How to Make Enemies and Repel People: Robert Goot and 60 Minutes

For those still defending our current leadership’s handling of public relations, please ask yourselves this question: if our leaders are so very effective, why does Israel continue to receive consistently unflattering press?

Indeed, problematic coverage, which used to be the preserve of the public broadcasters, has now bled into the mainstream.

The 60 Minutes segment, “Hate Thy Neighbour,” which aired on Sunday night, should not notable for being of questionable journalistic quality.

The segment should concern all of us because it marks a transition: Israel is no longer just the concern of the A/B and leftist demographics that watch ABC and SBS.

Last Sunday, a highly inflammatory portrayal of Israel was beamed into middle Australia’s living rooms.

This is precisely the state of affairs I have been warning about. Previously, the wider electorate couldn’t have cared less about Middle Eastern politics, and so it cost our politicians nothing to curry favour with our communal leaders.

If this segment presages a shift in Middle Australia’s perception of Israel and, by extension, Jews, our leaders may find it harder to gain the sort of access to power they currently enjoy.

Somehow, the rest of Australia has worked out that the media and public relations operate via a series of informal relationships, mutual understandings, and, occasionally, the exchange of favours.

Very rarely is a politician stupid enough to come down hard on the media: most public figures understand that in any battle with the media, the individual, no matter how powerful, is almost never going to win.

So why don’t our leaders get this? Why do they persist in speaking to media outlets with a combination of contempt, condescension, and imperium? No one is making friends or influencing anybody.

When a segment is broadcast, or a story published, these pieces cannot be removed from the public consciousness.

No matter how many apologies are wrung out of various editors or producers; no matter how powerful this might make our leading men feel, the reality is that the public has already seen or read the offending piece.

By writing angry letters to media organisations that include various demands – some odder than others – our leaders only cement a vile preconception of Jews. No one is being convinced, least of all the public.

Indeed, when such Jewish pressure is made public, we always come out looking far worse than we did when the original piece was aired or published. It doesn’t matter whether we right about the facts. It doesn’t matter how skewed the reportage was. Our current methods make us look like enemies of free speech and open debate – and by extension, enemies of Australian liberal democratic values.

Danny Lamm wrote a reasonably standard letter of complaint to Channel 9. While I would have strongly counselled against the tone he used and the demand he made, it was no more objectionable than past communal efforts. At the very least, Dr Lamm had the decency to state exactly whom he represents and not to imply that he was speaking on behalf of every Australian Jew.

The same cannot be said of Robert Goot. His letter to Channel 9 is an unmittigated disaster for the community.

Firstly, he claims to represent us all.

As Jews, we can choose which shul to go to, which school to send our children to, and which organisations to participate in. What we can’t do is choose our ethnic designation. So when Goot speaks on behalf of all of us, we cannot easily opt out.

Goot’s letter presents the numerous areas that Israel’s supporters would have found problematic, but does so in adversarial and strident tones.

After the initial letter, he sent a suplementary letter to Channel 9, just in case they were unsure of whether he was actually trying to force their hand.

For the doubters, let me assure you: wider Australia does not view this behaviour as a show of courage or strength. This sort of conduct is only ever seen as an attempt at intimidation.

If our leaders insist on speaking for all of us – even when they so obviously have no mandate – they would do us all a far greater service if they did not try to douse every anti-Israel media spot fire with the petrol of self righteous vitriol.

It would be far more useful if they instead worked consistently to foster relationships with journalists and the wider community – perhaps in a similar vein to the manner in which they build relations with politicians.

The end of Goot’s first letter is easily the most bizarre aspect of this entire spectacle.

He “invites” – the tenor of his suggestion does not speak of warm hospitality, but is more of a command – the journalist responsible for the segment to a luncheon with what he claims will be a variety of Jewish representatives.

At this luncheon, the journalist will have a chance to speak and be peppered with questions from our “representatives.”

All of this will take place under “Chatham House Rules” – meaning that what happens at the ECAJ luncheon stays in the ECAJ luncheon. Goot suggests this secrecy is designed to protect the journalist from… I’m not entirely sure what.

It certainly protects all of us ordinary Jews from knowing what on earth our leaders are doing. They’ve been protecting us for so long, many of us see it as normal.

It’s not normal.

And we are all being damaged in the process.

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102 Responses to “How to Make Enemies and Repel People: Robert Goot and 60 Minutes”

  1. Sisu says:

    Morry, a delayed response to your post (#48).

    You said:

    “What we have is land that is Jewish owned and titled sitting in territory that was allocated to be part of the Jewish State in 1924, and no agreement that has since overturned that decision. In terms of the bigger picture, the Mandate of Palestine was effectively partitioned in 1924 between its inhabitants, with the Arabs receiving around 80% of it for their homeland, and the Jewish homeland defined as everything west of the Jordan River (today’s Israel, WB and Gaza). The Arabs, not content with 80% began violent massacres of Jews which were very effective and led to the Peel Commission recommendation of a further partition of the Jewish Homeland in order to restore order. This remained the plan in 1947, but the Arabs refused the offer, so it simply ceased being on the table, and legally we are back to the last deal … 1924.”

    I bow to your expertise in the history of the region – my knowledge does not compare to yours. But I feel we come back full circle to TheSadduce’s comment – the more you rely on hairsplitting, on legal commentary, the more you have lost the PR battle.

    Do you really want to take everything back to the 1924 League of Nations decision? The League of Nations was very much a white man’s club – it was very much invested in the colonial division of the world, of the “white man’s burden”. And the people of Palestine did not get a say in the partitioning of the Middle East…. hardly a high point in human relations.

    Israel had borders in 1967. The unprovoked attack of its neighbouring states showed 1967 (arguably) to be Israel’s finest hour – Israel fought off aggressors and showed itself to be a nation not just in fact but by its own actions.

    As we have commented, the position of Israel post-1967 has become precarious in the Western media – precisely because the situation in the Occupied Territories has gone on so long. Once Jewish settlements moved into the OT, and once Palestinians became persona non grata in those settlements, the battle for sympathy of the Israeli cause was lost. You may claim a legal right – you may even have, according to the letter of the law, that legal right – but at the end of the day it will be seen as a defacto extension of Israeli borders at the expense of a downtrodden, defeated people.

    There are some (right-wing) groups in Israel who clearly want to extend Israel’s borders – unlike you Morry, who recognise the need for compromise and to allow the Palestinians some measure of self-determination. Unfortunately it is these settlers who get the wider press… which to return the topic back to the SJ’s original post, is not helped by Jewish leaders in Australia who call for closed meetings and who see any attack on Israel as a personal attack on their Jewishness.

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  2. sydyid says:

    Mohan

    1. Asking questions does not constitute an argument and your questions are not even rhetorical, so no excuse.
    2. The Ashrawi incident I described above proves:
    – the so called Jewish lobby is yet another absurdity on which the whole plethora of anti Semitism relies.
    – the actual Palestinian lobby reeks to high heaven and a good starting point would be the UN with all its affiliates to which a certain Mr. Goldstone is the latest addition.
    – invitations and acceptances are NOT synonymous to lobbying, and that also means consuming kosher food/wine at the respective events, just in case.

    A different “just in case” applies to respect for Zionism. Mohan shall find that civilised natioons and their respective decent politicians consider Zionism an utterly respectable institution. The opposite to all of the above think precisely the opposite.

