Time for yet an other quasi-religious political discussion.

This time I have some serious questions about Israel. Now here’s the problem. There are two basic approaches to the Israel question. There’s the one that basically looks at the issue from Israel’s perspective. Then there’s the one that basically looks at the issue from the issue of international law. While I’m very sympathetic to Israel, let me bring up the international law approach.

Basically under international law you can’t gain territory from a war. So even though Israel was attacked and wasn’t the aggressor in the various wars she fought up to the Lebanon invasion it doesn’t matter. Israel under law can’t take over the lands of the Palestinians. All the various UN resolutions relate to this. Further, under this, Israel has no right to Jerusalem there are tens of thousands of Israelis living as illegal occupiers of lands.

Back under Oslo much was made of Israeli concessions. Yet Israel never came close to making concessions that would put her under accordance with the law. From this legal perspective the only people to make concessions weren’t the Israelis but the Palestinians.

Now the other side. International law is all just and good, especially when you are living in Sweden with no one trying to kill you. Once you are in a small little land with everyone around you wanting to kill you, it’s hard to feel sympathy for international law which does nothing to guarantee your safety. Perhaps had there been international peace keepers guaranteeing Israel’s safety from Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians international law would be worth something. In the meantime Israel has to live by realistic means. And that means international law doesn’t apply.

Here’s the problem. If we take Israel’s position seriously, then what do we do with the very notion of international law? If it can’t apply in Israel, why should it apply anywhere?

If I understand Israel, their position is that unless there are real penalties for aggression then there is nothing to stop her enemies from attacking her. The only thing stopping them is knowing that they lose real resources in attacks and that Israel is militarily stronger.

The problem is that this mindset has left us with a mess since the 70’s. One can almost see most of current middle eastern events as an aftermath of events in the late 60’s and early 70’s. So what should we do? Can international law have any teeth when most European nations and the US violate it rather regularly. (Meaning international law broadly to include trade agreements) What brings these nations back to the table? Fear of trade sanctions. When even the first world in practice treats international law so pragmatically, is it wrong to ask Israel to act differently.

Here’s the ultimate question. What should we as members push our elected officials to do with respect to the situation. It’s not just Israel. There’s the overarching question of democracy and Hamas. Is there a gospel solution?

78 thoughts on “Israel

  1. One thing that is interested that someone sent me. The situation in Israel is treated with a certain double standard when considered alongside other conflicts. (The double standard applies, from what I can see, to both positions: pro and con)

    In the last decade, around 4,500 Israeli and Palestinian lives have been lost to the fighting. The Russo-Chechen war has killed 50,000 (11 times as many), the Darfur crisis has killed 180,000 (40 times as many), and the Congolese civil war has killed 3.5 million (778 times as many). But very few Americans can call to mind images of the ghastly violence in Chechnya, Sudan, or Congo—or even identify the warring parties—because these are places so dangerous that the New York Times simply cannot responsibly send a reporter there, much less a bureau.

    Now this is slightly unfair since the UN has been involved in Darfur and Chechenia is technically an internal matter within a Russian province. But still…

  2. This says it is Ben S., but it’s really Pneal S.

    I think as members, our responsibility is to seek justice in the matter, and that involves going further back than the 1960s. It means going back to the beginning of zionism in the late 1800s, the sykes-picot agreement in 1916, the Balfour declaration the year later, and what Great Britain did when it had mandate over the area.

    No, international law has no teeth. maybe one tooth, but it has a cavity.

    I am personally pushing my elected representatives to urge the government to have dialogue with Hamas. Our administration has been pushing the spread of democracy in the Middle East, and now they’re getting it. “Yes we said democracy, but only insofar as it corresponds with our own interests and agendas” is not a good foreign policy. It smacks of hypocrisy and undermines our efforts in Iraq by causing even more doubt in the hearts of Iraqis regarding America’s business there. Engaging in dialogue with Hamas will make Hamas more moderate; isolating them will make them and Palestinians feel even more like second-class world citizens. I agree with renouncing violence and recognizing Israel, but I also agree with Israel withdrawing from the 1967 borders of the West Bank.

    I am also pushing my elected representatives to stop funding the partition wall being built around the West Bank. Walls built for protection are usually built around the place you want to keep protected; they are for keeping people out. This wall is being built not around Israel but around the whole of the west bank; this is not to keep people out, but to keep people in, and if it stays that way it very well may undermine the jewish nature of Israel (explanation of this connection is too long for here, but many professors at the Tel Aviv and Bir Zeit believe it.) I think Sharon recognized that and that’s why he started withdrawing.

    As an LDS person who believes in justice, human dignity, and the worth of souls, I think its about time we stoppedd okaying every action done in the name of “security” that treats ordinary people like criminals or objects (i.e. checkpoints, encarcelating people who have not been proven guilty, arbitrarily removing people from their livelihoods by building walls, etc.)

    Is there a gospel solution? I think we should believe the Book of Mormon when it says that the spiritual gathering of Judah will happen before the physical one and stop regarding the state of Israel as the restoration of The Israel. Once we do that we’ll be able to feel fine about holding it to the same standards we hold any other state.

    Rant done.

    Oh, and we should remember that Israel is no more a monolithic unified state than the US is, and same with Palestine.

  3. From a purely Gospel approach, the Church has made many statements that both the Jews and the Arabs are children of Abraham and are entitled to the land from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates (the Arabs being the descendants of Ishmael, the Jews being descendants of Isaac, both Abraham’s sons). In other words, the Church doesn’t “take sides” in the dispute.

    While it’s true that some nations habitually flaunt international law (I’m looking at you, Ignited States of America), it’s also true that few break international laws as serious as Israel. Squatting on land taken in war is a fairly serious offense, especially when it’s leading to the repression and displacement of the “rightful” (under law) occupants. There’s very little as sacrosanct in international law than actual state territory, and that’s what Israel has been supposing to appropriate all these years.

    I understand the territories they have held onto are useful for strategic military purposes; but then, why the need to actually SETTLE the areas with Jews, as if they are trying to incorporate it into part of their original state? More is going on here than just holding onto territory for military advantage, clearly.

    In the end, a two-state solution appears to be ideal, which takes us right back to 1947, which is what the UN proposed and the Arab world rejected. I think if we can get a Palestinian state that is made up of roughly the areas Israel has appropriated, we’ll be well on our way to a few years of stability, at least. Jerusalem may prove to be the back-breaker, though. To suggest that Israel will turn over East Jerusalem to serve as the Palestinian capital is wishful thinking. Again, the UN had it right in 1947 — Jerusalem was to be a “free city” under international control. The Arab world just needs to recognize that they screwed up in rejecting the two-state solution in 1948, swallow their pride, and accept it now, which will necessitate the recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

  4. Considering that the Palestinian state just elected Hamas, might that wall be warrented? This wall was completely different from the one in Berlin. The people in East Berlin were prisoners. The people in Jerusalem are saying, if we are going to have a border, please respect it. How is that any different from fences along the Mexican border?

  5. Well, there is the question of where the fence goes. I actually can understand the fence to keep insurgents out. But I also understand that where it has been placed ends up being a de facto annexation of land.

    BTW “Pneal S” I would be interested in why you think the wall will lead to less Jewishness.

