Left, Right, and Dershowitz: Why the Left's inclination toward the Palestinians?

The problem with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is that neither side is right, so whichever side you’re on makes you wrong too. Both sides are full of violent zealots that make the moderates on both sides ineffective and unnoticeable, and it really makes supporting one side over the other dumb, in my opinion. Everyone should be supporting the moderates on both sides who are willing to negotiate without falling back to violence instead of just supporting Israel or Palestine while denouncing the side you don’t support.

A pie-in-the-sky fantasy? Yes, I guess it is, but it should be obvious to most people that nothing is going to get resolved while the extremists on both sides have so much press and influence.

There is no point in pretending that Arafat and the Palistinian hierarchy is not corrupt.

And therein lies part of the problem - the Palistinians have no credible leadership, and the signs are that they will be unable to develop any.

I have long been puzzled at the “free pass” that the Palistinians and Arab countries in general get from Western Leftists. Wheras there exists a considerable body of self-critical Israelis and Israeli supporters, who agonize openly and publically about the faults, failures and problems of Israel - example, the settlement land-grab (much of which is picked up by the left and used as ammunition for their one-sided attacks), there is no comparable soul-searching on the other side - Israel is just plain wrong, period, and no faults of “their side” can ever be admitted. If there are problems, they are blamed on the malevolence of Israelis.

As an example, just read above - never will someone on the far Left of this debate admit that Arafat is, in essence, a corrupt gang leader who has misappropriated millions of funds. No, that money must have been spent on things destroyed by Israel.

Other issues are met with either denial or silence - like the PA’s treatment of homosexuals. If the PA kills gays, it must be because they were “collaborators” with Israel - Israel once again is to blame …

Similarly with double-standards that apply to other countries in the region. When Israel invaded Lebanon, ostensibly to drive attackers away from its borders, the Left was up in arms about it - but, no-one seems to have even noticed that Syria currently owns Lebanon as a colonial fief, or care.

And of course the far Left overlooks, ignores, tolerates or explains as the fault of Israel the exact opposite “refugee problem” - the one about Shephardic Jews (who were forced to leave various middle eastern countries in numbers almost exactly comparable to Palistinians displaced by Israel).

Not to mention, overlooking, ignoring etc. the intense anti-semitism that prevades much of the Islamic world - witness the recent speech by the Maylasian PM. Greeted with a defening silence by the far left.

Why all of this double standards and double-think?

In my opinion, it is because the Arab-Israeli affair has become emblematic and symbolic. The “story” is about Israel, colonial cat’s paw of America, oppressing Arabs - period. Any complexities which may serve to muddy this clear and compelling account must be ignored, or explained, or really be the fault of Israel and America.

Plus, the “blame everyone but yourself” school of thought seems to be common to both the middle east and the far Left - witness Mr. Said’s work on “Orientalism”; witness the widespread habit of blaming internal problems within the Arab world on Israel. This form of thinking seems very attractive to those on the Left, in other contexts - for example, blaming most problems either at home or abroad on the lingering effects of racism and colonialism.

In addition, unlike many other pressing problems, those affecting Israelis are happening to people sufficiently like Americans and Europeans to be caught by the same double-standards that those on the Left apply to themselves; and yet sufficiently unlike Americans and Europeans to generate no instinctive sympathy for their plight (I very much doubt if, say, American Leftists would be quite so blase about blowing up women and children if it happened in New York - and, in fact, most were not).

In addition, the Palistinians, as “the other”, can be rendered icons - the Left has well absorbed the notion of “lesser breeds outside the law”, though the more modern way to put it is “you can’t expect as much from those people”.

Of course, if you don’t judge a person by the same standards, you are admitting that he or she is not your equal.

The above is what as known as a **strawman[./b], you have created your own image of ‘the left’ and then attack that whilst skirting the wider issues.