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  3. Mohan says:

    Sydyid I went back carefully over my writing. I found no questions there – not even rhetorical questions. The ashravi incident proved the existance of the “jewish ” lobby – they got Lucy Trunbull to boycott the meeting. Mr Goldstone is a self-professed Zionist and his daughter evn did Aliyah. Civilised nations and decent politicians, obviously Third World countries are not “civilised” and “decent” while those who invade a country over falsified reports are!

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  4. Mohan says:

    Sorry Sydid I meant an excalmation mark where I had placed a Question mark. Obviously, that is the rhetorical question you mean. I think it is valid and if you have evidence to disprove it please do so.

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  5. Sisu says:

    There is nothing wrong with having a Lobby – many interest groups / social / cultural group have them.

    The Jewish lobby, judging from what I have read in SJ’s posts, suffers from the same malaise as other lobby groups – a lack of transparency, the same individuals promoting a set viewpoint, and the representation of one monolithic front. The lobby in which I have the most experience – the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Lobby – suffers from the same problems.

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  6. Morry says:

    I guess Sisu, we can deal with legalities, we can deal with what is right, and we can deal with percetions and PR … but given that these all tend to be very different, we can’t straddle them all at the same time. If, as you suggest, we cater to PR … well, the most common perception is that Israel is a colonial power that has usurped Palestinan land and doesn’t belong there. Does that mean that, for the sake of better PR, we pack our bags and leave, last man out switch off the lights please. In reality, there isn’t a jot of truth in any of that smoke-and-mirror PR.

    I know I repeat it, but it’s because it’s appropriate. Two children fighting over a ball. Who do you give the the ball to? The one who is smaller, the “underdog”? The one who cries the loudest (best PR)? The one who is most belligerent (prepared to die so he must be right)? the one the bystanders are pushing for (your effective PR case)? Or the one who can produce documentary evidence that he bought the ball (my position on historic evidence of ownership)?

    The rational just case is a simple one where the wild emotions stirred by myths are stripped away. Turkey lost WW1 and its empire crumbled. Most of the land of that empire was state land. Ownership of land by anyone who had ever purchased it was recognised by the Turks, by the British and by Israel, Jordan etc today. That is, nobody was ever stripped of land they owned. The Ottoman state lands became the property of the League of Nations who disbursed it to the residents, setting up nations in the process. The area known as Palestine was more than fairly divided amongst Jews and Arabs, with 80% going to the Arab inhabitants. Most of these inhabitants were content with the arrangement, but a small proportion of virulently antisemitic ones weren’t. They began killing Jews in 1920 in order to take it all. The stated intent of the League of Nations was to restore the indegenous Jewish nation to its homeland … as we would undoubtedly do with the Aborigines had they been driven out of Australia by the early settlers.

    Does any of this strike you as wrong or unfair, Sisu? It strikes me that people have bent over backwards to accommodate the Arabs, giving them so much territory they never owned that the mind boggles. Does it really seem right to you that they should want it all, and have continued the war into the terrorist and PR realm in order to achieve that? The campaign against the Jews was begun by Haj Amin al Husseini, a man who made a deal to help Hitler, if he agreed to come to the Middle East and set up death camps to eliminate every Jew. Husseini was Egyptian-born and bred Yassar Arafat’s uncle and mentor, with whom he lived for years. Husseini was also mentor to Mahmud Abbas, a man who has twice now angrily established that “he would never recognise Israel as a Jewish state” (despite the proposed state of “Palestine” being chartered as a Moslem state) … is there any pattern jumping out at you here?

    In my world it’s not about PR but about what is right and fair. I am well aware that in the Arab world, and probably most of the Moslem world, Israel’s existence on what was once Moslem Ottoman land is totally unacceptable. That position is not one I’m inclined to cater to because I know it to be morally bankrupt.

    In a bizarre twist of reality, it is the Jews who are indigenous to the West Bank, with an entire history traceable in its rocks and structures, and the Arabs who are the foreign colonisers, and they have colonised it heavily since WW1. That has created new demographic realities that we have to deal with. We can’t simply uproot people and traumatise their lives (though people seem to have no trouble demanding this of Jews) so a compromise must be reached.

    The most reasonable compromise, IMHO, where losses for both sides are minimal, is making the fence the border between the two sides. You have to know the topography of the West Bank to understand this. The western half is barren Judean Desert, with almost no inhabitants. 98% of the Arab population can be found on the east side of the fence with a high proportion of Jewish land on the other side, making it quite a natural border that requires no great movement of either population.

    It may not be PR appealing to many, but it is the least offensive to my own sense of justice, putting neither Jew nor Arab out more than they are already.

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  7. sydyid says:

    Sisu

    Re Lobby

    The comments you posted re the famous Jewish Lobby in Australia would carry certain weight if they were based on your first hand experience/knowledge.
    With due respect, SJ’s opinion is but an opinion and, while perfectly entitled to, and one may say, motivated by the best of intentions, is at variance with, say, my view of the same.
    Since we agree on the legitimacy of the institution, its MO is also common place among the concerned citizenry.
    Transparency is as necessary as are medical records of individuals. We know that “x” suffers from a certain complaint and even who is the famous surgeon in charge. We know that surgery was successful etc. Can we also look at the actual file and have the minutes of the consultations ?
    The RPA TV show does provide a lot of information, all with the agreement of all parties, but this is not the norm.
    Back to norms, the Jewish lobby is as transparent as is the incerdibly well known range of policies the said lobby makes incredibly public. In some cases, legal, we “lobby” with the courts for certain unwanted activities to be stopped. This is actual lobby of a different kind because, just like with the other varieties, it expresses the Jewish desire to have changes activated to suit our principles. In the same manner, when lobbying outside the legal area, we also ask for certain changes, also within the known perimeter of official activities and also within the known legal/constitutional framework.
    For more transparency the AJN has on offer boring pictures of Jewish men and women smiling in the company of influential politicians and alike.
    The “monolithical” comment, if it wants to be critical then it turns out to be critical indeed but also curious. How else should it be ?! Need explanation !
    SJ places herself at the fringe, yet, I am consolidating the impression that, in fact, she is extremly mainstream, which, apart from being most wellcome, should contain critical angles simply because, if you immerse yourself into the mainstream Jewish community, you shall find the most inspiring bevy of opinions being traded, argued, exchanged etc. I, for one, love it just because of that.
    I shall leave it here, because I do have another bone with you….

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  8. sydyid says:

    Sisu

    Re: Partition

    If one takes the trouble to verify the events associated with the creation of the State of Israel, starting from 1918, the most salient feature is the problem of persuading the Arabs that the Jews were entitled to a State of their own. The partition as such provided the Arabs with a new state as well. All British attempts to solve the Arab compliance with the terms of the partition failed – see just the ” White Paper “, the numerous British Commissions, the treaties etc. -
    Just the mere impositions of limited numbers of Jews settling in what was supposed to be their own homeland, is testimony to the fact the, in actual fact, the Arabs received far larger concessions from the British than the Jews. Evidently more to say, but later.

    Your comment that the 1967 Six Day War was “unprovoked” should not have been made, if you want to be regarded as at least slightly informed on the subject.
    Well before the actual military action, the Arab – some 14 states – coalition against Israel was rattling their sabres so publicly and menacing that, in my case, I remember, my actual “war” started months before our boys made history within six days. “Unprovoked” !!?? A cursory glance at the media of the time, prior to the actual conflict, should urge you to post a retraction.

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  9. sydyid says:

    Mohan

    My general view about lobbying is posted in response to Sisu’s comments.

