31 Oct 2012

Israel's Harsh Logic

By Anonymous Authors
Our Harsh Logic, a new book of testimonies from Israeli Defense Force soldiers, exposes the brutal treatment of Palestinians and the system that allows the violence to continue. Read an exclusive excerpt here
Death sentence for a man who wasn't armed

Unit: Paratroopers
Location: Nablus
Year: 2002

Soldier: We took over a central house, set up positions, and one of the sharpshooters identified a man on a roof, two roofs away, I think he was between 50 and 70 metres away, not armed. I looked at the man through the night vision — he wasn't armed. It was two in the morning. A man without arms, walking on the roof, just walking around. We reported it to the company commander. The company commander said: "Take him down." [The sharpshooter] fired, took him down. The company commander — basically ordered, decided via radio, the death sentence for that man. A man who wasn't armed.


Interviewer: You saw that he wasn't armed?

Solder: I saw with my own eyes that the guy wasn't armed. The report also said: "a man without arms on the roof." The company commander declared him a lookout, meaning he understood that the guy was no threat to us, and he gave the order to kill him and we shot him. I myself didn't shoot, my friend shot and killed him.


And basically you think, you see in the United States there's the death penalty, for every death sentence there are like a thousand appeals and convictions, and they take it very seriously, and there are judges and learned people, and there are protests and what ever. And here a 26-year old guy, my company commander, sentenced an unarmed man to death. Who is he? What do you mean, a lookout? And even if he was a lookout? So what, you have to kill him? And how did he know he was a lookout? He didn't know. He got a report from the radio about an unarmed man on the roof, and he gave an order to kill him, which I think is an illegal order, and we carried out the order, we killed him. The man died. And listen, to me it's murder. And that's not the only case.


In June 2004, some 60 veteran soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces presented an exhibition of written testimonies and photographs from their military service in Hebron, in the Occupied West Bank. The exhibition led to the founding of Breaking the Silence, an organisation dedicated to exposing the day-to-day reality of military service in the Occupied Territories through testimonies from the soldiers entrusted with carrying it out.

The collected witnesses' testimonies represent all strata of Israeli society and nearly all IDF units engaged in the Occupied Territories. They include commanders and officers as well as the rank and file, and both men and women.

Although the soldiers' descriptions are limited to their personal experiences, the cumulative body of their testimony allows a broad view — not only of the IDF's primary methods of operation but also of the principles shaping Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories.

This month marks the publication of Our Harsh Logic, the first book of testimonies published by Breaking the Silence. The book is based on the report Occupation of the Territories: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies, 2000-2010, which marked a decade since the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada.

The testimonies left no room for doubt: while the security apparatus has had to respond to concrete threats during the past decade, including terrorist attacks on citizens, Israel's actions are not solely defensive. Rather, they have systematically led to the de facto annexation of large sections of the West Bank through the dispossession of Palestinian residents and by tightening control over the civilian population and instilling fear. The widespread notion in Israeli society that control of the Territories is exclusively aimed at protecting citizens is incompatible with the information conveyed by hundreds of IDF soldiers.

In the media, in internal discussions, and in military briefings, the security forces and government bodies consistently refer to four components of Israeli policy: "prevention of terrorism," or "prevention of hostile terrorist activity" (sikkul); "separation," that is, Israel remaining separate from the Palestinian population (hafradah); preserving the Palestinian "fabric of life" (mirkam hayyim); and "enforcing the law" in the Territories (akifat hok).

The testimonies in Our Harsh Logic each correspond to one of these policy terms.

In the first part, "Prevention," the testimonies show that almost every use of military force in the Territories is considered preventive. Behind this sweeping interpretation of the term lies the assumption that every Palestinian, man and woman, is suspect, constituting a threat to Israeli citizens and soldiers; consequently, deterring the Palestinian population as a whole, through intimidation, will reduce the possibility of opposition and thereby prevent terrorist activity.

