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Palestinian human rights shouldn’t be offensive

 It is a common rhetorical tactic to ascribe genocidal intentions to those who advocate the basic human rights of the Palestinians. This is done for two reasons: firstly, to delegitimize the broader movement and secondly, to distract from the most pressing issue at hand: the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Even if this is not the intended purpose of the article “Zionism is not a bad word,” it accomplishes both of these things. 

Equating Zionism with Judaism seems to be one of the main goals of the article. Zionism is a late nineteenth century ethno-nationalist movement to establish a Jewish state in the Levant. When people call themselves “Anti-Zionists,” this is usually in opposition to the current result of Zionism: an apartheid state, or a “regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean” according to the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. For those who don’t know, apartheid is a system of racial hierarchy, characterized by forcible segregation of different peoples, unequal application of the law, denial of basic rights and freedoms and regular and systematic violence by the apartheid regime. It has existed in many forms in Zimbabwe, South Africa and now, Israel. 

On the other hand, Judaism is an ancient Abrahamic religion of the Jewish people, with much of its history tied to the Levant, but also to the various communities that coalesced in Europe, Africa and Asia. The Jewish people survived millennia of persecution and persist today mainly in America, but also in Israel. Despite these clear differences, the previous article asserts otherwise. Of course, if Zionism and Judaism are the same, then any opposition to Zionism would automatically be antisemitism, which would make any attempt to fight Israeli apartheid and support Palestinian human rights a fundamental assault against what it means to be Jewish, according to Reinhold. 

To make the case for equating the two, Reinhold argues that Zionism is an integral part of Judaism. This is a discussion that needs to take place within the Jewish community. What I do want to lay out are some of the basic facts of the situation. I think people should be able to decide for themselves where they stand in this historic moment. 

Firstly, the polling data Reinhold put forth, from which she asserts that Zionism is an almost universally held Jewish value, does not paint a fully accurate picture. A simple Google search contradicts Reinhold’s data. According to a Pew Research survey from 2021, 58% of American Jewish adults feel somewhat or very attached to Israel, while 45% say that caring about Israel is essential to what being Jewish means to them. Among Generation Z, which is indicative of where opinion is moving, the numbers look quite different. Only 48% feel somewhat or very attached to Israel, and only 35% say caring about Israel is essential to what being Jewish means to them. Thus, the assertion that Zionism is a near universally-held Jewish value does not appear to be the case according to the data. Another, albeit older 2012 survey I found from the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 84% of American Jews identified “pursuing justice” as a key Jewish value that shaped their political beliefs. 

I think a reality people on both sides need to acknowledge is that Jewish history and thus, the destiny of the Jewish people, are inextricably linked to the history and destiny of the Palestinian people. The fact that Palestinians are in large part descended from the ancient Hebrews, the same people modern Jews descend from, seems to make people deeply uncomfortable, despite the fact that many early Zionists, including the first prime minister of Israel, believed it to be true. In recent years, racializing the differences between Palestinians and Jews has become a goal of Israel, in addition to denying the indigeneity of Palestinians, painting them as South Arabian invaders from the advent of Islam. History shows us that some Jews began worshiping the Greco-Roman pantheon in antiquity. More Jews converted to Christianity, and the remainder converted to Islam. Thus, before the advent of Zionism, these Christian, Muslim and very small Jewish populations of Palestine make up the people we call Palestinians today. The Palestinians are thus, not recent arrivals, but rather, the people who never left.

If genetics show us these are basically the same people and that Palestinians are indigenous, then wouldn’t Reinhold be correct that Jews are indigenous to Palestine? With the exception of Palestinian Jews, no However, this is largely a semantic difference, as I believe she is misusing the term. People can have historical, cultural and genetic ties to a particular region and also be colonizers, or in other words, not indigenous. The case of Liberian colonization is perhaps the best example of this. Like Jews in Eastern Europe, freed slaves in America were seen as an undesirable population by the dominant group. Thus, to fully emancipate themselves, but also to rid white people of their “problem,” colonization of a far off land was a “solution” that both white people and freed slaves supported. West Africa, like the Levant, was the land of origin from which this “undesirable” population had since been disconnected, and so with the backing of white people, both Zionists and freed slaves went out to colonize this land-for-the-taking. A strip of land in West Africa was colonized by the American Colonization Society in the 1820s. Freed slaves established a republic there shortly thereafter: Liberia. However, this republic came at the expense of the indigenous West Africans of Liberia who were denied their most basic rights. The freed slaves largely recreated the antebellum south, characterized by vast plantations, slave labor, strict segregation, and systematic underdevelopment of indigenous areas. 

In the case of Israel, this general paradigm has largely been replicated. To start, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 coincided with the premeditated ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians in the fog of war. According to prominent Israeli historian Benny Morris, “transfer was inevitable and inbuilt in Zionism.” Thus, this was done to ensure the demographic majority necessary for a Jewish state to exist in the region. The right of return is one of the most fundamental human rights in international law. It was reaffirmed in UNGA Resolution 194, passed in 1949, which called for Israel to allow for the return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel proper at the earliest possible date. In response, Israel closed the border and barred any refugees from returning, completing their successful ethnic cleansing campaign, known by Palestinians as the “Nakba” or catastrophe. Since then, the Palestinian refugees have been confined to destitute refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria. They now number in the millions. If their basic human right, the right of return, were to be implemented, it would upset the Jewish demographic majority in Israel. 

It is this event, the equal application of human rights, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, that many portray as a “genocide” of Jews, or use language such as “the destruction of Israel” or “Israel being wiped off the map” to describe this event. I will overlook the implicit racism and dehumanization of Palestinians inherent to this framing, as that is a whole topic in and of itself. But let us ask ourselves: When the apartheid regime in South Africa fell, and black Africans were given equal rights, would we call that event “white genocide,” “South Africa being wiped off the map,” or “the destruction of South Africa”? No. We would not. 

And despite the often violent nature of South African resistance, black people coming to power did not result in them exacting revenge fantasies on their white oppressors. Even in a scenario as violent as the Rwandan Genocide, for example, the overthrow of the genocidal and grotesquely violent Hutu-supremacist regime, did not result in Tutsis, who just faced the most horrific violence imaginable, exacting revenge fantasies after taking power. These are two examples of relatively successful peacebuilding initiatives I can think of off the top of my head, as an undergraduate with no formal qualifications. Thus, when Reinhold expresses concern for “the murder of ten million people” after Palestinians are granted their basic human rights, this is done either out of intellectual laziness, or to justify the continued inhuman treatment of Palestinians under the status quo by, intentionally or not, portraying the Palestinians as a mindless, violent horde. Peaceful solutions which do respect the human rights of Palestinians are possible. History shows us this. When people engage in this kind of rhetoric, it tells me they don’t want that kind of a solution, a solution with equal rights for all, where the Palestinian grievances can be respected, rather than suppressed and bottled up, as they have been for the past 75 years.

On a related note, speaking out on campus and on social media, attending protests, calling representatives, and engaging in boycotts of companies supporting Israel’s onslaught in Gaza absolutely makes a difference. It is basically common knowledge that Israel cares deeply about its public perception in the West. Just like apartheid South Africa, its dependence on Western support is critical and without it, the Israeli apartheid regime would likely fall, just the same as South Africa. 

This article has gone on for far too long. Unfortunately, the issue of the refugees only scratches the surface of the extent of Palestinian suffering, although it is probably the most controversial issue in the entire conflict. In the future, I hope to go into more detail on the situation in Gaza and what has happened since 1948. Moving forward, Google is a great friend to find out more. The apartheid reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are long, but super informative. A more succinct, but inexhaustive version would be the B’Tselem apartheid report, which is a good starting point for learning more. 

At the same time, I do not want this article to come off as an attack against Becky Reinhold. On the contrary, I deeply respect and appreciate the courage it took to put herself out there in such a tense environment and open herself up to criticism. While I might have come off as harsh at times, I truly believe she had the best of intentions at heart, even despite being misguided. Awareness precedes actions and I do hope this article makes people more aware of their rhetoric and more careful about using, even unintentionally, racist and Orientalist tropes towards Palestinians. I do believe we can work together as a community in pursuing justice and fighting injustice around the world.

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  • T

    The writer of this articleJan 20, 2024 at 11:32 pm

    I am writing this in response to the most recent comment:

    I did not want to talk about my identity, and I still do not want to hear about your personal life and identity. I was wrong to make assumptions about you but that was only in response to you making assumptions about my identity which I did not appreciate. I will quote for you what you said in your first comment as I believe you will try and deny this:

    “I assume that you are a Westerner who does not speak Arabic and has never stepped foot in the Middle East, but secularism and pluralism are not one of the region’s strong suits.”

    I am happy that you admit to nitpicking my arguments or more euphemistically in your words, “correcting many more minor assertions you make” however, your reasoning for doing so makes no sense. Nitpicking will not refute the meat of my arguments, which you generally have avoided engaging with.

    I was very clear in my previous comment that I do not wish to engage with you, largely due to the fact that you continuously argue using fallacious logic and generally avoid engaging with the crux of my argument and the oceans of information out there from actual experts in the field (200 pg HRW report and 280 pg Amnesty report) on Israeli apartheid. It is clear you have not read them and have no interest in reading them. If you have read them, or if you will read them at some point, I would love to see your rebuttal. It would be pretty entertaining to read. And at this point, I am just trying to point you in the direction of people much better suited than me to argue these points (HRW, Amnesty), but alas, you refuse to educate yourself. Again, I do not want to continue talking with you in detail because you continue to attack me personally, make assumptions about my identity and pry into my personal life, strawman me, ceaselessly use logically fallacious arguments, and generally argue in bad faith. This has nothing to do with me being “not interested in hearing Jewish perspectives.” What you did right there is exactly what I am talking about when I say that you are arguing in bad faith.

    I think you want to continue talking about the Mizrahi perspective. However, I wrote this article to advocate the basic human rights of the Palestinians and fight Israeli apartheid in light of many problematic articles that this newspaper put out last term. The Mizrahi perspective is important, but it is not the reason why I wrote this article. I did not write this article to talk about Mizrahi Jewish identity and history and you and I both know that I am not qualified to do so.

    I love how you cherry-pick quotes from the UN to argue against the Palestinians’ basic human right of return. I can quote the UN too though, and you might not like what they have to say:

    “Under international law and the principle of family unity, the children of refugees and their descendants are also considered refugees until a durable solution is found. Both UNRWA and UNHCR recognize descendants as refugees on this basis, a practice that has been widely accepted by the international community, including both donors and refugee hosting countries.”

