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Thread: A modest proposal

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    A modest proposal

    A Modest Proposal for Middle East Peace
    by Victor Davis Hanson

    The U.N. need only take five simple steps.
    There seems to be a growing renewed animus against Israel lately. Arun Gandhi, grandson of the purported humanist Mahatma Gandhi, thinks Israel and Jews in general are prone to, and singularly responsible for, most of the world's violence. The Oxford Union is taking up the question of whether Israel even has a right to continue to exist. Our generation no longer speaks of a "Palestinian problem," but rather of an "Israeli problem." So perhaps it is time for a new global approach to deal with Israel and its occupation.

    Perhaps we ought to broaden our multinational and multicultural horizons by transcending the old comprehensive settlements, roadmaps, and Quartet when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a dispute which originated with the creation of Israel.

    Why not simply hold an international conference on all of these issues -- albeit in a far more global context, outside the Middle East?
    The ensuing general accords and principles could be applied to Israel and the West Bank, where the number of people involved, the casualties incurred, and the number of refugees affected are far smaller and far more manageable.

    Perhaps there could be five U.N. sessions: disputed capitals; the right of return for refugees; land under occupation; the creation of artificial post-World War II states; and the use of inordinate force against suspected Islamic terrorists.

    In the first session, we should try to solve the status of Nicosia, which is currently divided into Greek and Turkish sectors by a U.N. Greek Line. Perhaps European Union investigators could adjudicate Turkish claims that the division originated from unwarranted threats to the Turkish Muslim population on Cyprus. Some sort of big power or U.N. roadmap then might be imposed on the two parties, in hopes that the Nicosia solution would work for Jerusalem as well.

    In the second discussion, diplomats might find common ground about displaced populations, many from the post-war, late 1940s. Perhaps it would be best to start with the millions of Germans who were expelled from East Prussia in 1945, or Indians who were uprooted from ancestral homes in what is now Pakistan, or over half-a-million Jews that were ethnically cleansed from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria following the 1967 war. Where are these refugees now? Were they ever adequately compensated for lost property and damages? Can they be given promises of the right to return to their ancestral homes under protection of their host countries? The ensuring solutions might shed light on the Palestinian aspirations to return to land lost sixty years ago to Israel.

    A third panel would take up the delicate issue of returning territory lost by defeat in war. Ten percent of historic Germany is now part of Poland. The Russians still occupy many of the Kurile Islands, and Greek Cyprus lost sizable territory in 1974 after the invasion by Turkey. The Western Sahara is still annexed by Morocco, while over 15 percent of disputed Azerbaijan has been controlled by Armenia since 1994. Additionally, all of independent Tibet has been under Chinese occupation since 1950-1. Surely if some general framework concerning these occupations could first be worked out comprehensively, the results might then be applied to the much smaller West Bank and Golan Heights.

    In a fourth panel, the international conference should take up the thorny issue of recently artificially created states. Given the tension over Kashmir, was Pakistan a mistake -- particularly the notion of a homeland for Indian Muslims? North Korea was only created after the stalemate of 1950-3; so should we debate whether this rogue nation still needs to exist, given its violent history and threats to world peace?

    Fifth, and finally, is there a global propensity to use inordinate force against Muslim terrorists that results in indiscriminate collateral damage? The Russians during the second Chechnyan War of 1999-2000 reportedly sent tactical missiles into the very core of Grozny, and may have killed tens of thousands of civilians in their hunt for Chechnyan terrorists -- explaining why the United Nations later called that city the most destroyed city on earth. Syria has never admitted to the complete destruction of Hama, once home to Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. The city suffered the fate of Carthage and was completely obliterated in 1982 by the al-Assad government, with over 30,000 missing or killed. Did the Indian government look the other way in 2002 when hundreds of Muslim civilians in Gujarat were killed in reprisal for Islamic violence against Hindus? The lessons learned in this final session might reassure a world still furious over the 52 Palestinians lost in Jenin.

    In other words, after a half-century of failed attempts to solve the Middle East crisis in isolation, isn't it time we look for guidance in a far more global fashion, and in contexts where more lives have been lost, more territory annexed, and more people made refugees in places as diverse as China, Russia, and the broader Middle East?

    The solutions that these countries have worked out to deal with similar problems apparently have proven successful -- at least if the inattention of the world, the apparent inaction of the United Nations, and the relative silence of European governments are any indication.

    So let the international community begin its humanitarian work!
    Greek Cypriots can advise Israel about concessions necessary to Muslims involving a divided Jerusalem. Russians and Syrians can advise the IDF on how to deal properly and humanely with Islamic terrorists. Poland, Russia, China, and Armenia might offer the proper blueprint for giving back land to the defeated that they once gained by force. A North Korea or Pakistan can offer Israel humanitarian lessons that might blunt criticisms that such a recently created country has no right to exist. Iraq and Egypt would lend insight about proper reparation and the rights of return, given its own successful solutions to the problems of their own fleeing Jewish communities.

