2008 June 29 Sunday
Nicholas Kristof On Israeli Colonization Of The West Bank

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times says traveling thru the West Bank feels like traveling thru Israeli colonies. Er, this is supposed to be a revelation?

The security system that Israel is steadily establishing is nowhere more stifling than here in Hebron, the largest city in the southern part of the West Bank. In the heart of a city with 160,000 Palestinians, Israel maintains a Jewish settlement with 800 people. To protect them, the Israeli military has established a massive system of guard posts, checkpoints and road closures since 2001.

More than 1,800 Palestinian shops have closed, in some cases the doors welded shut, and several thousand people have been driven from their homes. The once flourishing gold market is now blocked with barbed wire and choked with weeds and garbage.

Sure, close 1800 Palestinian shops to allow 800 Israeli Jews live in the middle of a hostile population that feels like it is being invaded. Why not? After all. those Jews are following their interpretation of God's will. Even if we do not share their interpretation of God's will, well, who's to judge another person's religious beliefs? If you pay taxes to the United States government then thanks to the Jewish lobby your taxes help pay for this. Is this neat or what?

Some will think I'm being disrespectful when I say these people are nutters. Okay, I own up to that. Yes, I'm being disrespectful. Some human activities are so over the top in their foolishness and unfairness that disrespect is a rational response. It is not like respectful disagreement will help any. So why not go whole hog into disrespect?

Palestinian women have to give birth at checkpoints. Granted, the Palestinians are winning the battle of the womb. But is this sort of treatment necessary? Oh yes, it is. How else can "settlers" live in the midst of the Palestinians and take their land?

It is here in the Palestinian territories that you see the worst side of Israel: Jewish settlers stealing land from Palestinians (almost one-third of settlement land is actually privately owned by Palestinians); Palestinian women giving birth at checkpoints because Israeli soldiers wonít let them through (four documented cases last year); the diversion of water from Palestinians. (Israelis get almost five times as much water per capita as Palestinians.)

Where is the rule of law when lands can be taken that are owned by others? He says the Israeli courts periodically rule in favor of Palestinians. Well, what percentage of all the Palestinians who have had their land taken or their shop welded shut have gotten court rulings in their favor? Even 1% I doubt it.

Yet it is also here that you see the very best side of Israel. Israeli human rights groups relentlessly stand up for Palestinians. Israeli women volunteer at checkpoints to help Palestinians through. Israeli courts periodically rule in favor of Palestinians. Israeli scholars have published research that undermines their own nationís mythologies. Many Israeli journalists have been fair-minded toward Palestinians in a way that Arab journalists have rarely reciprocated.

Yes, the Arabs definitely want only Arab Muslims to rule in the Middle East. I say let them. But at the same time keep them out of the West.

There are civilizations on this planet that are incompatible with each other. They should be kept separated by clearly delineated borders with substantial barrier walls. But in the case of the Israelis and the West Bank a clear line drawn between the Israelis and the Palestinians serves as an obstacle to the dreams of the Israeli fanatics who want to occupy all of the West Bank. The fanatics aren't making enough babies to carry out their dreams. The Israelis really ought to back off and live within demographically defensible borders. But the fanatics think they have God on their side.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 June 29 10:24 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis

Ned said at June 30, 2008 6:14 AM:

Why, Randall, it almost sounds as if you are becoming a globalist. You are, of course, correct when you say that Israel should live within demographically defensible borders. And there are, as you say, fanatics on the Israeli side. But Hezbollah and Hamas are not exactly the voice of sweet reason. Most of the Palestinians would probably like to annihilate every Jew in Israel, if not on the entire planet. Then they could get "their" land back and turn it into a cesspool of corruption, degeneracy and despotism like every other Arab country. This is nothing but Middle Eastern tribal/sectarian warfare at its best (or worst). I'm getting sick of hearing about the Middle East, and frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damn. Let the Israel-firsters (both Jewish and Christian) and the Palestinian apologists (like Jimmy "The Wimp" Carter) settle their disputes somewhere else - I don't want to hear about it anymore. I don't believe that 60 years of US and Western European meddling in the region has made things a whole lot better and may even have made them worse. And, of course, then both sides blame us.

When visiting Muslim countries, one of the most frequent complaints against the West is that we are constantly meddling in their affairs. They see a continuum from the Crusades to the colonial era to the present day. This may sound preposterous to us, but they really believe it. So give them what they want. As you say, it is best that we separate ourselves completely from this incompatible culture. And if we ask them to leave us alone, then we should leave them alone. So if the Israeli fanatics want to kick the tar out of the Palestinians and take their land, well, too bad, I guess, but it's not our concern.

