War in Gaza

Monday, January 05, 2009

Akiva Eldar, senior political columnist for Ha’aretz and author of Lords of the Land: The War for Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007, talks about Israel’s continuing assault on Hamas in Gaza.


Akiva Eldar

Comments [89]



"The Jewish homeland was supposed to be a safe place for the Jews of the world settle and prevent future European and Russian atrocities against people of the Jewish faith."

From the frying pan into the fire. I think it's hard for people to bear in mind that as bad as the Arabs are, it has been worse.

Maybe the problem was in establishing said all-Jewish state in such a hotly disputed territory. By virtue of the location selected, it would almost have to have been a multi-religious, multi-ethnic state.

"Establishing boarders (sic) by any method than the sword will be all but impossible."

Then I guess we're all doomed.

Jan. 05 2009 05:43 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

There’s a problem with the co-existence model you’ve described above. Jewish Israelis do not want joint ownership of the land. It would be considered the beginning of the end of the Jewish people (so I’ve heard it described) The fear is if Muslims Palestinians outnumber Jewish Israelis, there will no longer be a Jewish homeland. There will no longer be a Jewish safe haven. I think that’s why Peter keeps mentioning gas chambers. The Jewish homeland was supposed to be a safe place for the Jews of the world settle and prevent future European and Russian atrocities against people of the Jewish faith. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all claim parts of Israel as holy to their faith, that’s what happens when three religions all pray to the same god. Since there are no proposals to make these holy sites neutral, one group will always claim another got unfair title to their holy land. Establishing boarders by any method than the sword will be all but impossible.

Jan. 05 2009 05:30 PM

Tough question.
What if there had been a rest period for the Jewish refugees after WWII? Given the huge influx of immigrants to California and the western states since 1945, what if a home had been provided throughout California, to allow for a more careful planning for the State of Israel around Jerusalem. This more carefully planned Israel might not have needed to displace existing Palestinians, who were at that time a smaller population. It could have wisely incorporated them, with strong incentives, into the state of Israel.

Certainly, even 1940's California had many different ethnic and religious groups, I think it would have been a fairly easy transition. At least, easier than what happened.
(And for purely selfish reasons... imagine where our collective California math and science scores would be, not to mention reading scores. IMO, we lost an opportunity here.)

But that's not what happened. So we have to deal with the situation as it is. I think that now both groups are deadlocked in an endgame with consequences that reach far beyond the middle east. I think what happened to the Palestinians is a tragedy, but it was a tragedy compounded by the failure of many groups to deal with the reality of what had occurred.

This reminds me of the historic repatriations of the Greeks and Turks, which was devastating, but people survived - nobody much cares about those lands. But the "holy" land is a different story. With the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians, I don't feel confident that either group will survive. I think the demographic problems of the Palestinians create problems not only for the Israelis but for the Palestinians themselves. To be honest, because they now appear so desperate, I worry about the Palestinians more, both in terms of their basic needs and the problems they can create.

We can't afford World War Three.

Jan. 05 2009 05:18 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I don’t think anyone (serious historian or not) really questions the 3,000 year old Jewish connection to the land of modern day Israel or the Jewish people’s relation to the ancient Hebrews. I suppose, from what I can see, the issues are as follows…
There are people with a 3000 year old geographic and or ethnic connection to the land of Israel. But the issue is largely framed as a religious one. The problem: Not all Jews have a 3000 year old connection to this land and not all former inhabitants of this land were Jewish. So it becomes a holy war, and not a war over right of return. Is there a solution to this?
There has been successive population turnover in this land and rule over the land has changed hands many times… Who’s to determine what the “final” “fair” or “correct” ethnic and religious makeup should be and who gets to rule the land in perpetuity? As long as someone feels the land is theirs by right of God, through history (ethnic or geographic), or by way of the sword, will not there always be conflict?

Jan. 05 2009 05:17 PM
hjs from 11211

i think we talked about this last week but maybe u missed it, the same logic would give native americans a claim to remove all europeans, africans and asians from the americans to restore their historic claim.

be that as it may, one day if there is to be peace the Israelis and the Palestinians will have to live together as neighbors the sooner both sides grow up and act like adults the better.
a good starting point would be for both sides to agree at this point both have a legal claim to that land. the only real question is where is the board now.
an eye for an eye just leaves everyone blind, that's why we need a better solution than 50 years of war.

Jan. 05 2009 05:13 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

Even the Palestinians themselves have acknowledged their association with the region came long after the Jews. In testimony before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, for example, they claimed a connection to Palestine of more than 1,000 years, dating back no further than the conquest of Muhammad's followers in the 7th century.10 And that claim is also dubious. Over the last 2,000 years, there have been massive invasions that killed off most of the local people (e.g., the Crusades), migrations, the plague, and other manmade or natural disasters. The entire local population was replaced many times over. During the British mandate alone, more than 100,000 Arabs emigrated from neighboring countries and are today considered Palestinians.

By contrast, no serious historian questions the more than 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, or the modern Jewish people's relation to the ancient Hebrews.

Jan. 05 2009 04:53 PM
hjs from 11211

if only the west (including the USA) had set up some kind of democratic state at in end of WWI instead of the several dictatorships we have supported for nearly 100 years. the fact that today's arab man is so impotent makes extremist ideas so comforting to them. blood is on our hands also.

Jan. 05 2009 04:50 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I honestly don’t know too much about the history of migration in the Middle East outside of the basics. What are the flaws and omissions in the arguments put forth by the Palestinians?
Yes, I knew that Gaza was formerly part of Egypt and the West Bank was formerly part of Jordan, but in maps I’ve seen of a land described as “Palestine” (which I can assume are largely neutral in terms of modern politics since they all date from 1850 or earlier), “Palestine” seems to cover what are modern-day parts of Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Would not the settlers of this land historically be considered Palestinian and would not the comment that the term Palestinian is merely a 1967 aberration be less than honest?
Also, yes, many Arabs in Israel today may not be native to that specific region, but neither are all Jews native to Israel.
Your proposal, however, is rather intriguing.