In this light, abusing Palestinians at checkpoints, confiscating property, imposing collective punishment, changing and obstructing access to free movement (by setting up transient checkpoints, for example), even making arbitrary changes to the rules (according to the whim of a commander at a checkpoint, for instance) — these can all be justified as preventive activities, and the difference between offensive and defensive actions gradually disappears.

Part Two covers the second policy term, "Separation," which does not only mean separating the two populations, but also separating Palestinian communities from each other. Palestinian movement is channeled to Israel's monitoring mechanisms, which establish new borders on the ground. The many permits and permissions Palestinians need to move around the West Bank also serve to limit their freedom of movement and internally divide their communities. The often arbitrary regulations and endless bureaucratic mazes are no less effective than physical barriers. The policy of separation is exposed as a means to divide and conquer.

The soldiers' testimonies also reveal a third effect, which is the separation of Palestinians from their land. The Israeli settlements and surrounding areas are themselves a barrier. Palestinians are forbidden to enter these territories, which often include their own agricultural land. The location of these multiple barriers does not appear to be determined solely by defensive considerations based on where Palestinians live, but rather on offensive calculations governed by Israel's desire to incorporate certain areas into its jurisdiction. In the West Bank, checkpoints, roads closed to Palestinian traffic, and prohibition against Palestinian movement from one place to another are measures that effectively push Palestinians off their land and allow the expansion of Israeli sovereignty.

The reality of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation is the subject of Part Three, "The Fabric of Life." Israeli spokespeople emphasize that Palestinians in the Territories receive all basic necessities and are not subjected to a humanitarian crisis, and that Israel even ensures the maintenance of a proper "fabric of life." Such claims, along with assertions of economic prosperity in the West Bank, suggest that life under foreign occupation can be tolerable, and even good.

On the basis of these claims, those who support Israeli policy argue that the occupation is a justifiable means of defense, and if harm is regrettably suffered by the population, the damage is "proportionate" to the security of Israeli civilians. But, the fact that Palestinians require Israel's good grace to lead their lives shows the extent to which they are dependent on Israel. If Israel is able to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, when considered necessary, then Israel also has the power to create one.

Israel's claim to allow the maintenance of the "fabric of life" in the West Bank reveals the absolute control that it has over the Palestinian people. On a daily basis, the Israeli authorities decide which goods may be transferred from city to city, which businesses may open, who can pass through checkpoints and through security barrier crossings, who may send their children to school, who will be able to reach the universities, and who will receive the medical treatment they need. Israel also continues to hold the private property of tens of thousands of Palestinians.

In Part Four, which covers the "dual regime," the soldiers' testimonies show how, in the name of enforcing the law, Israel maintains two legal systems: in one, Palestinians are governed by military rule that is enforced by soldiers and subject to frequent change; in the other, Israeli settlers are subject to predominantly civil law that is passed by a democratically elected legislature and enforced by police. The Israeli legal authority in the Territories does not represent Palestinians and their interests. Rather, they are subordinate to a system through compliance with threats that reinforce Israel's overall military superiority.

The testimonies in this part also reveal the active role played by settlers in imposing Israel's military rule. Settlers serve in public positions and are partners in military deliberations and decisions that control the lives of the Palestinians who live in their area of settlement. Settlers often work in the Ministry of Defense as security coordinator for their settlement, in which case they influence all kinds of details affecting the area, such as transportation, road access, and security patrols, and even participate in soldiers' briefings.

The security forces do not see the settlers as civilians subject to law enforcement but as a powerful body that shares common goals. Even when the wishes of the settlers and the military are at odds, they still ultimately consider each other as partners in a shared struggle and settle their conflict through compromise. As a consequence, the security forces usually acquiesce in the settlers' goals, if only partially.

It is sometimes claimed that the failure to enforce the law among the settlers is due to the weakness of the Israeli police force. The testimonies in this section strongly suggest otherwise: that the law is not enforced because security forces do not treat settlers as regular citizens but as partners.

