A Plea To Mormons: Walk A Mile In Palestinian Shoes

Guest Post by Non-Arab Arab

BiV’s recent post “Sod, Seed, Salvation: Abrahamic Covenant and the Claim to Palestine” brought me out of my normal lurking.  Modern Palestine and what I firmly believe to be the erroneous interpretation most members of the church have regarding events there always riles me up.  Usually I do the smart thing and bite my lip, but every once in a while I choose to enter the fray in full combat mode.  As I’ve found on most issues of debate, it doesn’t really matter how right I think I am the noise of the argument rarely does more than highlight who already believes what.  So my wish here is not to re-argue the questions of Palestine which I’ve already done enough of on this blog.  Instead, I’d like to talk about shoes.  No, not the famous Arab shoes, rather walking a mile in another’s shoes.

Most American (and many non-American) Mormons grow up with an instinctive ability to walk in a modern Zionists’ shoes [for those less familiar with the terminology, I prefer to use the term Zionist as opposed to Israeli as it better captures the political movement that supports the Israeli state on an international and local basis, and it captures pre- and post-1948 dynamics].  There is a pseudo-scriptural modern narrative that seems to easily link Jewish, Christian and LDS-specific views of the Abrahamic Covenant to modern Zionism.  Orson Hyde’s 1840s visit to Palestine and several subsequent visits by church leaders over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries seem to further fit neatly into that narrative, with a number of statements from church leaders that come across as clearly pro-Zionist.  Then there is the fact that the leaders of modern Zionism have been overwhelmingly Europeans with a very western mode of communicating (and in western languages much of the time) that is easier for American Mormons to relate to.  And sealing it all up there is the manner in which the Zionist version of events is almost the only one heard in American media, literature and entertainment, and it comes across sounding very neat, clean, and heroic.  It sounds to most like a clear cut case of good and evil, and it all makes it so very easy to sympathize with Zionism growing up as a Mormon and especially as an American Mormon.

I grew up with that narrative.  I was an unusually political teenager.  John Birch-style anti-Communist crusading and religious-political support for Zionism were two of my big shticks.  The morality of it all seemed clear as daylight, the religious tie-ins to my LDS faith felt unassailable.  I lapped up Leon Uris’ “Exodus” like it was the Bible itself.  But then something changed.  I got to BYU.  I decided to make these and related issues a major focus of my studies.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but in a nutshell what happened over the years to follow was that in seeking to prove what I already believed was right, I ended up seeing things from the other side’s point of view as well.  I walked a mile in a Palestinian’s shoes, and my view of things was never the same again.

Now, perhaps I’m not being generous enough to humanity as a whole in separating Mormons out on this count, but I have always believed that one of the most wonderful ‘weaknesses’ of Mormons is that we’re so darn nice.  I mean, obviously that’s a gross over-generalization.  But as long as I’m already in that realm, I do feel like our basic doctrines that say that we’re all children of God with eternal worth and potential, means we have a really hard time dismissing other people when placed face to face with them.  We may dislike people, we may get as caught up as other people in political and philosophical movements that make us theoretically despise other people, but somehow when we’re placed face to face, those of us who have a real belief in those core doctrines of the worth of souls feel an obligation to not utterly dismiss as worthless the person on the other side even if we find much about them obnoxious. And it is that part of your Mormon-ness I wish to appeal to today in regards to Palestine.  I don’t ask you to accept all my views (which can be somewhat seen in the voluminous comments I left on BiV’s previous post), but I would like to ask: will you as a Mormon walk a mile in a Palestinian’s shoes?

Obviously very few people can actually go live in the forced exile of a Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp or experience life under Zionist siege in Gaza, but if you have any interest in what’s going on, even a superficial interest, you can choose to read things from the other bank of the river at least occasionally.  I’d like to give you some suggestions on what you can read.  If you say you simply don’t agree with it up front, all I ask is that you suspend your judgment and listen to your Palestinian brothers and sisters.  See their tears, hear their stories with a clear mental slate, ask how it feels to be them.  God could just as easily have chosen you to have been born in their place after all.  Walk in their shoes from time to time, and when these issues hit the news and you get curious, make a point of saying “how can I make sure I see how this looks from the other side too?”

So, below I’m going to give three different types of links.  As I imagine many readers of this blog are more inclined to literature and the personal angle, I will first give some glimpses of the world of Palestinian literature and a few other related cultural tidbits.  As I imagine others are more into seeing the nitty-gritty facts, I’ll then give some links to the counter-facts which show that history looks quite different when viewed without the Zionist prism.  And lastly, I’ll give some links for sources one can regularly follow in English to see how the story in the present looks very different from the Palestinian side versus the Zionist or standard American side.

*****

LINKS 1: LITERATURE FROM THE PERSONAL SIDE

*The works of Ghassan Kanafani, especially his short stories and short novels “Land of the Sad Oranges”, “Men in the Sun”, “Letter from Gaza”, and “Return to Haifa” (the latter story was one of the first stories in Arab literature to deal with Zionists as three-dimensional human characters).  The two collections I link two below contain a nice and well-translated selection of his works.  When Kanafani was murdered by a Zionist car bomb in Beirut along with his niece in 1972 (incidentally, the man had never been involved in any military action in his life, he was a writer pure and simple), the world lost one of the finest rising authors in the Arabic language of the time.  Kanafani upset many people on all sides of the ideological divide because he insisted on portraying the Palestinian situation as it was really lived, with all the emotion experienced at a personal level, regardless of the political implications that human portrayal might have.  Reading his stories one feels the utter despondency of a father unable to care for his family having been shoved across the border with only the things they could carry, the desperation of trying to sneak across the borders in the Gulf in search of work but unacknowledged as a human because of having been born Palestinian, the inner turmoil of deciding between emigration to the west in search of a better material life versus staying in the squalor of Gaza to stay true to the people who need you there.

http://www.amazon.com/Men-Sun-Other-Palestinian-Stories/dp/0894108573/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265974999&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Palestines-Children-Returning-Haifa-Stories/dp/0894108905/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265974999&sr=8-2

(Incidentally, “Return to Haifa” was one of the first full – admittedly short – novels I ever read in Arabic)

*Emile Habiby’s “Pessoptimist” or “The Secret Life of Said”.  Ghassan Kanafani wrote from the exile’s perspective, Emile Habiby wrote from the perspective of those few Palestinians who survived the ethnic cleansing to live on in what became Israel.  He writes in a satirical format about his now famous character Said who simply never can quite understand what’s going on around him, sometimes cooperating with the Israeli authorities, sometimes becoming an accidental Palestinian hero, but always stuck in a confused limbo, and always in his naïveté noticing the way things really are.  This has been made into a popular Arabic play as well, and was translated and widely read in Hebrew over the years.  Habiby embodies the plight and struggles of the “48 Arabs” as they call themselves as few others have managed to do, and does so with a wry, bitter humor that is hard not to enjoy.  Habiby has somehow managed to gain the respect of Hebrew and Arabic reading audiences and definitely mine.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&field-author=Emile%20Habiby

*The comic genius of Naji al-Ali and Handhala.  Palestine’s national cartoonist, discovered by Ghassan Kanafani who saw his work while visiting Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp and first published in the magazine “Freedom” in Lebanon in 1961.  He subsequently moved to Kuwait in 1963 and his character Handhala appeared in 1969.  In 1973 Handhala turned his back on his viewers, permanently frozen at 10 years of age (the age Naji was when his family was ethnically cleansed) and refusing to turn his face back to the world until he returned home.  Naji al-Ali was assassinated by an unknown hand in London in 1987, some have pointed to Yasser Arafat as a potential culprit, but Handhala has gained immortal status in Palestinian and Arab eyes as the embodiment of Palestinians’ hopes and pains.  Go through the cartoons on the website (feel free to email me if you want translations).

http://www.najialali.com/

*Joe Sacco’s “Palestine”.  I’m going to be lazy here and simply quote the Amazon product description because I think it encapsulates the book better than I can (other than to say, this is an excellent book for understanding life on the ground in the Occupied Territories if you can’t actually be there — although things have gotten much worse since this was written based on experiences almost 20 years ago now): “Based on several months of research and an extended visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s (where he conducted over 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews), Palestine was the first major comics work of political and historical nonfiction by Sacco, who has often been called the first comic book journalist.  Sacco’s insightful reportage takes place at the front lines, where busy marketplaces are spoiled by shootings and tear gas, soldiers beat civilians with reckless abandon, and roadblocks go up before reporters can leave. Sacco interviewed and encountered prisoners, refugees, protesters, wounded children, farmers who had lost their land, and families who had been torn apart by the Palestinian conflict.  In 1996, the Before Columbus Foundation awarded Palestine the seventeenth annual American Book Award, stating that the author should be recognized for his “outstanding contribution to American literature,” while his publisher, Fantagraphics, is “to be honored for their commitment to quality and their willingness to take risks that accompany publishing outstanding books and authors that may not prove ‘cost-effective’ in the short run.””  This brief review is also a good summation of the book: http://mobookblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/palestine-by-joe-sacco.html

http://www.amazon.com/Palestine-Joe-Sacco/dp/156097432X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265976394&sr=1-1

LINKS 2: THE HISTORY SEEN FROM THE OTHER SIDE

*Ilan Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”. One simply cannot properly understand what drives the conflict today without understanding what happened in 1948.  Israeli historian Ilan Pappe digs into the Israeli archives, press accounts of the era, international organizations accounts, British colonial records, and a few primary and secondary Arabic sources including survivor’s stories (not nearly enough, but in any case the Israeli and international accounts prove more than sufficient to make the key points anyhow) from the fateful years of 1948 and 1949.  What emerges is an entirely different picture than the Zionist narrative and almost perfectly in line with what Palestinians have said for over 60 years now actually happened.  The title of the book is clear enough in stating what happened, and it comes straight from the records kept by men like Ben Gurion himself in addition to countless eyewitnesses.

http://www.amazon.com/Ethnic-Cleansing-Palestine-Ilan-Pappe/dp/1851685553/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265976754&sr=8-1

*Walid Khalidi’s “All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948”. This is primarily a reference work, but it’s an easy one to spend time skimming through as it has lots of pictures.  Khalidi is one of the foremost scholars of Palestine up to it’s destruction by the Zionists in 1948 and meticulously goes through the over 400 villages they ethnically cleansed in 48/49.  Pictures of the remaining ruins, descriptions of who lived there and population statistics, when the villages were founded, land ownership, houses of worship, current status of the land and properties, how the actual acts of ethnic cleansing were carried out, etc.  You may have visited Israel and noticed old ruined houses or fallow farmland or agricultural terraces in lots of places.  Israelis act like they’re not there or “ancient” remnants to have biblical ponderings over.  The truth is much darker, these are ghost towns that were inhabited just a few decades ago and whose residents still live often just a few miles away and want nothing more than to just go home, fix and rebuild, and live in peace again in the places they are from.

http://www.amazon.com/All-That-Remains-Palestinian-Depopulated/dp/0887283063/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265976717&sr=1-1

*Palestine Remembered: http://www.palestineremembered.com/

Think of it almost as an online version of what Walid Khalidi has tried to do, archiving records of what Palestine was and is today.  Each district, city, and village is catalogued, and (one of the best parts) personal stories from life in those areas and where its refugees are today are often found.  Unfortunately one of the best parts of the site – oral history videos of the survivors of the 1948 ethnic cleansing – only has Arabic audio, though hopefully they’ll be able to find the resources to translate and subtitle eventually.  The site is a great resource and along with Khalidi’s seminal work reminds the world what the Palestinians always knew was a Zionist myth: the land was never empty, Palestinian society was thriving and vibrant until it was violently burned down to its foundations in 1948/9.