    But why limit the agenda to such a small array of issues? The world has much to teach Israel about humility and concessions, on issues ranging from how other countries in the past have dealt with missiles sent into their homeland, to cross-border incursions by bellicose neighbors.
    No doubt, Middle East humanitarians such as Jimmy Carter, Arun Gandhi, and Tariq Ramadan could preside, drawing on and offering their collective past wisdom in solving such global problems to those of a lesser magnitude along the West Bank.

    This article originally appeared in The National Review.

    Author Biography:
    Victor Davis Hanson is the author of "Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power."

  2. #2
    andak01
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    ...grandson of the purported humanist Mahatma Gandhi...
    What is Victor David Hanson purported to be?

    Anyway, he brings up a few good points while notably leaving out a couple. When you justify Jenin and Grosny and Hana, you also justify any means used by anyone to achieve any other goal they have in mind, including driving Israel into the sea. He's right that there is a good deal of hypocrisy in the world. Pointing out such a thing shouldn't be a means to an end to excusing even more of it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member dayag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andak01 View Post
    What is Victor David Hanson purported to be?

    Anyway, he brings up a few good points while notably leaving out a couple. When you justify Jenin and Grosny and Hana, you also justify any means used by anyone to achieve any other goal they have in mind, including driving Israel into the sea. He's right that there is a good deal of hypocrisy in the world. Pointing out such a thing shouldn't be a means to an end to excusing even more of it.
    Jenin? Andak, please don't tell me you believe the propaganda about a massacre in Jenin in April 2002.
    "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy." (Ps. 137: 5-7)"

    "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

  4. #4
    andak01
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayag View Post
    Jenin? Andak, please don't tell me you believe the propaganda about a massacre in Jenin in April 2002.
    I don't place a particular amount of emphasis on it. It isn't that different from many other events in the region that get far less attention. There was Palestinian propaganda, but it was also poorly handled by the IDF and an embarrassment. If it had not been an embarrassment, we wouldn't still be talking about it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bararallu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andak01 View Post
    ... it was also poorly handled by the IDF and an embarrassment....If it had not been an embarrassment, we wouldn't still be talking about it.
    Wrong. The reason there is still talk about it is precisely because of arab propaganda augmented by allied leftist and white nationalist organs in the west. Period.

    The IDF doesn't respond to propaganda, the Israeli government has a PR function not the IDF. The IDF did not poorly handle it... that is apart from sending young Israeli Jews and Druse in to the jaws of death, rather than dropping 500 lbs pound bombs on terrorists and their enablers. Exactly the way your country would have taken care of it, or every single country I can think of actually. If it were the Iranians, Egyptians, Russians etc. there Jenin would be a smoldering corpse of flesh, metal and concrete.

  6. #6
    andak01
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    Seemingly the IDF doesn't respond to the UN, to Amnesty International or to Human Rights Watch either. To be fair, neither do Hizbollah or Hamas.

    Exactly the way your country would have taken care of it, or every single country I can think of actually. If it were the Iranians, Egyptians, Russians etc. there Jenin would be a smoldering corpse of flesh, metal and concrete.
    As you know, I criticize my country heavily for situations such as Fallujah. And I have the highest praise when they are able to show some restraint and still achieve their goals. The capture of Saddam comes to mind (although that followed some embarrassing bombing elsewhere). Biblical level revenge causes problems down the line for the people who reap it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member dayag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andak01 View Post
    Seemingly the IDF doesn't respond to the UN, to Amnesty International or to Human Rights Watch either. To be fair, neither do Hizbollah or Hamas.

    As you know, I criticize my country heavily for situations such as Fallujah. And I have the highest praise when they are able to show some restraint and still achieve their goals. The capture of Saddam comes to mind (although that followed some embarrassing bombing elsewhere). Biblical level revenge causes problems down the line for the people who reap it.
    When the IDF targets terrorists, it isn't to get revenge. This isn't an eye for an eye thing. It is to disrupt their network and make it more difficult for them to carry out attacks.

    Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch don't seem to understand that we are in the midst of a war with a foe who targets civilians primarily. The IDF isn't perfect, but we do not purposely attack non-combatants.

    Also, please keep in mind that only UN Security Council resolutions are binding on Israel. If we blindly obeyed every resolution to come out of the UN General Assembly, Israel would not exist.
    "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy." (Ps. 137: 5-7)"

    "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

  8. #8
    andak01
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayag View Post
    Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch don't seem to understand that we are in the midst of a war with a foe who targets civilians primarily. The IDF isn't perfect, but we do not purposely attack non-combatants. We even put our troops at increased risk, as in Jenin, to limit collateral damage.
    They actually do and they heavily criticized Hizbollah during the Lebanon war, accusing them (rightly) of war crimes including criticizing them for operating within civilian areas. I agree with such criticism and I think it's perfectly valid for Israel to respond to attacks.

