Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The US 2008 Elections: a cloning apparatus ( updated)

I know, I know it's not the sequel to the Health in Libya post, but many have emailed me and others have commented to ask about my opinion on the US election, so it's time to insert my token post about these elections :



In another life and another election I complained that we should be allowed to take part in US elections because the person in the Oval Office yields so much power that has the potential to negatively or positively affect the rest of the world.


I also followed and actually tried to makes sense of political parties and candidates.Four years later my disillusion is complete to the point where I do not even follow the elections anymore. Moreover my conclusion in 2004, does not wildly differ from 2008.

Look at it this way, Ms Condoleeza Rice was here a few days ago and apart from a couple of American mums -bloggers living in Libya, I have not seen any Libyan blogger bother to comment about this visit. That should be telling no ? Four years ago I would have written a long post about it....

But I am digressing ...some of my American friends will not be voting because they do not like the choice of candidates available. And although I think it should no longer matter to us in the Middle East who is president -because the policy has never changed at its core- I kept encouraging my friends to vote for the person who will do most good to their economy and internal affairs. However, when someone asked " hey Highlander what do you think of Obama ? I'm sure you are glad there is a black candidate right?" No, I don't care what colour the president is but would it be surprising to say all US presidential nominees and their running mates seem like clones to me.

Too many bloggers and pundits have written about Mc Cain and Obama so I won't bore you about that but apparently the stakes are a bit different with the appearance of Governor Palin on the scene. Her speech was supposedly cathartic. I listened to some tidbits here and while the sound bites resonate well, she also has the oil connection :)

Yet, it does not matter who wins to me, because any would be president or president who pledges allegiance to Israel is a lost cause in my book even if he/she were a member of my own tribe. Newcomer Palin has not escaped this circle and has joined the queue :P. at AIPAC.

The day I see a US candidate not trembling before Israel is the day I know that America is in good hands again because I am not convinced that one needs to stand by Israel to be patriotic.

Oh and don't anyone dare label me as anti-Semitic although you are welcome to share with me with civility where you think I'm wrong/right . Also do not compare democracies and non-democracies or America's system of governance and that in Arab world ( despite it not being homogenous) as that would be off topic.

This was my personal two cents about the topic not that of Libya, Libyans, the Middle East, North Africa, the Arab World or even the Muslim world. All these entities I'm sure have a differing view.

If it sounds pessimistic that's my view lately :P So may the best man/woman win.

Update 12/9/08

Khalid did blog about Ms Rice visit here. My blog reader is not doing it's job of updating my reads properly :P

57 comments:

Chris in MB said...

pfft! fine... totally ignore the Canadian elections! :P

but ok, as for the US, to me anyhow, it looks that McCain will win it when all is done. I get the strong impression that Obama is loved by the msm more than anything else. Just as in Canada, the msm is more leftwing friendly than the general public.

I believe Palin is going to have a significant impact on the undecided vote and Hillary supporters. Many are alarmed & sickened by the viciousness of the attacks against her by the left media. Even our own leftwing media is getting into the act. Here's an example:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/09/05/f-vp-mallick.html#socialcomments

...but I'm not an American, what do I know :P

Highlander said...

LOL Chris I think that Mc Cain will win too but as I said it is the same to me.

As for the Canadian elections, it's not ignored but it simply does not have the same potential for destruction :P

I believe as my friend Mad Canuck said in a 2004 post that

"Canadians tend to think differently about world affairs - we take greater interest in both sides of a dispute, and look at issues from more of a humanitarian perspective".

The story he quoted struck me so much that I still remember it four years later..

Canadian prime minister Paul Martin was on his way from visiting a school in the middle of a refugee camp in Sudan when a pickup truck in Martin's motorcade struck and injured a 5 year old girl named Widad Isa. The motorcade stopped and a member of Martin's security detail grabbed the child from her shrieking mother and literally ran her to an ambulance so fast her little hijab was flapping in the wind behind him. Later that day, Martin himself visited the child in hospital, bringing her candy and two teddy bears.

Highlander said...

Mind you Chris :P the Canadians are starting to follow their neighbours style in election too...

http://www.conservative.ca/EN/4579/

LouLou said...

Hi Highlander,

I find this post curious because the implication is that Israel is the only issue we Arabs have and therefore only policy towards Israel matters to us.

I don't think it is logical or realistic to evaluate our relationship with the whole world based on whether or not they share our conflict with one country. Politics and economics simply don't work like that.

How is that different from Bush's if-you're-not-with-us mantra? That we refuse to engage with the world on ANY issue until everyone agrees with our pov on Israel- even if our pov is not their interest? Well guess what? It will never happen. Even Arabs don't have a single policy towards Israel. Each Arab country has its own policy based on its own interests.

Why is Iraq not important? Why is Lebanon not important? Why is US policy on Libya not important? Why is US economic, educational, technology aid to the Arab world not important? Why is US policy on oil not important? Why is globalization not important? Why are environmental issues not important?

Do you realize how pivotal all of these factors are in our future and our development?

Lost Libyano said...

I am disillusioned with American democracy as well. It's as Hannibal described it in 2006.... a mere choice between Pepsi and coca-cola.

Yet, it does not matter who wins to me, because any would be president or president who pledges allegiance to Israel is a lost cause

You simply cannot survive in American politics without swearing allegiance to the Jewish gestapo.

However with that being said, I think Obama really does sympathize with the Palestinian people...... he just can not show it at this time.....

In regards to McCain taking the oval office in 2008..... its really to early to tell. I agree with Chris though, Palin will be instrumental in getting Hillary supporters and undecided vote.

Its a shame if you think about it.... this year's election should have been a walk in the park for the dems.

Chris in MB said...

"As for the Canadian elections, it's not ignored but it simply does not have the same potential for destruction :P"

hey! that's not fair! I bet we could be somewhat destructive if we really felt like it and put our minds to it! :P

As for the accident in Sudan, now that you mention it, I remember it vaguely. I would have expected & hoped anyone would do the same.

"Mind you Chris :P the Canadians are starting to follow their neighbours style in election too..."
lol, maybe in some ways but I believe our politics are still more polarized around libertarianism vs socialism rather than social conservatism vs social liberalism like down south.

Highlander said...

Thanks Loulou I have not seen you commenting for ages so the fact that you are here is a treat :)

Iraq, globalisation, economy, oil and the environment are all absolutely essential, and I do not think that the policy towards Israel is the only issue we Arabs have. However, the policy towards Israel is the starting point in relation to us which I believe the US takes into consideration when dealing with the other issues mentioned above. Throughout my blog I've always said that the US is not to be blamed for looking after its own interests as it sees fit. But many times its interests may not be to our advantage. It's all one chain for example water shortage is a problem, and some rivers pass through current Israel, border issues are still deadly etc..The sorest thumb we have to admit is still Israel/Palestine; when the situation becomes less volatile in our backyard we can think ahead about environment, economy and globalisation. But we need peace for that, which we are not getting. This does not mean we Arab countries get a scott free ticket...we need to work on ourselves but that's another topic.

Lost Libyano, yes we have seen that without AIPAC support you don't seem to be able to make it in American politics. I'm not sure why and how that works as things should not be tied so desperately. However, don't call them the Jewish Gestapo they are simply one part of American society/citizens who happen to be loyal to two countries, or maybe one a bit more than the other. There is nothing evil about them they are just playing politics to their advantage and nothing wrong with doing this if you can pull it off for your own interest and that of the community and entity you support.... right :P


Chris, Chris, you guys are just not that polarised yet which is good if you can keep it this way :P

Maya M said...

In a mature democracy, competing candidates don't or at least shouldn't have major differences. This is characteristic of nascent and immature democracies like Bulgaria or Serbia. More established countries already have an idea where and how they are going and elections optimize the process without bringing U-turns.
This post, and particularly the references to Israel and its defence by USA, makes me optimistic (unlike some other your posts).
"The day I see a US candidate not trembling before Israel is the day I know that America is in good hands again because I am not convinced that one needs to stand by Israel to be patriotic."
This day will either be a day when all Arab/Muslim nations will already have peace with Israel (hence no need for USA to "tremble" before Israel to prevent a second Holocaust), or a day when USA will cease being a superpower. Because all superpowers known to me, with the possible exclusion of China, have principles and ideologies often put above what is usually refered to as "interests". It is another matter that these principles are neither necessarily good nor pursued consistently. However, the principles USA stands by include prevention of genocides when possible.
In the 1980s, I judged the people based on their attitude towards our ethnic Turks, because the latter were different from us and victims of injustice. If somebody expressed sympathy to them, I knew he was a good and clever person, if he didn't, I knew that he was either not too clever or not too good or possibly not trusting me. Later, my litmus were the nations of Yugoslavia victimized by the Serbs and now it is Israel, as the Jews were the litmus during WWII and in many other situations.
Patriotism (or, to be precise, what is usually described as patriotism) isn't high in my set of values. If during WWII some American wanted America to stay out of the European front and let Hitler and Stalin do whatever they wished, he would be a patriot, wouldn't he? And would this be very good? Our love to mankind ending at the border, and to Hell with those beyond it?
To me, mankind is one.

The Lost Libyano said...

There is nothing evil about them

Who said the Gestapo was evil? They were just furthering the interests of the German government.

I am well aware of the fact that morality has no relation to politics. However I stick by my original characterization of the Israel Lobby.

hence no need for USA to "tremble" before Israel to prevent a second Holocaust

Argumentum ad metum

No objective observer can deny that the balance of power in the Middle East is on the side of the Israelis. To my knowledge no other nation-state in the region is in possession of 300 nuclear warheads and a delivery system which can reach southern Sweden. Israel's conventional forces are also vastly superior to those of its Arab and Muslim neighbours.

I assure you Maya if a Holocaust in the Middle East where to occur it would not be the Israelis on the receiving end.

now it is Israel, as the Jews were the litmus during WWII and in many other situations.

Argumentum ad misericordiam

Can you please put forth a rational argument instead of constantly appealing to emotion?

As I stated above, morality has no relation to politics. If it did then Israel would no moral right to exist by the admission of its own leaders. If I remember correctly it was David Ben-Gurion who told Nahum Goldmann:

If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country . . . There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?

However, the principles USA stands by include prevention of genocides when possible

Your comment is illustrative of your ignorance of both American history and foreign policy. The principal the United States has when it comes to genocide is to prevent or perpetrate them when it furthers her Geo-political interests or achieves her objectives.

If the United States needs exterminate 140,000 civilians in Hiroshima, 80,000 in Nagasaki, 40,000 in Germany, and starve 500,000 children to death in Iraq to further those interests or achieve those objectives..... then as Madeleine Albright would put it.... it's worth the price.

If it needs to declare the civil war in Darfur a genocide to partition oil rich Muslim Sudan so that her regional allies will be free to dominate the upper Nile delta region of the African continent..... then so be it.

All actors on the world stage are rational Maya. Each one of them seeks to maximize their power in order to survive. All politics is real politik even if it appears to be dressed up in moralistic garb.

That's just the way the game is played.... if you do not like it get out of the ring.

To me, mankind is one.

Now that is truly priceless. :)

LouLou said...

Highlander,


'The sorest thumb we have to admit is still Israel/Palestine; '

I think Iraqis might disagree with that. Especially the Kurds. They probably think being gassed was pretty sore.

I think also the people of Darfur would disagree with that.

So would the people in Hama.

Sorry but again to pretend that our only issue is how Israel treats the Palestinians when collectively we are the worst treated people by our governments in the world is simply to play into their hands. And it is the main reason incidentally why we have no credibility with the rest of the world when we complain about Palestine.

We are so inconsistent presenting instances of murder or abuse by Israel as our biggest tragedy while simultaneously turning a blind eye to all other crimes committed against us by our own regimes. As if telling the world we have no problem being murdered or tortured or imprisoned so long as it's not done by Israel.

Is it any wonder no one takes us seriously?

'when the situation becomes less volatile in our backyard we can think ahead about environment, economy and globalisation. '

Yes, we've been hearing that from our regimes and Arab nationalist propaganda for 50 years. We can't have clean water until US policy on Israel changes. We can't have a free press until the Palestinian problem is solved. We can't have elections until the Palestinian problem is solved. We can't have a transparent, corruption-free economy that can actually sustain growth and investment until the Palestinian problem is solved. We can't have women's rights. We can't have minority rights. We can't have a proper infrastructure. We can't have human rights. We don't care about our trade deficit with the rest of the world - particularly the US. We will allow Spain, the 'poorest' EU nation to translate more books in a year than all 22 Arab states put together. All because we're waiting for the US to see it our way on Palestine.

Do you know what is going to happen? Exactly what has been happening now and what will continue to happen. Israel and the US will ignore us and like the rest of the world will pass us as by as we fall further and further into stagnation and underdevelopment. Nobody will wait for us.

In this world, to be taken seriously on any issue on the world stage, you have to be an economic/cultural/educational/industrial if not a military powerhouse. So while we wallow in ignorance and backwardness, the rest of the world won't hear us. And the Palestinian problem will be neglected while Israel creates more realities on the ground and Palestinian kill each other.

