Academic Zionism

by Henry on April 10, 2005

Juan Cole makes a claim that I find hard to buy.


Personally, I think that the master narrative of Zionist historiography is dominant in the American academy. Mostly this sort of thing is taught by International Relations specialists in political science departments, and a lot of them are Zionists, whether Christian or Jewish. Usually the narrative blames the Palestinians for their having been kicked off their own land, and then blames them again for not going quietly. It is not a balanced point of view, and if we take the NYT seriously (which we could stop doing after they let Judith Miller channel Ahmad Chalabi on the front page every day before the war), then the IR professors should be made to teach a module on the Palestinian point of view, as well. That is seldom done.

This doesn’t at all gel with my experience of how international relations is taught or practiced, which is that IR courses which cover Middle East politics usually provide readings that cover both sides of the argument. I did a quick Google search on “international relations”+syllabus+Israel to see whether my impression bore out for the first twenty or so course syllabi that I could locate. While I came across one site where the readings tended heavily towards the Bernard Lewis school of analysis, it was the exception – and there was another course where the readings seemed to me to lean equally heavily towards the Palestinian side. The vast majority, covered both arguments, or covered the question from a perspective such as peace and conflict studies, where the emphasis is on solving the conflict rather than addressing the underlying merits of either sides’ claims.

You probably could make a case that IR has an implicit bias towards the Israel side of the argument: Israel is a state, and a discipline which claims that states are the key actors in international politics will tend implicitly or explicitly to discount the rights of peoples without states. But this is hardly evidence of Zionist bias – rather of a pre-existing theoretical set of suppositions about what counts or doesn’t count in international politics. Furthermore, many pro-state realists are quite critical of US support of Israel, on the grounds that this is not in the best interests of the US – for example, Stephen Walt. You could also certainly argue that the IR types who are most visible in US public debates are pro-Israel – but this says more about the public debate than about international relations. The IR scholars who expound in op-ed pages are not by any means necessarily the IR scholars who get taught in the classroom. I suspect that Cole’s claims reflect his lack of experience with IR as it is actually practiced in the academy. Certainly he needs to provide some evidence if he wants to make the rather strong claims that he is making stick. Otherwise, he’s doing what the people who he’s (in my opinion correctly) criticizing are doing – condemning an entire discipline wholesale on the basis of a rather shaky set of claims as to what the people in that discipline are “really” doing in the classroom.

NB – as usual with posts that touch on Middle East politics, I’m going to ruthlessly delete any comments that wander off into the general questions of who’s right or wrong in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Update: I hadn’t seen that Dan Drezner had already commented on Cole’s post; unsurprisingly, his reaction was rather similar to mine.

Update 2: Jeff Weintraub has been good enough to share part of an email that he’s sent to Cole on the topic – excerpt below:

Furthermore (and here I’m in accord with Dan Drezner, which is not always the case), when it comes to your concrete characterization of the hegemonic perspective on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict within political science, and particularly within IR, then I have to confess that I found that quite implausible, indeed mystifying. My degree happens to be in sociology, but I have spent a fair amount of my academic career in political science departments or interdisciplinary programs, a number of my courses have always been cross-listed in political science, and I read a lot of political science work on this and other subjects. (I agree with you that there are a vast number of political scientists, like hordes of locusts. And a sometimes annoying characteristic of social scientists generally, including political scientists as well as sociologists, is that they often feel qualified to write and pronounce about subjects they don’t know much about. Many historians, for their part, have the problem that they can’t follow an argument, but to be a historian you have to know SOMETHING, however narrow. But I digress….) Your claim is that this hegemonic perspective involves an uncritical acceptance of the Zionist historical “master narrative”—by which you appear to mean, not just excessive sympathy for Israel, for Israeli policies, or for historical interpretations that favor the Zionist project, but an acceptance of the whole underlying mythic structure of Zionism as a form of “nineteenth-century romantic nationalism.”

Maybe you know a different breed of political scientists than I do, but as an empirical claim, this strikes me as factually incorrect, indeed a bit strange. This is especially true with respect to IR specialists (a breed for which my own enthusiasm is not unbounded). Let’s leave Zionism aside for a moment. The idea that the professional ideology of IR scholars involves the uncritical acceptance of the “master narrative” (and historical myths) of ANY form of ethnic nationalism, “romantic” or otherwise, runs entirely counter to everything I know about the field. On the basis of my own reading and experience, I would say that IR people in North America, overall, are not particularly inclined to sympathize with ethnic nationalism. And, if anything, they tend to be a lot more ontologically uncritical about states (or about allegedly “rational” individuals) than about “nations.”

