolitan and therefore more likely to hedge in their support for Israel than the ones who have never left the country.

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            • Support for Israel among the American voting public is overdetermined and goes back mostly to Cold War politics (and the Palestinian cause being associated with terrorism for most of that time)

              But there’s a considerable amount of Premillennial Dispensationalism in that support today, too, and has been ever since, say, the Left Behind books came out. (their popularity and commercial success was both a effect of the then current mood of that eschatology, and a cause of creating a new generation of adherents to it). Which, conveniently, peaked right after the Cold War ended and right before a new millenium per the Georgian calendar began.

              The choice of pastors the administration choose to invite to the dedication was deliberate and are all adherents to the 1) Israel Rises 2)Christ Comes Back to Earth belief system. (yada yadaing what happens to Israel and the people inside it between those two events)

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              • I think the best answer for Israeli right-wingers is that they have nothing to lose from this support. The Christian fundies don’t control any divisions. They also don’t think the Christian fundies are right in their prophecies. So they get support on earth without any consequences.

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              • While I don’t disagree that there is a religious component, I am a fan of the explanatory power of Mead’s typologies of American foreign policy impulses. Wilsonian tendencies are to promote liberal democracies in other countries to secure foreign policy goals. Israel is a liberal democracy, per Freedom House, and pretty much the rest of the Arab World (except Tunisia) is not. There other tendencies in American foreign policy, and even some Wilsonians will emphasize the importance of international institutions, just give the League of Nations time.

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                • I’ve become less enamored of Mead’s model as the years have gone on, but even in that structure – how does the guy who was quite negative on alliances, and was, at most, a bizarro Jacksonian, buy full into the paradigm of an ally, when the enemy of that ally hasn’t done anything to us (lately), and that paradigm shift costs us more than a nominal amount, diplomatically?

                  The answer is it doesn’t, unless you account for the US political audience that this move is mostly staged for.

                  (And staged is a deliberate choice of words. The ‘main’ embassy functions won’t be able to move into the new complex until sometime after the next US Presidential election)

                  Eta – the first time the Jersusalem move waiver crossed his desk, he signed it.

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                  • The model explains long-term, generalized support in American foreign policy for Israel, or if you prefer non-sympathy for the Palestinians. I don’t think any recent trends in dispensationalism has much explanatory power, particularly in light of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.

                    Locating the embassy where Congress wanted over the objection of internationalist arguments about consequences to a moribund peace process would be Jeffersonian, whether or not Trump is or not.

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                      • I checked the book (Special Providence) out from the library and found it to be better than most of Mead’s articles about it. He goes through a lot of U.S. history to explain why foreign policy happened the way it did, often without any systematic thought. And while Presidents have great influence on the conduct of foreign policy, they are constrained by public opinion and limitations imposed by Congress. Also, the typologies don’t exist in pure forms: the section on Hamiltonianism has Jefferson’s war with the Barbary Pirates as an important early example. Large, sustained foreign policy measures usually require the support of multiple threads or at least the lack of opposition from others.

                        Applied to the embassy, which is probably a small event, it would most likely be listed in the Jeffersonian section of the book. First, the Jerusalem Embassy Act directly addresses the core Jeffersonian concern about foreign policy impacting domestic institutions. Also, the waiver provision is authorized for national security concerns. This raises red flags, not because Jeffersonians are not concerned about national security, but whether national security concerns are a beard for some other policy objectives they don’t agree with.

                        Finally, the book details a history attributed to Jeffersonianism of almost studied contempt for international expectations of how diplomacy should be conducted. The special wordings and greetings, etc. When some of the Latin American countries decided to open an embassy in Israel, saw that Jerusalem was the Capitol and opened their embassy there, it was plain Jeffersonian. They were subsequently cornered by the diplomatic community and told what their action really meant and moved elsewhere.

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            • Religious Protestants seem to trust Jews more than Muslims when it comes to access to holy places. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches are more divided but there are also more Orthodox and Catholic Arabs than Protestant ones.

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          • Arguing for ethnostates in 2018 is going to be an uphill battle.

            There are a LOT of ethnostates in everything but name (Japan, Poland, anywhere which is mono-cultural/ethnic).

            Almost as much as an uphill battle as arguing for the existence of a deity who has a special relationship with Jewish people (a relationship that isn’t available to non-Jews).