    But over time it is evident that many more civilians are killed by an IDF that doesn't attack civilians than by Hamas or Hizbollah who do. I think the cause of this is the deadliness of the force of modern weaponry and the plentiful opportunities to use it. If the IDF is allowed to level a neighborhood without political consequences, then there is no reason at all for them to level another and another and another. There hasn't been another Jenin since 2002. If this was all about propaganda, there could easily have been. The Palestinians could have invented another massacre everyday. But they've had nothing to work with. Instead, what you are saying has some truth, the IDF is being careful. But how much of that is cause and effect? I really don't care. When the IDF does what it says it does, I have no criticism.

  9. #9
    Senior Member dayag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andak01 View Post
    They actually do and they heavily criticized Hizbollah during the Lebanon war, accusing them (rightly) of war crimes including criticizing them for operating within civilian areas. I agree with such criticism and I think it's perfectly valid for Israel to respond to attacks.

    But over time it is evident that many more civilians are killed by an IDF that doesn't attack civilians than by Hamas or Hizbollah who do. I think the cause of this is the deadliness of the force of modern weaponry and the plentiful opportunities to use it. If the IDF is allowed to level a neighborhood without political consequences, then there is no reason at all for them to level another and another and another. There hasn't been another Jenin since 2002. If this was all about propaganda, there could easily have been. The Palestinians could have invented another massacre everyday. But they've had nothing to work with. Instead, what you are saying has some truth, the IDF is being careful. But how much of that is cause and effect? I really don't care. When the IDF does what it says it does, I have no criticism.
    The fact that more Palestinians than Israelis have died is not, in and of itself, an indictment of the IDF. We are talking people killed in the midst of an armed struggle. How many of these "civilians" killed by the IDF were truly non-combatants? Does the death toll of non-combatant Palestinians exceed the death toll of those Israeli civilians killed by suicide-bombers?
    "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy." (Ps. 137: 5-7)"

    "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

  10. #10
    andak01
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayag View Post
    The fact that more Palestinians than Israelis have died is not, in and of itself, an indictment of the IDF. We are talking people killed in the midst of an armed struggle. How many of the "civilians" killed by the IDF were truly non-combatants? Does the death toll of non-combatant Palestinians exceed the death toll of those Israeli civilians killed by suicide-bombers?
    It seems that many Israelis believe that any Palestinian or south Lebanese is a potential combattant and that any civilian casualty can be justified by saying "they had no business being in the same neighborhood with terrorists". Yes, the death toll of Palestinians exceeds those of Israeli civilians by around 3 to 1. In the Lebanon war, the Lebanese to Israeli toll was around 10 to 1 (EXTREMELY conservative). These are not Palestinian propaganda figures, they are agreed upon by many sources.

    2006 Lebanon War: 19 to 1 civilian deaths
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Is...banon_conflict

    Second Intifada: 2.89 to 1 civilian deaths
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...econd_Intifada

  11. #11
    Senior Member dayag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andak01 View Post
    It seems that many Israelis believe that any Palestinian or south Lebanese is a potential combattant and that any civilian casualty can be justified by saying "they had no business being in the same neighborhood with terrorists". Yes, the death toll of Palestinians exceeds those of Israeli civilians by around 3 to 1. In the Lebanon war, the Lebanese to Israeli toll was around 10 to 1 (EXTREMELY conservative). These are not Palestinian propaganda figures, they are agreed upon by many sources.

    2006 Lebanon War: 19 to 1 civilian deaths
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Is...banon_conflict

    Second Intifada: 2.89 to 1 civilian deaths
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...econd_Intifada
    In the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah set up positions in populated areas. Israel dropped leaflets warning civilians to vacate those areas. So, yes, if you are a civilian and Hezbollah is firing missles at Israel from next to your house, you had better vacate the area. I wouldn't call such victims "potential combatants", but I don't blame the IDF for their deaths. I blame Hezbollah.

    Events like the Shefa-Amr massacre, or any time peaceful civilians are deliberately targeted, I agree completely were crimes. But when it says "Teenagers shot during demonstration" does that mean they were standing around holding protest signs? If someone is taking part in a riot, I don't think I would characterize them as innocent civilians. Each death must be judged by its specific circumstances. We can't just go by total number of deaths. Case in point is the tragic death of Muhammad al-Durrah, who it turns out was likely killed by Palestinian fire.
    "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy." (Ps. 137: 5-7)"

    "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

  12. #12
    andak01
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayag View Post
    In the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah set up positions in populated areas. Israel dropped leaflets warning civilians to vacate those areas. So, yes, if you are a civilian and Hezbollah is firing missles at Israel from next to your house, you had better vacate the area. I wouldn't call such victims "potential combatants", but I don't blame the IDF for their deaths. I blame Hezbollah.
    They dropped leaflets and then they bombed cars and trucks as they were leaving, including at least one ambulance.

