Dr. Yousef Jabareen, MK (front right) in meeting with Omar Algebra, (front left) MP and Parliamentary Secretary to Hon. Stephane Dion. Dr. Jabareen met with think tanks, academics, officials and parliamentarians during a week-long visit to Canada. What did he learn? Read more.
Four weeks after returning to Israel, Yousef Jabareen wrote an article for the Toronto Star summarizing some of his main conclusions from his visit to Canada.
His op ed, published on Monday, Nov. 28 entitled “What Israel can learn from Canada” bears reading. It was clearly aimed at a Canadian audience. He says he was impressed with the steps Canada has taken to protect its minorities.
While he was in Ottawa, Dr. Jabareen also met with representatives of Canada’s various minority groups. In his meeting with Senator Murray Sinclair, former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he learned not only about the pain suffered by indigenous Canadians but also about some of the steps being taken to address it. As he says in his concluding paragraph, “Many Canadians may not think Canada is perfect, but viewed from the perspective of a Palestinian citizen of Israel, your record in recognizing and overcoming discrimination and inequality looks pretty good.”
Dr. Jabareen’s visit to Canada, including an impromptu meeting with Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, drew some interest inside Israel. Here is a brief article in English published in the Hadash (Israeli Communist Party) paper. Hadash is part of the 13-member Joint List in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset.
Both articles focus on the significant differences between democracy as we know it in Canada, and the limited way in which democracy is practiced in Israel.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue. If you support our educational mission, why not join? Or make a donation? Or learn more about what we do? Contact us at; email@example.com.
Our bilingualism recognizes the languages of the “settler” countries, the UK and France. When you enter Canada, you have a choice between speaking English or French when interviewed. When you arrive in Israel it is almost the same; you will see booths labelled in Hebrew, English and Russian. Visitors or residents who speak one of those languages can be interviewed without delay. On the other hand, I have witnessed elderly Arab women, arriving after a long flight, forced to stand aside until an Arabic speaking official can be found. In other words, it is easier for someone who speaks only Russian to enter Israel than for an indigenous person who speaks one of Israel’s official languages.
Mandate Palestine had 3 official languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English. English explicitly lost its status There is no Israeli law defining what an “official language” means it is a meaningless term. The Israeli government recognizes that Arabic is not being treated as an official language and their have been bills introduced to adjust the law to the situation on the ground putting it on par with English. There is talk of dropping the tradition of Hebrew/English/Arabic street signs and dropping the Arabic requirement in schools. Arabic in practice has slightly higher status than English but nowhere near the status of Hebrew. In a practical sense, if a country is not able to conduct business in a language then it isn’t an official language.
Its also pretty clear that while Arabic is not an official language of the Israeli government. Arabic is however a secondary language at least today. The government does have road signs in arabic, food labels in arabic and some official announcements. Israelis mostly take Arabic for 3 years between 7-9th grade so they often speak a bit. While few go on to become proficient almost all Israelis know more Arabic than say Chinese or Spanish.
As for your country I should say that most English speaking Canadians I know are pretty lousy in French while most French Canadians are pretty good in English. Canada isn’t really bilingual either though it does seem to be making something of a good faith effort. But the reality is the situation on the ground is not that much different than in America where most Americans that speak Spanish socially are proficient in English while most Americans that speak English socially are not proficient in Spanish.
Ultimately the people of a nation decide the characteristics of a nation. States have influence but they are not determinative.
I have seen official Israeli government documents that declare Arabic to be an official language. For example, the letterhead for the Council of Higher Education has the name in Arabic as well as Hebrew. In my experience, it is not true that most French Canadians are good in English. Some are unbelievably good, some struggle, and some refuse. English mother-tongue Canadians show the same variation. However, I have never known a Canadian to resent being asked if they know the other language whereas in Israel, people got angry at the suggestion that any thing should be done in Arabic. One official angrily told me, “David, Israeli Arabs speak Hebrew” and then stormed away. This was triggered by a simple question when I first arrived. I was told by others that she was angry that i had even asked my question and had cancelled a dinner as a result. I have never encountered such a thing here. The difference in attitude between Israel and Canada is like night and day.
I agree its called an official language. My point is that there is no Israeli law about what a secondary official language means, though. So in an Israeli context it doesn’t mean much. Consequently the Israelis themselves are debating dumping the designation.
As for French Canadians obviously you live there so likely know more but I’m just recounting my experience. As for the attitude towards Arabic I sort of agree. There aren’t UN resolutions calling for Canada to be flooded with francophones. There haven’t multiple and ongoing French / English wars. French Canadians don’t consider an English Canadian moving into their neighborhood intolerable incitement…. Israelis are much more mad at Arabs than English speaking Canadians are at French Canadians. The Israeli Arabs have done themselves a lot of harm with the Palestinian identity politics they picked up in the 1980s. They were on a road to a much better place before they started entangling themselves in the wars in the West Bank and Gaza.
When Yousef Jabareen was first visiting I made the comment he should talk to Quebecois historians about how it is that the Francophones with both a religious and a linguistic differences managed to create the peaceful situation they have. I don’t disagree with the analogy but I think the situation is much closer to what existed in Canada in the 18th century than what exists in the 21st. There was a historical process that led to the peaceful coexistence and mutual support in Canada that with different players and policies could have turned about much differently. That’s what is worth learning about. If he likes the vision of an Israel in the 24th century looking like Canada does today look at what the Quebecois of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century did to achieve that vision in Canada.
“I agree its called an official language. My point is that there is no Israeli law about what a secondary official language means, though. ”
Usual disingenous garbage. Same as you have applied to Shawn Scott John myself and others.
You like to state you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.
Yet you continue to fabricate meaningless garbage in a shot gun approach that throws so many lies at the fan that anyone interested in facts is overwhelmed with the task as to where to start.
I am not sure what your motivation is but you have nothing of value to add to anyone to is willing to do basic research.
Next you will likely argue there is no law that defines what secondary means. Or no law that defines what language means.