So I would have to reiterate that in my (possibly fallible) opinion, this specific claim you made is just factually incorrect, and indeed not even plausible.

{ 68 comments }

1

urizon 04.10.05 at 11:23 am

Cole may be wrong about American IR academia — I personally have no idea if he’s right or wrong; I’m an English major — but he’s spot on if his critique were applied to the US news media. I almost never see even-handed treatment of the Palestinian issue, even on such “fair-minded” programs such as The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

This being said, why do conservative Jews so openly embrace Christian Zionism? Don’t they realize they’re holding a wolf by the ears? Christian Zionists seem to be saying, “Well, you’re all going to Hell, but as long as your country exists, I’m going to kiss your ass because Jesus can’t return without you. Did we happen to mention that all you guys convert to Christianity in the process?”

What could be more patronizing?

2

mrjauk 04.10.05 at 12:01 pm

I respect Professor Cole’s work tremendously, but believe that Henry’s criticism is on the mark in this case. Maybe Cole is being led astray because he, like most historians, doesn’t understand IR. When I speak with my historian-scholar friend about politics, we spend the first portion of every conversation confusing each other with the implicit assumptions of our respective disciplines.

3

Russkie 04.10.05 at 12:12 pm

Maybe Cole is being led astray because he, like most historians, doesn’t understand IR.

More likely that he’s just being disingenuous.

4

abb1 04.10.05 at 12:26 pm

Well, I don’t know anything about IR courses, but I am assuming that in every one of them Israel is considered a legitimate state, as opposed to white settler colonial ‘zionist entity’ (which is also a popular view), so, I suppose, one could argue that this would be a proof of prevalence of the master narrative of Zionist historiography.

PS. I personally do believe that Israel is a legitimate state, so don’t hit me too hard.

5

Patrick R 04.10.05 at 12:35 pm

I also thoroughly respect Dr Cole, and also disagree with his characterization.

A large part of a Mid-East scholar’s work is sifting through propoganda to find the nuggets of truth. I don’t think it’s possible to be exposed to that for long without being affected by it.

6

praktike 04.10.05 at 1:22 pm

sloppy, sloppy.

7

P O'Neill 04.10.05 at 2:13 pm

It seems incongruous that Cole, just recently having administered a well-deserved smackdown to Jonah Goldberg on grounds of expertise, should venture into a sweeping statement about a discipline not his own — and without having done the pretty straightforward supporting Googling that Henry did.

Cole has at least one other preconception that come through in the same post. He seems to be asserting that nationalism is not “rational” (because it is not rooted in DNA) and therefore is not a good basis for analytical methodology. But to state the obvious, just because something is not rational doesn’t mean that people don’t think that way. For instance, how can one analyze European Union political dynamics without some reference to feelings of “nationalism,” in all its glorious irrationality?

8

abb1 04.10.05 at 2:31 pm

One could make a distinction, though, between nationalism as a radical form of patriotism (e.g. American nationalism) and what he calls a ‘blood relationship’. I’d say both are irrational, but the latter especially so.

9

russkie 04.10.05 at 2:42 pm

And of course there’s the fact that in the UK the AUT is talking about excluding you from everything unless you publicly renounce your Zionism.

10

sharon 04.10.05 at 3:41 pm

Funny, as a member of the AUT, I somehow missed that diktat. Actually got any evidence for that statement, russkie?

11

russkie 04.10.05 at 3:51 pm

Sharon perhaps I’m misinformed, who exactly is the AUT discussing boycotting and what exceptions are being discussed?

12

Dave Fried 04.10.05 at 4:01 pm

Two things. First, abb1, for once, I totally agree with you. Part of the problem is that many of those who share Cole’s view think even considering the legitimacy of Israel as a state involves a Zionist bias. Speaking as someone outside the field, it seems like that viewpoint would be a complete non-starter when talking about “international relations”.

On the other hand, U.S. conservatives have shown how effective it is to claim your viewpoint is being persecuted, even when you’re getting a fair shake, so…

The other thing I have is a link to a couple of Guardian articles on the AUT thing:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1452239,00.html
http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,9830,1452060,00.html

HTH!