*Kathleen Christison’s “Perceptions of Palestine”. I’m going to crib another book review that does the job better than me from http://mobookblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/perceptions-of-palestine-their.html “Former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an often ignored but vital angle: how the conflict is viewed by US policymakers. Starting in the late 19th century and going US administration by US administration, she examines how Washington’s policies have been a critical factor in the development of the conflict. In effect, she lays out how this is not a binary Israeli-Palestinian problem, but in fact a triangle involving the Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. A century of deep sympathy for the Israeli perspective, but near constant ignoring and denigration of the Palestinian viewpoint in Washington has helped to fuel rather than calm the conflict in the Holy Land. For American readers who wonder why the United States often gets so much blame in the Arab world for what happens to the Palestinians, this book is a clear-eyed explanation of the issue.”

http://www.amazon.com/Perceptions-Palestine-Influence-Updated-Afterword/dp/0520217187/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265980633&sr=1-1

LINKS 3: SOURCES FOR FOLLOWING CURRENT EVENTS FROM THE PALESTINIAN & NON-ZIONIST VIEW

*The Electronic Intifada http://electronicintifada.net/.

Founded by Ali Abunimah, a Chicagoan of Palestinian refugee descent, the site has become probably the foremost representative of the Palestinian viewpoint in English.  Gathering not just excellent writers and op-eds, but on-the-ground human stories from throughout the Palestinian world, Palestinian culture, top-notch analysis of current events, advocacy of a single-state solution with equality for Jews and Arabs and the right of return for every Palestinian, equal-opportunity criticism of Arab rulers alongside Zionists, extensive coverage of the growing international BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) and Right of Return movements, and in general a great pulse for the views many Palestinians have of events as they unfold.

*Ma’an News Agency http://www.maannews.net/eng/Default.aspx.

The leading independent Palestinian news agency (i.e., not in the pockets of Fatah, Hamas, or Israel — or at least one hopes so, their reporting as I have seen it would back up their independence).  They publish in English, Arabic, and Hebrew (though their Hebrew site seems to be undergoing a redesign at present).  You’ll see all sorts of news here you’d never see reported in the American press.  Follow it even casually and you’ll quickly start to understand how completely misleading the American and Israeli media are about actual events on the ground.

*Zochrot: http://www.zochrot.org/index.php?lang=english

One of the very few Israeli groups actively working to get Zionists to realize what they did to the Palestinians in 1948/9 and in very practical ways.  If you ever visit Israel, you should definitely look these people up and see if you can join one of their walking tours of destroyed Palestinian villages where they often bring survivors back to talk about life in the villages, put up signs marking where destroyed churches/mosques/schools/municipal buildings/homes/etc. once were, and often bump into the present Israeli squatters who frequently turn very irate for having these facts pointed out to them.  Zochrot’s goal is the same as mine: a single state where all are treated equally, where the wrongs of the past are acknowledged, the right of return implemented, and a new system of legal equality established.  The difference is, they’re on the ground, being told they are traitors by many in their own society, but pressing bravely forward anyways with a wide variety of educational activities.  Worth checking their site from time to time to see what they’re up to.

*The Angry Arab News Service / وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

You probably need to have a similar acidic sense of humor as I do (which I blame on serving a mission in London and at least one BYU professor’s influence on me who shall go un-named), and you definitely need to go with UC Stanislaus Professor As’ad Abukhalil’s many many quirks, but the man has become a blogging cult phenomenon for good reason.  He focuses his blogging heavily on Palestinian issues and usually just does short links (many every day) with sharp comments, but he occasionally goes into longer (non-paragraphed) critiques and analyses of different topics related to Palestine and broader issues of the Arab world.  He can be hard to follow at first, and his views (he’s a hardcore leftist atheist) may often be ones you disagree with, but follow him on an even semi-regular basis and you will learn incredible amounts about Palestine and the Arab world.  What makes him so valuable among other things is the way he is one of the few public academic figures who fully straddles the Arab and English speaking worlds (and I believe his French isn’t bad either, though I don’t think he really writes much in French).  His weekly column in Lebanon’s leading paper al-Akhbar is eagerly read (and far less flippant than his blog but no less biting and to the point) by many throughout the Arab world, and he manages to regularly follow and comment on sources on both sides of the linguistic divide.  With his growing following he has also gained a wide network of contacts who frequently send him unique information.  And if your sense of humor is even as vaguely ironic as his, the man’s a riot.  He’s not Palestinian, but is frequently mistaken for one by friends and enemies and takes it as a badge of honor.

*****

I could go on for a lot longer and undoubtedly have already put many of you to sleep.  But if you have a genuine interest in the topic of Palestine/Israel – as most Mormons inherently even if only tangentially do – I’d ask you to bookmark the references I’ve given, and go them when your questions come up.  If you’re really into digging deeper, feel free to drop me an email, I’m always happy to point people to more resources.  The issues surrounding Palestine are such that one must wade through the extraordinarily complex to discover at the end there’s an amazingly simple set of guiding principles behind it all.  In a Gospel sense, my belief is that the Zionist violation of the basic commandments of “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet” are the root cause of the conflict, that the conflict is inherently modern and not ancient, and that the solution is really quite straightforward: civic equality for all in a manner similar to that which I believe the Lord inspired as a principle in the US Constitution and many other civic-based democracies around the world.

You may not agree with me on those points, but you’re a Mormon, you know if you knew any Palestinians personally you’d feel an overwhelming urge to bring them a plate of cookies and listen to their stories if they broke down in tears in front of you.  So even though you may not be able to meet them in person, when the topic comes up, tap that Mormon urge to empathize and at least listen to what the other side is saying, I hope I’ve given you a few useful pointers for doing so.

Comments

comments

63 comments for “A Plea To Mormons: Walk A Mile In Palestinian Shoes

  1. Mike
    February 13, 2010 at 1:19 am

    This is one of the most inherently disgusting and non-thought provoking posts I’ve ever read…anywhere. You briefly asked your readers to “suspend their judgement,” when what you’re really asking them to do is suspend their ability to filter fact from fiction. Perhaps Non-Arab Arab is just a pen name for the modern equivalent of Leni Riefenstahl here at Mormon Matters?

  2. February 13, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Mike, Non-Arab is a guest poster who submitted a piece to me personally, and which we decided to post here. We appreciate the time and effort he took to present his view thoughtfully, and to point us to different sources to consider. As he says in his introduction, he realizes that there is little chance our readers will change their minds, and you certainly have the right to your views. But if you disagree, please do it respectfully and cogently. We welcome comments which address specific points made in the post.

  3. February 13, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Mike — Non-Arab Arab — BIV,

    I too was given significant insight into the Palestinian’s plight when I was at BYU. The assigned reading was Elias Chacour’s “Blood Brothers.” I suppose that the BYU professor thought that it would be easier for us to walk in another person’s shoes if it was a Palestinian Christian, rather than a Palestinian Muslim, but it was extremely effective in illustrating exactly the bias, prejudice and ignorance (might I say non-Christian) response seen in some Mormons/Americans/Christians such as Mike in addressing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

    The religious issue on Palestine is what is the proper moral and religious response to the exercise of military force to grab land. Terrorism is apparently bad only if you are essentially powerless and defenseless and have to resort to criminal acts to commit your terror. If you have bombers, Humvees, tanks and fighter planes, it isn’t terror even though the target of those bombs and bullets feels abject terror.

    To equate the Palestinians with the Nazis as Mike does, shows a lack of knowledge of history and how and why the Jewish state was created after World War II. American military might was behind the State of Israel from the very beginning. Americans are culpable for the suffering of the Palestinians. As much as the Mormons like to equate themselves with the Jews, we aren’t. If you want to argue for the fullness of God’s words to his people, then the Palestinians belong in their homeland as much as the Jews and deserve the same treatment. That isn’t Nazi-ism as Mike suggests, but Mormonism. And for a Jewish point of view on Palestine that is the more compatible with Mormon theology, I’d suggest Chomsky.

    I find it ironic that Mormonism with its ideas from the Book of Mormon that the Native American population was here first, another example of God providing a chosen land to his people, co-opts American values that allowed for the genocide and reservation-ization of Nephi’s descendants. (All those Indian Exchange Students didn’t quite fix the problem.)

    To maintain its relevancy, a religion needs to combat violence in all its forms — state and non-state sponsored violence. You need to be able to walk in the other person’s shoes without shooting them first. I’m not much of a praying man, but I pray for the day when a revelation comes down from on-high that we need to stop killing each other. I remember vaguely one about MX missles, but it was so long ago . . .

  4. February 13, 2010 at 8:22 am

    I read through it twice. Maybe I am clueless. I don’t see where it was “disgusting,” or that there was really such a dramatic need to come out swinging the “Nazi” label around like a club Mike.

    When there is a place on earth where people are killing each other, there’s a fundamental breakdown in the concepts we call “The Gospel.” I am not an expert on this history of Palestine/Israel by any means. From what I see though, neither side has behaved in a spotless manner. I would think with our own unique Mormon history of being a people forced into exodus several times, we would have at least a slightly better ability to empathize with the overall situation.

    I don’t know who is right or wrong … well, I take that back. The fact that a low-level civil war has been going on for decades pretty much indicates to me that someone is wrong, probably both sides, and two wrongs aren’t making a right.

    It’s much harder to hate an enemy after sitting with them to share a meal and listening to their story.

  5. February 13, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Funny.

    Mormons probably have better relations with the Muslim world than just about any other Christian denomination in America.

  6. February 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

    “Mormons probably have better relations with the Muslim world than just about any other Christian denomination in America.”

    Yeah, in general that’s true, I certainly have some stories gathered over the years on that front which likely will have to remain in the vault for a long time but will be really appreciated by Mormons and Muslims when they can be told.

    More to this particular post, LDS relations with Palestinians (of all religions) are also quite good. Howard W. Hunter and his “All Are Alike Unto God” talk was an important signpost on that road, and President Hunter in general was much beloved by those Palestinians with whom he worked. Those of you who’ve been through the BYU Jerusalem Center will be familiar with the Nazzal family, Nafez just loved President Hunter to no end. The Jerusalem Center quickly became a favored location for Palestinian wedding photos with its gorgeous views of the Old City, and the scholarship program BYU set up along with the center’s founding has at this point sent many dozens (it must be in the hundreds now) of Palestinian students to Provo and established strong ties at multiple levels of Palestinian society to BYU and the church. Including I might add, a few converts. Even excluding converts from BYU experiences, there are Palestinian members of the church on both sides of the greenline including Gaza. I’ve met many of them, many have lived years cut off and isolated from the church and have suffered greatly but maintained their faith despite their inability to reach the church. It was quite a few years back now that I did some broader digging into this, but I knew of and met many Palestinian members in Galilee, Gaza, Jerusalem, Hebron, Haifa, Jericho, Qalqilya, Bethlehem/Beit Jala/Beit Sahour, Ramallah, and Tulkarem. Several dozen all told, and those were just the ones I managed to find, they kept seeming to pop up in the most unexpected places with a glint of hope in their eyes when they realized they’d gotten back in touch with members. And then I’ve also bumped into Palestinians who wanted to join the church in al-Bireh, Bethlehem, and the Jenin area. Wonderful people, incredibly difficult circumstances in which the main obstacle to joining the church was the occupation and its restrictions on their ability to move and the church’s ability to act in any area under Israeli control.