And of course you neglect to mention the 2000 High Court of Justice ruling on the issue.
The reason there is such a shut gun of facts is because you all keep misstating facts, especially historical facts. BDS/s version of history crucial depends on historical ignorance. “Oh if only the Americans didn’t veto security council resolutions” or “if only the world applied some pressure to Israel” or “the Israelis have refused to make peace…” or “Israel is uniquely bad because of XYZ” when “XYZ” is generally pretty normative. The Palestinian situation is unique only in that the obvious ways these situations are generally resolved were deliberately avoided by the Arab League.
The 2000 high court ruling I did mention (though indirectly) on the December 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm post where I mentioned food labeling which came from that ruling. I didn’t discuss why there is food labeling because that wasn’t a point in contention until now. And if you had done “basic research” into what the ruling had said you would have noticed that. But you didn’t, you just knew there was a ruling and went off half cocked. Which is exactly I end up having to spend so much time on just discussing facts. BDS is based on piles of half truths (the old BDS = bullying, demonization and slander). Key to most all of its arguments is ignorance of facts.
In terms of the key point, that you obviously missed is that secondary language had meaning for British colonies it doesn’t have meaning in Israeli law. So while the status exists as a holdover (and likely not for long) Israel culturally is moving in the opposite direction towards unifying around Hebrew. Which is incidentally a positive in terms of assimilation. One of the reasons that America successfully assimilates is that all immigrant groups learn English and generally lose fluency in their native tongue within 2 generations and even competence within 4.
As for why I’m going it, the hope would be to have a reasonable conversation about possible solutions with people on the other side in the West. To start talking about solutions that actual make sense and see if there are any areas of potential agreement. I happen to believe that BDS is encouraging the Palestinians to engage in behaviors likely to lead to their genocide or mass expulsion. I also happen to believe that Israeli society is open to a wide range of much less negative outcomes as demonstrated by history. Those less negative solutions require Palestinian cooperation a cooperation. I think that’s a good reason to oppose BDS and try and see if BDSers are willing and capable to consider the practical consequences of their movement.
I also happen to think the current situation is very bad for the West even ignoring the Palestinians. BDS is extremely unlikely to become western policy because of the negative practical effects are so obvious and substantial. It is however quite possible that while western society generally remains friendly towards Israel that western liberalism especially in America and Canada becomes hostile to Jews. As it has it has in France and is happening in Britain that shift is likely to drive Jews in America and Canada into the hands of the right or potentially much worse for society the far right. The shift of the Jewish population rightward is likely unavoidable, the speed of that shift and the degree of the shift is not. That shift when it happens is likely to be semi-permanent.
We just choose a profoundly ignorant and unqualified narcissistic conman to hold the most powerful office in the world. The particular devastating effects of this election are unknown but the danger is well understood. Exit surveys show that cultural issues driven by the left: in particular a hostility towards addressing opiate addiction and focusing on transgender bathrooms rather than economics cost Hillary millions of crucial votes in exactly the states she needed to win. If the left were to lose Jewish support in the near term: Pennsylvania and Florida become red states, Democratic congressional candidates have serious money problems and a host of lobbies that advocate for positive social change disappear. Those are all negatives I’d like to avoid.
When you wrote, “There aren’t UN resolutions calling for Canada to be flooded with francophones”, you seem to be assuming that there were UN resolutions calling for Israel to be flooded with Arabic speakers”. In fact, there are no such resolutions. The resolutions to which you refer are various interpretations of the second (often forgotten) part of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which stated, “…nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Those communities were already there; they did not “flood” in. Their rights were supposed to be protected.
You write as if Israel/Palestine is a Jewish land that the Palestinians are trying to take over. The opposite is true. When I was born, there were many more Arabic speakers in the area than Hebrew speakers. In fact, Hebrew was a language primarily used for prayer; most Jews could read Hebrew, a few understood it, but it was rare for it to be spoken at home. I think my family was typical of a Jewish family at that time. My paternal grandparents spoke Yiddish and poor German. They could read Hebrew. The people around me could read prayers in Hebrew but could not tell me what they meant. I was taught to recite a passage from the Torah but the man who was paid to teach me how to do that well got angry when I asked him what the words meant. Then, I thought he wanted more pay. Today, I realize that he could not do it.
When Jews began to “flood in” to Palestine/Israel, they spoke many different languages and it was decided to recreate Hebrew as a common language. Even Jews from the Middle East often used Hebrew as a liturgical language but the language of commerce was something else and often Arabic. When the Technion University was formed, many of the Professors wanted to lecture in German (which many of the students spoke at home). Instead, they were told to write their “Skript” in German but it was translated for them and they read the translation in Hebrew.
Arabic had to be an official language at that time since more of the people spoke it than really spoke Hebrew. .
It is generally expected that when people immigrate to a country with a language different from theirs that they learn the language of their new home. We would be outraged if a wave of immigrants tried to force us to speak their language. However, that is exactly what happened during my lifetime. Rather than learn the local language, Israelis created what was essentially an artificial language (based on an ancient liturgical language) and are trying to force it on the indigenous population. I am amazed at their success. A language that was practically dead when I was born, is now a living language. However, the attempt to force it on the indigenous population is one of many things that has caused the resentment and hatred that we see today. I don’t blame “Palestine identity politics”. The problem is the refusal of many Zionists to recognize that there were already people there and that those people had the right to preserve their language and culture as well as to enjoy their property.
I’m going to disagree with you a bit on dates and I’m disagree with you on a central point. So as not to distract from the central point I’ll break this into two responses.
You write as if Israel/Palestine is a Jewish land that the Palestinians are trying to take over. The opposite is true.