            Speaking as a non-Jew, it looks true to me. Similarly there’s a “special relationship” between the deity and the Christians, the Muslims, and even the Atheists that’s not available to the other flavors, mostly each boldly proclaims that.

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            • Sure. Japan’s ethnostatism is not seen as a good thing. The EU is actively fighting against Poland’s immigration policies. (Heck, I would have used countries like Qatar and Saudi as well as examples of ethnostates! It’ll fall against deaf ears when it comes to the pro-Palestinian types, but I’d use them.)

              But let’s say that you are occupying a couple of large areas of land that contain millions of people that you, de facto, have sovereignty over. These people are demanding to become citizens. The argument that these people can’t become citizens because they’re not the right ethnicity is *NOT* going to play well. It’s different from some weaboo demanding that Japan make her a citizen.

              Speaking as a non-Jew, it looks true to me. Similarly there’s a “special relationship” between the deity and the Christians, the Muslims, and even the Atheists that’s not available to the other flavors, mostly each boldly proclaims that.

              As someone skeptical about the existence of a God or gods, I’m going to need more details about these relationships that are special.

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              • You remember we have a Canadian relative living in Japan and it’s really hard for her in practical ways sometimes because she’s not Japanese, despite having a Japanese husband, a Japanese son, and 20 years living in that country? Right? You do remember that?

                Just asking.

                (I realize my objection doesn’t detract from your point, rather the opposite, but do you really need to throw the non-Japanese residents of the Japanese ethnostate under the “weaboo” bus to make said point?)

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              • As someone skeptical about the existence of a God or gods, I’m going to need more details about these relationships that are special.

                Assume God is a cultural construction, a relationship with him thus also becomes a cultural thing. A special relationship with your own culture is basically the big argument for these cultures (yes, I know, that’s circular).

                But let’s say that you are occupying a couple of large areas of land that contain millions of people that you, de facto, have sovereignty over.

                Both the Israelis and the Palestinians would deny Israel has “sovereignty” over the Palestinians.

                These people are demanding to become citizens.

                Is that before or after they stop voting into power genocidal terror groups?

                The argument that these people can’t become citizens because they’re not the right ethnicity is *NOT* going to play well.

                Israel values it’s survival over it’s popularity. Worrying about what plays well became a non-issue after the “Right to Return” became popular.

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                • Both the Israelis and the Palestinians would deny Israel has “sovereignty” over the Palestinians.

                  Can the Palestinians go where they want? Drive where they want, when they want? Eat what they want? Buy what they want?

                  If they can’t, if Israel is maintaining a blockade on Gaza, I submit to you: Israel has sovereignty. Even if they deny it.

                  Is that before or after they stop voting into power genocidal terror groups?

                  Hey, they voted Hamas into power once. They were throwing out the previous bums. Since then… no elections. I’m not sure who they’d vote into power. I’m pretty sure that Hamas has a couple of guesses (which is why they haven’t held any elections).

                  Israel values it’s survival over it’s popularity. Worrying about what plays well became a non-issue after the “Right to Return” became popular.

                  As well it should. But the Progressives care more about popularity than Israel’s survival and that’s going to come into play more and more as Identity Politics grows ever more powerful. The Linda Sarsour thing, the Shaun King thing… they’re all pro-BDS.

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      • People are prone to a lot of dualistic thought when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They select their side, see them as the wretched of the earth, and the other side as obstinate devils. For the anti-Zionist Left, they see the entire Zionist project through the lens of what they call settler colonialism with the Palestinian Christians and Muslims being the indigenous people. Never mind that there were 25,000 Jews there when the Zionist movement started in 25,000 or that Zionism was a response similar to what other groups experienced.

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      • I agree. Another issue is that the entire history of the region is so complicated that who was there and when is a very complicated issue.

        Lots of people seem to think that Europe just “gave” Israel to the Jews after WWII because they felt bad about the Holocaust. But it was the British Mandate then and before that, a backwater outpost of the Ottoman Empire.

        The whole concept of distinct Middle Eastern national identities is very new. The history of Zionism is not known by most. I doubt most modern critics of Israel can tell you very much about the Dreyfus Affair. Nor about Jewish settlers and residents to the area before WWI.

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        • The Ottomam Dynasty and the local Arab elite were very aware that the Jews were interested in building a country in Israel/Palestine since the 1880s. They tried to prevent it by legislation and prohibiting non-Ottoman Jews from being land directly.