    Back to the Ashrawi case, I hope you don’t mind me repeating:

    The Ashrawi case has proven the FAILURE of the Jewish community, through all means available, including lobyying, to have their demands acceded to. We, the Jewish community failed big time. That should offer comfort to certain people.
    However, if you think that the Jews should not canvas their position with the authorities, or lobby, then you should also subscribe to the Palestinians indulging in the same. I shall not expand my broad spectrum of analogies because I have been censured already for sarcasm. However, take it from me, I am the Moishe Rabeinu of sarcasm….
    As about Golstone being a …zionist !! I just love it. Golstone should really see it because he deserves to. You made my day because this couldn’t upset the Justice worse, even if I tried myself.

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  10. Sisu says:

    Sydyid, relax mate. If you go back and look at my post 54 I clearly said the unprovoked attack on Israel by its neighbours. My knowledge of the event includes the restraint that Israel showed in not initiating a pre-emptive strike against its antagonists.

    As I have always said, Israel has obligations to its citizens and an absolute right to exist. But I don’t think going back and using the post-WWI political landscape of the world is the right way to prove “legitimacy”. The situation is, in principle, no different to the taking of Australia from its indigenous people – in retrospect (from 2009 eyes) very difficult to justify, but removing all non-indigenous people from Australia is impossible. Now before you jump up and down, yes I recognise that the Jews have a historical and continual connection to the Middle East, and the situations are not 100% comparable… and the division of the British Mandate was the best compromise. So, IMHO, the state of Israel has a right to exist and an obligation to protect its people and its way of life.

    But using the legalities of almost 100 years ago – when the world was a different place – to justify the actions of today is not the way to win over popular Australian opinion.

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  11. TheSadducee says:

    @Sydyid

    I’m reluctant to engage you because you just ignore everything that you personally disagree with regardless of evidence or not – but you have made the mistake with regards to Sisu’s comment regarding the 1967 war.

    Go back and re-read his comment and, if I may, I urge you to post a retraction.

    @Morry

    “What exactly do you propose, TheSadducee, that Israelis grit their teeth and die in droves just so that Israel will have good PR? Is that really what you’re saying?”

    -I can only assume you were lost in the passion of the moment when you wrote this? I’m not sure but I guess you haven’t really read much of what I’ve written here to think that I would support such a position.

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  12. sydyid says:

    Sisu

    No one is more relaxed than me, so here is my current jump:

    Remember clarity ?
    How can you say that Israel’s neighbours did NOT threaten ???!!!
    Are you refering to Norway or Romania ?? Because in the 14 countries I mentioned, somehow every Arab state neighbouring Israel, and I presume you do know who they are, threatened Israel At least you do cntradict yourself by alluding to all that is dear to me re Israel. Some redemption.
    Re the historicism some of us practice when advocating for Israel’s rights.
    Somewhere on this blog you are having a tette a tette with Morry on every verse and chapter of the past hundred years of Israel and its nonagreesive neighbours. While you are enjoying it, spare a thought for others who also reckon that , within the ring of arguments, recent history – about 100 years – does place a role in understanding te issues.
    In the realm of realpolitik, true, what matters are the current tangible issues. Some of them hark back to claims of rights of return due to ancestral claims ( of different ages, where Jews seem to prevail ). In the PR arena these arguments play a major role, simply because most people relate to emotional, rather than cognitive points of reference and the mere notion of more immediate loss, say home sweet home, my grandparent’s swinging tree, the smell of fresh hashish in the morning etc., has a far more potent appeal with the impressionable PR spectators/consumers.Here the Palestinian seem to have the upper hand. Morry, however, explains in painful detail why the legal, nonemotional, argument does not quite favour the sentimental favourites.

    Our, Jewish PR, must be the luckiest as we get friendly advice from all quarters. Not good enough is by far the friendliest, extending to being termed as the worst enemy of …Jewish interests.
    It works like this:
    No Jewish exposure of any kind is wellcomed anywhere. Whatever we do is ostensive Jewish propaganda. The slightest representation of any kind, graphic, literary, political etc. promoting the slightest Jewish theme gets pillored as either Zionist aggressiveness, Jewish lobby, Jewish World control, Jewish censorship and oppressive, undemocratic freedom of speech/expression obstacles etc.
    If we defend ourselves all of the above spring into action. The most ridiculous objection is the expression of surprise and amazement that we would have anything to complain about. The usual argument is that, since we control the whole world, we should not have any reason for complaint.
    Sometimes it is difficult to consider friendly advice when the preamble contains also dismissive comments about what we consider to be essential to our identity, existence as Jews. Eretz Zion, Irushalaim is as part of me as my heart and the Torah I received with my Mother’s milk is that essence that someone was enquiring about. Those who cannot see them in a Jew cannot see and unnderstand anything else about our existence and the associated issues.

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  13. sydyid says:

    Sadducee

    Please kindly rephrase your comment to/about me and also be specific.
    I cannot relate to anything you insist on because there is no meat on the bare bone.

    True Sisu has not retracted because he preffered instead to make a bigger meal of the Arab peaceful, non aggressive recent history.
    See my comments.

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  14. TheSadducee says:

    Sydyid

    You wrote:

    “Your comment that the 1967 Six Day War was “unprovoked” should not have been made, if you want to be regarded as at least slightly informed on the subject.”

    In response to Sisu’s:

    “Israel had borders in 1967. The unprovoked attack of its neighbouring states showed 1967 (arguably) to be Israel’s finest hour…”

    Sisu has written that Israel’s neighbours conducted an unprovoked attack on Israel. Provocation would only be relevant if Israel did the attacking – but Sisu hasn’t said that.

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  15. Morry says:

    Actually, I apologise, TheSadducee …. I was getting very frustrated at a lot of harping that Israel suffers bad PR. That’s a very well known given that we are all painfully aware of. It happens every time Israel sees fit to defend its citizens. Israel can sit shtum for a year without responding at all to thousands of rockets and multiple deaths of its citizens and not a kind word will be said, but the second it does respond, bad press and a PR disater. That’s not new, and the only way it seems to stop is when Israelis are “dying in droves”. All the obituaries were already written in 1967, the last time Israel received something of a groundswell of sympathy, and I can’t get away from the feeling that many felt duped when the tables turned and Israel not only survived, but won convincingly.

    I’m sorry again, I shouldn’t have vented that frustration, but I see precious little Israel can do. Even getting out of Gaza, a major sacrifice, bought precious little good press, with most of the usual commentators painting it as a sneaky Sharon strategy for burying the Palestinians. Israel has a wealth of good press … nobody cares to print it. This last Ramadan Israelis manning checkpoints were ordered not to eat, drink or smoke in front of the Arabs out of consideration. Surely a better story than all the abusive ones, but not one ever seen outside the Jerusalem Post and possibly AJN.

    Nobody is more aware of the PR disaster involved in Israel defending its citizens than Hamas and Fatah, which is why they keep pushing and goading with the most heinous attacks they can devise (which, for some strange reason, doesn’t seem to affect their PR standing beyond the mildest temporary hiccup).

    I think an actual positive suggestion for changing perceptions beyond putting a bomb under the Age, which seems to work well in some quarters, would be far more helpful than pointing to the obvious, that Israel has bad PR.

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  16. sydyid says:

    Sadducee

    As we have established the necessity for lexical adjustments, it seems now that there are also irregularities in the syntax department.
    Sisu’s sentence means the folloowing:

    1. We cannot assume that the enemies of Israel initiated the attack against Israel simply because it did NOT happen. Everybody who wants to be taken seriously knows that Israel preempted the enemies’ attack by attacking first. So the interpretation, again erroneous grammatically, apart from historically, that Sisu meant what you insist on, is demonstratively WRONG.