    “Palestine refugees are not distinct from other protracted refugee situations such as those from Afghanistan or Somalia, where there are multiple generations of refugees, considered by UNHCR as refugees and supported as such. Protracted refugee situations are the result of the failure to find political solutions to their underlying political crises”

    UNRWA also makes this very clear saying:

    “The protracted situation in which Palestine refugees live is not unique. UNHCR estimates that 78 per cent of all refugees under its mandate – 15.9 million refugees – were in protracted refugee situations at the end of 2017. According to UNHCR data, of the 20.1 million refugees under UNHCR protection in 2018, less than three percent of refugees (593,800) were repatriated back to their country of origin. Far fewer were resettled in a third country (92,400) or naturalized as citizens in their country of asylum (62,600). The vast majority remained refugees pending a solution to their plight.”

    So basically all of what you said about the UNHCR and UNRWA is just false. The Palestinians are not the only group that works like this and the UN makes it very clear. And your argument that Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank don’t count because “they were internally displaced from one part of the mandate to another” is idiotic. Under international law, there are two recognized states that make up the old mandate borders so those refugees in the “State of Palestine” are not “internally displaced” as the British Mandate does not exist anymore.

    I also find it funny that you argue against the Palestinians’ basic human right of return based on the idea that “everybody else did bad stuff so we can too” which is not a serious argument. When you bring up the Ottoman genocides of Assyrians, Greeks, and Armenians, is that supposed to somehow justify what happened to the Palestinians? That is not a serious argument. I will reiterate that I wrote this argument to talk about the basic human rights of the Palestinians and fight Israeli apartheid in light of a several pro-Israel articles. Again, (and this is a reason why I did not want to continue engaging with you) you imply that I am anti-Greek and anti-Armenian because I want to talk about Palestine. I will just repeat what I said in my previous comment “You also want to keep making this issue into a regional one, where I have to discuss the politics of every country in the region to defend the basic human rights of the Palestinians.”

    I told you I oppose ethnic-based nation states on principle. So yes, I’ll do the brain work for you and say that I also oppose Turkey. But again, I want to talk about Palestinian human rights, largely because the issue is particularly relevant right now considering the ongoing genocide in Gaza. And Palestine isn’t even a sovereign state to be considered an ethnostate. You and I both know that.

    Regarding the 1947 Partition, I didn’t even mention that 60% of the land was given to Israel, so your response isn’t relevant. Read more carefully next time. My point was that 30% of the mandate population was given 2/3 of the coastline and all fresh water sources. You also said that in such an arrangement Israel would have been an agricultural importer, which funnily enough, is what they are in the present day (a net importer of wheat) even with control over all fertile land in the former mandate. A colonizing minority in the mandate was simply given better land than the overwhelming majority indigenous population, plain and simple. There is nothing fair or equitable about that solution.

    At the same time, you keep ignoring my point that the 1947 partition would not have established peace, not in the short term and not in the long term. The same is true for India and Pakistan. And if you think one of the most terrifying nuclear standoffs in the world between India and Pakistan counts as peace in the long term then that is just ridiculous. Your point about India and Pakistan establishing sovereignty is irrelevant. Do you think I care about sovereignty when a nuclear apocalypse happens because of an idiotic partition plan?

    Your word choice is dishonest regarding what I said about nation-states. I did not say that states in general (including empires, city-states, kingdoms, tribal federations, and any other pre-modern state) are constructs in my previous comment. I was specifically talking about nation-states being a new, and uniquely destructive idea but also construct, which I think is far less important at preserving if you force me to choose between human rights and nation-states, which is the case in Israel. And yes, obviously stability is important for any society, but the idea that nation-states are the only type of state that can keep stability is false, and history shows us this.

    The Tanzimat, not “Tamazanit” as you called it repeatedly, most certainly had a profound impact on the region, an impact which was felt really until the 1980s. Secular courts, secular public education, and expanded civil bureaucracy were all permanent effects of the Tanzimat which were not rolled back with Abdelhamid II. Before then, the Ottoman Empire was ruled by religious courts, Sharia for Muslims, Christian courts for Christians, etc., any basic education and literacy was attained by attending seminaries run by the clergy, and the civil bureaucracy was limited to a few hundred literati in major cities. These reforms were inspired by the West but that doesn’t at all take away from my argument that the region was secular and secularizing for 150 years before the rise of Islamism in the 1980s. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about here so stop looking for cheap gotchas.

    The reign of Abdelhamid II was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of his reign, Russia had seized much of the Ottomans European holdings and the Ottomans defaulted on their debt to Europe, which basically made European powers control their budget until the empire’s fall. Because the empire was collapsing, nationalism was rampant, tax revolts were common, and political extremism took hold, whether it was pan-Islamic or pan-Turkic political extremism. Things continued to worsen and the Turkist CUP came to power and committed the late Ottoman genocides to Turkify Anatolia during WWI. So yes, you made the astute observation that horrible things happen when empires and societies are collapsing. Despite all the atrocities that took place in Anatolia in order to create nation-states in that region during the late Ottoman Empire, ethnic nationalism had yet to take hold in the southern (Arab) part of the Ottoman Empire, which is why similar genocides did not happen in the name of Arabism at that time. Yet again, you don’t know the situation, so stop looking for cheap gotchas.

    I never claimed that Islamism came after 2001. I never said that in any of my responses. I always put the date for the rise of Islamism at around the 1980s. You need to actually read my responses.

    And congrats, I was off by single digits when citing a number off the top of my head. The PLO has a whopping 17% approval rating actually. Either way, the PLO is deeply unpopular and their statements are not a good source of Palestinian public opinion.

    Palestinians saying they want some or all laws to be “based on Sharia” is not the same as Sharia. Even under Sharia, Jews would be governed by their own religious laws and Christians would be governed by theirs, as they were in the pre-Tanzimat Ottoman Empire. That Sharia-based system was called the Millet System, which was inherited in a more modern form in Bosnia, Israel, Lebanon, the PA, and many other former Ottoman countries. In the case of Lebanon and Bosnia, the Millet System was inherited as a system of proportional representation, which might be ideal in a one-state solution. Either way, it is undeniable that old religious laws and texts have a huge influence on people’s modern morality and laws. That is the case for basically every society in the world, even openly secular societies. Ask the same question about laws being based on the Bible to Americans and they would probably give you a similar response. You also might want to factor in the opinions of Palestinian citizens of Israel and those outside the country to get a better idea of what Palestinians want. Those with Israeli citizenship tend to vote for either Communist or Social-Democratic parties, with a smaller minority voting for social conservatives. Ask the millions of Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and abroad in general, if they want to return to their homeland. They would probably say yes. You have to consider their opinion too. And as I established, the two-state solution is not going to happen anymore. Netanyahu said recently that Israel will never allow a Palestinian state to exist. You and I both know that a two-state solution is not going to happen.

    Again, you keep trying to make this into a regional issue to make it seem as if the Palestinians have no valid reason for fighting Israel, as if they only fight because Iran tells them to do so. But I want you to tell me if you think the Palestinians should have just happily accepted colonization by foreigners. Actually, name me one case where a people happily accepted colonization by foreigners and never resisted. Since Oslo, a two state solution was never possible. Israel prevented it. Netanyahu said this quite explicitly recently. So in the time since Oslo, considering they never had a chance at a state, should the Palestinians just happily accept a regime that systematically imprisons, tortures, and kills them, a regime that promises to never leave? If not, do they have the right to resist peacefully at least? Peaceful resistance like the majority of the First Intifada and the 2018 Great March of Return were met with horrific violence by Israel, with the unconditional support of the West. If they do not have the right to resist peacefully, do they have the right to resist violently? Israel and the West gives the Palestinians no options: No right to resist peacefully, no right to resist violently, no right to a two state solution, and no right to a one state solution. In your eyes, and in the eyes of the West, the only right the Palestinians have is to leave or die. Palestinians are, more than any other people, held to an unfair and unrealistic standard. If you don’t answer all of these questions, I will keep copy and pasting them in my future responses, so make this easy for both of us.

    If you don’t understand my Jim Crow comparison then actually read the Amnesty and HRW reports.

    Reply
    • T

      Tired of Living Through HistoryJan 21, 2024 at 10:04 pm

      You do not seem to be interested in a two-way discussion, so I will keep it brief. Quoting UNRWA isn’t the sort of “gotcha” you believe it is; of course, the organization would have an inherent bias towards itself. By that logic, quoting Benny Morris when it suits your narrative would mean you could not disagree with his other statements.

      Let’s look at UNRWA’s statements compared to U.N. resolutions made independent of UNRWA. And then, let’s compare UNRWA to the UNHCR standards applied to every other set of refugees.

      Under Article I(c)(3) of the 1951 U.N. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, a person is no longer considered a refugee if they “acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality .”Again, very plain and straightforward, most of the Palestinian refugees in Jordan would not be considered refugees as they have obtained the nationality of a U.N. member state and enjoy its complete protection.

      Additionally, if you want to quote from UNRWA, let’s quote from UNRWA:
      “registration with UNRWA does not afford refugee status under the 1951 Geneva Convention, but provides services and assistance based on a definition that sets out eligibility for receipt of such services”. Even UNRWA admits it cannot give official refugee status since it operates outside the 1951 refugee convention. And yet you continue to pretend as if Palestinian refugees would be considered refugees under UNHCR standards when even UNRWA says this is false.

      This is not even getting into the fact that UNRWA has consistently changed its standards for its “refugee” status. In 1965, the definition of Palestinian refugee included third-generation descendants of displaced Palestinians, and then in 1982, to all patrilineal descendants of displaced Palestinians (including adopted children).

      This blanket status does not apply to UNHCR refugees, who are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and held to the 1951 Conventions of Refugees. Children of refugees registered with the UNHCR are only considered refugees if they are considered refugees under the 1951 conventions. This convention- which UNRWA is not beholden to is the only standard through which someone can receive refugee status. These are basic facts, no matter how much you cherry-pick UNRWA quotes or utilize the omission of fact fallacy. And again, appeals to authority are not substitutes for genuine legal analysis.

      You further your erroneous UNRWA=UNHCR argument via a false equivalence fallacy. Again, the fact that most UNHCR refugees have not received citizenship in a secondary country and thus are still refugees several generations after several generations- a status that is in line with the 1951 conventions on refugees- is not the same as UNRWA giving everyone blanket “refugee” status in-spite of the 1951 U.N. Convention on refugees. The amount of mental gymnastics you had to do to reach this conclusion is genuinely stunning.

      Again, you continue to make bad faith/strawman arguments. I never said that the genocide of Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians justified the Nakba. I have made it very clear that the Nakba was a tragedy and not justified and that Israel should compensate descendants to make a genuine attempt at peace.

      What I did say, if you had bothered to read my statement, is that people who claim to be against Israel’s existence based on the Nakba tend not to hold other states accountable to the same standards. For instance, in the Muslim world, people will be fine with Turkey’s existence despite its far more egregious founding history and yet not Israel’s. For example, many Americans are happy to live in safety in their country founded on indigenous displacement and disenfranchisement. They yet will ask us to leave our ancestral land for countries that won’t take us back and would likely kill us if we wanted to return. I am happy you are consistent in standards.