Despite its scope, Our Harsh Logic is limited to the information brought to light in the soldiers' testimonies. It does not describe all the means by which the State of Israel controls the Territories and should not be read as an attempt to address every aspect of the Occupation. The full picture is missing the activities carried out by the General Security Services (Shabak) and other intelligence agencies, as well as the military courts, which constitute an important component of military rule, and additional facets of the military administration. Rather, the purpose of this book is to replace the code words that sterilize public discussion with a more accurate description of Israel's policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

This is an edited extract from Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 (Scribe, $35.00)
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This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 13:15

Shocking testimonies from these decent, anti-racist Jewish Israeli soldiers. More reason yet to urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against genocidally racist Apartheid Israel and its supporters (most notoriously the Lib-Labs = Liberals-Laborals = Coalition and Labor in Australia; see "Boycott Apartheid Israel": https://sites.google.com/site/boycottapartheidisrael/ ) .

For anti-racist Jews and indeed all anti-racist humanitarians the core moral messages from the Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) and from the more general WW2 European Holocaust (30 million Slav, Jewish and Gypsy dead) are “zero tolerance for racism”, “never again to anyone”, “bear witness” and “zero tolerance for lying” (see "Jews Against Racist Zionism": https://sites.google.com/site/jewsagainstracistzionism/ ).

However these sacred injunctions are grossly violated by the anti-Arab anti-Semitic racist Zionists running Apartheid Israel and their Western backers variously involved in the ongoing Palestinian Genocide, Iraqi Genocide, and Afghan Genocide (post-invasion violent and non-violent excess deaths from imposed deprivation 2 million (since 1936), 4.6 million (since 1990), and 5.6 million (since 2001) , respectively (see "Palestinian Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/ and "Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ ) .

In Australia both the ABC and The Conversation (both taxpayer-funded) have an appalling, continuing record that variously involves sidelining, blocking, censoring and unretracted publication of defamation in response to anti-racist Jewish opinion critical of human rights abuses in the Middle East and elsewhere as described in the article . The obligatory responses of all anti-racist Jews, and indeed of all anti-racists in general, to the WW2 Holocaust (30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies killed) are “bear witness” and “never again to anyone”. Repeated defamation of decent anti-racist Jews defending Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim human rights as unbalanced, Nazi-like, anti-Semites or self-hating Jews is utterly repugnant and unforgivable and can be seen as symptomatic of a new kind of anti-Jewish anti-Semitism directed at anti-racist Jews (see "Censorship by omission and commission by Australia’s ABC & The Conversation", Bellaciao: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article22270 ) .

Moshe Menuhin (1893-1983) (born in Russia but lived in Palestine, Israel and the US; prominent anti-Zionist, author of "The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time", "Jewish Critics of Zionism", and of the family history "The Menuhin Saga"; father of famous violinist and anti-Zionist universalist Yehudi Menuhin): “Jews should be Jews - not Nazis” (see: https://sites.google.com/site/jewsagainstracistzionism/menuhin-moshe-ant... ).

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

denise
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 16:14

And so the dirty war between the Israelis and Palestinians continues, with more clashing and soldiers being soldiers, killing more of the enemy who refuse to accept, respect or even acknowledge Israeli soldiers presence. Death through violence comes with the territory and is the fundamental nature of war.
Perhaps now is the time for the Jews to abandon the region to the violence of inter-religious Muslim factions, that has now spread into Syria and let them all slowly destroy each other. Then after the Muslim holocaust they will be free to return to the blood-soaked, but now emptied holy lands.
The joke is the Palestinians are probably treated with more respect than the inter-factional 'rebels' are by Assad in Syria. I know where I'd rather be living at the moment!
The Israelis have been far too patient with the disrespectful, inter-feuding Palestinians, who they, themselves with their own political ineptitude, procrastination and infighting, have all but slowly killed off any possibility of forming an independent, democratic Palestinian state alongside the modern state of Israel.

Kevin Charles H...
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 16:19

After Gideon Polya's above post there's little left to say save for the odious fact that both our major political parties treat Israel as a close ally, of course under the instructions of the US State Department. However, the fawning adoration of all things Israeli by our current PM is pewkworthy, and yet another insight into the mind of a conservative careerist politician.

