November 29, 2007

JoshuaPundit Sounds the Horn...

Hatched by Dafydd

Wall fails to tumble; film at 11:00.

I can understand JoshuaPundit devoting an entire, long blogpost to arguing with a recent Big Lizards post; the only wonder is that more bloggers don't do it! After all, if our actual impact on the 'sphere matched our colossal ego, why, the whole wide web would be bristling with pro- and con-lizardly bloguations.

What's a bit puzzling is that he would choose to nominate that particular post for the Watcher's Council award. I think it a bit odd, considering how many of his points against us are not simply wrong but so easily proven wrong by past posting. Seems like such a waste.

After all, regardless of my irritation whenever he goes on a tear after George W. Bush and American foreign policy for being insufficiently pro-Israel and anti-Arab, in fact, I am perfectly capable of voting for JoshuaPundit's posts in first place... even when I'm the only one to do so.

Back to the blog-bate. Let's start with JP's basic, flawed premise... that I think Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is morally wrong, and that's why they should give them up. Says he:

If the Arabs made the choice to attack and lost some territory as a result, it's hardly an injustice or an `occupation'.

But I've never said there was anything wrong with Israel occuping those territories. It's perfectly fine with me. "Occupation" is descriptive, not disparaging.

True, Israeli Jews have no "claim on history" for those territories... but neither do Arab Moslems. I don't support the very idea of historical land claims; I believe land ownership is decided by possession, defense, and development.

Israel possesses those territories now; it has successfully defended them from all comers; and it developed them far beyond what the Arabs ever did (which was, as JP points out, virtually nothing). Ergo, those territories belong, morally and politically, to Israel, to do with as they please.

I suggest they let them go -- not because the world, the Arabs, the Arab-Palestinians, or U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo have any say in the matter, but because it's in Israel's best interest to rid themselves of such pestiferous hellholes.

In the same piece in which I recommended pulling out of Gaza and the West Bank (this is more than two years ago, back when I was a guest blogger on Captain's Quarters), I also recommended treating any further aggression from either place -- under Arab rule -- as one would treat similar military attack from Syria, Egypt, Iran, or any other country: With overwhelming retaliation.

In fact, I predicted that's what Israel would do after Hamas took over and launched an attack. I was right on 2/3rds of that prediction: Hamas took over; they, in concert with Hezbollah, launched an attack; but Israel fought a lousy, half-hearted war and -- while they didn't lose, exactly, they certainly didn't win, exactly, either. (In my defense, I had no idea Ariel Sharon would go and have a stroke, leaving a buffoon like Ehud Olmert in charge.)

I can only quote Larry Niven again: "Not responsible for advice not taken."

Somehow, this doesn't seem to jibe with JoshuaPundit's analysis of my psyche:

The main premise of people like Big Lizards is that appeasement of the Arabs and enfranchising the Palestinians will lead to peace in the region. The sad reality is that the Arabs are mainly concerned with weakening Israel so as to speed its demise...and what's more, they've never made a secret of it.

I blink and wonder if we have a deranged, blogospheric identity-thief slithering around using the name Bum Gizzards or somesuch.

But no; the most likely explanation is that, like many who take an extreme position, JoshuaPundit simply cannot imagine a person disagreeing with him -- unless that person is a mendacious villain or the dupe of mendacious villains. It never occurs to him that I may have a unique position on the Israeli-"Palestinian" situation, one that doesn't fit into the standard range somewhere between that of Mier Kahane and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Had Israel chosen to formally annex Gaza and the West Bank, then ethnically cleanse all the Arabs out and encourage Israeli Jews to flood the lands... I would have had no problem with that. That, at least, would have been a workable solution. But given the fecklessness of what they have done (or rather, failed to do), it's completely unworkable to maintain an occupation of a hostile population with access to outside agencies who can arm them... as the Brits discovered to their chagrin in India and elsewhere. Since there is now no option of annexation and repopulation, best let them go -- but defend the bloody borders a hell of lot better than we've seen so far.