  6. Dear All,
    The premise of the above essay is total nonsense. There is no world government and there is no “international Law” when it comes to war between sovereign States. The term is used by Arab sympathizers to force territorial concessions from Israel to her enemies with nothing in return.

    Hamas and Iran have made crystal clear their intentions: the physical destruction of Israel and her people. Although the Israeli government has tried to negotiate with many a Palestinian entities under the sponsorship of many US Presidents, the bottom line is that the Arabs wanat Jerusalem and the return of millions of Arab aliens to Israel itself, not the potential Palestinian State. Why?

    Because in their simple but childish logic they aim to use Israel’s democratic system to vote Israel out of existance. By changing the percentage of arab “new citizens” they can create the chaos that one sees in Western Europe today. That’s something which any Israeli out of a lunatic asylum will not agree to.

    Jerusalem is the Jew’s capital, period. Nothing short of war will change it. If Mecca, Medina or Ramallah is not enough for them, they’ll die disappointed. This is not a matter of having Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Mo. side by side. It’s more like having Moscow and Wahington side by side during the Cold War. Don’t even think about it.

    Those who’d like this Jew’s views in more detail, may e-mail me.

    Emanuel Appel

  7. I agree with most of you here and am glad to hear such a level-headed discussion of the current situation (minus Emanuel that is). I would be perfectly fine with allowing international law to take her course in the middle east but you are going to have a hard time convincing our government to do so when the pro-Israel lobby is so hugely powerful in the USA. It would also be helpful to have Israel declare their nuclear weapons to the world and sign on to the NPT. It would also be helpful if the USA started obeying international law so that we could keep a straight face when we ask other countries to do the same.
    The wall is a land-grab and the partitioning of the different territorities is a huge burden on the Arab Palestinians. That is why it is different than the Mexican border fence.

  8. Dear Curtis,
    Israel is not going to commit suicide just to please you.

    Israel came into being by her own efforts and not as part of the “pro-Israel lobby”. Of course, if you’d prefer the “pro-terror” lobby, you can find them in the Saudi Embassy. 3,000 dead Americans might be upset.

    Speaking of “land grab”, I’d like to remind you that Utah sits on former Mexican land that was taken without benefit of “international law”.

    emanuel appel

  9. Simply because of the way some of the Arab world has been behaving in the last five years, I think the U.S. and U.N. should work in favor of Israel. Giving into Palestinian demands at this point would just reinforce their belief that they can effect change through terrorism. A stern message needs to be sent that the world will not respond to terror.

    From the LDS perspective, my question is this: when the word “Israel” is used throughout the Book of Mormon and D&C, what exactly is it referring to? Is it only the kingdom of the restored gospel? It has always been my understanding that the modern Jews were a part of the House of Israel.

  10. A couple important points:

    The entire palestine conflct area (Israel, Gaza and the west bank) is smaller than the six county Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan area. It is smaller than Los Angeles County. In fact, I used to suggest that any discussion of the “middle east” should include a map of Israel overlaid over a major U.S. or European metropolitan area for perspective. It is a tiny area.

    If Jerusalem were not in the mix, and if Jordan and TransJordan were not part of the expansion path of numerous entities and spheres of influence, no one would care much. Not at least the way they do now. The Arab world would lose interest and the entire matter would have about the same amount of attention as the Jews in Etheopia had (how many people paid attention when the last Emperor of Ethiopia sold two million jews into the international slave trade?).

    But there is a real problem going on in that area, including the trouble Israel faces if it annexes territory and then allows the natives of the annexed territories civil rights.

    Not to mention, Operation Iron Broom did sweep a number of people off of their land who wish to return, even today.

    Should they? I don’t know. No one made me king or judge. I just spot issues with intense emotional appeal and the problems they create. But imagine where we would be today in the US if instead of 90% to 95% of the natives dieing from small pox and such, they had not, and we had a population of 65% Native American Indians who wanted off the reservations and homelands and wanted to vote. If our apartheid had not succeeded the way it had?

    How would we feel? How should we feel? (Heck, what should we be doing about the miserable excuse that is the BIA (realizing that there are good people working there along with the inept and the corrupt)?)

    The question isn’t just about Israel, it is about the US too.

  11. “under international law you can’t gain territory from a war”

    Clark, this claim is nonsense. Almost all political boundaries were set by military force, and most of them during a war. Unless we argue that Utah rightfully, morally and legally belongs to Mexico, we’re only arguing that “territory gained in war isn’t legally and rightfully yours until X years have passed, at which point it becomes absurd to argue Mexico has moral and legal claim to Utah and California, or that Palestine has moral and legal claim to the West Bank.”

    One of the problems with starting wars, like the Palestinians did against Israel, is that you sometimes lose them.

  12. Matt, this principle of international law did not “crystallize” until after the United Nations Charter was written and signed, in 1945. Any gains of territory from war since about the mid-1950s are widely seen as legitimate under international law. It has absolutely no application to any war that is pre-1950s, including the war against Mexico in which the U.S. gained a substantial portion of the western U.S.

  13. That should have been “Any gains of territory from war since about the mid-1950s are widely seen as ILLEGITIMATE under international law.”

    Sorry about the ooops.

  14. I should add that the priciple I discussed above is not only derived from the UN Charter but also the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its 1977 Protocol I.

  15. Amanda,

    All nations have sought to enshrine the boundaries as “status quo” immediately after they win a war. The victors in WW2 (otherwise known as “The UN”), were no different.

  16. While I agree Amanda, I think that Matt has a good point. International Law developed because the main western powers already had fairly stable borders and, outside of Hitler, fairly resolved relationships. The big deal left was the Soviet Bloc and the Chinese.

    Yet China clearly has expanded her borders since the 1940’s. The west disputes the borders in some places – notably Tibet – but clearly doesn’t intend to do anything about it.

    It seems that while international law is a nice ideal, it fails precisely because it ignores the evolution of borders. Further it acknowledges borders that were largely drawn up by the colonial powers – often designed to increase tensions and not follow natural border systems.

    I think Matt is fair to ask why we should accept international law on these matters given the problems of international law.

    At the same time though, hopefully we as a world have moved beyond the 19th century.

  17. the key reason why international law fails as a concept is because we are happy to have it applied anywhere but here. All political leaders feel this way (which is way both George Bush and Achaeminajad (sp?) can couch their rhetoric in terms of violation of national sovereignty).

  18. Dear All
    Only those who favor Moslem success favor the idea of “international law”.
    When Islam is on the march in the Balkans, on the Russian periphery, Thailand, the Phillipines, Kashmir, the call is for “autonomy” for Moslem areas. What’s that but changing a “border” without winning a war?
    Using 1945 a a benchmark or UN documents is a sick joke since the Moslem States are the prime violators of human decency around the world. It is a legalsitic ruse to justify murder and mayhem.
    Who here would favor the UN setting policy for the US? I thought so.

    emanuel appel

  19. Matt-
    The Palestinians did not start a war against Israel. Pneal is right, that Britain’s back and forth on the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the subsequent Balfour declaration muddied matters, followed by a UN partition plan, that, as I understand it, was agreed to by the various sides (before the Palestinians called themselves that, before they grasped the idea of nationalism). Then in 1948 the Israelis, as we call them now, decided to bag the agreement and create Jewish state outside of the UN agreement. To create this state, Israeli armies marched on Palestinian towns, and the Palestinians fled or got massacred. Just as most of the Palestinian leadership has connections to terrorism, Sharon has bloody hands as well.
    The other Arab nations have not, aside from their attempts to eliminate Israel, actually done anything to help the Palestinians. For example, the PLO tried to oust the King of Jordan. As a result, the PLO and a host of Palestinians were expelled from Jordan.
    Almost everybody’s complicit in the mess that is Palestinian-Israeli relations–the Palestinian leaders, the Israeli leaders, other Arab leaders, the US and Europe. The Palestinians and the Israelis have blood on their hands, and both have been wronged by other states and their supposed allies. So where do we find justice when the past has been so confused?