What I do believe is that in 2016 Israel / Palestine is a Jewish land that the Palestinians wish to take over. In the time of the Balfour declaration Israel / Palestine was a Levant territory (I would argue Palestinians as a distinct national group didn’t quite exist yet) in the Ottoman empire that a bunch of idealists (or wackos) were trying to maintain a presence in while the Ottoman’s were trying to starve them to death. The situation on the ground has radically changed in the last century. The country that exists on that land mass today is Israel. No question there are still remnants of the former Levant inhabitants often existing near Israel or within Israel some as citizens some in a state like guerrilla territory and some as isolated villages. Those people have since the 1920s been developing a national identity they call Palestinian mostly in responses to a unique history and circumstances created by the Jewish conquest. Its fair to say that Zionism gave birth to two nations. But so far it has only given birth to one state. So I disagree with you strongly that Israel is today not a Jewish land. Every day the remnant of their Levant culture grows a little weaker less influential and less relevant to how the people of that territory live.
I think one can discuss the Zionist conquest or Israel but it is a historical event. It happened. I think the Jews have been mostly mopping up since winning the 1936-9 war. Had they lost that war today most of Palestine would likely be a province in Syria, the rest part of Egypt or Jordan, The Jewish inhabitants would be a tiny oppressed minority. American Judaism would have stayed on the path of being a Jewish flavored form of liberal protestantism. The Holocaust wouldn’t be remembered by Jews as the darkness before the dawn but just the latest step of the darkness. Alternative histories are interesting to discuss, but there are of no consequence to the present day.
The Zionist conquest of Palestine should be discussed the same way one discusses the Norman Conquest of England. There is no more Æthelred, Northumbria and the Southern Kingdoms. The English aren’t inhabiting Æthelred territory their nation replaced the previous one. Those that resisted the Normans mostly died those that assimilated are today the English. Everything that lives, dies. All nations are a product of historical circumstances. As the circumstances change nations come and go.
If you are Jewish you should know that. Jewish history for centuries is a map of the birth, evolution and death of countless civilizations that the Jews inhabited. Everything that lives dies.
OK now that I’ve handled the main point onto History of Hebrew. I think your dates are a bit off, there is more of a gradual process and it happens earlier than your post above indicates.
The Hebrew revival movement started in the 18th century or a bit before as part of the Haskalah movement. The Haskalah movement created a literary Hebrew in which one could express modern ideas while still retaining as much of the biblical grammar and vocabulary as possible. The idea was influential to thought leaders but not particularly practiced. Hertzl is a transitionary figure typical of the last generation of the Haskalah movement. Hertzl like most of them are reacting to the fact that simple legal emancipation is not fully resolving the Jewish question. There was not going to be an easy reconciliation between Christians and Jews. Given that early Zionism emerged from the Haskalah movement it picked up Hebrew revivalists as early followers. But the Hebrew revivalist movement is active by the 1770s it isn’t recent and predates Zionism.
The First and Second Aliyah brought with it Hebrew revivalists and put them in positions of power (at least over a small number of Jews). Zionists quickly understood the political importance of having a language of triumph harkening back to Jewish independence and the bible rather than Yiddish a language of slavery and despair. During the time of the First Aliyah you have Hebrew as the language of literary Palestinian Zionism and there are clubs to learn to speak it (Hebrew schools, Ben Yehuda clubs…). During the 2nd Aliyah (1904-14) the language starts to go mainstream and becomes the spoken language of the Yishuv especially the communist agricultural communities. It is because Hebrew had advanced to being the Jewish national language by WWI that the British recognized it as the Jewish national language. At the time though this was mostly a concession to Zionism.
The Palestinian violence of the 1920s forced non-Zionist or semi-Zionist Jews into the arms of the Zionists and allowed the Zionists to become the political ideology of the Jewish inhabitants. Which in turn caused the culture of the Jewish inhabitants to adopt Zionist norms including Hebrew.
Finally in terms of immigrating and learning the language… I think we disagree on the nature of nations so let me add a bit of editorial. Of course assimilation isthe norm. The Zionists weren’t coming as assimilating immigrants to Palestine they were coming to resurrect Judaea. The Zionists often despised the culture of substance farming, malaria infestation and archaeological negligence the natives represented. They never claimed they wanted to just assimilate into the existing culture. This is key: Zionism was a reaction to the failures of multiple failed attempts regarding immigration and assimilation. Had it not been for the Zionists, the non-zionist Jewish immigration to Palestine would have just been one more failed attempt.
The Palestinians if they wished to preserve their culture needed to either seduce the Zionists into less ambitious goals, discredit Zionism among the Jews or wipe Zionism out. They did the precise opposite of all 3. With their erratic behavior they discredited the various coexistence movements that were much larger at the time. With their military incompetence they failed totally to threaten Zionism, though they were threatening to other groups of Jewish immigrants. And with their comparative lack of economic planning and investment Zionist economic development rapidly overtook Palestinian society and provided a much higher level of worker productivity and standard of living so that by the 1930s it was Palestinian culture not Zionist that was being socially discredited.
Healthy societies deal with destructive contenders for national identity all the time. The definition of healthy is that they win. If you want to genuinely argue the Palestinians were an existing nation then we should evaluate their performance as a nation, and hold them to the standards of a nation. Not engage in the soft racism of low expectations. One of the primary goals of a nation is to spread its culture into peoples who arrive and stay in its territory even if they start out with hostile intent. If you are going to argue the Palestinians were actually a nation then one can hold them to the standards of a nation. Their “right” to preserve their culture is contingent on their ability to pass it on to residents of their territory.
There is nothing unusual in this. France had to recently wipe 2 languages out on its territory to enhance its territorial claim to that territory (Breton and Alsatian). Given the high rate of global trade, communication and migration over 1/2 the languages in one century don’t make it to the next. Arabic is part of Palestinian culture. If the Palestinians are going to physically survive the next few centuries in Israel they are going to need to lose most of that culture. That may sound harsh but the alternatives are worse.
I admire your huge array of historical details, but, for me, the big picture remains clear.
Language: Yes, there were scholars who learned and maintained the Hebrew language and established small groups that spoke it but the vast majority of those who arrived in Israel after the state was formed did not speak Hebrew. The leaders of that time were not Hebrew speakers. Hebrew was their common element and it was chosen to become the common language. If you talk to Israelis you will quickly learn that many many did not speak Hebrew as a child or they spoke some other language with grandparents or parents.