Jan. 05 2009 04:44 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

#89 - that is correct, i.e. how many of the Arabs portray the situation. it' has several flawas and omissions, but you characterize it.

Of course, the "palestinian" claim to Israel is rather many Arabs in Israel today are not native to the region, the entire Palestinian identity was created primarily after the 67 day war, and "Palestinian" identity is based on little more than opposition to Israel.

The Jordanians (themselves a creation of the West) and Egyptians are ethically and culturally indistinguishable from "Palestnians"

the real solution to Middle East conflict is to give Gaza BACK to Egypt and parts of the West Bank BACK to Jordan.

This solution st would avert the destruction of Israel, so therefore it is not mentioned by most Arabs, and now that Gaza
and West Bank have become proxy terrorist enclaves for Iranian funded terror - even Egypt and Jordan dont want it (as Lebanon, my country kicked out the palestinains & now is trying to kick out the Syrians &Iran's poodle - Hizbollah).

With Egypt & Jordan taking back the land, the most just solution would come through.

Jan. 05 2009 04:19 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


I don't play partisan politics, ever. I vote for the candidate that sways me. I vote Democrat about 75% of the time, but couldn't vote for Obama. Obama attended a racist church for 20 years and comes from one of the most corrupt cities in the world. It seems you have a litmus test which is very odd. "Vote for my guy or you are wrong about everything you do." I just gave $5000.00 to two charities to help children with diabetes - is that wrong because I voted for McCain?

Seth, time to opened your mind to people who don't agree with you %100 of the time. Smell the fresh air bro.

You can be as bigoted as you want towards registered independents like myself, but I choose to be non-partisan all the time.

Jan. 05 2009 04:12 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Some Palestinian resentment goes back to the formation of Israel. (The British Mandate of Palestine after WWI and the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine after WWII) Maybe it even predates the formation of Israel and problems arose when the nearly 400 year old Ottoman Empire fell under European Imperial rule. When Israelis say “they don’t think we have a right to exist”, in many ways they are correct. Palestinians may feel the state of Israel is a land-grab created by European imperial powers and the nation (not Jews) doesn’t have the right to exist. I’ve also heard supporters of the Palestinians remark it seemed awfully convenient Europe (and to a lesser degree The United States) decided the homeland for the Jews and a post WWII safe haven should be in Palestine and not in Europe. Thrown into the mix is the sentiment Israel is the land of the Jews because God said so. Kind of hard to argue with God, no? Jews were native to the area where Israel now sits, but many Palestinians were displaced when it became a nation. It stands to reason a few would be upset. I’m not arguing who’s wrong or right. I’m saying you’re not looking at the whole story. Any thoughts?

Jan. 05 2009 04:06 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

Israel has launched no war on the Iranian empire and has no interest in launching any wars on anyone.

The real question is why has Iran proudly declared war on Israel?

The answer is fairly obvious.

Iran's rulers are anti-Semitic Islamists who are using Israel as a scapegoat to declare their leadership of the Muslim world and the global Jihad.

They have pissed off a bunch of Arab countries who fear Iranian hegmonic empire and that's why there is not one Arab country lifting a finger to help Hamas - though for domestic political reasons there's a lot of loud anti-Israel bluster and lip service about Palestinians.

Frankly, even Arab countries have had it with Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups and their Iranian puppet masters.

For ex: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Thursday that Hamas must ensure rocket fire stops in any truce deal to halt Israel's assault in Gaza, criticizing Palestinian militants for giving Israel an excuse to launch the bombardment.

i.e. he does not justify Hamas violence as a legitimate response to the situation with Israel (even though some on this board have done so)

The relationship between Hamas, the Islamist organization that runs the Gaza Strip, and Egypt, which fears the rise of Islamic militancy, has always been little more than one of necessity. Egypt faces accusations from Hamas that it is actively supporting the Israeli campaign by continuing to keep its border with Gaza sealed. Mubarak's government has lashed back, blaming Hamas for the suffering of the Gazans and implying that the movement is an Iranian proxy. Many in Cairo believe their nation has paid enough for the sake of the Palestinian cause, fighting several wars and losing tens of thousands of soldiers.

Jan. 05 2009 04:05 PM


It sounds like Robert Kaplan is in agreement with you. But I still think it's risky. Especially when he writes:

"Israel has, in effect, launched the war on the Iranian empire that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in particular, can only have contemplated."

Jan. 05 2009 03:35 PM
seth from Long Island

Peter from Sunset,

I'm not upset by your comments here. I'm upset because I agree with you on this one topic. Given your comments about the prez campaign, I'm reluctant to find I share a view similar to yours regarding Israel and the Palestinians.
You make more sense on this topic than on any other topic. Your problem is that you are too quick to label your fellow posters.
I disagree with you about 95% of the time.
This is a rare instance where you have stumbled into the truth.

Jan. 05 2009 03:16 PM


"Well, most of your points are valid, heck, you mnake your case very well..."

Actually, my point was to make YOUR case very well. That is, while I agree with you on the points listed, I think it is more effective to be direct about the issue at hand than to natter on about gas chambers and whatever you thought of a relatively benign comment from hjs.

As for the last point, about the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the previous agreements, you are not dealing with the most rational people. To be blunt, after decades of conflict, I don't think any party in this is entirely rational anymore.

