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05 May 2011

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blowback

Pat/Col. How do you prefer to be addressed?

I apologize if you feel I questioned your right to post this article. I really have no issue with you posting it as it is your website (and a very good one at that), but it is a shame that so much hasbara is so unoriginal and flawed and this seemed typical of the genre. Perhaps it is the nature of hasbara that it is unoriginal and flawed but I wish there was some that wasn't.

Rocky - I do not want a single Jew to die. Equally, unlike you, I do not want a single Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Turk, Iraqi or Lebanese to die. Israel was created in an alien environment by terrorism, ethnic cleansing and genocide and can only continue to exist by the use of violence against those who resist its continued expansion. Do you really think that Israel will stop its expansion once it has subsumed the West Bank? If you do, then you are an idiot because people with real power in Israel have made it clear that they regard Lebanese territory up to the Litani River and the Sinai as parts of Eretz Israel. Once those have been stolen, do you think that Israel will stop its expansion? With the shameful backing of the US Congress it will continue its expansion until it comes up against a force that can stop it. What that force is, I don't know and I doubt it even exists at the moment (except perhaps for Turkey).

BTW, with one of the most powerful armed forces in the World, the backing of the World's only superpower and the Saudi peace plan (trading occupied land for peace) on the table, do you really believe that an Israeli withdrawal from the illegally occupied Golan Heights and the West Bank would threaten Israel's security? If you do, then you must have a very low opinion of the Israelis.

Finally, the reason that Netanyahu needs balls to withdraw from the Golan Heights and the West Bank is because the greatest opposition will come from the colonists and their allies in the IDF, and those further to the right than Netanyahu. It is telling that they are probably a greater threat to him than the combined Arab armies at the moment.

Patrick Lang

blowback

"unlike you, I do not want a single Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Turk, Iraqi or Lebanese to die."

That is quite presumptuous - to imply that I "want" them to die.

We all die. Have you missed that? What I came to grips with long ago is that death is inevitable and should be ignored. pl

John Kirkman

Re Lifton the Impaler

“Once again the Palestinians will have missed an opportunity!”

My, how easy it is to lay once again the blame on the citizens of Gaza, and their elected (under our supervision) government, for not celebrating the leadership of the murderous citizens of Israel who so enjoy slaughtering (with the deadly arms supplied readily by the United States of America) the helpless population of Gaza. One pictures Lifton and old buddy Netanyahu sipping tea in one of those so-like-Queens cafes in Tel Aviv and laughingly thumbing through the photos of the murdered children of Gaza.

Not all of the citizens of Israel would join with Lifton and crew in this celebration, and not all Jews in the USA walk down that street either, but one can rest assured that the slime in Congress will lack the backbone to make any decision based on fact. Given that hideous remarks by various Hamas foolish speakers regarding their vision of a God-like regard of OBL is correctly condemned, one must speak to the history, not the moment.

There are speakers on this board who would reverse the outcome of our own Civil War and their hatred is barely beneath the surface, so why should the Hamas politicians who daily walk through the carnage of their world feel differently?

The Arab League agreed on a reasonable basis for two states some time back, and that was agreed to by everyone except the Zionists. The Egyptians once would have defeated the Israelis had not the USA resupplied them with last minute aircraft, so the military staff folks in Tel Aviv do not need tea leafs to decipher the road ahead that the Egyptian Generals are drawing in the sands of the Middle East.

Very soon, it seems, the Armies of the United States of America will be engaged in a religious war against the entire Muslim world, but chiefly in the Middle East, to support the Neocons and their Zionist buddies to support a greater Israel. And although I voted for, and had great hopes for, Barrack Obama, this will be a shooting war for which he clearly has no knowledge off or stomach for, and our soldiers will once again pack their B4 bags and head off to another TDY that doesn’t quite seem right. And it isn’t.

I used to walk along the esplanade in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Beirut, back in the early seventies, before the barbarians destroyed it. It was an easy way to wind my body clock in such pleasant surroundings, and I often had conversations with Palestinians who had fled the Israelis. When I returned to New York it was puzzling then, and now, to read a very different view of things in the NYT. Freedom of the press is available to all who own a newspaper; the rest of us had better read Al Jazeera.