  7. February 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Speaking of which, if anyone wants to follow the blogging of one of the younger Palestinians who studied at BYU, check out Hani al-Madhoun. He blogs as “Hanitizer” at Kabobfest (his posts can be found at http://www.kabobfest.com/author/Hanitizer ) and under his own name from time to time at the Huffington Post (his posts at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hani-almadhoun ). He’s from Gaza, in his mid- or late-20s I think. He currently works in the US and does stand up comedy as well. The guy’s a real riot if you meet him in person. He’s not a member of the church by any means, but is well acquainted with LDS and BYU culture from his time there and has many Mormon friends. Last year he went back to visit family in Gaza and got stuck there for several months, but blogged about it right the way through. He’s also set up a YouTube page he calls “The Gaza Experience” where he posts videos showing ordinary life in Gaza, that can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGazaExperience

  8. February 13, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I really appreciated this post and this point of view. I think, unfortunately, everyone in this country is terrified of intimating any kind of sympathy for the Palestinians at all, for fear of being called an anti-Semite, or anti-Jew, or whatever. It’s like there’s no easy way to de-politicize this issue. The conflict seems so ingrained that I’m afraid a peaceful solution is unrealistic. But I pray for that miracle.

  9. February 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you for this post and the list for further reading.

    Many Christians support Israel unconditionally because they equate the founding of Israel with the biblical promise of the the Jews returninig to their homeland in the last days. In the Book of Mormon, the prediction of the Jews returning to their homeland includes the caveat, “when . . . they shall believe in me[Christ].” Since that hasn’t happened, the creation of the state of Israel was more likely of political rather than divine influence.

  10. February 13, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I recall from a Chaim Potok book (I think it was The Chosen), that the orthodox Hassids also didn’t agree with forming a state of Israel unless it was done in a religious manner. They were opposed to the purely secular and political formation. It was sort of the same idea, but not from the Mormon/Christian perspective of Bible.

  11. Mark D.
    February 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t think anyone doubts that there is great and generally undeserved suffering on the Palestinian side. Many of these things are artifacts of history that can be traced to the decisions of people long since dead.

    One of the apparent problems is that the majority of the Palestinian populace does not want final status negotiations under any terms other than complete victory, and essentially support a low grade war conducted by not particularly honorable means until that victory is achieved.

    Unfortunately, blowing up bombs in buses and supermarkets is not the sort of thing that engenders sympathy with Israelis or with those in most other countries. If the cause is just enough and the damages significant enough to justify a war, then have a war. Invite all your friends and allies to take your side. But killing random civilians is not exactly the most effective way to overthrow a long since sovereign state, let alone persuade them to make some sort of voluntary settlement or compromise in your favor.

  12. February 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Mark D.: I’d really like to avoid the discussion here being about the broader issues. Really, I read stuff like what you just wrote and believe me I want to slap back as I was doing in BiV’s previous post. But let’s not do that here. Rather, can we discuss bridge-building and perhaps even talk about some of the sources I offered to understand the other side that is rarely heard amongst Mormons, or suggest other such good sources. Thanks.

  13. Locke
    February 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I really appreciated this post and thanks for this wonderful offering. I learned about the Palestinian people when my spouse and I lived among them for about 6 months. They were very warm and wonderful. They invited us to dinner with their families and shared their deepest convictions and dreams with us. The inherent unfairness of the new walls all around Jerusalem are incredibly unjust and a denial of basic freedoms. The new settlements on the west bank and and in non-Israeli controlled parts around Jerusalem displace Palestinian families that have lived on the land for centuries. Palestinian families are regularly displaced from their homes by the Israeli government without any compensation.

    Mark, in my experience you are just tilting at wind mills. But how would you know when what we see in America is largely propaganda? The Palestinian populace does want final peace and negotiations — they just don’t want to be imprisoned on their own lands without access to airports and basic services. They are not violent. For the record, I felt much safer in the Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and Bethlehem than on the streets of the eastern US.

    However, even if Mark’s description were anywhere near accurate (miraculously it isn’t), who would blame them? The Patriots who started the American revolution had less cause than the Palestinians whose lands are stolen and they are imprisoned in their villages and not allowed to leave or travel or even shop. Their homes are regularly simply “occupied” by the Israeli military without warning or warrant or due process. While we were having dinner with a Palestinian family, the Israeli military came and demanded to be allowed to occupy their house in an area of Bethlehem that was not under Israeli control. They began to move in about 25 soldiers and steal food without asking from the kitchen. When they discovered that there were American guests with the family everything changed. When my family demanded that they leave they made a call to whoever was in charge and vacated the house as fast as they could go. No reason to risk losing billions in American military support.

    I went to Jerusalem about as pro-Israeli as one could be. I left about as sympathetic with the Palestinians as you see me now.

  14. February 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Locke, thanks for sharing your experiences. I will for the sake of fairness to Mark following my comment still try to steer the conversation away from the broader issues discussion and focus on the personal connection angle. This was in many ways a key point I was trying to make in the post, that when church members (or anyone) gets to know Palestinians, suddenly the canned slogans and apparently simple ideas and talking points we all grow up hearing suddenly seem strange and harder to believe. Cognitive dissonance sets in, and in a big way. But that’s a good thing. Even if you don’t come to my conclusions, it’s really hard not to come to something far more humane and balanced.

  15. February 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    NAA:

    The worth of ALL persons is a much better place to start discussion than your self-described full combat mode in BIV’s post.

    Valuing the worth of all persons is seeing the humanity of Palestinians, AND Israelis, AND Arabs and realizing that there are self-destructive or self-constructive paths to dealing with pain.

    I said previously that millions of Jews could be an asset to Palestine. Millions of Palestinians could be an asset to Lebanon, to Egypt, and to Jordon. Yet it seems to be a cultural trait of the region that life is seen as a zero sum game.

    Lebanon does not want the Palestinians. It denies them any path to citizenship, and it restricts their rights even to practice professions that might help to lift the people out of poverty or leave the camps. Lebanon is already so divided into its zero-sum factions with their “confessional” offices and intrigue with Syrian expansionism that they had no desire to make room for Palestinians and have no concern for Palestinian suffering. The Palestinians have only brought them greater war.

    Jordon, largely Palestinian itself, gradually disassociated itself with the West Bank after it had to fight the “Black September” battles against the PLO (now PA) when the PLO began setting up a state-within-a-state in 1970.

    And the siege of Gaza is imposed by BOTH Egypt and Israel. Egypt would not even open a humanitarian corridor during Operation Cast Lead to allow civilians to flee the battlefield. Palestinian rockets were targeting Israel, not Egypt, so what did Egypt fear? Perhaps the same as Jordon and Lebanon?

    The elites of the Arab states (and Iran/Persia) have been “coveting” ever larger pieces of power within the sick and then dying Ottoman Empire for centuries before the Europeans became players. And that coveting was leaving real human victims for all of those centuries. The shattering of empire always does that, and BIV’s previous post lists exactly how many empires have washed over the Middle East over the millenia.

    Can you see that the way forward is to envision the possibility of a game in which it isn’t zero-sum? That the Jews have to have their security concerns acknowledged in any settlement as well as compensation given for the loss of Palestinian territory?

    There is no going back to the settlement the UN offered BEFORE the 1948 war, or even the cease-fire line after that war. Although a couple of generations of nationalist Arab, Pan-Arab, and Islamic movements have held out the claim of restoring the lost glory of the past, they have brought only misery to their people. To continue that path in the hope of alleviating that pain will bring only more pain to people who weren’t even born in 1948.

    New pain to fester new wars in new generations. That is NOT the way to honor the worth of all persons.

  16. February 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    What about the Arab Peace Initiative? How come we don’t hear more about this? I feel like everyone important just ignored it, including the White House. Seems like the signal of a significant turnaround in the Arab world.

    I admit, I am too ignorant about this issue. I need to learn as much as possible.

  17. February 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Ok, Firetag, please, not helpful. If you’d like to talk about the sources I listed or other similar ones, if you’d like to talk about personal experience visiting Palestinians, if you’d like to talk about ways to have some empathy, please go right ahead. If you want to have this duke-out, take it back to the other post, it fits there, not here.

  18. February 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    “The issues surrounding Palestine are such that one must wade through the extraordinarily complex to discover at the end there’s an amazingly simple set of guiding principles behind it all. In a Gospel sense, my belief is that the ZIONIST violation of the basic commandments of “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet” are the root cause of the conflict…”

    What part of that quote exactly was the empathy to ALL people?

    Bye.

  19. February 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Firetag, as I made clear at the beginning, we all know that the natural empathy we all grow up with as Mormons (and as Americans for those of us who are Americans) is with Israelis and Zionists. It surrounds us, it’s everywhere. In Sunday School lessons, in newspapers, in movies, in books, it’s ubiquitous. We all know how easy it is to have that empathy, I would dare say there’s not a person here who either doesn’t have that or at some point has had that empathy for one side. But that’s it, it usually stops there, and there’s usually not only lack of empathy for the Palestinians, there’s usually outright hostility towards them. A seemingly eternal itch that demands that people who’ve never met the Palestinians have an irrepressible need to lecture them. If you want to do that, you have a thousand and one places to do that, feel free to utilize any or all of them. I’ve asked with this post for one little place in the Bloggernacle to suspend that itch for a brief period and focus on the other side as human beings to be listened to instead of lectured at.

  20. Mark D.
    February 13, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    American military might was behind the State of Israel from the very beginning.

    Per instruction, I won’t get into a debate about the desire for final status negotiations, but this assertion begs for correction. In short, the then nascent state of Israel had no military support from the United States until nearly twenty years later.

    The only significant thing the United States did for Israel during the early years was to recognize it as a state in May 1948. Under the 1947 plan, there were supposed to be two provisional states and a Jerusalem under international control, so it is not exactly like the U.S. recognition was some sort of radical departure.

    There was certainly not a dime spent on military aid of Israel during the 1948/49 war, nor the next, in 1956. The U.S. had a neutrality policy. It didn’t sell weapons to Israel until the mid 1960s, and was willing (and did) sell similar weapons to Jordan. Realistically, the U.S. government did not take Israel’s side of the conflict in any material respect until the neighboring countries showed signs of becoming Soviet client states (for understandable reasons, of course). Jewish people in the United States did provide private financial support much earlier than that, of course.

  21. Mark D.
    February 13, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    As a people, by the way, I am sympathetic for the situation the Palestinians find themselves in. People suffer, and it is not their fault. The chances of return of (or even reparations for) the land, homes, and assets private citizens lost sixty years ago seem to be slim at best. As with many wars, that is nothing other than a tragedy.