Wolf-Dog said at June 30, 2008 6:17 AM:

Clearly, the majority of Jewish Israelis do not want to steal land from the Palestinians, and in exchange for real peace, most Jewish Israelis would even force the extremist settlers out of West Bank.

But the majority of Palestinians (not just Hamas) would like to eradicate the Jewish presence in that region (which existed long before the European Holocaust survivors came to the Middle East).

Now please consider this: When Germany lost WW II, both Russia and Poland took big chunks of Germany in retribution for the war or annihilation that Germany had launched against Poland and Russia. After WW II, millions of Polish citizens of German ancestry, were actually stripped of their citizenship and they were forced to move to West Germany. The famous German actor Klaus Kinski was one of the Polish Germans who were expelled from Poland to Germany. Germany also lost Prussia to Poland, and the German town of Konigsberg was taken by the Russians after WW II, and the many thousands of Germans who had been residing there for generations were all expelled to Germany, and Russian settlers totally colonized that region. Konigsberg was then renamed Kaliningrad, and is a Russian enclave in the Baltic sea, near Poland and Russia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaliningrad

Of course, two wrongs don't make a right, but the point is that after all the collective attempts by the Arab world to destroy all of Israel, every time Arabs lost the war, the punishment for the war of aggression that they suffered, was very small in comparison to historical standards. Egypt got back 100 % the land it lost as soon as it recognized Israel, but Germany did not get any land back for becoming civilized after WW II. Right now there are negotiations between Israel and Syria, and if Syria sincerely recognizes Israel, then Israel would almost certainly pull out of the Golan Heights taken from Syria during the 1967 war. If Palestinians recognize Israel, Israel would evacuate almost all of the settlements. Also, the main reason for the blockade of West Bank is to prevent Hamas from arming that region with artillery and missiles, which would almost certainly be the end of Israel.

Most Israelis are the children of Mizrahi Jews of North African, Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian ancestry, who were second class citizens there. The 15 % Israeli Arabs have FAR more rights than the Jews in Arab countries.

BCB said at June 30, 2008 7:47 AM:

I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for the Palestinians or any other muslims, they're all violent scum. If Israel wants peace, it needs to kick them out across the Jordan. In my view, Israel is easy on these savages. They are too dangerous to have around. Their problems are all their own, so fuck them.

Wolf-Dog said at June 30, 2008 8:14 AM:

BCB: Kicking the Palestinians out of West Bank will not bring peace, since they will come back for revenge with far more advanced weapons which know no boundary, and this time they will have nothing to lose once they are totally dispossessed. On the contrary, in the West Bank, there are a lot of Palestinians who are becoming prosperous despite the overall poverty caused by the blockade. If the Palestinian economy improves, then the chances are very high that Hamas will lose its popularity. The "refugee camps" in West Bank, are already small cities with electricity and water (better than the tents in Israel where the 600,000 Mizrahi Jewish refugees lived after they were forced to leave their homes in Arab countries during the 1950s and 1960s.) And various Palestinian businesses are operational in the West Bank despite the war, and so West Bank is something the Palestinians don't want to lose in a total war. If Palestinians realize that it is impossible to destroy Israel without getting totally destroyed, then they will cut a deal in the end.

thegomezsymbol said at June 30, 2008 9:27 AM:

I am sort of with Randall on this one. Except on the business about owning up to the disrespect. Here is how the "good books" explain how they will respect you back.

"For if ye shall diligently keep all this commandment which I command you, to do it, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him, then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border."
-Deut 11:22-24

"Fight and slay the pagans (non-Muslims) wherever you find them." (Surah 9:5)
"Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day... nor acknowledge the religion of truth, and fight people of the book, until they pay Jizya (penalty tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." (Surah 9:29)

Dragon Horse said at June 30, 2008 12:21 PM:


Pagans in that sutra do not mean "non-Muslims".

It means people not of an Abrahamic religion.

People of the Book (in the next verse) means Christians and Jews...who share kinship with Muslims through Abraham.

Historically though...various Muslim empires have extended "People of the Book" status to non-Muslims such as Zoroastrians in Persia and Hindus in ancient India, mainly because they had no choice, there were too many to slaughter wholesale.

Traditionally Buddhist, Animists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, believers in Norse mythology, and what have you were all considered "Pagan" and should be given a choice.

Covert, leave, or die.

Most people converted.