          The idea that Ottoman Palestine was a backwater is a myth. It was a very important Province for a variety of strategic and religious reasons. The Ottomans watched it like a hawk.

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    • On the other hand, it is clear that moving the embassy to Jerusalem was mainly to please the Christian Taliban sect and their weird end-times prophecies. This was made clear by the presence of a pastor who said Jews are going to hell. I don’t understand or like the cynical alliance from Israeli hardliners to these Christian fascists.

      I feel badly for American Jews dealing with this issue, but it’s one of the reasons I think the only moral answer is to advocate that the US end the alliance and stay out of the conflict. America isn’t an honest broker and hasn’t been for decades. If anything we’ve become an enabler of the worst actors in Israeli politics by shielding them from consequences. This is despite the US having no legitimate interest there. As you rightly note, our current policy is based purely on ideology, and crazy ideology at that. It only makes things worse.

      Eventually Israel is going to have to decide what it wants to be and then live with the consequences of that decision. That is the right of the Israelis as a people and as a state. But the American tax payer shouldn’t have any part of it or take any responsibility for the fallout.

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      • … the only moral answer is to advocate that the US end the alliance and stay out of the conflict. America isn’t an honest broker and hasn’t been for decades. If anything we’ve become an enabler of the worst actors in Israeli politics by shielding them from consequences.

        I think the result would be a nasty war where Israel treats it’s genocidal foes like genocidal foes.

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        • If that’s what needs to happen then thats what needs to happen. As long as the US isn’t a part of it, including by virtue of providing arms, aid, or any type of diplomatic shielding, then so be it. No regional actor can defeat the Israeli military and they have a nuclear deterrent, but that might be very cold comfort for the sanctions and diplomatic isolation that could follow.

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  4. Here’s something from NPR today:

    On @NPR, @NPRinskeep just asked a Gazan with a kite w a swastika on it what it means to him. "The Jews go crazy when you mention Hitler." Steve Inskeep asked if he knows the Israelis are using the swastikas to discredit Gazans. "It's what we mean. We want them to burn," he said.— Batya Ungar-Sargon (@bungarsargon) May 15, 2018

    See that? Inskeep asked if he knows the guy knows that Israelis are using the swastikas to discredit Gazans.

    Those devious, devious Israelis. Pouncing on Palestinians using swastikas.

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      • Imagine the desperation it takes to walk into live gunfire from the Middle East's most powerful fighting force, armed with nothing more than rocks & the occasional Molotov or grenade. Try to conceive of the circumstances that could drive so many human beings to such an act. #Gaza— Sulome Anderson (@SulomeAnderson) May 14, 2018

        “Armed with nothing more than rocks and the occasional Molotov or grenade.”

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    • There are people on LGM that seemingly believe Israel/Palestine can be turned into a secular multi-cultural democracy if we wrote a really good Constitution and everybody tried really hard. This ignores everything the Palestinians say about what they wanted since the British Mandate.

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      • I supported the Iraq war back in 2002 primarily because I believed that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who was oppressing a democratically-inclined group of people who yearned to breathe free.

        Democracy! And Whisky! And Sexy!

        The Arab Spring did a good job of disabusing me of my foolish Jacobin notions.

        At this point, I generally support Israel because they’re generally an island of the closest thing to Enlightenment Culture in that ocean of barbarism over there.

        They do a good job of not doing themselves any favors, though.

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  5. Now the Palestinians have some pretty sweet optics working for them.

    Here’s a legless Palestinian in a wheelchair using a sling. I don’t care who you are, you look at that and think “that’s one bad emmeffer.”

    The guy using a paddle to hit tear gas canisters away? That’s a great shot and gives great optics to the Palestinians.

    Look at these poor benighted people oppressed by an oppressive government! It’s like David vs. Goliath!

    Just keep the swastikas out of the shot.

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  6. @leeesq – OK, let’s assume Israel’s right to exist, etc., all that good stuff. My simple question is what would you tell a 20-something Gazans that have never even been able to leave Gaza, where Israel controls all the raw materials that flow in or out, in a place where Hamas is the only thing offering anything resembling a future for themselves.

    I mean, I realize you’ll probably think it’s propaganda, but how long do you think you could be non-violent if daily life was like this for you? – https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/crime-and-punishment-in-the-gaza-strip/5762f259977db15c3994ccd4

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    • If you must know, stop supporting leaders that put Israeli Jews on edge with pronouncements like this or this. The reason why the Israeli center and left collapsed was because the average Israeli, somebody who is neither a hardcore settler or peacenik, is that the Palestinian leadership repeatedly demonstrates that they don’t want any Jews there at all.

