Palestinians - these people deserve a country?

I just found this page of surveys, done of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza by a Palestinian organization, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Especially telling are the main results of Poll 3. In summary, the majority of Palestinians surveyed consider anything deadly performed by an Israeli entity to be terrorism, but nothing performed by Muslims or Arabs is not. Among other things, they also do not believe that, if a Palestinian state is established, that children should be taught not to demand the return of all of Palestine. What that means to me is: Israel gives them a state, they’ll still be killing Israelis.

It’s easy to point fingers at Arafat and the Palestinian authority and say that it’s all their fault. But as far as I can tell, this survey would seem to indicate that it’s a pervasive Palestinian attitude. Why would Israel ever want to allow a country to share a border with them; a border which is almost guaranteed to be a constant war zone?

Sorry, that should read:

Ummm, Efrem? You out there?

RWS: *In summary, the majority of Palestinians surveyed consider anything deadly performed by an Israeli entity to be terrorism, but anything performed by Muslims or Arabs is not. *

Is that unusual? I’d wager that there are lots of people all over the world who are equally willing to assume that their own side is automatically the good guys; “we” undertake heroic and necessary military or paramilitary actions, but “they” commit terrorism.

Why would Israel ever want to allow a country to share a border with them; a border which is almost guaranteed to be a constant war zone?

My take on it is that in the long run, recognizing Palestine is the best way to stop the place from being a constant war zone. Once the Palestinians actually have something to lose—secure lives and property, economic development, prosperity—they’ll be a lot less willing to toss it all away for the sake of scabby old grievances against the Israelis. “Pervasive”, “permanent” national enmities do have a convincing and appalling look to them, but they are often surprisingly evanescent in the face of actual peace and prosperity. Remember back when the British and French hated the Germans?

IHMO, they could have achieved statehood a long time ago if they persued it diplomatically.

Their failure to do so make me believe no, they do not deserve a state… at least until they learn to stop the violence. Until they are capable of acting as a civilized populace, they do not deserve to be treated as one.

BTW, I don’t think Isreal will ever allow it until attacks stop. I agree with above analysis.

I do not think that the terrorist bombings are either justifiable or constructive, but your humble opinion needs a few facts.

One of the specific reasons that Hamas and company have been able to drum up so much support has been that every single Israeli government from the Oslo agreements to the present has laid down extra conditions before they would recognize Palestinian independence–and several of those governments have permitted, or even encouraged, further Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Now, part of the Israeli condition-setting was a direct result of the horribly flawed Oslo process, but the typical Palestinian has good reason to believe that Israel will continue to “invent” new obstacles until doomsday.

As to the poll in the OP: I suppose it’s nice to feel indignant about the results, but you really don’t know the objects and unstated goals of the PCPSR–they may be connected to Hamas and want to shore up the perception that they speak for a majority when they do not.

Outrage over polls–in Israel, among the Palestinians, or in the U.S. late October in–is a waste of energy.

joemama: *IHMO, they could have achieved statehood a long time ago if they persued it diplomatically.

Their failure to do so make me believe no, they do not deserve a state… at least until they learn to stop the violence. Until they are capable of acting as a civilized populace, they do not deserve to be treated as one. *

Well, I sure don’t have anything good to say about suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. However, if you’re going to claim that terrorist acts disqualify a people from “deserving” statehood, by that logic the Israelis should never have gotten their state either, given the terrorist tactics in the 1930’s and 40’s by Zionist organizations like Haganah and Irgun and the Stern Gang.

Well, the Stern Gang may have blown up the King David Hotel, but they were targeting Britsh officers, who could be considered fair game. Palestinian bombers target women and children.

Considering that I’ve seen various news stories or discussions on web sites saying in vague terms “the majority of the Palestinians support suicide bombings” I’m going to go with my gut instinct that the survey leans towards accuracy.

Here are the names of the members of the board of PCPSR. While I suppose it’s possible that one or two of them are Hamas members, considering the makeup of the board, even if they were, it’s unlikely that they’re in the majority.

gobear: Well, the Stern Gang may have blown up the King David Hotel, but they were targeting Britsh officers, who could be considered fair game. Palestinian bombers target women and children.