People who live under constant stress do not react rationally, whether they're Jewish or Palestinian or American. (Amygdala studies, anyone?) Here's an example: our decision to invade Iraq post-9.11 with doctored evidence, NO draft, and an overwhelming US deficit. NOT RATIONAL behavior, but we had been attacked, and were acting like reality no longer mattered.

In this case, the provocation by Hamas was completely irrational, but not surprising. You could say the same of the Israeli response.

I think that disproportionate civilian deaths are NOT the way to achieve your ultimate goal, which is peaceful coexistence. I note that you have mentioned teaching Palestinian students in Sunset Park who are good kids. So I know that you are not a bigot or whatever other words people have used to describe you here. But I do think you have a bit of tunnel vision on this.

There has to be a better way out of this conflict, and I understand that it's not easy to see that when you feel besieged by fanatic idiots. But the recent Israeli actions are just feeding the fanatic idiots' ideology. Meanwhile, your international support will continue to fade.

Jan. 05 2009 03:10 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

More people are killed in Sudan and in Congo in one year than in the 100 years of the Arab war on Israel

The Arab war on Israel is just one of dozens of conflict zones (most involving Muslims) in the world see: Chechniya, Sudan, India, Somalia, Spain, USA, Iraq, Iran, London, France, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Congo, China, Turkey etc....

Don't blow things out of proportion or selectively blind yourself to global conflicts and events.

If Israel and Gaza and the Palestinians disappeared tomorrow - all the other conflicts would go on. would stop.

The hyperfocus on Israel has all kinds of reasons, most of them bad.

Jan. 05 2009 03:03 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

I have seen tons of footage of Arab-Muslim parents celebrating the deaths of their child martyrs when they killed other children.

There is no such sentiment from Israeli parents or form other Western societies.

This cultural difference is important to understand strategically, as the Hamas thinking of this is not the real life, but the real life is in heaven, explains why they keep on sending human rockets & missiles into Israel despite the death toll in Gaza.

And by the way, Hamas leaders are proud of the difference and quite explicit about it....

To be in denial about the death culture in radical Islam is not being "peaceful."

PS:I am from a small town near Beirut &have lived in the region till I was 23.

Jan. 05 2009 02:54 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

I hope that there is a genuine peace between
the Israeli and the Palestinian people.

Jews and Arabs are 'genetic brothers'

If there isn't,
the rest of the world,
will pay the price.

Because this conflict which has wrought so much
death and destruction on both sides affects us

Nobody is immune to the fallout of this conflict.

There must be a way, there has to be a way.

Jan. 05 2009 02:51 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


My questions is:

When will the world beg the Palstinians to stop using their own children as human shields?


Nice distrction, but again, you focus on the US. The US is a drop in the ocean. My guess is that peace will come as a surprise, through a back channel such as Turkey or Egpyt, and the US will be cut out of negotiations.

Unfortunately, the US is forced to back every move Israel makes becuase the UN is so lopsided against them. 75% of all UN resolutions are against Israel - with numbers like that, the US has not choice.

But keep blaming the US soley if you want, simple answers help people sleep better at night.

Jan. 05 2009 02:22 PM


There's obviously something deeply hypocritical about European criticism of Israel.

I would also argue that there is an inherent hypocrisy on the part of liberals in the US criticizing a "land grab" when our entire nation is founded on a land grab (with a genocide thrown in for good measure.)

And to my mind, the refusal of the rest of the Arab world to make room for displaced Palestinians long, long ago makes a mockery of Arab hospitality. The real tragedy is that, bereft of any home, the Palestinians have stumbled to a point where you wonder if they can ever recover as a people.

I also think that liberals in the US need to reference a global map once in a while. Israel is a tiny country, and the idea that they could continue to sustain terrorist attacks without retaliation is not very realistic.

But underneath the layers of everyone's hypocrisy, I think there is real concern around the world that a failure on the part of Israel to make peace with a desperate population of Palestinians is dangerous for all of us.

Jan. 05 2009 02:21 PM
Hassan from Louisville, Ky.

It is very distressing to watch what the Israeli government is doing in Gaza and no loud out cry coming from western governments. As usual the U.S. government blocks any tough resolutions against Israel. My question is, what type of atrocity does the Israeli government have to engage in before our leaders speak out forcefully against them? This is absolutely immoral and shameful!

Jan. 05 2009 02:14 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

Well it wasn't just the Europeans that turned
the backs on those fleeing the Nazi Holocaust,
the majority of which were Jews, it was also

Under FDR's watch, a boatload of German Refugees
were refused entry into the USA.
Also why didn't FDR engage much more actively
in stopping the Nazi Holocaust?
The USA under FDR could have done a lot more,
yet sat on its hands.
That was wrong, to stand by while evil is
being done, in front of your face, makes you
an accomplice to that crime.

The USA should not back Israel unconditionally,
when Israel commits atrocities against
the Palestinian people, the USA should call
Israel on it and make them stop.

To sell or give weapons to one group of
people so that they can use them against
another is vile.

Jan. 05 2009 02:14 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


You don't seem to have a good understanding of history. The US and Russia battled parts of the cold war out using Israel and the Arab states as proxies. That battle continues today - the cold war never ended. Russia sells weapons to Lebanon, Iran and Syria and these weapons are used against Jews. Israel buys weapons from the US and a few other countries.

In addition, Europe has a tremendous guilt complex about WWII, so they blame the Jews for everything in a way to forget their sins against humanity. Europe also has its own guilt about occupation and colonization so it makes them feel better to blame Jews.

Blaming the US for Israel strength is like saying an ocea in comprised of a drop of water.

Jan. 05 2009 02:06 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

From the beginning the situation between
the Palestinians and the Israeli people has
not been right.

The Palestinian people have no army,
no tanks, no helicopter gunships, no
roadblocks, no backing from the USA.