And when alternative energy sources become more mainstream that they are now, our descent into historical irrelevance will be complete.

Sorry but reality is that it's not our development and our influence on the world stage - including in the US - that needs to wait for the Israel-Palestinian crisis to be resolved. It's the other way around. The Israeli-Palestinian crisis will never be solved until we stop obssessing about it and do something to strengthen our geopolitical bargaining positions as Arabs, collectively and individually. If we don't get off foreign aid and foreign trade deficits, we're no use to ourselves or the Palestinians.

The only people who argue the reverse are our regimes because they don't want you to focus the spotlight on them or ask them any questions. Instead they point you to scream at external entity that they know won't hear you. That way you blow off steam while everything remains as it is.

After 60 years of that, and having seen where it has led us all so far, maybe, just maybe, it's time to try something new?

Maya M said...

LouLou, I think there is much truth in your comment, I'd just correct it a bit that the poorest EU member state is no longer Spain - it's my Bulgaria, and the cup will reliably remain in our hands at least until Moldova is let to join EU :-).
Lost Libyano, I think you are again writing so much below your intelligence that I am not going to answer seriously all of your points, just a bit here and there.
I know, from some your previous writings, that you are a moral relativist or at least try to present yourself as such in discussions. Here, we differ because I think "good" and "bad" really exist.
Morality corresponds to what is most "good" in abstract terms. Therefore, policies based on morality are often useful and policies based on myopic "interests" often lead to Hell. You say Gestapo wasn't evil but "just furthered the interests of the German government". Well, what happened to the German government, and to all Germany, after it was allowed to pursue its so-called interests for only several years? (BTW check your numbers. As far as I know, German civilian victims in Dresden alone were comparable to the victims in Hiroshima, if not more numerous.)
Let me give an example from Bulgarian history. In 1991, after Slovenia and Croatia proclaimed independence, many states expressed support for Yugoslavia's unity. This made me shiver, I thought, "Milosevic will perceive this as a go-ahead". And he did.
Among these states was Bulgaria, via its President Zhelev. I had voted for him but decided never to do it again. Other rightist Bulgarian voters neglected the blood on his hands and voted for him again. During his second term, he did things that were extremely harmful for Bulgaria and contributed to it becoming the poorest European country. Sometimes, if you do the moral thing (provided that no immediate danger is visible), you will spare yourself a lot.
Yugoslavia in the 1990s reminds me another example of America's policy (of which I am allegedly ignorant). Back in 1991, a friend of mine said, "Why doesn't UN dislocate peacekeepers in Bosnia and Macedonia? If Bosnia is attacked next, only those snails (i.e. UN) will be to blame".
After Bosnia was attacked, UN did send some peacekeepers but they were to no avail (which became absolutely clear after the Srebrenica massacre). A Bulgarian satirical writer urged the USA to intervene, blamed it for protecting Kuwait and leaving Bosnia alone and joked that his confidential sources pointed to discoveries of oil in Bosnia.
Eh well, soon after his text was published, NATO led by guess whom intervened in Bosnia.
A similar situation developed later in Kosovo. And now, US presidential candidates express support not lnly for Israel but also for another country under attack - Georgia.
Highlander, I don't think you are anti-Semitic. What I think is that in these matters you are sticking to traditional archetypic pre-globalization Arab culture, which tends to equate "good" with "loyalty to one's family/tribe/nation". An illustration of this archetype is "Lord of the Rings": we and our friends are here, the enemy is there, and we must fight until nobody at either side (or at both sides) remains alive.
Such a culture is not all bad; it is more vital than an abstract globalized culture. However, as population density increases, archetypic cultures clash with each other, and their pillars guarantee no end to the conflict. For an illustration, see Europe before the end of WWII.
In an archetypic culture, courage and honour are defined with respect to the presumed interests of the family and the nation. I think this is why there are so many Arabs ready to sacrifice their lives for (say) Palestine, and so few ready to publicly challenge the prevailing opinions -which requires a sort of courage not included in the archetypic morality.
I hope I am not too offending.

The Lost Libyano said...

I agree with the main gist of loulou's post.

the Kurds. They probably think being gassed was pretty sore.I think also the people of Darfur would disagree with that.

Highlander is a pan-Arabist by her own admission Loulou. The plight of the Kurds and the Darfurians are none of her concern.

We can't have human rights.

Sure you can Loulou. You have Human Rights and so does every other homosapien on the planet......including the Darfurian and the Palestinians:)

They are inalienable:) Enjoy them because no one can take them away from you:)

programmer craig said...

Just wanted to say, you have a very lively and interesting discussion going on here :)

Highlander said...

Loulou,

Thanks for the debate and the passion, the topic is not Arab eficiency or lack thereof.

We can't have clean water until US policy on Israel changes. We can't have a free press until the Palestinian problem is solved. We can't have elections until the Palestinian problem is solved. We can't have a transparent, corruption-free economy that can actually sustain growth and investment until the Palestinian problem is solved. We can't have women's rights. We can't have minority rights. We can't have a proper infrastructure. We can't have human rights. We don't care about our trade deficit with the rest of the world - particularly the US. We will allow Spain, the 'poorest' EU nation to translate more books in a year than all 22 Arab states put together. All because we're waiting for the US to see it our way on Palestine.

This is exactly what I did not say and to pre-empt all such allusions I stated in my post " do not compare democracies and non-democracies or America's system of governance and that in Arab world (despite it not being homogenous) as that would be off topic." I also said that we [as in our countries] had a role to play and should not be allowed to walk off scot free. So personally I understand what you are trying to say and still maintain it is not exactly what my post was about.

Bearing in mind therefore that we are out of topic I am happy to reply to your comment and the way the discussion has moved.

In this light I would tend to agree that what Israel does is not our greatest tragedy:)

But, I also maintain that the current US stance of standing by Israel is harmful to us and this noxious effect has been amplified by the globalisation that Maya mentions; although I admit that the US may believe it is in its own interest and it is therefore free to pursue this choice.

On the other hand clandestine or open efforts by Arab countries to get close to Israel do not bother me. No harm in trying to find a solution to our problems on our own.

Iraq, Darfur, the Kurds and even Hama ( which took place back in the 80s) are but further manifestations of the globalisation compounded harm to the Middle East and North Africa from this support to Israel. Hence, Palestine WILL remain at the heart of the problem because that is where the problems began and where the justification for the US support lies from which other problems have radiated. Without that support we would not have been or at least would not have remained for so long 'the worst treated people' as you mention.

Without that support and other outside factors the game would be slightly fairer to those elements of our societies who wish to effect a change and work toghether in moving from the stage of being the worst treated people to something better on the humanity scale. All these elements are possible toghether in parallel and the launchpad is the issue in our backyard which is being unfortunately infected by this support.

The support is one item in the chain that provides the legitimacy of keeping us the worst treated people, and its symbolism is huge. Some of us have tried to break this chain and negotiate with Israel at whatever level from making peace to small tentative trade agreements, that has not prevented those countries from remaining recipients of foreign aid and examples of trade deficit and other economic and social ills. Maybe that is not the right recipe?

By the way not all of us in the Middle East and North Africa region are on foreign aid or have a trade deficit. But ultimately my question is what are you prepared to do to break the chain and where do you suggest trying this ?

Highlander said...

"In an archetypic culture, courage and honour are defined with respect to the presumed interests of the family and the nation. I think this is why there are so many Arabs ready to sacrifice their lives for (say) Palestine, and so few ready to publicly challenge the prevailing opinions -which requires a sort of courage not included in the archetypic morality.
I hope I am not too offending."


No Maya you are not offending- courage and honour remain with the same baseline even if times changes I believe. But your statement makes so much light of those Arabs who have challenged and laid their life at stake for other reasons than Palestine and which I don't wish to go into detail here. I'm sure they and their compatriots and descendants know what they have dies for.

By the way your comment is the most concise summary I have ever read about the dislocation of Yugoslavia.I enjoyed it thank you.

Lost Libyano thanks am I that obvious as a Pan-Arabist :P

Programmer Craig thank you.

LouLou said...

Highlander,

'But, I also maintain that the current US stance of standing by Israel is harmful to us'

And that is my point exactly. We may not be able to agree with the US on this one issue. But this does not change the fact that the US is a major force in the world with whom so many of our other vital interests are inextricably linked that to suggest that we can simply ignore the US or refuse to work with it on any other issue until we do agree about Israel is unrealistic and much more detrimental to us than to the US. Hence to profess lack of interest in the outcome of US elections because US policy on Israel is unlikely to change is to suggest we have only one interest tied up with the US - which is simply not supported by facts on the ground.

I agree that the US shouldn't support our regimes. But the fact is the US has to work with what it finds to safeguard it's interests. It is up to us to produce representative regimes that know how to make the best possible deal for us with the rest of the world -including the US. And we haven't done that. Instead - because of our own backwardness, tribal mentality, sectarian divisions, incompetence and corruption - we've consistently produced regimes that barter whatever political bargaining chips we have to safeguard their own survival in power than our interests.

We can wait for the US - and other countries - to jeopordize their own interests by refusing to work with those in power in our countries. That may be a long, long wait. Or we can instead take the initiative to reform our societies from the bottom up in order to produce a power structure that goes out into the world and works for us instead of for itself.

I don't think we disagree about what the ultimate objective is. It is just that you believe change has to come to us from abroad. And I believe change will only come from abroad when we have the economic, cultural, technical and political power to make it. I don't see why anyone should pay more attention to our concerns than we ourselves do.


"By the way not all of us in the Middle East and North Africa region are on foreign aid or have a trade deficit."

Name one country in the Middle East and North Africa that doesn't fall into one of those 2 categories.

LouLou said...

"Some of us have tried to break this chain and negotiate with Israel at whatever level from making peace to small tentative trade agreements, that has not prevented those countries from remaining recipients of foreign aid and examples of trade deficit and other economic and social ills. Maybe that is not the right recipe?"

And maybe this issue has nothing to do with Israel? I don't see the link frankly. Economic reform is about modernizing your economy, improving efficiency with technology, ending corruption, building an infrastructure, attracting investment in the right sectors, encouraging innovation, combatting the brain drain, regulating spending etc.....Negotiation with Israel or lack thereof has nothing to do with internal reform.

Again it is the other way around. When you have economic and political power THEN you will be able to negotiate with Israel and everybody else.

Highlander said...

Hi Loulou,

Hence to profess lack of interest in the outcome of US elections because US policy on Israel is unlikely to change is to suggest we have only one interest tied up with the US

This statement assumes too much and jumps to too many to conclusions..

You are right we do not disagree on a number of points but I think you may have made an error in this statement too :

It is just that you believe change has to come to us from abroad

:) I am the last one to wait for change from abroad, so I'm not sure from where you concluded that. Certainly not being interested in the outcome of the US elections anymore should not mean waiting for change from abroad. There is a contradiction somewhere here.

On the other hand you are correct about the trade deficit, as a non business person 'trade deficit' to me meant 'debts' now that I've checked its correct definition and the theories that govern it I would say you are right in terms of many countries in the Middle East and North Africa falling into that category where their imports exceed their exports but then comparing with other countries I note that the US and the EU too do run a large trade deficit.

So this cannot be entirely negative.

When you have economic and political power THEN you will be able to negotiate with Israel and everybody else.

This is what I have been professing all along, please refer to older posts of mine.

You propose that we can instead take the initiative to reform our societies from the bottom up in order to produce a power structure that goes out into the world and works for us instead of for itself.

How do you propose to deliver personally on the above? Is it a question of moral fortitude and doing the right thing as non state actors? I guess each individual could start with his/her immediate entourage. But to work on this bottom up solution does one need to be in-country or should there be a reverse brain drain as well?

Thanks again Loulou for your opinion and the interesting topics you brought up to the discussion.

Curt from Houston said...

What is up with you guys and Israel? The place is a tiny sliver of a country on the Eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It seems to me that it would be like the entire United States going nuts over Connecticut because they decided to all suddenly become Mormons. As far as I can tell, some five million Muslims are now claiming that they have a right to move there. Just how insane is that? Hey, I like sandy beaches, how about twenty or thirty million of us American beach lovers demanding that we be allowed to move to Libya? IT’S OUR RIGHT I TELL YOU! By the way, I hope all of you Libyans like apple pie and hotdogs. Oh yeah, we also have this Christianity thing going so we hope you don’t mind converting or dropping dead for our convenience since we will outnumber you by about ten to one.

Maya M said...

Lost Libyano, you seem to propose a new definition of pan-Arabism! I thought that to be a pan-Arabist means just to value Arab unity more than the features distinguishing individual Arab nations, to stand for Standard Arabic and to deny official status to different spoken languages (the so-called "dialects") etc. You seem to imply something different - that to be a pan-Arabist means not to care about non-Arab human beings. Highlander had explicitly quoted in her blog logo that no Arab is above a non-Arab. She may be a pan-Arabist but she is a humanist as well. In particular, I remember well how she regretted the Israeli victims during the July War and wrote that "death is the same to all". Therefore I think that when she writes she wishes a US president not supporting Israel so much, she does it only because she doesn't want to follow all implications, all inevitable results if such an event happens.
Highlander, you are of course quite right that there are many Arabs daring to challenge accepted opinions, but still their number seems to me low, compared with the population size. Surely, the relative number of Bulgarians doing this is also low. But at the same time, you have many Arabs ready to lay down their lives for their faith or for Palestine, and 0 Bulgarians. So, while in our society there is plain lack of courage, in Arab societies it seems to me somewhat diverted and wasted (though few Arabs are likely to agree with me here).
I must also say that if we are talking about the same people, I am glad that here you refer to them as Arabs; because I remember from your previous post a reference to "Western wannabes" and thought that you wouldn't consider them as true Arabs, even they are of Arab origin and live in Arab countries.

