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04 April 2011


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I suppose it is better to talk each other to death than it is to use a gun.

Jonathan House

What is happening now - i.e. in the last few months makes me pessimistic. One development worthy of emphasis are recent laws passed by the Knesset - important both in themselves and as a symptom.

In a brief article in Haaretz yesterday (4/4) Daniel Blatman, a professor and Holocaust researcher and head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote about the significance of these laws in an article entitled:
Heading toward an Israeli apartheid state

The link is:

As it is less than 900 works, perhaps it is brief enough to reproduce in full:

Heading toward an Israeli apartheid state

It has been 60 years since the apartheid state was established in South Africa. In March 1951, a few years after the racist National Party came to power, racial segregation was anchored in law. As was common in other countries that adopted racist laws in the 20th century, those in South Africa were accompanied by "laundered" explanations.
Hitler declared after the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed in 1935 that they would create a suitable basis for a separate but worthy existence for Jews in Germany alongside German society. The race laws in South Africa established that people of different colors cannot exist when mixed with each other - only in separate, protected spaces.

The tsunami of racist laws passed by the Knesset in recent months is also being explained by reasoned and worthy arguments: the right of small communities to preserve their own character (the Acceptance Committees Law ); the state's right to prevent hostile use of the funds it allocates to education and culture (the Nakba Law ); and the right to deny citizenship to persons convicted of espionage or treason (the Citizenship Law ). But I believe that as in other historical instances, the aim of this legislation is the gradual establishment of an apartheid state in Israel, and the future separation on a racial basis of Jews and non-Jews.

An apartheid state is not created in the blink of an eye. What was created in Germany in 1935 was the outcome of a long and sometimes violent debate, which had been ongoing since the middle of the 19th century, about the place of Jews in modern Germany and Europe. Indeed, the desire to isolate and distance the Jews from society - legally and socially - was part of the belief system of anti-Semites in Europe for decades before Hitler came into power.

In this respect the Nazi regime, along with other regimes that passed racial separation laws (among them those in Romania, Hungary, Italy and Vichy France in 1940 ), only anchored in legislation a reality that had already been enthusiastically received by the populace. Of course, when such laws were enacted, the regimes involved did not support or imagine that at the end of the road, a "final solution" was waiting in its Nazi format. However, once the seeds were sown, no one was able to figure out what fruit they would bear.

The historical background of the Israeli apartheid state-in-the-making that is emerging before our eyes should be sought in 1967. It is part of a process that has been going on for about 44 years: What started as rule over another people has gradually ripened - especially since the latter part of the 1970s - into a colonialism that is nurturing a regime of oppression and discrimination with regard to the Palestinian population. It is robbing that population of its land and of its basic civil rights, and is encouraging a minority group (the settlers ) to develop a crude, violent attitude toward the Arabs in the territories. This was exactly the reality that, after many years, led to the establishment of the apartheid state in South Africa.

In her book "The Origins of Totalitarianism," Hannah Arendt draws a sharp picture of the process of the development of the society of racial segregation in South Africa, from the start of the Dutch Boer colonialist settlement there. Assumption of racial superiority - the subordination of the black population - was the only way the "whites" could adjust to life in the midst of that race. The nurturance of feelings of racial supremacy, to which were added the belief in cultural superiority and the justification for economic exploitation - these are what, in a decades-long process, gave rise to the need to anchor this situation in proper legislation.

Thus, the dehumanization of the blacks, who at the start of the colonization period were perceived as no more than enhanced work animals, led to the establishment of a regime of racial separation 60 years ago in South Africa, which for decades left tens of millions of black people mired in a situation of harsh poverty, exploitation and atrophy.

It is not hard to identify this sort of worldview developing - with respect to Arabs - among widening circles of settlers in the territories and among their supporters within the (pre-Six Day War ) Green Line. It also has quite a number of supporters in the Knesset, even if they will not admit this outright.

Israeli racism, whose natural "hothouse" is the colonialist project in the territories, has long since spilled over into Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series of laws recently passed in the Knesset. Only people who avoid looking at the broad historical context of such a process are still able to believe it is possible to stop the emergence of an Israeli apartheid state without getting rid of the colonialist-racist grip on the territories.


 Charles I

Wow, that's a lot to digest. thanks to both of you for this dialogue.