    2. Just as important, grammatically, is that the subject is Israel, as in “It(s)”. The predicate is “attack” which refers to the subject. The adjective “unprovoked” also relates to the subject via the relation to the verb “attack”. The preposition “of” connects the subject noun “Israel” to the verb “attack”.
    Therefore, your reading is totally wrong and tendentious.
    The sentence in question can be transcribed also as : ” Israel attacked unprovoked”. There are no explicative variants to Sisu’s printed expression.
    If he meant something else then he should have written…something else.
    As scripta manet, we are left with what was written.

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  17. Sisu says:

    Sydyid,

    I presume that this is the comment which you find offensive: “Israel had borders in 1967. The unprovoked attack of its neighbouring states showed 1967 (arguably) to be Israel’s finest hour – Israel fought off aggressors and showed itself to be a nation not just in fact but by its own actions.”

    You seem to have a problem with the word, “its”. “Its” is the possessive form of it used to refer to a noun already used as a subject. In this way it is akin to the words “his” or “hers”.

    As such, if we make the subject me (as my modesty does not prevent me from using myself as a subject), we can come up with: “Sisu made post #54. The unprovoked attack of his fellow poster Sydyid was apparent to all.”

    So in looking at this, it is obviously clear that Sisu is not making an attack on Sydyid but rather the reverse is happening.

    If we look at the original statement: “Israel had borders in 1967. The unprovoked attack of its neighbouring states…” it is equally clear that the attacking was being done by its (ie Israel’s) neigbouring states, not that Israel was attacking Israel’s neighbouring states.

    Thanks to TheSadducee for pointing this out in your posts; I think your post #64 sums up the situation exactly!

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  18. TheSadducee says:

    I think everyone interested in problems within the Jewish community should read the exchange in this thread between myself and Sydyid and can then get a good idea of the conflict between young people (myself) and the older people (Sydyid).

    As SJ writes in another thread – its the behaviour and conduct of the older generation which is effectively driving out any voices, particularly younger ones, which differ from their own. These people will not listen to anything that differs from their own perspective, they ignore any contrary evidence, dismiss alternative opinions, are condescending, rude, ignorant and offensive.

    A tragedy really – it basically ensures that we (younger generation) either aggressively fight our way to the top to effect change which will result in certain internal community devastation, or we wait passively on the sidelines until the older generation passes into the next world – which will debilitate the community with the younger (by that time older) generation having a dearth of experience and being forced to take up leadership positions ill-equipped.

    You’ve effectively driven me off now – well done Sydyid – mission accomplished!

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  19. sydyid says:

    Sisu

    Thanks for the quote:

    Here is where you are being less careful:

    The posessive preposition “of” could refer, if qualified properly, to either the subject – Israel – , specifically addressed – as in “it” or Israel’s ( it’s) neighbours. The sentence as such does not send us to the neighbours. However, and you cannot escape it simply because you emphasise it, the following sentence does refer to the “aggressors”, obviously the Arab states. Now, “Israel fighting off its aggressors” as the immediate sentence to the above one, DOES qualify both implicety and explicitely the secondary action taken by Israel in repelling the initial, aggressive, attack by the said neighbours. Hence, Israel responded to the implied attack. And this is WRONG historically.
    You may compose so called analogies to suit your argument, involving any tales with any characters. You may even change the sense by altering the syntax. However we should exhaust the text in question before jumping to alternatives, even if sublimely concocted. You made a small mistake, it was spotted by me,disected, explained.
    Within the vast quantity of exchanges on this blog I could extract a lot more erroneous statements made by you, both in principle and cognitive.
    Considering that we are dealing with a vita brevis, I indulge in an ars longa simply because I cannot expect everyone to attain perfection. This is how vanity works, and your contribution in the field is precisely this persistence to reinterpret an error. Mine is just as obvious, but of a diferent kind. It so happens that, in this exchage, I just happen to come on top. We can both live with it.

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  20. TheSadducee says:

    @Sisu

    Thanks for confirming what you were writing in that post.

    I suspect Sydyid originally misread your “OF its” for “ON its”. Substitute “ON its” in the sentence and the meaning completely changes and would explain Sydyid’s initial response.

    I doubt he will ever admit his mistake though – he seems to subscribe to the “any concession is fatal” school of argument.

    @Morry

    Thanks for the apology – I understand confronting differing perspectives can be unpleasant and difficult and passions can be raised, especially on important issues concerning justice/morality/life and death etc. I’ve done it myself on occasion to my shame.

    I would suggest though, in all seriousness that the best way to address the bad PR, would be firstly to acknowledge that there is an occupation and then remedy it. That is Israel’s responsibility.

    For the diaspora supporters – they need to assist in that by coming across as engaging and fair to others – not hypersensitive, knee-jerk reactionary, hair-splitting or threatening. Grassroots initiatives – engaging with a whole range of groups and interests and showing them that we acknowledge the suffering on both sides and that we are dedicated to justice and a peaceful resolution to the conflict will go far further towards remedying media and social perception than complex, near-litigious letters and hectoring of editors at community meetings. It will also take away alot of the impetus of extremist fringe figures (eg. anti-Zionists) to step into the gaps that are created by confrontational approaches.

    Similarly, the diaspora needs to let Israel know that it cannot act in the name of Jews everywhere if it is going to breach international law and automatically expect our support. The diaspora is less dependent on Israel than it is of the diaspora and we need to use our power – withdrawal of support, moral and financial if necessary. Is Israel prepared to abandon diaspora support over the West Bank?

    Perhaps this sounds naieve but you need to ask if the current strategy espoused by our leadership is working – it doesn’t appear to be, so what do we have to lose by taking on a different approach?

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  21. sydyid says:

    Sadducee

    Age difference is a reality that cannot be avoided, hence why complain about it. Your parents are, per force, older than you. Is that a reason to abandon them ?!

    As about us, the older ones, not allowing yous guys a platform for civilised exchanges, I thought that was precisely what is happening right here, free of charge or impediments.
    I contribute sine ira et studio, without mallice and preconceived notions. You should avail yourself of this healthy practice and strengthen your otherwise energetic aplomb in dealing with a variety of issues in a combative manner.
    I have a Son with whom I indulge in what I call ” discussion slash argument”. It works brilliantly and our reciprocal love is limitless.
    Although he has been living overseas for the past four years, skype brings us closer together and arguments, debates, mutual consultation are the very fundamentals of our relationship.
    He is 22, maybe your age, an has not been affected at all by this kind of intellectual spartan treatement. Quite to the contrary and I mean the biggest time contrary possible.
    So, don’t jump ship and keep on attacking all and sundry.
    When Misha Mayski ( the great cellist ) was born, his parents sent a telegram to their relatives in USA reading : ” Misha accomplished “.
    Your version should also read as a joke, hopefully.

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  22. Sisu says:

    Sysdid – see the title of the thread? Apropos for your last post. In the future, please do not attribute remarks to me that you wish to be true to suit your own victim mentality.

    TheSadducee and Morry, it has been a pleasure engaging with you both.