What about the December 1947 terrorist bombings by Irgun of city buses and a Jerusalem cafe? In any case, I think that callously indiscriminate and unnecessary killing of civilians, even if the person(s) technically considered the primary target are not civilians, is hardly better than targeting civilians in the first place. You can’t get a very sharp moral distinction between the “proto-Israeli” terrorist groups and the current Palestinian ones on the basis of arguments like that, IMHO.

And again, I think it’s pretty silly to attempt to justify who “deserves” a state and who doesn’t on the basis of how their terrorist groups behave, or how much sympathy the population in general has for the actions of the terrorist groups. Lots of countries have some pretty nasty terrorist groups, and lots of them have a lot of support on the ground, but we don’t go in and dissolve the nation for that reason. I support the immediate establishment of a “compact, contiguous” Palestinian state not as some kind of good-conduct prize, but on purely practical realpolitik grounds: as soon as the Palestinians actually have something to lose, they’ll be less inclined to risk losing it.

Which is obviously your prerogative. But what about us others in Great Debates who might be more critically minded? How are we now supposed to stand in relation to the OP when tomndebb has made its foundation cite questionable and you have said that you don’t care. :confused:


The following is a quote from Leslie Fish, a folk singer and feminist activist.

*"Hmm, a couple of points to consider.

First: the reason the Jews started buying up land (and getting swindled for it) in the godforsaken desert was because things were beginning to get hot for them in Europe. Things got hotter still, and the survivors headed for the Jewish lands in Palestine because they figured they’d be safe there. Heh-heh! But then, they DID have a point. There’s no country on Earth where Jews can really consider themselves safe – not even here in the good ol’ tolerant USA. Whenever some bunch of American political nuts – of any color – starts making noise about how oppressed they are, who do they get around to blaming? The Jews, of course! Neo-Nazis, Hyper-Christian Fundies or Black Activists who adore Jesse Jackson – they ALL go after the Jews. Jews have good reason to believe they need a bolt-hole.

Second, it wasn’t the Jewish settlers who started this mess. Those settlers were happy to live peaceably beside Arabs, and didn’t want them to move away. During the 1947 fun and games, when the neighboring Arab armies were running away and a lot of the Palestinian Arabs ran after them, the Jews drove around in sound-trucks begging their neighbors to stay put. The neighbors who didn’t listen, and ran, wound up in Palestinian refugee camps in other Arab countries. Did they blame their Arab neighbors for not taking them in? Nope, they blamed the Jews – who had begged them not to leave.

Not that the Palestinian Arabs made such good neighbors in the first place. Search the old records and you’ll find that several times the Jews offered to share their education, technology, wealth, freedom and all with the Arabs – and the Arabs indignantly refused; they preferred to attack and rob the Jewish settlements instead. Something in their culture made it an offense against their pride to accept “charity” from a Jew – but not to rob him. In fact, Palestinian Arabs in Israel right now have more rights and better economic standards than Arabs living in most Arab countries. You’d be surprised how many of those good Arab countries don’t allow their population to vote. Never mind public schools or health-care or housing or welfare – and never MIND how the female half of the population is treated.

So, if Palestinian Arabs have it better than Arabs in other countries, why are they bitching so much? Spite, pure and simple. I’ve studied that culture, and all I can say is – no matter that “Allah” means “God”, or what the Koran says – it’s a nasty decadent culture based on spite. It’s a culture where people don’t try to just make themselves better off, but to make their neighbors worse off than themselves. If Arab A has a camel and Arab B doesn’t, and Arab B can’t steal his neighbor’s camel, he’ll poison Arab A’s camel just to make sure his neighbor is no better off than himself. This is why those Jewish settlers were able to make worthless land bloom, but the Arabs who’d held it for centuries didn’t; the Arabs were too busy poisoning each other’s camels – and wells, and orchards – before the Jews came along.