W/r/t "Settlements: not important because all the building is being done inside the parameter of the existing ones. . . Indeed, Abu Mazen had never asked Obama to demand a complete stop"

What, it doesn't matter to the rest of the victims so long as you keep the rape to the same hole? Anywhere else, so long as you only cum a little, carry on.

You claim Hamas and the MB will claim sell out. From their own lands.

What of the settlers to be evicted if "most Israeli's" were capable of electing a government that would withdraw, make peace - two state peace, not some Netanyahuesque sovereignty-challenged "grant" of living room?

What would they claim? After they finish shooting and salting and burning?


I accept the good Col's endorsement of you as having a conscience about the Palestine situation.

But I have hard time with your defenses. Also resorting to religious quotes in support of the Jews throws me off--seems too standard
mythical God-Allah 'said so.' And also some of your descriptions of the Zionist behavior in their early years in Palestine don't jive with the official British reports by the people who where there on the ground at the time.

But a few sincere more specific questions:

"Even when Woodrow Wilson and the US Congress saw in Zionism a movement of Jewish self-determination."

--Shlomo Sand in 'The Invention of the Jewish People' made the undeniable point that there are no Jewish 'people", as in a 'distinct people', that they are 'religion' not a people.
So what case do you make for a religious group claiming 'self determination? Would it be Jewish victimhood?
Would you claim that Christians, presecuted themselves in ancient times have a right to 'self determination' to the extent of establishing a "Christian nation'?
I'd like to know exactly what your thinking is on 'the rights' of the Jews and they came to have those rights.


'Expecting Israel to accept the Right of Return is unrealistic,"---
"The first two recognized publicly the historical connection between the Jewish people and Palestine."

--You are saying that Jews after the passage of thousand of years have some kind of right to return to and own and rule a land they long ago left..but that Palestines have no such right even though their claim is more current?
How do you explain that difference?

"you sound propagandist when you talk of Jewish insistence that God promised the land to them. For your information, some 90% of the Jewish immigrants to Palestine between 1882 and 1947 were secular. Most of them were actually agnostics."

--al Misry doesn't sound any more propagandist than your own defense.
You yourself are using religious quotes to justify the Jews or your own position. And you also are using selective quotes from selected people for your case. Most of the zionist argument I see are and religion and victimhood and Jewish exceptionalism while the Palestine claim is more based on the fact that the zionist did take over much of their land.

I guess bottom line I am interested to know how you think a religion morphed into a "People" as most religions don't think of themselves as a 'distinict people" seperate from other people simply because of their religion.
I think it is all the variety and mixture of reasons..the mixing of religion,peoplehood...which seem convoluted to most people... as some sort of special group who actually had no nation except for a short period centuries ago now claiming a right to a nation of 'distinct people' and the right to displace another people.
There is too much in the zionist narrative and argument that is illogical and hypocritical for most objective people.

When someone like myself who has no dog in this Israeli/ Arab hunt looks at this situation I can't find any justification for zionism today. It seems to be an extension of primitive and ancient tribalism mixed with a centuries old victimhood culture, spread by creation of zionism in the 1800s and sealed by the holocaust.

Even the idea that a tiny sliver of land in a region where you are resented, because you had to take others land to settle there, is some kind of 'safe haven" for Jews in the event of a out break of raging anti semitism or another Hitler is bizarre....there would no place less safe. You would be the proverbial sitting ducks.

Most of all Israel has resulted in nothing but creating another Jewish Problem turmoil for the Jews, the ME and the world.

I think the Israel problem should be settled by a committee of international law experts...not by Jewish claims or Arab claims.

But I don't think the zionist or Israel would accept that because it would likely result in Israel returning to their original partition by the UN and giving up all, not some but all of the confiscated Palestine land and the right of return and/or compensation to Palestine refugees just as the world has compensated the Jews.

However you tell me if I am wrong--would you abide by the original UN partition and international law?

William R. Cumming

Jonathan House! The original area occupied in the 1600's by the Boers was largely vacant of human settlement.

But hey the buffalo lands in US going back to that occupancy so perhaps all of this history is just too short. Actually water and demographics are the issue for the entirety of the ME and Maghreb. Notice how seldom a graphic with the river systems in that part of the world is shown. Well let's take Libya? A $33 billion dollar drain has been created to provide water to all of the Libyan coastal cities. When that is tapped out before end of this century that country will be largely unihabitable to human kind. Perhaps that is the real history. And to allow nation-states to be mapped on the demise of the Ottoman Empire by France and Great Britain demonstrates the artificial nature of this geographic area. My guess is that these populations will all be hoping to emigrate before their history plays out much further.