The Palestinians have refugee camps,
live under USA backed Israeli Military rule,
and in comparsions to the Jewish population,
have no civil rights.

Here in the USA, Jewish people fight tooth
and nail for the civil rights of all
marginalized people.

In Israel there are 4 different levels of
citizenship as laid out by Phyllis Bennis
in the in her interview by Max Elbaum
That is not Democracy.
We in the USA are involved in this,
because we pay for it.
Israel would not be able to act the way
it does, were it not for the backing of the

Here in the USA, Jewish people are at the
forefront, right in the middle of any
battle for human rights.

Jan. 05 2009 01:58 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


Great idea, the problem is, Israelis don't really concern themselves with video taping year after year of Palestinian aggression and violence. That seems to be more of a victim hood mentality. So I doubt anyone would get a fair view of Palestinian aggression and UN violations.

Jan. 05 2009 01:46 PM


I hate to say this, but...There have been a couple times when I've read your posts and thought: is this guy a Palestinian terrorist-sympathizer trying to embarrass the Israelis with his exaggerations?

The Israelis obviously feel justified in what they're doing, and not without reason. But
between your insistence that hjs called one or another group of people "animals" and your constant invocation of the gas chambers in discussing the Israel-Palestinian conflict, (when I think we all know that Palestinians have never built gas chambers and have never sent people en masse to gas chambers), I have to wonder whose side you're really on.

(I have no doubt that, on matters pertaining to the election or non-ME issues, people have thought similar things about my posts. We all gotta vent, or so we believe.) But seriously, you're contributing to a perception of your position as hysterical-aggrieved, rather than what it is - founded in some reasonable doubts and fears about the people you have to negotiate with.

I can completely understand why this is upsetting to you. But can you drop the faux-aggrieved-by-hjs position for a little while?

Jan. 05 2009 01:44 PM
seth from Long Island

Note to BL Moderator:

No listeners of the Brian Lehrer Show were harmed or injured during the posting of these messages. Civility is overrated.

Jan. 05 2009 01:43 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

It used to be that atrocities committed by
one group of people against another, were
not visible, were not known, at once, perhaps
not for several years.

Would there have been a quicker end to
the terrible Nazi Holocaust of there was
You Tube, the internet, transmitting video,
in real time, to all 4 corners of the earth,
as people were being shoved into Gas Chambers?

Now, with the internet, any bombing, slaughter
of human beings, is transmitted worldwide,
almost immediately.

Anyone with a computer and an internet
connection, from a person in living in a hut
in a jungle to the Southbronx, to a NYC
housing project, to Soho, Battery Park City,
can and does have the video of the atrocity
sometimes, as it is happening.

The internet can bring an event, a war,
an attack, right into the home of millions
of people worldwide, instantly.

Nobody can hide what they do anymore,
you cannot kill in silence, without any

The victims are there for everyone to see,
in the immediate aftermath.

Also, no one has to rely on mainstream media
anymore either.

Via the internet, users have access to
BBC, The Guardian UK, The Independent UK, Link TV Mosaic, Haaretz, Aljazeera, Yetnews, Jerusalem Post, etc.

The days of relying
on CNN, MSNBC, Foxnews are over.

Anyone without a computer can go to any
NY Public library and access one of their
computers for free.

Mid Manhattan Library has 48 computers
available to the public for free.

Jan. 05 2009 01:38 PM
hjs from 11211

I'll let u have the last word on this it seems to be very import to u!

Jan. 05 2009 01:35 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


Is being thoughtful calling Jews animals? That is funny.

Jan. 05 2009 01:34 PM
hjs from 11211

thanks, but sometimes people don't come here to debate or discuss, they have an agenda they are promoting. i'm fine being judged by all instead of the extremists among us. I understand that some jews and some israelis (2 separate groups) have an inferiority complex following WW2 but many are thoughtful, wise, and peaceful. sadly they have been silent, we know why that happens also.

Jan. 05 2009 01:32 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


You are stubbornly refusing to see my point that the world does not like Jews defending ourselves, period. Any other country faced with rocket fire would be expected to respond, yet Jews are expected to watch their children die. We don't walk into gas chambers anymore.

Now, as far as Palestinians and WWII go - they did back Hitler and the Palestinian leadership did have plans to build a gas chamber in what is now Israel.

Israel was created by the UN in response to WWII. The Palestinian leadership chose to join the "exterminate the Jews team" long before Isarel even existed.

Jan. 05 2009 01:27 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


Is it really your position that when someone calls Jews animals, that the reader should take careful account of the context? Basically, what you are saying is that no one is ever wrong.

At some point, calling entire races of people animals is just wrong. being liberal doesn't change that.

Jan. 05 2009 01:24 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


wow, calling a persona liar without actually explaining what you mean, that is not exactly civil.

My experience on this board is that when liberals are faced with inability to support views, they get nasty. That seems to be your style as well. You called Jews animals, and react to it by lashing out at others. Perhaps you just shouldn't refer to entire races of people as animals.

Jan. 05 2009 01:19 PM
seth from Long Island

If Brian's moderator has such little confidence in listeners that he/she has to post several requests pleading for civility, don't allow messages to be posted during Middle East segments.

It's demeaning, degrading, and insulting to message board posters to read these messages from the BL moderator.

Jan. 05 2009 01:17 PM


For what it's worth, I think you're stubbornly refusing to read what hjs actually wrote in post #15.

hjs wrote: "instead of acting like the animals they claim to be at war with."

It wasn't the best choice of words, but in reading "acting like" it's also pretty obvious that hjs did not call anyone an "animal" - merely said that one group was imitating the bad behavior of the other.

And I don't think anyone feels "empowered" by this conflict. It's a mess, and to some of us, it looks like the beginning of WWIII, which we don't have the cash to fight.