People of the book, usually converted as well if they were poorer because they could not deal with the heavy tax (jizya) imposed on them. This is how Egypt was Arabized and most areas today in the Middle East and North Africa outside of Arab that we consider "Arab".

thegomezsymbol said at June 30, 2008 2:05 PM:

Dragon Horse:

"slay pagans [...] fight people of the book until they pay penalty tax with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued".

My point was that Randall should not care about being disrespectful to people that will pay him back with "Covert, leave, or die". What was your point?

Stephen said at June 30, 2008 4:08 PM:

Its not as if the Palestinians didn't vote to contribute their land for the creation of the Israeli state.

Oh, wait. I'm wrong. No one bothered to ask them.

Is it any wonder that they're a trifle pissed off?

From their point of view it was a western sponsored invasion from day 1 and they've merely been resisting the occupiers ever since.

Randall Parker said at June 30, 2008 6:08 PM:


If the Palestinians were the voice of reason the Jewish "settlers" would still steal their land. The Palestinians are in an impossible situation. If they do nothing they lose their land. If they fight back in the only manner available (terrorism) they are bad-mouthed and they still lose their land.

The Palestinian Christians have had their land taken every bit as much as the Palestinian Muslims. This is key.

Why we should even think about it at all: Other Americans make us get involved in this mess.

Wolf-Dog said at June 30, 2008 6:14 PM:

Already in 1929, the Hebron Massacre in "Palestine" was the slaughter of the Jews living there. In the Ottoman Empire, the Jews were already in that region. The Romans did not deport to Rome all Jews as slaves, many Jews still remained there... Before and during WW II, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the redoubtable Islamic cleric who was intensely antisemitic, actually went to Germany as an adviser to Adolf Hitler to figure out how best to eradicate the Jews. Right now most Jews in "Palestine" are actually dark skinned Middle Eastern Jews who went to Israel to escape being second class citizens in Arab countries and in Iran. You cannot call this a western sponsored invasion of Palestine.

Stephen said at June 30, 2008 8:14 PM:

Wolf-dog, during ww2 some jews were busily attacking british troops in Palestine - based on your logic can we assume that they must have been pro-nazi axis forces desperately trying to divert allied resources from the war in Europe?

For that matter, what does pro-nazi mean from an arab perspective? Its not as if the arab masses would have been anything more than dimly aware of the politics surrounding the war in Europe or of who was on what side or who was doing what to whom. From their perspective all they would see is that the colonial overlords (Britain, Italy and France) seemed to be focussed on other things between 1939 and 1945, and that sometimes another bunch of foreigners (calling themselves 'Germans') rolled into town before being chased out again by the British.

As for slaughters, for every slaughter by one side, I'll give you a slaughter by another. We can take it right back to the first five books of the old testament (ie the talmud) if you like... There are some real nasty psyco slaughters in those books. What conclusions would you conclude about the character of the current jewish people based on those histories?

Big Bill said at June 30, 2008 9:39 PM:

Boy! You sure know how to pick a fight, Randall! Actually the Israeli settlers are winning the demographic battle with their baby-making. Families of 6-8-10 kids are common among the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews. And the social support and fundamentalism they have is making the liberal atheist Ashkenazi Jews real nervous. You want to hear hate speech? Go to any of the secular Ashkenazi websites where the liberal European Jews hang out. Read the Ashkenazi letters to the Editor at jpost.com or haaretz.com. They are p!ssed off by the breeding habits, draft-dodging, financial scamming and badd attitudes of the Haredi Jews. Garbage and rotten fruit thrown at Ashkenazis as they drive or walk through neighborhoods that are claimed by Haredis. Ashkenazi women slapped around on busses by Haredi men and called whores when they don't go to the back of the bus. What with the new Jewish fundamentalism taking over in Israel, the liberal atheist Ashkenazi Jews are feeling less and less "at home" in Israel. But you have to hand it to the Haredim. They are doing the Jewish breeding that over-educated Askenazi princesses just can't bring themselves to do.

Stephen said at July 1, 2008 12:58 AM:

Bill, an Israeli friend says much the same. Apparently the ultra-orthodox don't like the idea of being employed (apparently they live on other people's money), plus the government has now started funding their own "school system" (in quotes because they primarily spend the day busily memorising the Talmud rather than learning the 3Rs). Intra-religious trouble ahead according to my friend.