You honestly can’t help people with that kind of attitude. Whatever you give them, they’ll want more – and they’ll want not to make it themselves but to take it from you. Frankly, I think it would be better to haul all the Palestinian Arabs out of Israel, send them to live in some good all-Moslem all-Arab country with their brethren – even give them a couple $K apiece to get started – and let them go back to poisoning other Arabs’ camels, just as they used to do.

If you’re talking about High Moral Ground, then it’s the Arabs who deserve the boot rather than the Jews. Sorry 'bout that.


I agree entirely. And anyhow the Palestinians are claiming ancestral rights to land that was the ancestral home to the Hebrew before the mountain landed on Muhammed and he gave up stealing horses.

This is the sort of awful mess of sporadic facts, half-truths, and outright lies that keeps the whole cycle of hatred going.

It is true that in one or two locations, notably Jaffa, a number of Israelis made an effort to keep the Arabs from packing up and leaving. It was absolutely not the “normal” condition in 1947 and 1948. A great many Israelis also stood and (figuratively) cheered and (literally) grabbed the abandoned property as truckloads of Arabs abandoned their homes to seek refuge outside Israel.

It is also true that the Israelis never made any attempt to punish those responsible for committing the Deir Yassan massacre–and further, when the Arab propagandists changed the story to claim that women had been raped and dishonored in the massacre (they had only been murdered), the Israelis made no effort to counter those lies, allowing those stories to prompt many more Arabs to flee.

As to

You will also find that throughout the 1920s and 1930s a number of Jewish settlements engaged in what can best be described as “gang warfare” with their Arab neighbors. Real history is simply too messy to be nicely boxed up and presented in the fashion of Leslie Fish.

“Spite, pure and simple”? Hardly. How about a desire for actual citizenship in a recognized country? Since 1967, the Israelis have claimed ownership of the West Bank and Gaza (moving hordes of settlers into the West Bank) while making no attempt to offer citizenship the the original inhabitants of that land.

I recognize the need for Israeli security. However, from 1967 to 1992, successive Israeli governments treated all the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza as mere conquered subjects. At Oslo, Israel finally made a declaration that they would consider allowing the establishment of a Palestinian nation–but in the ensuing years they have refused to discuss the particulars or have set conditions even on the discussions. Therefore, every Palestinian below the age of 35 has spent his or her entire life as a conquered person, and they have spent the last ten years watching the various Israeli governments balk at seriously changing those conditions. (If you want to talk about Palestinians who may have had a voice in the original problems, you have to find someone at least 55 simply to find someone who was old enough to participate in a decision in 1967–and then only as a 20-year-old protestor, not as a policy maker. I rather suspect that somewhat more than half of the Palestinians are under the age of 55.)

Now, there have been real issues that the various Israeli governments have had to face regarding the West Bank and Gaza and no decision could have been easily made or clearly supported. A pro-Arab or pro-Palestinian partisan who leapt in at this point and yelled “It’s all the Israelis’ fault!” would be rightly castigated as lacking any historical perspective. However, to claim that the Palestinians “don’t deserve” to have their own land smacks of American Manifest Destiny or of other comparisons that risk invoking Godwin’s Law.

And this is historically inaccurate, morally offensive, and generally stupid:

Well, I am jet lagged and have a terrible headache, but browsing what I knew was going to be a painfully annoying thread, I can’t less this little gem of dezinformatsia go uncorrected.

First, let me note for one and all that in general, if one desires to avoid continuing the spread of ignorance that rigorous analytical works, not frothy ravings, ignorant maunderings of folk singers, partisan hatchet jobs and state-sponsored or inspired agit-prop are the best sources of information.

Now I do realize it can be so very fatiguing to get oneself down to a library and perhaps challenge pre-conceived notions, cherished ideologies and nationalist mythologies, however perhaps one can do so just for the novelty value. On a day off.

So then, in the interest of perhaps – although it is an exercise in the wildest optimism and in fact I am something of a cynical optimist – alleviating some modicum of ignorance let me make a few notes:

A quotation

And raving bigot to boot, super.