Another major faux pas was committed by "Freedom Fighter" (aside from his studied refusal to use my name, Dafydd ab Hugh, despite the fact that it's easily discoverable from (a) reading the top and bottom byline on every post, and (b) clicking the "Who are these 'Big Lizards' guys anyway?" link found in the right sidebar of every page on Big Lizards). Steadily, and throughout, FF mistakenly assumes that I also want Israel to give up East Jerusalem:

This blogger [he means us] goes on and makes the point that Israel never annexed Judea, Samaria or East Jerusalem and therefore has no claim. He's incorrect when it comes to East Jerusalem....

Well, that blogger is incorrect when he claims I said Israel has no claim on East Jerusalem. The full annexation of East Jerusalem would not only be the most easily justifiable annexation Israel could make, I actually think it would be a good idea. It would make it clear to the world that Jerusalem would never be divided, nor would ever become the capital of a second Palestinian state.

But he keeps throwing East Jerusalem into the mix, perhaps to make us look like Israel-haters or even worse... Mearsheimerites; e.g.:

He then further states that Jews were never a majority of the population in Judea, Samaria or East Jerusalem and that these areas always had a majority Arab population....

As we never said a word about East Jerusalem (or West, South, or North Jerusalem; read our post), this seems a bit thick. I have no idea where he got such a notion; I certainly never said any such a thing; nor do I believe it. And not only do I think Israel should annex East Jerusalem, I also totally opposed the withdrawal from the Lebanon security zone north of the border... and I still think it was a bad idea. And Israel should hang onto the Golan Heights until the cows come home to roost.

(That grinding noise you hear is the sound of Freedom Fighter's head spinning around like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist, as he tries to squeeze the Lizardly white paper on Israel into the narrow confines of his imaginative suitcase.)

Of course, none of JoshuaPundit's claims about my ignorance of Israel's history are accurate; but that's just my assertion... I can't prove it. Though I'm sure I've made references here and there through the years that would demonstrate at least a grasp of the main points -- for example, that Jews had purchased a lot of land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem prior to the establishment of the modern nation of Israel... which Freedom Fighter seems to believe is news to me.

Then there are some claims of his that are simply tedious in their attempt to divert the debate from what we actually wrote to a cockamamie caricature of what we wrote. For one example (among many), we published the following:

As you may have guessed by now, "Freedom Fighter" at JP is one of those Israel boosters (I don't know where he posts from, here or there) who is so wrought up in the battle that he considers George W. Bush -- the most pro-Israeli president America has ever had -- to be Israel's enemy.

JP seizes upon one line there and twists it to make us sound like Borat-style "throw the Jew down the well" antisemites:

Big Lizards starts out by referring to me as `one of those Israel boosters' and wonders whether I'm posting `from here ( meaning the US) or there'(meaning Israel). I hate to disillusion anyone, but this site does not originate from Mossad headquarters, and there's no `dual loyalty' or question of my patriotism involved here.

Freedom Fighter... just as a frolic, perhaps you could try -- taking me literally? Dude, there is nothing on your blog indicating your nationality or where you post from. Perhaps if I read every post assiduously, I would spot something... but for all I know, you could be the heir to the principality of Monaco and posting from your winter castle in the island of Fernando Póo (now called Bioko Equatorial Guinea). You have a Blogger blog; you don't seem to list your real name anywhere (or perhaps I just haven't found it); I don't recall you mentioning identifying information in any of the posts of yours I've read.

The only clue I see is that your main banner includes an American bald eagle nibbling on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ear... but that might just be political commentary -- a Swiftian "modest proposal" for simultaneously ridding the world of its number-one terrorist and also providing a meal for an endangered species.

Regardless of one's position on the disposition of the West Bank (of the Jordan River) and the Gaza Strip -- or as Freedom Fighter would say, Judea, Samaria, and, ah, the Gaza Strip, I guess -- the central analogy of the JoshuaPundit post, that Gaza and the West Bank are to Israel as California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are to the United States, is inappropriate and silly. The distinctions far overwhelm any superficial similarities.

The most basic one is easy to spot: The United States does not rule over any hostile populace. No seething, terrorist populations that hate us with a passion. No territories held by force, when the majority living there would rather die to kill an American than live with the thought that we live as well.

In reality, the Palestinian-flavored Arabs hate Jews and love death more than they love life, even the lives of their children. And that's not my prejudice talking... they proudly announce it themselves.