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  23. Mohan says:

    Sysdd brought up partition in his postings. The UN plan gave more than half of Palestine to the Jews, who were there both as a small indeginous people and as European colonisers. Many of them brough in over Palestinian objections by the British and latter over British objection. Historically, they were privileged by the British both in the Special Night Squads, colonial police and in industrial activities. These are historical facts – Likud Zionist Valdimir Jabotinskt makes no bones about colonisation and displacement in his article “The Iron Wall.” Many countries have done similar things including Australia. The point is acknowledging the truth and moving forward.

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  24. sydyid says:

    From Alex Fein

    Right. Sydyid, trolling is usually the product of intent to disrupt. I’m sure you intend no such thing and that you are arguing from a position of good faith; however, you have begun to direct discussion towards minutiae and irrelevancies of which preposition/conjunction/whatever means what. This is highly tedious for the many readers who do not comment, and I therefore ask you to desist from this particular discussion.

    Please also refrain from debating the wisdom of my moderation decisions here. There is nothing more boring to read.

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  25. Morry says:

    These issues are important and go to defining ourselves. Let me start with what troubles me most, which is a comment by TheSadducee.

    I would suggest though, in all seriousness that the best way to address the bad PR, would be firstly to acknowledge that there is an occupation and then remedy it. That is Israel’s responsibility.

    “Occupation” is a legal term, very clearly defined as it forms part of the basis of three international agreements – The Hague Conventions, The UN Charter, and The Geneva Conventions (extensions of the Hague Convention) from which it draws both its relevance and authority. Israel is signatory to two … The UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

    Unlike dictionary definitions, legal terms cannot simply be redefined to reflect common usage, as entire agreements rest on those definitions being immutable. The only way to change them is to redraft the document and resign them into a new agreement.

    These agreements and definitions have not been drafted in incomprehensible Legalese, but are very succinct. Occupation: Military occupation occurs when a belligerent state invades the territory of another state with the intention of holding the territory at least temporarily.

    There is no stretch of any imagination that can apply that legal definition to the West Bank and Gaza without either not understanding the term, or buying into a mythical Palestinian narrative that claims that Israel invaded an existing Palestinian state. Had Jordan’s 1950 annexation of the West Bank been recognised outside Britain and Pakistan, it could definitely have been deemed “occupied Jordanian territory”.

    I do understand that most of the world considers it “occupied”, but if most of the world considered the world flat, would I have to go along simply in order to “address my bad PR”. It may indeed be easier, but it’s wrong and I can’t do it, but will happily tilt at windmills till such an obvious truth emerges out of the biased rubble. Before anyone can truly say “occupied” you must establish the status of the West Bank and Gaza. Has Israel captured Israeli territory? Definitely some of it is, and that part should pass to Israel. The international reality, expressed in pretty much all the agreements and UN resolutions, is that the parties (once it was the Israelis and Jordanians, now it’s the Israelis and the PLO) must sit down and resolve the status of these territories by treaty. That is the only way to “resolve it”, and, TheSadducee, Israel has been desperately trying to do just that for decades.

    A very powerful case can be made that this current Palestinian leadership demonstrates absolutely no interest in agreements that might lead to treaties, which is why I’m so troubled by your suggestion that Israel be strongarmed and punished. Into doing what? The current Palestinian government, Hamas, couldn’t make it clearer that Israel must be eliminated entirely before any accommodation can be reached with the remaining Jews. Is that really the price you’re demanding Israel pay (because de facto it is, whatever your intent)? There are no halfway measures. You can’t say “leave Gaza and the West Bank and it will be OK … at least Israel might get better PR” if there is no agreement that the rest at least is sacrosanct. If, as every leader including Abbas has said “there will be no Jewish state” … why in the world are you threatening Israel, and to what end? Do you not believe that, at the very least, if you intend to threaten and strongarm, it shouldn’t be an easy target like Israel, but somewhere where it could make a difference, namely getting the Palestinians to acknowledge the right of a Jewish state to exist … then there may be some accommodation. I have some revulsion at kicking somebody when they’re down and helpless.

    Israel has demonstrated complete preparedness to give the Palestinians oodles of land they never owned to set up a state of their own, if that’s what they desire. The Palestinians have, in return, demanded every Israeli non-negotiable … Jerusalem, no Jewish state, an influx of millions of Palestinians into Israel proper, and the settlements. They demonstrate zero “good faith”. Perhaps, if you’re interested in a resolution, it’s their arms you need to learn to twist.

    However, if we were to accept that “there is an occupation” things suddenly go from bad to worse. Occupation means that Israel is obliged to stay and police the territories until it is all resolved by agreement. Occupation means that it was illegal for Israel to withdraw from Gaza.

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  26. Morry says:

    Mohan, I admire your efforts to try to get several narratives to gel, but historically Palestine was partitioned in 1924 with 80% going to the Arabs. In the wake of Arab violence and efforts to destroy any chance of a Jewish homeland, the Peel Commision recommended partitioning the Jewish homeland (also called “Palestine” with the Arab part now called Transjordan …. perhaps that’s the source of some confusion), to appease the violence. If the West Bank and Gaza were to become Palestinian, it would mean that Palestinian Arabs got around 90% of Palestine, and 98% of the Ottoman public lands that the League of Nations were giving away (the Jews had purchased substantially more than local Arabs owned). The sad part is that this still wouldn’t be enough (they couldn’t make that plainer), and the violence would continue.

    As to “indigenous”. Jews are indigenous to Palestine … all Jews are indigenous to Palestine, just as Aborigines are indigenous to Australia. Israel is full of eucalyptus trees. They are indigenous to Australia. Jews are indigenous because that’s where the Jewish people was born, grew and flourished, just as Greeks, wherever in the world they find themselves, will always be indigenous to Greece.

    On “colonisation”, all Arabs are “colonists”. They are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula, from whence they came a few hundred years ago and conquered and colonised this area. As a separate issue there is land ownership and calling the place you live “home”. “Colonisation” may be a dirty word today, but The League of Nations took land they owned, once Ottoman, gave it to the Jews, which was their right, to set up a national home on land that was the national home of nobody, with the express purpose, enshrined in the Mandate document, of encouraging Jews the world over to colonise it.

    Exactly what part of that do you have moral or ethical issues with? Keeping in mind that in parallel, an Arab homeland four times the size of the Jewish one was established for Arab self-determination, a basic right for all peoples (including Jews) promoted by the UN.

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  27. Mohan says:

    Sorry Morry I find this categorisation misleading. Greeks are not indigenous to Greece whereevr they live. There are Greeks in Cyrpus, USA, and Australia. They are cypriots, American and Australians. You obviously refer to the creation of Transjordan by churchill. Sorry that does not jel with what the history of colonising Palestine is. The jewish presence is everywhere from China to Spain. And even if we are to refer to historical/biblical accounts, the invaders of Canaan came from UR as a nomadic pastoral people. Judaism accepted converts and the Berebr tribes of North Africa had Jewis among them. It is disingenous to ascribe a common national status to them on the basis of religion. I would recommend that you read jabotinsky’s excellent article “The Iron Wall”. Afterall, Jabotinsky was the leader of the Likus branch of politics and the founder of the Irgun. He actually participated in the colonisation and called it such.

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  28. Mohan says:

    Sorry Morry , on the UN mandate- it partitioned Palestine between Jews and Palestinians on the basis that it should guarantee the basic rights of the people living there and Jerusalem kept as an international mandated region.

