Saturday, December 16, 2006

Coming Up: Carter vs. Dershowitz - Heavyweight Bout

It's tough taking on a president, even a former one.

Former President Jimmy Carter issued a letter to American Jews on Friday, explaining the use of the term "apartheid" in his new book and sympathizing with Israelis who fear terrorism.

Carter wrote that the letter's purpose was to reiterate that his use of "apartheid" did not apply to circumstances within Israel, that Israelis are deeply concerned about terrorism from "some Palestinians," and that a majority of Israelis want peace with their neighbors.

Carter wrote that he understands Israelis' fear of terrorism, and "reiterated my strong condemnation of any such acts of terrorism."

- - -

"Even though he doesn't mean it in a racial term, to use that term can be nothing less than overly provocative," Rabbi Andrew Straus said.

The reference to apartheid, the word for South Africa's former system of state-sanctioned racial segregation, has angered some rabbis because it appears to equate that system with the treatment of Palestinians.

Carter wrote that "apartheid in Palestine is not based on racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis for Palestinian land and the resulting suppression of protests that involve violence." He called it "contrary to the tenets of the Jewish faith and the basic principles of the nation of Israel."

Carter had planned to go Brandeis University to discuss the book but decided against it after the university requested that he debate Alan Dershowitz about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Carter said the outspoken Harvard law professor "knows nothing about the situation."


Dershowitz knows nothing?

I can't wait for Alan's retort.

Here's his first salvo from December 2:-

Sometimes, you really can tell a book by its cover. Jimmy Carter's decision to title his new anti-Israel screed Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages) tells it all. The former U.S. president's use of the loaded word "apartheid," suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous, considering his acknowledgment buried near the end of his shallow and superficial book that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa -- not racism, but the acquisition of land." Nor does he explain that Israel's motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets and kidnappings launched from the returned land.

In fact, Palestinian-Arab terrorism is virtually missing from Mr. Carter's entire historical account, which blames nearly everything on Israel. Incredibly, he asserts that the initial violence in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict occurred when "Jewish militants" attacked Arabs in 1939.


And there's more there.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shalom Mr Medad,

Sometimes in order to see a conflict anew, we need to try some new glasses. Former President Carter offers such an approach by encouraging people to see the conflict through the lens of apartheid South Africa.

Of course at one level it is not the same. But there are things that we can learn as human beings from the errors of Apartheid South Africa with Occupation within the West Bank and attacks on Gaza. This is not a one way conflict of course. As a white South African I would be scared as hell of being subject to violent attack from some members of the black South African community (I would have been fearful of others from the white community as well).

For a detailed reflection on my thoughts on conflict in general and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in particular please see http://palestineisraelsolutions.blogspot.com/

Regards

Stewart Mills
Australia

YMedad said...

Stewart, looking a something anew with another perspective is fine. It's just that the "new" perspective in this case is very old. For as long as I can personally remember, and that's over 4 decades of my adult life, Israel has been accused of apartheid, wrongly and intentionally so. Here's from a 2003 article I found to illustrate:
"The first, perhaps most important, [similarity] is the historical colonialist foundation of the two conflicts. White settlers in South Africa, like Zionist pioneers, colonised a land already inhabited. As in South Africa, the settlers in Palestine expelled the indigenous population, some two-thirds of the Palestinians in the land that became Israel in 1948, took possession of their properties and legally segregated those who remained."

Sorry but that's all wrong. The Dutch who invaded S. Africa cannot be compared to Jews who for 1800 had constantly been returning in numbers small and a bit larger to their natural homeland fromm which they had been expelled. The land in the 1800s was not that inhabited and until 1947, all Jewish land outside of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias where Jews always owned property had been purchased. True, the Mandate allowed the British to use the term state lands to Jewish advantage but that's what the Mandate was all about - reconstituting the Jewish national homeland. Who started "ethnic cleansing" on the way to apartheid if not the Arabs at Tel Chai and then Jerusalem in the 1920 riots, Jaffa in 1921, Petach Tikva two years later, a dozen locations including Hebron in 1929, etc.?

I could go on but I think you have gotten my point by now. Lies don't work and neither should a propaganda campaign based on them.

Anonymous said...