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  7. I generally avoid any sort of commenting on the Israeli/ Palestinian issue because I really don’t know what value there is in an American trying to “solve” a dispute between these two groups, and that’s usually what this turns into.
    And being Americans we inevitably want to find a villain and hero and assign blame accordingly.

    Peace is there, if they both want it.
    But like the prisoner’s dilemma, there needs to be a sufficient pool of trust and goodwill to suppress the ugliest triumphalist voices and right now that’s not happening.

    It just reminds me of the things I read in the 1980s during the IRA troubles in Northern Ireland, or the guerrilla war in South Africa, where there was this seemingly bottomless pool of suffering and rage that made any discussion of peace impossible.
    Every bombing was justified on some previous atrocity and injustice, every police shooting was made inevitable by the threat of chaos and anarchy.

    So I just don’t know. I don’t have any desire to Both Sides it, but neither do I have any desire to cast my lot with one or the other.
    I don’t see how either side is moving towards a better place. They seem stalemated, without even the pretense of imagining a better future.

    The only glimmer of hope I have is that in Ireland, they actually did find peace, and South Africa too.
    But I note that in both cases, they had to surrender the idea of a triumphalist victory where all past injustices would be avenged.

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    • The South Africa case is complicated. The idea model of the peace was that White South Africans would surrender political power to the Black South African majority. In return, there wouldn’t be a great wealth redistribution, the ANC would respect the property rights of White South Africans, and a private, free market economy would prevail. A lot of people inside and outside South Africa believe that the economic promises made to White South Africans have been keeping Black South Africans from really gaining material progress after Apartheid ended. A real, true just solution would require a giant wealth redistribution that the White South Africans wouldn’t stomach.

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      • and

        The parallels of South Africa to Zimbabwe are a bit superficial. And the threat of major land reform in South Africa is a narrative that plays mostly to people outside of South Africa. Yes, apartheid left the country and the black and coloured population in a pretty poor state, but the story of the last twenty years or so has been more about the corruption and mismanagement of certain members of the ANC than it has been about “white monopoly capital,” the preferred term of art for the legacy of apartheid.

        For example, Ramaphosa, the candidate who won the leadership of the ANC, was much more associated with the Black Economic Empowerment movement than was his rival, Dlamini-Zuma. And yet, most white South Africans were hoping for a Ramaphosa win, because they associated Dlamini-Zuma with her ex-husband and his legacy of corruption and graft.

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    • There is also no practical incentive for the Palestinian leadership to give up their triumphalist version. Whether they be the PLO or Hamas, going on for the final destruction of Israel saves them from having to build a valid Palestinian state and keeps a lot of aid money flowing in. They know that other Arab and Muslim nations will never get sick with them because Israel is oppressing other Muslims. They also know that a big portion of people in the West support them unconditionally because they are “oppressed people of color.” What incentive does Palestinian leadership, and I mean the leadership and not the Palestinians in general, have to give up the final victory triumphalist approach?

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      • I think this is true of many conflicts, where there are factions who derive their power from the conflict itself.
        I have heard it said that sometimes outside forces are too insistent on a peace, that the combatants themselves have to exhaust their belief in the efficacy of violence.

        I have to wonder, when the politicians there vie for power, what promises do they make, what sort of vision do they conjure up to earn support? Do they go around saying “peace is just one more bombing/ arrest away”? And people believe them?

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        • I agree with your first statement. Many times at least two or more factions derive power from the conflict continuing in perpetuity. Likud, the PLO, and Hamas all benefit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The PLO and Hamas for the reasons listed above. Likud because Palestinian violence gives them an electoral platform. As long as the average Israeli doesn’t really trust the Palestinians, they are going to support hardliner parties over moderate or liberal parties.

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        • I also think that liberals suffer from a variety of Murc’s Law when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict. Mainly that they seem to believe that Only Israel has agency. As the links I’ve posted above demonstrate, Palestinian leadership still seems to be in the “No Jews” phase. That is the desire is a free Arab or Arab Muslim Palestine that includes Israel proper with few or no Jews. If they really still see this as the only just solution and than I’m not sure how they can negotiate.