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  29. Morry says:

    Mohan, I think our problem is one of definition, and confusing the term “indigenous” which means native, where a person plant or animal stems from, their source, with where they live:

    indigenous [ɪnˈdɪdʒɪnəs]
    adj (when postpositive, foll by to)
    1. originating or occurring naturally (in a country, region, etc.); native
    2. innate (to); inherent (in)
    [from Latin indigenus, from indigena indigene, from indi- in + gignere to beget]
    indigenously adv
    indigenousness , indigenity [ˌɪndɪˈdʒɛnɪtɪ] n
    (Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003)

    Palestine is where Jews are native in the same way as Blacks in America are native to Africa, despite having been transplanted for centuries. It is very different to where we live or call “home”. It is simply the source we came from. Rabbits have been here for yonks, and however long they will be here they will alays remain an “introduced species” native, or indigenous, to somewhere else.

    The world has always recognised a special connection for natives with the land they stem from. In the case of Australia it is the basis for restoring native title. In the case of Palestine, it is the basis of the League of Nations decision to restore the Jews to Palestine in their own homeland.

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  30. Morry says:

    I thought that rather than simply consider and critique other people’s solution to the conflict, I should put my own on the table for consideration.

    Let me make one thing clear at the outset. My heart goes out to your average Palestinian, who is suffering terribly for things not of their making. My heart also goes out to Israel which has been suffering even longer (since almost 3 decades before its establishment as a state), also for things not of their making. I have absolutely no sympathy for the terrorist groups whose bigotry is the only thing driving this conflict, making everyone else miserable.

    Currently, the Palestinians are “led” by a bevy of groups whose ideology and activities have revolved solely around eliminating the Jewish state, whether we are speaking of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP or the DFLP … all members of the PA (Palestinian Authority). There are 9 such groups, with four more waiting in the wings, including one that isn’t even Palestinian at all, the Syrian “A Saiqa”. (I can go into how this all happened, but am trying to keep this short)

    In the Palestinian hierarchy, it is the unelected PLO that deals with the outside. Their head, Mahmud Abass has made it abundantly clear, first at the “peace talks” in Annapolis, then in the media, that he will never recognise Israel as a Jewish state. I think that most would accept this as a basic prerequisite for any chance at all for peace talks to succeed. What it means is that Israel currently has no partner with whom to talk peace. No amount of berating, cajoling, threatening or strongarming Israel will change this, as the change needs to happen in the Palestinian camp, and destroying Israel needs to be off their agenda.

    Ask Arabs living in Palestine in the 1920s and they would have said they wanted to be part of Syria. Ask them in the 1960s and up till the mid 70s, and they would have said they wanted to be Jordanian. The idea of a “Palestinian” entity first surfaced in 1974 as part of the “stages plan” to destroy Israel that came out of the Rabat Conference. The first stage was Jordan withdrawing all claim to the West Bank in favour of the PLO, despite that the West Bank was an integral part of Jordan, residents holding Jordanian citizenship and having their own representatives in Jordanian Parliament … and very happy. I honestly have no real idea what the average Palestinian thinks of independent statehood today. But it is a concept wholly driven by their terrorist overlords. I suspect that, given all the choices, they would overwhelmingly opt to return to being Jordanian citizens together with the rest of their Palestinian brethren there, but they certainly need to be asked.

    Cutting to the chase, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to suffer as long as the terrorists retain control. I am strongly opposed to the heartbreak of people being removed from their homes on either side. Currently 98% of the Arab population of the West Bank lives on the Jordanian side of the fence, which, to my mind, makes it the natural border, if the purpose is to uproot as few people as possible. I would give the east side of the West Bank to Jordan, retain the rest as part of Israel, and let the Jordanians deal with the terrorists … they have protected Israel’s borders against terrorist attack for a very long time before the peace agreement. This is the only way I can see people living in peace, safety, and happily … all except the terrorists, who will hopefully, with no access to Israel, just fade away.

    Oh, I would also give Gaza to Jordan as well, building a connecting tunnel under the Negev Desert. I can truly see that resulting in a meaningful peace that will hopefully spread throughout the area.

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  31. Mohan says:

    Thank you Morry for the definition. There is only one human species Homo sapiens. And it is indigenous to the world. There are different national, religious, ethnic groups that are formed by migration and intermingling – the British nation is a mix of Celts,Angles, Saxons, Danes, Normans, East Europans etc. And the Jewish people are a religious group with varied nationalities from Chinese to Spanish. Whatever the nationality of their ancestors, people assimilate into a locality and become a part of that nation, group etc. Otherwise, you would be suggesting that Jewish Australians are not Australian.

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  32. Mohan says:

    Blacks are native to Africa and the white Americans ? Are they still British ? Which part of Africa can the blacks “go back” to ? By the same measure, that would make John Howard and Kevin Rudd English or Irish or Scottish – it would make the English Norwegian (Viking), German (Angles, Saxons) and French (Normans). It would make Palestinian Jews -Iraqis (Ur) well you get the drift.

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  33. Morry says:

    Mohan, clearly the accepted definitions make no impression on you. Is it really your position that an Aborigine who has moved to London and taken out British citizenship instantly ceases to be an Aborigine?

    Peoples grew up in certain areas. Those are the areas they are native to. The ancient Britons were native to Britain, but have since been swallowed up in a mix that stemmed from many places, and, much like hybrid plants created in laboratories, have lost their indigenous identity. Blacks in America haven’t, nor have today’s Jews. Many Jews did. Assimilated into the populations of their neighbours, they disappeared as Jews, with perhaps a name, like “Mendelsohnn” (the son of Mendel), leaving a clue to their ancestry. In ancient Canaan the Edomites, Jebusites etc, who were all indigenous to Palestine, also disappeared. Had they survived as an independent culture/people they would indeed also be classed as “indigenous to Palestine”, no matter where they were living and whose citizenship they held. Is any of this getting clearer? THe Red Indians of Canada, are indigenous to North America, and will continue to be so as long as they are identifiably distinct, no matter that they have held Canadian citizenship for such a long time. This is all true of people, plants and animals … perhaps even rocks if we began transplanting them.

    Mohan, this isn’t a concept that I came up with or invented … this is Anthropology 101.

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  34. Mohan says:

    Morry thank you for the definition and clarification. Going by your own standards, Jews are not indigenous to Palestine. The Ancient Israelite tribes invaded Canaan from Ur and are therefore Babylonians. The Separdhic are decendents of – among others – the Berbers of North Africa. Dahia Kahane was a Jewish Berber leader. Jews are a religious/cultural group and don’t cease to be Jews while being American or Chinese they countinue to be Ashkenazi, Separdhic, Mizrachi, Falashmura etc etc. But they are not a single national, ethnic group like the English or the Aborigines.

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  35. Morry says:

    Mohan, what you say has no logic in my terms, because it negates the very idea of anybody being truly native anywhere … everybody came from somewhere. The Aborigines originally came from Africa. Are you saying that they are therefore not indigenous to Australia and therefore we shouldn’t be wasting time and effort with “native title”?

    Perhaps that’s what you meant when you said “we are all part of the human race”, that you don’t like the very concept of “native”.

    You are clearly adament in your understanding of “indigenous” whatever that is … you’ve used the term, but never really explained what you mean by it. It is clear to me that you mean something very different to what anthropologists mean when they use it and what I mean when I use it. But I am certainly curious to know what that word means to you.

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  36. Mohan says:

    To be more precise, the Aborigines are not a single ethnic group – the term is merely a collective description. Besides that, there are no “national rights” to American blacks outside America or Chinese Jews outside China – they have fundamental human rights where they live. So the question boils down to whether American blacks can colonise whichever part of Africa they indentify as their homeland or if Howard and Rudd can claim part of England or Ireland as their “national” home ?