      Again, I asked you to look at the map of the partition. The map was based on areas where both populations lived and owned properties. Most of the coastline from Tel Aviv to Haifa and around the Sea of Galilee (the source of most of the region’s freshwater) was primarily Jewish-owned and populated. I have reiterated this point over and over and over again. The Jews did not magically get land based on nothing. The U.N. gave the Jews a state on land that Jews overwhelmingly legally owned. Do you genuinely not understand how land ownership works, or are you trying to be dense? How is it fair or equitable that Venezuela owns land in an oil-rich area while Uruguay has nothing?

      Additionally, I am not sure in what world legally purchasing land from willing ARAB sellers in a foreign territory constitutes “colonizing, ” but you are incapable of thinking beyond a binary. In your simplistic view of the world, of course, because the Jews are the “colonist oppressors,” they deserve to have their legally purchased land stripped from them. Perhaps you could apply this logic to yourself and give your family’s property to your local indigenous people group since you likely never even purchased directly from them.

      And my apologies for the misspelling of Tanzimat; English is my fourth language, and my spellcheck got me. Although if spelling, punctuation, and grammar were a proxy for logical coherency, your above statement is not doing you any favors.

      You stated that Islamism had only risen 150 years after the Tanzimat. Since the Tanzimat was around 1839-1876, I assumed that you meant Islam only arose in the 90s to early 2000s (since 150 years after 1876 would obviously be impossible). It would help if you were specific with your dates and periods, given that certain events have ranges of dates to them.

      And you continue to ignore my points about the Tanzimat. Yes, this legislation existed on paper, but did it work in principle? Your argument was “because this legislation existed in theory,” but did it work in practice? The answer is no; the Ottoman authorities Tanzimat did not enforce the rights and protections it promised to minorities. Again, this is the equivalent of stating: “America was trending toward tolerance and equal rights after the Civil War because of the 15th Amendment”. The previous statement is invalid because, in practice, this was not true.

      And you ignore my point about Islamism. The context of Abdelhamid II’s rain does not matter; his actions do, and he promoted pan-Islamism as a national ideology (no matter how much you try to make it seem that the ideologies’ rise happened independently of the Ottoman court). So no, it did not magically appear in the 1980s, as you claim. It has always been a powerful force, even before the arrival of the Europeans into the land. In fact, since the dawn of the modern Middle East, it has rivaled and fought against secular Arab nationalism and European imperialism. For instance, the Muslim Brotherhood (predecessor to Hamas) was founded in the 1920s.

      Speaking of this fight, secular Arab leaders were more often than not iron-fisted and incompetent (see Hafez al-Assad, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddhafi, etc). Because of this and the fact they would try to monitor and regulate religious activity, these secular leaders were despised by their populations. Islamists have successfully drawn a connection between secularism and the abuses and excesses of secular Arab regimes.

      So no, Islamism is not a new phenomenon, and the fact that it has risen in power in the last few years is not simply because of “The West.”

      Again, you need to catch up on the point with the PLO, so I’ll say it to you again. It does not matter that the PLO recently took a nosedive in popularity in recent months. They are the most secular and progressive faction in Palestinian politics, and they say they do not want a completely secular state non-Arab ethnostate. The faction they lost popularity to in the last two months, Hamas, wants an Islamic caliphate where the Muslims rise and kill the Jews. Again, no major Palestinian political party wants a state with the Jews, and unless the Palestinians come up with new leadership, this will remain true. And since the Palestinians themselves are by and large against the one-state solution (a fact you seem to ignore), this will continue to stay ture.

      And are you seriously advocating for a Millet system?

      From the Armenian National Insititute: “The Ottoman state, variously called Turkey or the Turkish Empire, was governed according to Islamic law which relegated non-Muslims to second class status by denying them basic civil rights and requiring them to pay extra taxes. This discriminatory system was institutionalized through the so-called millet system which permitted the Armenians communal autonomy as a religious minority, much as the Greeks and Jews, while depriving them from all forms of political participation.”

      Again, do you think that the Jewish population or other religious minorities, such as the Druze, would gladly accept this?

      First off, not everyone Arab with Israeli citizenship identifies as a Palestinian. Try going into a Druze village and telling them that they’re Palestinian, and see what reaction you get. Additionally, as I have said before, it is not your place as someone who lives in Minnesota to decide what someone else identity and history is (that, quite frankly, is imperialism).

      And no, the most popular party amongst Arab citizens of Israel is a conservative Islamist party -which is allowed in Israel, by the way, unlike Jews in most of the Arab world- called Ra’am. And by the way, even the leader of Ra’am Mansour Abbas has called upon Hamas to disarm and for both sides to work for a two-state solution. But I am sure you, as a self-identified “progressive humanitarian” in Minnesota, know what’s better for Palestinians than the most democratically elected Palestinian (he self-identifies that way) from the river to the sea. I am sure you know what’s better than someone whose intersectional identities bind him to all regional groups and who received the most Arab votes out of any politician in this land?

      Because it is and historically has been! Even you admit that pan-Arabism was a powerful force in the region. So, which is it? Pan-Arabism was never a powerful force in the area, and it was just Israel against the Palestinians with no involvement amongst the rest of the Arab world at all, or Pan-Arabism united the Arab world against “Israeli colonization”? Please have some consistency.

      Additionally, look at the history of massacres in the British mandate. These massacres were started by the Palestinians precisely because they did not like the fact that Jews were legally buying land from Arab owners. Many of these massacres even targeted the long-standing Sephardic Old Yishuv population (see 1929 Hebron Massacre). If more Mexican Americans purchase land in Texas, does that give Non-Hispanic White Americans to slaughter them? The fact that you chalk up massacres like Hebron as resistance is genuinely remarkable and indicative of your simplistic thinking.

      And again, you can only make peace if both sides genuinely want it. When the PLO, under Yasser Arafat, was the leading force in Palestinian politics, their principal goal was ethnic cleansing. I am assuming you think the Jews should have accepted this proposal, even if it meant going back to countries that would be more than hostile to them.

      And again, regarding Hamas, do you understand that they have been in the region in some form or another since before most of the modern states of the Middle East? Their goal is rooted in pan-Islamism, an ideology that advocates for enforcing an Islamic state onto others, quite literally a form of imperialism.

      Do you understand that they acted against the Oslo Accords because they were so antithetical to peace? You know this is the same group that says that they are willing to sacrifice millions of their people for their political goals, as stated by Khaled Mashal? So, no, they are not acting because they care about the lives and well-being of their people.

      And largely non-violent, the Intifada? Again, do you know anything about the Intifada? It started because the Palestinian population accused a truck driver of intentionally killing Palestinian workers in a car accident as revenge for an Israeli stabbed in Gaza earlier. From the Wikipedia Page: ” The Palestinian response was characterized by protests, civil disobedience, and violence.[14][15] There was graffiti, barricading,[16][17] and widespread throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli army and its infrastructure within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Do you think any human being would gladly accept being blown up by a Molotov cocktail? A similar event happened with the March of Return.

      And I know I forgot to mention this in response to your previous comment. The right-wing justified the retreat from Gaza via demographics and defensibility; the left wing justified it as necessary for peace with the Palestinians. The reasons for it varied, but the reason does not matter. The result does.

      The result was that Hamas took over and launched missile attacks immediately. I am doubtful that you know much about the geography of the conflict, but Tel Aviv is less than 10 miles away from the West Bank. Look at a topographical map of a region; the adjacent area in the West Bank is all hilly. Hamas, during its attack on Oct 7. was able to reach 20 miles into Israel. If Israel withdrew unilaterally from the West Bank, Hamas would likely quickly overwhelm the P.A. and threaten Tel Aviv.

      I am sorry, but you do not get to gamble with the lives of 4 million people just because you see yourself as such a big-hearted humanitarian and live in safety 6000 miles away.

      This reality is not something that is acknowledged by the Amnesty or the HRW report. These reports also force the Palestinian identity on a diverse group of people (Arab citizens of Israel), who, depending on their ethnoreligious and personal experiences, may or may not identify with the said identity to various degrees. They also do not acknowledge that many of the things that they cite as apartheid are recent developments after security issues. The border wall only appeared a decade ago after the Second Intifada; the checkpoints came in the 90s, and the blockade in the late 2000s (backed by Egypt). Before the ’90s, one could drive from Gaza, Tel Aviv, to Jericho, and back to Gaza in one day without a single checkpoint.

      But you storming off and saying, “Read the report and make my argument for me,” is not a valid argument. You are the “activist” it is your job to educate.

      And yes, Palestinians should have the right to self-determination and a state of their own, just like we should have the right to security. And yes, they should have the right to resist nonviolently against both Israel and their corrupt governments (the P.A. and Hamas do not tolerate dissent). I feel you are having trouble understanding that multiple things can be true. Two groups of people live here.

      And the solution is multifaceted. It means calling out people on both sides and following examples set by the E.U., Egypt, and Abbas, which is calling for Hamas to surrender, calling for a release of the hostages, calling for a two-state solution, calling for the Palestinian Authority to stop teaching antisemitism in its schools, calling out the Israeli settler enterprise, calling out the maniacs in Israel’s government, etc.

      I know you are young, but the world is complicated, and many things in life do not fit the binary paradigm. You might be idealistic, but again, before the existence of nation-states, humans organized themselves through empire. A system we obviously cannot go back to. I know you mean well, but ultimately, we need a workable solution based on reality and people willing to employ it on both sides.

      I have tried to bring some nuance into the conversation, but at the end of the day, I will not respond to anyone who feels the need to demonize either side or a group of people. You can advocate for the human rights of Palestinians without whitewashing everything the Arab world has done or rewriting our history as Mizrahi Jews. And I do apologize if my language was angry, I just am tired of having my Mizrahi identity and history erased by non-Jews living miles away.

      Reply
  • S

    Someone Who Lives in the Middle EastJan 15, 2024 at 8:10 pm

    This article contains several historical fallacies and frankly dishonest arguments. Where do I even begin? Let’s start by breaking down each fallacious paragraph.

    Paragraph 2:
    Yes, modern Zionism started in the late 19th century under the guise of Theodor Herzl. This paragraph completely ignores the context of its rise. Why would a man who was so secular and irreligious that, at one point, he advocated that Jewish children should get baptized to better fit into Christian Europe?

    Herzl advocated for the return of Jews because he saw that no matter how “Enlightened” Europe was, the Jews would always be the other. And if you were a Jew, in the context of 19th and 20th-century European antisemitism and the lead-up to the holocaust, I doubt that you would not have considered emigration. In fact, in 20th-century Europe, a common antisemitic phrase uttered to Jews was “Go back to Palestine where you belong.”

    This article also ignores the fact that Zionism comes in several different flavors (for more information, look at the Wikipedia article), of which only one advocate for total control of the land between the river and the sea. One can be a Zionist while being critical of Israeli policy and the Occupation. Yet, this article makes the fallacious assumption that Zionism supports everything Israel does all the time.