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  8. You would think that the Cold War would serve as pretty big object lesson on the dangers of choosing sides in international disputes based on our domestic policy preferences. The United States backed a lot of cruel and feckless strongmen, because their particular brand of cruelty played into our jingoism. And the left has a long habit of making excuses for some of history’s greatest murderers and human rights abusers, because they used the right revolutionary catch phrases. And yet, where people fall on the Israel-Palestine conflict seems to map pretty well to where people fall on the left-right continuum.

    For my money, The Onion best captures the tragedy of this conflict: https://politics.theonion.com/israel-s-hamas-disregard-for-palestinian-life-alignin-1819576727

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  9. All being said, I’m not sure what Israel should have done in this particular incident that would have not caused criticism. On LGM and presumably other leftist sites, the consensus is that the Palestinians should have been allowed to cross the border into Israel because they were engaging in “peaceful, non-violent” protest. There are Israeli towns and villages within very close walking distance of the border. I’m not sure if the protest would have ended peacefully if the Palestinians were allowed to cross into green line Israel. Anybody who thinks that the Palestinians would have a sit in, wonder around a bit, and go home is just really special. No Israeli government is going to allow Hamas to potentially commit a pogrom in Israel. Any Israeli government that allowed this would fall and be replaced by a more rightist one.

    Past Israeli governments tried to respond to these types of Palestinian protests by more riot like tactics. Even that met with accusations of overkill. Israel isn’t going to Judy let these types of protests happen because people outside Israel find them righteous. So what was Israel supposed to do?

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  10. Shedding light rather than heat again, huh Jaybird? I think you’ve passed the first test to becoming a talking head on TV. Can you scream on camera too? Point out the existence of a snowball to discredit global warming? Come on, your almost there…

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      • Argue with the generic good and progressive all you want Jaybird. Particularly if you find an embodiment of him here. Didn’t look to me like you were arguing with anybody here though.

        But to me, someone who just feels a tremendous amount of empathy for a bunch Palestinians and Israelis who have little to no control over the power structures that drive a good deal of their lives and the sources of information they have access to, your use of the murder of three human beings to try and tar an entire population of people born and bred in squalid conditions that even the best of them is likely unable to do anything about, is fucking gross.

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        • I’m not tarring the entire population.

          If I’m doing anything, I’m sympathizing with why the Israeli gummint thinks that it’s pretty important to protect their border and why they’re willing to shoot people trying to cross it as part of a massive peaceful protest in which only a few people have grenades.

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          • IF you’re doing anything, your once again using the death and dismemberment of both Palestinians and Israelis, with families and hopes and dreams, a real fucking tragedy, to lob bombs from the peanut gallery. Its fucking gross. It removes these peoples humanity, as if they aren’t victims enough already, as they become fodder for your musings. It’s a complete refusal to empathize with their plight. You can do better.

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            • People demonstrate empathy in different ways, including both humor and emotional distancing. It’s not your job to call out other commenters on what you see as their moral failings and I see as their different ways of thinking about impossible problems. You can make points about what you think the best way of handling things is, without directly attacking Jaybird’s comments.

              Seriously, this is the third time I’m telling you, with the moderator tag. Stop. It. Any further comments in this style will be deleted and potentially put you at risk of suspension.

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              • Suspend away Maribou. I empathize with the position you are in. And i do really like you (internet version) even though I frequently disagree with the way you moderate this board, and my being suspended will change neither of those. Frankly, suspension means absolutely nothing to me (i guess unless i fell like empathizing with some molestation victims by posting links to pictures of them and sarcastically musing about “the pretty sweet optics working for them”, and their ability to appear as “poor benighted people being oppressed” or like David and Goliath – which thankfully, I would never do). And i stand by my opinion of your husbands callousness (for all you do to indicate the concern for those who may be in the audience, how do you think a Palestinian would react to Jaybirds comment that includes the quote from above).

                Perhaps the pattern of you having to explain to others what Jaybird means, or why his frequently infuriating approach to conversation, over and over and over again to so many members of the community (and don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that he is here, and I love listening to his POV, as maddening as it sometimes is – I just think i deserve the right respond in kind), might tell you something about your ability to be objective in these matters. Perhaps not. I know what i think. But then again, I don’t wield the hammer. You do. So it goes.

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                • For the record, my musings about their optics was *NOT* sarcastic at all. That was earnest.

                  I meant what I said about the optics being great.