  22. Ken S
    February 13, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Non Arab Arab

    I put less faith in man and more in God and his prophets. More specifically the promise to the Tribe of Judah:

    8 ¶ Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
    9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

    10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
    11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
    12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

    Clearly the promises are with the Jews, not the Arabs; and, the Jews with the help of two Apostles will prevail just before the return of the Savior.

  23. Mike
    February 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    BiV: “respectively and cogently” apparently means whatever you want it to mean. When both my intelligence and my background/heritage (dual US/Israel national) is insulted, as a Jewish investigator and future convert to the Church is insulted, I will respond in a manner I consider appropriate. In this case I believe the post in question was dreck, and was treated as such. Perhaps if Non-Arab Arab realizes that there is little chance the readers of his/her dreck will change their minds is because they have a more highly attuned filter for propaganda versus truth than he expects.

    I take great umbrage in the comments of Ulysseus and Brian Johnson that I either tried to “equate the Pali’s with Nazi’s, as Mike does,” or that I “come out swinging the Nazi label around like a club.” All that, from a brief reference to Leni Riefenstahl? Are you not aware that Riefenstahl’s glorification of the Nazi regime was similar in nature to what the Marxist-Leninist and avowed terrorist Ghassan Kanafani did in his writings? Furthermore, are you not aware that during the period of WW2, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met regularly with Hitler and the Nazi leadership and was provided safe haven by same, helping provide them with ideas for the “final solution.” That’s not fiction, or historical revisionism akin to what Non-Arab Arab is providing, that’s historical fact. Brian Johnson was correct in at least one point though, one branch of Chassidic Orthodox Judaism rejects the modern state of Israel. They’re known as the Neturei Karta, and are at best a fringe group both in Israel and the United States.

    It’s interesting and telling that throughout most of the responses Non-Arab Arab provides, when someone attempts to highlight or even briefly mention Pali violence and terrorism that the response always seems to be that he/she would “really like to avoid the discussion here about the broader issues.” Excuse me. Terrorism and murder is hardly one of the “broader issues.” To dismiss this most basic right of any people out of hand, or to posit that one people are inherently more deserving of life than the other borders on…the word that dare not speak it’s name…unless handed out at the business end of a club no doubt!

    No where in the previous discussion did I read that there simply was no such thing as a “Palestinian” people before those pesky Jews suddenly were interested in the land. Why was it that the so-called Palestinians only discovered their apparent national identity following the 1967 war? Palestine has never existed as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.

    There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. No Palestinian historical narrative, money or coin, legislative body or parliament. There has never been a historical Palestinian capitol—Jerusalem as capitol is a modern invention. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass.

    Mark D writes that the Pali “suffering is not their fault” and that the chances for return or reparations for their land, homes and assets are slim at best….” More dreck, though not even comparable with that of Locke, whose ignorant assertion that Pali terrorists had more reason to resist who they view as the aggressor than did the patriots during the American Revolution! The Jews did not displace anyone, because no one permanently resided there. It was a land inhabited by nomadic, Bedouin tribes. The whole region was nothing but deserts and swamps. Only about 120,000 Arabs resided in an area that covered the territories, the state of Israel and Jordan. When Mark Twain visited the area, he wrote he found nothing but a wasteland. When the Israeli’s vacated the lush area of Gusf Katif and environs in yet another failed effort at American-mandated “peace at any cost” the Pali’s were left with a productive agricultural area and miles and miles and greenhouses. They reduced their newly acquired farmland to fallow and their greenhouses to rubble, but did in fact use their land to launch further attacks against the IDF.

    During the 19 years that the territories, including Jerusalem and Gaza, were occupied by the kingdoms of Jordan and Egypt, (refer to http://masada2000.org/historical.html) no one talked about a Palestinian state, not the Arab countries, not the United Nations. Nobody asked Jordan or Egypt to abdicate their ownership and give it to the Palestinians. Not even the Palestinians themselves said anything about a Palestinian state or a Palestinian people, because nobody heard of a Palestinian people. It never existed. Most Arabs living in Palestine today are not indigenous to the region. It was not until after the Jews had changed deserts and swamps into a productive and thriving land that the Arabs started migrating there. Sound familiar, analogous with the migration patterns of people from the Americas to the American southwest or south?

    The late Faisal Husseini, Arafat’s Jerusalem representative, a man who was cultured, sophisticated and considered the most moderate of all the Palestinians, shortly before his death on May 31, 2001, expressed his true feelings in an interview with the popular Egyptian newspaper el Arav. Husseini said: “We must distinguish the strategies and long-term goals from the political-phased goals which we are compelled to accept due to international pressures.” But the “ultimate goal is the liberation of all of historical Palestine.” Explicitly he said: “Oslo has to be viewed as a Trojan Horse.”
    He even added and clarified that it is the obligation of all the Palestinian forces and factions to see the Oslo Accords as “temporary” steps, as “gradual” goals, because in this way, “We are setting an ambush for the Israelis and cheating them.” He also differentiated between “strategic,” long-term, “higher” goals, and “political” short-term goals dependent on “the current international establishment, balance of power” etc.

    Simply put, you cannot negotiate with a people who wish your destruction, and who are willing to use their own children and pawns and martyrs for their sick cause. The Pali’s rejected the best deal for peace they would and should have ever received about a decade ago. They suffer at the hands of their own people who would rather use the vast amount of international aid not to their benefit, but to hasten their own destruction.

    In short, BiV, though I recognize that that is an impossible endeavor given the length of this reply, the only thing that will hasten peace between the Israeli and Pali people, IMHO, is for the Pali’s to adopt a culture of life, to recognize that their children are not pawns or propaganda sponges meant to soak up the hatred of prior generations, and to recognize the right of Israel to exist. Unless and until that happens, all we’re left with is the effluvium that promotes people like Ghassan Kanafani, Walid Khalidi, Yassar Arafat and his successors as something they’re not.

  24. February 13, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I am not unsympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people, as problematic as their identity is. But I am more than a little bothered when responsibility for that plight is based entirely on Israel, and I’m very uncomfortable when the terminology to refer to Israel comes very close to “the Zionist Entity,” Failing to acknowledge the exploitation of the Palestinian people and their plight by thuggish regimes in Syria and Iran and the militias that wrap themselves in Palestinian people for protection while they target Israeli civilians is a massive lie of omission and intellectually dishonest. This is a case of diplomatic Munchhausen-by-proxy, and that aspect must be taken into account to gain a comprehensive understanding of what’s really going on here.

    I am not a blank-check supporter of Israel, and will only insist on their continued existence and right to defend themselves uncritically. But I do not tolerate the knee-jerk condemnation of everything they do apparently I run in different circles than N-A-A, because I see few defenders of Israel and many critics), and will not minimize that a portion of that criticism is based in simple Antisemitism. I’m sorry if the comparison with the Nazis is bothersome — it’s certainly not a perfect comparison — but there is certainly sympathy with the Nazis to be found in the anti-Israeli side of the Arab world. Circulation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion continues in Arabic. And then there is my personal experience, totally anecdotal fwiw:

    When I was in high school, I was in the Model United Nations, and our school’s team represented Israel. It was an eventful session, but the moment relevant to this was when I got a note from the Lebanese delegation, on their “letter head,” with a swastika and then the words “will live forever.” About a minute later I had the Lebanese ambassador very fervently apologizing for that. He explained that a Lebanese student at the college we were meeting at had asked if he could sit in at their table, and it was he who had sent us the note.

    I like the idea of gaining a better understanding of the position of Palestinians, and would like to see their situation improve. However, the power to do that is not only in the hands of the Israelis, and casting a blind eye to the suffering caused by their nominal defenders and supporters is to collude in their exploitation. Please excuse me if I choose not to join in that particular collusion.

  25. SUNNofaB.C.Rich
    February 14, 2010 at 12:02 am

    So… maybe I missed something, but it sounds like you’re saying you walked a mile in a “palestinians shoes” from somewhere in Provo, Utah?

  26. Peter
    February 14, 2010 at 12:23 am

    I find it interesting that you equate John Birchism with Zionism since the geneology of Birchism has given us libertarian Ron Paul and his supporters who are conspiracy theorists who are anti-Zionist. It’s not that these people don’t believe that Jews have a right to their ancient lands, but that the current regime is not supported by God, . . . period. They would take issue with how this all came about, even it was prophesied, it doesn’t mean that the Jews had God’s back about them in doing some of this, although we know that the weren’t totally complicit in atrocities. The wars pushed against them are what created the expansion of territory. Had they been left alone by the Pan-Arabists, they may still only occupy their original UN charter land.

    I think Mormons who study prophecy look for a more divine restoration, where if you look at Moabites and other “brethren” in the Old Testament, they come into remembrance of the Lord along with the Jews and are adopted into the arms the Lord’s love. That means that anyone who wants to follow prophecy would see that Jews and Palestinians are prophesied to break bread together with the God of the Old Testament, who we know is Christ.

  27. February 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Sigh…and Zionist trolls completely ignore the point of the post and the requests to stay on topic, and toss in the wild erroneous Nazi and anti-Semite slurs to boot. Predictable, but sad nonetheless. Guys if you really can’t control yourselves, please at least take your anti-Palestinian vitriol elsewhere so that an honest discussion of how Palestinians see the world and how Mormons can make an effort to understand instead of your canned condemning can happen here.

    To the person who asked where I had my learning experiences, no not just or mainly Provo. Palestine (living, studying, and working) and numerous locales throughout the Palestinian diaspora including Egypt, the Gulf, other countries in the Levant, and many countries in the west. Over the course of 2 decades. I assure you, I do not lack for past or ongoing personal, academic, or professional experience.

  28. Mike
    February 14, 2010 at 3:19 am

    So, to summarize….if only us Zionist trolls hadn’t showed up you might have been able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes? How predictable that we Zionist trolls didn’t want to stick to the talking points you so expertly outlined to obfuscate the deception you attempted to foist on the community. Oh, and way to go MoMa. I’ve been a serious investigator of the Church for over a year now and I was the one counseled to “respectfully and cogently” respond to someone who never deserved it in the first place.

    Until now I hadn’t bothered to follow the link to Non-Arab Arab’s blog…quite the piece of work over there, one rule for Israel and another for everyone else. Seems my initial impression wasn’t misplaced even one iota. Giving voice to this…liar and propagandist is a pox on Mormon Matters. If this earns me a permanent ban then so be it but I refuse to accept that you can have a dialogue with someone who has made the claims this person does, many which have gone on this thread and the other BiV post which border on blood libel, but for which the poster was thanked profusely by perhaps the equally ignorant.

  29. February 14, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Mike, we are giving you a voice too. That’s what we’re all about here. I actually appreciated some of the points you made in your comment #23, but it’s hard for me to listen when you can’t make them kindly.

    The emotions this post and my previous one have stirred up have really surprised me. If we truly want to find a way to peace, it would be helpful if we could start by discussing things calmly and respectfully. I don’t know what the answer is, but sadly, I can see that it’s difficult to ask these people to peacefully live together on the land when we can’t even peacefully discuss the situation on a blog post.