Palestinians: Yes, there were no people with that official nationality but there was a large number of people living in an area known to all as Palestine. The easiest way to refer to them is as Palestinians. All those people who piously intone something like “There never was a people called Palestinians – who are they”, know exactly who the term refers to, just as they know what “Canadian” means.
Morality: You repeatedly argue on the basis of “To the victor belong the spoils” and “The strong defeat the weak and win”, “The definition of healthy is that they win.”, etc. I am reminded of the Nazis at the peak of their power. They made the same types of arguments to justify their actions against people who were not part of the Herrnvolk. That is not the morality taught to me in my Hebrew School or preached in my childhood synagogue. There I learned that all people have rights and that the strong have no right to deprive weaker people of those rights. I learned that we should not do to others what we would not want done to ourselves. Although the Israelis have taken over much of Palestine your statements do not deny the fact that the land has been taken by force. It is a clear violation of the 8th commandment,
Palestinians “taking over”: You write, “What I do believe is that in 2016 Israel / Palestine is a Jewish land that the Palestinians wish to take over.” The Palestinians that I know do not want to “take over”, they want to share; they want to be treated as equals, to have equal rights, to have equal schools, and to have equal opportunities. They want to be able to return to their family homes and to have free access to lands that they farmed. Is that what you mean by “taking over”? Do you think that is wrong?
Finally, I think you must be careful when you say things like, ““The strong defeat the weak and win” Israel has not “won” on its own; it is heavily dependent on aid from other countries such as the US$3,8 Billion per year recently promised by for military aid and much support from other countries. Special agreements allow Israeli access to highly classified work in U.S. military laboratories. They also get incredible financial support from the diaspora. Israel is a land on life support. Those who feel guilty for not saving us during the Nazi time, when they did not allow many to come here, are happy to ease their consciences by keeping Jews in Palestine.
You are correct to point out that history is full of injustice. Moreover, the winners in one decade are sometimes the losers in the next. We have not reached the end of history. We need to remember that if we fight for “justice for all”, everyone will support us. If we insist on fighting only for our own rights at the expense of rights for others, many will oppose us.
Yes, there were scholars who learned and maintained the Hebrew language and established small groups that spoke it but the vast majority of those who arrived in Israel after the state was formed did not speak Hebrew.
The small groups who spoke it were the Zionist collectives, the parents of Israel’s founding generation. Hebrew was the language of the Jewish homeland in Palestine. Sabra in the 1930s meant someone who spoke Hebrew as their native tongue. Those first generation Hebrew speakers didn’t have Hebrew as a native but rather an idealogical language. Those speakers are the ones who changed Palestine from a malaria infested poverty stricken wasteland into a citrus colony and the laid the groundwork for the Jewish state. As for the immigrants, immigrants often need to learn the language of the country they move to. Hebrew was not the native language of the Jews, but it was the native language of the Israelis.
Palestinians: Yes, there were no people with that official nationality but there was a large number of people living in an area known to all as Palestine. The easiest way to refer to them is as Palestinians. All those people who piously intone something like “There never was a people called Palestinians – who are they”, know exactly who the term refers to, just as they know what “Canadian” means.
The analogy wouldn’t be Canadian but Ontarian. Ontario exists, people live there, but there is no nationality of Ontario its just a region within a larger nationality. Of course if Ontario somehow started to experience a radically different lifestyle than the rest of English Canada Ontario might develop a distinct national identity but today it doesn’t have one. Certainly there was a Palestine and people who lived in Palestine. No one questions that. The issue is whether they had a distinct national identity in the 1880-1920s. The people who deny a pre-existing Palestinian nationality are denying that Palestinians were a nation not that they existed.
The Palestinians that I know do not want to “take over”, they want to share; they want to be treated as equals, to have equal rights, to have equal schools, and to have equal opportunities.
That’s not my experience. Certainly there are Palestinians who want that and Israel should be a lot better in accommodating those desires than it is. If what the majority of Palestinians wanted were merely equality of opportunity, equality of education and equality under the law there would have never been and would not today be a Jewish / Palestinian conflict.
The BDS demands demonstrate this with the asymmetry with respect to settlers in the territory vs. Israeli Arabs. A believer in equality can argue that you going to have freedom of housing and push for the end of housing discrimination allowing everyone to live everywhere. A believer in equality between groups can argue that each group should have absolute control of its territory and can freely restrict the members of the other group from living within its territory for example Americans and Mexicans can live in each other’s country but only at the pleasure of the other government they don’t do so by right. What one cannot argue is that it is somehow equal to allow Palestinians to live in Israel but that the Palestinian sections should be totally judenfrie. Most Palestinians oppose any Jews living in the West Bank while supporting a “right” of Palestinians to live in Israel proper. I can’t see that as a desire for equality.
Another example are the religious authorities. Israel has state churches. Rabbis ultimately answer to the Knesset. A believer in equality can hold that the Waqf Ministry should also report into the Knesset. A believer in equality can hold that there should be freedom of religion and that no religious should have state power. A believer in equality cannot hold that the Waqf Ministry should have coercive power not answerable to the democracy in which it exists.
There are a couple more things in your post particularly about military aide. that probably deserve their own posts. There is one though that can be addressed quickly about morality and colonialism. Most every nation that exists formed by force. Palestinians speak a dialect descended from the eastern not western Arabian peninsula. They took the country by force from the Byzantines. The wiped out the Eastern Roman Empire / Christian society that existed and replaced it with their own. I don’t see how one can use that argument about descending from colonizers against the Israelis without also applying it to the Palestinians. The Byzantines of course took it by force from the Jews who took it by force… Prokaryotes stole the whole planet by genocide and we are all descended from them. The only real aboriginals are the anaerobic bacteria found in the stagnant water deep underground in salt mines. Everyone else is descended from murderous colonists in a chain of genocide and societal overthrow ten thousand links deep. I can potentially see an argument for punishing first generation colonists, because we would like the cycle to stop, but beyond that everyone is on the same footing.