What fascinates me is the total failure of the ME and Maghreb to understand that the sands of time will not be kind to any of them. Ever wonder why countries with trees tend to be richer per capita? Is there a relationship?

William R. Cumming

Have all those Christian relics (often bones) been looked at from standpoint of DNA? Hey who were these guys exactly? Who are the Jews? The Egyptians? etc.etc.
How many Crusaders married the locals or took them to bed? Now that racial purity can be studied scientifically perhaps world piece might be helped by a large scale trace of the ME and its peoples. After all the Han Chinese are busily hiding all those redheaded mummies in the Altai so they can claim based on racial history! This comment provided by an American Mongrel!


I stopped reading at this quote: "Before 1948 no one “took their land”, and Dayan did not even hint at such a possibility."

And Zionists wonder why they are disliked? It's called lying.


Let the dialogue continue. It has value.
Matthew stopped reading because...any excuse, huh?


Prof. Baram, I shouldn't comment on this, since it leaves me with very mixed feelings.

What I found helpful was your hint that Hitler wasn't really very fond of Semites generally, and Arabs to him were just another type of non-Aryan sub-humans too. ...

But what does this mean concerning the Mufti? It's not my least intention to defend him, but could he have been a tool for the Nazis too? After all they were the future masters for the next thousand years to come. Not the same kind tool as the Zionists themselves, but a tool nevertheless? Remember the Zionists offered the Nazis to "clean" the "body of the German people" (Nazi term: Volkskörper Volk=people; Körper=body) of Jews and found their support. But from 1936 on the Nazis had a problem, and some actually started to fear the creation of a Jewish state, as you may imagine. Some wanted to stop the Haavara agreement and Jewish immigration at that time, but it was continued for some time nevertheless.

Do you think the Nazis told the Mufti that they actually had supported the Zionists earlier? To the point of occasionally blocking transit refugees to get as much of their own Jews out. ... For whatever it's worth: Around the same time Haganah after the revolt sent his member Feivel Polkes to convince the Nazis that the Arabs were not worth of German support?,page 124. I am not judging this. And yes, this and other short encounters surely were minor incidents. But how influential the Mufti was in Berlin, besides of use for propaganda? Then and now? At least the image with Hitler surely is and was used that way.

I will read the book by Kennneth Stein you suggest, although I will also read the late Baruch Kimmerling's perspective on the issue: Zionism and Territory: The Socioterritorial Dimensions of Zionist Politics, on the land issue.

But, I do not think that it helps much to reiterate the facts we know all too well, like the good versus the bad Palestinians (Nashashibi - Husseini), since for the Palestinians on the ground in the end it didn't make a difference which of both tribes controlled you. As I have to admit, I am getting very, very tired of the Jewish success-story versus the mistakes committed on the Arab side, which started with the UN partition plan. By now it's almost like a running gag. Only it isn't funny any more. The Arab's never miss an opportunity, to miss an opportunity. I can't hear it any more in any of it's variations.

Concerning ungratefulness: From an Israeli perspective the UN is considered as the antisemitic hothouse. Would that count as the ungratefulness on the side of the Israelis too?

Finally, I have to admit, I am really pessimistic about a solution to the Israel/Palestine dilemma. No matter if one state or two, both feel very unlikely to ever happen. Just as whatever is offered in the two state solution cannot be called a state at all: no control of air-space, no allowance to defend it's citizen, but control them as Israel did before, ...


"This land is nobodys land. People are fighting over their burial land." John Lee Hooker.


Dr. Baram:
"Property rights followed the Turkish Ottoman Tabu Deeds system. The British Mandate “stepped into the shoes” of the Ottomans in Palestine, Trans Jordan and Iraq and retained all property rules. "

Thank you for this clarification, which is something I have always wondered about.


I think we'll all discover shortly nobody is important, special, or chosen. You either work for balance, and justice, or you work toward your on destruction.


Dr. Baram:

Thanks, this is informative as always. I'm quite enjoying this conversation, although I agree with some of the commenters in that it does tread on some very very well worn ground.

I will only add this minor point. You mentioned the myth of the 'teutonic monster'- the strange and ironic phenomenon of the image of the Israeli as an aryan like invader in a land of brown people.