Truman should have listened to Marshall.

Ael

The two state solution has been dead for a while now.
It only remains to enfranchise everyone between river and sea to form a secular bi-national Israel.

It will be a while before that happens, however.

blowback

Pat/Col. - that remark was addressed to Rocky and not you.

Rocky - I do not want a single Jew to die. Equally, unlike you, I do not want a single Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Turk, Iraqi or Lebanese to die.

tunde

sharon's chief of staff, dov weisglass, said years ago that 'the roadmap was in formaldehyde'; further, he boasted that the palestinians won't get a state until 'they become finns'....or summat.
oh, here it is:
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/top-pm-aide-gaza-plan-aims-to-freeze-the-peace-process-1.136686
i hav'nt been surprised by anything israel says or does since. they don't want 'peace', never have done. all that US aid would dry up otherwise :)

Charles I

Blowback and Rocky, everyone seems a nationality except the Israelis, so let me make it perfectly clear.

I don't wish the destruction of Israel or the murder of Jews. Or anyone for that matter, sibling excepted occasionally. On the other hand, I would not mourn the death of an active duty Israeli soldier killed in the Occupied Territories, whether by victim, road accident or thunderbolt. Wouldn't matter a whit whether they were Jewish or Rastafarian when considering why they died, and what the responsibility of the Government of Israel, and its voters is

I do wish you would s/t/f up about Jews, and start talking human beings, and the governments they die for executing our hare-brained schemes.

Patrick Lang

All

Posted for Bob Lifton since nothing woeks today on Typeapad.

""I don't think of myself as an "impaler" or other of the negative descriptions suggested. In fact, my history in matters relating to the Middle East would indicate just the opposite.
In 1988, when I became President of the American Jewish Congress, a position I held until 1994, working with Henry Siegman as Executive Director, AJCongress was the only major American Jewish organization that took the public position that Israel had to divest itself of the Occupied Territories if it was to continue to be a Jewish and democratic state. That position won the opprobrium of then Israeli Prime Minister Shamir and members of his administration. Netanyahu who was then Israel's Ambassador to the UN invited me to a two hour lunch with I think the aim of convincing me change my position. I was also criticized by some other Jewish organizations for taking a position that was at odds with the position of the government of Israel. 
Later, at the behest of Prime Minister Rabin who wanted to offset the power of AIPAC, I helped found and served as President of the Israel Policy Forum whose raison d'etre was to provide political support in the US for Israel to make a deal with the Palestinian leadership to divest itself of the West Bank and Gaza. 
In 1994 I became co-chair of the International Board of the Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations -with co-chairs Prince Bandar, Osama El Baz and Brent Scowcroft. Our membership consisted of leading American, European and Arab businessmen and others (including Pat Lang whom I met in that context) dedicated to finding a path for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In my various capacities in those organizations I met with almost every Israeli leader and head of state of the Middle East countries, including Mubarak, Arafat, King Hussein and King Abdullah of Jordan, Hafez al Assad, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and others. My effort was to enlist the cooperation of these leaders to help create a deal between Israel and the Palestinians resulting in a two state solution.
One of the key things I learned in this process was that no matter what I wanted to achieve personally and pressed for strenuously there was a reality that controlled the actions of the parties. And I like to think that that reality informs my writings on the subject including this recent article. For example, I believe that there can be no viable Palestinian state unless both Gaza and the West Bank are part of it and they cannot be brought together unless Fatah and the PLO join with Hamas. 
At the same time, despite Netanyahu's public acceptance of a two state solution I believe that his history and family background show a bias against that. In addition, the Likud party members and the governing coalition, which includes Avigdor Lieberman who has advocated trading the Israeli land with the Israeli Arabs for land occupied by the Palestinians and the Shas party whose spiritual leader has defamed Arabs, will oppose any two state solution. Under those circumstances, there are only two forces that could press for a deal: the Israeli public which, at least, in polls show about 65% support for a two state solution and the US Administration. The reality is that so long as Hamas maintains its stated position that it seeks the destruction of Israel, there is no chance that the Israeli public will support a Palestinian state made up in any part by Hamas. By the same token, in the light of that position by Hamas, certainly the US Congress will support Netanyahu's unwillingness to move forward with a two state solution. Moreover whatever President Obama would like to do using his new found credibility in the US to press Netanyahu, he will find his hands tied politically in the face of that position. 
So, however, any of the commentators may decry my conclusion that the Palestinians are at a cross road, that is the reality. Unless Hamas can change its public statements there will be no meaningful pressure on Israel and no progress on negotiations that create a viable Palestinian state. 
It may be that the Palestinians will prevail on UN members to vote to recognize a Palestinian state, but given the facts on the ground regarding water, power, tax collections and other infrastructure matters, it is highly doubtful that such a state will be able to serve the Palestinian people. 
Nor, Is there any guarantee that if Hamas does make the change in its position that there will be a negotiation between the parties that results in a Palestinian state. Of course, that presents a very difficult choice for Hamas and the Palestinians. Staying with their present position there is no chance. Changing their position creates internal problems for Hamas but opens the door for US and international pressure on Netanyahu and his coalition and maybe from the Israeli public. That's the "cross road!"