  30. Mike
    February 14, 2010 at 8:11 am

    BiV: It’s rather difficult to take you seriously when I have yet to hear an admonition directed towards NAA for the attitude that readily apparent in his posts. It’s also difficult to consider you unbiased when, in the previous thread that is somehow tangentially related to this one, you find nothing to rebut in the blood libel that Israeli’s “exploit Palestinian’s as cheap labor,” “murder Palestinian’s for sport”, and teach Israeli children to hate Pali children. That’s not blog hyperbole or online brashness, or even being in the vanguard of speaking truth to power, that’s anti-Semitism pure and simple. NAA’s website is not a portal for the free exchange of ideas, it’s a hate site pure and simple, and when you associate yourself so closely to someone so far out of the mainstream, winking and nodding when he entered the “debate” in the first place, you tarnish the one blog among all others that I have found a wealth of information and encouragement in my journey. I somehow can’t seem to make a point “kindly” yet you support a blood libel. Hmm, rather hard to take you seriously when you demand respect, and “calm and respectful” debate only from those whose POV you support.

    It’s actually quite easy to ask “these people to peacefully live together on the land…” Stop the Pali terror and homicide bombing. Stop the glorification of murder and martyrdom amongst their young people, and the absolute right of Israel to exist and suddenly you’ll find peace will be at hand. The fact is not one so-called leader of the “Palestinian” people has ever supported nothing less than the annihilation of the State of Israel and the extermination of every Jew within her borders. If that policy doesn’t sound familiar to you, there’s no hope.

  31. February 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Mike, I just want to point out that there are a lot of Mormons who have Israels back and think that people who think like Non-Arab Arab are nothing more than a propagandist tool for a corrupt society of murderers and Nazi sympathizers. Although I respect the LDS Leadership for its trying to relate to Muslims (and Palestinians), it still doesn’t cover the crimes committed by these terrorists on a daily basis.

  32. February 14, 2010 at 11:32 am

    You know, this post started out simple enough: church members only tend to see one side of an issue, here’s some suggestions to see the other side of the issue, let’s have a chat about those things you can look at. But Mike and a few others decided they weren’t going to have that. It’s not sufficient for you guys to ignore the request to listen to what Palestinians have to say, you feel this irrepressible need to shout “anti-Semite!” “Nazi!” “blood libel!”. You don’t care that you have been presented with research and on-the-ground experiences and real personal stories to read, because you live in a bubble where the “mainstream” is defined by the Zionist narrative and anything outside of it is unacceptable. You even attack BiV for merely presenting the other side of the coin for consideration. You are choosing to be, in short, a bully.

    There’s something you should understand guys: I was you once. Every silly argument you make, I used to make them with twice the vehemence. I know what you’re thinking, because I used to think it. You can’t bully me, because I know what is behind your bullying. It is a combination of ignorance and fear. The ignorance is willful. You attack BiV for even allowing this post because you don’t want to read what is behind it. You don’t want to read Ilan Pappe’s or Walid Khalidi’s or Zochrot’s primary research or hear Ghassan Kanafani’s stories because you fear what they might reveal, that they might put chinks in your precious but fragile armor. And above all, you do not want to actually meet Palestinians, listen as long and hard to them as you have to the stories of Zionists, and consider them as human beings. You hate Arabs, you are anti-Arab racists, and you cover it up to yourselves and the world by claiming that you only hate “terrorists” but then in the same breath you define any Arab who won’t accept Zionist racism as being a “terrorist” or “terrorist sympathizer” in just the same way Apartheid South Africans defined blacks (though back then communist was just as useful a smear term as terrorist was, now your vocabulary is even more limited and crude).

    You are comfortable in the myth you live, and you don’t want it challenged because you have allowed it to define your worldview so much that any challenge would force you to reconsider everything you believe on these matters. So you prefer living with only the facts that Zionists present and you viciously attack even the presentation of facts that don’t agree. Unlike the secular anti-Zionist crowd who knows and follows the Zionist and non-Zionist narratives and is not the least bit threatened by either side, you fear even hearing the non- and anti-Zionist side. Your mind is weak, so in a bubble of fear that you might have to face facts, you simply SCREAM! “Blood libel!” “Nazi!” “Anti-Semite!” And you take comfort in the fact that your screaming has won the political battle in the US to date, so you enjoy being able to call your weird little extremist world “mainstream”. In fact, you even use the word “mainstream” as a weapon to bludgeon your opponents with further, declaring that no one is allowed to even talk outside your extremist “mainstream”. And so just like AIPAC and (un)christian Zionists bully congressional reps (many of whom behind the scenes deeply represent it but aren’t about to risk seeing AIPAC and (un)christian Zionist groups fund their opponents to the hilt in the next election), you bully the BiVs and others of this world who don’t even share my views but are simply trying to get an honest view from both sides. But an honest view from both sides is not acceptable to you, so you shout and scream hoping you can shut it down because that kind of temper tantrum has proven effective in the past.

    But I have news for you, Zionist bullying has passed its peak. Outside the US, your supposedly “mainstream” view is now widely known for the ridiculous coverup of Zionist racism it is. Not just in the Middle East, but across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America – basically the whole world other than the US, Israel, and Micronesia – no one buys it anymore, the emperor truly has no clothes. You comfort yourself by saying “it’s all just anti-Semitism revived!” Which in your own mind you can get away with because you continue to refuse to face the facts. Somebody points out the never-ending list of Zionist massacres of civilians that continue to this day, and you call it a “blood libel” and refuse to actually look at the obvious and publicly available facts that they happen and above all you refuse to listen to the Palestinian eyewitnesses because they are not full humans and unworthy of trust in your eyes. Heck, even when the massacres are televised these days (Qana 2006 repeating Qana 1996, Dahiyeh 2006, Gaza 2009, etc.) you refuse to acknowledge it. (Incidentally, ‘murdering Palestinian children for sport’ is not from me but from Harper’s reporter on the ground in Gaza Chris Hedges back in 2001 who said even after having watched the brutality in the Balkans in the 90s he was shocked by what he saw Israeli soldiers doing).

    So Mike, Firetag, et. al. You can continue to live in your bubble. Your “mainstream” only extends as far as a bubble of people who refuse to even listen to Palestinians or for that matter even to independent outsiders. You rely on an echo chamber and it feels good to you I know. I used to like it too. You’ve never seen both sides, so you keep filling your veins with the heroin of anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab racism and it makes you feel like the violent racist ideology of Zionism you have adopted is a solid shield and sword. But really you are like the dwarfs at the end of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books in The Last Battle: you sit in the midst of a broader reality but you see nothing around you but what you want to see.

    Meanwhile, those of us who believe in genuine human equality are gaining strength. The one-state movement is growing that calls for a state where everyone from the Med to the Jordan will live under a government that guarantees equal rights whether one is Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Mormon (yes, there are a few dozen Palestinian Mormons and no they do not like Zionism), Atheist or anything else will be equally protected. The dominance of Zionist bullying in Jewish American life is weakening as more groups rise up to challenge the official narrative as people have begun to see the brutality and injustices that Israel is inflicting. The International Solidarity and Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movements are growing. The Right of Return movement is growing amongst Palestinians. Even the Quislings of Palestine in Ramallah occasionally mouth the possibility of giving up their Vichy palaces and opting for a one-state movement. You tremble in horror at these early rumbles. You comfort yourself saying they are “out of the mainstream” and just tiny ripples that supposedly don’t represent broader opinion. But you also fear them. You’ve seen how the end of Apartheid and the end of Jim Crow started from tiny ripples. You know there are waves of human longing for freedom beneath them. You fear that desire for equality, because you’ve bought into the false hope that brute military force is how to gain safety for one ethnic group.

    You of course don’t admit any of this to anyone outside or even to your conscious self because admitting would be admitting your whole framework of thought is wrong. But a little nagging worry sits at the back of your mind. “Maybe” that little worry says “we were wrong all along, maybe we are the Apartheid Afrikaners, maybe we have become Pharaoh and the Palestinians the Hebrew slaves…” And that nagging thought scares you, because alongside that fear lives the dark racism you have built up in your mind against Arabs. Like scared racist whites who think every black man is waiting to murder him, you think every Palestinian wants to kill you. You’ve never actually allowed yourself to make friends with them, to hear their pains and fears and hopes and dreams, so you replace it with an evil cartoon character and tell yourself that the day after the end of Apartheid can never be anything but a bloodbath. You block yourself from seeing the reality: that if you just let go of the anti-Arab racism, good people who just want to live their lives like you do lie right in front of you. That the day after the Apartheid wall collapses, will be a day of joy, and that reconciliation is 110% possible if you just let go of your racist fears.

    I suggest you let go of them. And I suggest you stop being a bully. Nobody likes bullies.

  33. Ken S
    February 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    What is obvious is that both sides of the conflict need the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  34. geb
    February 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    It is really a shame that some Mormons are so prejudiced against the Palestinians that they can’t even read a reasonable argument without spewing out hatred. This is the same spirit that led to Mountain Meadows and on the other side, Haun’s Mill.

  35. February 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Arthur H;

    I didn’t want your comment to get lost in all the back and forth. The Arab Peace Initiative is not taken seriously by anyone because it is part of a larger political dynamic of competition between the Saudi/Egyptian (Sunni) and Iranian (Shia) and Syrian axes for primary control over political Islam. One need not question the sincerity of the Saudis to know that they can not deliver anything from Iran or ITS clients.

    BiV: Your point is cogent in 29. The notion of a “one-state” solution living in peaceful civil utopia being peddled by NAA is not remotely in the cards. Such a state can only come into being for the forseeable future through overwhelming military force, restoring the previous occupation or replacing it with a new one. The identity of “oppressor” and “oppressed” will be argued and may even switch sides, but it doesn’t really matter whether Coriantumr kills Shiz or Shiz kills Coriantumr: the PEOPLE on both sides are threatened by the fighting.

    But the belief by people like NAA that Israel is about to be swept away is a delusion that is only helping to hurtle the region toward an exploasion.

    Palestine is a useful symbol, as I noted to Arthur above, but the “broader issues” are far more akin to an Islamic replay of the political and military conflicts that marked the European Reformation than to a mere dispute over who owns Palestine. The bombing of the bakery in India yesterday wasn’t about Palestine; it was about preventing negotiations resuming between Pakistan and India because the extremists want Pakistani military forces tied down on the Indian border rather than moving against the Taliban strrongholds. And the anti-missle defenses going into the Gulf states aren’t about Palestine either.

    At the moment, it is unclear whether the Palestinians could live in a single state with each other, let alone with Israel. Despite all its bluster, Hamas has actually managed to kill more fighters of the Palestinian Authority since the Palestinian elections than it has killed Israelis. There is no Mandela on the horizon among the Palestinians, so, I suspect NAA’s utopian civil society would devolve rather quickly into the post World War I violent Palestine, if not the 1994 Rwanda. It isn’t even certain that the Israeli’s could order Israeli settlers out of West Bank settlements (as they did in Gaza) and count on all Orthodox soldiers to obey orders — the threat to Army discipline is openly discussed among the Israeli officer corps.

    As a final comment on your comment, BIV, I will suggest that there is even something more fundamental than being willing to discuss the issues calmly. One has to believe that BOTH sides SIMULTANEOUSLY have something legitimate to discuss before the discussion can begin.