Whose pretending that ther doesn’t exist corruption in the PA (and with Arafat), i’ve expressly stated this point several times, howbver what I disagree with is over-exaggeration for grubby poltical points, I don’t think that you actually give a flying fuck about corruption in the PA. But corruption does not = no credible leadership, Arafat still enjoys majority support with the Palestinians (though that has waned recently). Charges of corruption have been brought against Sharon (and Netanhayu) yet you don’t seem to think that delegitmizes him. And again whose ignoring the attacks on homosexuals? it is however completely irrelvant to the wider issues.

You say that there is no-body of self-crticism yet there is no general support for Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but you must rmeber that these groups only appeared after decades of occupation to ignore this is just plain stupid.

Also you cannot seriously say that Jewish refugees from Arab countries retroactively justifies Israel’s ethnic cleansing in 1948 and it is also dishonest to claim that there are comparable numbers as many left simply becasue they wanted to live in israel, though that is not to deny that there were explusions and a prevailing hostile atmosphere that cause many to flee.

Arafat may be corrupt or not, but that is not the real problem in the ME. If the real problems are solved, then Araft will be ousted by his own people. For now he remains a symbol because the Palestinians need one.

This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Because the conflict has become so emblematic, so personal, those on the Left seem to actually not hear criticism as such - all they hear is personal attacks where none was meant, and a continued carrying on of the debate - which is more deserving, Palistine or Israel?

Everything is filtered through a lens of justification.

The point is not whether I personally support Israel, **MC Master of Ceremonies **, or whether you do not; nor are the “wider issues” (by which I understand from context, which side is morally superior or justified) at all relevant to the issue of why the Left does what it does. What is relevant is why it ignores much, and overlooks much, in so doing.

In addition, these are general comments on a trend and not aimed at you personally.

If you like, I could equally well provide my analysis of why the Right supports Israel and overlooks Israeli actions. Would that put me on the right side, in your camp?

In short, while I have no doubt it was not your intention, you have inadvertantly demonstrated that my thesis has some merit.

No, I do not think the wider issues are moral superiorty, they are, the occuptaion, terrorism and dispossesion.

No, I do not hear a personal attack , i was poitning out that your examples are wildly inaccurate, I do not even I identify myself with ‘the left’.

Your posts do not show what ‘the left’ is thnking they show what you are thinking and the fact that you like to tell other people what they think.

This is hard to get your head around, but - suicide and terrorists and resistance acts apart - just because Palestinians don’t believe Israel should exist doesn’t mean that they should be denied statehood for that viewpoint.

Yeah, it does. Look, from a de facto standpoint, Israel owns the West Bank and Gaza. Whether it should own them is debatable…whether their presence and actions violate international law is debatable…but what’s not debatable is that right now, more than any other country does, Israel exercizes control over that land. If the Palestinians get an independent state at this point, barring some sort of big war, it’s going to be from Israel.

So with that in mind, why should Israel give independence to people who live right next door to Israel and want to destroy it? In all honesty, how can anybody consider that a smart idea?

Yeah, it does. Look, from a de facto standpoint, Israel owns the West Bank and Gaza. Whether it should own them is debatable…whether their presence and actions violate international law is debatable…but what’s not debatable is that right now, more than any other country does, Israel exercizes control over that land. If the Palestinians get an independent state at this point, barring some sort of big war, it’s going to be from Israel.

So with that in mind, why should Israel give independence to people who live right next door to Israel and want to destroy it? In all honesty, how can anybody consider that a smart idea?

Yes, Wahabism is bad news, but that’s not what the book (or my post) is about.
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You have missed the whole point of my post. The term “nationalism” was never used, unlike the term “civil rights.” Is anyone- even on the Left- really ignoring Hamas or al-Aqsa terrorism? Even the “liberal” media (excepting 1 or 2 extreme left-wing pub.s) dwell at great length on Wahabism/radical Islam, but universally ignores ultra-Orthodox denunciation of “Canaanites” who must be driven from Israel.
Both sides have done very bad things. But you’ve created a false dichotomy where you’re either pro-Israel/anti-Palestine or vice versa. Still don’t get it? Here, I’ll raise the intellectual tenor of the debate by yelling: TERRORISM BY A MINORITY OF PALESTINIANS DOES NOT CANCEL OUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF the ENTIRE POPULATION.

