Atheists for the Gaza

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Atheists for the Gaza

This community is dedicated to spread awareness on the grave injustice the Israeli state has enacted on its occupied people. We stand in solidarity with the Gazans who war has deprived of every decent livelihood and every ounce of normalcy.

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Lost cities of Palestine

Started by Napoleon Bonaparte May 15. 0 Replies

The Lab

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15 years of age in Gaza

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Comment by Al-KADIM on September 14, 2010 at 7:40pm
@Simon. For the record, I am not opposed to a one-state solution. In fact, I think it is the preferred solution for the region, and I have advocated for it both here and in various other publications, media, etc. I do, however, think that there are major issues that have to be resolved first. The key one is economic disparity. You cannot have a viable one state solution where Jews are a wealthy class and Palestinians are a laboring class. That is potentially more dangerous than the current situation and it would certainly serve the Palestinians poorly.

In practical terms, think of the repercussions: 1.5 million Gazans working as day laborers in construction and 1.5 million Tel Avivis working in high tech and finance. That's not a democracy. That's neo-feudalism.

Now let's take your second question regarding demographic shifts into the equation. If Jews become the minority, as you assume (I question it for various reasons), then you have a situation where a minority controls all the wealth and a minority is kept as working class. That's even worse.

Like I said, I support a single state solution, but before simply embarking on it, let's put together a viable working model? Do you propose cantonization, as in Switzerland? Again, given the economic disparities, that simply creates Bantustans. Do you want a Belgian model? That's not working too well either. A Czechoslovakian model? I'm showing my age.

By all means a one-state solution, but work out the details first. And note that the state Bisharat is talking about excludes Gaza. So I repeat my earlier question. What is the solution for Gaza?
Comment by Simon JM on September 14, 2010 at 6:37pm
Al-Kadim I'm surprised that you aren't more informed on the demographic shifts as some Jews are already worrying about being outbreed and becoming the minority.
Comment by Simon JM on September 14, 2010 at 6:34pm
Israel and Palestine: A true one-state solution

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/02/AR2...
Comment by Al-KADIM on September 14, 2010 at 4:33pm
@ TNT. One state, one person, one vote? Okay? Do you have to live in the state to get a vote or are you excluding refugees? Jewish Israelis are a majority now, so you are saying that they would maintain control? What about economic disparity--I've spent time in Tel Aviv and Ramallah and Gaza. I remember seeing a teenage girl from Gaza walking for the first time in Tel Aviv. She had never seen grass before and didn't know what it was. All that you are essentially doing is providing a democratic veneer to justify continuing the occupation.
Comment by Al-KADIM on September 14, 2010 at 4:28pm
The points you make are all very valid. What is important, however, is to understand Zionism from the perspective of the 19th century Russian Jews who adopted it, and from the perspective of the Central European Jews who first formulated its ideology (and the two are very different).

In nineteenth century Russia, Jews were forced to live within a restricted territory (known as the Pale) with very limited access to the cities. The government was largely anti-Semitic, and there were frequent pogroms (usually around Easter). There was essentially no hope for them.

They responded in several ways. One group joined the communist party and became revolutionaries. In this they were somewhat successful. After the Revolution, the first Politburo consisted of Andrei Bubnov, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Vladimir Lenin, Grigory Sokolnikov, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. Four out of the seven were Jews (Bubnov, Lenin, and Stalin were not), and by the next Soviet, their numbers increased. think of the ratio--four Jews, two Russians, and a Georgian.

On the other hand, a large segment of Jews decided to just get the hell out of Russia. Most of them decided to go to America, which had opened its borders at the time. Some of these ended up in strange places (a boat with Jews landed in Dublin, Ireland, and the Jews were told it was New York. They got off and the boat sailed away. Irish Jewish community is born).

Then there was a third group, which was largely socialist but wanted to maintain some sense of Jewish cultural identity and thought of attaining their own independence. This was influenced by the nationalist trends of the time, which eventually saw the independence of the Balkans, Romania, Poland, Czechs and Slovaks, and Hungarians. If all those groups could have states, they argued, why couldn't the Jews? The question was where? For most of them, the obvious answer was in their historic homeland, to which they still maintained ties.

It actually seemed quite reasonable. The country was under the Ottomans, and their empire was dying. Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece had all gained their independence from it. Why shouldn't they?

The problem was that they did not realize that there were already inhabitants there. To be fair, there weren't many, but they were there. Some were Jews, but most were Muslims and Christians.

A couple of things should be said about this. This paralleled the heyday of the colonial period, when Western European powers were carving up Africa and Asia between them. No one paid much though to dark skinned colonial subjects.