Highlander said...

Curt from Houston, I'm not sure why the angry outburst, replying to your comment would require a post on its own as unfortunately the comparisons you make are wrong on many counts.

If by following the blogs for all these years you have not managed to understand what is it about Israel then I'm afraid that even if I explained how at least I (not other Arabs )it would not be of much help.

I suggest you read again and ponder what you wrote.

On the other hand this post (and not the side discussions that arose from it) were in reply to your request for my opinion about the US election, which I have answered with sincerity, reflection and seriousness.

Passion is good, anger not so good :). The balance is what makes the difference.

Curt from Houston said...

Sorry Highlander about the slightly off topic comments I posted. It was not directed at you so much as some of your other posters. It does grate on the nerves that many in the Middle East think that US politics revolves around Israel. As for myself, I would love to see an end to the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. I just don't believe that groups like Hamas or Hesbullah have any interest in making peace with Israel unless you are referring to the peace of the grave. Let's face it. Launching unguided rockets into Israeli population centers is not likely to be conducive to the peace process. Also, I don't think that my comment was so much angry as it was sarcastic. I get that way sometimes. ;-)

LouLou said...

Curt,


"As far as I can tell, some five million Muslims are now claiming that they have a right to move there."

5 million PALESTINIANS are claiming they have a right to go back to their towns, farms and homes from which they were expelled or at least to be fairly compensated for their lost real estate. Not all of them are Muslims. Some are Christians. Others are athiests.

The rest of us Muslims have no interest in moving there thank you very much because as it happens we DO have somewhere else to go. Infact I can't think of a more unpleasant place to move to!

Highlander,

"Without that support and other outside factors the game would be slightly fairer to those elements of our societies who wish to effect a change and work toghether in moving from the stage of being the worst treated people to something better on the humanity scale. All these elements are possible toghether in parallel and the launchpad is the issue in our backyard which is being unfortunately infected by this support."

To me that sounds like the initiative has to come from abroad. 'They' as in 'the US' have to change their position in order for our situation to improve. That is placing our fate in the hands of others which is what I have a problem with.

"On the other hand you are correct about the trade deficit, as a non business person 'trade deficit' to me meant 'debts' now that I've checked its correct definition and the theories that govern it I would say you are right in terms of many countries in the Middle East and North Africa falling into that category where their imports exceed their exports but then comparing with other countries I note that the US and the EU too do run a large trade deficit."

To answer that, ask yourself 3 simple questions:

1) How many of the products you use in your daily life come from Arab countries? I refer here to high-end manufactured products as opposed to raw materials or light-industry products like toothpaste etc.... Think of your laptop, your cellphone, your TV, your hairdryer etc...

2) How many of the services you rely on to maintain a modern standard of living rely on equipment or expertise from Arab countries? Electricity, clean water, telecom, infrastructure etc....?

3) Of those products or services that DO come from Arab countries, how many are local innovations as opposed to multinationals opening franchises or 'sweatshops' in an Arab country to bring them to you?

Do you realize that if attacked no Arab country would be able to defend itself without equipment or expertise from abroad? We rely on the US, Europe and now, Asia to be able to live in this century. We have no serious technology or industry or infrastructure capable of providing local alternatives for our own consumption - let alone for export.

And the majority of Arab countries use foreign debt and foreign aid to consume foreign imports which has got to be the height of economic dependance and consumerism.

Arab oil-producing countries maybe in a slightly better position in those terms and it does give them some influence however:

1) Major Arab oil-producers rely on mutual defence agreements with the US and Europe to keep other Arab neighbors from invading them.

2) Arab oil-producing economies are so reliant on oil that if alternative sources of energy were to become mainstream for example, they would be bankrupt in one year. This makes them as dependant on large, oil-consuming economies like the US, Japan and China as these economies are on them. Their efforts to diversify their economies are still limited and they remain consumers - selling oil to the rest of the world and then using the money to buy everything they need from abroad instead of investing in their own infrastructure and economies.

You can't compare this situation with the US trade-deficit with China for example. Yes, certain Chinese products are invading US markets because they're cheaper but this does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that the US economy relies on China to survive the way we rely on the outside world to survive. You can't compare the ability of the US economy to invest in research and innovate to the economies of developing countries, let alone Arab economies, which are slowly but surely sliding to the bottom of the Third World, as more and more countries in Africa and Asia and Latin America continue to overtake us in terms of economic, social and political development.

What do I think we should do? The first step in my humble opinion is to change the political discourse in the Arab world, less focus on real or imagined grievances against some external 'others' and more on the work that needs to be done within. Dictaroships typically use an external enemy to distract from and maintain the internal status quo and we have been falling for this oldest trick in the book for far too long.

Arab intellectuals need to raise awareness of our internal issues and enlighten the public rather than just rail pointlessly against Israel and the US. Our journalists, intellectuals, poets,teachers, college professors etc...need to talk about reform within our communities to create a public opinion that drives for it.

It is too wide an issue to cover in one comment - especially given that we're talking about 22 countries each of which is unique and has it's own internal dynamics. It's hard to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution for all of them. I believe the first step though is awareness in public opinion and among the elite that there are massive issues to address internally beyond the Palestinian issue on one hand and deep philosophical and religious questions like hijab on the other! I mean, read most Arab media and you would get the impression those are our only two problems!

Highlander said...

Loulou,

Everything that you've mentioned I have said before including the part about raising awareness as the responsibility of enlightened segments of the society.

Personally I'm a fierce anti-interventionist, and consider the oil a curse.
Starting from scratch is what I advocate a true and proper birth, even if it means pain and having none of the amenities of the 21st century, we lived without the consumerism before we can do it again. Then when we have earned the right to own these products it is easy to catch up.


With regards to protection afforded by foreign alliances that is ephemereal and artificial, it would be better if we Arabs had an all out war with each other and who eve survives would have deserved it. Without that blood bath there is not going to be a nation.Before we settle down we need to treat festering sores and shift borders. We may end up with more than 22 members of the Arab League. It is sad but it is inevitable. The presence of oil in some places has delayed this process because foreigners have intervened to much. So here is hoping oil becomes obsolete and we can lead a normal life again with no one eyeing our countries with greed.

Basically as you said you and I have the same goal and though I have moved on,I just am still not willing to forget.


Having said and to get back to my original post..raising awareness changing the political and social discourse etc... does not mean that the original source of our problems is gone or that we should ignore it. We can still state it loud and clear. We do know our faults but we do know the faults of others. We can move on, we can forgive to survive but we cannot fool ourselves and forget. Because while we are trying to build something with our interest in mind others also have their interest in mind which many times clashes with our own.

Highlander said...

Curt, I hope Loulou's explanation was clear. As for sarcasm, it's difficult enough to master a foreign language let alone understand subtleties. To me it felt like an angry outburt so thank you for clarifying that.

On the other hand you say It does grate on the nerves that many in the Middle East think that US politics revolves around Israel.

I bet it does but what do you want the ordinary people to think when all they see is US politicians tripping over themselves to prove their allegiances to Israel at every single opportunity,with or without prompting?

Highlander said...

Maya I always like your comments because you manage to surprise with tidbits of information and the way you present that, thanks I learn from you constantly.

LouLou said...

Highlander,

"Starting from scratch is what I advocate a true and proper birth, even if it means pain and having none of the amenities of the 21st century, we lived without the consumerism before we can do it again."

Now you're really scaring me!

There is no such thing as starting from scratch. It goes against the course of history. If you start from scratch then by the time you manage to reach the 21st century, the rest of the world - which will certainly not sit and wait for you - will be in the 25th century and you will still be far, far behind. Talk about an exercise in futility!

The idea is to learn how to catch up and function successfully in the modern global economy by increasing our output and contributing as much as we consume - not in isolating ourselves and viewing said global economy as our enemy out of pique because while we have benefited from the invention and innovation of others, we haven't yet managed to give anything back that would make others value and respect us.

"With regards to protection afforded by foreign alliances that is ephemereal and artificial, it would be better if we Arabs had an all out war with each other and who eve survives would have deserved it."

No offence but you've just demonstrated why Arab nationalism has not managed to progress beyond slogans people get emotional singing about but can't apply to their everyday lives.

Do you really expect to convince Kuwaitis or Emaratis that they should just sacrifice their countries, their homes and their families in a bloodbath just because they happen to be wealthier than their greedy but more powerful neighbors? This is what you're telling them Arab nationalism has to offer them?Don't you realize that this is precisely the kind of mentality that drives them to prefer to 'buy' their security from saner allies?

Why not instead ask said neighbors to respect the soverignty and safety of their neighbors if we Arabs are really so 'brotherly'?

And viewing your sources of wealth as a curse because you haven't managed them well? That appeals to you more than just improving the management?

As for the animosity against 'foreign intervention' again, trying to live on an island is unrealistic and self-destructive. Power in this day and age means successful engagement with the rest of the world. Countries that try to do otherwise will simply be left behind, become irrelevant i.e. others will disregard your interests because you will have no power to safeguard them.

Which is precisly where we are today. If that's what you want to see then you should be very pleased with the status quo.

And I don't see what this isolationist, ghetto mentality can contribute to help us become effective members of the international community with which like it or not, we have to share this planet. And as it happens, I do like it.

You really are a classic, textbook Arab nationalist.

Curt from Houston said...

Highlander, this is probably going to really tic you off so I apologize in advance. This is the way that most people in the West see this whole thing and I also happen to think that this is the way that it historically went down.


Loulou, you said the following:

5 million PALESTINIANS are claiming they have a right to go back to their towns, farms and homes from which they were expelled...

They were not expelled. The Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian governments asked them to temporarily vacate their premises while they attacked and annihilated Israel, after which, they were assured that they could go back and clean up “financially speaking”. Unfortunately for them, the Jews kicked the collective asses of the invaders and no such looting took place. So now, some forty years later, they not only want the people who actually vacated their homes in Israel to return, they want to include all of their decedents as well. How am I doing so far?

programmer craig said...

We can move on, we can forgive to survive but we cannot fool ourselves and forget.

I have to call BS on that, Highlander. If you were at a place where you were willing to forgive and try to come to terms with Israel, it wouldn't matter to you in the slightest what America's relationship with Israel was. You want to shift the balance of power re: Israel in your favor. There is a reason for that :)

I bet it does but what do you want the ordinary people to think when all they see is US politicians tripping over themselves to prove their allegiances to Israel at every single opportunity,with or without prompting?

That is what you see, because that is what you are looking for. The US has many allies, and American politicians try to please all of them. The only reason that Israel gets so much attention because of the mind boggling situation that's been going on in the middle east for the last 60 years. Again, I think it is the oil which has caused it. The US has alliances with some Arab countries as well. That wouldn't be the case, if it wasn't for the oil, in my opinion. There isn't one Arab country that is a "natural" ally for the United States.

Highlander said...

Curt no I'm not angered as I know how people in the West see the issue- but thank you anyway.

Craig yes it's about the oil and I know that the US has many allies but it is being too vocal about Israel :) thank you for your input.

LouLou said...

Curt,


I've always been amused by the contention that someone in Egypt or Syria snapped his fingers and 700,000 civilians jumped up and moved out of their villages into refugee camps - leaving behind not only all their homes and villages and all their earthly possessions but also - in many cases their children and the rest of their families - all for no reason other than they woke up one morning thinking ah, you know what? I really don't like Jews so let's all have a conspiracy to kill them.

Simultaneously. All 700,000 of them old, young, children, women, men Muslim, Christians, all heard the call and suddenly had the same exact thought and acted on it at the same exact moment in perfect unison.

If true, it would be the most perfect example of instant, blind obedience by a civilian population to politicians from neighboring countries. I mean man, those Palestinians must have loved the leaders of these neighboring states. They'd have to, to all just drop their babies and their out of their arms and their tottering old grannies and run to obey like that!

I mean, to me, it sounds
like something out of a movie about zombies - and not a very good movie because you know what? That's not much of a plot. If you were trying to put together a good movie, you'd really have to come up with a better storyline or people will be asking for heir money back at the moviehouse.:)

Sure, it would be really convenient for Israel if it were true - given there's no way Israel could have come into existence as Jewish nationalist state if those people had not left. The demmographics would never have worked. So yeah, I can see why Israelis would like that plot.:)

LouLou said...

Craig,

"If you were at a place where you were willing to forgive and try to come to terms with Israel, it wouldn't matter to you in the slightest what America's relationship with Israel was."