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  37. Sisu says:

    As enthralling as this anthropological tit-for-tat may be, does it ultimately matter? The people of Israel have rights by the virtue of their occupancy. Deciding what “indigenous” means in this situation is pointless – Israel isn’t about to be disbanded and its population dispersed.

    This is what I tried to refer to upthread – relying on legalities and defintions of “indigenous” is not going to resolve the situation. And as with the Australian situation, the current populations of both Australia and Israel are not going to have their 230 and 60 year status as “new countries” revoked.

    The historical to-ing and fro-ing simply shows that all people in the Middle East can claim some past connection with the land, which is what makes the situation so difficult.

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  38. TheSadducee says:

    Morry

    “There is no stretch of any imagination that can apply that legal definition to the West Bank and Gaza without either not understanding the term, or buying into a mythical Palestinian narrative that claims that Israel invaded an existing Palestinian state.”

    -well the Israeli Supreme Court must have stretched their imagination because they themselves referrred to the WB as being under belligerent occupation:
    cf. p8 and following
    http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files_eng/04/570/079/a14/04079570.a14.pdf

    what I find strange Morry is that in Israel itself many folks openly admit there is an occupation, yet you, in the diaspora, seem absolutely determined to not admit it under any circumstance. Talk about being more Zionist than the Israelis!

    I also note your suggestion but ask the obvious question which you don’t seem to address – what happens to the 15-20% of Israeli Arabs who identify as Palestinian?

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  39. TheSadducee says:

    I missed a bit off my last sentence- it should read:

    I also note your suggestion regarding a solution to the conflict but ask the obvious question which you don’t seem to address – what happens to the 15-20% of Israeli Arabs who identify as Palestinian?

    (Sorry folks!)

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  40. Morry says:

    You’re right Sisu, and I was just about to say much the same. It really doesn’t matter what I think “indigenous” means, or what Mohan thinks it is.

    It does matter how the League of Nations saw it, and that they decided to restore the Jewish nation to (as they saw it) its homeland, by giving the Jews land that they owned by virtue of defeating the Ottomans. This, together with the fact that they set up, in parallel, an Arab homeland (donating the land), that was four times the size of the Jewish one, is the legal and moral negation of the Arab narrative that “the Arab lands were stolen by the Jews”. How we may see “indigenous” really doesn’t matter.

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  41. Sisu says:

    Morry, am I missing something here? Most Australians recognise Israel’s right to exist, although I acknowledge that some individuals and countries do not recognise this. The whole issue about, “…the Arab narrative that “the Arab lands were stolen by the Jews”.” is a furphy in the Australian context. The original discussion was on the 60 Minutes piece and how this relates to the wider perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Australia.

    I would submit that the majority of Australians have no issue with the existence of Israel, but a huge problem with settlement on land outside the 1967 borders. Any issue about “stolen land” is about the post-1967 expansion of Israel into conquered territory, not the existence of the State of Israel (or land initially “stolen” from Arabs when Israel was formed).

    Hence your informative discussion on the 1920s partitioning plan of the League of Nations and the subsequent arguments about what makes a person “indigenous” to the Middle East does not in fact address the widely held Australian viewpoint that some Jewish Israeli settlers are “stealing” land that does not belong to the state of Israel. By choosing to define the problem as an either/or situation in regard to land partitioning made almost 100 years ago does not provide insight to the current negative portrayal of Israel in the Australian media.

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  42. Morry says:

    Thanks for that ruling, TheSadducee, I’ve added it to my little reference library. It’s an amazing, powerful piece of work that successfully balances the needs for justice with the needs for security.

    I think, though, that we need to differentiate two issues, so that there are no misunderstandings. “Occupied Palestinian territory” and “belligerent occupation” are two vastly different concepts, and the Israeli Supreme Court goes nowhere near the first. It does however administer justice based on the laws of beligerent occupation of the Hague Convention, and accepts Israel’s voluntary application of the humanitarian aspects of The 4th Geneva Convention.

    It works because The term “occupied territory” is used to mean any area in which military government is exercised by an armed force.(from the JAG handbook on “belligerent occupation”)

    The court makes absolutely no presumptions about who owns the land. However, it is just that which has been the subject of our discussions. The West Bank is definitely not “Occupied Palestinian territory” because it was taken from the Jordanians, who don’t claim it, at a time, 1967, when there were no Arabs calling themselves “Palestinians” who were claiming this territory as their own. That didn’t happen till 1974. It’s just not “Palestinian territory” at all. Its official status is still “unallocated Ottoman lands” to which Israel holds a claim, as do the Palestinians. But Israel’s claim to the land to which it holds title is pretty indisputable. The territory’s final status and borders will be decided by treaty, in accordance with every agreement from Oslo through the Roadmap to Annapolis, and pretty much every UN resolution that has dealt with the subject … and that is how it should be.

    So, yes, for the purpose of resolving disputes and dispensing justice the Supreme court has ruled that the Hague rules of “belligerent occupation” apply. Clearly also the Human Rights Laws to which Israel is signatory apply.

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  43. Morry says:

    OK Sisu, let’s go with your “does not in fact address the widely held Australian viewpoint that some Jewish Israeli settlers are “stealing” land that does not belong to the state of Israel”.

    So, here’s the question, land purchased by Jews in 1930 and still titled to those people to this day, that was taken (stolen?) from Israel in war in 1948 … is Israel “stealing” it if the people who own it, the heirs of the titleholders, settle it. I would argue that this is land that does “belong to the state of Israel”, and there are documents to prove it. Those settlers who try to settle on Palestinian owned land are breaking Israeli law and are removed … they would indeed be “stealing” it, if the law allowed it, but it doesn’t.

    Israel actually has a powerful case that the West Bank and Gaza belong to Israel (those 1920 and 1924 documents you hate so much), but has also shown a preparedness to gift most of it to the Palestinians for peace. No takers at this time, because that leadership is intent on destroying Israel. Whilst, as you say, they are prepared to recognise Israel, they are not prepared under any circumstances to recognise Israel as a Jewish state … the difference is not subtle.

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  44. Morry says:

    TheSadducee, I’m not really sure what “what happens to the 15-20% of Israeli Arabs who identify as Palestinian?” means.

    They are Israeli citizens, and I would assume would be happy to continue being Israeli citizens. If some wish to fulfill their right to self-determination and emigrate to either the emerging state of Palestine, or to Jordan if it goes that way, I would wish them well and every success. I’m sure I must be missing something, because I really don’t understand the question.

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  45. Sisu says:

    Morry, please do not attribute emotions to me that are not there – I do not “hate” any documents or indeed any of the history behind the formation of Israel, so please do not see me as some anti-historian.

    Re: your comment about land owned by Jewish or Israeli people outside of the pre-1967 borders, I would suggest that this is the whole crux of the matter. Now whilst I would not claim to speak for the majority of Australians I think my viewpoint is shared by many – either Israel extends its borders by taking the occupied land or it returns to the borders of 1967. If the former, then it has a huge influx of new citizens who do not have a Jewish identity and such an influx as we know would reduce Jews in Israel to a minority. So this is a ludicrous outcome.

    The other solution is to return the occupied land or (given that Jordan doesn’t want it), remove themselves from the occupied land entirely. This has the disasterous effects of security nightmares for the Israelis, who have a right not to be under the threat of harm.

    So Israel is between a rock and a hard place – damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t. And the use of the Palestinians as a thorn in Israel’s side by Arab nations does not help the issue.