I see ** istara** just made the same point in a much more pithy way.
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The “rich Yassir” argument is true, but a red herring. Yassir never did anything for them? I’m tempted to agree, but then who negotiated “several” wonderful offers of statehood? You refute yourself.
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The “Myth of the Generous Offer” will not die. Those crazy Palestinians! We tried to get along with them, but they’d rather get vengence than feed their children and live in peace… This whole argument is really vile, & ittle more than straight-up dehumanization of Palestinians.

** Iacob** here’s one site outlining how Palestinians have no rights as refugees. They are citizens of no county, have no UN protection, and can’t bring charges against anyone in the international courts. Good times ensue.

For your first point, your “wider issues” are no more relevant to the points I was making that “moral superiority”. Terrorism, occupation and dispossession are all, no doubt, very important, but they are not the subject of the debate - which is why those on “the Left” argue as they do. Get it now?

As for your second point - Oh really? Why don’t we take a look at your points and see if they in fact address, much less refute, mine?

You make essentially three general points in your response. This is what I understood them to be (leaving out the swearing and hyperbole). Please tell me if my account is accurate or misleading:

  1. You personally have pointed out Arafat is corrupt. I probably don’t really care about corruption. Corruption is not the same as no credible leadership. Israeli leadership is also accused of corruption.

  2. It is foolish to ignore that Hamas et al. have little general support.

  3. The Jewish refugee situation doesn’t justify Israeli actions.

Now, in the interest of furthering my education, perhaps you could tell me what any of that has to do with my thesis?

As for the last point - I already said I could perform the same exercise analysing the right. Would that show what I was thinking? Would that transform me into your camp?

Or is it that, when you see criticism, you just slap the label “enemy thought!” on it - and, as I said before, simply not hear it?

You say I like to tell people what they think - allow me instead to suggest that you think about it.

** Huh? are you seriously saying Palestinians are not “oppressed?” Or do you just find the idea of oppression funny? Feel free to introduce facts or rational arguments at any time.

Those NPR bastards are trying not to turn into TASS/Pravda? Quick, Robin, to the Conservative HypocritMobile!
**
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Now tell me** Bleeding Hearts**, when was the last time that a Jew put on womens clothing and went to a Palestinian marketplace and blew up innocent men, women, and children?

Hmmm? **
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Wow, you’ve done yerself proud with this post. I know you think this is some kind of rhetorical poser, but the Zionist movement actually conducted a fair amount of terrorism against British colonial/Palestinian targets befored Israel was a fully formed state.“There are those who believe that the British evacuated Palestine as a result of the acts of violence committed by some or all of the Jewish military organizations. In particular, the bombing of the King David Hotel (July 1946) and the hanging of the two sergeants (July 1947)”.

[snotty liberal disdain] I don’t know where you get the transvestite suicide bombing thing- maybe you are thinking of the actual female suicide bombers that are becoming more common- but please, keep watching “The 700 Club” and sharing important news items with us [/snotty liberal disdain].

Umm, Possum, not to butt in or anything - but this proves a good point to introduce a bit of history I learned re Zionist terrorism.

You quoted the following, adding a link:

.“There are those who believe that the British evacuated Palestine as a result of the acts of violence committed by some or all of the Jewish military organizations. In particular, the bombing of the King David Hotel (July 1946) and the hanging of the two sergeants (July 1947)”.

The actual quote you were quoting stated as follows:

“The reasons for the British departure are a matter of considerable debate amongst historians. There are those who believe that the British evacuated Palestine as a result of the acts of violence committed by some or all of the Jewish military organizations. In particular, the bombing of the King David Hotel (July 1946) and the hanging of the two sergeants (July 1947) – both perpetrated by the Etzel (Irgun) – are said to have undermined British resolve to remain in the region. There are others who believe that the British left Palestine due to the Haganah’s operation of illegal immigration which became a source of considerable embarrassment to the British government.”