Zionist mythology. European Jews on the Zionist project started buying up land well-before Hitler, they paid market rates for land, often good land as a review of the historical works cited below will show.

Indeed a problem which cropped up was some settlers sent by various Zionist orgs turning to using Arab laborers to work the land rather than themselves The ‘desert’ is part of that mythology, Palestine was always relatively richer – meaning wetter – than more inland areas and relatively densely populated.

Of course European Jews had access to capital, and the social and structural means to put it to good use, which did allow greater improvements. However, spitting on the Arab tenant farmers or farmers without clear title – and thus protection from ‘landlords’ with good Ottoman connections and perhaps dubious paper claims to lands – for not having the access to capital nor the protection of the British Mandate government

Okay, appeal to pity I suppose. It rather strikes me as ahistorical. Perhaps some innocents believed the propaganda about an empty Palestine or were perhaps utterly innocent and thought that anyone in a colonized territory would welcome Europeans (outsiders: Jews or not) coming in and buying up their land. A rather larger number, to judge by the historical record had a total disregard, being infected with the prevailing quasi-racism of the late 19th century/early 20th century which looked down on the darkies of the region.

Bullshit, outright lies and propaganda. See Morris. This is pure Zionist mythology every bit as crappy as the more shitty over-the-top Arab claims of genocide and concentrated expulsions.

However, again a review of the historical(*) evidence while supporting the settlers not ‘starting’ the violence – although as noted above, given the socio-political dynamics of a colonial occupation, outsiders buying up land in a situation where the population at large feels excluded from power it is hardly surprising communal violence broke out – the Jewish militias responded in kind (as of course they had to in order to protect body and soul) and had by the post-WWII period rather beaten down the Palestinians. The war itself, per *historical[/] examination, appears to have been driven by outside forces – esp. Syrian.

Otherwise you may consult Benny Morris’ and related works for a thorough demolition of the mythology of Jews generally begging Arabs to stay. The record shows that some Jews indeed did go to the heroic and laudable effort of trying to reassure their Arab neighbors, and with some success in some areas. The record also shows that another rather deadlier game was played by the various Zionist terror organizations with the possible collusion of the formal governmental apparatus – certain in some areas, doubtful in others – to target civilian pops, to spread through various black ops terror and get rid of a politically doubtful and suspect population, that is, the Arabs (or the non-Jews as one might admit that Jewish Arab speakers equally deserve the title, whatever the rabid anti-Jewish elements in Arab society would say now).

The history, rather different than the romantic claptrap of nationalist mythology, is a bit grim, rather bloody and lets no characters fully off the hook, although it is clear that a good number of Jews did their level best to play a fair game, and that element was stronger than in the Arab community.

(*: as opposed to political propaganda)

See comments above, references below.

Really? I am sure that she “studied” the culture with all the evident depth that she ‘studied’ the history and with all the evident sympathy. A feminist bigot is still a bigot. The above passage is bigotry, stinking bigotry. The sand nigger stereotype is apparently quite acceptable.

Ahhhh, yes, is not wonderful to see the justification of population explusion, of ethnic cleansing and pure bigotry expressed by a feminist?


She should be rather more sorry to spread hatred and ignorance.

Wonderful, unvarnished religious bigotry. How very enlightening.

As to the assertion to ‘ancestral’ claims, I hope one day that a touch of logic and a sliver of history may enter into the discussion such that one might consider, before making the unsupported, ahistorical assertion, the following:

(a) In general, claims to land by millennia old history leads one into an endless merry go round, viz what hearing the claims of Amerindians get here in the United States.
(b) The current Palestinians, that is the non-Jewish indigenous Arabic speaking population is as likely to be descended from the pre-Roman inhabitants (Israelites, Canaanites etc. etc. etc.) as Roman, Greek, Persian, Arab, Frankish, etc ad nauseum interlopers as not. Conversion. Xtians to Xtians, Jews to Islam, Xtians to Islam etc., etc.
© Israel’s present and valid rights to the land are on the same basis as Americans. Let it rest at that, rather than dubious historical claims which can only lead one into hypocritical posturing or contradiction.