    This paragraph also ignores the importance of the land and the return to the land to Jewish identity.

    If Zionism is only a modern secular political movement divorced from Jewish identity, explain to me why the al-yahudu tablets talked about the Jew’s desire to return to Zion in 538 BCE (i.e., 500 years before the birth of Christ and 1000 before the founding of Islam)? Explain why our most crucial prayer is literally called “Shema Israel” (hear Israel). Explain why dreidls in the diaspora have lettering corresponding to the acronym “a miracle happened there,” whereas dreidls in Israel say “a miracle happened here.” Please explain why, on many important holidays, Jews celebrate a return to Israel (such as Passover).

    No matter how you slice it, the land is a central part of Jewish history and identity, and downplaying this connection is ahistorical.

    Paragraph 3:
    Jews, yes, have existed in forced exile across the world; however, in most cases have existed as separate entities from their host population.

    I’m guessing the author of this post is not Jewish and is trying to see Judaism through a Christian lens. Judaism, unlike Christianity and Islam, is not a universal religion. It does not seek to impose itself on non-Jews, nor does it expect that people outside the tribe adopt its mitzvot.

    Jews have historically seen themselves as one people, and despite millennia in exile, have scientifically proven genetic links to the levant and to each other.

    Paragraph 5:
    This paragraph is just blatantly dishonest cherry-picking and omission of data followed by a false dichotomy fallacy.

    Yes, 45% of Jews say that caring about Israel is essential to being Jewish. However, you imply that the majority of Jews (55% do not care about Israel). You likely intentionally- left out that another 37% said that caring about Israel is important but not essential to being Jewish. However, you dishonestly misrepresent data; the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of American Jews (a whopping 82%) consider caring about Israel to be important to their identity.

    You further your facetious argument, presenting a false dichotomy between caring about Israel and Justice. One can care about a country and criticize its policies when they are in justice. In fact, genuinely caring about your country to most people with a shred of critical thinking skills means charging it when it is committed unjust acts.

    Paragraph 6:
    Very few people argue that the Palestinians do not have ties to the Middle East. A quick search on NIH finds: “Archaeologic and genetic data support that Jews and Palestinians came from the ancient Canaanites, who extensively mixed with Egyptians, Mesopotamian, and Anatolian peoples in ancient times. Thus, Palestinian-Jewish rivalry is based on cultural and religious, but not on genetic, differences.”

    However, the issue is that many so-called zionists will paint Jews as “white Europeans,” no matter how ahistorical and unscientific this is. Jews have preserved the last Canaanite language of the land long after the land’s Arabization.

    Paragraph 7:
    Becky never claimed that Palestinians were not indigenous to the land, rendering the corpus of this paragraph to be a strawman argument. But let’s get the sheer amount of historical revisionism in this statement.

    The term Palestinian Jews is a blatant misnomer. No Jews are living in Palestine under Palestinian rule. Do you know why? Because Jordan and Egypt kicked them out of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Jews were explicitly excluded from Palestinian national identity. The proper term for Jews living in the region before Herzl is the Old Yishuv, nearly all of whom have assimilated into the general Israeli population.

    Please look at the following Wikipedia pages: the Old Yishuv, the New Yishuv, and Jewish land purchases in Palestine. Jews had been legally purchasing land under Ottoman law decades before the British stepped into the region. The British were, at times, hostile to Jewish migration and the formation of a Jewish state. In fact, on the precipice of the holocaust, the British (under Arab pressure) blocked Jewish migration in 1939. The Jews of the mandate even fought a long insurgency against the British. So no, the Jews did not “colonize” the mandate with British blessing (see the 2015 Vox Article “The 11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine” for more information)

    Paragraphs 8:
    Yes, the Nakba was a grave injustice against the Arab population; I will not deny that. However, are we going to just choose to ignore the actions of the Arab world at the time?

    Why did the initial civil war start in Palestine in 1947? Resolution 181 (II) ring a bell? When the Arab world explicitly ignored an internationally backed two-state solution to the decades of violence and massacres in the mandate (initiated by the Arab side).

    Are we going to ignore the genocidal statements made by the leaders such as Azzam, Leader of the Arab League in 1947- threatening to cause a massacre “that would rival the Mongols”? Are we going to ignore the fact that Hefaz al-Assad said that they would pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews?

    Additionally, if we are to talk about displacements, are we going to willingly ignore the ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Jews from the Middle East? If Palestinians deserve compensation for their lost lands, why is it that no one advocates that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc, return their properties? Why is it that Palestinians have the only refugee status that is inheritable, whereas Israeli Jews are essentially told to suck it up? It is simple because it is convenient to the Arab world and uninformed Westerners who see this conflict through a binary lens.

    Paragraph 9:

    Going off of my rebuttal of paragraph 8, we have plenty of historical evidence to see why a one-state solution will not work, from the multiple genocides that the Arab world has attempted against Israel to the fact that almost no Jews remain in the Arab world, and to the fact that the ADL often ranks the region as the most antisemitic on the world. And, of course, stuffing opposed ethnoreligious groups into one area and calling it a country has historically worked so well in the Middle East (see Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, etc).

    Let’s take a look at what the Palestinians themselves state. Here’s some excerpts from the Palestinian constitution:

    Article (2): Palestine is part of the Arab nation. The state of Palestine abides by the charter of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal the Palestinian people hope to achieve.

    Article 5: Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion

    Article (7) The principles of Islamic Shari’a are a major source for legislation.

    Remember that this is the relatively secular and pro-peace internationally recognized government of Palestine. And we’re not getting into the fact that their original 1968 charter called for the expulsion of all Jews outside of the Old Yishuv or the fact that Hamas’ explicit goal is the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic caliphate. No matter how you slice it and dice it, the Palestinians do not want to live in a secular state with the Jews.

    I assume that you are a Westerner who does not speak Arabic and has never stepped foot in the Middle East, but secularism and pluralism are not one of the region’s strong suits.

    In summary, your article has so many historical inaccuracies that this rebuttal is likely more extended than the original. Journalistic integrity may not be the intention of this article, but I recommend that you heed your advice and treat Google as a friend and not a personal echo chamber.

    Additionally, instead of condescendingly belittling Becky with misrepresented statistics, historical revisionism, and strawman arguments, you should take the time to talk to her and others in the Jewish community. Perhaps instead of posing as a Middle East expert and the sole proprietor of Jewish identity, you could take the time to center yourself on the stories and lived experiences of both Jews and Palestinians in the region. Perhaps before writing something so clearly entwined with Western saviorism and false dichotomies, you might want actually to try to come live here and understand the complex geopolitical reality we live in.

    Reply
    • T

      The writer of this articleJan 16, 2024 at 4:43 am

      As the writer of this article, I feel the need to respond. Unfortunately, your response in large part, ignored the main points of my argument, and introduced many irrelevant points. I will do my best to respond to all of them.

      Paragraph 2:
      You seem to be defending the importance of the land of Israel to Jewish culture and religion. This is not something I even questioned in the article. The land being important to Jewish identity isn’t even something that undermines the case for a single state with equal rights for both peoples.

      You also mentioned the motives for Eastern European Jews developing Zionism which do contextually makes sense, although this is entirely irrelevant to my main argument.

      You also make the point about Zionism being an umbrella term for a collection of ideologies, which is true. Perhaps if we were in the year 1905 that would be a relevant point to make. However, considering how Revisionist Zionist parties have been dominating Israeli politics for the past 50 years, and have had near uncontested control for the past 20, it is safe to say when people call themselves Anti-Zionists, that (at the very least) is what they are opposing. If you want to get technical, it is possible that someone could be a Zionist and even believe in a binational one state solution, however, those Zionists are few and far between today. Ultimately, pro-Palestine advocates like myself express our opposition to Israel based on, among other things, their denial of the Palestinian right of return since 1948 and the apartheid state which has existed since 1948. In all of your rambling, I do notice you never really engage with the reality that Israel is an apartheid regime. And that is largely what informs our opposition to Israel. Perhaps if the term “Anti-Zionism” or our opposition to how we envision “Zionism” is too difficult for you to understand, I will simply refer to myself as a “pro-Palestine advocate” from now on, as I don’t think I need to be a scholar on the intricacies of Zionism throughout history to advocate the basic human rights of Palestinians and fight against Israeli apartheid.

      Paragraph 3:
      What I say in my article does not contradict what you say in this response. Actually, some of what you say complements it quite nicely. Anyway, I never said Judaism is a universal religion and I’m not sure where I even implied that. The point on Jewish genetic links to the holy land I also mention later in my article.

      Paragraph 5:
      It was my mistake to engage with this discussion. Jewish attitudes on Israel is a topic I am not too familiar with. At the same time, it is largely irrelevant to whether or not someone can fight against apartheid and stand up for the basic human rights of the Palestinians.

      The point on justice is important and you don’t seem to really get it. “Caring about your country” is not something that is important to me. Modern nation states are constructs of the past 150 years. I care about humans first, not countries, so I don’t view this issue through that lens. Rather, we must acknowledge that a one state solution already has happened. That one state is Israel and it commits regular and systematic atrocities against the Palestinians. So if one cares about justice for people the dimension of “caring about your country” shouldn’t even come into play here. Justice transcends borders, religion, race, and ethnicity. That is why I brought it up here.

      Paragraph 6:
      I am glad we agree here.

      Paragraph 7:
      You seemed to have skimmed my article because you seem to invent statements or arguments of mine that I never made. I never said Becky denies the indigeneity of Palestinians.

      You also say the use of the term “Palestinian Jew” is historical revisionism. This is partly true, however, the use of the word “Palestinian Muslim” or “Palestinian Christian” would also be historical revisionism, as the use of word “Palestinian” to describe Southern Levantine, Arabic-speaking people of any religion, is a very modern thing (mid 20th century). However, it seems your main issue here is the implication that Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs once held common identities and cultures. The Old Yishuv was a community of Arabic-speaking, Southern Levantine people and thus, they would also have fallen into the modern category “Palestinian.” A big reason why the Old Yishuv was not more included in modern Palestinian identity is because a well-defined Israeli identity already existed at the time when Palestinians were still trying to figure out their national identity.

      Whether or not the British supported Zionist colonization of Palestine is irrelevant actually. It is especially irrelevant considering the fact that Zionist colonization predated the British mandate by about 40 years. In addition, this supposedly mutually antagonistic relationship you attest to only existed for a short period in the 1940s and was a direct result of the British ruling in favor of the Palestinians, after the Palestinians largely succeeded in their 1936 Revolt. Not only that, but other undeniably colonial projects often did have antagonistic relations with the mother country, the most obvious example being the US.