    NAA: I tried to warn you above about zero-sum thinking. You have been remarkably consistent both as a teenager and as an older adult in being sure that YOUR side — whichever side it happened to be at that point in your life — was 100% right and those on the other side were 100% wrong. Extremism, on either side, is the threat to both peace and justice. I suggest you turn your attention to something that may preserve the most fundamental values of BOTH sides, which is to oppose extremism on both sides. It is only a CENTER that can control either extreme that can ever lead to Palestinian and Israeli living in the same society, and the fuse on the explosion IS burning already.

  36. Peter
    February 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    NAA, I understand a little of where you come from. I had two good Palestinian friends at BYU, I even lived with on of them. I came home one day with him screaming at Bush for invading Iraq. I thought it was silly at the time, because my thought was that America is liberating Iraq. I’m a little more nuanced now and can understand why he felt that way.

    I also heard my other friend’s story from when she was living at home in Ramallah, and some Israeli soldiers just took over their home as a base, would curse at them, piss in their drinking water, and do other nasty things to her family. Reading personal stories helps me to moderate my thinking on this issue. Israel has done some atrocious things to Palestinians. However, you can’t completely divorce the thinking from a socio-historical context. I’m sure you are very educated on this subject and could run circles around me, however, what I see is a someone steeped in polar thinking that learned more about the other side of the argument and then completely flips. This is typical as well with many Mormons who get “anti-ed” and then become virulently anti-Mormon.

    I sense the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think Israel has the right to exist–however, they need to find a way to secure their country without occupying Arab lands. The fence is a great idea I think. I think Palestinians have a right to their own self-governance. Extremists on both sides make it hard. They create crises in order to take advantage of them.

  37. Jeff Spector
    February 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    What is missing from NAA’s Anti-Zionist, Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic diatribe is the discussion of how the Arabs, created, and sustain this issue, when with their boatloads of money and control of most of the region could have solved the problem many years ago and gave these people a homeland more in line with their actual origins and not try to extract a pound of flesh out of Israel.

    I’ve said it before, Israel as not always acted appropriately and those so-called Palestinians have suffered a great deal at the hands of the Israelis, the Arabs and the corrupt Palestine Leaders.

    No mention of any of that. Just a rip in Israel.

  38. February 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Jeff, easy to name-call and fling around the epithet “Anti-Semitic,” harder to show where in the above post the writer has “ripped” anyone.

  39. February 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Firetag, #35
    “There is no Mandela on the horizon among the Palestinians”

    word.

  40. Matt A.
    February 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Mike (#23),

    This part of your comment really caught my attention:

    “The Jews did not displace anyone, because no one permanently resided there. It was a land inhabited by nomadic, Bedouin tribes. The whole region was nothing but deserts and swamps.”

    It would be so easy to make the same claim about the Great Plains and the people who were living there when the Europeans settled the land and turned it into farmland. Just because people are nomadic does not mean that they cannot be displaced.

    It really bothers me that you said that as part of your defense.

    FWIW, I think there is guilt and blame and blood enough on both sides of the conflict, and that until both sides are able and willing to stop the violence and start forgiving each other, nothing is really going to change.

  41. February 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Firetag, I’ve stood back and watched a lot of your comments based on your deep knowledge of somebody else translating stuff and “military journals”. Which probably means MEMRI and Debka, two of the most notoriously unreliable sources on the Middle East there are, both run by ex-Zionist spooks, and rather goofy tabloidish ones at that. Or maybe you read more serious “military journals”, even there the entire genre even on a more academic basis is plagued by the worst, untrained orientalists in generations with only a few exceptions. Exceptions you clearly don’t read. And on translation I doubt you even get the quality of FBIS based on what you are writing here. I work with reams of analysts in many fields, and frankly if I were your boss, you’d be canned as an analyst, you show no ability to do anything more than regurgitate journalists’ platitudes. Let us at least one time take down your silliness on these points.

    “The notion of a “one-state” solution living in peaceful civil utopia being peddled by NAA is not remotely in the cards. Such a state can only come into being for the forseeable future through overwhelming military force”

    Actually, military force is the one thing which cannot bring it into being. The only state that has such military force is Israel and it has clearly shown that even though it controls the territory militarily, it has no desire to grant even the people it rules their basic rights. Syria is a military joke and even when Israel struck their non-nuclear facility near the Iraqi border (FYI, that’s near the major Syrian oil fields where they take nuclear readings on a regular basis for well monitoring purposes and nothing registered before or after the strikes, it was a bunch of Israeli and WINEP types pushing the Israeli claims, the gutless Syrians likely just lost some relatively meaningless piece of military or civilian architecture but had no interest in highlighting how militarily weak they are so they just shut up and let it slide). The Jordanians and Egyptians are entirely out of the military picture preferring their American bribes of guns and money to keep their respective dictatorships in power. The Lebanese army is only able to make tea and Hummus and as a legacy of the Lebanese civil war among other factors will never do more. Hizbullah has a meaningful guerilla and missile capability as they showed when they handed the Israeli army their butts on a platter in 2006 – yes Israel showed they had the ability to target civilians deliberately en masse (flattening entire densely packed neighborhoods and slaughtering hundreds of civilians), but militarily Hizbullah finally broke the mystique of Israeli invincibility. Nonetheless, that is a guerilla not a conventional capability they have. They can resist, they can be a strategic headache, but they cannot conquer territory. And Hizbullah is keenly aware of what they are and are not. The Iraqis have played a role in resisting Zionists in the past, but now that the Americans have razed Iraqi society from the ground up and instituted an explicit sectarian system that ensures permanent Iraqi civil war for the foreseeable future (yes, the civil war is ongoing there), they don’t have any role in the Palestinian arena. No one in the Arab world expects a military solution and Israel refuses (Olmert’s “nightmare”) to grant civil rights to the Palestinians. That my friend is called a “stuck” situation. And when things get stuck, the ground shifts beneath everyone’s feet. Options that were never considered begin to be considered. The one-state solution has not been considered seriously for some time, but now it is gaining currency in key quarters. It is still small, but the only viable solution and growing in popularity. Your derision of it as some sort of utopia, shows just how disconnected reading your “military journals” you are from social, political, and economic reality. Understanding military matters (which frankly you don’t) is never enough to understand the broader strategic picture. There are I might add, no other options being considered. The two-state non-solution is now a laughingstock. The settlers continue to not only multiply like weeds with US guns and money behind them (including General Dayton’s new torturers and Quislings aiding the Zionists), but the PA knows its a joke and just keeps up the facade so the Fathawis can keep their mansions and paychecks. One trip through the ground of the West Bank and its abundantly clear just how much the likes of Sharon succeeded in transforming the landscape irrevocably. In that sense, the Jabotinskys of the world “won”. What they don’t realize is what a Pyrrhic victory it is going to prove. In fact, ironically the only people who take the two-state non-solution seriously any more are Hamas. They are acting like Arafat in the 80s, licking the boots of any westerner who will give them the time of day to bend over backwards and tell them how they now accept the two-state solution. Their reason is much the same as the Fatah reason for continuing the farce: Hamas has power now in one place and is trying to hold onto it at any cost. As a Palestinian friend I was talking to last night said in regards to them, it’s the old saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. But in any case, Hamas is late to the party and not in a terribly good long-term strategic position. They lack the strategic brainpower of a Hasan Nasrallah.

    “But the belief by people like NAA that Israel is about to be swept away is a delusion that is only helping to hurtle the region toward an exploasion.”

    Once again you show how your reading of “military journals” causes you to misread not just the strategic picture but others’ analysis. Israel is not going to be swept away, and certainly not in the military explosion you suggest is coming (though I don’t doubt there are going to be further 2006 and 2009-type military clashes, but far from any sort of massive regional war that will settle these issues, there is no military “solution” for anyone unless Israel pulls a Hutu Power-genocide or Serb-style/Israel-48-style ethnic cleansing attempt). Israel will however collapse/transform (pick your preferred word, the semantics don’t really bother me) as South Africa did. You may recall that the South African military had complete military dominance as well over the ANC, in fact far greater even than Israel has. And yet practically overnight it was gone.

    “Palestine is a useful symbol, as I noted to Arthur above, but the “broader issues” are far more akin to an Islamic replay of the political and military conflicts that marked the European Reformation than to a mere dispute over who owns Palestine. The bombing of the bakery in India yesterday wasn’t about Palestine; it was about preventing negotiations resuming between Pakistan and India because the extremists want Pakistani military forces tied down on the Indian border rather than moving against the Taliban strrongholds. And the anti-missle defenses going into the Gulf states aren’t about Palestine either.”

    I would tend to just shout “como?” to this babble where you jump from Palestine to Pakistan to the Gulf at complete random. But knowing something about your “military journals” I know the blather you are thinking about. In fact, you put it right there with your ridiculous chatter about “Islamic replay” of the “European Reformation”. You are incapable of understanding the unique circumstances of each of these places, and even more incapable of understanding the messy local dynamics in each of them, so you like so many neocons like to create a really silly, really over-simplified grand theory that slaps a template from the history you read in high school onto a broad region that you don’t understand but that you easily put under one “Islamic” umbrella. I know, I know, they all look alike, how are you supposed to tell an Ahmet from an Ahmad from an Ahmadinejad anyways right? But here’s some hints: Drop the broad Euro-themes, start looking at local drivers, but don’t neglect trans-national links.

    Let’s look at your Gulf (no-direct-connection-to-Palestine-but-you-think-all-Muslims-fall-under-one-analytical-oversimplified-basket-so-you-tossed-them-right-in) example. The missiles are going up in the Gulf because the US has decided its imperial interests lie in blocking Iran from gaining a strategic deterrence vis-a-vis Israel, the US, Russia, and possibly Pakistan and India. Iran like any state of course has no desire to commit suicide and would never use nukes, but the shift in strategic balance should they acquire them would constrain US and Israeli decision-making, so the US has decided it is intolerable whether the Obama or Bush administration is in charge (indeed, most of the same brainless advisors just shift from admin to admin, many housed at clueless but powerful shops like WINEP, Dennis Ross being the quintessential “Teflon a**hole” as an old State Department buddy of mine put it). The US considers the Gulf its exclusive playground and doesn’t like Iranian noise when Iran isn’t a US puppet, so it is ratcheting up the noise against Iran. Inside Iran the regime is increasingly IRGC dominated with the military steadily taking over larger and larger chunks of the economy and tolerating less and less political dissent. This is a powerplay that is playing out entirely within the dominant conservative camp, essentially splitting conservatives against each other. Playing hawkish versus the outside world, especially when US global dominance is (correctly) seen as past its peak, makes sense for this military-conservative wing as most Iranians agree on Iran’s right to obtain nuclear “technology” however that is defined and resent the fact that the US was fine giving that technology to the Shah but then denies them that right now. So Iran is hawkish, the US is hawkish, and then right across the Gulf you have the US-petro-kingdoms. Saudi Arabia chief among them of course, but all the little guys too. These are regimes that depend entirely for their survival on US soldiers as mercenaries and petrodollars to pay for them. As US vassals, these regimes will of course at the end of the day play any game the US orders them too if it is of sufficient strategic weight for the US, but within that broad direction there is a lot of wiggle room and a lot of local interests and power plays. The Saudis in this case see it fully in their interest to play along with the US’ hawkishness. Iraq is of course one reason. The Saudis have maintained their influence there by feeding their militias, mafia-politicians and sectarian torturers in the service of the US (there would have been no “awakenings” without Saudi cash), and especially with US troop drawdowns they have a heavy interest in trying to cage in the various Shi’a sectarian militias and mafia-politicians that the Iranians have spread their bets amongst. Part of this in the fairly recent past was playing up the sectarian angle with US, Jordanian, and Egyptian collusion (i.e., deliberately stoking anti-Shi’a sectarianism throughout the region and trying to equate with anti-Shi’a feelings any resistance force that reflected popular will as opposed to bought-off shills), helping to further keep the various US-supported torturing regimes in power by playing up ethnic hatreds across the region. The Saudis want to keep this going and want to portray any popular movement against unpopular regimes as being an Iranian cats’ paw. So they stoke that up, and part of the game of course is to try and check Iran’s more direct potential for striking back at US strategic targets in the Gulf if the US or Israel were to strike Iran first (Iran won’t strike first), so the Saudis give permission to their neighbors (there are always spats, but generally speaking Saudi cash and dominance is hefty enough that you don’t go against Saudi wishes…except for Qatar whose royals play a fairly shrewd game of their own thanks to their own US army mercenary contingent) to let the missiles get spread around. There’s actually many more layers to this game, but that’s an ok starter.