                  When I was talking about NPR asking Palestinians about their use of swastikas and how Israelis are using the swastikas to discredit the Palestinians and I made fun of the Israelis pouncing on the Palestinian misstep of using swastikas? That was sarcasm.

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                • Trying to push my molestation buttons is, if intentional, a pretty cheap ploy, and hardly balanced, given that I am a victim of child molestation, have written about it on the site, have commented about it on the site, and you’re not (given your comments) a Palestinian, so by bringing it up in the way you did, you’re basically pulling something worse than you’re accusing Jaybird of doing *in a comment saying I’m being unfair*. That said, I can’t *tell* if you’re doing that on purpose, or if it’s on purpose, if you’re self-aware about the difference between you complaining on behalf of people who aren’t you, vs you bringing up something you have reason to *know* is personally really hurtful to the person you are talking to,, so I’m going to assume this is an “engage the moderator” comment and not a “more of the same” comment and I won’t take action unless it develops otherwise. Arguing with me is different than being uncivil unless you are uncivil in your argument. Which, I can’t tell if you’re being uncivil or not (as I said). But I’d stop trying to trigger the moderator, if that is what you are doing. Rarely helps anything.

                  As for your question, I have known *counts on fingers* three Palestinians, several more Palestinian Americans, some of whom I still know, and I would say based on having observed them argue about various things in the past, that one of them would write Jaybird off as one of “those” Americans, without a whole lot of emotional impact for them but also without wasting what they would see as useless effort on proving themselves not equivalent to Hamas, and the others would engage with his arguments *with arguments*, because they would think he was missing the forest for the trees, but they are also not fragile enough to assume his intent is dangerous to them. And, also, several of them pretty much hate Hamas, at least its military arm, and are not big fans of Hamas using civilian shields all the time, pressuring media to omit information at threat of reporters’ lives, etc.. (I feel more conflicted about that than any of them do, really, they all think it sucks and have little patience for “but how else..” arguments.)

                  I can’t imagine any of *them* getting outraged at him like you did, tbh, even if they interpreted what he said the way you did, perhaps because they know who their actual enemies are vs. people apparently having a dumb opinion on the internet. But also because they *are* all very civilized, and they don’t fly off the handle at people. They just don’t. There would be a lot of zingers, but nothing attacking his character. They’d probably be a lot better at shifting Jaybird’s perspective than I am, but I’m not about to call any of them up and ask them to teach him some insights about it, obviously. Because that really *would* be an incredibly callous thing to do.

                  I realize you were probably asking that question rhetorically, but letting your personal, generalized fury at someone’s way of looking at and talking about problems shape your understanding of how a group of people of whom you are not a member would react to something is not likely to be very effective. So it bore considering the question as a real question, not a rhetorical one.

                  As for the pattern, the pattern exists *because* I am refusing to be objective in these matters, in the favor of people whom I would otherwise sanction. Ie I am going out of my way to show more patience with people for how they speak to Jaybird than I do with them for how they speak to anyone else. I don’t do that because I think he’s specially problematic, but because he specially hates when people get in trouble for how they talk to him.

                  Anyone who has treated other commenters like some of you treat Jaybird has either accepted that they need to change their ways, or moved on from the board, at this point. (Well, that’s not quite true. There are some folks who are just kind of locked in a power struggle with me that I don’t enjoy and I’m pretty sure neither do they, where they leave of their own volition, they come back, they do something I object to, they leave, etc. To be precise.) I vastly prefer the former, where people get over having to operationally accept my judgment about the limits to their speech on here rather than their own, so I’m more or less on board with Jaybird wanting me to go easy on people who are engaged with him and pushing the boundaries.

                  But I’m not on board enough to keep making a Mack-truck sized exception to how I moderate indefinitely. And “indefinitely” seems to be pretty much up.

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                  • Maribou,

                    Using molestation in the analogy was not intentional. I do apologize for that.

                    Your “I’ve known … three Palestinians” comment shocked the living hell out of me. And the following is intentional, because we are here, and now we are talking about it. And I hope it doesn’t trigger you, but I am not sure what else to do. I am also very close to more than 3 people who have been sexually, physically and psychologically abused by people in their lives with power. Their response to my analogy (or any of the other stimuli with the potential to trigger you) would be entirely different than yours. It wouldn’t bother them. Much else might, but my analogy wouldn’t (and I checked with three of them this weekend). But the idea that I would ever, EVER, use that to diminish another’s, in this case, your response to this stuff coming up is absurd. I would not. I would never have expected you too either.