The area itself was a backwater of the Ottoman Empire and not even a distinct province. It, Jordan, and Lebanon, were all part of some amorphous Syria, with Jordan and Palestine being referred to as South Syria.

The territory was remarkably diverse. There were distinct communities of Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, Alawis, Greek Orthodox, Maronites, Catholics, Armenians, Cherkesses, Blacks (descended from Mamluk slaves), Gypsies, and Turks, along with an established Jewish population. They reasoned, what's one more minority?

They didn't understand the feudal land ownership structure. Now, they were familiar with feudalism from Russia, but in Russia, land owners generally lived on their properties surrounded by villages of serfs. In Palestine, land owners had very little to do with their properties apart from collecting taxes. Most of them lived in Beirut or Istanbul or Damascus. They may have bought land from land owners who had never even seen the land they sold and had no idea what was there.

By WWI, Jews began to realize that there was potential for conflict with the other ethnic groups there. Like you say, it was like North America. Some were willing to make treaties, but others were not.

For their part, the Jews, influenced by socialist ideals, saw their state in the making as transcending ethnic rivalries. Two Zionist thinkers, Berdichevsky and Borochov, spoke about an inverted period and a state of workers, Jewish and Arab, overthrowing colonial norms to create a socialist utopia. Even the far right took similar positions, with Revisionist Zionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky (Menachem Begin's mentor) writing about a Jewish President and an Arab Vice President enshrined in some future constitution. It was idealistic nonsense, because no one had actually bothered to ask the Arabs what they think.

Meanwhile, the Arabs were being spurred to rebel against the Ottomans by Lawrence (of Arabia). At this time, a sense of national identity began to emerge, though it was at first very tenuous.

The Hashemites, who were originally from Hejaz in modern Saudi Arabia, were promised rewards for supporting the British and the French. It was good timing, because although they were direct descendants of Muhammad through Fatimah, they were kicked out of there by the Najdi (from neighboring Najd) Ibn Saud (country named after him) in the early 20s.

To reward the Hashemite Sharif Hussein, one son Ali became king of Hejaz (later kicked out by Ibn Saud--he went to Iraq), one son Feisal became king of Syria, but they kicked him out so he became king of Iraq, and one son, Abdullah, became king of Trans-Jordan. Palestine was left out of the equation for several reasons. Its ethnic complexity was one, but it was also strategically important since it controlled access to the Suez Canal, and it had religious sites that Christians wanted to control.

Palestinians were pissed, to say the least, and for various reasons they blamed the Jews. Actually, it was pretty common at the time. By the late 1920s fascism was growing in Europe, and with no where to go (America had closed its borders) Jews tried to flee to Palestine. Of course, this only made the Palestinians even more angry. The Jews were getting desperate too. Where would they go to escape Hitler? Meanwhile the Palestinian leadership was flirting with Nazism to throw out the British and Jews. (The same thing was happening in Egypt btw, and there was a pro-Nazi regime in Iraq for two years under Rashid Ali al-Qaylani). Only the Saudis supported the Allies consistently.

So, imagine the tension in Palestine. Jewish refugees from Hitler v. pro-Hitler nationalists. It wasn't pretty. The thing is that until about 20 years ago, there were still key figures on the Israeli side who remembered it that way.

The rest is easy. World War II. Holocaust. Displaced Jews with nowhere to go. Guilt among the Allies. Partition plan. 48 War. 56 War. 67 War. 73 War. 82 War. Intifada I. Intifada II. Distrust. Atrocities by both sides. Both sides foster extremism (settlers, Hamas), who set the tone for the conflict.

I would suggest though that what is happening now is that on both sides there are also groups that hope to come to an amicable resolution of the conflict. Peace Now, for instance, in Israel, or the government of Salam Fayyed in the West Bank. Since neither group is about to disappear from the country, the real question should be how to create a viable, sustainable situation without the ethnic tension and economic disparity that currently plagues the region (as long as Palestinians are poorer than Israelis, nothing will work). That's the only real opportunity.
Comment by TNT666 on September 14, 2010 at 3:25pm
You asked for my idea of a solution, I'll reiterate my very first comment: 1 state, 1 person 1 vote. Internationally enforced, all military aid ceased.
Comment by Geraldo Cienmarcos on September 14, 2010 at 3:04pm
All,

I think the issue of Arab-Palestinians rejecting "the UN partition" is complicated. Not all Palestinians rejected it. Also the motives of Britain, France and others, were not entirely altruistic.

I tend to agree that a spiritual - Biblical idea of "Jerusalem" and "Israel" was co-opted by Jewish European settlers, with a chauvinistic sense of entitlement to land, that in recent history was not their land. Even some indigenous Jews of Palestine were given the shove to some extent. Somewhat parallel, some native Americans wanted to make peace treaties with European settlers, at some sacrifice to themselves, and some did not.