Americans are sensitive plants. The moment there is any hint of disharmony among even 30% of the population of some territory we frequent, we immediately saddle the campfire, pee on the horses, and up stakes for warmer climes. We know when we're not wanted! The only exceptions I can think of are Afghanistan, Iraq, and of course, the Civil War... though the first two are short-term fights that we'll soon win, ending with far less than the magic 30% figure; and in the last, there was a moral principle involved: abolishing slavery.

One cannot find 30% of the population in the four American border states demanding to be returned to Mexico. One cannot fine 3%. One cannot even find 0.03%. In fact, not even 0.03% of the Hispanic population of those states. The entire membership of MeCHA that really wants those states to be swallowed up by Mexico as the state of "Aztlan" would probably fit into the Whiskey A-Go-Go nightclub.

While in the Israeli-occupied territories, the percent of the population that wants to be free of Israel and judenrein is, oh, about 100%. That's a pretty significant distinction between the analogy and the analogized!

That was the point of our earlier post; I have no idea what was the point of Freedom Fighter's post, other than a cri de cœur arising from generalized angst. But what the heck; read what we wrote, then read the JoshuaPundit post, and form your own opinion which of us is more convincing.

I'm all eyes...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 29, 2007, at the time of 4:04 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Freedom Fighter

Thank you for your clarification and expansion on certain issues.I don't disagree with you that Israel has been feckless and frankly stupid about pursuing its national interests.

And I care about that because I think that Israel is an important ally of America, and a major front in the war we're engaged in.

I think people can read your original post and make up their own minds as to whether I misread you, based on your original post ..which is why I linked to it.

Based on that , I still stand by what I wrote. And again,this was not designed as a personal slam, but for purposes of clarity and to bring information into the debate that often gets left out...particularly when one starts using language like `occupation' which is demonstrably incorrect.

I hope you took it in that spirit, and am sorry for any personal distress this may have caused you.

The above hissed in response by: Freedom Fighter [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 9:02 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Freedom fighter,

You've done a outstanding job of alienating potential friends and allies. Your post doesn't help much - even a cursory reading of this site shows that you are way off base. But I think you know all this. Instead of standing by your post, how about simply issuing a simple Emily Latella "Oh....never mind...."

As to the term "occupation", sorry, but Dafydd is historically and grammatically correct on his use of the term. If Israel had annexed the West Bank, it would not be occupation, just as Israel does not occupy the Golan Heights, and the U.S does not occupy California. But when your troops are stationed on territory that all parties agree does not belong to you, against the will of the local populace, what the hell else you going to call it?

There are much better uses for your time and energy. Time to move along.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 10:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea

Dafydd, I am shocked and appalled and dismayed and several other things at the rampant inaccuracy of your above piece.

The bald eagle was taken off the list of endangered species some time ago.

It is still protected under its own law, but it no longer falls under the Endangered Species Act.

I demand you correct this glaring falsehood immediately, or I shall denounce you further.

(Other than that, spot on.)


The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 2:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Jay Tea:

The bald eagle was taken off the list of endangered species some time ago.

I can go back to barbecuing them?

Freedom Fighter:

I hope you took it in that spirit, and am sorry for any personal distress this may have caused you.

FF, I live to argue. That's my favorite aspect of what I presume to be our shared Jewish culture, though I'm a completely secular Jew.

Jews will argue with anybody -- even God!

The entire Jewish intellectual culture, in all its major branches, is organized around intelligent disputation. That's why there are so many Jewish scientists, doctors, professors, lawyers, and other professionals, and why we've influenced the course of the world staggeringly far beyond our numbers: More than half the world's population believes in a religion that had its origins as some passionate argument against Judaism. <G>


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 3:37 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye


I think you are very reasonable on this subject. I wish more people were.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 4:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: Fat Man

"No seething, terrorist populations that hate us with a passion. No territories held by force, when the majority living there would rather die to kill an American than live with the thought that we live as well."

Berkeley CA? Cambridge MA? Upper Left Side of Manhattan NY?