                    I was not asking that question rhetorically. I was asking because I’d just had first hand experience with a person who apparently reacted in a way you wouldn’t. In a way you are willing to dismiss based on your experience with a whopping three Palestinians, who you don’t even know for certain, but hypothesize would react differently, even more maturely (because they’d know Jaybird isn’t the real enemy?? WTF, I don’t think that is how all this stuff works,. I don’t think its how you think this stuff works either), and because they are “civilized” and “don’t fly off the handle” at people. Fortunately, the offended reader had stopped reading before you posted that, and I am not going to point it out. But I am certain it would not have improved their opinion of the site. And Hamas has nothing to do with it. Posting pictures or links to maimed victims to score cheap rhetorical points is the issue.

                    Quite simply, your first four paragraphs are completely devoid of humility. I mean reread them, remember the fact that it is you who have the power here, and try to put yourself in the place of a victim being “splained” to like that. I felt like was a having a bad acid trip as I read it.

                    And this “As for the pattern, the pattern exists *because* I am refusing to be objective in these matters, in the favor of people whom I would otherwise sanction. Ie I am going out of my way to show more patience with people for how they speak to Jaybird than I do with them for how they speak to anyone else. I don’t do that because I think he’s specially problematic, but because he specially hates when people get in trouble for how they talk to him.”? I trust that is what you really believe. I disagree, strongly. But you keep on believing in your superpower to be objective in these matters. Without even the slightest willingness to publicly consider that you do the most reasonable thing on planet earth, i.e., act with bias towards those closest to you. Extend difficult to notice benefits of the doubt. Read a tad bit more charitably. Let your knowledge of what a solid human being someone is in meatspace bleed into you assessment of an argument their having with an avatar. Nope, nothing to see here folks. Maribou is on the con. She understands the issue and it not only capable of counteracting it, but she is so precisely effective, she’s pushed the dial the other way to give all you guys a little extra room, and removed a bit from Jaybird. I mean, this entire thread off evidence notwithstanding. Again, not saying its easy, but I would recommend you have a bit more humility about your ability to carry it out. Go back and see how often someone has changed your mind. That might be a start.

                    I got no problem with Jaybird. I think we’d get along fabulously in real life. And as maddening as he is sometimes, I don’t think it means we don’t get along online. I do think he’s a huge dick sometimes. You know who else is? Me. We’re human. Its ok. And I got no problem with you, as a person. I have a shit ton of respect for you. “Beautiful spirit” has always been what I associate you with. And that won’t stop, because of this disagreement. But I do disagree, strongly, with nearly everything you wrote. And the way you reacted to the discussion, or the poo throwing (characterize it as you will), that Jaybird and I were participating in.

                    And again, can we knock off the threats of banning. It just has no bite. ITs not effective. Either do it or don’t do it. I’ve been around since before barrett brown got kicked off. And ill likely keep reading even if i can’t post, which i almost never do anyway. If its that important to you, go ahead. I’d chuckle and move on with my day. Probably tell my wife and friends that i had a first. That until today I’d never been kicked out of a community before, or a website. Then i’d say, let’s go have a whiskey, and tell them all about it (pretty sure im joking about the “tell em all about it part”).

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                    • First of all, telling someone who is triggered that you would never do such a thing on purpose, unlike THEM, when they are not sure if you are doing it on purpose, and attacking them personally in your response, is – as I suspect your friends might tell you *if you asked them that*, but maybe not, I don’t know them… rather unkind. That first paragraph, however you choose to characterize it, was me saying “you really fucking hurt me just there, if it was on purpose that’s ironic, if it wasn’t what the hell?” Your response to it was … dismissive is the nicest word I know how to use.

                      ” I was asking because I’d just had first hand experience with a person who apparently reacted in a way you wouldn’t.”

                      Was that person Palestinian? If so, I will rethink my stance in future (and would apologize to them for being an asshole, frankly, and try to take their experience into consideration). Either way, I said what I did *because you asked me how I thought a Palestinian would react*. I was being honest about my experience, and who I’ve learned from, which in this situation includes about 20 people who have skin in the game on the Palestinian side. (Most of ’em diaspora, ie Palestinian-American or Palestinian-Canadian.) If you didn’t want an answer, you shouldn’t have asked. If your concern was “hey, there was a Palestinian reading this and you hurt them,” you should have said so.