So if you want to talk shoulds. I don’t believe that any people should have a racial claim to any land anywhere. All people regardless of race should have the right of self determination where they live regardless of race. All people regardless of race should have citizenship in the land of their birth. I think the 14th Amendment which guarantees anyone born in the USA citizenship should be a global right.
My home city was founded by British descendants became Welsh and German then mostly Irish, Black and Italian all in the space of a few centuries. I don’t see the Irish, Blacks and Italians as colonizers who have some genetic evil because their ancestors moved to a new city. I find the whole argument offensive and I think it should carry no weight with people.
But it does. Racist anti-colonialism dominates the Israel / Palestinian issue. So if you want to talk morality and not fact there are a lot of assumptions which I don’t find particularly moral underlying the position you are taking.
You have a powerful array of facts but also seem to have a lot of imagination.
1) The Zionist collectives did not found the Jewish State. The founders of the state came from Eastern Europe.
2) Hebrew was but one of many languages spoken in Palestine. Not even all the Jews spoke Hebrew except as a liturgical language.
3) Ontarian, is as good an example as Canadian. If anyone paraphrases Golda Meir (born in Ukraine) and says, “There were no such thing as Ontarians. When was there an independent Ontarian people with an Ontarian state? I…. They did not exist.” they are being disingenuous. They are attempting to mislead – just as Meir was. We do exist. I am an Ontarian and I exist. I have Palestinian friends and they exist.
4) Your powerful imagination is demonstrated when you write, “If what the majority of Palestinians wanted were merely equality of opportunity, equality of education and equality under the law there would have never been and would not today be a Jewish / Palestinian conflict.” There would have been a conflict as soon as Israel’s forces began to destroy Arab villages; it will continue as long as Israel does not let those people and their descendants return to those villages. It is kept alive by the many laws that discriminate between Jews and non-Jews. It will be kept alive as long as schools for Arabs get get much less funding than schools for Jews. Israel’s actions (and the reactions to them) keep it going.
5) Yes, there are many possible interpretations of “equality”. Some of yours are quite imaginative but what exists in Israel now does not match any of them.
6) Yes, many countries were formed by force. That is correct but it is rarely right. In your home city (which you hide as well as your identity) may have evolved but it did not do so by systematically destroying towns and driving people out. It did not pass laws to keep the British descendants from returning.
7) I found a paragraph of yours that I completely endorse,
“I don’t believe that any people should have a racial claim to any land anywhere. All people regardless of race should have the right of self determination where they live regardless of race. All people regardless of race should have citizenship in the land of their birth.”
That is a very compact argument against the creation of a Jewish state. It is a very compact argument against the many Israeli laws that discriminate against non-Jews. If Israel would endorse that statement, the Jewish/Palestine conflict could begin to disappear. It would also eliminate the need for the so-called two-state solution (“Two states for two peoples”)
Lets quit where we agree.
I’m glad we agree on being opposed to racial inequality as per Palestinian demands.
However the whole listing a bunch of false facts and then saying let’s stop isn’t quite fair.
Starting with point 4 There would have been a conflict as soon as Israel’s forces began to destroy Arab villages;
In modern Palestine the first attack by Arab nationalists against Jews was in Safed in 1834. The first total destruction of a village was by Arab nationalists in 1920, when they destroyed Tel Hal (notice the Hebrew name BTW). The cause of the conflict was not Jewish destruction of villages as both these events and many others that came between and later show. Rather it was Zionist refusal for Jews to continue living as virtual slaves to the Arabs. That’s why BDS is going to rejected. The Jews won their freedom and will never return to enslavement whether demographically or militarily.
As for the rest:
The Zionist collectives did not found the Jewish State. The founders of the state came from Eastern Europe.
Eastern European Zionist migration started in 1882 trigged by Pogroms and Pinsker’s essay on Jewish emancipation. The Zionist collectives were mostly inhabited by Eastern Europeans.
Hebrew was but one of many languages spoken in Palestine. Not even all the Jews spoke Hebrew except as a liturgical language.
You miss the point. Hebrew was the spoken language of Zionism from the beginning. That says nothing about Judaism. The Zionists spoke Hebrew and drove out contending languages. That’s nation formation. The point is that Hebrew was the language of Israel. Obviously Israel has absorbed number of immigrants who speak different languages quite rapidly in the last 1880s-1990s.
We do exist. I am an Ontarian and I exist.
The question is not whether there was a population in Palestine. No one contends that Palestinians didn’t exist in the sense of a population living in the area. What people like Meir are asserting is they were not a distinct nation from other Levant people’s. Existence doesn’t prove national existence. To have national existence the Palestinians would have had to have had non-Levant mores traditions and a historical awareness separate and distinct from Levant people’s. There is no evidence they had that in the 1870s. Certainly Ontario has a population but that population is not distinct from the rest of English Canada.
Moreover and more importantly there are two possibilities:
a) The Palestinians are willing to be Israeli-Arabs and live in peace with Israel.
b) The Palestinians constitute and enemy hostile nation unwilling to live in peace, and rather aiming to take the country over.
You can’t object to (b) while asserting the Palestinians were and are a nation. If they are a nation and intend to remain loyal to that non Israeli nation then they are hostiles to Israel and their bad treatment is justified. States make exclusive claims to their territory, that’s part of the very definition of a nation-state.
Yes, there are many possible interpretations of “equality”. Some of yours are quite imaginative but what exists in Israel now does not match any of them.
Quite true. Not in dispute.
may have evolved but it did not do so by systematically destroying towns and driving people out. It did not pass laws to keep the British descendants from returning.
Mostly no the ethnic changes were not violent. The original inhabitants lived at peace with the new immigrants. The British descendants rather than doing things like banning land sales to “the invaders” (as Palestinians would call them) were conversely rather quite happy to make a profit on their land and move to nicer areas funded by the immigrants acquiring lands. The Welsh and the Germans repeated this process. And this process repeats today all throughout American cities.