Mr Medad,

The only lies and propaganda being told are the ones that prop up military colonialist systems, as have been told in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.

As a European Australian I was told countless lies to justify the European subjugation of indigenous Australians.

Our Australian legal system until 1992 [see the Mabo decision] was based on the blatant lie that Australia at the time of 'settlement' [what we now know was an invasion] was 'terra nullius', a land with no people. Does this sound kind of familiar to the garbage that Israel/Palestine was 'a land without a people'?

For population figures of Ottoman and British Palestine from 1860-1948 see http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm

Also see
http://palestineisraelappendicies1.blogspot.com/http://palestineisraelpopulation.blogspot.com/

This blog which I have put together looks at myths of the conflict. This blog further rejects the terra nullius claim for Israel/Palestine. You can read Baedeker's travel journal for yourself on this site.

Mr Medad, the violence that has been committed against human beings of Jewish faith or culture is a tragedy. We as a global community have a responsibility to stand beside our Jewish brothers and sisters. However, we also have an equal responsibility to stand beside those human beings of other ethnic backgrounds who also have a claim to the land.

The riots you mentioned were a natural consequence of Balfour’s promise. Balfour promised in 1917 for the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". How could he possibly do such a thing when 90 % of the community were not Jewish.

How could the non Jewish majority sit peacefully when following the defeat of the Ottomans large numbers of non-Arabic speaking Jews entered the region from Europe?

The European Jews were different to the indigenous Arabic speaking Jewish population. They came with a different agenda. They came to colonise. Yes, the Jewish community has a historic connection with the land, but so too do so many other groups of people. In democratic systems land is not the exclusive possession of one ethnic group.

What exclusive rights does this leave the San people of South Africa, the Eora nation of Australia, the Cree of Canada and the United States? They have lost those rights in many ways due to occupation by other peoples. The rights they have today are based on democratic rights.

Mr Carter's comparison of Palestine with Apartheid South Africa is brave and necessary. It is intended to help people who should no better understand that two wrongs do not make a right.

If you don’t like people pointing guns at you, or showing discrimination to you then for heavens sake please do not do the same to another. All this does it perpetuate the wrong done to you and so the cycle of fear, hate, suspicion and revenge continues.

Regards,

Stewart Mills
Sydney, Australia

YMedad said...

Stewart, you ask:

How could he possibly do such a thing [promise Palestine ot he Jews] when 90 % of the community were not Jewish.

How could the non Jewish majority sit peacefully when following the defeat of the Ottomans large numbers of non-Arabic speaking Jews entered the region from Europe?

Easy. Everyone knew that there was no such thing as a "Palestinian people". Sure there were Arabs but as a national group deserving their own state, well, truth be todl, no, nobody could conceive of that because the land belonged ot the Jews. The Arabs there were invaders. Arab lands were in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq (then Mesopotamia). Palestine was Jewish. Jews in Europe were for centuries told to go the Palestine (Hep! Hep!). Shiloh, Hebron, Safed were Jewish places. Jerusalem was known for the Temple not as much for the mosque.

It's really as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Mr Medad,

To call Palestine simply as Jewish is wrong and ignores the humanity of those who had lived in the region who have an equal claim to the land.

Palestine is a multicultural region and has a diverse history.

In 1919 there were 500,000 non-Jews (88.5%) and 65,000 Jews (11.5%) in Palestine.

Where is the justice in 11.5% of the population kicking out the remainder of the population simply on the grounds of Jewishness?

How is this not racism?

How can you possibly justify displacing one group of people for another Mr Medad on 'racial' grounds? This is really dangerous ground. I am surprised that a man like yourself should even for a moment consider it justified that such a large number of people could be evicted from their traditional land, on the basis of ethnicity.

But sadly such practices were carried out by our white South African, Australian, New Zealand and North American ancestors. Out European ancestors would first try and make a treaty, break the treaty then use military force with the indigenous inhabitants. Then they would then justify the states possession of the land by law and eventully solidify this law in a democratic process (only once the demographic numbers favouring the foreign power/colonialists were right).

A true democrat would have argued for a plebiscite of Palestine in 1919 (and in 1947). This is what Woodrow Wilson was calling for in point five of his fourteen points. Let the people of the land vote and determine their own future. But sadly democracy lost out to post World War I colonial politics.