I also have to take exception to your constant invocation of the gas chambers. The Palestinians have not built gas chambers. Gas chambers were built by the Germans, with whom we long ago made peace.

Funny how time changes things. The biggest killers were never the Arabs. Let's hope this doesn't change. I fear that extremists on both sides are trying to make it otherwise.

Jan. 05 2009 01:16 PM
hjs from 11211

peter sunset
tell lie enough and it becomes the truth?

i bet u sell weapons to both sides!

Jan. 05 2009 01:14 PM

I agree with you that:

"israel could do the world a favor, if they built the economy of palestine instead of bombing it, if they empowered moderates instead of only making war with the extremists..."

But that's easier said than done. No one envies the Israelis for having to deal with this situation. Still, there are more sensible ways to reach your long-term goal.

Meanwhile, disproportionate civilian deaths (following dis. civ. deaths in the 2006 conflict with Lebanon) are not exactly going unnoticed by the international community.

These recent actions align Israel once again with the blundering Bush administration, which, if we can agree on nothing else, is on its way out.

Who on earth would want to re-align themselves with the outgoing Bush administration for the sake of a few Hamas targets? What on earth is the strategy here?

Jan. 05 2009 01:03 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

Jewish people in the USA, have always stood
on the side of the downtrodden, the voiceless,
the people that need an advocate.
Jewish people in the USA are the Legal Aid
Lawyers, defending those that could never afford
a professional legal defense, they are the
doctors that have for decades gone into
areas like the Southbronx Lincoln hospital
and treated those that could not speak English,
that had difficulty, as newcomers, managing
in an American society.
Jewish people were for years the teachers,
that went into the ghettos of NYC and taught
the newly arrived how to read, write in
English and give them the tools to function
in this society.
Jews people gave their lives in Mississippi
so that people that had been denied the right
to fully participate in American society,
denied the right to vote, to decent schools,
could do so.

That is why I have never understood the brutal,
vicious, treatment of Palestinians at the hands of the Jewish people in Israel, since
the beginning.

Since the time of David Ben Gurion,
the time of Menachem Begin, Golda Meir
saying that there were no Palestinians.

How can anyone justify cutting off
food, fuel, water, items to cover basic needs,
from an entire people and then complain when
they strike back?

Why steal Palestinian land, drive them from
their land, give them no hope, and then
complain when they strike back?

Why are Jewish people from around the world,
that have never lived in Israel, cannot speak
Hebrew, greeted with open arms, while the
Palestinians that have lived in Israel/Palestine for centuries have their
homes bulldozed to the ground?

There is a lot of injustice there
and this is not like the Jews in America.

Why is there such a difference between
the Jewish people in America and those in

It can be said that some Jews in Israel
want the Palestinians to be treated like
human beings, but they are not the ones
in charge.

Jan. 05 2009 12:50 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

IF Hamas weren't targeting the murder of Israeli civilians Israelis would not act "like they like" i.e. defend themselves.

Israelis are trying to defend themselves even if you don't like it.

Jan. 05 2009 12:45 PM
hjs from 11211

they have at war for 50 years. they have to buy weapons!

Jan. 05 2009 12:42 PM

In all seriousness, our country has done its "fair" share of celebrating the deaths of our supposed enemies throughout its history. I could show you no small number of photos of happy white people picknicking at lynchings. Bear in mind that even today, there are military mothers in the US who heroize their fallen sons and daughters who failed in Bush's suicide mission in Iraq as a way to cope. Who can blame them?

I think the attempt to portray Arabs/Muslims as somehow more inherently bloodthirsty than any other group (besides, I guess, the Jains of India or select Buddhist groups) is not only unfounded and solipsistic, but counterproductive to the goal of peace.

Having said that, anyone who looks at a physical map of the middle east has to wonder why this conflict has been so deadly and so deadlocked. It would seem to have been perfectly reasonable (if not entirely fair) for the surrounding Arab countries to absorb the displaced Palestinians decades ago.

But having said THAT, I think the current actions of the Israeli military, no matter how fair it seems to them, are engendering so much resentment internationally, that it is counterproductive. In particular, the disproportionate retaliation in a heavily populated area is not very pragmatic, no matter the claims of pragmatism.

Jan. 05 2009 12:41 PM
hjs from 11211

peter sunset
Jews are not animals. and israelis should act like they like in the modern world.

Jan. 05 2009 12:38 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


Hamas and Fatah both use terror do achieve political views. You can't PC that away.

Terrorism is wrong.

Jews don't walk into gas chambers anymore. The world is going to have to get used to that.

Jan. 05 2009 12:35 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


A simple answer, Arabs believe that a Jewish life is worth more. I can't fix that and don't understand it, sorry.


Jews are not animals.

Jan. 05 2009 12:33 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

#21 It is shameful how Hamas and PAlestinian Jihad have diverted millions of aid dollars to buy weapons.

Instead of building a civil society, all the last years have been spent in terror and warfare against Israeli civilians.

It's pretty clear if you bother to look beneath the surface.

When Hamas stops it's regime of war crimes against it's own people and civilians in Israel, there can be peace.

Jan. 05 2009 12:32 PM
hjs from 11211

peter sunset 29,
maybe because they don't want 50 more years of war?

i never called anyone animals. stop the smoke screen

Jan. 05 2009 12:31 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

So Peter, you equate ALL Palestinians with Hamas? In Gaza and the West Bank? I guess then, all Americans are GOP believing, born-again, right-wing, evangelical, Bushites?
Be careful when you equate all citizens with their governing body. Otherwise everyone commenting on this site could be charged with war crimes (torture).
Tell me this, is it also sick to move your children into a known warzone/terror besieged settlement in the name of expanding your religious homeland?
A simple question for you… Is it your contention a Jewish life worth more than a Muslim one?