In effect, you modified the quote - from “… both perpetrated by the Etzel (Irgun)” to " …committed by some or all of the Jewish military organizations".

Now, I am sure that you did not intend to mislead, but that nevertheless was the effect.

The distinction is important - and here’s why:

Leaving aside for a moment whether the murder of military personel equates to modern-day terrorism (a whole debate in and of itself), the history of the Zionist movement shows some interesting parallels - and equally interesting differences - to that of the Palistinian nationalist movement.

One of the most interesting, is how the two dealt with their “terrorist” branches. In both cases, there was a main organization allegedly dedicated to nation-building, with pseudo-regular armed forces (Haganah and the PA); in both cases, there was a more radical set of organisations dedicated to more radical methods (Irgun/Stern Gang, Al-Asqua Martyrs, Hamas).

Let us assume, purely for the sake of argument, that (say) Irgun is the equivalent of Hamas. After all, Irgun was not shy of committing murder when it was in their interests, at places like Dar Yassin.

In the Zionist case, the main branch - Haganah - actually made a policy decision to suppress the Irgun. They fought a mini-battle over an arms shipment; the Irgun lost. This was the beginning of the end for them. Thereafter, they lost support steadily and were eventually deconstructed (though some members, notably Begin, went on to political careers in the new state).

The reason they did this, was that the leaders of the Haganah realized that to allow the radicals free reign would be to ruin their chances of obtaining a real country.

Unfortunately, the Palistinians have proven unwilling or unable to do this.

IMHO, this, more than any other single factor, explains why Israel is a country and Palistine is not.

Note: I re-read; you did not substitute one quote for another, but simply cropped it short. My apologies.

Possum wrote

**You have missed the whole point of my post. The term “nationalism” was never used, unlike the term “civil rights.” **

Then what else are the Palestinians fighting for? It isn’t universal liberation or they wouldn’t take money from Saddam Hussein and support Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They certainly wouldn’t walk to the nearest supermarket and blow up little kids in the produce aisle. I certainly don’t see massive Palestinian demonstrations in favor of the Tibetans or Basques. They’re fighting for the establishment of a Palestinian state. That’s nationalism. What the heck else would you call it?

**Is anyone- even on the Left- really ignoring Hamas or al-Aqsa terrorism? Even the “liberal” media (excepting 1 or 2 extreme left-wing pub.s) dwell at great length on Wahabism/radical Islam, but universally ignores ultra-Orthodox denunciation of “Canaanites” who must be driven from Israel. **

In the Arab-Muslim world, the UN and the European media they most certainly ARE ignoring Hamas. Al Jazeera certainly isn’t presenting Israel in very positive way. The Ultra Orthodox you speak about aren’t mainstream Israelis or Jews. The Wahabist are mainstream Arab-Muslims.

Both sides have done very bad things. But you’ve created a false dichotomy where you’re either pro-Israel/anti-Palestine or vice versa. Still don’t get it?

No you seem be the one doing that. I’ve stated that I support a Palestinian state that would be multicultural and Democratic. How is that anti-Palestinian?

TERRORISM BY A MINORITY OF PALESTINIANS DOES NOT CANCEL OUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF the ENTIRE POPULATION.

BUT THE ENTIRE POPULATION SUPPORTS THE TERRORISM! ALL PALESTINIAN LEADERS SUPPORT IT! THERE ARE STREETS NAMED AFTER TERRORISTS IN THE WEST BANK AND PEOPLE WHO COMMITT HOMICIDE BOMBERS ARE LAUDED AS HEROES BY THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!

Yes, Wahabism is bad news, but that’s not what the book (or my post) is about.