Posted by: Robert K. Lifton |

John Kirkman

Re Liftons "cross road!"

Intellectual prowess is admirable, but soldiers eventually provide the solution to really serious problems, and they base action on deeds, not words. Ike commented that every battle must have a plan, but that plan is worthless when the battle starts. Liftons’ journey through the morass of the Middle East is admired for the effort but did not end well, much as my contributions to J Street. Netanyahu is a brilliant and resourceful man surrounded by some truly evil personalities, much like Germany in the early 1930’s. We have witnessed the architects of our present economic disaster continue their seven digit incomes courtesy of the middle class and the “leaders” of our country. The too big to fail class applies across the board to all categories in our government, and this tangled web is tightening as we speak.

The immediate precursor to every failed civilization is the gathering of the inner flock around the priests in the temple, the furtive whispers in the ear of the emperor, the banishment of the warriors to some far off province for a meaningless battle, certain, the crowd is told, they will be home by Christmas. Then, when the gold is squandered on pleasures and the warriors are lost in some foreign land, the path to the throne is open to some adventurer from afar, one who has different ideas of how to rule, to be put into effect after he has leveled the capitol of the empire. Those citizens who survive are used as slaves to build the new palace, and the cycle begins anew.

Washington, DC, is awash in learned experts with diverse and impressive credentials, and memberships in various high sounding organizations that daily invent ways to squander the wealth of the nation, to sap the strength of the citizens. The denizens of the Tea Party, for instance, are humorous only to those who ignore their frustrations with the people elected to office, those who have obviously very seriously harmed the United States of America, and set it on the certain path to ruin. One does not need to be an economist to, for instance, weigh arms buildup versus decreased education. Pity perhaps we do not mimic Qatar in that regard.

There is no sign flickering on the horizon that sensible and reasonable leadership will return to our shores, and nearly every plan advanced is prisoner to failed concepts. When Jim Webb, a man of knowledge, courage and conviction, did not speak out about the attack on the Liberty, I felt finally and for certain that our government was indeed hostage to very evil and powerful influences, to nice people like Mr Lifton, possibly, and his friends, contacts, organizations, like AIPAC and others, your local newspaper for instance, which ignores the “other” side of the news that Al Jazeera prints daily, that will not be put on our television screens because freedom of information does not exist in our country. Fed a diet of lies it follows that a path of action based on those lies will prevail, and given the nature of weapons available and technology common at many levels, results will be quick and deadly to arrive.

It would possibly be very easy to take any one of several nuclear weapons on the shelf in Pakistan, cast them inside the large, solid lead keel of a serious blue water yacht, and sail them past every detection device presently in use in the USA, or elsewhere. Then, when that fleet is comfortably moored in harbors along the coasts, trigger them simultaneously with a cell phone.
Hmm, possibly not?