  20. Chris O.,

    I’ve never heard the version of events you mention, and have only heard this version, which I’ve pasted from the Wikipedia entry on Israel:

    “In 1947, following increasing levels of violence by militant groups together with unsuccessful efforts to reconcile the Jewish and Arab populations, the British government decided to withdraw from the Palestine Mandate. The UN General Assembly approved the 1947 UN Partition Plan dividing the territory into two states, Jewish and Arab, giving about half the land area to each state. Jerusalem was planned to be an international region administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status.

    “Immediately following the adoption of the Partition Plan by the UN General Assembly (on November 29, 1947), the Arab leadership rejected the plan and launched a guerilla war that included attacks on Jewish civilians. The Irgun Tsvai Leumi retaliated with attacks on Arabs, including Arab civilians.

    “On May 14, 1948, before the expiry of the British Mandate of Palestine at midnight of May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed.”

  21. Dear All,
    Wikipedia is unreliable since anyone has the right to stick anything in it. For those interested in the history, one can go the newspaper files of the period or , an Israeli site.
    Get the facts first, argue the interpretation later.

    We certainly have gotten away from the idea of “International Law” as an idea that means anything except give Moslems what they want without firing a shot

    emanuel appel

  22. In conflicts between nations, tribes, whatever, might makes right and always will until Jesus returns. May Israel continue to prevail against her enemies. Why do I side with Israel and have admitted prejudice towards Arabs and Persians? Growing up I learned to love and respect my Jewish friends. Now my life is half over and from my youth to today, Americans traveling abroad or at home have been murdered by Arabs/Persians every year of my life, just because they happened to be American. Give the Jews credit, they have mastered the game of winning friends, influencing people and crushing unrepentant enemies. Islam in general, and Arabs in particular, are mentally stuck in some pre-renaissance time warp. Count me as a friend of Israel for life. May the Limeys too be forever cursed to for their shameful obstructionism against the establishment of Israel.

  23. “Give the Jews credit, they have mastered the game of winning friends, influencing people and crushing unrepentant enemies.”

    I think that the last couple of decades Israel has distinctly been losing the PR war outside of the United States. Further a lot of their efforts were by hefty applying of the WWII card and the holocaust. (Justifiably so, I might add – I don’t think we can separate out Israel from WWII)

  24. The argument that “this used to be our land” is an old one. The same arguement was used by the Amorites in Judges 11:13.

  25. OK Clark, lets say they’ve mastered the game of wining the friends that count. We’re a one superpower world now. Also, the last few years Israel has bent over backwards for peace. Anyone expecting them to do more now is just a closet Jew hater who wants them to march into the ocean and die. Might makes right in international affairs until Jesus returns.

    Adding to Sungazer’s comment, haven’t the Palestinians heard of squatter’s rights? The sooner they grow up and deal with Israel constructively the better. But I think they’re doom to play this loosing hand until Jesus returns.

  26. I’m not sure they have bent over backwards for peace though. Oslo is often presented like that, but I don’t think the “compromises” that Israel put forth really were ever likely to be accepted by the Palestinians. It is some compromises, but it didn’t address the settlements and many other pretty significant issues. From the Palestinian position (ignoring for now the dichotomy between what Arafat offered and what the Palestinians appeared to be willing to offer) it was the Palestinians bending over backwards.

    Consider that they feel that they were victims from two aspects: Israel and the other Arab countries. All they wanted was the lands that were theirs that Israel took in response to Syria, Jordon and Egypt. Palestine was willing to give up a heck of a lot of land. What exactly was Israel giving up?

    Once again, I understand the Israeli position. Some Israeli’s felt that all the land was theirs because of events thousands of years earlier. But that avoids the question of what is right to obtain the lands. Other Israelis, more justifiably, don’t trust the Palestinians and certainly not the Syrians. Giving up the land back to the 1967 border doesn’t make sense strategically from a defensive posture.

    But to say Israel is beding over backwards for peace seems wrong. Their position is understandable. But I just can’t see Israel bending over backwards, especially sense during the entire decade there were colonizing the West Bank illegally. Making peace far less unlikely. (Oddly done far more under the left wing than the right wing parties – it seems that Sharon was actually the first to really be willing to pull out of the settlements and his successor seems posed to continue the process)

    I think that the appeal to squatter’s rights doesn’t work when the squatters are taking the land via the gun.

    Once again I understand some of the Israeli positions here. However some of the views are pretty racist. Basically the idea that since Israel makes better use of the land they deserve it. I wonder if Mexico would allow the US to take over parts of their country with that mindset. And how many Americans would be willing to let Mexicans take over America by that logic? So I don’t think the squatter argument takes one very far. Further, I’m not sure it can be reconciled to ethical behavior.

  27. “I’m not sure they have bent over backwards for peace though”

    Dear Clark
    In whose interest is it to be obdurate – israel or the Arabs?
    You’ve never stated that the Arabs need to bend over for anything.
    Hamas is clearly indicating their intentions. Let’s not be unintentionally dense.
    Have you ever advocated applying “international law” to any Arab/Moslem organization? Do you think Iran, Irak, and the rest set good examples of obedience to the UN Charter? I don’t think so.
    Back to the drawing board

    emanuel appel

  28. “………However some of the views are pretty racist. Basically the idea that since Israel makes better use of the land they deserve it.”

    Clark, your reading some Jew haters straw man rant there. We’re talking about the survival of the Jewish people in the world’s only Jewish state, not who uses the land most efficiently! This reminds me of capitalist/communist debates when I was a kid and someone would say which system gave the best economic benefit to the most people, totally ignoring that one system was based on freedom and individual free decisions and the other on coercion, enslavement, theft and thuggery. How can some stare evil in the face and not recognize it is beyond me.

    As for squatters’ rights, even if I concede the lands were unfairly confiscated, I’m taking about the children, grandchildren and great grand children of the confiscators as squatters who are there and have to be dealt with. You can’t turn back the clock to 1948 or 1967, as much as radical Arabs would like to. That’s what I meant by squatters’ rights.

    I have to conclude virtual all who oppose Israel are closet Jew hating bigots if not overt ones.

  29. Steve, I don’t think you know your history, and Emanuel I think you just ignore some facts. “All who oppose Israel” may also have memories of the massacres of Sabra and Shatila. They may also be against the dehumanization of Palestinians, the refusal to acknowledge the good done by groups that also have militant wings (Hamas won the vote because it privately funds the best hospitals in Palestine, takes care of more Palestinians than the PA ever did, runs schools better than the PA has, and provides jobs. If you had been Palestinian, you would have voted for them too).