Re certain citations:
Bickerton and Klausner A concise history of the Arab-Israeli conflict NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995 – a very serviceable although sometimes uneven ‘concise history’ which sticks to the most verifiable of facts. Points of omission seem to strike equally on both sides for the most part, I have some reservations but useful.

Rogan and Shlaim, eds. The war for Palestine : rewriting the history of 1948 NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Recently ref’d to me, I have not read it but am led to understand that it is a critical historiographical review of the events of 1948, including an essay by Benny Morris, the well-known Israeli historian, always a good read for his dispassionate analytical approach to a passionate event.

Among some Morris works I would also recommend:

Morris and Black Israel’s secret wars : a history of Israel’s intelligence services NY: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.

Morris Righteous victims : a history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881-1999 NY: Knopf, 1999 – if one desires to look at history and not hagiographies or nationalist mythologies.

Morris Israel’s border wars, 1949-1956 : Arab infiltration, Israeli retaliation, and the countdown to the Suez War Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Two works exploding a number of myths very often repeated on the SDMB:
Morris The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949 NY: Cambridge University Press, 1987 and the follow up

Morris 1948 and after: Israel and the Palestinians NY: Oxford University Press, 1990.

I will add also the rather more controversial
Finkelstein Image and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict NY: Verso, 2001. – who gives a pro-Palestinian POV in a manner which raised my eyebrows but deserves to be cited for comparative value.

This list is by no means comprehensive, just a few which I happen to have either reread recently or have recently been brought to my attention.

A great deal of ahistorical rot is being said about the situation. Ahistorical population comparisions (pld, eg in re jews in the arab world, and a skewed sample) about massacres, about this about that. The history is messy and unkind. And bloody as nationalist struggles over land always are. It strikes me that for a board supposed to fight ignorance that getting some fundamental facts right is a start. Defending Israel – and given the situation, their generally decent conduct, but human and thus flawed-- in the face of trying conditions does not require lies and disinformation.

We could deal with why the Palestinians think they should have independence, or why the world thinks they should have independence. However you asked why should Israel allow a Palestinian state. So we will only deal with a Palestinian state from Israel’s view point (which is far from being the only one).

Reasons for a Palestinian state:

  1. Currently Israel is a massive military power in the region; this may not always be the case in the future. So, it would be better for it to have good formal relations with the surrounding countries. The major sticking point for this is the succession of an independent Palestinian state. Create a Palestine and the rest of the Arab countries will join in formal ties. No more Pariah status.

  2. Sooner or later a Palestine will be created, it would be better to be created under the guidance from a helpful and friendly Israeli then out of the burnt ashes of a violent war of independence.

  3. Palestinians have a considerably higher birth rate then Israeli Jews do so in keeping that many Palestinians under control or within borders would be difficult and only getting harder. It would also compromise Israel as a “Jewish” state.

  4. If you appease the Arab population (and world) by giving Palestinians their own state it will give people a one less reason to hate you, and more reason to deal with you.

  5. In proactively helping to create a Palestine you will have set up a new (democratic) friend in the Middle East. One which will help sway public opinion to Israel’s favour.

  6. No longer a festering havoc of anti-Semitism is boiling next door. They have their own state for which they can blame all their current problems (infrastructure, education, and economy) on their own government. No longer on daily Israeli oppression.

  7. You now have an independent responsible government next door who you have to go to with your grievances. Instead of a half-assed authority which is only limited in their responsibility.

  8. Terrorist groups would lose massive public support within the Palestinian communities (except refugree camps which have different reasons for disliking Israel).

  9. In preventing a separate state you would be damning Israel to a bloody future with it’s people never feeling safe from terrorists (no matter how high “security” is).

I am too tried to deal with any more. However these are just a few good reasons from an Israeli point of view to not try to stop the creation of a Palestinian state. Of course Israel’s opinion is not the only one that matters, add on worldview, Arab view, and Palestinian then you will get an unstoppable reason.