      Paragraph 8:
      Bringing up “the actions of the Arab world at the time” seems to be a form of victim blaming. Anyway, UN resolution 181 is talked about far too much. For one, it is not the silver bullet you think it is. I’m happy the 1947 UN partition plan for India and Pakistan worked so well at ensuring peace and preventing conflict for years to come. Not only did it fail in the long term, but the UN partition plan of India and Pakistan led to a conflict almost immediately after in 1947. A big reason for this was due to the undefined borders between the two nascent states.

      In the case of Israel, this same dynamic played out. While the Yishuv accepted the partition plan, they were not too fond of the borders of their new state. Rather, they simply accepted the idea of a Jewish state, without clearly defined borders, with the eventual intention of expanding to the whole of Mandatory Palestine. Ben Gurion himself stated “After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.”

      You seem to be quoting from a quote dump because Hafez Al Assad’s quote is totally irrelevant to what happened in 1948 as he didn’t become dictator of Syria until 1970. He is also not Palestinian. Azzam Pasha also is an Egyptian and not Palestinian. Let us also keep in mind the Arab League didn’t intervene in the war until May 1948, after a full six months of war between Palestinian and Zionist militias.

      Israeli Jews aren’t exactly told to “suck it up.” But both you and I know that if you went and asked any Israeli Jew from an Arab country if they wanted to go back, they would say no. They also live in a first world country, which immediately assimilated them and gave them citizenship. The total opposite is the case for Palestinian refugees. The nature of the flight of 800,000 Arab Jews is unfortunate and in many cases, could constitute ethnic cleansing by local governments. However, Israel also made great efforts to extract and evacuate large numbers of Jews from these countries. In most countries, Jews were not allowed to emigrate to Israel, which is why Israel had to bribe local officials, stage terrorist attacks to frighten local Jews into leaving (Iraq), and do logistically complex evacuations to get these Jews to come to Israel. Sure, Arab governments might have to pay compensation to those Jews who, in some cases, were expelled. However, it isn’t Palestinians who did these expulsions, so you cannot fault them for it.

      Paragraph 9:
      You choose to ignore similar examples from much worse situations. South Africa and even Rwanda were shown to be successful peace building initiatives. And I cannot stress how unlikely it seemed that peace in Rwanda could succeed, considering genocide actually did happen, ethnic divisions were ancient, and regional dynamics were similarly awful (Burundi, Congo). I know for a fact you don’t know anything about Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon. But I’ll make a wild guess that constant western and in the latter case, Israeli meddling in these societies makes them incredibly dysfunctional.

      I find it funny you quote the PA charter, when they have I think around a 10% approval rating. It is safe to say they don’t represent Palestinians. Hamas never said they want an Islamic caliphate. Most support they do have is not out of religious affinity, but rather due to the fact that time and time again, they have succeeded in extracting concessions from Israel by means of armed struggle, while the PA has totally failed in that regard using peaceful means.

      I do not want to reveal my identity. But I will just say that you make many wrong assumptions about my identity and background. And I also find it funny your response just devolves into ad hominems at this point. You have probably never visited an Arab country, nor befriended Arabs on equal footing as you, nor had any interest in understanding their perspective, their culture, their history, or their religions. Rather, it seems to me your entire perception of the Arab world, and in this case, Palestinians as well, are founded in Orientalist assumptions, among them, being that the Middle East is a region beset by endless religious conflict for all of history, ignoring the long history of largely peaceful coexistence between various religions. Pre-colonization, the Middle East was a religiously pluralistic society, which you just ignore or are totally ignorant of. You have ignored the role of the West in shattering that religious pluralism over the 19th and 20th centuries. You have also ignored the fact that secular Arab nationalism dominated the region for most of the 20th century and Islamism is largely a product of the US relationship with Saudi Arabia.

      I advise you to read the apartheid reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. You would rather live in an echo chamber though. That is what I meant when I said that google is a great friend.

      The rest of this is just ad hominems but it’s clear you don’t care about the lived experiences of Palestinians.

      Reply
      • J

        JerusalemiteJan 16, 2024 at 3:00 pm

        Hello,

        Thank you for your response. Regarding your assumptions regarding my identity and background, unlike you, I live in the Middle East and not Minnesota. I am a Carleton alumni who speaks Hebrew and Arabic fluently. I might be revealing too much about my identity, but I volunteered to help raise literacy in East Jerusalem before the war. Additionally, I have worked with Palestinian victims of domestic abuse and LGBT Palestinian refugees in Israel (including a man who was beheaded in the West Bank by his compatriots).

        Paragraph 1:
        I largely agree with your statement and sentiments about Revisionist Zionism. However, I have some criticisms about the time frame.

        Israeli politics before the Oslo Accords was defined by the left-wing socialist-inclined labor party whose goal was and still is a two-state solution.

        The problem many Jews and I have with self-declared antizionists is that they, more often than not, do not understand that Zionism is an umbrella but instead oppose Israel’s existence as a whole.

        And I agree that an apartheid-like system is in place in the West Bank. Was it intentionally designed this way in 1993? No, Yitzhak Rabin genuinely pursued peace. Are there legitimate concerns for why a unilateral end to the occupation cannot end (beyond simple ethnonationalism and Revisionist Zionism)? Yes, as evidenced by Gaza in 2007. Do we need to advocate dismantling Israel to end the occupation? No.

        Paragraph 5:

        See my response above to paragraph 1.

        Your response does not even begin to address the crux of my argument. The way you presented your statistics seemed to imply that most American Jews do not care about Israel, which is incorrect given the actual data. Whether you like it or not, most American Jews have a connection to Israel, whether spiritual or familial.

        And yes, Becky can care about Israel while pursuing safety for both people. The fact that you present this as a dichotomy is dishonest.

        Paragraph 7:
        I bring up the actions of the Arab world at the time because they are relevant to this discussion. Whether you like it or not, this conflict is far more extensive than just Israel against the “weak Palestinians” (there’s a reason that the broader conflict is called the “Arab-Israeli Conflict). Historically, it was Israel against the entire Arab world, and now it is Israel against Qatar and Iran.

        And regarding the partition, yes, the partition of India had caused a displacement on both sides, but at the end of the day. There were defined borders in Pakistan and India, just like those in Israel and Palestine (look at the map of the proposed partition). This argument is frankly historically incorrect and could easily be corrected with a simple Google search.

        Regarding your Ben Gurion quote, I cannot find a comprehensive source for it besides a few political organizations. It comes from a 1937 letter whose actual content is of dispute. Assuming this was true, this was explicit regarding the Peele Commission and why the Yishuv rejected a 20-80 partition. Policies and ideas change, especially given the ever-changing nature of the conflict. It would be more honest to look at Israeli statements made closer to the actual partition, such as the Declaration of Independence, which explicitly said: “WE EXTEND our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its land.”

        Interestingly, you mention Iraq, a country that briefly overthrew its Hashemite dynasty in favor of a Nazi-affiliated government. Let’s talk about Iraq, a country that engaged in the violent dispossession of roughly an estimated 60 million dollars worth of Jewish property during the Farhud. A country that made Zionism a crime and threw any Jew who was accused of Zionism by at least two Muslim witnesses in jail with no trial. Let’s talk about Iraq, a country whose president threatened violence against the Jewish community if Israel did not take them. And then let’s blame an unfounded Mossad conspiracy theory on the expulsion of Iraq’s Jews. Rassef29, a Lebanese-based pan-Arab news channel, debunks these claims well.

        And yes, Jews were used as a bargaining chip against Israel by the Arab world; you’re just helping my point. And yes, the Palestinians are not directly responsible for these expulsions; however, as I have said above, the conflict goes beyond just the Israelis and the Palestinians. It would be disingenuous to talk about restitution without talking about this displacement and the hypocrisy of the Arab League.

        Finally, the term “Arab Jews” is a blatant form of erasure, and it is clear to me you have never met a Mizrahi Jew before. As I have said before, you do not get to be the sole proprietor of Jewish identity. The Arab world has made it clear that it does not see this population as Arab (see the Wikipedia Article on Antisemitism in the Arab World) and only uses this label when it is convenient. As such, the vast majority of Mizrahi Jews vehemently reject this label, and it is not your place to force it on them.

        Paragraph 9:

        I have read HRW (an organization disavowed by its founder) and Amnesty International. I have disputed the settlements, advocated for a two-state solution, and advocated for an end to the occupation for years. In the beginning, these settlements were just Jews returning to the homes the Palestinians and Jordanians kicked them out of in 1929 and 1967 respectively, but at the end of the day, I think they need to be sacrificed for the greater good.

        Additionally, I mention the PLO/Palestinian Authority because they are the internationally recognized governing body of Palestine as well as the most pro-peace and pro-coexistence faction in Palestinian politics. Even the Palestinian Authority, who are accused by many Palestinians today of being too close to Israel, have disavowed the idea of secular non-Arabethnostate. And when they were the most powerful faction in Palestinian politics under Arafat, they advocated for ethnic cleansing.

        If even the most pro-peace faction of Palestinian society rejects a secular state, you could imagine how most Palestinians would feel.

        And are you kidding me about Hamas’ goals? Its full name (حركة المقاومة الإسلامية) means the Islamic Resistance Movement, with no mention of Palestine anywhere. All you need to do is quick Google/Wikipedia or pay attention to its leaders’ statements to see how false your claims are.

        Fathi Hammad has gone on TV and explicitly stated they want a caliphate. The original charter -which was never revoked by the 2017 revisions, btw- explicitly states: “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them.”

        In the case of Lebanon, if religious tolerance was so perfect, explain to me why the Maronites explicitly advocated for the creation of a Christian state. If religious tolerance was so excellent in the Arab world, explain to me why Maimonides wrote about the humiliation Jews suffered under Islamic rule.

        I’ll tell you why because this statement is as much of a myth as saying post-civil rights America is a bastion of racial harmony and tolerance. Of course, tolerance varied wildly based on the ruler and region we were talking about and what period we were talking about; however, categorizing the atmosphere of the Middle East pre-20th century as “pluralistic” is ahistorical and intellectually lazy.