I used to attend meetings at the Lowy Institute until the penny dropped that the Institute is yet another Australian 'legitimate' front for the close allies of the criminals who rule apartheid, ethnic cleansing AmerIsrael. They know who they are, and believe me, they will never be forgiven by increasing numbers of fair-minded Australians.

Kevin Charles H...
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 16:26

Denise;

You say;"The joke is the Palestinians are probably treated with more respect than the inter-factional ‘rebels’ are by Assad in Syria. I know where I’d rather be living at the moment!"

In reality the sad joke is that you have the unmitigated gall to even make such a stupid, bigoted statement in the context of the current discussion. With 5.1 million Palestinians living in prison camp conditions for 64 years, you statement beggars belief.

Also, your statement that: "The Israelis have been far too patient with the disrespectful, inter-feuding Palestinians, who they, themselves with their own political ineptitude, procrastination and infighting, have all but slowly killed off any possibility of forming an independent, democratic Palestinian state alongside the modern state of Israel", is a shocking reminder of the racist attitudes of the majority of Israel's supporters. I'm sure that I don't even have to rebutt such racist dross to show those decent NM readers what a dimwit you are.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. nulliusinverba
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 08:29

Right on, Kevin.

Dr Dog
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 08:39

Reeling with shock, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Kevin Charles Herbert.

I wonder denise if your lust for Islamic blood extends to you going over there and getting your hands wet, or if you are happy for the young men and women who contributed to the book to do all the dirty work for you.

Make no mistake, it is your lack of compassion and sense that supports the actions of the Israeli government. I know where you would really rather be living denise, and that is here in Australia while young Israelis shoot unarmed folk at your behest.

This seems to me to be moral cowardice at its worst.

rosross
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 14:12

The BDS movement needs to be supported by anyone who has a conscience. The Zionist/Israeli colonial war against the Palestinians has been going on for nearly 70 years and it must stop. The support, through ommission or commission of Israel's human rights abuses and war crimes has debased that country and culture and given Judaism a bad name.
Israel has become a pariah and rogue state because it has been supported in its behaviour by the US in particular and gutless nations in general. While there is now no doubt that a one-state solution is inevitable and that state will have a Palestinian majority and probably won't be called Israel, the sooner that Israel is brought to it's senses, the less death and blood there will be.

denise
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 15:24

I have no lust for blood Dr Dog, on the contrary, I am appalled at the constant bloodshed in the Middle east, no matter who perpetuates it.
My beef is that unless you declare yourself as unarmed and an ally of the dominant forces, you are both stupid and fair game in the ongoing resistance to the military forces of Israel.
You can't go backwards and win a war (or many wars depending on how you look at it) you've already lost over and over again. Obviously violence is not the answer so why are the Palestinians so insistent on violent resistance to Israel after all of these years?.
And apart from that, before the formation of Israel, the Palestinians had never, ever been seen as fit to rule for themselves and have always been either a province or territory of another more powerful nation eg. the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Roman Empire, the Greeks, the Hittites, the Egyptians and the Babylonians. I'm not too sure who ruled the region before that.
So if you feel better about it just see it as the West has take over Israel (WW2) for the Jews to be able to live back at home in peace.
Another invalid point is the so-called aparthied of the Israelis, who unlike most of the surrounding Arab nations, have representation in their parliament of minority groups.
And as far as cowardice is concerned, to speak out in favour of the Jewish State is probably a more dangerous exercise and likely to raise the ugly head of terrorism in the global context, than the unconditional and sycophantic support of another potentially volatile, extremely divided (into Muslim sects) and hostile to the West, state of Palestine.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 17:29

Oops Denise, whose land are the Israelis occupying? And who has suffered the most in over 60 years of (colonial) occupation?

zeroxcliche
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 21:58

I'm glad NM is covering this - if people follow twitter I would recommend 'Occupied Palestine'.