    People who are against Israel are opposed to De Facto land grabs (aka the partition wall) that is NOT BEING BUILT ON THE BORDERS! It takes away nearly 2/3 of the best farmland that Palestinians have, as well as access to important aquifers. It separates Palestinian farmers from their orchards, separates families from being able to visit their cousins, demands that Palestinians go through checkpoints (can you imagine having to wait 4 hours to travel 1 mile to your job, and then having to wait another 3 to get back to your house? How can you have a workday? How can you provide for your family like that?)

    People who are against Israel recognize that Israel is 90% aetheist, and cannot possibly be the fullness of the return of THE Israel that Nephi said would recquire they accept Christ. (see 2 Nephi 25: 15-17. There are 2 or 3 other scriptures that emphasize this as well but i don’t have time to look them up)

    I would have to conclude that all mormons who think Israel is a total fulfillment of biblical prophecy and support Israel because of that reason have been blinded by their hope for the second coming, and ignore the Palestinians lack of self determination, second class citizenship, and lack of equality and basic human rights that is caused by the state of Israel.

    I believe in the second coming, but I don’t let that belief stop me from seeing when something is wrong.

  30. pneal S,

    I don’t think one can prove by the scriptures that what is going on in Israel today (generally) has nothing to do with prophetic fulfillment.

  31. Steve (#28). I didn’t say all Israelis hold that view. But I’ve listened to many interviews with Jewish farmers and workers in Israel who have emphatically stated those views. Nor am I in the least saying that is the only argument going on. Indeed if you read through my comments you’ll see that I’ve tried to be fair to both sides.

    “As for squatters’ rights, even if I concede the lands were unfairly confiscated, I’m taking about the children, grandchildren and great grand children of the confiscators as squatters who are there and have to be dealt with. “

    Most of the most problematic settlements are those done within the last 15 – 20 years.

    I’ll give Sharon credit for recognizing how peace is impossible with those settlements. Thus the pullout from Gaza and the expected pullout from more settlements in the West Bank.

    BTW, out of curiosity, do you think squatter’s rights also apply in say northern Iraq where Kurds are retaking lands that Sadaam had given to Sunnis?

    Emanuel (#27) “In whose interest is it to be obdurate – israel or the Arabs?” I think it is in both their interests. There is no doubt that Hamas is trouble. I can but hope that having to run a government tempers them somewhat. But Hamas only was able to come to the power they have because of failures in the 70’s – 90’s. Certainly Arafat has tremendous blame in all this, in my opinion. As do all Palestinian leaders who basically wanted it all when there was no hope to get it, sacrificing their nation’s future on the altar of their pride. But if I criticize the Palestinian leadership for this, surely I can’t absolve the Israeli leadership for their own culpability.

    Pneal (#29), Surely a terrorist organization doing good doesn’t negate the serious evils they do. Should we, when confronted with a serial killer, not how good a Sunday School teacher they might have been or how nice a neighbor? I don’t understand the reasoning there.

    As for the landgrab, to be fair to Israel, much of the border also reflects what is defensible. I think I’d have more sympathy for the Palestinians were there not constant rocket attacks. While I acknowledge the problems with the wall, the question remains, barring a peace settlement, how can Israel keep insurgents out better? Even if one group in Palestine announces peace, there appear to always be others, like Islamic Jihad, which will never abide by the peace process. If the Palestinians can’t control such groups, why should they trust the Palestinians at all?

    As for the religious question, many think that the Jews will only accept Christ when he appears. That was McConkie’s position, for example. I’m not saying that’s right. Merely that I don’t think we ought judge Israel purely by their religious devotion. (I’m skeptical of that 90% figure as well, although I don’t know the actual one)

  32. Wow, there’s some massive misunderstanding of what international law is and where it comes from in these posts. Some even say it doesn’t exist! Ha! Classic comments….

  33. Well, it may exist on the books but if there’s no power to inforce it does it *really* exist?

  34. The question of what grounds international law is apt. It does appear to largely be more agreements the dominant powers adhere to. i.e. it is a sort of intermediary between a more stable law with check, balances and enforcement and then just raw diplomacy between those of unequal status. The fact is that the UN is not a world government yet.

  35. WOW. There are so many emotionally charged words in this discussion. Personally I don’t think it is helpful to call people racist or to accuse someone of “hating” jews or having other motives for their positions. Speak to the facts and if you think someone is state why.

    As for international law, it has never applied to greater powers, especially when close to home. The USSR, China, USA, GB, Germany, France . . . all violated international law when it did not suit them. That doesn’t mean we should not seek uniformity, but you have to consider international law in context. The comments about how long ago land was seized is interesting. On one hand any land taken by force should not be kept, but that utopian idea is unworkable, especially because we don’t have records of who first owned any land. Mexico was not the first group to “own” part of the western USA. And France arguably did not have legitimate title to the Lousiana territory. However, the USA could at least argue color of title.

    As for Israel, I seriously doubt there will be peace without over reaching international attention that is probably not just but necessary for peace. More than likely there will not be peace until the Second Coming.

    Steve, just because someone can see that Israel doen’t have clean hands doesn’t make them bigot. Obviously the Arab groups don’t have clean hands either. I’m not saying that Israel’s policy of you kill one of us we’ll kill 10 of you is not without merit. If I had to live in fear of terrorists I might endorse the same policy. I’m just saying you should not ignore the fact that it takes two to tango.

  36. Heli, just to note, I’m most definitely not calling racist anyone in this discussion. I think it unarguable that many settlers in the disputed territories have racist views of the Palestinians. It’s understandable I think, given the last 50 years of violence. I think that many, if not most, Palestinians share racist views of Jews. To ignore the racist angle on both sides is, I think, to distort the problem we face in deciding an Israel policy.

  37. There is international law, and then there is international law. My understanding is that the rule saying you can’t gain territory in a war you did not start is of the former sort, which is mostly a tissue of fabrications. Not my area of expertise, though.

  38. Clark, maybe you’re right, but I tend to think of them as nationalists. Do Palestinians hate jews in Canada? Or do Israelis hate Palestinians in Australia?

    Maybe you’re right, when I was in the Navy I told a guy from the “South” that racism was stupid and outdated, that I didn’t think there were racists in the USA anymore. He replied that if I had lived among “them” that I would be a racist too. I don’t believe I would, but maybe if I lived in the middle east and had family members killed by the opposition, on either side, I’d hate their race.

    QUESTION: Why do are some born into this world with what appears to be a much harder test? If you are born to Islamic extremists and told you can receive salvation in the next life and make life better for your family here, how much more difficult is their decision than my decision not to get angry at the guy who cuts me off in traffic?

  39. The strength of international law is directly proportional to the number of countries you will anger and the degree to which you will anger them. Countries will not jepordize their national security unless the reward appears attainable and worthwhile.

    The USA follows most international laws so long as the statement above applies.

  40. Dear All,

    Once again the original point that “international law” was going to be used as a stick to beat Israel with has been discarded. Bye to that, Clark.

    Then we go to “racist” Jews and their views. Can we do a survey on the LDS views on Blacks?

    Then we go to the wall – can we figure out how to stop daily rocket attacks and the suicide bombers? A wall on the US border good – a wall to stop Arab terror bad.

    The Arabs are killing their own children through terror bombings in Iraq. Can we expect them to be any more “caring” in Israel?

