ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, July 28, 2006

In Fairness to the Palestinians - Do They Have a Valid Argument?

The short answer is "yes," and the longer answer is "yes, but."

At the end of World War II many survivors of The Holocaust and other Jews came to the land then known as Palestine which had been under British rule since the end of World War I in 1918. The land was largely populated by Arabs, specifically those called Palestinians. There also were minority Jewish and Christian elements of the population. The new Jewish immigrants displaced a large number of the indiginous Arabs. Radicals in both the Arab and Jewish communities fought for domination of the area. Both wanted the British out. Both indulged in terrorism. In the end the Jewish forces prevailed with the result that tens of thousands of Arabs ended up in "refugee camps" in Lebanon and Jordan. These camps existed for more than forty years after the 1947 founding of the state of Israel until the displaced Palestinians were forced out of Jordan and the Israelis destroyed the camps in Lebanon.

Long story short, the Palestinians have a good case to make for their land having been stolen, much like we stole the land of the Native Americans. That's what happens in war. Parts of pre-WWII Germany are now part of Poland. Huge hunks of historic Mexico are part of the USA. Call it conquest or call it theft, the result is the same. The land is lost and populations are displaced. Historically these situations have been adjusted to by the vanquished. Most Germans fled Prussia and Pomerania. The ancient capitol of Prussia, Konigsberg, is a Russian island to the west of The Baltic States. Mexicans, prior to the flood of refugees of the last couple of decades, either fled or submitted to their Norte Americano conquerors after the Mexican American War. The choice was to flee and start life over again elsewhere or to submit and adjust to life with the conquerors.

But the Palestinians, for the most part, have chosen neither course described above. They want their historic land back and are settling for nothing less. For sixty years they have, to their own misfortune, held to this position. In pursuit of this goal, they have been aided, abetted and enabled by the other Arab states, notably Egypt, Jordan and Syria who have seen, not without reason, the creation of the Jewish state as the return of the Christian Crusades by proxy, ergo Isreal being "the little Satan." They also did not want to have the Palestinians, who were for the most part more educated and urbane than their populations, among them.

So, yes, the Palestinians have a case to make.

They also have a choice to make. They can adjust to reality, i.e. Israel is here to stay, or they can continue to fight that reality. Clearly their leaders have chosen the latter approach.

And herein lies the "yes, but."

Yes they have an argument, but they have made disasterous choices for the last six decades. In fact, their decision making process appears to border on the insane. No matter how much the Palestinians wish it were otherwise, Israel is not going away. They can continue to beat their heads against the wall of that reality or they can make another choice.

Israel continues to offer them a way out. Israel, like a good lawyer in negotiation, continues to try to "split the baby" offering their opponnets a part of a loaf. But the Palestinians in their righteousness continue to demand the whole loaf. It was their loaf to start with and they want it back.

Someone needs to change their mind. The Israeli's either need to fold their tents and go away, or the Palestinians need to come to accept the part of the loaf they are being offered or something close to it. Short of that, the war between these two people will never end.

Yes, the Palestinians have a valid moral argument. That is all well and good. Now, what are they going to DO?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Comments (8)
St Wendeler said...

One question...
not sure I would use the word "moral" to describe anything that the Palestinians have done over the past 60 years, given the death-obsessed culture that they have created.

Monterey John said...

Saint, I think you could argue the point either way, but the bottomline is that if things are going to change, well, they have to change. Doing the same thing over and over again is not getting anybody, especially the Palestinians, anywhere.

George said...

Spoken like a lawyer.

Let's take that to its logical extreme: it's possible for just about everyone to make some claim on an ancestral home that was taken over by one conquerer or another. What do we do? Turn back the clock to some ancient past?

I believe it was Stephen Hawking who said that "the arrow of time points in just one direction."

Stupid Country said...

All righty then. This uncomfortable equipoise that we have had in the Middle East since the end of World War II satisfies no one, but the answer you seem to want the Palestinians to accept is: It is what it is.

Ugly, but it works for me. Suppose we take that thinking to its next logical step.

The neocon assumption seems to be that the balance in the Middle East has been in place long enough. That is, it's hostile to the interests of the US and Israel, and the time has come to do something decisive about it -- clean it up, or "drain the swamp."

Trouble is, we tried decisive action to "correct" the balance in the Middle East, by eliminating what we thought was the fulcrum: hostile Iraq. And decisive action turned out to be bigger, hairier, more destructive, more divisive and more expensive than the US can afford.

All it really succeeded in doing was moving the fulcrum one country east, which is the last place we could conceivably have wanted it.

This was not a good program, poorly executed. It was a bad idea from word one.

Surely the balance is different now. Not better, not friendlier to US interests or regional stability or anyone (except of course for the profiteers who benefit from the opportunity to jack up oil prices) -- just different.

We have neither the spare military assets nor the stomach as a country to follow up on the Iraq occupation anywhere else. The Israelis may need our military hardware to defend themselves, but they don't need us, and we don't seem to have a lot of influence anywhere else in the neighborhood. So we need to just go back to depending on some sort of dismal equilibrium to emerge from rubble.

Let's all say it together: It is what it is."

St Wendeler said...

I'm optimistic... at some point, the hatred and violence of the Islamist movement has to consume itself. The non-Hezbollah Lebanese will come to recognize that they are mere pawns in an Islamist game which is killing them.

And without the intervention in Iraq the statement from Saudi Arabia et al condemning Hizbollah's attacks would never have happened.

Many would argue that Iran has been the fulcrum all along. However, as W pointed out in speech after speech, some battles in the war on terror will have overt action (ie, Iraq) while others will require action behind the scenes and outside of the coverage of the press.

Let's be honest in one respect: There is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah. And if you disagree with that statement or have difficulty determining which one falls on the other side of civilized behavior, you probably should think twice before sharing your opinions.

Stupid Country said...

I'm not sure I see the connection between John's post, my comment and the moral equivalence between Hezbollah and the Israelis.

I think there's a pretty good consensus globally that the Hezbollah attack that started the current action in Lebanon was unprovoked, and that the Israelis are entitled to return fire and worse. The Israelis have chosen not to stop until they effectively destroy Hezbollah as a military theat. It's unclear whether they can really do that, but if it weren't for the civilian collateral damage, it'd be hard to picture anyone seriously suggesting they don't have the right to try. Hezbollah certainly is a committed enemy of Israel, and poses a threat to Israel that is not debatable, whereas Israel had been pretty much leaving Hezbollah alone. And yeah, I think the whole argument of whether Israel's response is proportional to the offense that brought it on is a little fatuous.

So I don't have an issue with "There is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah." I don't know why you imagined I would. I do, very much, take issue with this nonsense about the Iraq invasion ever having been "a battle in the war on terror," but we've been over that ground numerous times.

St Wendeler said...

Yes, indeed... we have been through that discussion before.

Didn't necessarily assume that you would argue moral equivalence between the parties, but glad that you forcefully came out against Hizbollah - and even upped the ante by disagreeing with the Euroweenies and the UNers about the disproportionality of the Israeli response. (Actually, it's a Hizbollah talking point that's parroted elsewhere, but I won't quibble...)

Always good to have your comments, SC... even though we vehemently disagree on any number of issues.


Stupid Country said...

Now, if we can just agree on a spelling for Hzbllh...