Just wanted to add that Israeli deaths from Palestinian rockets (I think if I recall correctly) over the last decade is 11. Direct deaths from Israeli military force in the many thousands. The Israelis have an agenda - fair enough - what I would say to them is that the political cover you have had won't survive much longer. Whatever the justifications the violence is simply outlandishly disproportionate - Israeli lobby and friends, you had better try a new tact if you want your longer term plans to succeed.

havlazz
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 23:32

As is so typical of anything to do with Israel, the use of abusive,extreme and all-or-nothing language is prevalent, and unfortunately from the same contributors each time(sigh). I'll bet you anything that none of these contributors have spent any time looking at the source site itself www.breakingthesilence.org.il which has a lot of material in English, but also has a hebrew language website which contains considerably more material than the English one. A couple of points to mention:

1) The organisation is a registered non-profit based and operating in Israel headed and managed by Israelis and says it operates transparently. The interviewees, all ex-IDF service persons, have felt it their duty to speak up and have done so. The organisation is not censored or prevented from operating. And it's this very democratic freedom which has enabled these witnesses to speak up and enable you to know about it.

2) The book publication is 400 pages. No question that it contains only a fraction of what's on the website, and then probably the most graphic and shocking interviews only. There are many interviews on the website regarding more mundane experiences - including interviews with soldiers relating how they defended Palestinians against settlers as part of their dutes or did what they could to alleviate unecessary inconveniences at checkpoints. Reality is much more about the mundane, and it contains many surprises and contradictions too.

3)Israel is the only democracy in the region. The government of Israel is democratically elected by its citizens. The IDF is a lawful body created by the democratic state. All citizens are lawfully bound to serve in the IDF immediately after HSC and these interviewees have done their duty. If Israel is wholly racist state, what does it say about its people and these interviewees? hmm, turns out that they're just ordinary people dealing with conflict (many were barely out of school when they experienced these things). I'd like to see how you'd handle being in their situation.

4) The harsh reality of occupiers and occupied involves two sides to the conflict. If you say that the State of Israel is to blame for this reality then I point a finger equally at the Palestinian leadership who have mismanaged their opportunities to resolve the conflict time and again - both with the western and arab worlds. Yassar Arafat waged the second intifada against Israeli citizens in the middle of peace negotiations, leading to a more harsh reoccupation and erection of the security barrier. He sided with Saddam Hussein during the gulf war and saw many thousands of his expats violently expelled from Kuwait in the aftermath. And thousands of missles "exported" from Gaza onto civilian targets just in 2012 from an organisation that has since its inception sworn to dismantle Israel (not peacefully, we can be assured) are an indication that there's plenty of radical violent hot-headedness amongst the Palestinian leadership.

The above is not to exonerate or excuse behaviours, only to point out that superficial blanket damnation of this or that party is both pointless and unhelpful in solving the problem. It takes more than violet rhetoric to change reality. And there is more than one side to this story.

denise
Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - 12:51

In regards to 'occupation' of the lands of Israel, which have been under dispute since recorded history, no one ethnicity or religion has more rights to those lands than the carriers of that first attempted recorded history of that region (see the Holy Bible) than the Jewish people.
Their language and culture is imbued with the ethnicity of the region. Hebrew is an ancient (if not the most ancient) semitic language and many of their customs relate back to the times of Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek occupation.
So I reiterate, it is the Jews who are the one and only original ethnic group (of same religion and customs) to occupy and rule the land of Israel in their own right, without control from outside.
These may have been brief periods of a few hundred years, (a few biblical kings and the Hashmoneans for a few centuries prior to Alexander) but none the less this is a fact. So logically, it would follow that if the land of Israel belongs to any one group or ethnicity with continued connection to the land, it is the Jewish people.

geoffff
Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - 13:44

A correction to my earlier comment. The anonymous IDF paratrooper was no where near Hebron in 2002. It could only have been Nablus April 2002 during this operation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Nablus

I should have said

A man on a roof top in a strategic place during a fire fight against armed fascist insurgents is shot. Anonymous IDF guy says the fascist lookout didn't have a gun. At least he didn't see one. Maybe he didn't have a gun.. That would make him the only man in Nablus who did not have a gun. Especially in April 5-8 2002 during this operation as this IDF soldier could only be.