I disagree with that. Unlike Highlander, I don't think US policy revolves around Israel. But your policy in the Middle East does tilt towards Israel in a manner that will never enable a resolution to the conflict.

To give you just one quick example, one reason why it is so difficult for Arabs to ever forget the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 is that it is still going on. The expropriation of Palestinian land, homes and private property still continues every single day as we speak in the form of Israel's settlement policy. Palestinian civilians continue to be dispossessed forcibly and made into refugees within their own country. How do you think these daily images help us to forget 1948?

And it's not just in Palestine. We see the same thing happening in the Golan strip. And we saw the same trend in Sinai before the Camp David Accords.

And successive US governments have been unable to oppose this in any effective manner or even condemn it unequivocally. Even most Israelis now realize it's pointless to talk about peace or forgiveness while this continues. And yet - apart from a brief attempt by George Bush Sr before the first Gulf War, the US continues to allow this.

Furthermore, US support for the distasteful Arab regimes that surround Israel like Mubarak's for example is based mainly on the contention that these regimes are good for Israel. They haven't got any oil.

And yet it is these regimes that oppress and abuse their people while brainwashing them with the kind of propaganda that results in generations of Arabs who blame Israel and the US for all their problems and have their minds focused in the past rather than looking to the future. This is hardly unique. It is the time-honored tradition of all fascist regimes in history - create an external enemy and promote rabid nationalism in order to maintain the status quo.

These are the very regimes that carefully cultivate all this obssessive hatred against both the US and Israel. They are the same regimes that won't allow their people to be exposed to the truth. And yet supporting them continues to be a cornerstone of your foreign policy.

How exactly do these 2 instances of US policy contribute to making the lives of Arabs, Israelis or Americans better?

Highlander said...

Loulou,

"Textbook Arab nationalist" : I don't see that as necessarily insulting :)


Now the isolationism and starting from scratch scenario is just a wish. That would have been the ideal thing in an ideal world which is why I advocate it, but I am aware it will not happen. We can't go back to the 19th century and re-invent processes (my statements have been taken out of context) I know that is a waste of time. But what we can surely do is adapting the innovations to what is suitable for us and our market and not only blindly consume them (that's where we agree I think you and I). This is not possible to start out of the blue, it will not be spontaneous you need a baseline for this Loulou and the countries that form the Middle East and North Africa now are at different stages.


With regards to neighbours being jealous of Emiratis and Kuwaitis because they are rich and wanting to invade them, we have seen last century that it was an oil rich country Iraq( even though it was war battered) which invaded Kuwait and not a poorer one like Jordan for example. Libya has considerable amount of oil and can expect to produce feelings of envy not only from Tunisia or Egypt but also from sub-Saharan African neighbours right? after all our population is smaller, our land massive and our borders porous and difficult to man. It's a possibility we have to live with.

Sometimes you don't get invaded by jealous neighbours but by a rich, free, democratic, superpower which also wants your oil and which is ready to do that if it is not possible to have it by the usual means of trade/investment/mutual agreements. All indicators point to this with regards to Iraq and the USA.



On the other hand, the bloodbath and some border changes remain a possibility because many of our people have historical grievances not just against the West but against each other. The Kurds and the Polisario issues come to mind! I'm happy to keep the current borders set by the colonial retreating powers, but I'm realistic enough to know that something horrible may crop up again, because collectively we did not manage to settle things between us like the Europeans did and are still doing. Their model is not perfection, economic needs are overriding nationalism and they have learned that in unity lies strength and have learnt to shift the bickering to forums /meetings instead of the fighting arena.


My generation has learned that the slogans of the nationalist pan- Arabism are not workable today and that our problems need to be tackled differently by us and no one else. We need a different model. You have mentioned some of that in your numerous comments on this thread. The parameters are different and not as easy or straightforward as you make them sound. It's like someone sitting comfortably in Toronto and telling us you have to become democracies. We have all seen it does not work this way. There will always be the possibility of sabotage, and with globalisation the risk is greater. We know the score, we know that it will not be easy as each one of us will need to play his/her role within his/her own radius of influence or at a grander scale depending on your status in the society and where you reside.


Thank you for voicing out your concerns and passions I hope you will get the chance to play your part and reach out to your community to erase misconceptions and enlighten them in catching up with the 21st century


It is acceptable to disagree Loulou, you don't have to be right and neither do I for that matter.

LouLou said...

"It's like someone sitting comfortably in Toronto and telling us you have to become democracies."

Newsflash: it is not just the Canadians who have made progress in all the areas I mentioned. Many other developing countries have managed to achieve this and overtake us in the time period we have spent obssessing about one conflict - the last 60 years. Many, many examples come to mind from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

So that isn't really much of an excuse.

And yes, we disagree. Fundamentally.

programmer craig said...

Hi LouLou :)

I'm going to try to keep it brief, because I cause too many problems when I comment much on H's blog. But I agree with most of what you've been saying in this thread.

An item I don't agree about:

Furthermore, US support for the distasteful Arab regimes that surround Israel like Mubarak's for example is based mainly on the contention that these regimes are good for Israel. They haven't got any oil.

Right, they don't have any oil, but they do contribute substantially to the overall "balance of power" in the middle east. Egypt, for instance, used to be a Soviet client. It was Sadat who decided he'd rather get close to the US than to the Russians. This is still a potential problem. Dictators in unstable countries love to have powerful friends, and if the US turns away from them, they will just look elsewhere. And I do think that it is the oil (and not the state of Israel) that makes it important for the US to try to maintain good relations with Arab countries that we'd otherwise keep our distance from.

These are the very regimes that carefully cultivate all this obssessive hatred against both the US and Israel. They are the same regimes that won't allow their people to be exposed to the truth. And yet supporting them continues to be a cornerstone of your foreign policy.

Yes, but have Arab governments who aren't or weren't friendly to the US been any better in that regard? Highlander's Libya, for instance? Or Syria? Egypt, under Nassir? I think they would play the same game regardless. And I do think the US has had a small positive influence on Jordan and Egypt. I could be wrong on that - I'm just speculating :)

Maya M said...

Highlander, thanks! BTW I realized Curt was joking even before I read his comment clarifying it, so the misunderstanding must have been more cultural than linguistic.
About the Palestinian refugees, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I have little doubt that some of them have really been expelled, and many others just fled the fighting zones. However, I remember how Nasrallah told Arabs of Haifa to leave so that Hizbullah would kill only Jews, and some of the residents left in accordance with the "bad movie screenplay", while others said they wouldn't repeat the mistake their kin did in 1948 (which clearly implies that in 1948, there was a choice and the refugees took the wrong decision).
For me, the important thing is that the 1948 Palestinian refugees have received special treatment. No other refugees on Earth have had a "right to return" recognized for generations. During the 20th century, my country has absorbed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Bulgarian refugees from neighbouring countries. Few have received any compensation and none have ever been allowed to return. Refugees either return in several years or settle somewhere else and start new lives. Dynasties of refugees are absurd and serve just to guarantee a neverending conflict. BTW, Arab countries insist on the right of Palestinians to return but would they give the same right to their old Jewish populations expelled to Israel?
As for Israel still making Palestinian refugees - in a sense, Israel also made the Jewish settlers of Gaza refugees by forcibly uprooting them, but no Arab seems to give credit for this. It is also noteworthy to me that Palestinians and their authority allowed no Jewish settler to remain, under any conditions.
To me, the "instant, blind obedience by a civilian population to politicians from neighboring countries" used by LouLou as reductio ad absurdum isn't far from reality. Quite many of the Iraqi resistance fighters actually aren't from Iraq, are they? I see some trans-border resonation of collective Arab consciousness which, to me, is the greatest danger for Israel because it affects Israeli Arabs as well.
About the "starting from scratch" - there is little use of arguing whether it will be good or bad because it will happen anyway. Believe me - been there, done this. If the average resident of a particular country cannot in a minute explain what a Ponzi scheme is or identify himself as a leftist or rightist, then these things will be learned the hard way by hitting the bottom, usually more than once.
I don't think that wars between Arabs are inevitable. (Highlander, why do you seem to think they are?) Personally, I would prefer relaxation of borders to their "optimization". But if borders are to be changed, why shed blood? Why emulate Yugoslavia and not Czechoslovakia? Unfortunately, most people are unwilling, for psychological reasons, to let breakaway regions just break away.

LouLou said...

Maya,

'(which clearly implies that in 1948, there was a choice and the refugees took the wrong decision).
'

The choice for most of them was to ignore reports of massacres in neighboring villages and risk staying - or to flee for safety. Given the fact that some abuses certainly were committed, it is difficult for anyone to say what they would do in such circumstances. Civilians tend to want to leave war zones because it isn't much fun getting caught in the crossfire.

'However, I remember how Nasrallah told Arabs of Haifa to leave so that Hizbullah would kill only Jews, and some of the residents left in accordance with the "bad movie screenplay", while others said they wouldn't repeat the mistake their kin did in 1948 (which clearly implies that in 1948, there was a choice and the refugees took the wrong decision).'

You know, Maya, there are very few people I dislike more than Nasrallah. But if he were to make a speech tomorrow asking me to leave Abu Dhabi so he can bomb only Indians for example, I'd be out of here in a second. Not because I want Indians to die, because I don't want to die! This is someone who has demonstrated such little regard for the lives of civilians that I would certainly believe him if he said he was going to bomb someplace indiscriminately. I really have no wish to become anyone's collateral damage.

I mean, to me it seems like a no-brainer.

'No other refugees on Earth have had a "right to return" recognized for generations. '

You do realize we're talking about Israel here don't you?
The country whose existence is founded on an obscure Right of Return for all Jews from 2000 years ago?

Compared to that, what is 60 years? Nothing.

Jews who have never even seen the Middle East before are given the Right to Return everyday. Not just the Right to Return - also the Right to expropriate land and take over the home of a Palestinian who was born there and then has to become a refugee to make room for them!

I'm sorry but I think this line of argument against the Right of Return for Palestinians will never work in the Middle East. This is a region of ancient peoples with long memories and strong connections to their homelands which they tend to pass on to their descendants - as Jews who immigrate to Israel continue to demonstrate everyday. That's a reality we all just have to live with and work around.

Besides, by that logic, why should I wait for permission from the Swedish government to join my husband there? Why should we bother to acquire property there in accordance with Swedish laws? Why don't I just immigrate illegally, kick the first Swedish family whose home I like out and take over and then tell them they're being ridiculous to ask to return?

If the second you kick someone out of their home it becomes yours why should anyone anywhere ever pay for real estate or observe immigration rules? To me, THAT sounds like a recipe for never-ending conflict.

'BTW, Arab countries insist on the right of Palestinians to return but would they give the same right to their old Jewish populations expelled to Israel?'

I think they should. Not sure most of them would want to go back but at least they should be compensated for lost property.

I also don't believe most Palestinian refugees would want to return if given the chance either. I once read a survey which found that 60% of them wouldn't want to return physically.

But they would certainly appreciate compensation if they choose not to - and seeing their communities revived and being able to visit family and friends. Kind of like I don't wish to live in my hometown of Casablanca but would have serious problems with anyone forcibly evicting my family, tearing the fabric of our community and our culture and expropriating our private property - which has been in my family for centuries.

I grew up in UAE and that's where I call home. My future is in Europe. But Casablanca is where my roots lie and certainly I would want my future children to know that's where they're from and to know my people and my culture there because it is part of their heritage.

And I would certainly expect that my children should inherit my property there. I mean, that's part of the reason why people acquire property isn't it? To secure their children's future.

programmer craig said...

LouLou,

You do realize we're talking about Israel here don't you? The country whose existence is founded on an obscure Right of Return for all Jews from 2000 years ago?

I've never seen anyone claim that, LouLou. Nobody of importance, anyway. Palestine had a substantial Jewish population before 1948. The partition was intended to be along ethnic lines, with Palestinians and Jews getting land proportional to their populations. There were both Jews and Palestinians on the wrong side of the partition, and I assume that if things had gone differently an agreement to transfer land between both displaced groups could have been worked out.

There are ethnic partitions being made all the time, everywhere in the world. Most recently, in Georgia just a couple weeks ago! Why is it so unacceptable in the Arab world?

Compared to that, what is 60 years? Nothing.

Right... if that was the argument being made.

Jews who have never even seen the Middle East before are given the Right to Return everyday.

And how many of the millions of Palestinians who want a right to return were born in Palestine? Do Descendants also have a right to return?

If Arabs want to grant Palestinians a right to return to a Palestinian state, that is up to Arabs. But it is unreasonable to expect Israel to accept millions of non-citizen Arabs as unwanted immigrants. That is NEVER going to happen, without destroying Israel first.

I'm sorry but I think this line of argument against the Right of Return for Palestinians will never work in the Middle East. This is a region of ancient peoples with long memories and strong connections to their homelands...

So we are back to Arab exceptionalism? I thought you were arguing against that? Most Arabs are historically nomadic people. Same as my ancestors. When did these "strong ties" develop? Was it before or after Arabs left the Arabian desert and invaded North Africa, Egypt, Persia, Syria, Iraq, etc?