    Israel’s interest is to settle. But, settle with whom, North Dakota?The Arabs’ interest is to keep the kettle boiling. Pretty soon, the original Arabs displaced because their attempt to kill the Jews in 1948 failed will be all dead. Until how many generations will the UN pay them refugee allowances? Yes, they’re being paid to this day in Lebanon, Jordan, and how many other surrounding countries. They’re being paid with Western funds, your funds , while the oil rich arab countries pay for weapons.

    But, of course, Israel is “inflexible”

    emanuel appel

  41. “The Arabs are killing their own children through terror bombings in Iraq. Can we expect them to be any more ‘caring’ in Israel?”

    I’m sorry, when you take a whole race, and lump them into the category of “terrorist” i don’t know how you can escape being called racist. The following quote is from the Congressional Quarterly’s 10th edition of “The Middle East”, published in 2005.

    On the 1949 Armistice Agreement: “At first the clashes were triggered by Palestinian villagers on one side of the armistice line whose lands and crops had ended up on the Israeli side of the unofficially established border. For much of the 1950’s, the “infiltrators” were civilians who wanted to check on their property. Thousands of them were killed by Israeli forces.” Would you be angry if your dad was shot because he went to look at his olive trees?

    “Israel’s interest is to settle”: First, Israel is not a monolithic entity. If you mean that some ISraeli’s interests are to build settlements in the West Bank, some ISraeli’s interests are to have a peace agreement, and some ISraeli’s interests are whatever it takes to have security regardless of what that does to the Palestinians, then yes I agree with you.

    My 90% stat came from a class on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict taught here at BYU. And while I don’t deny that the state of ISrael has something to do with prophecy, I am too aware of what Israel has done to be able to endorse it any more than I can the Palestinians.

    On the wall:

    The wall could lead to the disintegration of ISrael’s jewish character because the wall necessarily brings a lot of Palestinians into ISraeli land. Since everything inside the wall will be Palestine, and everything outside of the wall will be ISrael, Israel will essentially annex a few hundred thousand Palestinians, and more if they continue the current plan of the wall. At the same time, it leaves some Jewish settlements inside the wall. If Israel wants to remain a democracy and jewish, it will be impossible: hundreds of thousands of Muslim and Christian Palestinians will either be able to vote in Israeli and create a significant bloc, or else they will not be accorded a vote and Israel will stop being a liberal democracy. At the same time, if they give equal rights to the ISraelis living within the wall, then they will have to give the same rights to their Palestinian neighbors living down the hill (or not give them equal rights and stop being democratic). So either Israel will stop being democratic, stop being totally Jewish, or will have to stop its plan with the wall.

    On the Wall and Security:

    Building a prison (prison is the word used in the Congressional Quarterly book; it’s not just radicals who call it that) around the West Bank is a short-term bandaid that will probably result in much greater violence than what happened in the Al-Aqsa intifada. The wall addresses the symptoms and not the problem itself; the wall will only create stronger anti-israeli sentiment among the Palestinians, and especially among the more moderate Palestinians who have worked for peace and had some confidence in the other side. You cannot contain hatred indefinitely; eventually it gets out. BUt if you work together, the hatred can go away. I recognize the idealism of that, but it’s the only way things will work.

    Do I think the charities and hospitals and love Hamas has shared with Palestinians justifies suicide bombings? No. But I wasn’t surprised when they won the elections and I don’t believe that refusing to talk with them is the way to make them more moderate. and Clark i have heard many people turn your argument around, “Surely a group that spends almost all of its energy, time, and money to take care of its neighbours cannot be called a terrorist group simply because it has a faction that resists the occupation of its land, the depredation of its people, and fights for self-determination in the only way it knows how.”

    And Israel is still occupying. No one can deny that; it’s what international law says. Israel has done all it can to shift the blame on Palestinians, but the fact of the matter is that neither side has kept its agreements. In the most recent Intifada, only 960 Israelis have died. Over 3,400 have died as a result of the Intifada in Palestine. That includes suicide bombers, and children throwing rocks at ISraeli souldiers who were consequently gunned down by rifles. I don’t think a suicide bombing is more ugly than a soldier shooting a child.

    I am not pro-Palestinian, nor am I anti-Israeli. But I feel that too many mormons have blindly accepted what American media has told them about the Arab-Israeli conflict. I feel like too many mormons think that the state of Israel is equivalent to the return of Israel. I hope to balance the argument.

  42. I’ve got to say I think the biggest violator of international law lately is the USA. For example, at the same time we are comlaining about Iran enriching uranium within their rights according to the NPT, we are openly violating the agreement we made with the NPT to disarm and not test new weapons etc. We also openly support Israel (who is not a signator to the NPT) with their 200 nuclear warheads (illegal according to post WWII agreements) and think we have some kind of moral authority to command Iran to cease their nuclear activity?

  43. Emanuel,

    First LDS people are not racist against blacks. I go to church with several black people and the are accepted and encouraged to attend. Did you see the recent Church News showing 4 black bishops on the east coast?

    Back to Palestinians, can you walk in their shoes and understand how they feel?

    Do you deny that the Palestinians have any reason to oppose Israel’s plan?

    Does Israel have legitimate ownership of the land they seized in retaliation? Did the USSR have a legitimate claim to the “buffer” land they seized incase Germany rose again? I know these issues are not simple and never will be.

    As for the wall it sounds like potentially the only solution and if Palestinians don’t want to have waiting periods at checkpoints they can tell their friends and family members not to use suicide bombing as a method of diplomacy.

    And Israel should allow more methods of diplomacy in the region. Encourage people working in the system by allowing a system they can work in. I’m not saying they should allow all the refugees, but they should do more to encourage a system that legitimately addresses concerns of the Palistinian people.

  44. Nicely put pneal,
    I’m afraid that most of us use the US media for the main source of our information on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which is very problematic. I agree that a soldier killing a child is at least as ugly as a suicide bombing and yet, it is the suicide bombings that get all of the media attention while the children that are shot inside of UN elementary schools by Israeli fire get no media attention here.
    The current Israeli solution to Hamas is to withhold (nice term for “steal”) money they owe to the Palestinians until Hamas is booed out of power due to the hardship created by the resulting budget shortfall. Economic sanctions such as these are not recognized for the terrible violence they enact upon a population. If Iraq is a model for the effects of sanctions on a population, the Palestinians that suffer will be the weak and the most vulnerable, young children. It will then serve to strengthen Hamas’s hand as the people unite against the brutal violence of sanctions perpetrated by Israel and the USA.

  45. pneal S., I think you may be cherry picking a bit here. You can’t make sense of an isolated incident such as the Armistice (and perhaps you were only answering someone else’s inquiry–I don’t know) with out viewing within the broad context of history between the Jews and the Palestinians begining circa 1880.

  46. Jack,

    I agree with you–it was in response to a previous comment about violence in the 50s. In my first comment I said that to understand the whole thing you have to understand early 1900s zionism, the sykes-picot agreement, the Balfour declaration, the 1930s white papers, etc.