13

JR 04.10.05 at 4:07 pm

Slightly OT, Cole’s analysis of nationalism is very peculiar. “most Turks anyway are just Greeks who converted to Islam and began speaking Turkish”? So for the past thousand years or so, the inhabitants of Anatolia have been confused — perhaps Prof Cole will go on over and straighten them out.

But seriously, if nationalism is just a figment, why is Prof Cole so strenuously in favor of Palestinian nationhood?

14

Noah 04.10.05 at 6:39 pm

“But seriously, if nationalism is just a figment, why is Prof Cole so strenuously in favor of Palestinian nationhood?”

Yes, yes, it would be much better to make the Palestinians citizens of Israel.

15

Peter 04.10.05 at 8:39 pm

For the record, the AUT (which, for those unfamilar, is a British union) voted to reject the boycott of Israeli academics by a 2-1 margin:

http://www.aut.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=547

Professor Cole may be speaking from personal experience. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan (where Professor Cole has taught since 1984), the main IR guy covering the Arab-Israeli conflict was Raymond Tanter. There’s no question that Tanter has pro-Israel views – Hillel has him on its Israel Speakers Bureau. I never took a class with him, so I can’t speak to his teaching style, but the Fall 2002 syllabus seems weighted towards Israeli concerns
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~rtanter/
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~rtanter/ps498f02.htm

However, the current U of M Professor in the Poli Sci Department who covers the Mideast, Mark Tessler, is an outstanding professor. His book, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, is an extraordinarily unbiased, balanced, and thorough work.

http://polisci.lsa.umich.edu/faculty/mtessler.html

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/0253208734/103-0430749-3578264?_encoding=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

16

JC 04.10.05 at 8:43 pm

I wonder if Cole, so scrupulous about a hearing for both sides, supports the boycott of Israeli schools (where there are a considerable diversity of views articulated–but the real concern perhaps is to delegitimate the state of Israel).

17

Jim Harrison 04.10.05 at 9:36 pm

The suspicion persists that Zionism has more to do with early 2th Century nationalist ideology than with the Jews per se. The secular leaders who created the state of Israel had no special interest in millennial dreams. There was a certain amount of triumph of the will about it as per Zev Sternhell.

18

BigMacAttack 04.10.05 at 10:15 pm

JR and Noah,

LOL. Very nice exchange.

Cole is filled with reflexive biases which color his analysis. Most of which I don’t share.

But he does seem to know quite a bit about the ME. So I read him regularly.

19

pantomimeHorse 04.10.05 at 10:52 pm

Hopefully Cole will clareify his characterization. I don’t know much about IR, specifically, but if he’s talking about academia in general, I’d say that academia is much more even-handed. If I read him correctly, he’s saying that, burried within this even-handedness is the unstated deference to the idea that:

IF Holocaust THEN
Israel = legitimate;
ENDIF

Or (put less facetiously) that the general historical tribulations of the Jews, in particular the Holocaust, justify the opening moves of the conflict. The IR discipline in particular, he says (I think), favors the group which instituted a centralized state first. /From/ there, though, I think Cole would admit that IR and the rest of academia is even-handed, certainly at least compared to the US media, but unfortunately their view of the past colors their (relatively) open-minded thinking about the present.

Consider the double-standard by which the two sides are viewed: when Palestinians, even moderate ones, express nationalist grievances about the past, this is held as proof of the Palestinians’ widespread irrationality that makes them unfit to bargain with; in contrast, Jewish evocations of past wrongs don’t even have to be accompanied by any argument because that argument is so widely engrained in the public mind. In this way, many Americans have not gotten beyond a simple argument–they have not been gotten beyond, ‘of course Jews need a state to protect them’, to ask, ‘at what cost?’. It rarely comes up, and when it does, Jewish and Palestinian nationalist claims are not treated equally.

This is a confusing point to make because, in truth, all such claims should be ignored as justification. I think Cole’s basic point is that, ‘a scholar needs to /account/ for nationalist feeling in his analysis and in his formulation of a solution, but an academic should never buy into nationalist thinking himself’. I think then Cole would equally criticize academics for /buying into/ nationalist thinking about Palestinans, but that’s just much less notable–or rather, where its found, its out in the open: you’ll find more than a few professors with Palestinian pom-poms. Cole’s criticism is aimed at the majority of professors who treat the subject as a study in conflict-mediation (wherein the past is less relevant than the present and future); the criticism is not for this approach, but for the hidden-premises which it masks.