I doubt that anonymous was in Nablus but likely he knows someone who was or has picked over an account of someone who indeed I would bet was very near the old Casbah right about when this happened

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/08/world/mideast-turmoil-west-bank-battle...

Dr Dog
Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - 16:06

It may not be worth biting, but denise - "unless you declare yourself as unarmed and an ally of the dominant forces, you are both stupid and fair game in the ongoing resistance to the military forces of Israel."

So a guy on the roof of his house at 2am needs now to declare himself as unarmed (he wasn't) and supportive of the Israeli forces (that he doesn't know are there)? How does that work?

Doubtless Palestine needs to do much more to achieve peace, but at the same time as the peace talks you write about Israeli's were continuing to build on Palestinian land. Aggression is indeed a two way street.

The fact that Israel is a democracy with so many checks and balances havlazz, would seem to indicate that they have the means and motivation to stamp out the sort of killing described above. Israel tries so hard to maintain the moral authority, yet the article indicates a dark gap between aspiration and reality.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - 17:56

The assertion that "Israel is the only democracy in the region" is utterly false. Apartheid Israel is a democracy-by-genocide - of 12 million Palestinians only 6.7% are able to vote, albeit as Third Class citizens, for the government ruling all of Palestine.

Further, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran are non-racist democracies (albeit with country-specific limitations as with Murdochracy Australia ) - unlike genocidally racist, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel.

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

geoffff
Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - 20:05

"Just wanted to add that Israeli deaths from Palestinian rockets (I think if I recall correctly) over the last decade is 11. Direct deaths from Israeli military force in the many thousands."

What a disgustingly racist comment.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 14:55

denise:
Here are some references (other than the bible) that may help you in identifying today's Jews versus ancient Hebrews:
Finkelstein/Silberman (archaelogists): "he Bible Unearthed"
Arthur Koestler (writer, historian) "The Thirteenth Tribe"
Shlomo Sand (historian): "The Invention of the Jewish People".

Does not look good for modern Jews in those books.

denise
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 13:19

I've read all of those books Marga and the identification process of ethnicity (language and beliefs) is always fraught with missing documentation and archaeological evidence spanning centuries, some of it deliberately burnt in Jerusalem and Alexandria and other Hebrew 'centres of learning' in the ancient (Before Christ) world.
The Jewish people have nothing to worry about because their language (Hebrew) connects them irrevocably with the ancient land of Israel. Therefore their ethnicity is not in question here, but their continuous religious and cultural association with the land.
And therefore I stipulate it suited the enemies of the Hebrews (Greeks) to destroy as much of the compelling evidence of Hebrew texts and historical documentation in the region as possible, (e.g. Alexander the Great) no doubt to disassociate the Hebrews from their records as they were always forced to contest their continuing relationship with the land, a land which is known to be vital to Hebrew/Jewish identity.
However, due to almost continuous violence between the invaders of non-Hebrews (Greeks/Christians, British/Crusaders, Turkish/Muslims etc.) in the region over the centuries, most of this evidence of the Jewish/Hebrew people (followers of the Old Testament) and their continuous association and partial occupation of the land (where allowable) has been either deliberately destroyed, dispersed and/or lost.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 - 14:37

Well, Denise, we have to agree to disagree. Ethnicity, the genetic roots, is what counts for me. Religion is irrelevant to me. I can adopt a religion today and jettison it tomorrow, but I cannot jettison my genetic roots.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. aussiegreg
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 - 20:36

I had hoped someone would take @DrGideonPolya to task for his absurd list of Middle East "democracies", but it seems the Jew-haters won't criticise one of their own, the Arab-haters are much more concerned with ancient history, and Dr Dog finds it all too tiresome to be bothered.