  47. Dear All

    Regarding the label “racist”
    This is term has been hijacked by the Left to label anyone with whom they disagree. If I observe a common quality of a group and mention it, it’s not racism but common sense. I would like to point out that no group’s hands are clean since I can cite historical bias by the LDS re certain groups and the reverse is true also. The LDS church was, in turn, persecuted. If a group in living under war conditions, how can one focus on hard attitudes re the enemy? What was your previous attitude re Blacks, Indians, and the outside society? On the other hand,you settled in Utah not because you liked skiing and mountain biking.

    Re the nonsense written about Arab guerillas in the early period of Israel’s history – it’s patent nonsense that armed guerillas were crossing the border “to check on thier olive groves”. They left dead israelis behind.
    It’s the height of malice and naivete to believe that in light of current events. The difference is that now the US can see what these people are like. If I said that Mexicans are crossing the border to check their stock portfolios, would I be credible? Let’s not insult each other’s intelligence.

    Let me say for those who rely on a class at BYU re this matter- you are being indoctrinated, not educated. The stuff you bring out is laughable.

    Re the objection to the wall as having a bad demographic effect on Israel. Let Israel decide her demographics. It’s laughable that a pathetic attempt at self defense – a wall – gets the arabs and their sympathizers so mad. Why? Because it stalls their plan to kill Jews. Because they can see that they won’t conquer Israel.

    Can I feel how the Arabs feel? It’s cruel and insensitive to ask that in the middle of a war when your friends and relatives are there blown to bits. The arabs are never asked that, only the victims. Why is that?

    ON the occupation – those who use the term “international law” and “occupation” to describe the consequence of the Arabs losing their attempt to kill the Jews are accomplices to genocide. If you are engaged in a hand to hand struggle with a killer and I stand to the side urging you to let go of the one one trying to cut your throat, I’m his accomplice.

    Can you see Mexico being in Israel’s position and not cutting the throats of most of the Arabs? If you say “no”, you’re not in touch with reality. Israel is holding a homicidal maniac by the throat trying to convince him to stop. A normal nation would have driven them out a long time ago. Is there a Comanche threat, a Ute threat? I hope you get my point and don’t use “It was a long time ago” argument.

    The Arabs have rejected the Two State Solution through their election of hamas. Fine. Don’t lecture the target and don’t use “international law” to push for genocide.

  48. Pneal (#42) Clark i have heard many people turn your argument around, “Surely a group that spends almost all of its energy, time, and money to take care of its neighbours cannot be called a terrorist group simply because it has a faction that resists the occupation of its land, the depredation of its people, and fights for self-determination in the only way it knows how.”

    As they say, a little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf. The obvious rejoinder is that if terrorism is “the only way it know how” they ought educate themselves more.

    Curtis (#43) and think we have some kind of moral authority to command Iran to cease their nuclear activity?

    That seems a different topic. Even if you believe that I’d simply note that Bush wisely let the EU negotiate with Iran. They had no better luck. But I can certainly see nations thinking there is a double standard. Why should Britain or France have nuclear weapons when they can’t. However this just goes to show (IMO) why most of the international theory of law based upon nations as individuals is silly. If moral authority is based upon a kind of libertarian political theory where nations are akin to people then that moral authority is illegitimate. (IMO)

    I agree that a soldier killing a child is at least as ugly as a suicide bombing and yet, it is the suicide bombings that get all of the media attention while the children that are shot inside of UN elementary schools by Israeli fire get no media attention here.

    I decry the death of children. But if you think strapping a bomb on your chest and blowing up a school bus is morally equivalent to a bunch of teenagers attacking soldiers with slings then I’m not sure much conversation is possible.

    The current Israeli solution to Hamas is to withhold (nice term for “steal”) money they owe to the Palestinians..

    Actually this is something I agree with Israel on. The money was part of the Oslo accord. If Hamas won’t even recognize Israel why on earth should they give Hamas the money? Further they aren’t stealing it. They are putting it in an escrow account until Hamas at least decides to stop calling for the utter destruction of Israel.

  49. It’s like a bunch of babies in the play room crying “not fair, not fair!” Iran should thank it’s luck stars for the “double standard” because Israel will, no doubt, do what ever is necessary to insure its own survival.

  50. Dear Jack,

    I cannot put it better than what you’ve said.
    Thank you all for your hospitality

    emanuel appel

  51. Clark,

    A palestinian strapping a bomb to his chest and blowing up a bus is the moral equivalent of an Israeli soldier shooting children–which is what i was decrying. not slingshots.


    I think you’ve damaged your own credibility and your viewpoint much more more than any argument i’ve put forward. But it is true that no armed guerillas crossed the border to check on their olive groves; it was just farmers checking their land, thousands of whom were shot by Israeli soldiers.

    I think international law is generally a farce; used by some states to criticize others when there is disagreement over policy, or even as an excuse for invasion, but also conveniently sidetracked or ignored when powerful countries want to.

    Anyway, I feel like this particular board has gotten sour and that I’m responsible for some of that so apologies for any sour feelings to all. I stand by the assertion that too many LDS people are drastically ignorant of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: its history, its causes, the abuses on the side of the Israelis, and all the implications.

  52. Clark,
    I’m kind of confused here. I said:

    I agree that a soldier killing a child is at least as ugly as a suicide bombing and yet, it is the suicide bombings that get all of the media attention while the children that are shot inside of UN elementary schools by Israeli fire get no media attention here.

    Then you answered:

    I decry the death of children. But if you think strapping a bomb on your chest and blowing up a school bus is morally equivalent to a bunch of teenagers attacking soldiers with slings then I’m not sure much conversation is possible.

    I never said that teenagers attacking soldiers with slings was morally equivalent to a suicide bomber blowing up a school bus. I’m not sure where you got that from. What I intended to say was what I actually said in the above quote. Too often I hear of children walking to school and being killed by Israeli soldiers when they accidently got too close to a check point or there have been more than a few incidences of Israeli gunfire finding it’s way into a UN elementary school and killing kids.
    A side note here, I’ve never heard of a suicide bomber blowing up a school bus. I’ve heard of public transportation busses being blown up, but never of a school bus. If you know of such an occurence please let me know. The only school bus I’ve heard of being blown up was the guy we had running Iraq for awhile who used to work for the CIA in disrupting Saddam’s rule who bombed a school bus in Iraq in the 90’s.
    I’m probably mistaken since I don’t know you at all, but it seems like you are trying to marginalize me as pretty fringe and therefore, not worthy of conversation when you say things like, “…then I’m not sure much conversation is possible.” Forgive me since I am most likely wrong. I’m sure you don’t mean to give offense.

  53. Politically here is where I am:

    I am offended by the notion of a religious or ethnic state. The Middle East is full of them … including Israel. So stepping back a bit I ask which state offers the most protection for the rights of all of its citizens? The answer is Israel hands down. There is no doubt that Israel conquered, diplomatically, economically and yes militarily a pice of the Middle east. They will have to hold it by all thise means. The only cause that can tip me to the Palestinians is their respect for individual rights. I will not hold my breath waiting for Muslims to do this.

  54. Curtis #53

    I’m probably mistaken since I don’t know you at all, but it seems like you are trying to marginalize me as pretty fringe and therefore, not worthy of conversation when you say things like, “…then I’m not sure much conversation is possible.”

    Curtis #43

    I’ve got to say I think the biggest violator of international law lately is the USA.

    Curtis, I cannot speak for Clark, but as long as you fail to see that the subject at hand is Israel, not your continued attempts to assail US policy, there will not be much conversation possible. I would respectfully ask you to stick to the topic.