Jan. 05 2009 12:29 PM
Carlos from jackson heights, ny


You are correct! Left and Right Wing Zionist Israelis make that correlation with Mexico (and by proxy with all Latinos), but my point stays the same, this scare-tactic will backfire on them since they are dragging the majority of peoples in the Western Hemisphere into this conflict. In addition, most LatiAmerican goverments ranging from Brasil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, to Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela oppose the scale of Israel's disproportionate military response and are appalled at the civilian casualty toll.

SECOND POINT: You are also correct! but if you look at my post above, I said MOST Latino NYers oppose this Israeli bloodshed.

Jan. 05 2009 12:26 PM
samir from Bay Ridge


There is also a large difference between how the Western world values human life vs. how some in the Arab/Muslim view human life.

After terrorist attacks on 9/11 elsewhere, one can always finds tons of footage of some (obviously not all 1.3 billion+) Arabs/Muslims celebrating in the streets, giving out candies etc...

It is chilling, but routine for parents (yes mothers, too) of suicide bombers to celebrate their children's deaths, particulalry when they succeed in killing other children. There is plenty of footage ( got to ) of Arab/Muslim parents hoping that their surviving children will follow in the footsteps of their dead martyrs.

Shahids are celebrated all over the Arab?Islamic media, they are postered everywhere and idealized, summer camps are named after them etc...

That's the sociological reality.
So when you compare attitudes toward life and death, it's fairly easy to see a distinction between the Western World and Arab/Muslim world where I come from & this is all writeen about the UN Report on Arab World - written by Arab Muslim & ex-Muslim intellectuals (so please don't dismiss this sad reality with smears of racism etc...)

Jan. 05 2009 12:24 PM
hjs from 11211

peter sunset
why should the palestinians build anything if the IDF will bomb palestine every 5 years?
hundreds of homemade bombs kill some israelis, most of which miss any target. but the 1:5 kill ratio says it all. israel has the upper hand

Jan. 05 2009 12:22 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

#19 Carlos

a few points:
1. Left wing Zionists make the same comparisons re: Mexico.

2. Just as Bloomberg, though he was elected Mayor of NYC, does not speak for all NYers, you, who as far as I know was not elected spokesman for all Hispanics - do not speak for all Hispanics.

In any case, no matter who speaks for what, it doesn't change the facts that some people condemn only Israel when it protects itself - but fail to condenm various Arab and Muslim countries when they proactively opress and kill others.

The double standard is glaring and says more about the accuser than the accused.

Jan. 05 2009 12:14 PM
sloane from brooklyn


I happened to read this article in the L.A. Times and have been surprised not to hear it talked about more.,0,3682816.story

"In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups."

Jan. 05 2009 12:14 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


Israel does a much better job of protecting Palestinian children then do Palestinians. The simple fact is that Palestinians launcr rockets with their children behind them - that is sick.

Jan. 05 2009 12:14 PM
BL Show from Varick St. Studios

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Jan. 05 2009 12:13 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Peter from Sunset,
I think what Hugh is saying there is a marked difference in how the Western world values a Jewish Israeli life and Muslim Israeli life. Does is ever strike someone as absurd that Israel would be willing to trade hundreds of Muslim prisoners for a handful of (Jewish) Israeli soldiers? Terrorist, criminals, and members of the military aside, civilian human life isn’t being treated as equal. I think this is what’s stuck in Hugh’s craw (so to speak.) Or maybe it’s seeing what happens when one party brings a gun to a knife fight.
Mayor Bloomberg’s comment that New York would do the same thing if it were in Israel’s position is a little hard to understand. Does he mean New York would bomb Native Americans on their reservations should the decide to fight people they see as oppressors and occupiers of their land? What would be an equivalent situation, or does Mayor Bloomberg mean to negate any valid grievances or differences of opinion people in Gaza may have? Was Mayor Bloomberg in Israel to represent New York City, New York State, The United States, only Jews, or himself?
This isn’t to justify terrorism or the rocket attacks, but argument thus far as only been “look as what these people are doing to (Jewish) Israelis” roots of the conflict are rarely if ever discussed. Guess there are too many uncomfortable truths.
Also, Peter… I think there are at least a handful of innocent Palestinian (and Muslim) children as well. Guess you don’t think the deserve protecting.

Jan. 05 2009 12:12 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


This forum is for expressing opinions, which I will do. Get over it.

Jan. 05 2009 12:12 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


hjs called Jews "animals." And I can't reject that? Why would you cut the simple opinion that Jews are not animals? Very odd behavior here today.

For the record, Jews are not animals. Keep cutting that Mr. Moderator if you really believe that Jews are animals.

Jan. 05 2009 12:11 PM
Carlos from jackson heights, ny

Peter: You are "ground assaulting" this forum with over 50% of the postings here. We heard your forceful opinion, but let some other people disagree.

As I said before, this conflict won't stop until the humiliating, concentration camp conditions of Palestinians are alleviated.

Jan. 05 2009 12:10 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

#22 -- where do you get your phony facts from?
How do you know most of the victims are "innocents"? Facts prove otherwise.

And were you worried about "innocents" during the last few decades of Hamas butchering Palestinian and Israeli kids through terrorism and missille launches? or do you only pipe up when Israel retaliates?

Just womdering.

Jan. 05 2009 12:08 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


no no, I understood you better then you understand yourself. You want Israel to basically completely control Palestinians. I disagree - Palestinians can build their own state - they have culture and ability, so why would you want Israel to build a state for them?

Jan. 05 2009 12:04 PM
samir from Bay Ridge


If you can't "bear this conflict", you can follow the Congo conflict where 400+ people have been the killed in the last few weeks.

That one doesn't get any press because it doesn't involve Israel, but it does involves human beings.