However, Cole’s wider point was about academic freedom: ultimately, the slant a professor puts on material presented in a course is not really important next to engaging students.

20

M. Gordon 04.10.05 at 11:16 pm

The articles Dave Fried points to are dated April 5, 2005. The one Peter points to is dated May of 2003. So, “for the record”, the issue has been reopened (as pointed out in the articles Dave links to) and it is suggested that they measure is likely to pass this time. The conference at which it will be discussed starts April 20. Speaking from experience as the president of an academic union (but not in an official capacity!) I have to say that this is dumb, dumb, dumb. There’s nothing easier to do than alienate academics with rhetoric, and the only thing that gives a union power is solidarity.

If it’s not related to the contract, to your contract, and it’s likely to alienate a good fraction of your membership, it’s just foolhardy to engage in political posturing. Find some other organization that you can use to vent your political spleen, don’t start stripping the privilege of representation from qualified members just because it makes you feel good about yourself. Everybody deserves to be represented by a union (and I do mean everybody), not just the people you agree with. It’s a fundamental human right, like freedom of speech and freedom of association, and stripping it from people because you don’t like their politics is wrong.
::End rant::

21

abb1 04.11.05 at 2:11 am

…Jewish and Palestinian nationalist claims are not treated equally.

And again: the irony is that they should be treated differently: one is race-based the other community-based.

The most common argument I hear from my wingnut-Jewish friends is this: Palestinians already have a state, it’s called Jordan; they should move there. How is it different from ‘American blacks should be shipped back to Africa’? Is this really ‘nationalism’?

22

Peter 04.11.05 at 2:28 am

Sorry, M. Gordon is right, I was wrong (I should have looked at the date of the post I linked to).

Of course, AUT is a British organization, whereas Cole was specifically talking about American academia. But I’m pretty sure Cole has spoken out against academic boycotts of Israelis.

23

jack lake 04.11.05 at 2:49 am

FYI: Most Israelis support a Palestinian state is the West Bank and Gaza. Most Israelis have long ago abandoned the irrelevant issue of the culpability in the dispute. The emphasis is on a solution.

It might help if people such as Cole will be as advanced as the societies in Middle East that are slowly approaching a mutually acceptable solution. (It might take years, but the last 10 years, with all the bloodshed and disappointments, have shown real progress.)

24

abb1 04.11.05 at 2:56 am

Oh, just to clarify: I am not saying that all Zionism is race-based, I was taling about the prevalent brand of revisionist Zionism.

25

Passing_Fancy 04.11.05 at 6:14 am

This is more a request for information than a criticism, but which course syllabi are you thinking of specifically, Henry?

I just tried the same Google search you mentioned and, of course, I found a whole host of international relations syllabi. But they are all introductions to IR – and they all just cite one or two textbooks as the recommended course reading. Among the first twenty that I clicked on, at any rate, none included an in depth discussion.

Don’t just counter Cole’s generalisation with one of your own. Which websites, specifically, are you thinking of?

26

Stacey 04.11.05 at 6:24 am

I think two things are going on here. What I think Cole has basically right, but in exaggerated form, is that there are fundamental “red lines” in American academia. One can criticize (some of) the policies of the state of Israel, but not, for example, whether it was a just construction in the first place. Most profs, in my experience as both a student and a lecturer in ME politics (not in IR), usually sidestep this by treating Israel’s existence as a done deal, and focusing on future directions. This, to Cole and others, may be a sidestep that implies an acceptance of the basic claims of the Zionist narrative. As I said, I think that’s a bit exaggerated, but not fundamentally false.

But Henry points to something excellent when he focuses on the state-centric model of IR, which is beginning to change as non-state actors become (or are finally recognized) as important players in international politics. I remember an IR prof of mine in grad school telling me, for example, that the study of terrorism was a “cottage industry, of near irrelevance” – in 2000. Now, of course, he’s not entirely wrong (since the interesting thing, from a theoretical perspective, remains how states respond to such non-state actors), but still…

At the end of the day, though, most students who take a class on the ME take it through an IR program, not in Comparative Politics, so how it is taught in IR matters. And I do think it’s taught from a state-centric model that priveleges Israel in much the way that our state-centric “real world” does.