    Please note that there is a whole huge section of the report devoted to excesses by Hizbollah.

    The IDF initially issued warnings to the residents of southern Lebanese villages to leave, followed by increasingly urgent warnings for all civilians south of the Litani River to evacuate their homes and head to areas north of the Litani for their safety. However, Israel failed generally to give affected Lebanese civilians a realistic opportunity to evacuate.
    First, most warnings reviewed by Human Rights Watch did not provide sufficient time for people to evacuate, especially given that most roads in southern Lebanon remained under bombardment. For instance, in Marwahin, the IDF gave only a two-hour warning before a threatened attack and hit a convoy fleeing Marwahin.168 IDF warnings often either gave an unrealistically short time frame for civilians to leave the area, or where so vague as to give almost no indication to the civilian population of how or when they were supposed to evacuate.
    Second, despite repeated appeals from United Nations and other humanitarian officials, Israel failed to create safe passage corridors for evacuating civilians.169 Israel claims to have created humanitarian corridors during the conflict, but these corridors existed only in northern Lebanon to allow humanitarian agencies the ability to move humanitarian supplies to Beirut and did not extend into the active conflict zone in southern Lebanon. And even these limited humanitarian corridors focused on the movement of humanitarian supplies, not on safe evacuation routes for civilians.
    Third, Israeli forces on numerous occasions attacked civilians fleeing southern Lebanon, which gave civilians two dangerous options: staying put or driving on the road. A villager from `Aitaroun, who lost his mother when his car came under attack, told Human Rights Watch the difficulty he faced in making his decision:
    We were scared during the bombing so we had all assembled in the depot [storage facility] across the street. After the second [deadly IDF attack in `Aitaroun], we got really scared. It became difficult to come and go … I had received calls from relatives in Beirut to leave. On Tuesday July 18, my neighbor and two other cars left. We were worried about leaving and decided to wait until we saw if they made it.170
    The fear that had prevented people from fleeing became apparent when thousands of people took to the road after Israel announced a 48-hour suspension of air strikes starting on July 31.
    Fourth, many warning flyers were too general to be helpful and did not provide specific instructions or a time-frame for civilians to evacuate. For example, on July 25, the IDF issued the following flyer and issued the same warning in pre-recorded phone calls to Lebanese officials (emphasis in original):

    http://hrw.org/reports/2007/lebanon0...#_Toc175028498

  13. #13
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    I was thinking the other day that the Geneva Conventions were designed with inter-State warfare in mind. That is, war between or among national entities. Which is specifically why the preclusions in it are the way they are. Not because they didn't think that subnational warfare was plausible but that in the rubble of the world after WW2 it simply wasn't important. And the local brush wars, flare ups and such were at that time largely a matter between one colonial power and the local populace or, among local groups fighting as they had for decades among themselves for no clear reason that would lead to national cohesion. With the end of the colonial period starting in the mid 50's we acquired something we hadn't banked on - an interest in states that were by definition unstable. They were unstable a hundred years ago and 300 years ago and they were unstable in 1945, 55, 65, 75 and so on.

    In effect the biggest mistake we made was arming subnational tribal confederate 'nations' with all the accoutrement of western nation state armies and power and letting them 'sort out' tribal rivalries that way. Over the weekend for instance there erupted a civil war-like coup in Chad. That means that Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Chad all in proximity to one another with Ethiopia between them playing the 'peacemaker' are all erupting in tribal civil war at the same time. And with the exception of Kenya none of these countries has ever seen 60 consecutive months of peace, ever.


    One wonders what might have happened in 1947 had the British simply created one state for Jews and Arabs alike out of the Mandate and the Jews, in the minority fought the Arabs in a bloody separatist movement to establish their own homeland as is the vogue now. What would be the world's impression of them then?

  14. #14
    andak01
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mediocrates View Post
    One wonders what might have happened in 1947 had the British simply created one state for Jews and Arabs alike out of the Mandate and the Jews, in the minority fought the Arabs in a bloody separatist movement to establish their own homeland as is the vogue now. What would be the world's impression of them then?
    Based on what I'm seeing, the arms dealers of the world would have a hayday and would provide exactly enough arms to the Jews to keep the battle running forever.

    The problem with this scenario is that it doesn't weaken the region significantly enough to prevent the nationalization of oil resources. We'd have a bunch of Venuzuelas on our hands.

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