Wahabism funds the Palestinians. Wahabism promotes anti-Semitism worldwide. The Wahabists do not have dozens of UN resolutions against them. They are widely accepted in the Arab-Muslim world and are a far bigger threat to world peace than the West Bank situation.

MC
The map you present says one thing but the Barak himself says another. I am inclined to believe Barak.

Israel has absolutely no right to any of the West Bank, it dispossesed huge numbers of Palestinians in 1948 and in 2000 it demanded more Palestinian territory, hardly fair.

Israel has a right to secure borders. The huge number of Palestinians you speak of were matched by an equal number of Jews in Arab states. None of the Arabs dispossessed in 1948 (they weren’t Palestinians then because the term hadn’t been coined) would still be refugees if other Arab states had granted them citizenship. Had the Arab world accepted their fellow Arabs or the state offered to them in 1948 there would be peace in the region right now.

As for your ignorance, of course you knew that nearly all US aid to Palestine goes to NGOs? The money that Araft has is PLO money from Arab countries and members of the Palestinian disapora and again he hardly lives in obscene luxury, his headquarters in Ramallah were is confined a sa virtual prisoner is still crumbilng from when Israeli bulldozers attacked it.

The US has accepted thousands of refugees from the West Bank. The Saudis and the rest of the world have given the Palestinians millions in aid. While Yassir Arafat may be living in Ramallah instead of the jail he belongs in, his wife sits on her ass in Paris and wishes for a son so he go blow up Israelis. Forbes Magazine named him to their richest men list. Are they “ignorant” too?

You say Arafta doesn’t want peace, but what about the deal negoitated between the Israeli oppositon and a key Arafat aide just a couple of weeks ago? You seem to blame Arafat for everything and ignore the fact that 1 in every a hundred Palestinians has been killed or wounded by the Israelis.

Arafat says one thing to Western audiences and another to the Palestinians. He has made his intentions quite clear. And nowhere did I state that I blame Arafat for everything. But I do think – and so does President Clinton – that he was to blame for the failure of the 2000 talks. Is Clinton ignorant? One offer by an aide does not negate everything that went before with him. The Palestinians themselves have repeatedly stated they don’t think Israel should exist.

You bang on about a Palestinian islamic fundmenta;ist stat yet the express goals of the PLO and the majority of the Palestinians is a secular state. yes most Palestinians would like their land back, but if they’re not even allowed to desire this where does thta leave the ideals of Ziopnism. In the seventies the PLO taled back there demands only to the pre-1967 borders.

The Palestinians support Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Do you really think the goal of those organizations is a secular state? And as I’ve pointed out in a poll, the Palestinians definition of state is the entire area.

The settlemnts must be removed as part of any peace deal as they are both legally and morally bankrupt and a racist enterprise.

So the West Bank should have no Jews living there? Isn’t that racist?

You say that there is no-body of self-crticism yet there is no general support for Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but you must rmeber that these groups only appeared after decades of occupation to ignore this is just plain stupid.

Critics are often thrown in jail as Israeli collaborators. The Palestinians have repeatedly staged huge marches in support of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. How can you deny this? It is stupid to pretend that the majority of Palestinians don’t support them. They do.

The goal of the Muslim world is to see the destruction of Israel by any means necessary. It has nothing to do with Palestinian welfare or the Palestinians would have been treated far better by their neighbors.

Also you cannot seriously say that Jewish refugees from Arab countries retroactively justifies Israel’s ethnic cleansing in 1948 and it is also dishonest to claim that there are comparable numbers as many left simply becasue they wanted to live in israel, though that is not to deny that there were explusions and a prevailing hostile atmosphere that cause many to flee.

The problem is that most of Israel’s critics are Arab countries and they’ve generally treated Jews like crap. It’s absurd for the Arab countries to criticize Israel when many Jews live there because they had no place else to go. The Arabs in the West Bank would not have been in danger in the first place had Israel not been attacked in 1948.