27

Iron Lungfish 04.11.05 at 6:34 am

My own experience – and, granted, this is coming from a squishy left-wing education within an Ivy League bastion of America-hatred – is that IR departments tend to give a very balanced view on the I/P conflict, which is, in turn, taken to be a left/pro-Palestinian view by most or many students, who have mostly been exposed to the viewpoint Cole describes.

In American media – and American culture in general – there’s some pretty serious pro-Israel slant coming from a lot of directions. From academia? I have no idea what Cole’s on today.

28

Alphonsevanworden 04.11.05 at 7:21 am

“While I came across one site where the readings tended heavily towards the Bernard Lewis school of analysis, it was the exception – and there was another course where the readings seemed to me to lean equally heavily towards the Palestinian side. The vast majority, covered both arguments, or covered the question from a perspective such as peace and conflict studies, where the emphasis is on solving the conflict rather than addressing the underlying merits of either sides’ claims.”

It sounds like you discovered exactly with Juan Cole contends exists. A ‘balanced’ approach to truth and falsehood is not neutral, surely. University courses in zoology giving ‘equal time’ to intelligent design and evolution would be rightfully identified as a evidence of dangerous christian fundamentalist influence. ‘Balancing’ the Bernard Lewish approach (malicious fictions of no scholarly integrity) with Ilan Pappé-Segev-Morris-Khalidi etc., is a pretty dreadful state of affairs awash in disinformation. And you found only one instance of leaning toward what you are calling – tendentiously – the ‘Palestinian’ side, as if both ‘pov’s were equally valid and equally flawed, and as if a course dominated by history practised with integrity and one dominated by the fabrications and mythology of right wing ideologues, were somehow pedagogical equivalents.

There is an historical record of the history of Palestine and Israel, just as there is one of the History of France. It is not that unique spot on the planet where nothing is clear, and it all comes down in the end to heresay.

It is astonishing that the most valuable, ideologically neutral work on the history of Zionism and the colonization of Palestine, Henry Laurens’, is not even available in English.

29

GD 04.11.05 at 8:09 am

“But seriously, if nationalism is just a figment, why is Prof Cole so strenuously in favor of Palestinian nationhood?”
-jr.

“Yes, yes, it would be much better to make the Palestinians citizens of Israel.”
-Noah

LOLOL.

30

Hektor Bim 04.11.05 at 9:29 am

I like reading Juan Cole, but he seems to be slowly losing the thread. Weird posts like this seem to crop up more and more frequently.

It is not true, for example, that most Turks are just Greeks who started speaking Turkish. There was in fact a strong demographic shift over time in Eastern Anatolia that occurred during the decline of the Byzantine Empire as new Turkish settlers moved in.

Of course, it is true that Turkey is an amalgam of people of different origins, but Cole is way over-simplifying here. A more accurate statement would be that Turkey arose out of a multinational empire created by demographic changes and a conquering group of nomadic peoples who settled an area and intermarried with the local populations, which included Arabs, Persians, Greeks, Mingrelians, Armenians, Kurds, Hungarians, Bulgars, Albanians, Slavs (particularly Bosnians), etc.

I agree that this is true, but it isn’t like there is no such thing as Turkish identity and culture. It was created over time, just like any other ethnicity and culture: Arab, Israeli, Cantonese, whatever. No ethnically-based nation is pure or eternal, and it is exactly the ones that are most mixed that spend the most time trying to prove they are pure: see Turkey, Germany, Russia, the Czechs, Italy, etc.

This is the part I find weird here: if nationalism is bad (which Juan Cole claims to believe), why do Palestinians need their own state? Why can’t they just be absorbed into Jordan (the West Bank) and Egypt (Gaza) or into Israel itself? One can argue that the experience of the Palestinians is sufficiently different that they don’t want to join these countries, but it would be interesting to hear this discussed on the merits.

One last point: what does Cole have against the Kurds? Every time Northern Iraq comes up, he says things like Kirkuk was a Turkmen city until the 1950s, etc. How the hell does he know that? Is he actually poring over census data? I don’t think so. Every time he comments on the Kurds, he comes down on the side of limiting their political power, etc. I don’t get it. Is his problem with them their pro-US position?