I can attest to this- as a child growing up in Lebanon and the Gulf in the seventies/eighties, I remember this very vividly. Israel was portrayed as a highly technological, very alien society that was very mechanized and (for some reason) very blonde. I suppose it was an easy way to control the narrative by suggesting the Jews as a fundamentally different group of people.

Ofcourse, none of the children in those areas had ever seen a Jew- so they could have been purple for all we knew.

What is interesting, and even more ironic, is that the Alawite villages around latakia are often noted for how "German"- that is, fair haired, they look. This not really fair haired in the scandinavian sense, but more light brown- much like people in chechneya and turkey. Both my parents are Alawite- and my mother says that her mother always talked about how they came from a cold place, near the caucausus area.

In any event, a few years later we moved to Athens, and there I finally did have some Jewish and Israeli classmates. I was very surprised to find that they didn't look Aryan at all- but actually had the same mild coloring of some of my other Syrian family members.

Cousins indeed.


Dr. Baram/Yusuf al Masry:

"Our narrative is that the Partition was a compromise adopted by the UN General Assembly [...] which the Arabs rejected completely."

Compromise: To arrive at a settlement by making concessions. was it a compromise after all?

Let's face it Dr. , the CREATION [isn't that the word commonly used by historians for that fateful 1948 event?] of Israel was a "compromise" imposed by the fittest on the weakest of that time. Yes indeed, “All [you] wanted after that 1948 war was to be left alone” But so did the Palestinian Dr.

That many Arabs made terrible strategic and spiritual moves that cost them dearly is part of the natural process of human evolution. That many Arabs hate Jews, is also part of the natural process of human evolution. Jews did and many still do hate Germans. Throughout history Jews made also their share of bad strategic moves and alliances. It just happens that overall they are today coming on top.

If the goal is to find a true acceptable compromise by both peoples, to point at each other’s past mistakes and terrible decisions, to try to oppose each other’s irreconcilable narratives is really fruitless. I honestly doubt that your argumentation and detailed description of the historical context of many political events will change Yusuf’s perspective, as accurate and enlightening they might be.

The creation of the state of Israel was a grave injustice upon the Palestinian people. It is a historical fact. It was anything but self-determination for them.

Arabs and Muslims at large need to realize and come to term today with the fact that Jews are now there in bigger number than 1948. And expulsion as suggested by some is and will not be a solution.
But on the other hand Jews need to understand that the status of victor they enjoy today is not eternal and comes with tremendous responsibilities: treating the defeated with dignity and respect is one of them. This is definitely not happening. Some will argue that it is hard to do so while the vanquished is still trying to get at your throat. And considering the very personal exchange between you both, maybe there is already too much resentment on both sides to achieve that. But the reaction of some young Palestinians against both Hamas and the PLO, as well as many in the Israeli society leaves me hopeful.

This very academic exchange and conversation between two learned respectable persons is nothing new. As evidenced by some comments on here. This has so far never brought peace to the ME.

This conflict will only end when there will be on both sides people truly and genuinely interested in living with dignity in a just peace. History shows that in the past the Arab side lacked those interlocutors. Today with the Palestinian Papers leaked and Israeli turning down the Saudi proposal, it seems that Jews are more bent on bribing our US Congress to promote their belligerent agenda than busy looking for a just peace.

America, the only third party with enough leverage to force peace on both sides is too busy with the next election and AIPAC monies to concern itself with the long term cost of such short-sightedness.
There is however since 9/11 a growing reluctance by the American people to get involved abroad if they don’t feel that US interests are directly at stake ie: Libya. Israel does not represent to the American people a direct interest to protect anymore the way it did in the 60’s or 70’s. And Tel-Aviv would be the first one to lose from a new found American isolationism. Could 9/11 have been the game changer that al Qaeda had hoped for?

Dear Dr. Baram, as much as you wish good luck to the others with their Hamas and MB, I would like to wish you good luck with all those in power today in Tel Aviv and the US Congress who “demand […] everything” to quote you.

As far as I’m concerned I’ve learned tremendously from both of you. And I thank you both for that.