Roy G

I appreciate Mr. Lifton's response, however, a simple Google search reveals that this isn't the first time he has exhorted the Palestinians not to 'miss an opportunity.' It seems to be a multipurpose exhortation, no?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-k-lifton/palestinians-dont-miss-an_1_b_762066.html

In response, I would offer up the Palestinian Papers, which reveal the astonishing truth, that it has been the Israeli govt. which has consistently declined to reach any sort of agreement, even when Fatah was offering up territory on a silver platter!

http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/

I don't doubt Mr. Lifton's sincerity. His response, however, speaks volumes about the status quo establishment that has grown up around the IP dispute. In doing research about Mr. Lifton's associations, I find an extreme lack of any Arab or Muslim participants, outside of a few diplomats. Indeed, he seems to equate the Arab peoples with their totalitarian leaders! While that seems normal for a Jewish lobby, the extension of his purview into the IP dispute turns this into a profoundly one-sided proposition: therefore, by definition, Mr. Lifton is arguing for an outcome that is most advantageous for the Israeli government, with Palestinians left with no voice in the matter, other than to respond to exhortations that they strive to somehow pacify Israeli society – which, as we have seen is both publicly and privately not at all inclined to give the Palestinians anything without a fight.

Indeed, there have been many opportunities squandered, by Israel. The maximalist Israeli position that has been taken under the tent of Oslo is now obsolete. It is time for the international community to decide whether or not to recognize a Palestinian state, not for Israel and the US to dictate.

Norton Mezvinsky

An Answer to Robert K. Lifton and another Perspective - Professor Norton Mezvinsky
President, International Council for Middle East Studies, Inc.

We should all agree with the theme of Robert K. Lifton's article that the Palestinians should take the right path to resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We should add that the Israeli government should also take the right path if indeed resolution is to be forthcoming. Unfortunately, however, we realistically should not be optimistic that resolution will occur in the near future.

In suggesting what the right path for Palestinians should be, Lifton makes a few salient points. I nevertheless wish to present a different and in some regards opposite perspective. My bottom line is that Lifton's analysis, which in many ways resembles the Israeli and United States official positions, is unrealistic and unfair. It does not help point towards peaceful resolution of conflict. His analysis is so heavily weighted and thus unbalanced on the Israeli-Zionist side that Palestinians neither will nor should be expected to accept it. I must also point out that Lifton hurts his case by making some statements that are incorrect in some instances and incomplete to the point of being misleading in other instances. By not mentioning in his article that Palestinians are continually motivated by Israeli oppression, Lifton damages his case even more. I shall first specify below my criticism of Lifton's article and shall then briefly present my own approach to the perplexing Israeli-Palestinian problem.

My refutation of Lifton's analysis is as follows:

1) Lifton emphasizes Israeli concerns about what is happening throughout the Middle East in the Arab spring and pinpoints Israeli worries about how future Arab nation state governments and leaders will view and deal with Israel. He neglects to focus whatsoever upon Palestinian worries about how the current Israeli government is dealing and how future Israeli governments will deal with Palestinians.

2) Lifton assumes without question that the killing of Osama Bin Laden provides credibility to Obama and the United States in the Arab Middle East and provides more of a basis for the Obama administration to help the creation of a Palestinian state, provided that the Palestinians act "correctly." The continued United States support for Israel and Israeli governmental positions, the lack of a clear definition of borders and sovereignty of a proposed Palestinian state, the unlikely prospect that the Palestinian political leadership will agree to all Israeli demands and the likelihood that the current Israeli government will not agree to the creation of a truly sovereign, independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza make this Lifton assertion seem like a pipe dream.