    “At the moment, it is unclear whether the Palestinians could live in a single state with each other, let alone with Israel.”

    Ah that mother of oversimplifications game you love to play. Now let’s see, why would it be that the Palestinians are divided amongst themselves? There are of course plenty of reasons internal and external to Palestinian society, but as with the divisions in any colonized society, the inability to settle them rests almost entirely on the occupiers fun little games. Heck, even Israelis have experience with this, their terrorist gangs often fought each other pre-1948, and only with the pullout of the British and the final ethnic cleansing of most of the Palestinian civilians from the 48 borders did the chief Israeli terrorist (Ben Gurion) manage to bring the rest of the terrorists by force under his wing. But I digress. With the Palestinians, we can look to Israel’s micro or macro games (indeed, they’re intertwined, Israel’s micro machinations are a big help in implementing their macro schemes) for key drivers. Palestinian society is of course riddled with Israeli informers top to bottom. Kidnappings of Palestinians, rampant torture, economic strangulation, threats (often carried out) against family members, sexual blackmail, bribes, healthcare blackmail (it is common Israeli practice to refuse Palestinians needed medical care if they refuse to become informers), threats to ‘expose’ people as collaborators (sometimes when they actually are, sometimes when they’re not), deportation threats and actual actions, murder, and many other dirty immoral techniques have been standard operating procedure in the Zionist bag of tricks for the better part of a century now. This of course gives them an incredibly strong ability to throw wrenches into the works of local Palestinian politics at will. Then there’s the broader control issues (some of which tie directly into the micro techniques listed). For example, after the US and Israel failed to respect the result of Palestinians fair democratic elections, the Israelis simply went and kidnapped the leading Hamas members of parliament. Then to “help” Fatah (and with Fatah’s gleeful traitorous collusion), they and the Americans helped the Dahlanists in Gaza try their coup against the legitimate Hamas government. When that failed, the Israelis decided it was time to (in the chilling words of Israeli government officials themselves) put 1.5 million civilians “on a diet” and put the Gazans under an illegal siege. Then when that failed to dislodge Hamas and re-install the Ramallah Quislings in Gaza, the Israelis decided to provoke an end to the Gaza missile ceasefire and create a pretext (as with every Israeli war) for the 2009 war. Which once again failed to dislodge Hamas. But of course, none of this is a terrible scenario for the Israelis anyways. Yes, having a Vichy Palestinian government in power in Ramallah and Gaza completely doing the occupiers bidding is ideal, but the generals actually rather like the current status quo as well with two Palestinian governments at each others throat and each just trying to stay in power, which is why the Israelis allow enough material to flow to Gaza to keep the Hamas guys in power, especially with the Hamas guys hungry to stay in power at any cost and willing to more or less keep the missiles stopped for now. Palestinians stay divided, and Israelis happy. Of course, that’s just the latest antics, we could also look to the very establishment of Hamas, aided by the Israelis in the late 80s in order to try and weaken the PLO who were starting to sound dangerously reasonable to them, so better to keep doing what they could to divide Palestinians. Anyhow, just a few examples.

    “There is no Mandela on the horizon among the Palestinians, so, I suspect NAA’s utopian civil society would devolve rather quickly into the post World War I violent Palestine”

    Actually, there are many Palestinian Mandelas. The grassroots movements against the wall in Bilin and Nilin are two prominent examples. Peaceful protest, organized at the local level. Which of course the Israelis are meeting with murders and midnight arrests like any police state. And it’s not just those towns, Palestinian civil society is stepping up once again as it always has in the absence of real leadership (the Ramallah clique are just corrupt guys in Israel’s pocket) and are implementing local Israeli goods boycotts inasmuch as possible in public campaigns such that even Quislings like Fayyad are having to pay it lip service. Internationally the al-Awda coalitions are growing stronger despite the PLO’s attempts to silence them. The real problem of course is a lack of any Israeli Mandelas or even De Gaulles. Israel has nothing but war-mongering generals and openly racist ministers. But that’s a problem that will be overcome.

    Oh, and I love how you toss “utopian” around so loosely, almost like you think it means something. I am talking about the only practical solution on the table, but frankly you can’t wrap your head around it despite its successful implementation in the Jim Crow south, in Apartheid South Africa and — drum roll please — post-genocide Rwanda. Now, I know you don’t actually know anything about Rwanda other than the fact that a genocide happened there. Maybe you saw “Hotel Rwanda” at best. But do you actually know anything about the dynamics that not only created but that occurred after the genocide? It actually bears some striking similarities here (differences galore to be sure too, but let’s focus on the useful similarities). You see, as in Palestine, you had a racist ideology (Hutu Power) that steadily dehumanized the other side. With foreign encouragement (French in Rwanda, American in Palestine), that racist ideology grew stronger and stronger. The racists were armed more heavily, and became less and less afraid to act on it because they knew they had local power and assured foreign backing. It got uglier and uglier, until the racists finally went berserk and the genocide occurred. The danger of course is that be it a genocide or another 1948-style ethnic cleansing (as the racist Israeli historian Benny Morris now advocates), the Israelis knowing that like the Hutu Power advocates they have military dominance and assured foreign backing may well “go for it” and see another “opportunity” as Ben Gurion thought of the chance to rape, pillage, and ethnically cleanse (and yes, the Israeli forces in 1948 did all 3 with glee, gusto, and frequency). But here’s the thing, do you know what happened after the genocide? The RPF and Paul Kagame, do you know what their ideology is? The opposite of Hutu Power and the opposite of Zionism: non-sectarian civil rule. People point to the RPF being a mostly Tutsi organization, but from the beginning the RPF’s ruling principle was that they would be non-sectarian. Their ranks included many non-Hutu Power Hutus, they insisted on the repatriation of the Hutu refugees post genocide to heal society, and (mark it well) the return of the non-Hutu Power large Rwandan diaspora that the Hutu Power adovcated had created over decades of pogroms and massacres (quite similar to the Palestinian diaspora created over decades of pogroms and massacres). For all of Paul Kagame’s many faults (and he has many), he and the RPF have helped rebuild Rwandan society on a non-sectarian basis. The old racial wounds and lines (to say nothing of returnee-genocide survivor-genocide perpetrator-post genocide generation divides) don’t disappear overnight, but Rwandan society functions and is considered to have some of the better institutional and rule of law foundations in East Africa (none of which excuses Kagame’s behavior in the Congo, but that’s a different can of worms). Point is, if you want to show that you know nothing more than how to use a cliche, congrats on your Rwanda reference. If you want to show you actually understand the practicalities of solving ethnic conflicts, Rwanda actually disproves your point and proves that rebuilding seemingly hopelessly divided and even utterly shattered societies is fully practical and possible. Not the least bit “utopian”. You should be more careful before using nice words as attempted slurs.

    “It isn’t even certain that the Israeli’s could order Israeli settlers out of West Bank settlements (as they did in Gaza) and count on all Orthodox soldiers to obey orders — the threat to Army discipline is openly discussed among the Israeli officer corps.”

    Funny, you also seem completely unaware of how this proves my point about Israel. The place is showing itself a house divided as French Algeria was. Remember that the pieds noirs brought down the French government. The Israeli settlers are in a very similar spot should they be ‘disobeyed’. The hotheads are running the place and leading it towards an implosion. As settler demands grow ever more greedy and the rule of law (as if there ever was any for Palestinians, but for the superior race in the Zionist system anyways) breaks down internally in Israeli society, the religious-secular, settler-lesscrazy divides in Israel grow ever wider. Meanwhile, the world watches ever more closely what is happening and questions whether BDS makes sense, and eventually other forms of practical censure will come into play. Ignoring Goldstone is one example, and there will be bigger ones to come (accompanied sadly by ever more Israeli massacres of civilians). The tensions grow, and as the one-state movement simultaneously grabs more attention, you will start to get small numbers of Israelis who will accept it, and a large number of Israelis in the middle who may reject it on the surface but will grow more accustomed to hearing the idea and its practicalities and hence less fearful of it even as they reject it in polls and such.

    “I tried to warn you above about zero-sum thinking. You have been remarkably consistent both as a teenager and as an older adult in being sure that YOUR side — whichever side it happened to be at that point in your life — was 100% right and those on the other side were 100% wrong. Extremism, on either side, is the threat to both peace and justice. I suggest you turn your attention to something that may preserve the most fundamental values of BOTH sides, which is to oppose extremism on both sides. It is only a CENTER that can control either extreme that can ever lead to Palestinian and Israeli living in the same society, and the fuse on the explosion IS burning already.”

    I find this really rich, laughable really. So you took one statement from me about when I was a teenager, and suddenly you know my life story (here’s a hint, you have no idea the path I’ve walked). Yeah, I’m really ready to take advice from you o expert of “military journals”. Regardless, the ironies of your statement are endless. For starters, you are a Zionist extremist. You live in a society of Zionist extremists, and the fact that you are not the most extreme among the extremists (Mike for example with his denial of the very existence of the Palestinians – the sort of idea by the way which is an ideal prelude to ethnic cleansing and potentially genocide – is even more extreme than you) you take to apparently mean you think you are a moderate. Sorry, but when political discourse in America on this issue on a scale of 1 to 10 runs between 9 and 10, you really aren’t in a good position to claim you are a moderate simply because you measure a 9.5.

    Second, the notion that the center is always right, is wrong. Sometimes, perhaps even most of the time, the center and compromise are key. But sometimes running to the center is moral cowardice and/or a slippery slope to destruction. Not just in politics but in finance, entrepreneurship, engineering, the arts, any number of fields. In politics, your road to the center would have ensured there never was a Martin Luther King, Jr.; that there never was American independence from Britain; that the colonies of Asia, Africa, and Latin America never achieved independence from their colonial rapists; and on and on. Sometimes, one has to draw a line in the sand and chose what is right. More importantly, when the present is unsustainable, it takes wise leadership to mold history to the better outcomes. Those who denigrate the wise choices as “utopian” in those cases, generally end up surprised when change comes, while those who made it happen simply smile knowingly. There is a fuse burning, your path is to just let the bombs go off haphazardly, my choice is to support the people who are finally grasping the big picture and figuring out how to cut the fuse before it reaches the bomb, or if unable to do that, then to build a better edifice out of the ruins instead of letting chaos reign in the aftermath.