On the issue of Palestinin identity. This is such a red herring. As humans we have multiple identities. Yes, the Palestinian identity is a modern collective identity. But so too is the American, Australian, South African or vast majority of national identities.

The Palestinian identity only arose as a consequence and in opposition to the rise of Jewish nationalism in the Middle East in the twentieth Century. But how elese could this amalgam of people refer to themselves? Any national group, whether Jewish, Palestinian, Australian or American is a diverse collection of people. The Palestinians unlike their Arabic speaking neighbours did not receive autonomy as did the people in the newly set-up states in Syria, Transjordan (Jordan), Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf Arab states.

Palestinian nationalism resulted from those people in this forgotten region who felt increased disempowerment, discrimination, and ethnically motivated violence towards themselves. These people collectively became known as Palestinian (English), or Falastin/Filastin (Arabic) an ancient reminder of earlier people of this land (the Philistines). The Philistines, their descendants and the many subsequent ’nations’ that conquered or lived in this region intermarried resulting in a community with diverse origins.


Other issues raised:

POPULATION
The proportion of Christians , Muslims and Jews is recorded in Baedeker (1912). The following is the population demographics of a number of major centres.
Jerusalem (60,000, including 7,000 Muslims, 41,000 Jews and 12,800 Christians,
Hebron (19,000 including 1500 Jews),
Safed which had a 25,000 (11,000 Muslims, 700 Christians, 13,000 Jews)
Jaffa (35,000 of these 23,000Muslims, 5000 Christians, 7000 Jews),
Gaza, (35,000 including 100 Jews)
Acre (11,000 including 8000 Muslims),
Nazareth (10,000 including 6,500 Christians and 3,500 Muslims) and
Haifa (12,000 half of who are Muslim, the other half Christian as well as 1,600 Jews).

For information on the population of Safed which had a 25,000 (11,000 Muslims, 700 Christians, 13,000 Jews) (Baedeker 1912) see:
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/books/travel/593773/593773-c-294-800.html

For details of the poulation of Palestine from 1850s to 1948 see:
http://palestineisraelpopulation.blogspot.com/ ;
http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm

JERUSALEM
For information about the importance of the Haram esh Sharif (Baedeker 1912) read:
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/books/travel/593773/593773-c-036-800.html
For further information on the Palestinian identity see:
http://palestineisraelresolvingtheconflict1.blogspot.com/ ;
http://palestineisraelappendicies1.blogspot.com/

I realise the above blog is long, but only through detailed discussion can we ever understand the various positions inn this conflict.

Regards,

Stewart Mills
Sydney, Australia

YMedad said...

Three comments:

a) It could not have been democratic or fair to allow Arabs who invaded and conquered the country in an imperialistic crusade, coming from their onw countries to lands which they had not settled in for centuries, to vote on whether Jews who had been in the land for 2000 years and had been exiled could return. That's plain idiocy. Only if all the Jews in the world could have voted would your suggestion be considered fair.

b) You seem to insist on applying your own discriminatory semantics to what I didn't write.

I do not "ignore[s] the humanity of those who had lived in the region"

but I do deny that they "have an equal claim to the land."

c)In addition, no one wanted to "kick out the remainder of the population simply on the grounds of Jewishness?" and in fact, in places like in Haifa, Jews pleaded with the Arabs to stay in 1948.

Racism?

You've get it tuches-backwards. It was the Arabs who were racist, didn't want any Jew to come back home, their leaders linked up with Hitler and ever since 1920 it was they who practiced ethnic cleansing policies.

Please, learn your facts first.

Anonymous said...

Shalom Mr Medad,

May I thank you for the opportunity to dialogue.

For the moment I think we are going nowhere.

May I wish you all the best for the New Year.

Kind Regards,

Stewart

YMedad said...

I surely hope that I - and my family and frinds living in Yesha -are not going anywhere soon.

But I still can't understand why you can't deal with a factual matter of historical reality whether or not we agree ideologically or politically. You really think the Arbas did not invade this country? That they did not practice ethnic cleansing (besides murdering and maiming)? Thta the Mandate really didn't recognize Arabs as possessing national, as opposed to persoanl, rights?