3) Lifton's dismay with the Fateh-Hamas agreement is misplaced. A divided Palestinian political leadership will not be able to lead or to negotiate adequately. Lifton asserts absolutely that Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction. Khaled Mishal, the top political leader of Hamas, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau and the Hamas official who signed the agreement with Fateh in Cairo has often publicly stated that Hamas favors a two state solution with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza existing next to the state of Israel in its pre-June, 1967 borders. He said Hamas recognized Israel's existence, would agree to a cease- fire truce with Israel and would follow the wishes of a majority of Palestinians, as determined by a referendum, in dealing with Israel. Mishal told this to me personally when I spoke with him in Damascus six months ago; he said this in an interview, published in the Wall Street Journal, before I spoke with him; he said this after I spoke with him in a television interview with Charlie Rose, which was broadcast nationally in the United States; he said this publicly, as reported widely in the media, after signing the agreement with Fateh. It is Khaled Mishal - not Robert Lifton - who speaks politically for Hamas. It is, of course, possible to find extreme Hamas politicos who refuse to recognize the existence of Israel and who speak in terms of destruction of the state. (It is also possible with little difficulty to find Israelis and Israeli supporters who still say that Palestinians are not a national group and that Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories should be driven off the "holy land" or should be killed as enemies of the Jews. I personally know, write and speak about some Jews and Christian Zionists who are in this category.) The major point here is that the Mishal position is today the official Hamas position. It is correct that Mishal, and thus Hamas, have not ruled out forever the use of violence. If all else fails, violence may in the future be used again. The Israeli government, on the other hand, has also not ruled out forever (or perhaps even for the time being) the use of violence.

4) Lifton not only criticizes Ismail Haniyeh for calling Bin Laden a "hero" but also indicates that Haniyeh's horrible and unfortunate statement represent the Hamas position. It is noteworthy that neither Mishal nor most other Hamas political leaders made similar statements about Bin Laden. I am certain that Haniyeh's statement about Bin Laden is not the official Hamas view.

5) Lifton cites and seems to suggest that Natanyahu's statement about the Fateh-Hamas agreement is a "hard blow to the peace process." In actuality there is presently no peace process, and without a unified Palestinian leadership there can be no hope whatsoever for the development of a peace process. Lofton also maintains that both Hamas and Fateh must recognize Israel's "right to exist." Lifton neglects to mention that the Natanyahu government has gone much further in its demand that Palestinians and other Arabs must recognize and accept Israel's legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state. The meaning of Jewish state here is a Zionist state. The great majority of Palestinians and other Arabs have already recognized the existence of the state of Israel. Palestinians and other Arabs, however, should not be expected to, nor will they, accept Israel's legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state in the Zionist sense. To do so would be to undermine even more the national aspirations of the Palestinian people and endorse the anti-democratic principle of a state's granting certain rights and privileges to one group of people not granted to others.

From the early 1970s until recently Ziad Abu Zayyad, a distinguished Palestinian editor and writer from Jerusalem had, favored a two state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In his May 5, 2011 lecture at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC he stated that he finally realized he had been wrong. The creation of a viable fair and just Palestinian state in the foreseeable future in his opinion was not to be. Palestinians, he insisted, should instead concentrate on opposing Israeli occupation. Zayyad emphasized the need to put political and economic pressure upon Israel, which could conceivably over a period of time bring an end to occupation. Although an advocate of peaceful resolution of conflict, he did not rule out what he termed the "blood" alternative, i.e. the use of violent means, if all else failed. Zayyad's analysis was honest and realistic. It provides an introduction for my own analysis.

Zayyad underlined that as a political maneuvering device the Palestinian political leadership, which presently consists of Fateh and Hamas, intends to propose a resolution to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September, 2011 calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. It is unclear at this time if the resolution will specify pre-June, 1967 borders or some adjustment thereof. Israel and the United States currently oppose the submission of such a unilateral resolution prior to a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Both Israel and the United States will presumably vote against such a resolution if it is proposed in the General Assembly. President Obama may try to derail the proposal of such a resolution by announcing an American sponsored plan to start another round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Natanyahu has already balked at negotiating with Hamas as a constituent part of the Palestinian side.