  42. February 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    “What is missing from NAA’s Anti-Zionist, Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic diatribe is the discussion of how the Arabs, created, and sustain this issue, when with their boatloads of money and control of most of the region could have solved the problem many years ago and gave these people a homeland more in line with their actual origins and not try to extract a pound of flesh out of Israel.”

    Actually, that’s missing, because it’s not true. Jeff, will you read Ilan Pappe’s book?

  43. February 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Folks, I have to sign off from these debates now and go back to my lurking. My views are clear enough on Palestine, my hopes for others to learn more in what ways as well. But I didn’t want to finish without saying that I think this has been an example of both how the Internet can both cause interesting discussions that would never happen otherwise, and simultaneously dehumanize us. I’ve served in bishoprics where people next to me held views I considered obnoxious and they thought the same of mine (including over this issue), but we never let it overshadow the love we had for each other as people and the service we engaged in together. It just wasn’t possible to hate and accuse in person the way it is online, we saw the good in each other too easily and thank goodness for that. So for all the words that have been tossed about here, let me say it officially, I’m quite certain if wet in person Jeff, Mike, Firetag, Thomas and evryone else, that we’d get along and serve others just fine together in the church. Some things are just more important than others, and doing good and being kind with what’s in front of you rather than what’s theoretical somewhere else is high on that list. Brethren, adieu.

  44. SUNNofaB.C.Rich
    February 14, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    If you’re not lacking in the walking in a palestinians shoes department, maybe you should walk in an Israelis shoes then NAA. Afterall wasn’t that the point?

  45. February 15, 2010 at 12:02 am

    NAA;

    Thank you for your kind words (???), but in matters of war, I think I’ll take my interpretation of events from the warriors and the spooks rather than one who asserts that he is a man of peace who understands the strategic situation so much better than the leaders of either side.

    I’ve known a couple of men of peace who would be willing to die rather than be willing to use violence — maybe a number more than that who simply haven’t been put to the test yet in order to prove it. Somehow, I’m just not feeling your love for us racist, Zionist extremists, and I don’t think that’s just a function of the internet.

  46. Qualia
    February 15, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Reading this post and replies has been depressing.

    An important issue that will no doubt want to stir up passion in both sides, it still saddens me that it has resulted in the conversational quality becoming that of a Youtube comments section. Both sides have used redundant labelling.

    I have taken away from this post that we must be mindful of humanity in this sad situation.

    It is easy to dismiss each other’s claims when simply thought about politically and envisaging from our comfortable viewpoint two armies facing off.

    It is a shame that NAAs hopes of a more empathetic view coming from a predominantly mormon audience has not been realised and I have been shocked by some of the stubborn rhetoric being used by familiar names.

    However I also think NAA brought to much baggage to the post to expect the ‘broader issues’ to not be brought up.

    A sad day for this blog all in all.

  47. February 15, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I’m from the UK, and I think that you will find a great deal of similarities between the difficulties in the middle east and the issues faced in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland peace process is strengthening and hopefully one day issues will be resolved and peace & equality will be fully established.

    I see the conflict between Palestine and Israel being so complex, picking sides is unproductive, Barack Obama is perhaps the closest political leader to providing a more balanced view of the issues at hand. I’m not sure what the best solution is, Suicide Bombers = Bad, Attacking Palestinians with phosphorus = Bad, both individuals have blood on there hands enough with “eye for eye” type attitude return to pre 1967 boundaries. Beyond that I’m not sure.

    Propaganda, is so prevalent even the BBC struggled to provide balanced unbiased reporting on the conflict during Jan 2009. Better reporting would help in the resolving this conflict. Propaganda helps no body, News groups have a key responsibility within this area, Finally FOX should be banned from reporting on the Middle East, freedom of the press can only stretch so far…

  48. Adam
    February 15, 2010 at 9:29 am

    This will show how new to the issue I am, but reading “From Beirut to Jerusalem” gave me my first real window into why the problem is so intractable. Truly you have to dig deep into this issue before you begin to take any positions but face value is worthless here.

    FWIW – I am much more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than before. That said – it is the people I am for and their own rights, not the past/present Palestinian leaders/movement/etc.

  49. February 15, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Qualia: If you have learned more of the basic humanity of both Israeli and Palestinian and the deep needs and rights that both have, then sadness can serve a purpose.

  50. Qualia
    February 15, 2010 at 10:27 am

    49 FireTag – Definitely i agree sadness can serve a purpose.

    But my sadness referred to the usual high standard of discourse I’ve found on this blog being tarnished, not the issue itself.

    This post has been beneficial, to me anyway, in that it has reminded me of the issue and helped me remember the reality of the situation yes. But it would have been good if this theme was explored more, as I think was (partly) the aim of this post, and not dragged down by lengthy tirades from both sides.

  51. Jeff Spector
    February 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

    BiV,

    “Jeff, easy to name-call and fling around the epithet “Anti-Semitic,” harder to show where in the above post the writer has “ripped” anyone.”

    I guess it goes both ways, doesn’t it?

    The NAA posts and responses are all very one-sided. The Palestines are the victims and it’s Israel’s fault.

    Sorry, I do not beleive it and know it isn’t true.

  52. Jeff Spector
    February 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

    #42,

    “Actually, that’s missing, because it’s not true. Jeff, will you read Ilan Pappe’s book?”

    Sorry, I don’t agree. And yes, I will order the book today and read it. I am willing to do that.

  53. Thomas
    February 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    “Suicide Bombers = Bad, Attacking Palestinians with phosphorus = Bad”

    It’s not the tactics, it’s the targets. I heard a variant on this over and over from the Liberal Partner at a previous law firm: If only the Palestinians had tanks and F-16s, they could fight like civilized people.

    But of course the problem is not what weapons you’re fighting with — it’s who you’re pointing the weapons at. Fair or not, the laws of armed conflict have traditionally distinguished between shooting directly at schoolchildren, vs. aiming at combatants but hitting schoolchildren. It’s bad enough that the latter happens, but the former is supposed to be right out — and the fact that Mormons would excuse or elide over the ugly reality that Palestinians largely invented modern random civilian-killing terrorism (as opposed to good old-fashioned Irish kill-the-cops urban guerillaism) does bother me a bit.

    Walk a mile in the Palestinians’ shoes? That would require me to make apologies for Mormon fundamentalists shooting up schools in Missouri. (Or massacring wagon trains to avenge the blood of the prophets…hmm.)

    When Russia put down its latest Chechen uprising, it basically razed the city of Grozny to the ground with artillery and aerial bombing — almost certainly killing far more Chechen civilians “incidentally” than civilians have died in all of Israel’s military history. But nobody’s calling for making Russia an international pariah — partly because Russia has oil to sell, partly because of anti-Semitism*, and partly out of the Howard Zinn-reading leftist tendency to hate whatever side in a conflict happens to be more closely aligned with Western civilization.

    *”“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews.” Name the speaker.

    This whole “debate,” like the underlying conflict, depresses me. The absurdity of the whole ghastly business can be summed up in the Lod airport massacre: Palestinian terrorists contracted the Japanese Red Army to shoot up Ben Gurion Airport, which they did, killing mostly Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims at the luggage counter. It seems as if every poisonous political and cultural thread has combined to perpetuate *this* one grievance, alone among dozens of functionally-equivalent post-1948 convulsions. At some point, “glorious lost cause” switches over to “blood-soaked absurdity,” and I think we passed that point at least a quarter decade ago.

  54. TH
    February 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I don’t think that the purpose of this discussion thread was to illustrate why Palestine and Israel have trouble getting along, but it has done a good job of this. All sides are so caught up in their rightness that they cannot hear any other view, and they don’t seek to hear other views because they can simply make the other side the vile side. Not everyone hates everyone on the other side, and it is clear that there is more than one side to the issue. However, if people don’t agree with your views and you then call them idiots, etc., it doesn’t do much for making them want to see your side. I’m more willing to walk in someone else’s shoes if they haven’t put stones or cut glass in them first.

    Also, I think that because the Mormons have been martyred people, have faced a lot of persecution, and have considered themselves “chosen people,” they would be able to empathize with the pain in both sides.

  55. March 5, 2010 at 1:26 am

    To this reading list, add:

    Moses Hess: Prophet of Communism and Zionism
    http://www.amazon.com/Moses-Hess-Prophet-Communism-Zionism/dp/0814705871/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267773456&sr=8-5

    Moses Hess (nicknamed the “Communist Rabbi”) worked with Karl Marx on drafts of the Communist Manifesto. In 1862, his book Rome and Jerusalem proposed Zionism. The typical goal for many early Marxists was the destruction of Christian Europe. For Moses Hess, there was a need for Jewish communists to move outside of Europe. Hess suggested moving to Palestine. After Hess died, he was buried in Israel.

    One cannot be both a religious anti-communist and a Zionist. Zionism is communism.

  56. Scott Gemmell
    July 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Very well written. I too came to know about their in the same manner as you. I came to BYU and felt impressed to learn about the other story and it changed my viewpoint and my desires. I appreciate your article.

  57. Blissmystic
    October 24, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Thank you. 

    ” at the end there’s an amazingly simple set of guiding principles behind it all. In a Gospel sense, my belief is that the Zionist violation of the basic commandments of “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet” are the root cause of the conflict, that the conflict is inherently modern and not ancient, and that the solution is really quite straightforward: civic equality for all”

    Perfectly written. 
    I’m looking for opinions by church authorities on this issue.  Where do they stand?

  58. Blissmystic
    October 24, 2011 at 5:24 am

    Again, I just wanted to say that you have done a great service with this post.  May peace be with you always.

  59. Cal Piston
    December 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Please pass this on to m Romney

  60. Rick Fernández
    November 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    The most fundamental issue I have with this entire piece is that there is not and never has been a Palestinian state. Never. Period. “Palestine” is a political invention created after the 1948 Arab war against Israel to justify continued anti-Semitic hostility against Jews. I’m not saying that today the Palestinians are not real people, obviously, but there was no country or political entity that Israel displaced. The partition would have given the people who are now called Palestinians a homeland but they and the Arabs would have none of it. And so it continues today. So-called Palestinian nationalism is nothing more than a pretext to wipe out the Jews. While the human tragedy obviously is lamentable, it is largely a creation of the Arabs and Palestinians themselves, rooted in their interminable hatred of Jews and desire to wipe us all out.

    • Heidi
      June 14, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Have you ever read any of the Newspaper articles before the 1940’s? They call it Palestine. Nice try however.

      The Ten Tribes of Israel will Wake Up, and those of Revelations 2:9 and 3:9 will be destroyed. The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon are coming to pass, and the people of Cain and Esau will go into perdition with their god Lucifer.

    • Aledanbros
      April 10, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Rick Fernandez,

      This is common misconception. My Grandfather was born in Bethlehem, Palestine. I actually have my Great-Grandfather’s U.S. Passport from April 25th 1920 that shows he was born in Bethlehem, Palestine. Not an invention at all. I also have records of him traveling in and out of the U.S. from 1916 all showing and acknowledging him being from Palestine. Not only him though, several of my ancestors.

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