  55. Someone stated “A palestinian strapping a bomb to his chest and blowing up a bus is the moral equivalent of an Israeli soldier shooting children–which is what i was decrying. not slingshots.”

    Think about the hate when someone kills himself to have the pleasure of killing someone like your aunt or cousin out shopping. A soldier in uniform, as in Iraq, defending himself against guerillas and surrounded by civilians has to defend himself. If civilians die, that’s called war and a war started by the Arabs. To complain that you get beat up after you start a fight is despicable.

    Israeli civilians in the urban areas , including children going to school, use the city buses. There was also a deliberate targeting of children in the past. For example

    On May 8, 1970 there was a brutal attack on an Israeli school bus by Palestinian terrorists who crossed the Lebanese border.

    Avivim, an agricultural community established in 1963, is just metres from the border with Lebanon. Settled and built from the ground up by Moroccan immigrants, the majority of the residents belonged to one of two families; Peretz or Biton. The local council bus picked up children each morning to take them to two schools.

    The terrorists knew the schedule of the bus and were able to ambush it. They fired on the bus, killing the adults instantly. The bus driver continued until he himself was shot. Then the bus crashed, injuring many of the remaining children. The attack caused the death of 9 children (aged between six and nine) and 3 adults, and left 19 others crippled for life.

    In the 1950’s hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed by guerrilla raids. This continual activity ( against International Law 🙂 ) led to the 1956 Suez Campaign.

    Around 1914, Panch Villa raided Columbus , New Mexico resulting in American deaths. This resulted in a full fledged expedition into Mexico that lasted 6 months. So, what about international law?

    Israel as an ethnic state – some here don’t like it. If so, Spain, Ireland, Iraly, France are also objectionable since they’re ethnic states.
    And a Palestinian State along with every other state in the Middle East – aren’t they arab ethnic States?

    For Arab or Moslem sympathizers, consistency and logic don’t play well; just dead Jews.

  56. Emanuel, I have generally remained silent on this thread because it’s a very complex debate with many nuances. A few comments:
    1) I don’t believe in the argument that Israel has violated international law (and I am somewhat skeptical of the principle of international law in the first place).
    2)Even if we were to believe in international law, it cannot be considered just in an environment that includes Cuba, Syria, Iran and other terrorist states passing judgement on states like Israel.
    3)Israel’s behavior has not been perfect since its founding, but there is no moral equivalency between Israeli behavior, which does not deliberately target civilians, and Palestinian terrorist behavior, which does.
    4)It is fascinating to read Deuteronomy and Joshua with current Middle Eastern politics in mind.

  57. Dear Geoff,

    Re reading the Hebrew Bible
    My interest in history comes from the fact that there are patterns that repeat themselves in human history. The challenge is to absorb and figure out a good course of action.

    There’s a difference in attitude depending on the reader’s background. To me, it’s like reading about Washington crossing the Delaware and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It’s the living , breathing record of the Jews and their meeting with God. Similarly, every other “holy book” is the record of a particular nation “meeting with God”.

    I do not turn the page with a trembling hand. Similarly, every major figure in Israel’s history is a combination of sin and rectitude. My attitude to say, Moses or David, is not at all like the Moslem attitude to Mohamed. The two gentlemen had good and bad policies. I won’t whitewash them. They’re human beings with all the frailties and I can certainly paint or cartoon them without going insane.

  58. Emanuel, you might be interested to hear that most Mormons I know would agree with everything you write in #58. We, too, recognize that prophets are human beings who frailities. In fact, Moses is specifically described as a flawed figure to bring out his very humanity. The same applies to modern-day prophets as well.

  59. Geoff,

    Please note in the original post there was this statement:

    So what should we do? Can international law have any teeth when most European nations and the US violate it rather regularly. (Meaning international law broadly to include trade agreements) What brings these nations back to the table? Fear of trade sanctions. When even the first world in practice treats international law so pragmatically, is it wrong to ask Israel to act differently.

    As such, a discussion of US violation of international law IS in the scope of this discussion and I would respectfully ask you read the original post before asking me respectful things

  60. dear Curtis,

    If one lived under a world government, one could talk about “international law”. We don’t. We have “international agreements” between sovereign states.

    All talk about “international law” has behind it the aim to curtail American sovereignty or some other nation’s sovereignty.

    Usually, these cries come from the ex- Soviet Bloc, Libya, or terror states who are the first to protest their inability to kill by citing “international law”

  61. Curtis (#53), the point I was making is that a soldier either accidentally killing a child or killing a child in self defense is fundamentally different from intentionally targeting children. Hamas doesn’t recognize that distinction and from your comments you still don’t recognize that distinction. That is, to me, such a huge distinction that it renders conversation fairly difficult if we can’t agree upon it.

    As for the school bus bombing here is one link. I found numerous others to similar bombings. That attack was in 1998. I found an other attack in 2000 and several others.

    Now let me ask you. Do you think that a fundamentally immoral intent?

  62. Geoff, I think Curtis is right that international law is pretty central to the discussion. I think US, Russian, European, and Chinese frequent ignoring of international law is significant as well since it raises the question of whether international law really is international law. (i.e. both its justification and grounds) I think it clear Israel is up against international law but the question then becomes, “so what?” Is international law just in this case?

    One more thing to add to my previous point. Whereas in one sense intents clearly matter in an other sense they don’t. I would be heartbroken if my son died accidentally in a car accident, was accidentally shot by a police officer trying to apprehend a criminal or was murdered intentionally by a serial killer. But clearly the morality of each situation is different.

  63. Clark,
    I can see what you are saying. Completely understandable…. if one forgets that Israel is occupying Palestinian land. Since it is an occupation, the occupying force has a strict responsibility (under the much maligned in this post international law) for the safety of the inhabitants of said occupied land. Now, resistance against an occupation is also perfectly legal and is a recognized right under the UN Charter. Therefore, teenagers that throw rocks are performing a legal action and then are killed by an occupying army who shouldn’t be there in the first place… let alone all of the stray bullets or purposefully placed bullets that have killed bystanders or children in UN classrooms. I certainly cannot give this action much of a score on the morality scale. Then there is the fact that alot more Palestinians, including children, have been killed by Israeli military than Israelis, including children, have been killed by suicide bombers (pneal provided some nice statistics above).

    I must say though, that it is utterly, morally repugnant to bomb a school bus. I had not been aware of the incidents linked to above. I shall leave the readers to judge for themselves where each side stands on the moral scales.

    As for economic sanctions which are destined to kill more children than have been killed up to now, with hunger, poor medical treatment and all of the causes of death under economic terrorism, I must rank this as the most utterly morally reprehensible action of all. I like to remind all of the sanctions in Iraq which killed 500,000 little children under the age of 5 by 1996. The consequences of sanctions are extremely underreported and yet I view them as worse than all the suicide bombings put together. May God have mercy on the souls of the architects of economic terrorism and may he comfort it’s victims.

  64. Curtis, I understand what you are saying if there wasn’t an ongoing state of war. Something the Palestinians have long stated they are in. At best we have a temporary cease fire and not a peace agreement. In that case then rock throwing is an act of attacks and under the laws of war are perfectly open to being shot. We may not like it but that’s the fact.