The Israeli government and Israelis generally are worried about a unilateral resolution being submitted and possibly passed by a majority vote in the General Assembly. The Obama administration is also worried. The passage of such a resolution would most likely exert some pressure upon Israel and create a few more problems for the United States government. The over-all effect would, nevertheless, be minimal. The resolution would almost certainly not be enforced. Regardless of such a resolution, the Israeli government will continue to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, to build the separation wall and to extend its control over Palestinians. The Obama administration may utter a few statements but for a myriad of domestic, political reasons do little or nothing to deter the Israeli government from doing what it wishes to do. The likelihood is that with or without this resolution the situation for Palestinians in the occupied territories will continue to worsen; in addition Palestinian citizens of Israel may increasingly be threatened.

The reality is that one state of Israel exists. The territories, taken by Israel in the 1967 war, are with the exception of the Sinai a part of this one state. For Palestinians this one state is a disaster. Israel denies Palestinians in varying degrees human rights and continues to confiscate Palestinian land. This oppression stems from the nature of Zionism and the Zionist state. The creation in the foreseeable future of a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is unrealistic. Israel, backed and supported by the United States, is sufficiently strong to prevent the creation of such a state. There is not yet near sufficient evidence to indicate that the unrest and revolution in parts of the Arab Middle East will have a negative effect upon Israel and will help the Palestinians.

At sometime in the future the situation in Israel-Palestine will change. Israeli Jews need to realize that they must cast away their Zionism and with Palestinians create a more democratic state. The United States will most likely not always be there or be able to save the Zionist state. The size and place of Israel in the Middle East and the demography, combined with the anti-democratic and oppressive nature of the Zionist state, will, unless changes are made, ultimately doom that state and unfortunately most of its Jewish population. One hopeful sign is that some Israeli Jews, although the number is still small, understand this and are attempting to bring about change.

Palestinians in the meantime will probably continue to suffer. They may be able to help themselves and to make the one state better more quickly by emphasizing human rights and opposing in non-violent ways violations of their human rights. (Using violent means to fight Israeli oppression has caused and would cause more Israeli oppression of Palestinians.) Some Palestinians in a few West Bank towns, such as Nabi Saleh, are now demonstrating weekly in non-violent ways against violations of their human rights by the Israeli government and Defense Forces. That some demonstrators have been arrested and jailed has not deterred others from demonstrating. Some Israeli Jews are joining with Palestinians in these demonstrations. The Israeli government is concerned about these non-violent demonstrations and is having difficulty opposing them. Campaigning against human rights violations can and often does draw positive attention and could help Palestinians gain support in their fight against human rights violations.

The Palestinian struggle against Israeli oppression will in the near term continue to be difficult. Emphasizing human rights could be helpful.

Robert K. Lifton

Norton Mezvinsky's comment is, as would be expected, highly informative and thought provoking. The bottom line of his comment, however, as I read it, is that there is no hope for a deal between Israel and the Palestinians in any near term. "Palestinians in the meantime" he says, "will continue to suffer." Eventually the US will stop supporting Israel and then "at sometime in the future" something will happen to change the situation. My own drive is to try to make something happen now rather than eventually, both to improve the lives of the Palestinians living today and make life safer and better for Israelis living today. Of course, I cannot separate myself from my Jewish origins and connections. But I believe that Israel will be a greater nation, more representative of the eternal hopes of the Jewish people when it is separate from the Palestinian territories and not controlling Palestinian lives. I don't think Israel's success will be determined by how many hectares of Palestinian land are included in that state but by the talents and knowhow of its citizens. By the same token, I also believe that the Palestinians are entitled to a viable state of their own and have the capacity based on their abilities, including business ability demonstrated by Palestinians in Diaspora, to create a successful state that once established will live peacefully side by side with Israel. I've spent well over twenty years on a mission to effect such a result. Since at my age of 83 the next twenty years will necessarily be tougher, I'd like to see my hopes realized sooner rather than in some far distant future. So I will continue to exhort the parties in what ever forum available to me to take the steps that help push the process forward. I do not want the Hamas public positions to give those in Israel and here who don't want to see a deal made a ready excuse to block efforts to push a deal forward. To me that is reacting to simple political reality -maybe, not so sophisticated as some of the comments to my piece but I hope more effective in getting results.