Part of the argument for BDS is that of course the Palestinians were going to resist violently anyone would. And the fact is that most Americans live in cities where ethnic changeovers have happened, often more than once in the last few centuries totally peacefully. Welsh and Germans didn’t start horrific ethnic wars against the Irish, Blacks and Italians who moved in. That’s the distinction. You keep wanting to reverse it because you keep wanting the Israelis to have started this conflict when the initial aggressors against the Jewish immigrants were the Arabs.
Now there are also a few examples in USA history where the conflict between immigrants and longer term residents did become quite violent A good example of that in USA history is the 5 points district of New York City and the resistance by the Protestants to Catholic immigration. In this case tere was a series of bloody ethnic conflicts, mass shootings and various home demolitions from the 1830s to the early 1860s. And as a result, yes in this case the original inhabitants rather than being peaceably bought out mostly were driven out violently. The original residents once they lost, mostly couldn’t return for a generation, and to this day mostly haven’t. Yet in this case no one argues that Protestants are the true owners of lower Manhattan and that the Catholics are settler colonialist, war criminals. It is also worth pointing out that once the Protestant violence stopped the Catholic violence stopped, and today a Protestant can move to 5 points without being lynched.
The entire BDS argument hands crucially on this theory that ethnic groups have permanent claims to land, that Israel is by some sort of racial right permanently Palestinian regardless of inhabitation. This is what is distinct about the Israel / Palestinian conflict is the Palestinians claim a right to govern the land based on race not based on inhabitation. The BDS apology regarding settlements for Palestinian violence is that Jews moving into the Palestinian part of town is such a hideous provocation that they cannot be expected to respond casually.
You keep making moral claims but I find the underlying morality of racism you are appealing to problematic. My position is quite simple and fair and yes moral. Every inch of Mandate Palestine and annexed Golan excluding Gaza is Israeli. That is the state that governs that territory. There are no “Palestinian lands”, because there is no Palestinian state. Jewish leasing boards in Israel are engaging in racial discrimination no different in intent than the white citizens councils that prohibited renting and selling to blacks during the Jim Crow era. Palestinian stone throwers including in the West Bank are violent criminal gangs in engaging in racism no different in spirit than the Protestants of the five point district. Both are problematic.
It was time to stop but you continued with even more words. Lets try to get to the heart of the matter.
0) It is usual to describe the Israel/Palestine dispute as if it were two-sided. In fact,, it is multi-faceted. It is a mistake to quote the extremists as evidence that one side or the other is extreme. When you claim that Palestinians want racial discrimination, that is exactly what you are doing. Palestinians are realists. They want equal rights, not superiority.
1) Racial prejudice and segregation. While there are Palestinian extremists who make strong anti-Jew statements, the Palestinians I know would be happy with full equality. That means that all people under Israel’s control would be full citizens and discrimination on the basis of what Israel calls “nationality” would be forbidden. This would require the repeal of many Israeli laws and an end to many official government practices. It would require abandoning any talk of “two states for two peoples”., which is a phrase used by Israel officials in the UN and elsewhere.
2) The early Zionists were establishing settlements, not states. Those who established “A Jewish state” as such came much later.
3) You claim that Hebrew was the spoken language of Zionism from the beginning. Theodor Herzl is often called the father of Zionism. His major work on the subject, Der Judenstaat, was written in (Austrian) German (with some short English phrases once in a while). It addresses the issue of language explicitly in one section which begins
“Vielleicht denkt jemand, es werde eine Schwierigkeit sein, dass wir keine gemeinsame Sprache mehr haben. Wir können doch nicht Hebräisch miteinander reden. Wer von uns weiss genug Hebräisch, um in dieser Sprache ein Bahnbillet zu verlangen? Das gibt es nicht. Dennoch ist die Sache sehr einfach. Jeder behält seine Sprache, welche die liebe Heimat seiner Gedanken ist. “
My translation (hastily done):
Perhaps someone thinks that it will be a difficulty that we have no common language any more. We cannot speak Hebrew with each other. Which of us knows enough Hebrew to be able to ask for a train ticket in that language? That doesn’t really exist. However, the situation is very simple. All will keep the language that is the homeland of their thoughts.
He goes on to give the multi-language federation of Switzerland as a model and does spend some words decrying Yiddish (which he does not even name) as a common language.
4) On Palestinians:
I never suggested that the Palestinians were a nation. I don’t think that is relevant to anything. They are a well-identified set of people who have rights that Israel has taken away.
5) On BDS.
You misrepresent BDS when you say it argues that ethnic groups have claims to the land. It argues just the opposite. It argues that people not “ethnic groups” have rights. Its web pages say that it wants fair treatment for all residents of historical Palestine regardless of their ethnicity, national origin or religion. Don’t you agree with that?
6) You make the strange argument that there are no Palestinian lands because there is no Palestinian State. Where is it written that to have land people have to have declared a state with their name?
7) You compare Israeli policies to the racial segregation as it was practiced in your country when I was a child. I agree. Racial segregation is now illegal in your country. It should also be illegal in what was historically called Palestine. That would satisfy BDS.
8) You write “Every inch of Mandate Palestine and annexed Golan excluding Gaza is Israeli.” If by that you mean that it is under Israeli military control then I would include Gaza. However, I claim that this implies that all residents of that area should be full citizens of the country (whatever its name) with no discrimination allowed. Otherwise this is not a democratic state. The present Israeli government claim is that that would mean the end of the Jewish State. So be it.
0) The government of the only independently controlled Palestinian area is Hamas. If there were an election in the West Bank Hamas would likely win. And even if one were to exclude Hamas the 2nd most popular group is the PLO which still has all sorts of supremacist demands. Moreover we were talking about the history of the conflict.
Moreover keeping the focus on BDS BDS does not push for equality of the residents of Israel. It pushes for ethnic cleansing of one ethnic group from a huge chunk of the country, the replacement of the residents with a hostile alien population and then equality. And often its practitioners push for punishing racial reparations…
Also see (8) below.