                      Claiming that I have a ton of power because I have a huge volunteer role that includes keeping people from making personal attacks on each other is also pretty … I mean, that’s not how this website works. I have a lot of responsibility and relatively little power. You could go complain about this website and any of its participants on twitter all day long if you wanted, you could write essays about how terrible and misguided my moderation is if you wanted, and while I wouldn’t love it, at the end of the day I wouldn’t take it personally, nor should I, nor would I have any power over it whatsoever. I *just* want a comment section where people are reasonably kind to one another, and when I say “hey, don’t do that,” they fishing stop doing it rather than turning their moral disdain on me for objecting. It is a very small pond and a very limited ask.

                      That said, suspending people or editing their comments are powers that I have, just about the only powers I have to try and achieve that ask.

                      The next time you attack someone, I’ll suspend you. This isn’t a threat, it’s a statement of consequences. I won’t bother to explain ever again, after this, I’ll just say it’s been done, since you think it’s “victimizing” and “splaining” to do so.. . (unsurprisingly other people think it’s ‘cruel’ and ‘opaque’ to not explain, if I don’t, and write asking for explanations. the old man, the young man, and the donkey, is part of moderating.)

                      If instead of proving that you’re right and I’m wrong, you actually want positive change, I would encourage you to say “hey, this comment made someone feel shitty things” right away next time, not upbraid the person who made it for lacking character and being disgusting. If you wanted to establish that you weren’t okay with the general approach Jaybird was taking (which I swear to god is not about “cheap” rhetoric), fine, that would be a valid argument also – you could have done it *without attacking Jaybird*, without the vituperative hyperbole you seem to think is an okay way to talk to someone.

                      Here, it’s not okay.

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                      • You make a number of valid points here, Maribou, which in my neverending quest to be less of an asshole, I will absolutely consider.

                        Without belaboring the point, I’d recommend a similar quest for you and Jaybird, for identical reasons.

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                        • I’m on standing orders from my therapist to leave that particular lifelong quest to one side for awhile in favor of the “be more selfish,” “worry less about other people’s feelings,” and ‘stand up for yourself more’ sub-quests, but I’ll absolutely take your recommendation under consideration at some point in the future.

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    • It’s not especially civil to enter a conversation only to complain sardonically about someone else’s way of discussing a topic. Please refrain from such behavior in the future.

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  11. What I find most shocking is the sheer incompetence of the Israeli government in this case. These protests were expected and planned months ahead of time and that they would turn out violent was pretty much a given with deteriorating circumstances in the Gaza and the explicit plans of Hama’s.
    And the only solution they can think of is a massive bloodbath, this giving Hama’s exactly what they want and undermining your international standing and moral superiority.
    Idiots.

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    • Given that even Hamas is admitting that the overwhelming majority of those killed (50 out of the, as the article states, “almost 60”) were members of Hamas, the big question becomes what our attitude toward Hamas ought to be.

      Are they terrorists? Are they freedom fighters? Are they merely people who want better lives for themselves and their children who want to move back into their ancestral homes like any and everybody should have the right to do?

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      • D) all of the above.

        Whatever Hamas is or isn’t and how innocent or guilty the killed individuals are, the initial images broadcast all over the world were of Israeli military killing and wounding dozen of Palestinian civilians in a brutal and ruthless fashion. That is damage that you can’t undo with nuanced newspaper reporting in the days after.

        This kind of stupid shit will increase their isolation and they can’t afford it.

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      • …who want to move back into their ancestral homes like any and everybody should have the right to do?

        No, everyone should NOT have that “right”.

        We had FAR more people displaced in Europe after WW2 than were displaced by the Israel/Arab conflict (20 million people, call it 50x Israel). We didn’t round up everyone (much less their descendants) and put them into camps to wait for the borders to change again and for everyone to get “their” land back.

        With perfect knowledge, all of us can find ancestors who were on the losing (or winning) end of some massive land disruption. Every country’s creation was a crime and built on the bones of some victim.

        The “Right of Return” was made in the context of everyone expecting Israel to fall within a few months or (at most) years. The kindest interpretation is it was made expecting Egypt (etc) to destroy Israel for the Palestinians and made clear who would get the land (i.e. not-Egypt). Less kindly it’s designed to keep a conflict going generation after generation.

        No one should have their lives put on hold, much less across multiple generations, waiting for a country to fall. These people should be allowed/forced to get on with their lives.

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