The above hissed in response by: Fat Man [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 5:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bookworm

I'm sorry to say, Dafydd, that I have to second Fat Man in saying that you made a truly gross misstatement in your post regarding the United States ruling over a hostile populace. Clearly, you have never been to San Francisco or Berkeley. I suggest you edit your text immediately to correct your erroneous statement.

Otherwise, I find you talk common sense -- and I say that as a rapidly partisan supporter of Israel. My parents were part of Israel's founding, and I take violent umbrage at the Muslims and Arabs who talk "peace" out of one side of their mouths while simultaneously informing all who will listen, in Arabic, that the sands should run red with Jewish blood, while any surviving Jews should be run into the sea. Indeed, the one good thing about Ahmadinejad is that he at least does not dissemble for the West, but simply says what all other Muslims, especially Arab Muslims, already think.

I also don't think the Palestinians comprise a nation that requires a state, and I don't just say that because their experiments in semi-statehood have been bloody and violent failures. I also don't say that based on looking back Biblically. I'm just looking at 20th Century history. Whether you examine the League of Nations division, which gave the Arabs Jordon where no Jordan existed before, or the 1947 partition, the Arabs got land -- indeed, if you look at Jordan, they got lots of it. The thing is, like a toddler, they don't want the land they got; they want the land the Jews got. And they've got the Koran telling them that it is completely appropriate to slaughter the Jews to get that land. It may be okay with the Koran, but it's not okay with me.

So, that's my position in terms of what's fair and what's right, and who is good and who is bad. Having said that, however, you're absolutely right that Israel got a tiger by the tail when she took on the territories in the 1960s and, at that moment, created neither an enemy nation she could fight, nor a complete possession she could own. Instead, she created a festering wound. Indeed, when Sharon disengaged from Gaza, I was glad because, for the first time, Israel had an enemy nation she could fight. Easier to fight the tiger than to try to hold on to it.

I'll stop now, because I'm just starting to repeat your points, but I did want to correct your naive belief that America is not occupying hostile territory.

The above hissed in response by: Bookworm [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 9:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

This may be a little off topic but:

Last week I spoke with someone who is Jewish, belongs to two Jewish organizations (whatever this means) who made the point that he is Jewish but definately not a Zionist.

He also insisted that the Iraq war was a Zionist war but he could not explain how.

Any comments?

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2007 4:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


He also insisted that the Iraq war was a Zionist war but he could not explain how.

Any comments?

Nope; makes no sense to me. There are some Jews like that; look at Tikkun editor Michael Lerner, Hillary's spiritual mentor (not counting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Bear; I'm kidding... I have no idea if she were taken in by the Maharishi, as the Beatles were).


Heh... I lived in Santa Cruz for five years, attending UC Santa Cruz as a mathematics major. Believe me, I know from loony lefties! Ours are even loopier than those in Berzerkely.

Remind me to tell you about the Praying Mantis Women's Brigade and Nikki Craft someday.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2007 4:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Davod


Yesterday, I saw a documentary on the Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor. An insider (Famous guy, I cannot remember his name) said that Reagan's response was "Boys will be boys".

Haig and this guy also advised that,at a White House meeting held the day after the attack, there were only two people voicing vociferous objections to the attack, the VP George Bush, and James Baker.

For me, it puts the constant Baker/Hamilton
lets get everyone involved mantra in perspective. It does not auger well for the outcome of the talks at Annapolis.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2007 6:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Milhouse

The full annexation of East Jerusalem would not only be the most easily justifiable annexation Israel could make, I actually think it would be a good idea. It would make it clear to the world that Jerusalem would never be divided, nor would ever become the capital of a second Palestinian state.
Really? Then how is it that Israel did so 40 years ago, and it seems that it has not had this effect, even on supporters such as you?

The above hissed in response by: Milhouse [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 3, 2007 1:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I was a little surprised by your claim, never having heard such an unequivocal declaration before that Israel had fully annexed East Jerusalem; particularly since Israel itself doesn't act as if it believes that to be the case.

So I looked in Wikipedia; while I fully acknowledge the risk of using that site as any sort of authority (considering its provenance), this article does seem relatively unbiased, at least giving both sides.

According to the site, prior to the Six-Day War in 1967, Jordan controlled (legally or illegally) EJ. After 1967, Israel controlled it militarily.