1) The UN and before that the league of nations demanded two states. I would agree that it has mostly failed. I don’t either population strongly supports this outcome.
2) I think we disagree here. Let me ask you this way. Assume your theory was true. What year did the pro state and not just pro settlement Zionist start migrating to Palestine? I think the early Zionists were there to establish a state though they might have settled for a homeland had that worked. Zionists were divided. Once however the conflict became militarized the homeland view was discredited.
3) Herzl renounced that quote later in life. All during the 1890s he was an advocate for Hebrew. 1903 at the Zionist Congress he defended Hebrew. Trude Neumann, Herzl’s daughter, claimed she learned from her father. Was she lying? etc…
4) Whether the Palestinians are a nation is relevant to everything. If they were not a nation then they don’t have a right to self determination. Moving from one part of a nation’s territory to another is a normal non traumatic thing. How many Canadians move to different provinces in Canada? Once you grant the Zionist took a small piece of the Levant rather than all of Palestine the entire conflict looks quite different.
5) I’m not misrepresenting BDS. BDS is quite explicit. People who came out of a Jewish vagina living in say Ariel are war criminals. People who came out of Muslim vagina live in the nearby area by right. Jews are “colonizers” by birth while Palestinians are indigenous (leftists for evil and good). That’s pure racism. BDS most certainly does not argue for fair treatment of all residents. It wants a global program of starving the Jews into submission until they agree to leave huge chunks of the country and give up all hope of self governance in the remainder.
6) A people in the legal sense is a nation. Having been a nation state is part of the evidence for having been a nation. It is not the only evidence, for example the Kurds are clearly a nation even though they have no history of a state, but it is an important point. “The country of Palestine” is frequently claimed, not “the Levant territory of Palestine” which is more accurate. Claims like “Israel violates Palestinian sovereignty” if they are a not a nation they cannot have a sovereign.
7) Ending housing segregation would not satisfy BDS. BDS demands segregation. BDS is quite explicit that Jewish presence is a war crime in some areas, displacement and colonialism in all areas. Desegragation and integration are negatives. For example one of their charges is that Israel engages in “Integration of the Palestinian economy into the Israeli economy”. That would be a positive development to a non racist.
8) No I meant that it is being integrated. And obviously if Israel integrates an area it needs to grant citizenship to the people who live in that area. Its generally tried to do that in areas annexed though it has met resistance to grants of citizenship (disproving your point 0). Area-C which Israel is clearly laying claim to should thus be annexed and the residents granted citizenship.
Gaza is the opposite case however. Israel has renounced territorial claim on Gaza and exited. The Gazans decided to militarily engage the Israelis. There are under a blockade because of that, but blockade is a war not an act of integration.
Can someone provide me with a map of Israel’s borders?
Sure http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/israel.pdf. West is the Med Sea and Gaza. Gaza follows the 1950 armistice line. East the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, the Dead Sea, the Emek Ha’arva/Wadi Araba and the Gulf of Aqaba. With Syria you have the purple line. To the North you have the blue line. On the south you have the traditional border with Taba having been ceded to Egypt. Finally Area A, B are not claimed (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Oslo_Areas_and_barrier_projection_2005.png).
As an aside, Israel’s borders are militarized. Where you see Israeli border guards is the border.
“Where you see Israeli border guards is the border.” There are Israeli border guards on the border between the West Bank and Jordan. What does that tell you?
0) You wrote, “Moreover keeping the focus on BDS BDS does not push for equality of the residents of Israel. It pushes for ethnic cleansing of one ethnic group from a huge chunk of the country, the replacement of the residents with a hostile alien population and then equality. And often its practitioners push for punishing racial reparations…”
I trust BDS descriptions of its goals more than I trust your description of what they want. In my text, I quoted the movement.. What is your source? What you say contradicts what is on their site. What you may be describing is the hope that some of the supporters feel is realistic but the movement’s official words are clear.
1) I don’t believe that the either the UN or the league of nations had any right to give land to anyone.
2) The thought of a state became realistic only when large numbers of displaced and frightened persons began to arrive from Europe. Before that it was an empty dream because there were so few Jews and they were islands in a sea of other people. Traditionally, every Pesach, Jews recite “Next year in Jerusalem”. When I was a child, I asked about that and was told that it wasn’t real, it was just a myth. At our family Seders there was not one person who believed those words when they recited them. I think we were typical
3) When Herzl wrote that quote he clearly believed it and it was clearly true. It was a very strong statement and very clear. He may have been pressured to learn Hebrew later and I would not be surprised if he did. His writing shows that he was a powerful intellect. The fact remains though that Hebrew was not a living language for most Jews until after the state was formed. There are, of course, exceptions. One of my colleagues in Israel described his mother as “one of the few immigrants who actually had spoken Hebrew at home. Her father was a Hebrew teacher”. He was proud that she was an exception and the fact that she was an exception proves what is the usual case (the rule). There is a history published by Israel’s first technical university that describes how they got around the fact that their Professors could not speak Hebrew.
4) People have rights, not nations.. We call these rights “Human Rights” not “national rights”. Israel has so subjugated the Palestinians, so deprived them of freedom, dignity, and in many cases property, that they get frustrated and, giving up any hope that they could live as equals in the state, they try to assert nationhood. Were Israel to change its laws so that all the people it governed had the same rights, a lot of that would go away. Who would not rather be a full and equal citizen of a wealthy and powerful country than a citizen of an isolated and powerless desert state, deprived of resources and control of its borders?
5) I quoted from the site. What is your source? I cannot find the sentiments that you attribute to BDS on the BDS site. Help me.
6) Very imaginative, out of the rut! Where do you get that? Did we not speak of the “Jewish people” long before there was a nation?
7) Again you attribute to BDS positions that contradict what I find on their site. Movements like BDS, like any movement, have many members with many views. Give sources for your assertions. Try reading the BDS sites to find them.