31

Henry 04.11.05 at 9:37 am

passing_fancy – I didn’t keep records (this was just a quick exercise), but what I did was to keep looking until I found 20-odd syllabi which devoted at least one class to the conflict (i.e. had enough material that I could draw conclusions as to readings etc) and went from there. The majority were general IR courses (there were a few specialized Middle East courses in there) – but if there is a systematic Zionist bias among IR scholars, I would have expected to have found some smoking gun evidence in the general courses too (and perhaps even more so than in the specialized ones).

Alphonsevanworden – you’re probably not going to convince anyone who doesn’t share your priors on this – sounds as though any course which doesn’t give primacy to your particular interpretation is going to be, in your eyes, biased. What I will say is that the idea that there is a non-contested “History of France” out there is a nonsense- there isn’t a non-contested history of any spot on the globe worth talking about. Take a look at the vehement contestation over the French revolution (Furet etc) and what it meant, for example. Any course worth its salt should cover the axes of contestation.

32

Hektor Bim 04.11.05 at 9:38 am

——————-

I think two things are going on here. What I think Cole has basically right, but in exaggerated form, is that there are fundamental “red lines” in American academia. One can criticize (some of) the policies of the state of Israel, but not, for example, whether it was a just construction in the first place. Most profs, in my experience as both a student and a lecturer in ME politics (not in IR), usually sidestep this by treating Israel’s existence as a done deal, and focusing on future directions. This, to Cole and others, may be a sidestep that implies an acceptance of the basic claims of the Zionist narrative. As I said, I think that’s a bit exaggerated, but not fundamentally false.

—————–Stacey

Stacey, I can’t think of a single state that is the product of a just construction. Modern France was created through a truly horrific genocide – the Albigensian crusade. The formation of England and especially the United Kingdom involved extremely long and cruel campaigns against the Welsh, the Scots, and especially the Irish. The United States were also created through terrible brutality: even leaving out the wholesale destruction of the Native americans, you have the expulsion of the Loyalists to Canada and the Civil War. India and Pakistan were formed through brutality by the British (see Sepoy rebellion, etc.) and formed through bloody partition, which is still ongoing in Kashmir. Bangladesh had its own genocide (perpertrated by Pakistan) a couple of decades later. The modern Chinese state was constructed through terrible oppression of the Mongols and the Tibetans, not to mention the horrors of the Chinese Civil War. Russia’s blood-drenched history is still ongoing in Chechnya.

Can you give me one example of a state created in a just manner? I’m really having trouble here.

33

abb1 04.11.05 at 10:18 am

The United States were also created through terrible brutality: even leaving out the wholesale destruction of the Native americans…

Yes, but this happened long time ago. Once upon a time it was acceptable to roast and eat your grandma too, but not so much anymore.

34

Jeff 04.11.05 at 10:41 am

Excuse me for dropping in. I’m not an academic, but in the case of the Columbia situation I think it boils down to a breakdown of civility in the classroom.

I finished college & grad school not that long ago, but it feels like a hundred years have passed since then. There is such utter lack of regard and respect for another’s opinion. I don’t think I’d have finished college if I were attending today — the nastiness in some classrooms seems to be so thick, you can cut it with a knife.

Here’s a direct link to a Columbia-related discussion on my blog.

35

Donald Johnson 04.11.05 at 10:56 am

Henry, there are some factual matters in history which should be taught in an uncontested way. Were some Palestinians deliberately driven out in 1948? Yes. Were lies told about this? Yes. There are a lot of contestable statements one could make about the meaning of those statements–for instance, does the fact that Israel (like the US) exist in its present form because of ethnic cleansing a reason to doubt its legitimacy as a state? I think I’d say no, but that’s contestable. The ethnic cleansing that occurred shouldn’t be.

36

Russkie 04.11.05 at 11:28 am

Can you give me one example of a state created in a just manner? I’m really having trouble here.

A better question to ask in this context is: what previous conflict should the Jews of the Levant have used as their model when planning their response to the British exit in 1948?