Wikipedia links to a U.N. site of correspondence anent EJ. When the Arabs complained to the U.N. that Israel had annexed "Old Jerusalem," the Israeli Foreign Minister responded:

On 29 June 1967, replying to charges that legislation of the previous day amounted to the annexation of Old Jerusalem, Israel's Foreign Minister stated that the administrative legislation contained no new political statement but was concerned exclusively with the urgent necessities of repairing the ravages and dislocations arising from the previous division of the city and the hostilities, and assuring all inhabitants equal municipal services.

That same personage later added:

The term "annexation" used by supporters of the General Assembly's resolution of 4 July was out of place since, he stated, the measures adopted related to the integration of Jerusalem in the administrative and municipal spheres and furnished a legal basis for the protection of the Holy Places.

So I think we can agree that from 1967 to 1980, Israel itself did not consider East Jerusalem to have been formally annexed to Israel.

Ergo, the annexation claim rests on whether Israel's 1980 "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel," which declared Jerusalem to be "complete and united" and "the capital of Israel," was actually a valid annexation document.

Wikipedia sources a liberal Israeli scholar, Ian Lustick, who wrote an article in 1997 titled "Has Israel Annexed East Jerusalem?" which argues that they have not -- because the Basic Law intentionally refrained from defining any boundaries.

A country cannot "annex" a vaguely defined geographic area; an annexation law must precisely define the territory to be annexed, so that everyone knows what is inside and what is outside: For example, does the annexation include only that part of East Jerusalem that is part of Old Jerusalem, or does it include the modern suburbs? Where does the annexation draw the line? (Answer: It doesn't.)

Bear in mind that Lustick opposes annexation and follows the Labor line that Israel should trade "land for peace" (that is, the West Bank, Gaza, and especially East Jerusalem for vague promises from the Palestinian-Arabs that they won't launch another intifada for a few weeks). But unless you are prepared to argue with evidence that Lustick is lying about the legislative history of the Basic Law, his point still stands -- regardless of what side he is on.

This is what Lustick says about the Basic Law:

This legislation began as a private bill advanced by Geula Cohen, who left Menachem Begin's Herut party in protest against the Camp David accords. In her original version, the Bill declared that "the integrity and unity of greater Jerusalem (Yerushalayim rabati) in its boundaries after the Six-Day War shall not be violated." Had this clause been allowed to remain within the bill as passed into law, the legislation would at least have had some operative meaning. The clause, however, was dropped after the first reading of the bill. As passed by the Israeli parliament, the relevant clause of the Basic Law reads as follows: "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel."

As is apparent, the law, insofar as it relates to the status of the city, is strictly declarative in nature (and redundant, since action taken in 1949 had already established Jerusalem as Israel's capital). Although "Yerushalayim" is referred to as "complete and united" (shlema and meuchedet), boundaries are not specified. As in 1967, neither the word "annexation" (sipuach) nor "sovereignty" (ribonut) were used. The consensus of legal scholars is that this action added nothing to the legal or administrative circumstance of the city, although, especially at the time, its passage was considered to have political importance and sparked a vigorous protest reaction from the world community.

If it is true that the Knesset dropped the phrase "in its boundaries after the Six-Day War" from the legislation before passage -- and if you think it false, please cite some evidence; I want to know which way things stand -- then it's simply not accurate to say that East Jerusalem was legally annexed by Israel. It is, in fact, a very muddy and uncertain situation that has been complicated by Israeli court decisions and also by the fact that successive governments after 1980 have continued to claim that the "final status of Jerusalem" has yet to be decided.

What I argue is that Israel should formally and legally annex it, drawing the line right where the security fence is being built (though if they have a better place to draw the line, I have no objection).

Then they should embark upon a conscious effort at Judaization of the Arab parts of expanded East Jerusalem that will then have been annexed. They should buy out individual Arab property owners; and if necessary, use eminent domain laws to force them out -- while paying a just and fair monetary compensation, to remove that possible objection to the project.

Then and only then will it be utterly clear that the Palestinian Arabs will never, ever, ever have a capital at "al Quds."


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 3, 2007 5:32 PM

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