What I find profoundly disturbing is the double standard that Israel postures with regards to Human Rights and War Crimes. In Israel's political schema, it seems that Palestinians don't have any rights.

And yet Jews have a long modern history that they can be proud of with regards to advocacy for human rights and its codification in law. Not to mention a proud advocacy and support for the fine arts, science, civil rights and especially public education, in Europe and the Americas where I live (USA). Why is that historical cultural sensibility of Jews ignored when it comes to Palestinians?
-- Gary
Comment by Geraldo Cienmarcos on September 14, 2010 at 2:24pm
N E W S A N A L Y S I S

Five largest Israeli settlements: who lives there, and why.

from Christian Science Monitor
http://tinyurl.com/26b4axd
Comment by Al-KADIM on September 14, 2010 at 11:40am
TNT, my answer may have been pompous, but yours was unquestionably ill-informed and factually wrong. It is also self-contradictory, particularly when you talk of bloodlines (something I do not do) then deny ethnicity, but I'll let you work out your cognitive dissonance.

As for Jews considering themselves an ethnicity, it actually goes back much farther than the 19th century. In fact, Jewish texts, of which there are many, refer consistently to a concept of 'am' (meaning nation), but do not use any words to describe themselves as a religion. The earliest you will find the use of religion as a self-describing term is in the writings of Moses Mendelssohn in the late 18th century. He did not reject national identity. He simply added another layer to it.

Now let's look at what ethnicity means. Starting with Wikipedia: "An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and a tradition of common ancestry (corresponding to a history of endogamy)"

Common language? In addition to Hebrew, which was mostly liturgical (though it was also used to communicate between communities) two languages come to mind: \Yiddish and Ladino, which set them apart from the surrounding cultures.

Common heritage and culture: This would include a shared ethnogenesis myth (check), a shared calendar (check) and holidays (check), shared foods (check, bagels as well kosher), shared literary texts which transcended national boundaries (both religious and secular), etc., etc.

Then there is the tradition of endogamy. Check.

What would be fun is to see if you can find these same characteristics for Palestinian Arabs that distinguish them, say, from Syrian Arabs or Jordanian Arabs. Fortunately, I believe in self-determination, which you apparently do not. And don't even try Nebi Musa or Sabt an-Nur (if you know what they are). They were both localized and religiously exclusive.

Now, Zionism did not simply coalesce biblical homeland and ethnicity. Imagined ties to a homeland were part of Jewish tradition for 2000 years. Both the Passover seder and Yom Kippur services end with the phrase "Next year in Jerusalem."

There's also an underlying belief in what you say that human populations are static. In fact, human populations are migratory, with one group moving into another group's land. That didn't stop in the 20th century (which saw the greatest rate of migration in human history).

Let's take some local examples. I am currently doing work on the Greek-Turkey dispute, so I will start there. I doubt you've been to Istanbul, but it is a very Turkish city. In fact, it only became Turkish in 1453, when Columbus was a child (born in 1451). It wasn't until 1923 when the last groups left, i.e., my grandparents' lifetime.

Since then, there were countless population exchanges, from the Heimatvertriebene (you'll have to look that up) to the 10-15 million exchanged between India and Pakistan. Of course, closer to home, all of North and South America is based on population exchanges or one group displacing another (with the possible exception of Bolivia). Notice that I am NOT passing moral judgment on this. As a historian, that's not my role. I am simply stating facts.

The problem of Israel/Palestine is complex because that ethnic rivalry has never been fully resolved for a variety of reasons. Now, you might argue--and it seems you are--that the first Zionist settlers should not have arrived in the country in 1882, when they did. Perhaps you are right, though I don't think that they would have done too well in Russia, and moving to America would have caused further displacement. Whatever. The fact is that they did and their population grew.

The real question is, what do we do now? You can rant that the Israelis or Jews are stupid, evil, thieves, squatters, selfish, meanies, whatever, but that's simply passing moral judgment. It may make you feel good, but it does not resolve the current problem. It helps the Palestinians about as much as it helps the Native Americans to tell them that the Dutch should not have bought Manhattan.

The question is, what do we do now? Until you shift away from blame and begin to tackle that question seriously, you are perpetuating the current status of the Palestinian people no less than the rightwing government now in power in Israel. Perhaps moreso, because even they are trying to find some solution.
Comment by Against All Fanatics on September 14, 2010 at 7:29am
The Palestinian problems started when Arabs convinced the Palestinians to reject the UN partition plan and promised to throw the Jews into the sea. Various self-interested groups have been encouraging the Palestinians towards violence ever since. What is amazing is that there are still so many Palestinians who reject violence. They deserve our unmitigated support. One notable example is Ray Hanania:

 

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