Jan. 05 2009 12:03 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Note to Moderator:

Wow, you edited a post of mine - shouldn't you make a note of that? Is this a forum for listeners to post our views or for the moderator to inject his/her views into our posts?

Very odd.

Jan. 05 2009 12:00 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


The only shameful thing would be for Israel not to protect its children from Palestinian terrorists.

I hope the UN passes a resolution stopping the Palestinians from using their own children as human shields.

Jan. 05 2009 11:58 AM
Leo from queens, NY

Has anyone confirmed whether the mayor and police commissioner's visit to the war zone in Israel is being done on the NYC taxpayer's dime or on the Mayor's own money? Also, why is the mayor and more importantly the police commissioner traveling in their official capacity? - This is improper as the mayor is merely a local elected official and should not be using a local office to carry out foreign policy. With the crime and budget problems we have, is the commissioner there to pick up pointers on how best to use tanks, airplanes, and illegal bombs on repressing an urban population?

This trip should have been done in their private capacity and on their own dime. NOT the taxpayers and NOT as NYC mayor or Police commissioner.

IF this is a campaign trip as insinuated in an article in the NY Times, then DEFINITELY this should not be done with taxpayer's mone

Jan. 05 2009 11:57 AM
Bess from Manhattan

As a young journalist I very much appreciate Akiva Eldar's ability to challenge (and change) views on both sides of the divide. But the way he ended the piece he published today confused me. He wrote:

"As long as Israelis expect Palestinians to raise white flags, a black flag will fly over their own head."

Is Israel's request, that Hamas stop firing rockets into southern Israel, asking it to raise a white flag?

Sderot, which is a shorter distance from Gaza than the mileage of my morning jog, has turned into a ghost city. I know this because I was there earlier this year and I couldn't even stand being there for more than a few hours. The incessant red alert is terrifying...I have no idea how families have the strength to raise families under constant threat.

Four hours and four rockets later, I said enough was enough and I got in my car.

Three years and 3000 rockets later, Israel has said enough is enough and has gotten in its tanks.

Jan. 05 2009 11:57 AM
hjs from 11211

peter sunset,
i think u misunderstood me. sorry about that.

Jan. 05 2009 11:57 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Wow Brian,

You found one of three Jews in all of Israel who is against this operation. Way to go!

Jan. 05 2009 11:55 AM

Here here #17.

This is a politically motivated over inflated retaliation who's victims are primarily innocents. Israel needs to stop acting like an innocent victim. When you isolate and deprive people of their basic rights they become desperate and make desperate choices. I can not bear this conflict. It is beyond shameful!

Jan. 05 2009 11:55 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

I disagree with you. As in the past, americans like yourself label people who are fighting for their rights "terrorists." Is everyone who disagrees with the GOP in this country and demonstrates againt his government terrorists? In my book Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were terrorists!

Jan. 05 2009 11:54 AM
Carlos from jackson heights, ny

Bloomberg DOES NOT speak for myself as a NYer or most Latinos in the city of New York. The comparison that right-wing zionists make regarding Mexicans (or Latinos) throwing rockets to southern US is laughable and it's gonna backfire on them since they are dragging the majority of peoples in the Western Hemisphere into this conflict.

This conflict won't stop until the humiliating, concentration camp conditions of Palestinians are alleviated.

Jan. 05 2009 11:54 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


I disagree with you.

Hamas as smuggled and fired 10,000+ rockets since being handed a state. Isn't it time that Palestinians built something? Or do you think so little of Arabs that you want Israel to actually babysit the Palestinians?

I respect Arabs and I know they can build their own state.

Jan. 05 2009 11:53 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

THANKS for the voice of reason from Mr. Eldar.

Jan. 05 2009 11:51 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


Hamas politicans were not elected to office, Hamas terrorists were elected to office.

Hamas is a gang with a flag.

Jan. 05 2009 11:50 AM
hjs from 11211

I disagree with you.
israel could do the world a favor, if they built the economy of palestine instead of bombing it, if they empowered moderates instead of only making war with the extremists, if they acted like a modern nation instead of acting like the animals they claim to be at war with.

Jan. 05 2009 11:48 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Samir: Hamas politicians were elected to power. The United States and Israel has done their damnest to keep them out of power. So what choice to the Palestinians really have?

Jan. 05 2009 11:46 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


Great topic.

You are correct, things are disproportionate. Israel has been terrorized with rockets for 8 years, and is responding so far with a 9-10 day offensive. The Palestinians (Hamas and their supporters) are disproportionate in their terrorist and violent aggression towards Israel. But I truly hope you are not suggesting that Israel should respond to 8 years of rockets by now bombing the Palestinians the 8 years. Instead, Israel is trying to get things done quickly.

Hugh, name a single country that does a better job in war then Israel of killing soldiers and protecting civilians – you can’t. What it comes down to is that you just don’t think that Jews have the right to protect ourselves.

Jan. 05 2009 11:46 AM
Peter from Flatbush, Brooklyn

Israel ended its occupation of Gaza and evicted the sttlers there. Why was Hamas launching rockets in the first place?
Hamas is trying to scuttle progress twords a two state soultion to advance their aims; to destroy Israel and drive the jewish popultaion into the sea.
It looks like the Israeli govt. has worked limited civilian casualties, with some effectivenss. Hamas is launcing their rockets from civilian locations and hiding amongst the civilian population.
My thoughts go out to the citizens of gaza, who deserve a state that acts in their intrest, and who deserve to live in peace.
I wish there was some level of condemnation of Hamas from Arab and Muslim leaders.