Yusuf  Al-Misry

Thank you Bruno..and I am sorry.
The future has to be demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank. Israel should turn into a force for development and construction for a change as I previously wrote. If it does, it will be gradually accepted. You cannot refuse a badly needed hand when you are busy building. If you are not, you will have the luxury of picking your enemies based on religion or whatever. And believe me, this area of the world needs all the helping hands there is. But it is high time to give the Palestinians their national rights, dignity and future. It just hurts deep in the heart to see all this suffering and denial of their own history under any excuse. Then it will be our common challenges,us and the Israelis-development, defeating hatred based on religion and extremism based on ideology. This will remain idealist until the moment when we share in building. There is nothing that can put the two sides together regardless of their religion more than a common goal that touches the lives of ordinary people here and their and make it better for them and for generations to come. It is not military force or expansion and threats. All this has been tried and gave us the painful current situation. It just takes a deep conviction that people, Israelis and Arabs, are equal human beings and they deserve to live better.

Moshe Sharon

When we examine the truth, the IDF targets only combatants and when non-combatants get killed it is because the Hamas fighters put them in harm's way by firing rockets from residential neighborhoods and schoolyards. They know that the Israelis will bomb the rocket launchers and Arab civilians die. It's what the Hamas murderers want. We Jews sanctify life while the Arab Jihadists sanctify death. Therefore, there can be no compromise. However, time is not on our side. We are losing the propaganda war because there are too many media outlets with anti-Jewish bias and the more they repeat the same lie, the more the court of public opinion accepts it as truth. Therefore, Israel needs to deliver a swift decisive blow with boots on the ground in Gaza to route out the Hamas terrorists and destroy their weapons.

Nancy K

Moshe Sharon, I don't think your idea sounds too great. As Andre the giant said in Princess Bride, "My way doesn't seem too sportsman like does it". Bombing a lot of civilians penned up in prison encirculed by walls does not seem very sportsman like either. As for sanctifying life, I don't think the IDF or Hamas is going to win any points. As far as the propaganda war goes, you sure aren't going to win it by killing civilians.
But I'm not so sure Israel cares about that. Having said that I agree Hamas is a terrorist organization. But one groups freedom fighter is another groups terrorist, and there is going to be no winning in an eye or an eye mentality on both sides.

Jonathan House


You offer no evidence, no links, nada.

One definitive assessment is the Goldstone Report which is easily accessible. The notion that Judge Goldstone has changed his mind about the essential charges in the report by the group he chaired, indeed the notion that he has changed his mind about 99% of the detailed factual account, is false.

In his recent interview with the AP he said:

"As appears from the Washington Post article, information subsequent to publication of the report did meet with the view that one correction should be made with regard to intentionality on the part of Israel," the judge said. "Further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration, but as presently advised I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time."

Jerry Haber (nom de plume of Charles Manekin, an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor, who divides his time between Israel and the US) responds to the interview over at the Magnes Zionist http://www.jeremiahhaber.com/2011/04/judge-goldstone-to-associated-press.html :

To sum up how things stand now:

Judge Goldstone stands behind a report that found Israel guilty of war crimes. After two years he has not changed his mind on that charge.

Judge Goldstone stands behind a report that found Israel guilty of intentionally targeting civilian infrastructure. After two years he has not changed his mind on that charge.

Judge Goldstone stands behind a report that called upon Israel to launch a public judicial inquiry. Two years later he still makes that call.

Judge Goldstone is less inclined to believe, based on IDF investigations, that Israel was guilty of the crime against humanity of intentionally targeting civilians as a matter of policy, based on the evidence presented in the report. He is willing to consider the alternatives that faulty intelligence plus bad judgment was responsible for the al-Samouni family bombing, and that this deliberate attack may indeed be a war crime, should the commanding officer be found to have been negligent.

Judge Goldstone has not expressed regret, apology, nor has he recanted the report. On the contrary he has "no reason to believe that any part of the report need be reconsidered at this time."

He wrote an op-ed with a conciliatory tone. He now has an invitation to visit Israel. Let's hope he comes.


Jonathan, it feels Charles doesn't like it too much that we spread the connection. At least I have the impression, he doesn't want to make the connection that easy. Personally I would use what you put in brackets only in private correspondences. As he says if he writes on his blog he puts on a different hat. On the net I would refer to Jerry Haber or The Magnus Zionist. Although admittedly he isn't quite persistent. ...

But what do you think about fool Danny Danon Trying to create a little PR for his next candidacy for Likud leadership? I seriously doubt that a US judge (or whoever does in the US) can accept such a lawsuit. But then, if one does, there will be extensive media coverage of both the Goldstone's letter and the Goldstone report,. Not because of antisemitic tendencies of the media but simply because it would be news. Even more if Dershowitz is among the Jewish American attorneys he enlisted.

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