Let's look at Dr Polya's list, and try not to laugh. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Iraq were all dictatorships just yesterday, and all have a significant level of continuing civil unrest to go with their aspirations to one day be functioning democracies. Only Iraq has a democratic constitution, and it is honoured more in the breach than the observance.

Iraq has been trying the longest to be more democratic, with the result that today the northern third of the country is controlled by a Marxist dictatorship, the southern third by autocratic local leaders whose allegiance is to Teheran not to Baghdad, and the central third partly by the elected government in Baghdad and partly by unelected tribal elders. Oh, and that elected government has trumped up absurd charges against the opposition leader who has been forced to flee the country. Very democratic.

As for Egypt, its first democratically-elected government was dismissed from power by the military in June.

In Libya, Australia is been on the receiving end of unelected militias, but at least our nationals got out alive, unlike the American ambassador.

The elected Lebanese government is subject to a complete veto of all its decisions by the unelected terrorist organisation Hezbollah.

And I really can't believe Dr Polya included Iran in his list. Not only does the Islamic Republic parade its theocracy as a model for the Muslim world, where a panel of mad mullahs choose first the country's dictator, the Supreme Leader, and then choose all the candidates permitted to stand in any election at any level, but then it fixes the elections that <i>are </i>held to be further sure their particular candidate wins in every ballot.

Which leaves just Turkey, certainly the most democratic country on this list, but hardly democratic by our standards, with its prescribed role for the military, its denial of civil rights to minorities, especially the Kurds, and its current government's flirtation with moving towards a theocracy on the Iranian model. No surprise that Turkish cities where the hijab was once rarely seen are now populated by niquabs and burkhas.

And then you have Dr Polya's criticisms of Israel as a democracy which I suspect even many of his fellow Jew-haters find a tad over the top.

Let's start with the suffrage. Anyone of any race or religion born within the borders of the original state of Israel has the right to vote, and indeed all the rights of any other citizen of Israel. Odd for Apartheid, even odder for genocide.

This includes the 6.7% of Palestinians Dr Polya refers to. The rest of the 12 million he mentions live either in the occupied territories (where they are nominally still the citizens of the Arab countries who claim those territories but who do not have democratic assemblies for which they could vote in any event) or elsewhere in the world, including in so-called refugee camps which are actually towns with multi-storey buildings and infrastructure which would put to shame most of what is available in historical Palestinian settlements.

The State of Israel has for decades been offering those occupied territories – well, almost all of them, but with corresponding offsets of land within Israel – to the Palestinians so they can have a state of their own, and an elected government of their own, but they keep knocking it back, unless it comes with all of Jerusalem, an unfettered Right of Return to Israel proper, and a number of other unworkable demands. Meanwhile, Israel allows them to elect the Palestinian Authority, on a universal suffrage unknown elsewhere in the Arab world until this year.

Since the occupied territories are not now and never were part of State of Israel, the fact that Israel proposes a separate system of government for those territories, subject to the consent of the countries whose territories they are, can hardly be called Apartheid, let alone genocide. And what do you call the Gaza Strip, which Israel abandoned to the tender mercies of Hamas in 2005?

The Right of Return, the right to come into Israel from beyond the borders of the state and live there with the full rights of any other citizen, the State of Israel awards to any person of Jewish heritage living anywhere in the world no matter how distant and how lacking in evidence their connection to Palestine may be. By contrast, no Arab qualifies, no matter how close and well evidenced their connection – someone who fled their home within the boundaries of what is now Israel when the original terrorists, the Zionist Irgun, came knocking, for example. Or their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren. It's unquestionably discriminatory, arguably racist, but certainly not Apartheid or genocide.

denise
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2012 - 16:51

People who consider genetics above religion are following very dangerous path indeed. It is freedom of belief that overrides any genetic considerations.
That said if you study the genetic pool of Jews you will find a very large proportion do actually have Middle Eastern roots, so there goes your theory about genetic roots.

Dr Dog
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 12:12

It is a bot tiresome aussiegreg, but mainly I don't feel qualified to comment as I don't hate either group.