Jan. 05 2009 11:45 AM
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[[BL Moderator Writes: Okay, a few comments have been edited or removed for violating the posting policy. Again, please refrain from personal attacks, and please keep your language civil. Yes, it is difficult to do for many when it comes to this issue, but let's work together, okay?
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Jan. 05 2009 11:41 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

A simple question:

Is there _any_ response that Israel could take that Mayor Bloomberg, Dick Cheney and other unalloyed supporters of Israel would find disproportionate.

In 2006, Israel slaughtered 1000 civilians and Americans and Israelis called it fine. Israel dropped _millions_ of cluster bomblets in the last days of the war -- bomblets that still kill civilians and Israel called it fine.

Now nearly 500 Palestinians have been murdered in "retaliation" for 25 -- yes, 25 Israelis -- killed by Hamas in the past 7 years!

SO IF Israel kills 2000 as it did at Sabra and Chatila in 1982 (through the Phalangist militias but with full aid of Israeli forces), will that be proportionate?

IF Israel murders 20,000 or 200,000 or 1 million (as the US has killed in Iraq), will that be proportionate?

Jan. 05 2009 11:36 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


I disagree with you.

Israel is actually doing Obama and the world a favor. If Israel does not respond to a broken truce, then Iran wins. Obama wants to enter office with a weakened Iran, not a strengthened one. Iran is making a play to be the next Egypt (the next major power in the Middle East). Obama does not want that. If anything, Obama is thankful for Israel taking on Iran (by taking on Hamas).

Jan. 05 2009 11:34 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

Just because we may differ doesn't = intolerance.

My particular fear is that, again, as in 2006 against Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Israelis will succumb to the pressure of international blathering. From what I can see, I cannot even be sure they were determined not to repeat the mistake of going half-prepared into battle. Such actions as avoiding the house of the Hamas "prime minister" while demolishing the surrounding compound telegraph more pulled punches. They suggest that Israel intends to negotiate in the end.

Again: it is wrong to negotiate with such an enemy. It leaves him to fight another day, and then another. It thus condemns people on both sides to additional death and destruction down the road, while depriving them of the peace and order that can come only from a definitive resolution of the conflict. Moreover, it plays into the hands of an enemy whose strategic purpose is to wear Israel down.

Jan. 05 2009 11:34 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


Yes, onward to Berlin! Any negotiated peace and security will come between Israel and Fatah. Unfortunately, it is down to Israel choosing between the good terrorists (Fatah) and the bad terrorists (Hamas). Both Fatah and Hamas use terror to achieve their goals, but at least Fatah, or many in Fatah, do see a two state solution as the final goal.

Brian, maybe you could ask Mr. Eldar:

1. Why doesn’t Israel offer to enter into direct state negotiations with Abbas? Basically, act as if Hamas does not exist. A final peace deal would be contingent on the Palestinians having elections, voting for the plan and voting Hamas out of office. So basically, you have the deal ready, and when the Palestinians want it, they will vote for it.

2. Were Israel and Styria truly close to a deal brokered by Turkey? Could Hamas have started this war to force Syria to step back from peace with Israel?

3. People keep saying that Israel has made Gaza into a prison. Why doesn't Israel do a better job of reminding the world that Gaza borders Egypt and that Egypt and Gaza could have the same relationship as the United States and Canada? Shouldn't Israel be saying things like, "If Egypt wants nothing to do with the Palestinians, that should tell you something."

4. Why doesn’t Israel go to the UN and press for a resolution about stopping Palestinians from using their own children as human shields?

Jan. 05 2009 11:30 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

#4 Who are the "profiteers"?
What in the world are you talking about??

Jan. 05 2009 11:28 AM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

Hate (or love) doesn't exist under its own accord. Something has to keep feeding it. It could be poverty, lack of political opportunity, revenge from past abuses, etc.
It doesn't matter what is or isn't in the Koran, just like it doesn't matter what is or isn't in the Bible. It may not happen overnight but people's attitudes do change if given a worthwhile reason to do so.
Again, who would have thought forty years ago that this country would elect an African-American man for President. You think there wasn't extensive and blind, irrational race hatred back then? Just go to the library and look at some microfilm from '60s newspapers.

Jan. 05 2009 11:28 AM
hjs from 11211

I guess with elections coming up in israel and a new US president (who might make a few more demands) starting in on the 20th, now is the best time for israel to do a bit of house cleaning in gaza.
since no one is ready for peace the war will go on and the winner as always is the profiteers

Jan. 05 2009 11:24 AM
BL Show from WNYC Studios

[[BL Moderator Writes: Just a preemptive plea to keep in mind the WNYC posting policy when commenting. This is a heated and complicated issue, and in general BL listeners have done an admirable job of discussing it on our comments page. Please try to make this space one where productive, civil, and thoughtful discussion can thrive. Thank you.
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Jan. 05 2009 11:17 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

Hamas carries the entire moral responsibility for putting the people of Gaza in harm's way.
But we should not stop at justifying Israeli action. As their allies against a common enemy -- against Islamists who consider the West to be their ultimate target -- we should be offering our help and encouragement for the completion of the stated Israeli task: the complete annihilation of the Hamas organization. For by no other means can peace be obtained across the Gaza frontier.

An organization that persistently declares Israel has no right to exist, and persistently acts upon this premise, cannot be negotiated with. The Israelis have the material means to destroy Hamas, and therefore the moral imperative to do so.

Israel also has the misfortune to be defending herself today in a world that is lost in moral fog. The predictable, asinine resolution from the United Nations ("both sides stop shooting right away") is, alas, representative of public opinion in many Western countries. We are nearly incapable of making hard decisions, let alone sticking to them. We did not cry "Both sides stop shooting right away" on D-Day. The correct response was: "Onward to Berlin."

Jan. 05 2009 11:12 AM
Robert from NYC

This is a case of the abused becoming the abusers. Think about it!

Jan. 05 2009 11:08 AM

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