Sorry for the sarcasm, but I find it kind of funny that Arabs supposedly have some kind of genetic or cultural ties to their land that other people don't have. That seems like a pan-Arab bill of goods that Arabs have been sold, along with the rest. It also seems to be obviously untrue. There are more Arab Christians who have fled the ME than there are Palestinians. Why aren't Arab Christians demanding their right to return? Because they don't want to return. They have started new lives, in other places.

LouLou said...

Craig,


'I've never seen anyone claim that, LouLou. Nobody of importance, anyway.'

Who do you consider 'of importance'? Is the Knesset - Israel's main legislative body - important enough?

In 1950, the Israeli Knesset enacted the Law of Return - which grants anyone who can prove Jewish ancestry through the mother the right to 'return' to Israel, and acquire citizenship.

The law is still valid today. Look it up.

It is under this law that Jews from Russia and New York who have never been in the Middle East are 'returning' to Israel and the Palestinian territories as we speak on the premise that they are returning to their ancestral homeland. It is under this law that they are given - among other things - the right to settle in the West Bank and expropriate the homes and property of Palestinians who were born there but who you believe lose their 'right to return' 5 minutes after they've evicted from their homes to make room for settlers!

I am not talking about 1948. I am talking about today.

'Do Descendants also have a right to return?'

If descendants of Jews who left Palestine 2000 years ago have the right to return then so do descendants of Palestinians who left 60 years ago. Either they both do or they both don't.

'So we are back to Arab exceptionalism? '

Did you actually read what I wrote? Here it is again:

>>This is a region of ancient peoples with long memories and strong connections to their homelands which they tend to pass on to their descendants - as Jews who immigrate to Israel continue to demonstrate everyday. That's a reality we all just have to live with and work around.<<

To me, it sounds like I am accepting the right of return for both Palestinians and Jews. I don't exactly see how we get from that to Arab exceptionalism. Am I missing something?

'Was it before or after Arabs left the Arabian desert and invaded North Africa, Egypt, Persia, Syria, Iraq, etc?'

The vast majority of the peoples known as Arabs are not ethnic Arabs. That's why they are known as 'Arabized' Arabs - people who adopted Arab culture and the language but are not Arab by blood. In the Arab world, those who ARE descended from the Bedouin Arabs are highly respected and known as 'ashraf' or 'honorables' because they're descended from the Prophet's tribe. I know because my father's family are 'ashraf'. They are a minute, privileged minority in most Arab countries.

The rest of the Arab peoples are descendants of Jews, Christians, Persians, Egyptian Copts, Berbers, black Africans etc...who accepted Islam and the Arabic language but can't claim blood relations with the Prophet's people.

So yes, in that sense, inhabitants of the urban population centers of the Arab world haven't moved around much. They've survived on their land under successive colonial occupations (Greek, Roman, Arab, Turkish, British/French/Italian etc....) - and they take great pride in that. The attitude is that occupiers come and go but we're still here because we belong etc...And they're all fiercely proud of their different and distinct cultures - a fact that both Arab nationalists, Islamists and now you - often ignore. Having a common language is not enough to make us into one people. I mean, most North Africans speak French as well as they speak Arabic - sometimes even better - and yet that doesn't make us French!

And yeah they do have very strong community ties to where they live. If you've lived in the same place and had the same neighbors for centuries that does create a tie. I can walk around in Casablanca and run into complete strangers who will ask me if I'm related to a distant relative I myself may not know but they do, because my family has been there for generations and everyone knows we have certain physical features that everyone else recognizes when they look at me. And if I stand around and talk to them I will hear stories about my family. Not always good stories either. I'll hear about marriages and divorces and neighborhood disputes from like 100 years ago etc...

I mean, that is something I won't find anywhere else in the world and to me, it is valuable.

That's why the concept of acquired citizenship and immigration is still very problematic in the Arab world. I don't know of an Arab country that grants citizenship by birth or immigration. You are only a citizen if you descend from a local family on your father's side. In most cases, you can't even get citizenship through the mother.

If you don't have that ancestry, it doesn't matter if you were born there or how long you've lived there, you are still seen as a foreigner.

Hence, I was born in UAE but I am Morrocan. Whereas some of my Algerian relatives who were born in Morocco and have lived there all their lives remain Algerian - not Morrocan citizens - and have no path to acquire Moroccan citizenship. And my mother - who is Algerian - and has been married to my father for decades and has given birth to 5 Morrocan children still doesn't have Morrocan citizenship.

That's not exceptional. It is just a different culture from countries where immigration and settlement is the basis for citizenship. And I expect it will take a long time to change because most Arab countries are actually overpopulated and so the need for new immigrants - which could drive people to accept immigration as a basis for citizenship - is not currently there.

Maya M said...

LouLou, I think we have actually fewer disagreements than it may seem.
I suppose, for example, that Israel would have a Jewish majority even if all those Palestinians hadn't become refugees; because, if Israel as a Jewish state was doomed anyway, why were its neighbours in such a hurry to attack it?
I also have never thought of Israel as a country based on "right to return" but rather as based on population migration, similarly to USA, Canada, Australia and Kosovo. In all these cases, the indigenous population has suffered from the formation of the state in question.
So I disagree with you on this, but I fully agree that the behaviour of Palestinian refugees in 1948 was based mostly on legitimate safety concerns and the same was true for the Israeli Arabs in 2006. An important difference, however, was that those Haifa residents who listened to Nasrallah fled to other, safer parts of Israel while the 1948 refugees crossed the front line. I wouldn't blame them for this. As far as I know, most people at that time thought Israel would lose the war; and if I were a Palestinian, I guess I would be sorry for the Jews but very unwilling to stay with them and share their fate. It is also possible that many of the refugees, being Arabs, simply preferred to live in an Arab state rather than in a Jewish-majority state, and there is nothing bad in this as well.
However, Israeli Jews understandably regarded the move of Arabs across the front line as betrayal; and maybe so did the non-Palestinian Arabs. I doubt that the dominant mentality in the Arab world regards the fear for one's life and family as legitimate as you and I do. I have read words of Arab militants praising themselves as people cherishing death and scorning Jews as people wanting very much to live. So I tend to believe at least partly some pro-Israeli sources claiming that non-Palestinian Arabs accused the Palestinian refugees in betraying the Arab cause out of cowardice. This would be a wonderful justification for keeping the Palestinian refugees in camps for generations, often in miserable conditions, for banning them from integration in Arab countries and for brainwashing them into believing that their lives have value only if devoted to the cause of Palestine, i.e. to the destruction of Israel and presumably subjecting its Jewish population to genocide. I am not at all sure that I am right here because my understanding of these events is much hindered by my zero knowledge of Arabic; however, Arab sources known to me don't contradict this picture.
As for compensations, I am all for it and I would myself make a small donation if an international compensation fund is created, but I doubt that it will help even marginally. It is exactly the Jews (people stereotyped as valuing money too much) who say, "A problem that can be solved with money alone isn't a serious problem". Last year, when parents of HIV-infected Benghazi children accepted compensations, some non-Libyan Arabs commented this with very ugly words such as betraying, selling etc. I can put some bet on what will be said of descendants of Palestinian refugees who renounce their right to return in order to receive compensations.
"I think this line of argument against the Right of Return for Palestinians will never work in the Middle East. This is a region of ancient peoples with long memories and strong connections to their homelands which they tend to pass on to their descendants... That's a reality we all just have to live with and work around."
I think this is a reality Mideast people mustn't live with but change for good. I live in another region with "long memories and strong connections to homeland" - the Balkans, so I think I know very well what you are talking about. In such regions, people remember for long very different things, possibly half of which have never happened. But even the truths are distorted into vampires that haunt new generations, draw blood from them and don't let them live normal lives. And of course this is a gold mine for dishonest politicians and all other people willing to fish in muddy water. Some 25 years ago, when our dictator was using the past to justify forcible renaming of people, I decided for myself that whatever lies in the past, I wouldn't want it to hold hostage neither me nor anybody else. I refused to hate my Turkish neighbours just because their ancestors did this or that to my ancestors - and I demanded the same from them.
For people outside such regions, what is going on inside looks like an epidemic of insanity. As a US journalist said, listening to the emotional claims of Serbs on their historic heartland Kosovo: "I just fail to understand why we have to make a war today because some battle has been lost 600 years ago!"

Maya M said...

There is a rare word (in English, it must be "querulanism" or something like this) designating personal quest to obtain justice at all costs, even if it would mean to bring down the Moon and extinguish the Sun. A prototype example is Kohlhase who brought doom and gloom to all Saxony just because a Saxon nobleman seized his horses:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Kohlhase
(The lore tells that before he was executed, it was acknowledged that his horses had been seized unduly.)
In Europe, querulanism was endemic among nations: "We want justice, we want our own" - and then a war, thousands killed and displaced etc. It was quite clear that it was impossible for EACH nation to have full "justice" and "its own" unless European territory could be enlarged twice or more by magic to satisfy all claims. Nevertheless, the wars continued until the mid-1940s, when all Europe was in ruins and non-European superpowers finally took control over it.
Now, the same words - "We want justice, we want our own" - come from Palestine and the entire Arab world time and again. Why don't people learn from history, why doesn't any nation take notice of other nations' bitter experience?
To me, justice isn't the the most valuable thing. Some are more important, notably life. If "justice", or a quest for justice, is lethal, then this justice is worse than injustice. If justice makes your life miserable, deprives you of freedom, democracy, prosperity and hope for the future, if it kills your soul, to Hell with it!
In many situations, it is impossible right from the beginning to achieve 100% justice for everybody. And the more time passes, the less possible (and more harmful) full justice becomes. LL gave some quotes that Israel "has no right to exist". To take another example, rape is injustice, isn't it? It mustn't happen, so embryos resulting from it have no right to exist. All people, except some diehard pro-lifers, recognize the right of a raped woman to take a morning-after pill or make an abortion. But if the pregnancy is already almost full-term? If the child has already been born? And finally - if somebody comes to you and says that you have no right to exist because some your grandparent has been conceived as a result of rape?
The more I observe the situation in Israel/Palestine, the more it seems to me like the latter example. And the Palestinians never seem to listen when somebody argues that if they just supply peace, this will be the best for everybody, including themselves. I guess, they don't and won't make peace because in their mentality, it would mean being cowards, betraying noble ideals, selling themselves for material things and degrading to the lowest degree of animal existence.

LouLou said...

Maya,

'I suppose, for example, that Israel would have a Jewish majority even if all those Palestinians hadn't become refugees; because, if Israel as a Jewish state was doomed anyway, why were its neighbours in such a hurry to attack it?'

The reason the declaration of a Jewish national state was a threat to neighboring countries is precisely because they didn't want the Palestinians. It was self-evident that you couldn't have a Jewish state within the demographic balance that existed. Palestinians were still a majority even in the land designated for Jewish nationhood by the UN in the famous Partition resolution. The population evicted in 1948 amounted to two thirds of the Palestinian population. And even with two thirds of their people out, Palestinians remain a demographic threat to Israel today. Just add up the number of Palestinians in the Occupied territories and Israeli Arabs and compare it to Israel's population and you will see what I mean. The demographics of Palestine have never and still don't favor Jewish nationalism.

This position was incidentally shared by the British - otherwise the 1948 war would never have taken place. All the Arab countries who participated in it were still under British rule and only became independant several years after 1948. Their armies had British commanders. If the British had not wanted the war, it simply could not have happened.

The British had initially supported Jewish immigration despite the opposition of the natives - because they saw it as a convenient solution to Europe's 'Jewish Problem'. In a way it was similar to the influx of Armenian refugees following the Turkish genocide in Armenia. These Armenians arrived in large numbers and settled peacefully in Palestine and neighboring countries and faced very little opposition from the natives because they had no nationalist aspirations - at least not in the Middle East.

But Jewish immigration wasn't working out that way for the British BECAUSE the Jews displayed national aspirations which were perceived as liable to lead to an exodus of Palestinians to a point that threatened to destabilize the ethnic make-up of the colonies the British had so painstakingly created. Even before the 1948 war, Palestinian villagers had started to evacuate areas where there was fighting between Jewish and Arab militias. This trend was seen as a threat.

That's when the interests of the British and the interests of the Arab ruling elites - who were concerned about their fragile new fiefdoms - converged.

If you look at a country like Lebanon for example, do you think that Lebanese Shia or Christians or Druze will EVER accept several hundred thousand Palestinian Sunnis - which would turn Sunnis into a majority overnight? Never. To all other Lebanese sects except Sunnis, the Palestinians pose an existential threat.

And Jordan was a new country which already had a substantial Palestinian population because it was founded on land that was historically a part of Palestine. And so for the ruling Hashemites - who came from Saudi and were given Jordan as a gift from the British in return for their cooperation in bringing down the Ottoman Empire - there were only so many more Palestinians they could take in.

Ultimately, the Arabs lost the war and they got stuck with the Palestinians anyway.

Despite all the sentimental songs about Arab brotherhood, Palestinians know exactly why their Arab neighbors decided to fight the 1948 war. And they know it's the same reason they will never belong or be accepted by these Arab states.

LouLou said...