8) The renunciation of Gaza is a sham and a fraud. Israel has complete control (with the help of agreements with Egypt) over the area, it controls the power, the water, and anything else that goes in our out. It invades when it wants to do so (without declaring war). It bombs when it wants to do so. Some Gazans have been foolish enough to engage the Israelis in a futile battle but the vast majority are just victims. It is those people that deserve our help.
I don’t believe that the either the UN or the league of nations had any right to give land to anyone.
Which is fine, I agree with you on that. In which case you are back to the situation where a country is defined by the ability of an army to hold territory where the government connected to the army has the support of the residents of a territory. A bar Israel easily meets. And a bar that Palestine never met since there was never a Palestinian army in control of Palestine.
Traditionally, every Pesach, Jews recite “Next year in Jerusalem”. When I was a child, I asked about that and was told that it wasn’t real, it was just a myth. At our family Seders there was not one person who believed those words when they recited them. I think we were typical
Well you think wrong. The type of Judaism practiced in Germany and the Americas evolved as a response to Protestantism. In places where Protestants had not won the idealogical battle that form of Judaism never evolved. In most places Jews considered themselves not merely a religion but a nation. For example Soviet passports listed Jews as a soviet nationality not a religion (which wouldn’t appear on a passport). The word Jew itself is just an English spelling sounding for Gyu, the old french short form of Iudaeus: people of Judaea. Calling yourself a Jew through most of history is an ethnic identification with the population of the nation state of Judaea. That’s why Jews refer to themselves as an ancient people rather than just members of a religion. So in answer to your point #6, yes Jews did speak of the Jewish people and they were making a nationalist claim when they did so.
Were Israel to change its laws so that all the people it governed had the same rights, a lot of that would go away. Who would not rather be a full and equal citizen of a wealthy and powerful country than a citizen of an isolated and powerless desert state, deprived of resources and control of its borders?
As for whether the Palestinians would or would change their opinions your statement before is about what they want (equality) not what they would want in some alternative universe. You and me both have no idea what they would want. People all over the world choose self governance and freedom over wealth. The Pushtan people faced with the choice of being part of wealthier nations choose poverty and ignorance to maintain their freedom. The Irish fought bitterly for independence for many generations to the extent that they live mostly in diaspora rather than yielding and being part of a wealthier country. The Persians refused for their whole history to yield to the wealthier West.
And finally under your argument why didn’t the Jews just convert to Christianity in the first century?
The renunciation of Gaza is a sham and a fraud. Israel has complete control (with the help of agreements with Egypt) over the area, it controls the power, the water, and anything else that goes in our out. .. vast majority are just victims
That’s a blockade an act of war (yes Israel has declared war in declaring a blockade). As an aside the world recognizes this as war which is why they negotiate “cease fires”. That war started a year after the renunciation of Gaza when the Gazans (in a fair and free election) elected a government that declared war on Israel and laid claim to all its territory. The people who elected a government running on this platform deserve perhaps psychiatric help but having chosen war enthusiastically they do deserve the consequences of it. If the vast majority of Gazans wanted the war to stop they could simply ask Israel for terms of surrender.
I’ll address BDS’s views in the next post.
Since you agree with me that the UN and League of Nations did not have the right to give land to anyone, stop referring to the UN decisions as legitimizing the creation of the Israel that exists now. This does not legitimize the “might is right” philosophy that you repeatedly espouse. The UN can help parties to negotiate agreements; it cannot impose them..
Some Jews refer to themselves as an ancient people, but Rabbis have been have long been converting people to Judaism and have detailed procedures for doing that. Ivanka Trump seems to be recognized as a Jew in spite of the fact that she is not known to have any Jewish ancestors.
It is inconsistent to claim that Palestinians are not a people because they never had an official state and then use different rules for Jews. Your citing of the practices in the USSR is a debating tactic not a substantive argument. The borders in Europe were drawn by agreements between rulers and had little to do with who lived where. For example, you can find Hungarians indigenous to many countries. If you read the literature of the time, you can see that the concepts of citizenship, ethnicity and nationality were distinct.
I got my opinions of the views of Palestinians by sitting with people at a table and talking with them. That gives me a biased sample but a sample nevertheless. I am not basing what I believe on the slogans of politicians. Politicians tend to take extreme positions to get attention and get elected. (You Americans should now know that.) Interestingly, in my discussions, there was remarkable similarity between the views of Palestinians and Jews. Both told me that they would be glad to live together as equals if the “others” did not want to kill them or drive them away. Every conversation that I have been able to have convinces me that the path towards resolving this horrible situation begins with equality. There is a lot of work to do after that, but equality must be the first step.
Your discussion of choosing freedom over wealth is revealing. People do not have to make that choice unless they believe that by choosing wealth means giving up freedom. Equality would allow them to have both.
If one state blockades another, that is an act of war. However, Israel does not recognize Gaza as a state (or Palestine). It treats Gaza as a concentration camp and treats the people living in it as prisoners. That is no more a war than the Nazi treatment of Jews was a war. People fire on each other in many situations that are not wars (e.g. recently in Jordan) and when they negotiate a ceasefire that does not mean that the dispute was a war.
Palestinians (not just Gazans) voted for Hamas because they felt that Fatah and the PLA were corrupt and were not helping them. They saw Hamas as more honest and recognized that it had charitable arms that did help people. Voting for Hamas was not a vote for a war with Israel. It was an exercise of the democratic right to choose a leader that they felt they could trust.
If the Gazans, or all Palestinians, did ask for terms of surrender, they would not achieve equality, freedom, or wealth. Israel would simply continue its present policies and continue to deny equal rights to Palestinians. People “surrender” when they feel that they can gain something by doing so.
Turning this into a historical discussion is pointless. History is like the tides that ebb and flow. If we go far enough back, all of us could claim the right of return to Africa and everyone could site some injustice that justified what they want to do.
We need to look at the present and recent history. Israel is presently denying the rights of people who were living in Palestine before the “return” of the Jews. It is the people who live in Palestine now and those who were forced out in the last century and cannot return that deserve our attention and our help.
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