    At the end of the day, Jewish settlements on non-Israeli territory – even if those settlements are legally owned – are going to be seen by many (including myself) as stolen land absorbed into Israel. This is the PR disaster that has befallen Israel and to which you lament (why the western media has so turned against Israel from the 70s onwards). President Obama’s call for Israel to freeze settlement building is a testament of how the settler program is seen outside Israel.

    So whilst I personally support Israel to decide its population and to protect its citizens, I think that the issue of Jewish settlements outside the 1967 borders have served to demonify Israel throughout the world and puts Israel at a huge disadvantage.

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  46. Morry says:

    Sisu, the history part was tongue in cheek … you’ve indicated you don’t really like to go there. It certainly wasn’t intended to offend in any way.

    As to the rest, I’m not sure why it’s so black and white for you. Why can’t Israel retain some, that part that Israel either owns, or is intrinsic to its security (‘m thinking of the barren empty Judean Desert here) and let the rest go? Why must Israel either accept it all as part of Israel (undoubtedly in the face of an Arab opoosition that would, to me, mean a depravation of their right to self-determination), or give it all up (depriving the Jews there of their intrinsic right to self-determination)? It seems to me that the split I suggested earlier is a compromise that satisfies everybody except those seeking to destroy Israel … they’ll never be satisfied till Israel’s gone. But it’s certainly very fair in my books.

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  47. Mohan says:

    Fine We seems to have got somewhere. The Palestinian Jews are indigenous, the others are not – because they cannot trace their origins to Palestine. There have been – and continue to be – Jews living in most parts of the world. It defies evidence to claim that they are all descended from the goup of Israelite tribes that invaded Canaan.

    Leave the anthropolgy aside. What we face is the acceptance of the indigenus status of the Palestinians. If one accepts it, one has to reject Israel’s status to be a stae of the worlds Jews and instead demand a state of all its inhabitants. No amount of debate over indigenous status is going to extinugish the fact of Palestinian presence and their displacement.

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  48. Morry says:

    I must have missed something Mohan. The Jewish people, as a people, originated in Palestine. That is where that particular group was created and grew. The Arabs, all Arabs, whether Palestinian or not, originated on the Arabian Peninsula … which is why it’s called the Arabian Peninsula. That is where they’re native to, that is where they’re indigenous to. They were there for very many centuries before conquering and colonising other areas.

    But the issue isn’t about being indigenous. That only has to do with belonging, and explains the League of Nations decision to restore the Jewish people to their homeland.

    The only relevant issue is the basic right for all peoples, inscribed in the UN charter, to self-determination. It is that right that legitimises the concept of a Jewish state for Jewish people, so that Jews can decide and fulfill their own destiny. It is the most basic of international rights. Palestinians have the same right to create a nation and determine their own future, but they have no right to rob the Jewish nation of their destiny in so doing. That was the principle behind dividing Palestine in 1924, and behind subsequent suggestions for partition. It is that every people has the right to pursue its own destiny and culture. The Arab population of Palestine got their piece of land, Jordan, and their culture is thriving along the national path they choose to follow. The conflict, however, has been about denying the Jews that right.

    To be honest, Mohan, I’m shocked that you’ve jumped onto that bandwagon, and can suggest for a moment that Jews have no right to self-determination, a right intrinsic to every people in the world as guaranteed by the UN charter to which Israel is a signatory. The idea that Israelis must subjugate themselves to be a minority in an Arab state without the right to their own language culture or destiny … the natural outcome of your argument that Israel should be a state for both the Palestinians and Israelis, is outrageous, unjust and just plain wrong.

    Sorry, Mohan, you just don’t get to dismantle Israel. If the Palestinians want self-determination, great, that is their right … to set up a state that reflects Palestinian language, culture and asperations (it already exists in Jordan, but if they have something unique to express, wonderful). It is not their right to invade, either physically or demographically or culturally, any nation that is following its path in accordance with its intrinsic rights to self-determination.

    Where in the world did you get that idea?

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  49. Mohan says:

    Sorry Morry, that is exactly what I am disputing. There are now Jewish “poeple” or ”volk” and they did not originate in Palestine. The Israelite tribes were Jewish when they invaded Canaan. The Jewish religion made conversions and Jewish communities have existed in China, India, Yemen, all over the Arab peninsula, Iran and North Africa. They have been assimilated into their communities socially and biologically but still practice Judaism. The Shanivar Telwallahs (saturday oilsellers) of India, for example speak Marathi marry outside their community and practice Judaism. Sections of the Jews of Kerala are assimilated into the population in their features but practice the religion.
    Dahia Kahina’s example was used to illustrate this point. The Separdhic Jews of Spain are part descendants of Dahia Kahina the Berber leader of North Africa.

    The Jewish presence in modern Palestine – apart from the indigenous Jews who were socially and culturally integrated into the society – is as colonisers, chiefly the Askhenazis of Russia, Poland. It is similar to speaking about the “national” rights of French Algerian settlers of White South Africans. Fortunately for the Americans and Australians, not enough indigenous people are left to challenge them.

    The national right of Palestinians is in historical Palestine not merely Jordan.

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  50. sensiblejew says:

    Morry, the world has not gone mad.

    I am not an apocalyptist and I do not recommend it to anyone.

    Anti-Semitism has been around far longer than the past three decades, and our current leadership most certainly are not responsible.

    That said, they most certainly do exacerbate ill-feeling, and parlay borderline situations into outright stand-offs with journalists. This is sometimes conveyed to the wider community and we all end up looking terrible.

    If our leaders are indeed so powerless in the face of anti-Semitism, why even bother speaking out at all?

    Personally, I abhor the victim mentality that implies Jews can never have agency over their fate. Yes, there are crazy, hateful people out there. But most people are simply not like that. Most people don’t particularly care… until something arises that makes them care.

    There is so much room for us to have positive effect. We do not live in a rabidly anti-Semitic country in the Arab world. We do not live among Russian ultra-nationalists.

    We live in Australia, a country that has an overwhelmingly positive record in its treatment of us. Yet we behave as though a pogrom is imminent.

    If we give in to the paranoia and behave stuppidly enough, we might just ruin what is one of the best places in the world for Jews to live.

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  51. sensiblejew says:

    Hi Blistering.

    You are correct that I both read and understood Goot’s letter.

    That he may speak for you is fine, but also completely beside the point.

    One of the things I understood from his letter was that he wrote to 60 minutes, claiming that he speaks for ALL Australian Jewry. This is not inly patently untrue, but an utterly unacceptable claim.

    My comment regarding the shift in commercial media is not a comment about what has and hasn’t come before. Most of us are famiiar with Carleton’s Pilger-lite offerings. Mine was an observation about a possible shift in mainstream interest in this issue. This is very different from the odd piece that Carleton used to do. It hasn’t actually happened yet. It might be a good idea to keep it that way.

    I also ask you to keep in mind that you are supposedly not the audience for which the letter intended.

    That you liked it and that it did not strike you as overly agressive is quite beide the point. The non-Jews for whom the letter was intended see such missives quite differently. No one is convinced by them, and they serve only to alienate.

    Making enemies throughout the media is not smart. No other sector of society does it. We mustn’t lie down and accept injustice, but we also mustn’t become so angry and self-righteous that we damage our cause.

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  52. sensiblejew says:

    Read the letter, Sydyid: Goot most certainnly does claim to represent Australian Jewry.

    And neither you nor anyone else has established that Goot or any other leader represents anything like a majority of Australian Jews.

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