        For instance, here’s a list of pogroms in the Muslim world from the foundation of Islam to the publication of Der Judenstaat:

        622 – 627: ethnic cleansing of Jews from Mecca and Medina, (Jewish boys publicly inspected for pubic hair. if they had any, they were executed)
        629: 1st Alexandria Massacres, Egypt
        622 – 634: extermination of the 14 Arabian Jewish tribes
        1106: Ali Ibn Yousef Ibn Tashifin of Marrakesh decrees death penalty for any local Jew, including his Jewish Physician, and Military general.
        1033: 1st Fez Pogrom, Morocco
        1148: Almohadin of Morocco gives Jews the choice of converting to Islam, or expulsion
        1066: Granada Massacre, Muslim-occupied Spain
        1165 – 1178: Jews nation wide were given the choice (under new constitution) convert to Islam or die, Yemen
        1165: chief Rabbi of the Maghreb burnt alive. The Rambam flees for Egypt.
        1220: tens of thousands of Jews killed by Muslims after being blamed for Mongol invasion, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Egypt
        1270: Sultan Baibars of Egypt resolved to burn all the Jews, a ditch having been dug for that purpose; but at the last moment he repented, and instead exacted a heavy tribute, during the collection of which many perished.
        1276: 2nd Fez Pogrom, Morocco
        1385: Khorasan Massacres, Iran
        1438: 1st Mellah Ghetto massacres, North Africa
        1465: 3rd Fez Pogrom, Morocco (11 Jews left alive)
        1517: 1st Safed Pogrom, Ottoman Palestine
        1517: 1st Hebron Pogrom, Ottoman Palestine Marsa ibn Ghazi Massacre, Ottoman Libya
        1577: Passover Massacre, Ottoman empire
        1588 – 1629: Mahalay Pogroms, Iran
        1630 – 1700: Yemenite Jews under strict Shi’ite ‘dhimmi’ rules
        1660: 2nd Safed Pogrom, Ottoman Palestine
        1670: Mawza expulsion, Yemen
        1679 – 1680: Sanaa Massacres, Yemen
        1747: Mashhad Masacres, Iran
        1785: Tripoli Pogrom, Ottoman Libya
        1790 – 92: Tetuan Pogrom. Morocco (Jews of Tetuuan stripped naked, and lined up for Muslim perverts)
        1800: new decree passed in Yemen, that Jews are forbidden to wear new clothing, or good clothing. Jews are forbidden to ride mules or donkeys, and were occasionally rounded up for long marches naked through the Roob al Khali dessert.
        1805: 1st Algiers Pogrom, Ottoman Algeria
        1808 2nd 1438: 1st Mellah Ghetto Massacres, North Africa
        1815: 2nd Algiers Pogrom, Ottoman Algeria
        1820: Sahalu Lobiant Massacres, Ottoman Syria
        1828: Baghdad Pogrom, Ottoman Iraq
        1830: 3rd Algiers Pogrom, Ottoman Algeria
        1830: ethnic cleansing of Jews in Tabriz, Iran
        1834: 2nd Hebron Pogrom, Ottoman Palestine
        1834: Safed Pogrom, Ottoman Palestne
        1839: Massacre of the Mashadi Jews, Iran
        1840: Damascus Affair following first of many blood libels, Ottoman Syria
        1844: 1st Cairo Massacres, Ottoman Egypt
        1847: Dayr al-Qamar Pogrom, Ottoman Lebanon
        1847: ethnic cleansing of the Jews in Jerusalem, Ottoman Palestine
        1848: 1st Damascus Pogrom, Syria
        1850: 1st Aleppo Pogrom, Ottoman Syria
        1860: 2nd Damascus Pogrom, Ottoman Syria
        1862: 1st Beirut Pogrom, Ottoman Lebanon
        1866: Kuzguncuk Pogrom, Ottoman Turkey
        1867: Barfurush Massacre, Ottoman Turkey
        1868: Eyub Pogrom, Ottoman Turkey
        1869: Tunis Massacre, Ottoman Tunisia
        1869: Sfax Massacre, Ottoman Tunisia
        1864 – 1880: Marrakesh Massacre, Morocco
        1870: 2nd Alexandria Massacres, Ottoman Egypt
        1870: 1st Istanbul Pogrom, Ottoman Turkey
        1871: 1st Damanhur Massacres,Ottoman Egypt
        1872: Edirne Massacres, Ottoman Turkey
        1872: 1st Izmir Pogrom, Ottoman Turkey
        1873: 2nd Damanhur Massacres, Ottoman Egypt
        1874: 2nd Izmir Pogrom, Ottoman Turkey
        1874: 2nd Istanbul Pogrom, Ottoman Turkey
        1874: 2nd Beirut Pogrom,Ottoman Lebanon
        1875: 2nd Aleppo Pogrom, Ottoman Syria
        1875: Djerba Island Massacre, Ottoman Tunisia
        1877: 3rd Damanhur Massacres,Ottoman Egypt
        1877: Mansura Pogrom, Ottoman Egypt 1882: Homs Massacre, Ottoman Syria
        1882: 3rd Alexandria Massacres, Ottoman Egypt
        1890: 2nd Cairo Massacres, Ottoman Egypt
        1890, 3rd Damascus Pogrom, Ottoman Syria
        1891: 4th Damanahur Massacres, Ottoman Egypt

        Was it better than medieval Christian Europe? Yes. But that is such an impossibly low bar and does not mean things were great. The fact of the matter is Jews and other religious minorities were second-class citizens.

        And I am aware of Baathism and pan-Arabism; they failed spectacularly. And again, a simple look at the Wikipedia article on panarabism can tell you why: “The religious conservatism within the societies propelled pan-Islamism to defeat alternative thoughts such as pan-Arabism.
        Various sectarian and social differences within the various Arab societies was another fueling factor for pan-Arabism’s decline.”

        And for your information, my family’s roots are in the Middle East. My grandparents were beaten up daily as kids for being Jewish in their predominantly Muslim country. My parents snuck out with nothing for fear of persecution. I still speak the language of their country to this day. Despite this, I have learned Arabic and lived in the Arab world.

        And yes, I understand there are great things about Arab culture, such as hospitality culture, music, familial culture, etc. However, humans are multifaceted beings, and ignoring the bad things about the Arab world is dishonest. There is a reason that the UN ranks the MENA region as one of the worst places for women in the world. There is a reason that the ADL ranks the region as one of the most antisemitic on Earth. There is a reason that Hofstede’s cultural compass shows that these societies tend towards normative thinking. Trying to deny this reality through the use of Western-derived academic buzzwords like “Orientalism” is not going to change it.

        In fact, your romanticization of the region and portrayal of the region as pure victims of the west borders on playing into the noble savage trope.

        بس عادي اذا انت عنجد تشوف نفسك كخبير الشرق الاوسط خلينا نحكي بالعربي

        Reply
        • T

          The writer of this articleJan 17, 2024 at 11:04 pm

          I am not sure why we are talking about ourselves now. I also do not want to hear about your personal life as I want to respect your anonymity. At the same time, I posted here anonymously for a reason so I have no interest in talking about my personal life. Take my arguments at face value instead of making this personal.

          I will not respond to this in great detail, largely because you have continued to use the same fallacious tactics, by claiming to “disprove” my arguments by finding small inaccuracies inconsequential to the larger argument and at the same time, introducing loads of unrelated information, which only serves to distract from the discussion on Palestine.

          Regarding the point on “anti-Zionists” and pro-Palestine advocates like myself, I would say that most if not all those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinians and their human rights would like to see their fundamental human right (right of return) respected. I do not believe in a two state solution for a variety of reasons, but chiefly, that it is a solution which denies the Palestinians their right of return. If you call that “opposing Israel’s existence as a whole,” then so be it. Again, I value humans over nation states, which are a social construct of the past 150 years. So if I am forced to choose between preserving a nation state and human rights (including right of return), I will choose human rights.

          If you actually did read the HRW and Amnesty reports as you claimed, then you would not display such a clear misunderstanding of their findings. For one, I am happy that we can agree that what is happening in the West Bank is apartheid. However, this alone, was not the conclusion of either report. HRW only used an apartheid framework to describe the situation because it sees the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and yes, Gaza (which you seem to imply isn’t occupied anymore) as well as its rule over Israel proper as a single regime from the river to the sea, which systematically privileges Jews over Palestinians. Amnesty goes further saying that the treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel proper, on its own, constitutes apartheid and has been since 1948. HRW doesn’t necessarily disagree, it just makes the same argument from a different standpoint, but also goes in detail on the systemic discrimination of Palestinian citizens of Israel or “Arab-Israelis,” which itself is comparable to the Jim Crow South. Let us also keep in mind these Palestinians within Israel were under military rule from 1948 until six months before the 1967 War. The truth is, the issue of apartheid in Israel goes much deeper than a failure of Oslo. Also if you genuinely believe Gaza is not occupied then I recommend you read into the issue more. No serious international legal scholar argues that Israel ended the occupation in 2005. In addition, Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza was done largely for demographic and security reasons, as those settlements inside Gaza were too hard to defend and they had no chance at demographically rivaling the local Gazans. This was said quite explicitly by Israeli officials on multiple occasions. Most certainly, the uncontested power of Revisionist Zionist parties and the rise of Religious Zionism makes a two-state solution as unlikely as a one-state solution at this point. There is nothing pragmatic or realistic about it.

          You also want to keep making this issue into a regional one, where I have to discuss the politics of every country in the region to defend the basic human rights of the Palestinians. The idea that this conflict is in part or in whole, due to regional factors is kind of ridiculous. That idea is based on the assumption that Palestinians, or any oppressed or colonized people for that matter, would simply roll over and accept their oppressor’s rule if not for foreign agitation. Boiling this conflict down to foreign agitation by Qatar and Iran (or the Arab League historically) is another way of ignoring Palestinian grievances and pinning the issue entirely on an external enemy. Israel oppresses, colonizes, tortures, and kills Palestinians on a regular basis, and has been for the past 75 years. That alone is enough to breed resistance. No people happily accepts their oppressor. That is simply a delusion.

          Regarding the 1947 Partition Plan. It would not have prevented conflict. The India and Pakistan partition did not prevent conflict. Plain and simple and do not complicate it. Also India and Pakistan’s borders were not initially clearly defined. Just google the princely states and you’ll see what I mean. The Palestine Partition Plan also was insanely lopsided in favor of Israel by giving them 2/3 of the coastline and control of all fresh water sources in a very water scarce region, while they only made up 30% of the population at the time.

          The Farhud was a deeply tragic event. However, it is worth noting that before the Nazi-backed Golden Square came to power, Iraqi Jews were quite openly anti-Zionist and held prominent positions in the cabinet. Axis Iraq happened largely due to the agitation by the German embassy and its efforts at popularizing Nazi ideology and antisemitism in the region. For all of the pre-modern Middle East’s issues with inequality and discrimination, Iraq’s Jews appeared to be on the path to acceptance in Iraq, only for this to be all ruined by European meddling.

          I am not sure how you can believe the PLO represents Palestinians when they have a 10% approval rating.

          Maronites did not advocate for an independent state organically. Again, this all goes back to European meddling, which first began in the French intervention in Lebanon in 1860, creating an autonomous Christian province in the Ottoman Empire, culminating in the creation of the Mandate for Lebanon in 1920, and its eventual independence in 1943. Lebanon was intended to be and for a while was largely a Christian state in the Middle East, but this vision largely fell apart due to demographic issues. If you are referencing those Maronite parties who, in the Lebanese Civil War, advocated secession from the rest of Lebanon, then you are quite literally talking about Nazi-inspired fascists, so this is not really the gotcha you think it is.