37

JRoth 04.11.05 at 11:42 am

If I may, (and I suspect we’re getting dangerously OT here), two things matter very much when contemplating the (unpleasant) origins of a nation relative to its current moral standing. One is, in fact, how old is the original sin: I’m unaware of a large body of agrieved Cathars still raising a fuss. In terms of cosmic justice, it may not matter, but in practice, it does. The other key issue, it seems to me, is how the resultant state deals with its origins. Abominable as US-Native relations have been, the tribal sovereignty concept (not execution) actually shows some recognition of some concept of justice and rights, as opposed to the actual, on-the-ground attitudes of Americans towards First Peoples.

I’m not claiming that flawed institutions absolve responsibility or guilt, but they do permit some honesty in discussions. Indeed, part of the problem in Israel is the lingering “Land without a People” mythology, which a. makes it difficult to have frank discussions, and b. permits recalcitrant elements to cling to counterfactual history. In other words, until/unless the offending entity officially recognizes the offense, it is always possible for apologists to stifle discussion by denying that offense (note, in this context, Clinton’s “apology” for slavery; there’s a lot of debate about its meaning, and certainly its efficacy at this late date, but you can see how it should short-circuit those who would like to deny that slavery represented anything bad in US history – and yes, those people are around, and they hold power).

38

Henry 04.11.05 at 12:34 pm

We’re getting close to a discussion of the merits of Israel here. To my bitter experience, direct discussions of the pros and cons invariably descent into slanging matches. I don’t want this to happen again, and will delete further comments on the underlying merits vigorously – not because these comments don’t have intrinsic merit, but because it seems impossible to have a reasoned discussion, and I don’t especially like what happens to this blog’s comment sections when we try to. I’d strongly suggest people redirect their comments to the other questions raised by this post.

39

Hektor Bim 04.11.05 at 2:13 pm

Henry,

I don’t actually want to focus specifically on Israel here. What I want to focus on is the idea of the just construction of a state. As far as I can tell, no nation was created justly, and all of them have historical echos from those unjust acts. France is a good example: because of the Revolution and the threats it perceived (and made up), all native languages other than French were suppressed. This policy continues to this day in many ways: talk to a Basque or Breton or Dutch or German or Catalan-speaking French citizen if you don’t believe me.

The concept of a just founding of a state is a mirage – it has never really happened as far as I can tell.

Feel free to delete this post if you think it is going in the wrong direction.

40

Donald Johnson 04.11.05 at 2:32 pm

I see no logical reason why the contentiousness that erupts around the I/P conflict should bother you more than a lot of other contentious issues do, but it’s your blog (or this portion is).

Most of us aren’t in a position to know if international relations profs fit Cole’s description, but from what’s been said here, he appears to be wrong. He’d be right if he talked about the mainstream press–I’m continually depressed by what many of my friends believe regarding the I/P conflict, but I know where they get their ideas.

41

Hektor Bim 04.11.05 at 2:38 pm

The United States were also created through terrible brutality: even leaving out the wholesale destruction of the Native americans…

————————-abb1
Yes, but this happened long time ago. Once upon a time it was acceptable to roast and eat your grandma too, but not so much anymore.
—————————–

First of all, when was it ever acceptable to roast and eat your grandmother? Specifics, please.

Secondly, for example, wholesale ethnic cleansing was perpetrated both during and after World War II, which is only 60 years ago, but most people seem to think that was ok, or at least doesn’t mention it: (Germans, Poles, Chechens, etc.) So what exactly is the cutoff date for “long ago”?

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Nicholas Weininger 04.11.05 at 3:11 pm

h. bim: if you assume that the Icelandic state has existed as fundamentally the same entity since the initial formation of the Althing, it is as justly founded a state as you could ever hope for, and presents no legitimacy problems to non-anarchists.

Of course there are a couple of caveats:

1. it is in a number of respects the exception that proves the rule

2. it spent the better part of the last millennium under Norwegian and then Danish subjection, which some might argue undermines the claim to continuity from the founding

but I think it meets your standard.

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Hektor Bim 04.11.05 at 3:31 pm

Nicolas Weininger,

Wow, pretty good! Iceland is an interesting example. I do not accept the Icelandic state as fundamentally the same entity since the initial formation of the Althing. Iceland was essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of Denmark for centuries and by no means was a “state”.

I don’t know a lot about Icelandic history, but what happened when it gained independence from Denmark in 1944? Were Danes expelled from Iceland? What level of conflict was there, considering Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany at the time? I know the British sent an armed force to Iceland to secure its independence.

I need to know more about Icelandic history to judge whether it was a just founding or not, but it is an interesting example.