Maya,

'I also have never thought of Israel as a country based on "right to return" but rather as based on population migration, similarly to USA, Canada, Australia and Kosovo. '

I know. You think of the Right of Return as a Palestinian invention.

But reality is that Jewish immigration to Israel since 1950 is based solely on the premise that Israel is the homeland - not only of Israelis - but of anyone in the world who can demonstrate Jewish ancestry because all Jews are the descendants of ancient Israelites - who were evicted from Palestine by the Romans roughly 2000 years ago.

No one who is not of Jewish descent can immigrate to Israel. That is radically different from immigration laws in countries the US or Canada which are certainly not based on having to prove your bloodline and nothing else!

In that sense, Israel has much more in common with it's Arab neighbors in their attitude to citizenship than with Western countries like the US and Israel.

Both the Law of Return and the Palestinian Right of Return are very Middle Eastern concepts.

'And the Palestinians never seem to listen when somebody argues that if they just supply peace, this will be the best for everybody, including themselves. '

I expect Palestinians don't listen because no one listens to them. Other native populations who suffered from settlers like Native Americans or Innuits or Maoris have at least had their historical grievances recognized. Whereas the historical injustice against the Palestinians continues and everyone just keeps telling them how unreasonable they're being in not just handing over their house key and removing themselves to a nearby refugee camp the minute a person of Jewish descent decides he wants their home or their land!

I always find it odd when Israelis complain that Palestinians won't forgive while simultaneously refusing to admit that any wrong was ever done to the Palestinians! I find that very few people bother to forgive where their forgiveness is not solicited or desired. Like one Palestinian writer once put it: "Israelis don't want our forgiveness. They want our land."

LouLou said...

Maya,

'I doubt that the dominant mentality in the Arab world regards the fear for one's life and family as legitimate as you and I do.'

There are more than 350 million Arabs in the world. If your premise that we all don't care for our lives or the lives of our loved ones were true, you'd be dealing with 350 million suicide bombers, not just a few thousand.

Frankly, I find that insinuation deeply offensive.

programmer craig said...

Hi LouLou,

In 1950, the Israeli Knesset enacted the Law of Return - which grants anyone who can prove Jewish ancestry through the mother the right to 'return' to Israel, and acquire citizenship.

The law is still valid today. Look it up.


I don't want to derail this discussion with semantics, but that is just a policy for granting citizenship in the State of Israel. Most Arab countries also grant citizenship indirectly in the same way (but via the father) don't they?

I do agree it's a standard for nationality that has some inherent bigotry in it. The equivalent for me would be if England decided that anyone who could prove Anglo-Saxon ancestry could become a citizen of England, and all others need not apply. But bigotry or no, it isn't illegal. All sovereign nations have the right to set their own naturalization policy. Or choose to have none at all. It isn't unique in the ME either, is it? Highlander, maybe you can tell us what the laws for citizenship in Libya are, by way of example? What would I have to do as an American Christian to become a Libyan national? Or how about LouLou, as a Moroccan Muslim?

It is under this law that Jews from Russia and New York who have never been in the Middle East are 'returning' to Israel and the Palestinian territories as we speak on the premise that they are returning to their ancestral homeland.

What I meant was the creation of Israel in the first place. I don't think "ancestral homeland" had anything to do with it. The Jewish State could have been located in Nebraska and I'm sure the same laws for naturalization would have been enacted. I know at least one guy who thinks Israel should have been located in Montana. Seriously.

It is under this law that they are given - among other things - the right to settle in the West Bank and expropriate the homes and property of Palestinians who were born there but who you believe lose their 'right to return' 5 minutes after they've evicted from their homes to make room for settlers!

I didn't say any such thing! I was talking about the 5 million some odd Palestinians who are descended from 1948 refugees who seek a right to return.

Anyway, are you talking about a right to return to a Palestinian Arab state? Because I don't have any problem with that, and I doubt anyone else would either. But if you are talking about shipping 5 million Palestinians who weren't even born there to Israel just to win the war demographically, that's a non-starter. That seems to be what everyone is stuck on too. Which is stuck on stupid. The problem is never going to be resolved while one or both sides have conditions that can never be accepted by the other, is it?

To me, it sounds like I am accepting the right of return for both Palestinians and Jews. I don't exactly see how we get from that to Arab exceptionalism. Am I missing something?

You are missing my implication that of all the refugees in the history of man, only Palestinians have an expectation of a "right to return" to the land they were driven out of. You claimed that was a middle-eastern thing? I asked you... since when? There have been a hell of a lot of different groups driven out of the ME over the centuries. Why didn't any of them have a right to return?

The vast majority of the peoples known as Arabs are not ethnic Arabs. That's why they are known as 'Arabized' Arabs - people who adopted Arab culture and the language but are not Arab by blood.

Yes, but it doesn't really matter anymore, does it?

The rest of the Arab peoples are descendants of Jews, Christians, Persians, Egyptian Copts, Berbers, black Africans etc...who accepted Islam and the Arabic language but can't claim blood relations with the Prophet's people.

I just thought of a solution based on this! All the Palestinian refugees can convert to Judaism and be accepted into Israel as Jews, right? Or does that only work for Islam? More sarcasm, sorry! I just can't help but find ways this situation is immutably different from every other situation mankind has ever faced. It almost seems by design, doesn't it? :)

So yes, in that sense, inhabitants of the urban population centers of the Arab world haven't moved around much. They've survived on their land under successive colonial occupations (Greek, Roman, Arab, Turkish, British/French/Italian etc....) - and they take great pride in that.

Nobody has been conquered more than the French, though. Going all the way back to the earliest histories of Europe, Gaul was always occupied by an invader. The Franks themselves were invaders, even. 'France' is named after a German battle ax :D

This is getting long! I'll continue in another comment.

programmer craig said...

OK, now we see why I'm not supposed to comment much on Highlander's blog, eh? lol.

The attitude is that occupiers come and go but we're still here because we belong etc...And they're all fiercely proud of their different and distinct cultures - a fact that both Arab nationalists, Islamists and now you - often ignore.

I try not to ignore it. Most people are at least somewhat proud of their ethnic/cultural heritage, in my experience. I've looked pretty hard on the blogs for Arabs who are associate themselves with something more than Islam and their adopted "Arabness". Haven't had much luck. I've come to the conclusion that the imposed identity is all their is, for most. I could be wrong, and I'd rather not discuss it because I constantly get beat up by Arabs when I do.

Having a common language is not enough to make us into one people. I mean, most North Africans speak French as well as they speak Arabic - sometimes even better - and yet that doesn't make us French!

I agree completely. Most people in the US speak English as their native tongue, but that doesn't make them Anglo-Saxons. It doesn't even make them English.

And yeah they do have very strong community ties to where they live. If you've lived in the same place and had the same neighbors for centuries that does create a tie.

I don't disagree, but that's at least as true in Europe (and many other parts of the world) as in the ME.

I can walk around in Casablanca and run into complete strangers who will ask me if I'm related to a distant relative I myself may not know but they do, because my family has been there for generations and everyone knows we have certain physical features that everyone else recognizes when they look at me. And if I stand around and talk to them I will hear stories about my family.

That would happen to me very fast if I went to the town where my grandparents on my father's side lived as well. I try to avoid going there (it's not far!) because I get embarrassed. My grandfather cast a big shadow and I don't measure up to that standard. I imagine it's the same for most people in the US, LouLou, outside of the big urban areas. Hell, maybe even in the big cities.

I mean, that is something I won't find anywhere else in the world and to me, it is valuable.

Yes, roots are understandably valuable to people who have them. But you still live in UAE. I still avoid stopping in the town where my gramps lived all his life :)

That's why the concept of acquired citizenship and immigration is still very problematic in the Arab world.

That part doesn't really make sense to me. I mean, I accept what you say about Arabs being reluctant to cut their ties with their ancestral homelands. Most people are. But the reasons you give apply to virtually everyone on the planet.

I don't know of an Arab country that grants citizenship by birth or immigration. You are only a citizen if you descend from a local family on your father's side.

It doesn't have to be a local family though, right? A child born to a Moroccan man in the United States could become a Moroccan citizen? If so, that's nationality by ethnicity. As defined by paternal descent. Not really very different than how Israel grants citizenship. Except they use the mother's line :)

In most cases, you can't even get citizenship through the mother.

That's because Islam is considered to be passed on by the father, I assume. Judaism is passed on by the mother. Religious laws rear their ugly head, again.

If you don't have that ancestry, it doesn't matter if you were born there or how long you've lived there, you are still seen as a foreigner.

I understand. It used to be like that in Europe as well.

Hence, I was born in UAE but I am Morrocan. Whereas some of my Algerian relatives who were born in Morocco and have lived there all their lives remain Algerian - not Morrocan citizens - and have no path to acquire Moroccan citizenship. And my mother - who is Algerian - and has been married to my father for decades and has given birth to 5 Morrocan children still doesn't have Morrocan citizenship.

I begin to understand why Palestinian men are in such a hurry to jihad themselves to death. The women can marry Arab guys from other countries and have non-Palestinian babies, but the men are totally screwed. Unless the emigrate to a country that allows naturalization.

That's not exceptional. It is just a different culture from countries where immigration and settlement is the basis for citizenship.

But I humbly submit that it *is* exceptional. The majority of the world's refugees originated in countries with no naturalization process. On what basis are the Palestinians different? I'm trying VERY HARD to understand this. Why is it that Palestinians are the only perpetual refugees? The only ones who can't stop being refugees until they have their "right to return" served up to them?

And I expect it will take a long time to change because most Arab countries are actually overpopulated and so the need for new immigrants - which could drive people to accept immigration as a basis for citizenship - is not currently there.

Most countries are overpopulated. I'd be very surprised if the traditional "destination" countries for immigrants didn't start slamming the doors shut in the next decade or two. I hope people start following China's example. China has actually managed to reduce it's population by 300 million in the last 50 years. Pretty remarkable accomplishment, though they had to implement a draconian birth policy to do it. Mother nature doesn't like populations that get too badly out of balance, though... and the natural order tends to re-exert itself quite cruelly. So, I personally would prefer that we humans figure out a solution on our own :)

LouLou said...

Craig,

'You are missing my implication that of all the refugees in the history of man, only Palestinians have an expectation of a "right to return" to the land they were driven out of. '

The Iran-Iraq war, the two Gulf Wars and Saddam's campaign of persecution and ethnic cleansing against Shia and Kurds and Marsh Arabs produced a total of 4 million Iraqi refugees over the last 20 years or so. Today, success and progress in Iraq are measured by the number of Iraqi refugees who can be persuaded to return home. I've never heard anyone dispute their right to return. Infact everyone is trying to create conditions that would make it possible for them to return.

Same situation exists in Afghanistan - with the millions of Afghan refugees who fled either the warring Mujahideen or the Taliban or the Russians - some of whom have been refugees for decades. And again, stability in Afghanistan is measured - among other things - by how many of them can be persuaded to return.

Your country - among others - went to war with Serbia over the expulsion of Kosovars and a primary objective of that war was that the Kosovar refugees should be allowed to return home. And most of them did.

The international community - quite rightly - continues to pressure the Sudanese government to allow the return of Darfurian refugees to the homes and villages they were ethnically cleansed out of.

And again, the state of Israel considers all Jews 'refugees' who are allowed to return. And Jews do have a historical connection to Palestine that they don't have to Montana. And the Law of Return explicitly refers to Israel as the 'ancestral homeland' in all the translations I've read so far.

So I fail to see the basis for the contention that Palestinians are the only refugees who want to return.

Civilians evacuate war zones and most of them return home after the end of hostilites.

It is also a fact that the Geneva convention calls on occupying countries to protect the human rights and property of civilians in occupied territories and actively bars said occupation powers from trying to modify the demographics by importing their own citizenry into the occupied territories.

So if the US were to try and evict sizeable portions of Afghan or Iraqi civilians and import Americans to take their place and acquire their property, you would be in violation of the Geneva conventions and you would leave yourself open to charges of ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.

That is the norm. Anything else is an exception.

Now you can argue that Palestinians are such an exception and have to compromise on this right because of certain special circumstances pertaining to Israel's security and that's fine. If I were talking to a Palestinian I might make that argument myself.

But what I would not do is to argue that Palestinians invented the concept of wanting to go back to a home you had to leave for security reasons and be reunited with your family and friends and neighbors. And if I did make such an argument, I wouldn't blame the person I was talking to for not paying any attention to me!

The moral right belongs to the Palestinians just like it would to any other population in their circumstances. Now reality in world politics is that people sometimes have to compromise on their moral rights for pragmatic reasons. But that is different from saying moral rights simply don't exist.

As for returning to a Palestinian state, that might be acceptable if Israel grants the Palestinians a viable state - not several disjointed Bantustans that would struggle to support their own population let alone take in refugees. So far the entire peace process has been about giving the Palestinians 22% of historical Palestine where passage from one village to the next requires crossing Israeli territory.

I also think it would be unjust to ask such a Palestinian state to bear the economic burden of naturalizing 5 million people without any assistance from the country that was responsible for making them refugees in the first place and for the fact that they were deprived of their privately owned real estate. Just compensation would - in addition to recognizing the historical injustice perptrated against the Palestinians - enable those people to begin new lives in Palestine or elsewhere.