          I have seen this list before and it only works to beat up a strawman you made of me. I never claimed the pre-modern Middle East was some utopia. It was at its heart, an unequal society. Unfortunately, maltreatment of minorities was typical of any pre-modern society. It however, was a pluralistic society, in the sense that Christians in Jews did live alongside Muslims in sizeable numbers. Take a country like Iraq for example, which is 95% Muslim today, while 40 years ago was only about 85% Muslim, the rest being Christian and Yazidi. I could imagine the Christians would have been even more numerous in Iraq before the Assyrian Genocide by the nationalist CUP. My point on pluralism is largely a demographic one. At the same time, I could just as easily compile an equally long list of every atrocity committed against Arab Christians, Druze, and Alawites throughout history to justify the creation of an apartheid state in their name. (Ironically enough, France’s original vision for Syria did involve the creation of several nation states for the aforementioned minorities.) However, my opposition to Israel is one based on principle. Ethnic-based nation states are not sacrosanct, and it is an idea that I largely abhor. It has caused untold destruction across the world. At the same time, if you ask me to choose human rights or a nation state, I will choose human rights. You might think this is a false dichotomy, but it really is when it comes to the Palestinian right of return, which is a right I am sure you will argue against.

          The reasons for the failures of Baathism and secular Arabism I am sure are more than a single, cherry-picked quote. Either way, the region had been secularizing for about 150 years before the rise of Islamism, beginning with the Ottoman Tanzimat.

          Reply
          • A

            A MIZRAHI JewJan 19, 2024 at 4:01 am

            Hello,

            I had mentioned my identity due to the blatantly false accusations you made about me. You accused me of being someone who has never lived in the Middle East, who has no roots in the region, and who has never interacted with Arabs before. If you will make such personal claims, do not be surprised when I rebuff them. And I am correcting many more minor assertions you make because your entire argumentation is built upon a foundation of false claims, double standards, and plain falsehoods. As such, it is necessary to pick at each assertion to show the extent of your historical revisionism.

            I am going to keep this response brief, considering you clearly are not interested in hearing Jewish perspectives. You continue to misappropriate Jewish culture and history to suit your political purposes while leaving actual Mizrahi Jews like myself out of the conversation.

            Let us be clear about the definitions of refugees according to UNRWA and the UNHCR.

            The UNHCR’s definition is: “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee conflict or persecution and has crossed an international border to seek safety. They cannot return to their country without risking their life or freedoms. It is a legal term that carries with it certain protections that refugees are entitled to.”

            Whereas UNRWA says, any patrilineal descendant of any displaced Palestinian in 1948 is a refugee.

            Since you quoted Benny Morris, let’s use his explanation to explain why most Palestinian refugees would not qualify as refugees under UNCHR standards.

            By UNCHR standards, none of the Palestinians living in the West Bank or Gaza would qualify as refugees as they were internally displaced from one part of the mandate to another.

            Additionally, the vast majority of Palestinian refugees that UNRWA works with within Jordan are legal citizens of Jordan. Under UNHCR standards, they are descendants of refugees who have safely received asylum and citizenship in another country. The only groups of Palestinians who would realistically be considered refugees are Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria.

            Palestinians are the only group of refugees that works like this, and no other group of refugees can work like this.

            Was the displacement of Arabs in mandatory Palestine a tragedy and injust? Yes. Can we realistically undo it? No. Was it unique given the context of the 20th century? No.

            My problem with people who are so dead-set on a Palestinian right of return is that they blatantly ignore the above. They blatantly ignore, for instance, that Turkey was formed not only on the expulsion of indigenous Greeks and Armenians but on actual genocide.

            People such as yourself who are so keen on a Palestinian right of return based on human rights and are more than willing to ignore Greek human rights or Armenian human rights. People such as yourself are more than willing to overlook the fact that it is illegal to even talk about the Armenian genocide in Turkey to this day. At the same time, Israeli universities openly acknowledge and talk about the Nakba.

            And you say you hate ethnoreligious states? Again, most states are ethnostates, including Palestine and Turkey. My problem with people who make this argument is that they only make this argument about Israel and not any other country that fits the bill.

            The fact of the matter is that the majority of Palestinian refugees have a place to live (whether that be in the West Bank, Gaza, or Jordan). Encouraging them to yearn for houses that no longer exist and to live in a fantasy world where we can return to 1948 is antithetical to peace. If every other refugee group worked this way, we would have global chaos.

            Regarding your concerns about the partition map, please look at the demographics map of the region in 1947 and compare it to the proposed partition. Most Jews lived on the coastal strip from Tel Aviv to Haifa, the Galilee, and Jerusalem; hence, the prior two territories went to the Jewish state.

            In regards to the land percentage, using that percentage is dishonest because 60% of the land given to the Jewish state was the Negev. I don’t know if you have ever been to this land before, but even with the invention of modern drip agriculture, less than 10% of it is suitable for human habitation. Meanwhile, the Arab state got most of the fertile farmland in the West Bank and the Jordan River valley. The Jewish state likely depended on the outside world for its agricultural needs.

            And yes, the partition of India caused chaos initially; however, eventually, both nations established their sovereignty. The partition of Syria and Lebanon originally started many wars between the two; however, both nations traded maximalism for sovereignty. Armenia is not going to invade Turkey because of the historical greater Armenia. This balancing act is something that all nations eventually go through.

            And yes, all nations are human-made constructs; congratulations, you figured out we live in a society. Humans have been arranging themselves into political entities for their entire history, and to ignore that fact is, at best, utopian and, at worst, idiotic.

            Pretending that nation-states are not necessary is, in fact, the height of Western privilege. For you Westerners in North America and Western Europe. The framework of a nation-state in the West is seen as less important because Westerners have lived in a relatively stable geopolitical reality for the last 80 years.

            The fact is that you do not live in our fragile geopolitical reality. The framework of solid institutions of a state is an essential and existential need in the Middle East and has always been. Throughout Middle Eastern history, the region descended into chaos when empires were weak. Jordan is relatively stable, whereas its Arab neighbors have plunged into turmoil, largely due to their more robust institutions as a nation-state.

            Yes, those reforms were attempted by the Ottomans. You leave out that those secular reforms were inspired by Western enlightenment, not trends within the Middle East. You also conveniently leave out what happened after these attempted reforms and their efficacy. These fallacies of omission are the foundation of your argumentation. You continuously cherry-pick events to suit your narrative while ignoring the broader context. What happened after these attempted reforms? Does the name Abdul Hamid II ring a bell?

            What happened when Armenians in the period demanded more rights afforded by the Tamazanit? Did they ever get the rights afforded to them by the Tamazanit? A quick look at the Hamidian massacres will tell you no. In fact, the Ottoman state specifically justified these massacres in the name of Islam. The Ottoman convoy to Britain explicitly said the Ottomans were “guided in their general action by the prescriptions of Sheri [Sharia] Law…To the Turkish mind, the Armenians had tried to overstep these limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They, therefore, considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and property of the Armenians.”

            Sultan Abdul Hamid II explicitly rejected the Tamazanit in favor of pan-Islamism as the state’s ideology at the expense of the Middle East’s religious minorities and was quite successful at it. So no, the region was not trending towards religious pluralism before Europe’s arrival unless you consider the outcome of these trends, i.e., the Armenian and Greek genocides, to be a shining example of tolerance.

            And no, these conservative, religious, and sectarian elements did not magically appear in the Middle East when the West showed up; they were there and were gaining traction independently of the West. Have they been, at times, strengthened by Western meddling? Yes, primarily in the sense that Western meddling removed the central authority (the Ottoman Caliph/Sultan) and put opposed ethnoreligious groups on the same border. The idea that pan-Islamism only came into existence after 2001, as you claim, is such a ridiculous American-centric distortion of history.

            And I am frankly amazed at how you continue to misrepresent and lie about our history. No Iraqi Jews were not “anti-zionist.” Iraqi Jews were not interested in early Labor Zionism primarily due to the secular and socialist nature of it. Most were sympathetic to the Zionist movement in the 1920s; however, they did not believe a secular agrarian movement was right for them. Most would have likely identified with religious Zionism; religious Zionist parties in Israel, such as Shas, to this day are dominated by Mizrahi interests.

            And you continue to either miss or ignore the point about the PLO. Yes, I know the PLO is unpopular; that is not the point. I am unsure where you are getting the 10% statistic from (I’m guessing you are likely making up statistics). Before the war, the Arab Barometer found that the Fatah was the preferred party of 30% of Palestinians, while 27% preferred Hamas. Post-war, according to the Arab Barometer, 17% preferred Fatah, while 43% preferred Hamas. This result is in large part due to Palestinian and broader Arab media denying the atrocities of October 7th. If you can speak Arabic (which I doubt you can), watch how Aljazeera reports the atrocities on October 7th.

            The fact is that they are the most secular political faction in Palestinian politics, and even they cannot say that Palestine is a pluralistic, secular state. Even autocracies must consider public opinion when forming policies, as you can only push a people so far. They are not willing to make Palestine a secular state because the people do not want that; they are aware that keeping Islam and Sharia entirely out of Palestine’s identity and laws would be wildly unpopular. Arab Barometer in 2019 found that 63% of Gazans and 74% of West Bank Palestinians want either the entirety or the majority of Palestine’s laws to be based on Sharia. Do you think Jewish Israelis would accept that?

            Palestinians also do not want to live with Jewish Israelis. The most recent December 2023 Arab Barometer found that only 17% of Palestinians supported a one-state solution or confederation, while 51% would support a two-state solution. But I am sure you, as a Westerner, know what they want better than they do.

            No matter how you slice it and dice it, Palestinians are not willing to live in a secular state with Israelis. No matter how you look at it, the majority of Palestinians are not ready to give up the Islamic or Arab character of their state. I have provided mountains of evidence from the Palestinians’ writings to opinion data gathered by leading academics at the University of Michigan and Princeton. I am sure you will find a way to ignore it and rewrite it like you have rewritten and twisted Jewish history.

            Again, this conflict is regional and has always been, no matter how much you deny it. The Palestinians, along with their Arab League allies, tried to commit slaughter and ethnic cleansing against the Jews of the mandate, as evidenced by the PLO’s charter and the words of Arab leaders. No people group would gladly accept a second Holocaust and or volunteer for ethnic cleansing. Are you unable to comprehend that? Or do you think that they should have volunteered for Asad’s vision because they were the “oppressors”? Do you think they should have just accepted 18 years of Arab-led massacres in the mandate willingly?

            And I am aware that Arab citizens of Israel were placed under military rule for 18 years. And I am aware of what HRW says. By the way, even the UN disagrees with HRW’s report (the UN reports only claim that the occupation is apartheid). I am aware that Arab Israelis are discriminated against in Israeli society, but please explain how their situation is similar to the Jim Crow South. They can vote, hold office, run for elections, take the same buses as their Jewish counterparts, etc. Meanwhile, where are all the Jews in the Arab world? Please show me where the Jewish-only buses, movie theaters, and water fountains are. Again, you cannot make ridiculous assertions without sufficient evidence just because you see yourself as a “progressive humanitarian.”