Ned said at July 1, 2008 5:43 AM:

RP _

You are right. The Palestinians are damned if they do and damned if they don't. My feelings? Too bad for them, but that's the way the Middle East works. It's all about dominance and submission and tribalist warfare. If you lose, you're screwed. The Israelis have been pounding the Palestinians for sixty years, and the other Arabs treat them almost as badly. Believe me, if the situation were reversed, the Palestinians would stick it to the Jews even harder, so what do you expect? I try to avoid reading about this dreadful situation or what new outrage one side has committed against the other, because I don't feel it's any of our business and that nothing we do is going to make any difference anyway.

KJ said at July 1, 2008 6:15 AM:

"...and the other Arabs treat them almost as badly."

I remember reading some Syrian government official sad something to the effect of "We are going to fight the Israelis to the last Palestinian." The other Arab nations use them to wage war on the Israelis on the cheap and everyone hates them, most of all other Arabs. The Jordanians hate them and had to kick them out in because they tried to overthrow the monarchy.

West Wall said at July 1, 2008 7:37 AM:

"Yet it is also here that you see the very best side of Israel. Israeli human rights groups relentlessly stand up for Palestinians. Israeli women volunteer at checkpoints to help Palestinians through. Israeli courts periodically rule in favor of Palestinians. Israeli scholars have published research that undermines their own nationís mythologies. Many Israeli journalists have been fair-minded toward Palestinians in a way that Arab journalists have rarely reciprocated."

Self-delusion. Liberals are the same all over. Kahane was right.

Wolf-Dog said at July 1, 2008 7:50 PM:

Randall Parker wrote: "If the Palestinians were the voice of reason the Jewish "settlers" would still steal their land.

This is NOT true because of the following reason: IF the Palestinians did not rely on terrorism, then the MAJORITY of the Israelis would not allow the small minority of greedy "settlers" to steal any Palestinian land. Here is an example: When Ariel Sharon decided that it was in Israel's interest to evacuate all the Israeli settlers from Gaza, these Jewish settlers of Gaza resisted but the Israeli Army and the police forced them to get out kicking and screaming. This decision was approved by the majority of Israelis. But to be honest, right now, many Israelis are having second thoughts, because this "good behavior" of Israel actually triggered even more terrorism from many Palestinian groups, because it was misunderstood as weakness from the part of Israelis.

Stephen said at July 2, 2008 4:34 AM:

I've been in some of the Palestinian refugee camps. Nasty places to live, but great places to produce another generation willing to fight. They're just fighting as best they can to oust the invaders who stole their land and thereby improve their circumstances. Its what humans do.

My guess is that in the long run Israel will be arabised. Demographic trends are strongly against the culturally western jews, who have become soft, don't breed in sufficient numbers and will emigrate to the west when things get tough. Those who stay behind will be the religious fanatics who won't know how to run a modern economy. Pretty soon all you have is another tinpot middle eastern country.

Then there's the army. Its sharp edge has been blunted by years of being an occupying army that spends its time shooting stone throwers, bulldozing houses, ripping up olive gardens and being generally oppressive.

Wolf-Dog said at July 2, 2008 6:50 AM:

Stephen wrote:"Demographic trends are strongly against the culturally western jews, who have become soft, don't breed in sufficient numbers and will emigrate to the west when things get tough.

Right now, demographically, more than 50 % of the Israeli Jews (the Jewish population of Israel is more than 5 million), happen to be the children of the 600,000 Mizrahi Jews from Arab countries and Iran, who were forced to leave their original homes when Israel was created, because of the antisemitic riots and government sponsored mistreatment in those countries. Incidentally, the number of Palestinians who were kicked out of the interior of Israel when the Arab world started a war of annihilation as soon as Israel was created after WW II, happen to be approximately 600,000.

Granted, some of the the German, Polish and Russian Jews in Israel might want to emigrate to America and Europe, but the Mizrahi Israeli Jews would not leave. Additionally, many of the European Israeli Jews are actually intermarried with the Israeli Mizrahi Jews, and so they strongly identify with Israel.

Additionally, these high IQ western Jews in Israel, have also studied statistics in high school and college, and they know that Europe is being Arabized even faster than Israel. And America might be next. So there is no reason to abandon Israel for these people.

Audacious Epigone said at July 2, 2008 10:50 AM:


Hehe, exactly. That's just what the Crusades were, humans fighting to regain land stolen from them over a period of four centuries!


I'd be more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause if the Israeli pullout from Gaza didn't lead to exactly what right-wing Jews said it would lead to.

Audacious Epigone said at July 2, 2008 10:53 AM:


It is preposterous--the Crusades were unknown throughout the Muslim world for 600 years after they happened. The first Middle Eastern history of the European movement was written in 1899.

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