Sidney O. Smith III

Robert Lifton and Norton Mezvinsky

Thank you very much for the exchange of thoughts. Our nation -- meaning the USA -- needs this kind of discourse desperately, so I appreciate the time and effort that both of you have taken to share different views.

rocky

think nm was probably right on the mark on at least one point, when he wrote that israel was not prepared to allow what he terms a 'truly sovereign independant palestinian state to arise in the west bank and gaza'. at camp david, begin would only give consideration of what he termed limited autonomy, right pat, wink. with oslo, rabin permitted his political nemesis shimon peres to influence him so that he would then reluctantly agree to the concept of a 'palestinian statelet' as he, rabin, defined it which was much less than a truly sovereign independant palestinian state. as time went by israel's leaders added to rabin's red lines a long and growing list of conditions they attached to their acceptance of a 'palestinian state', such as, it must be de-militarized, israel would control the air space, 'palestine' could not form military alliances etc etc and israel has received written assurances by the us and other western nations which will allow her legal angles to prevent a change of heart by israel's former allies to force israel's hand in lieu of direct negotiations between the two parties, so my question is how does this really differ from begin's autonomy because it seems to me it's six of one, half a dozen of the other, it's the same. so the israelis never really did offer or envision a 'truly soverign independant state of palestine' so norton is right because there was never any chance israel would accept that, nor will they, not even one millionth of one percent chance. they want a border just like the us canadian border and that is just not going to happen, at least in all of our lifetimes.

Norton Mezvinsky

I thank Sidney Smith for his kind words. I thank Robert Lifton for his further comment.

I do not now write to debate Robert Lifton, but rather to add to the discussion. Be assured that I would like the Palestinian - Israeli situation to change for the better as soon as possible. Being realistic, however, and considering carefully the history since and even before 1948 as well as the facts of today, I think it obvious that the creation in the near future of a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is a dead letter. Israel, backed by the United States, will not allow such a state to be created. Israel gives every indication that it intends to expand settlements and to increase the already large number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israel will insist upon retaining sovereignty over the territory, occupied since June, 1967, with the exception of the Sinai and will continue building the separation wall in order to confiscate more land. Israel may allow Palestinians in the West Bank to have limited autonomous rule in certain designated areas but with its superior force will stop the development or furtherance of what it does not like. The over four million Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, who are the indigenous population, will, as they have been since 1967, be denied the possibility of citizenship, and the majority of them will continue to be oppressed in numerous other ways. The 1.4 million Palestinian citizens of Israel will remain second-class citizens without being granted all the rights and privileges granted to Jewish citizens. All of this is part of the character and nature of the Zionist state.(I personally oppose the Israeli-Zionist oppression of Palestinians firstly as a human being and secondly as a Jew who, to cite a Robert Lifton phrase, refuses to separate himself from his Jewish origins and connections. I reject the notion that - in what I consider to be the correct spirit of Judaism - Israel is a Jewish state.)

To reiterate I suggest that Palestinians should emphasize the violations of their human rights and in non-violent ways oppose those violations. Such opposition could attract increased attention in Israel, the United States and around the world. Outside pressure might force violations to be rescinded slowly. This could make the one state that exists a better place for both Palestinians and Jews. It, for example, would be intriguing and would certainly attract attention, if the over four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza began to argue that, as the indigenous population of the area, who since 1967 have only been allowed to be residents of the state of Israel, they should be given citizenship. No Zionist Israeli government would grant such a demand but by refusing would have a more difficult time calling Israel a democratic state.

Emphasizing human rights will not reverse the bad situation for Palestinians overnight, but it could initiate improvements. This kind of emphasis and activity is a practical approach as opposed to the impractical approach of talking about a near term myth of a fair, independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. The human rights approach could in time result in replacing the Zionist state with a reasonably democratic state for both Jews and Palestinians Without such a change Jews, as I previously wrote, most likely will face disaster at sometime in the future. Until then the Palestinian disaster will continue. Dreaming a seemingly impossible dream, as I believe Robert Lifton is doing, will not avoid disaster for both people.

Norton Mezvinsky

William R. Cumming

Well will the USA be sharing the UBL compound INTEL take with Israel or other nation-states? How about the Pakistanis?

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