    You can’t simultaneously claim occupation while simultaneously ignoring the state of war that created the occupation. That’s something that bothers me quite a bit in the discussions. Israel is supposed to act as if it is peacetime, people aren’t trying to kill them all and presumably the standard isn’t a military zone standard but law enforcement during peace time. That’s just an unfair standard to apply to Israel.

    I think Israel has its fair share of blame in things. But trying to pretend there isn’t a war going on doesn’t really make any sense, yet it is a presupposition I frequently hear.

    You can’t say that teenagers have a right to resistance (i.e. war) and then condemn them for being treated accordingly.

    Regarding sanctions, I agree, yet unfortunately International Law and the International Community doesn’t agree. I found sanctions reprehensible in the 90’s, especially since the supposed aid to the people clearly was being abused by Sadaam. That was one of the primary reasons I supported the war. I think sanctions is a way for people to avoid the hard questions and to pretend there isn’t blood on their hands.

    Just to add, I think some assume rock throwing is minor. Serious injuries come from such attacks and people do die. When slings are used they are very potent weapons. Perhaps not as good as a gun. But one should remember that they were a dominant weapon of war for quite some time.

  65. Curtis,

    I think you have to demonstrate that Israel initially invaded a foreign sovereign state in order to use the international law argument to support your claims.

  66. Jack, at a minimum I think most opponents of Israel’s ethical standing appeal to various UN mandates as the international law. The UN demanded that Israel pull back to 1967 borders which Israel refused to do. I believe that the Palestinians have a case there. Even though I understand Israel’s position as well.

    (i.e. why should they pull back during a de facto state of war when their opponents won’t renounce the war)

  67. Dear All,
    The Moslem world has a curious mindset – I hit you but you can’t hit me back, I wage war but you can’t injure me back.

    If any of you had informed Saddam, after he invaded Kuwait, that he had responsibility for the welfare of the Kuwaitis you’d be laughed out of the room. Yet, it’s this silly legalism that the perpetrators always resort to with a straight face along with the most brazen statements – the Holocaust didn’t take place and it’s a Jewish plot.

    IN 1967 Egypt and Jordan waged war against Israel. The “legal” status then was one of Armistice. They had never signed a peace treaty from the hostilities of 1948! If we’re going to “lawyer up”, then the boundaries weren’t fixed and could be moved as a result of war. The boundaries between Jordan, Egypt, and Israel are the present ones. The West Bank and Gaza can be disposed of as Isreal sees fit minus any agreement with the Palestinian Authority. The present one’s agenda (Hamas) is the destruction of Israel. Now, what would a normal American do if you substitute Mexico for the Arabs?

  68. Emanuel, I don’t think that’s fair either. I think that a lot of the Islamic world would just like respect. Yes there is the rise of radical Islam. But that doesn’t make up the majority. Further I think a lot of them (justly) see a double standard between how say European countries are treated versus Islamic ones. I also think that the Arab nations justly question why the Europeans could create Israel. There is a strong reaction against European imperialism that does set an important background that Americans often forget.

  69. Dear Clark,

    Re Respect
    Funny, it’s a term thrown about by the hysterical.
    Respect is EARNED
    Courtesy is assumed by the civilized.
    I have a duty to be civil to you but not respectful. Your actions and your achievements allow me to decide wheather I should respect you. You cannot force me. You can demand civility but basic political rights supercede civility.
    When was the last time the LDS used major violence to force “respect”?

    Re the complaints of the arab world
    This is a classic case of the insane demanding a hearing. This latest clash is merely an attempt to establish Moslem norms in the non Moslem world. For example, if pictures and topics are forbidden to us because it’s offensive to those Moslems who’ve settled in the West, how long before your religious life is compromised?

    The Moslem thinks in terms of conspiracy. His theology, his mindset cannot accept that the Jew has done anything by himself. Israel was not set up by anyone except the Jewish people.

    To help you and others who’d like to know more, I’m enclosing the following link

  70. Assume for a moment the Palestinians surrender unconditionally. What would a surrender/peace agreement look like?


    1. Would there be a continuation of status quo since 1967, territories continue to be territories, neither incorporated into Greater Israel nor become a separate state?

    2. Would Israel be permitted to continue to establish settlements wherever and whenever it chooses in the West Bank, or even return to Gaza (remembering, hypothetically, if Palestinians had surrendered unilaterally, there would be no security concerns in Gaza)?

    3. Would Palestinians be permitted to vote for members of the Knesset? If not, why not? What authority would the Palestinian Authority have vis a vis the Knesset?


    1. Would Palestinians be permitted to vote in a Greater Israel?

    2. If Palestinians in a one state solution are permitted to vote, what if a majority of total voters vote to end Israel’s status as a Jewish state?

    3. If Palestinians were not permitted to vote, how could Israel claim to be a democracy?


    1. What would the general boundaries be?

    2. In particular, would the settlements be considered part of Greater Israel (remembering, hypothetically that the Palestinians have unconditionally surrendered, and Israel can do what it wants)?

    3. Could Jews live in the Palestinian state? Could Palestinians continue to live in Israel?

    2. How sovereign would the Palestinian state be?

    3. Could it have armed forces, like Israel? Or would it have a constitution like the US imposed on Japan prohibiting nondefensive armed forces?

    4. Could it have an independent foreign policy, or would its foreign policy follow Israel’s (similar to the way Finland’s foreign policy followed the Soviet Union’s during the Cold War)?

    5. What other limitations would be placed on the Palestinian State?

    6. Could Palestinians commute to Israel and work there? Could they immigrate to Israel? Vice versa?


  71. Dear David,
    I make no policy for Israel so why ask me? I can comment on what has happened in the past and the present.
    There’s absolutely no One State Solution unless the arabs defeat Israel.
    There’s an inbalance in Israeli/ Palestinian relations. Israel has permitted an Arab minority hoping to win them over but the Arabs have driven any Jews out of the territories they control.
    It’s amazing to me that you demand work and money for people that would cut my throat. Is that part of the Geneva Convention? It’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. Jews work for Jews and Arabs for Arabs.
    Regarding other questions – if you have Belgium and Holland side by side, no problem. It’s a question of attitude. If you have a homicidal maniac next door, he’s in handcuffs until he calms down.

  72. Emanuel, you are right about respect. I have noticed that respect first requires mutual understanding. Something that unfortunately rarely happens. We prefer to keep our stereotypes. That’s partially what keeps these wars going. (From all sides)

  73. Dear Clark,

    I have a slightly different take on Respect. “Understanding” in my vocabulary implies sympathy to a certain degree. You can observe the mountain lion or the child kidnapper. You can “respect” the damage they do because they’ve “earned” your attention. You can “Understand” the mindset but “understanding” I think is a different thing. I may be nitpicking but I like the dissection of language.

    Academics hate “stereotypes” but I think they throw the baby out with the bathwater. When you notice that icecubes melt, you draw a conclusion. If it happens 100%, it becomes a “law”. If it happens 70%, it becomes a “generalization”.

    The Moslem world has interacted enough with the West so that we can draw conclusions re their culture. If negative, their defenders cry “stereotype”. I think it’s dangerous self delusion

  74. Keep up the good work! Look forward to reading more from you in the future. I think it will be also nice if you add “send to email” tool so people can forward the articles to their friends easily.

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