'I don't want to derail this discussion with semantics, but that is just a policy for granting citizenship in the State of Israel. Most Arab countries also grant citizenship indirectly in the same way (but via the father) don't they?'

Yes, that's actually what I said. I'm not interested in whether it is right or wrong for Israel to have that policy. The fact is, that's reality and we all have to live with it.

What I am saying is that it is not very consistent to condemn the Palestinians for asking for something that is infact a prevailing law in Israel as well as in every other country in the region.

LouLou said...

Craig,

' asked you... since when? There have been a hell of a lot of different groups driven out of the ME over the centuries. Why didn't any of them have a right to return?
'

Name one other instance in the ME where an entire population was evicted to neighboring countries to be replaced by a different ethnicity and the native population just accepted it.

I'll bet if you show me such an instance from 5000 years ago in this region, I'll show you an on-going conflict!

'I could be wrong, and I'd rather not discuss it because I constantly get beat up by Arabs when I do.'

Yes I have noticed. It is unfortunate that most Arab bloggers are ideologues and ideologues don't usually have a good relationship with reality. The peoples of this region have consistently shown they have more allegiance to their local communities/tribes/sects than they do to any grand, supposedly 'unifying', nationalist or pan-nationalist ideology, be it Arabism or Islam. If that were not true, our past and present would not be plagued with so many sectarian divisions and conflicts.

It reminds me of a speech by Al Zawahri soon after Sept.11 in which he was saying something to the effect that Al Qaeda carried out Sept.11 to energize and mobilize 'the ummah' to join their jihad and how disappointed he was that 'the ummah' failed to respond and support the Mujahideen. He was clearly expecting some kind of mass universal Islamic suicide-bombing spree. It didn't happen because reality is 'the ummah' is not and has never been an ideological/cultural/political monolith capable of a single, unified response in the manner he dreams about. We are not - and have never been - one people. We're many peoples with diverse cultures and beliefs and often conflicting interests.

And our biggest challenge today is learning to live with each other peacefully and reconcile said conflicting interests.

But neither Arab nationalists, nor Islamists will acknowledge that because that's reality as it is - not as they think it should be.
Instead, when this tide of Islamism has receded in the same manner that Arabism receded in the 70's, we will be left with a few Islamist intellectuals and writers here and there lamenting the failure of their grand scheme and attributing it to external conspiracies and 'perceived betrayal' by millions of people whose loyalty was never actually pledged to said scheme.

'A child born to a Moroccan man in the United States could become a Moroccan citizen? '

Yes, as is evidenced by the fact that I am a Morrocan citizen when I was born in UAE. :)

And yes, that is the same as Israel's attitude to citizenship. As I keep saying, that IS very Middle Eastern.

'The only ones who can't stop being refugees until they have their "right to return" served up to them?'

Who says they can't stop being refugees? Those of them who managed to get out have and have built lives for themselves elsewhere. I doubt the vast majority of Palestinian refugees would actually want to return to live in Palestine. But yeah, they do want some sort of justice. And they want not to have to keep watching the relatives they left behind dispossessed in the same manner they were.

Most of my Palestinian friends who are Canadians or Americans don't wish to return anymore than I wish to return to Casa or you wish to shop in your grandfather's town. They have lives elsewhere. But they still have an interest in their roots and in what happens to their culture and to those of their people who are left behind. Is that so hard to understand?

LouLou said...

Craig,

'That part doesn't really make sense to me. I mean, I accept what you say about Arabs being reluctant to cut their ties with their ancestral homelands. Most people are. But the reasons you give apply to virtually everyone on the planet.'

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be obscure or to suggest that other people have no culture or no ties.

What I meant was that in this part of the world, you belong - not to the place where you were born or may have settled - but to the home of your fathers.

Most of my European friends and colleagues here are outraged by the fact that I was born in UAE and have lived here all my life and yet have no path to UAE citizenship.

And yet this doesn't bother me or my family at all. We accept that this country belongs to the Emaratis whose ancestors lived here since before there was oil and we came and so they are citizens and we're not.

My ancestors are Morrocan and so I'm Moroccan. I don't feel UAE owes me anything other than a good life while I am working here and decent pay for my work.

Why do I and my family accept this? Because we come from a culture where this is acceptable. In our home countries, the same system prevails.

Why can't my Western friends accept it? Because they come from countries where if you're born there or if you've lived and worked there a certain number of years, you're ENTITLED to citizenship. Whereas, in the ME - including Israel - citizenship has nothing to do with anything other than your bloodline.

So that is the culture clash I was trying to point out.

Added to which, there is the question of privately-owned real-estate. I'm not sure how it is in the US, but in the ME, parents have a duty to leave their children some kind of real estate as an inheritance, if at all possible. You're not considered a good parent if you leave your children without some sort of home, even if it is just a plot of land with a tent on it. And children have a duty to protect this inheritance - and increase it if possible - for the next generation.

Hence for a Palestinian living in a refugee camp within the occupied territories or on the border with Israel - often within a few miles of his privately-owned home or farm while his own children are refugees and he cannot give them what he would consider it a father's duty to give his children and what HIS father might have given him - that's a grievance all on its own. This same Palestinian may not care, if he was still in his home, what nationality the government was. He may not care if he is living in his home under Turkish or British rule or even Israeli rule - as is evidenced by the fact that Israel faces much less grief from Israeli Arabs than other Palestinians. The issue of soverignty is of much, much less significance to people here than the simple mindset of this belonged to my father and so it belongs to me and my children after me.

And this is what makes Israelis very different from previous colonial occupiers. Even Israeli Arabs have suffered to some extent from land expropriation. Israeli policies have every single Palestinian in the world either living as a dispossesed refugee outside Palestine or liable to become one any second inside Palestine. Israel's addiction to private Palestinian real estate at the moment unites ALL Palestinians in that.

And this is some thing all Arabs and Kurds and Iranians etc...can easily sympathize with the Palestinians on. It is fundamentally explosive in this region and will continue to generate unprecendented levels of hatred against Israel.

You know, my own family never got much into the military fight against French colonialism. With very few exceptions here and there, on both sides, we were teachers and writers and preachers who may have preached or written about freedom from French rule and yes faced persecution and even martyrdom in some cases for that sort of activity. But we never got into open war with the French. We're just not military people that way. And I guess we were too Sufi to be that moved by a fight for a flag and a national anthem. Like most people in the ME, we cared more about the preservation of our way of life and our property than we did about national self-determination.

But ALL my relatives agree on one thing when we talk about the Palestinians: If the French had EVER tried to touch our homes or our land or to uproot us, disperse us from our neighborhoods THAT would have been the time to take up arms and fight to the death for as many generations as it would take. Then the fight with the French would have become personal -as opposed to national or ideological. And even my traditionally pacifist, Sufi, intellecutal family wouldn't have remained pacifist very long under those conditions.

However, as things stood, we lived under French colonialism for over 100 years ending one generation ago. And yet today, we have no particular hatred of French people. Infact, like most North Africans, we're Francophones. We admire and emulate many aspects of French culture.

French colonialism is over. And most French people now recognize that they were wrong to occupy us and that they did lots of horrible things to us in the process of occupying us. And that is more than enough for us - especially my generation - as we have no memory of having lived under French occupation anyway.

And so besides an end to settlement, I see compensation for private property as an important factor in defusing what I see as the most toxic aspect of the conflict. In our culture, there is a HUGE difference between being forcibly deprived of your property and allowing that to stand - which is a disgrace on you and your descendants - and willingly selling or renting that property to maybe move into a better part of town or because you need the money - which is a business transaction.

Just compensation for Palestinian home and landowners would say two things: we recognize you are the rightful owner of this property AND your descendants are no longer dispossessed.

In my humble opinion, that would be a much, much bigger step forward than anything I've seen so far in the peace process.

programmer craig said...

Hi LouLou, Not much time to comment right now so I'll try to keep it short this time. Also I don't disagree with you on much anyway :)

So I fail to see the basis for the contention that Palestinians are the only refugees who want to return.

I don't think most of your examples were relevant, though! A more appropriate case would be ethnic Germans who were forcibly expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II. Where are the descendants of German Czech's, demanding the return of their land and property from 60 years ago? There may be such a group, but I've never heard of them. As far as I know, they settled in Germany and started new lives for themselves.

Civilians evacuate war zones and most of them return home after the end of hostilites.

That's true. There has never been an "end of hostilities" in the Arab-Israeli conflict, though.

The moral right belongs to the Palestinians just like it would to any other population in their circumstances.

I don't really agree with you on that one. I think Palestinians lost whatever moral authority they had as refugees when they continued to wage war (especially using terrorism) against the Israelis. Don't the Israelis have any moral standing in not wanting to accept a population amongst them that has made it quite clear that it is willing to mass murder them at every opportunity? It would be immoral, in my opinion, to try to force upon Israel a Palestinian majority within their state, at this point in time.

Now reality in world politics is that people sometimes have to compromise on their moral rights for pragmatic reasons. But that is different from saying moral rights simply don't exist.

But the problem is, Palestinians (and Arabs in general) have never used moral means to try to get what they want. And I think it's far too late to start talking about morality now. 1950 would have been about right :)

I'll be back to comment on the rest later!

programmer craig said...

So if the US were to try and evict sizeable portions of Afghan or Iraqi civilians and import Americans to take their place and acquire their property, you would be in violation of the Geneva conventions and you would leave yourself open to charges of ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.

I forgot to comment on this part, and I suppose I should. The US would never try that in Afghanistan, or in any other distant land. But the US has taken over other people's land demographically before. Most of the southwestern United States belonged to Spain/Mexico in the past. Most of it (like Texas) became defacto parts of the United States long before they were officially accepted as part of the union, by virtue of the fact that there were far more Americans living there than Mexicans/Spaniards. Going to war with Mexico and claiming them as our own just made it official. I'm not sure what the Geneva conventions would have to say about such a situation. The Geneva conventions also recognize the legitimate aspirations for autonomy of a local majority.

I think in the case of Israel/Palestine, both parties had legitimate claims for wanting their own states. The problem came about when they refused to divide the land peacefully and fairly. Arabs decided they should have it all, and when they failed to drive the Jews out, then the Jews decided they should take as much as they wanted. Neither side was morally right, in that one. Though I personally believe the Jews were "more" right. But that is undoubtedly a matter of perspective.

As for returning to a Palestinian state, that might be acceptable if Israel grants the Palestinians a viable state - not several disjointed Bantustans that would struggle to support their own population let alone take in refugees.

I agree. And that's why I don't have much faith in a two-state solution. And I don't have much faith in a one-state solution, either. But it might be easier to resolve if Palestinians put something on the table that they found acceptable, and that Israelis might also find acceptable. I believe the Israelis would be willing to abandon all of their settlements, if they thought it would result in lasting peace.

So far the entire peace process has been about giving the Palestinians 22% of historical Palestine where passage from one village to the next requires crossing Israeli territory.

OK... I won't ask you what time period you are referring to, when you talk about "historic" Palestine... but I agree with you that there isn't much point to a Palestinian State that isn't viable. On the other hand, two non-viable states have just been created in Russia, and the locals seem pretty well pleased with that outcome. So...

Just compensation would - in addition to recognizing the historical injustice perptrated against the Palestinians - enable those people to begin new lives in Palestine or elsewhere.

I agree with you completely on that one.

What I am saying is that it is not very consistent to condemn the Palestinians for asking for something that is infact a prevailing law in Israel as well as in every other country in the region.

OK... but the difference is that Palestinians are asking for a "right to return" to a Jewish State, not to a Palestinian State. You don't see a difference? If the "right to return" was restricted to returning to a Palestinian state, I doubt anyone would have a problem with it. But as it stands, it seems like (to most people) an attempt to defeat Israel via demographic warfare. And the Israelis will never accept it. They just won't.

Name one other instance in the ME where an entire population was evicted to neighboring countries to be replaced by a different ethnicity and the native population just accepted it.

Seems to me Saddam made a pretty good attempt to do that with Kurds in Iraq. If the US hadn't stopped him, he may have succeeded. Also, Saddam forcibly expelled ethnic Iranians from Iraq in the 1970s. I'm sure I could come up with more examples if I started looking hard enough. In both of those cases, the numbers of people expelled were greater than the number of Palestinians expelled from Israel/Palestine in 1948.

I'll bet if you show me such an instance from 5000 years ago in this region, I'll show you an on-going conflict!

I wasn't going to talk about ancient history :)

...We are not - and have never been - one people. We're many peoples with diverse cultures and beliefs and often conflicting interests...

Maybe it shouldn't, but it makes me happy to see you say that :)

It doesn't seem that way, to outsiders, I think.

And yes, that is the same as Israel's attitude to citizenship. As I keep saying, that IS very Middle Eastern.

I think it is very "human". Going back to the earliest concept of a state... states began as tribal confederations that became highly organized and settled. States were the result when barbarian tribes became civilized. But they kept their ethnocentric viewpoints, and for the most part their state consisted of their tribal holdings. The concept of immigration and naturalization is only a couple of centuries old. And it only exists in small number of countries. There aren't many countries I could immigrate to and become a citizen, even here in the Americas.

continuing again...