I normally stay away from this topic these days, but shouldn’t we positively establish that there is a “pro-Palestinian” bias among the left before we debate it?

After all, the pro-Israel neoconservative persuasion which currently guides this administration comes from (often extremely) liberal roots, while at the same time the anti-Israel paleoconservatives tepidly support the same party.

And on the other side of the coin are the pro-Israel Democrats, who count among their number far more than just people of the Jewish persuasion, including Lyndon Johnson, Walter Mondale, (Lebanese descendant) George Mitchell, and me. Certainly there must be some anti-Israel Democrats, but I want to see names, publishers and organizations, not the “some liberals” roller that’s applied by the likes of Rush Limbaugh’s little brother.

In fact, if you want to see how pro-Israeli (or in this case, anti-Palestinian) sentiment breaks down in Congress, just go to www.congress.gov and look up 1999’s House Concurrent Resolution 24, which was co-sponsored by 280 members of the House, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, co-sponsored by 94 members of the Senate. Both of those resolutions expressed the sentiment that the President should clearly state that the United States is opposed to the uniliateral declaration of a Palestinian state. The list of people who introduced the Senate version include Jesse Helms, and John Ashcroft, but also John Kerrey, Frank Lautenberg, and Bob Torricelli.

I don’t particularly want to participate in this discussion, but I think it’s absurd to try to claim that support for Israel in the United States breaks down along anything remotely resembling party lines. I’d like to see someone make a convincing argument that it does.

Well, I think you are right in that - it doesn’t.

When I use the term “leftist”, I am not referring to Democrats, or any specific political party affiliation, but to an international sentiment characterized by espousal of a number of causes - generally, people who are “left” are more likely to consider the US to be in the wrong on any particular issue; are probably against “globalization”; and probably support the Palistinian cause. That is a generalization, but not excessively untrue.

None of this has anything to do with the Democrats per se.

Strikes me as recognition of the fact that “desperate people resort to desperate measures.”

sigh

[nag]This is completely off-topic, but can we not quote large, multi-paragraph posts in their entirety, especially when quoting only a small portion would do? It would make it so much easier to follow the argument, and would reduce the load on the servers. It’s frequent all over GD, of course, but it seems unusually common in this thread, for some reason.[/nag]

The offer was not acceptable, to the Palestinians, you cannot epect them to concedeanymore land.

The Palestinians have an equal right to secure borders and that means, no settlemnts deep witthin their territory and control of their own borders. Why is the job of Arab countries to re-house those dispossesed by Israel, it is Israel’s res[ponsibilty. The numbers dispossesd where not equal the total number of Jews from arab countries wer equal and the time period was 1948-1971. even then the Jewish refugees wer not given confiscated Arab land but had to make do with some of the worst land in rer-settlemnt centres.

No-one knows what Arafat’s assets are, finacial transparency in the PA and PLo have been a cause of much friction within the PA. Also crass and unsuported characterization is no proof of anything.

This exactly why i called your fisrt post ignorant crap as the politcal bodies that have the most Palestinian support are secular whilst Hamas and esp. Islamic Jihad are marginal.

No that’s not what isaid but they should not be planted there, how can you say that housing projects that are strictly for Jews only and operate under differen more preferential laws to the surrounding population are not racist.

see above.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is big issue in the Muslim world but that’s such a stupid genralization, also how do explain the fact that there was no real antisemtism (I’m not saying that Jews were always tretaed that well, but genreal oppression of religous minorites is not the same thing as antisemtism, even if you could argue that it was worse)in the Muslim world prior to zionsim, if this has nothing to do with the plight of the Palestinians.

The problem is that most of Israel’s critics are Arab countries and they’ve generally treated Jews like crap. It’s absurd for the Arab countries to criticize Israel when many Jews live there because they had no place else to go. The Arabs in the West Bank would not have been in danger in the first place had Israel not been attacked in 1948. **
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see above. The fighting statretd before the Arab countries attacked, Israel never accepted the borders laid down in the UN partiton plan.