            Again, Israel is not perfect, but the fact that you are willing only to single out Israel and not the many other countries in the Middle East with more egregious current and historical atrocities is telling of your hypocrisy. The fact that you are very willing to not only misconstrue but flat-out lie about Jewish history to demonize Israelis and whitewash the Arab world honestly is genuinely telling of your blatant biases. It is clear you infantilize Arabs because you see them as “oppressed” and thus hold them to lower moral standards, which is the definition of racism, by the way.

            You are likely a Westerner who has yet to go to the region and does not speak a lick of Arabic or Hebrew. The fact that you believe that Islamism only became a force in the region post-9/11 demonstrates your American-centric lack of understanding of the region.

            You cannot think in anything but binaries and apply a panoramic view of the situation. Neither evidence nor data matters to you; only your political narrative does. You have made it clear that you are not interested in nuance; you are only interested in trying to paint the geopolitics of a faraway land through your simplistic view America-centric of the world, and you misconstrue my history to do it.

  • S

    Someone Who has actually lived in the Middle EastJan 15, 2024 at 8:06 pm

    This article contains several historical fallacies and frankly dishonest arguments. Where do I even begin? Let’s start by breaking down each fallacious paragraph.

    Paragraph 2:
    Yes, modern Zionism started in the late 19th century under the guise of Theodor Herzl. This paragraph completely ignores the context of its rise. Why would a man who was so secular and irreligious that, at one point, he advocated that Jewish children should get baptized to better fit into Christian Europe?

    Herzl advocated for the return of Jews because he saw that no matter how “Enlightened” Europe was, the Jews would always be the other. And if you were a Jew, in the context of 19th and 20th-century European antisemitism and the lead-up to the holocaust, I doubt that you would not have considered emigration. In fact, in 20th-century Europe, a common antisemitic phrase uttered to Jews was “Go back to Palestine where you belong.”

    This article also ignores the fact that Zionism comes in several different flavors (for more information, look at the Wikipedia article), of which only one advocate for total control of the land between the river and the sea. One can be a Zionist while being critical of Israeli policy and the Occupation. Yet, this article makes the fallacious assumption that Zionism supports everything Israel does all the time.

    This paragraph also ignores the importance of the land and the return to the land to Jewish identity.

    If Zionism is only a modern secular political movement divorced from Jewish identity, explain to me why the al-yahudu tablets talked about the Jew’s desire to return to Zion in 538 BCE (i.e., 500 years before the birth of Christ and 1000 before the founding of Islam)? Explain why our most crucial prayer is literally called “Shema Israel” (hear Israel). Explain why dreidls in the diaspora have lettering corresponding to the acronym “a miracle happened there,” whereas dreidls in Israel say “a miracle happened here.” Please explain why, on many important holidays, Jews celebrate a return to Israel (such as Passover).

    No matter how you slice it, the land is a central part of Jewish history and identity, and downplaying this connection is ahistorical.

    Paragraph 3:
    Jews, yes, have existed in forced exile across the world; however, in most cases have existed as separate entities from their host population.

    I’m guessing the author of this post is not Jewish and is trying to see Judaism through a Christian lens. Judaism, unlike Christianity and Islam, is not a universal religion. It does not seek to impose itself on non-Jews, nor does it expect that people outside the tribe adopt its mitzvot.

    Jews have historically seen themselves as one people, and despite millennia in exile, have scientifically proven genetic links to the levant and to each other.

    Paragraph 5:
    This paragraph is just blatantly dishonest cherry-picking and omission of data followed by a false dichotomy fallacy.

    Yes, 45% of Jews say that caring about Israel is essential to being Jewish. However, you imply that the majority of Jews (55% do not care about Israel). You likely intentionally- left out that another 37% said that caring about Israel is important but not essential to being Jewish. However, you dishonestly misrepresent data; the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of American Jews (a whopping 82%) consider caring about Israel to be important to their identity.

    You further your facetious argument, presenting a false dichotomy between caring about Israel and Justice. One can care about a country and criticize its policies when they are in justice. In fact, genuinely caring about your country to most people with a shred of critical thinking skills means charging it when it is committed unjust acts.

    Paragraph 6:
    Very few people argue that the Palestinians do not have ties to the Middle East. A quick search on NIH finds: “Archaeologic and genetic data support that Jews and Palestinians came from the ancient Canaanites, who extensively mixed with Egyptians, Mesopotamian, and Anatolian peoples in ancient times. Thus, Palestinian-Jewish rivalry is based on cultural and religious, but not on genetic, differences.”

    However, the issue is that many so-called zionists will paint Jews as “white Europeans,” no matter how ahistorical and unscientific this is. Jews have preserved the last Canaanite language of the land long after the land’s Arabization.

    Paragraph 7:
    Becky never claimed that Palestinians were not indigenous to the land, rendering the corpus of this paragraph to be a strawman argument. But let’s get the sheer amount of historical revisionism in this statement.

    The term Palestinian Jews is a blatant misnomer. No Jews are living in Palestine under Palestinian rule. Do you know why? Because Jordan and Egypt kicked them out of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Jews were explicitly excluded from Palestinian national identity. The proper term for Jews living in the region before Herzl is the Old Yishuv, nearly all of whom have assimilated into the general Israeli population.

    Please look at the following Wikipedia pages: the Old Yishuv, the New Yishuv, and Jewish land purchases in Palestine. Jews had been legally purchasing land under Ottoman law decades before the British stepped into the region. The British were, at times, hostile to Jewish migration and the formation of a Jewish state. In fact, on the precipice of the holocaust, the British (under Arab pressure) blocked Jewish migration in 1939. The Jews of the mandate even fought a long insurgency against the British. So no, the Jews did not “colonize” the mandate with British blessing (see the 2015 Vox Article “The 11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine” for more information)

    Paragraphs 8:
    Yes, the Nakba was a grave injustice against the Arab population; I will not deny that. However, are we going to just choose to ignore the actions of the Arab world at the time?

    Why did the initial civil war start in Palestine in 1947? Resolution 181 (II) ring a bell? When the Arab world explicitly ignored an internationally backed two-state solution to the decades of violence and massacres in the mandate (initiated by the Arab side).

    Are we going to ignore the genocidal statements made by the leaders such as Azzam, Leader of the Arab League in 1947- threatening to cause a massacre “that would rival the Mongols”? Are we going to ignore the fact that Hefaz al-Assad said that they would pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews?

    Additionally, if we are to talk about displacements, are we going to willingly ignore the ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Jews from the Middle East? If Palestinians deserve compensation for their lost lands, why is it that no one advocates that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc, return their properties? Why is it that Palestinians have the only refugee status that is inheritable, whereas Israeli Jews are essentially told to suck it up? It is simple because it is convenient to the Arab world and uninformed Westerners who see this conflict through a binary lens.

    Paragraph 9:

    Going off of my rebuttal of paragraph 8, we have plenty of historical evidence to see why a one-state solution will not work, from the multiple genocides that the Arab world has attempted against Israel to the fact that almost no Jews remain in the Arab world, and to the fact that the ADL often ranks the region as the most antisemitic on the world. And, of course, stuffing opposed ethnoreligious groups into one area and calling it a country has historically worked so well in the Middle East (see Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, etc).

    Let’s take a look at what the Palestinians themselves state. Here’s some excerpts from the Palestinian constitution:

    Article (2): Palestine is part of the Arab nation. The state of Palestine abides by the charter of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal the Palestinian people hope to achieve.

    Article 5: Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion

    Article (7) The principles of Islamic Shari’a are a major source for legislation.

    Remember that this is the relatively secular and pro-peace internationally recognized government of Palestine. And we’re not getting into the fact that their original 1968 charter called for the expulsion of all Jews outside of the Old Yishuv or the fact that Hamas’ explicit goal is the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic caliphate. No matter how you slice it and dice it, the Palestinians do not want to live in a secular state with the Jews.

    I assume that you are a Westerner who does not speak Arabic and has never stepped foot in the Middle East, but secularism and pluralism are not one of the region’s strong suits.

    In summary, your article has so many historical inaccuracies that this rebuttal is likely more extended than the original. Journalistic integrity may not be the intention of this article, but I recommend that you heed your advice and treat Google as a friend and not a personal echo chamber.

    Additionally, instead of condescendingly belittling Becky with misrepresented statistics, historical revisionism, and strawman arguments, you should take the time to talk to her and others in the Jewish community. Perhaps instead of posing as a Middle East expert and the sole proprietor of Jewish identity, you could take the time to center yourself on the stories and lived experiences of both Jews and Palestinians in the region. Perhaps before writing something so clearly entwined with Western saviorism and false dichotomies, you could actually take the time to live here in and understand the complex geopolitical reality and history of the region?
    Additionally, if we are to talk about displacements, are we going to willingly ignore the ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Jews from the Middle East? If Palestinians deserve compensation for their lost lands, why is it that no one advocates that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc, return their properties? Why is it that Palestinians have the only refugee status that is inheritable, whereas Israeli Jews are essentially told to suck it up? It is simple because it is convenient to the Arab world and uninformed Westerners who see this conflict through a binary lens.

    Paragraph 9:

    Going off of my rebuttal of paragraph 8, we have plenty of historical evidence to see why a one-state solution will not work, from the multiple genocides that the Arab world has attempted against Israel to the fact that almost no Jews remain in the Arab world, and to the fact that the ADL often ranks the region as the most antisemitic on the world. And, of course, stuffing opposed ethnoreligious groups into one area and calling it a country has historically worked so well in the Middle East (see Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, etc).

    Let’s take a look at what the Palestinians themselves state. Here’s some excerpts from the Palestinian constitution:

    Article (2): Palestine is part of the Arab nation. The state of Palestine abides by the charter of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal the Palestinian people hope to achieve.

    Article 5: Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion

    Article (7) The principles of Islamic Shari’a are a major source for legislation.

    Remember that this is the relatively secular and pro-peace internationally recognized government of Palestine. And we’re not getting into the fact that their original 1968 charter called for the expulsion of all Jews outside of the Old Yishuv or the fact that Hamas’ explicit goal is the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic caliphate. No matter how you slice it and dice it, the Palestinians do not want to live in a secular state with the Jews.

    I assume that you are a Westerner who does not speak Arabic and has never stepped foot in the Middle East, but secularism and pluralism are not one of the region’s strong suits.

    In summary, your article has so many historical inaccuracies that this rebuttal is likely more extended than the original. Journalistic integrity may not be the intention of this article, but I recommend that you heed your advice and treat Google as a friend and not a personal echo chamber.

    Additionally, perhaps instead of condescendingly belittling Becky with misrepresented statistics, historical revisionism, and strawman arguments, you might want to take the time to talk to her and others in the Jewish community.

    Reply