LouLou said...

Craig,


'I don't think most of your examples were relevant, though!'

Why is your example more relevant than all the examples I listed? The fact is, the norm is for civilians to evacuate war zones and to return unless there are pressing reasons to make an exception.

Also you speak as if all refugees -Palestinians included - instantly have doors thrown open infront of them so they can 'start new lives elsewhere'.

How many countries in the world are ready to accept millions of dispossessed, penniless people who are not their citizens or their problem? Do you have evidence to the fact that any signifcant number of Palestinians were infact offered such a chance and have refused? Do you think Israel is the only country in the world that has demographic concerns?

What are the countries you are suggesting should step up and take on this responsibility? And on what grounds do you propose to persuade them to bear this economic and demographic and political burden?

'I think Palestinians lost whatever moral authority they had as refugees when they continued to wage war (especially using terrorism) against the Israelis.'

I obviously don't agree with terrorism. And ok, I'll play along and ignore the terrorism practiced by Jewish militant groups prior to and during the 1948 War. I will pretend that over the last 60 years, Palestinians have never sufffered mass murder or terrorism at the hands of Zionist paramilitary groups, the Israeli army or the settlers. I will pretend there is no blood on Israel's hands.

And so your position is that regardless of the method, Palestinians had no right to fight for their homeland? Fair enough.

But even if I accept that, you are infact talking about a tiny minority of Palestinian refugees. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees have never waged war against anyone. That's why they're called civilians, not paramilitaries. And so your basis for depriving them or their moral rights is tenuous at best.

But moving beyond such theoretical, moral debates, let's be pragmatic here. Do you expect a resolution to the conflict to be based on the premise that all the moral right exist on one side of the conflict while all the blame exists on the other? Is this something you would expect any significant number of Palestinians to accept? Do you know of many conflicts that were resolved by one side wholly accepting the other side's pov in that manner?

'That's true. There has never been an "end of hostilities" in the Arab-Israeli conflict, though.'

I disagree with that. There is no Arab-Israeli conflict. There is a Palestinian-Israeli conflict and an Iranian-Israeli conflict which is being fought by proxy through Syria and Lebanon. The latter conflict is occasionally complicated by Lebanon's internal conflicts but it is certainly not an Arab-Israeli conflict.

I always think that term is hysterical and plays into the hands of extremists on the region who want to argue that this one conflict is the only thing going on in the region.

Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan which have held for a long time and would certainly benefit from an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

What Arab-Israeli conflict? As far as I know, most Arab countries are not and have never been at war with Israel. Many of them - including mine - actually have secret diplomatic, cultural, tourism and trade relations with Israel - which would probably expand and stop having to be so secret if the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were to be resolved.

'Hi LouLou, Not much time to comment right now so I'll try to keep it short this time. '

Yes, it is a complicated issue that you can't address very well with one-liners, can you? I am sure many, many books will be written about it for many years to come.

But it has been an interesting discussion. I don't often get the chance to argue with an Arab nationalist and a supporter of Israel in the same breath.:)

programmer craig said...

And they want not to have to keep watching the relatives they left behind dispossessed in the same manner they were.

I'm not sure what to say to that. The population of Palestinians is booming. There are something like 10 times more Palestinians now than there were in 1948, right? And at the same time, I see Palestinians on blogs claiming the Israelis are perpetrating a genocide on Palestinians? If the Israeli population grew at the same rate, how many Israelis would there be in Israel, right now? 30 million? More?

The Israelis must be the most incompetent genociders ever.

And then when Palestinians complain about about war crimes, massacres and atrocities by Israelis... I check the history books and the stats, and I find that something like 28,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in 60 years of war. That is what... 500 a year, average?

The Israelis must also be the most incompetent massacre-ers ever, too.

It is hard for an outsider to take claims by Palestinian activists at face value. At least, it is hard for me.

But they still have an interest in their roots and in what happens to their culture and to those of their people who are left behind. Is that so hard to understand?

When I was a kid I knew a few Irish who felt the same way about Ireland. But most didn't. And those that did, certainly didn't expect any moral support from me. Maybe because my ancestors were English :)

But I don't recall them trying to enlist the aid of the black kids... or the puerto rican kids... either. I think it is pretty unusual for people to try to turn a struggle for national independence into an international one.

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be obscure or to suggest that other people have no culture or no ties.

It's OK. Here in the US we encourage immigrants to embrace American culture and forget about where they came from. But most people don't. Even families that have been here for many generations still identify with their homeland.

Most of my European friends and colleagues here are outraged by the fact that I was born in UAE and have lived here all my life and yet have no path to UAE citizenship.

Europeans are funny that way! It almost seems as if they have been encouraging immigration and naturalization in Europe forever, doesn't it? Rather than the opposite, which was the reality before World War II.

Why can't my Western friends accept it? Because they come from countries where if you're born there or if you've lived and worked there a certain number of years, you're ENTITLED to citizenship.

Yes, well... they like to forget their own history, don't they? The US is the only country on the planet which had such a policy 100 years ago. They copied us on that. Like they copied us on human rights. And then they accuse us of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, human rights violations, etc... it's almost as if the unpleasantness in the balkans recently happened on some other continent. And that other unpleasantness involving nazis. And the other unpleasantness involving communists. Nothing to do with the high-minded euros! Nothing whatsoever! No moral failures on their part, there!

But that is a rant for another day.

Added to which, there is the question of privately-owned real-estate. I'm not sure how it is in the US, but in the ME, parents have a duty to leave their children some kind of real estate as an inheritance, if at all possible. You're not considered a good parent if you leave your children without some sort of home, even if it is just a plot of land with a tent on it.

I think inheritance is quite important in Europe. In the US, not so much. I'm not really sure why.

And this is what makes Israelis very different from previous colonial occupiers.

Yes. But not much different from the tribal migrations of old. Not much different from the Arabs, for that matter, when they invaded Palestine ~1400 years ago.

And this is some thing all Arabs and Kurds and Iranians etc...can easily sympathize with the Palestinians on.

So how about when the Iranians decide to invade Iraq to get back all the private property Saddam's regime seized from Persian Iraqis? Or when the Kurds decide to take back most of Northern Iraq, after Saddam instituted his policies of forcibly removing Kurdish families and replacing them with Sunni Arab families, especially in oil rich areas? Will Arabs sympathize with Kurds and Iranians, then? Or how about when Jews decide to get back all their land that was taken from them in Arab countries in the middle east? Or when Arab Christians decide to do the same? Will Arabs sympathize with them in their fight?

And when does it end?

But ALL my relatives agree on one thing when we talk about the Palestinians: If the French had EVER tried to touch our homes or our land or to uproot us, disperse us from our neighborhoods THAT would have been the time to take up arms and fight to the death for as many generations as it would take.

Well, I don't think your example is appropriate, since the French never settled in Morocco in large numbers. In other words, the French never made up a sizeable portion of Moroccan demographics, right?

But even so... turn your example around. Wasn't it Arabs and Palestinians who "tried to touch our homes or our land or to uproot us, disperse us from our neighborhoods" to the Jews of Palestine, first? If so, then isn't it Israelis Jews who should go by these words? : "THAT would have been the time to take up arms and fight to the death for as many generations as it would take."

And isn't that exactly what they have done?

Infact, like most North Africans, we're Francophones. We admire and emulate many aspects of French culture.

Nomad will be happy to hear that, if she's around :)

Just compensation for Palestinian home and landowners would say two things: we recognize you are the rightful owner of this property AND your descendants are no longer dispossessed.

I agree. I suspect even the Israelis would agree.

In my humble opinion, that would be a much, much bigger step forward than anything I've seen so far in the peace process.

Yes, but have you read the charter of HAMAS? Here is one part:

Part III - Strategies and Methods

Article Eleven: The Strategy of Hamas: Palestine is an Islamic Waqf
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. This [norm] has prevailed since the commanders of the Muslim armies completed the conquest of Syria and Iraq, and they asked the Caliph of Muslims, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, for his view of the conquered land, whether it should be partitioned between the troops or left in the possession of its population, or otherwise. Following discussions and consultations between the Caliph of Islam, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, be peace and prayer upon him, they decided that the land should remain in the hands of its owners to benefit from it and from its wealth; but the control of the land and the land itself ought to be endowed as a Waqf [in perpetuity] for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. The ownership of the land by its owners is only one of usufruct, and this Waqf will endure as long as Heaven and earth last. Any demarche in violation of this law of Islam, with regard to Palestine, is baseless and reflects on its perpetrators.


HAMAS will accept no compensation from Israel. Nor will HAMAS allow Israel to continue to exist at all, in Palestine. How would you suggest the Israelis negotiate with HAMAS?

Maya M said...

"In our culture, there is a HUGE difference between being forcibly deprived of your property and allowing that to stand - which is a disgrace on you and your descendants - and willingly selling or renting that property to maybe move into a better part of town or because you need the money - which is a business transaction."
This may be true in other circumstances, but I don't think it will work in the case of Palestinians. As far as I know, Palestinians who voluntarily sell their real estate to Jews are regarded by other Palestinians as traitors and in some cases even killed.

Maya M said...

"There are more than 350 million Arabs in the world. If your premise that we all don't care for our lives or the lives of our loved ones were true, you'd be dealing with 350 million suicide bombers, not just a few thousand.
Frankly, I find that insinuation deeply offensive."
To begin from the end - what I write is often found offensive, but if I have no intention to offend and try to mind my language, I write it anyway, because I don't see how else we could have a discussion.
When I was writing about the "dominant mentality", I didn't really mean that all Arabs, or even a third or a quarter of them, "don't care for their lives or the lives of their loved ones".
They do - but my impression is that this care is made, in a sense, illegal.
Let me give for example a remarkable post by Anglo-Libyan:
http://www.anglo-libyan.com/2007/06/angry-sheikh.html
Briefly, a US black Muslim comes to Britain to teach the local Muslims, many of them originally from Islam's homelands, how to be true Muslims. (This amusingly fits the stereotype of Americans arrogantly teaching other people how to live.) He says that "ALL young Arab men go out and play football while ALL older Arab men have big stomachs and do nothing but sit at home watching Al-Jazeera TV". In other words, he scorns Arab men for living their ordinary human lives instead of laying them down for what he says they should. What seems to me most interesting is Anglo's reaction. He doesn't try to defend the plain human life with its football, dishes and TV but instead points at those Arabs who do lay down their lives.
Also, I am sure that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians don't want any of their children to become a suicide bomber. But when they see the video of Um Nidal sending to death her minor son, do they say, "What a bitch, someone must take her surviving children away from her and place them in foster care"? No, they praise her as a heroine and elect her in Parliament.
Muslim militants are a minority, but a minority can achieve tremendous things when supported by the majority. Especially when the minority is like the one we are talking about.
You say, rightly, that there are only a few thousand of suicide bombers. However, my interest in them is understandable, because only a few dozens of them are literally able to change the world - and have already done it. They are more powerful than any conventional weapon known to me. And in many cases, you don't even need a person ready to die, just one who cannot be detered by the punishments imposed by law. Like the man who killed Theo van Gogh. It is people like this man who killed freedom of speech in Europe.
I am very interested in the factors creating suicide bombers and other self-sacrificing people in Muslim societies - mainly, of course, because I wish the disappearance of these factors very much. As far as I know, no culture of European origin has ever produced a significant number of such people. Among other cultures, I know only of the Japanese kamikaze.

NOMAD said...

Nobody has been conquered more than the French, though. Going all the way back to the earliest histories of Europe, Gaul was always occupied by an invader. The Franks themselves were invaders, even. 'France' is named after a German battle ax :D


LMAO

uh, what about the kingdom we yet call UK ?

they spoke french once (ok the noble class)

Highlander said...

I think it is time to wrap up :) so I'm aiming to be brief here.

The original post was about the US elections and how things have not really changed ...i.e. the exaggeratedly obvious support for Israel that goes beyond what seems normal ( even though I understand that there maybe state/personal/business/strategic interests that require this support). By extension this means like Maya said that there are implications to the Middle East and North Africa regions that follow from this support. These implications are many, varied and have multiple results all not necessarily good for our region. It does not mean we should wait for outside intervention to improve our lot but it does mean that this support is by definition a negative outside intervention which we could do without.



I want to specifically thank you Loulou, you have said all I wanted to say but without the stuffy nationalist Arab terminology that I would have used. You breathed a 21st Century debate style into a most thorny issue and though we have strayed from the post topic the link you were looking for is in those 56 comments and you and the rest of the commenters have all touched and felt it.

I want to thank you all (Chris, Loulou, Lost Libyano , Craig Curt and Nomad) for the interesting discussion generated, you have managed to prove my point precisely in relation to the US elections namely that:


(1) The Palestinian Israeli issue remains vital.
(2) The US support to Israel does exacerbate this issue whether we want to admit it or not regardless of whether this was America's intention or not.

Thanks and I hope other topics will be just as lively and civil.

Highlander