I read chunks of A History of the Modern Middle East by William Cleveland (2nd ed, 2000) and found it helpful. Amazon link

Glad to see that this business here is finally progressing in a constructive and informed direction.

Pure conjecture. The Saudis have put forth this plan; many of the Arab states have accepted it. But not all of them (Iraq, anyone?). And Jewish hatred runs too deep in the Muslim world (see Jews in Iran as an example. See also Anti-Semitism in the Arab world [including Holocaust denial, which has absolutely nothing to do with Israel] )

I can’t argue with this point. Conceded

On the other hand, if Palestine is granted statehood, Isreal will no longer have any way to defend itself against border incursions (and judging by the survey I quoted, I have no doubts that they would continue). The rooting out of militants that Israel is currently doing in the West Bank, while not 100% effective, is more than likely better than doing nothing. And with a population that overwhelmingly supports attacks against Israeli citizens, I don’t think the Palestinian government would do squat about it.

Jews have been hated by Arabs for hundreds of years. What were their excuses back then?

a) What makes you think Palestine would be a democracy? Democracy doesn’t have much of a tradition in the Arab world.
b) You really think Palestine would be a friend of Israel? My friend, you’re living in a fantasy world. How can you be a friend of someone if you want them dead?

Right, and this works so well in Egypt, where the government regularly uses anti-Semitism to deflect public attention from the real problems.

Again, not according to the survey, which is what this entire post is based upon.

see point 3.

Let me just say at this juncture that I am in favor of a Palestinian state; however, I am most discouraged by the attitudes of the Palestinians.

[Fixed quote tags. – MEB]

Oh, and just for the hell of it, tomndebb and Sparc, here’s another poll from a different organization that backs up the original one I quoted.

Well, there are only a few countries that Iraq does like. Also Jewish hatred in the “Muslim world”(you must mean Arab) will be harder to propagate when Israel has formal ties with all (or most) Arab countries, and great ties with the newly created Palestine. Israel needs to shed its isolationist stance in Middle East politics and it will no longer be looked at as an enemy but as a partner. At the very least Israel’s image can’t be hurt be it.


If a Palestine was created (with full Israeli help that is) they would be essential in border security and in the fighting of militants. The population only supports the attacks because it views Israel as the “enemy” a role Israel fits very well. If Israel no longer wanted to play that role there would be less Palestinian militants and more Palestinians willing to stop them.


Well, if you look at history minorities have always been poorly treated by the majority (a weak/strong mentality). You get everything from genocide to quiet inacceptance, the further you go back in time the worst the bigotry seems to get. Jewish societies have had their minorities and shunned ones too, but, historically Arabs have had better rules and laws to protect the weak. Jews have had persecution under Arab rule though, however, is it not encoded into their Genes. So, there is no reason to think that this will always be the case.


a) With the strong help from the best democracy in the region (Israel), Palestine will no doubt become a democracy. Palestinians do not want a dictator, they want a president. Just because democracy is not a strong thing in the Middle East (traditionally Arabs had “Sultans” or kings) doesn’t mean that it is unwanted.
b) If Israel helps Palestine to become a reality the government will no doubt be friendly to Israel. Israel needs to nurture a new government because:

  1. If this government in nurtured by Israel will be a friend to Israel. However, if the government is born in spite of Israel it will be a Pakistan to your India.
  2. It will not doubt be a true democracy, but it needs Israel’s help.
  3. They must be some rule of law next door, or maybe a booming economy, all of which would be in Israel’s best interest to have.

And this is not a fantasy world this is real world politics, this is what Israel MUST do to insure a peaceful and prosperous future for it’s people. You do not want to have a disgruntled country as a neighbor and Israel has many. Both countries will have to live side-by-side of each other why should they do it as enemies.


And think about it, Egypt is (or at least was) a friendly nation. This should give Israel even more incentive to make sure that Palestine is a friendly neighbor. Which will also give people one less reason to hate Israel, and it’s a major reason to boot.


Attitudes from both sides greatly discourage me too, but I still have a lot of hope. Sanity not anger will prevail.