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abb1 04.11.05 at 3:32 pm

All right, Hektor, I’m not sure what you’re trying to argue here. You seem to be arguing (a la Benny Morris) that ethnic cleansing (if not outright slaughter) was (and is) justified for the purpose of creating an ethnic Jewish state.

I concede that this is a honest and straightforward argument, no bullshit. That’s good, I like that.

But that’s not even close, I am sure, to what they teach in those IR classes (not to mention the media) – QED.

Cheers.

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neil 04.11.05 at 3:51 pm

I find some of what Cole writes to be rather peculiar and everything he writes about Israel to be very peculiar. His view about the relationship between the US and Israel is just a good ole Jewish conspiracy theory – the US has been too supportive of Israel because Jews control the US government. He is unable to consider the possibility that President after President have aced in the way they have towards Israel because they have independently arrived at the conclusion that this was the best course of action. For Cole it has to be nefarious Jewish influence.

He did much the same thing with the Iraq the Model bloggers when he accused them being CIA plants – he has to construct rather weird theories to explain why people have different views to him.

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Hektor Bim 04.11.05 at 4:10 pm

abb1,

I’ll state the point clearly, so you don’t assume things I’m not saying. By the way, where did Benny Morris come from?

I merely point out that using the metric of “just construction of a state” to decide whether you like a state or not means that you will have to dislike all states (except maybe Iceland – the jury is still out on this one).

One can obviously criticize a state based on its current or even recent historical actions, but to expect a state to be born in a virgin birth scenario is unreasonable – (almost) no state could meet that bar.

You may decide you dislike all states then, but at least be clear that that is where you are going.

jroth, what is your position on the Benes decrees? The Czech republic refused to renounce them, for example. Do you believe they should have? What about compensation claims made by those ethnically cleansed in the period during and after World War II? Should they be compensated? Why or why not?

P.S. It seems the Althing was offically disbanded in 1800 and only returned (as a ceremonial body) in the 1840s. So there is no unbroken continuity there – 40 years is a long time! That does not of course, decide the question of whether it was a just founding or not.

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Luc 04.11.05 at 4:19 pm

Somehow I think Juan Cole is being put in a catch-22 situation.

He thinks his observation about what it is being taught is not relevant, as long as the teaching is any good.

Yet he sticks to his personal observation about this narrative, despite it being not that relevant.

But if he’s going to provide proof of this, i.e. name names, universities, classes, dates etc. he’d be writing the script of “Campus Watch II – The Revenge”. And I suppose I’m not the only one not looking forward to that.

So, beside Juan Cole’s reply on his blog, what else do you expect of him?

He didn’t made his opinion public to convince anyone (at least that is what I read into the “Personally, ” disclaimer at the start), and apparently so, he didn’t. But as you build up the debate now, it comes down to who to believe. Or in Weintraub words “… in my … opinion, this specific claim … is just factually incorrect …”.

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Alphonsevanworden 04.11.05 at 8:34 pm

Henry: The French Rev. is my area, so I am happy to compare: what historian do you consider the Furet of the history of Palestine/Israel? Who is the Soboul? Etc.? Who would you consider the Bernard Lewis among historians of the French Revolution? Who is the Henry Laurens among historians of the French Revolution?

You’ve accused me of priors and a particular ‘ínterpretation.’ How would you describe my views?

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Jonathan Edelstein 04.11.05 at 10:32 pm

if you assume that the Icelandic state has existed as fundamentally the same entity since the initial formation of the Althing, it is as justly founded a state as you could ever hope for

How many Irish slaves did the original settlers bring along?

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Joshua W. Burton 04.12.05 at 12:12 am

_How many Irish slaves did the original settlers bring along?_

The Irish were there _already_, probably from the time of St. Brendan but certainly from the middle of the eighth century. Remember _Njal’s Saga_? That’s “Neil” with a Viking accent, and his problems with his neighbors were hereditary bigotry in the wake of an ordinary ethnic cleansing.

There are just so _many_ ways to make hash of the Iceland narrative as conventionally told by Usenet anarchists: from enslaved First Peoples, to deforestation, through three centuries of blood feuds over driftwood rights, and right on into their Vichy self-betrayal and surrender in the 13th century. But David Friedman’s Iceland is more fun than Snorri Sturluson’s, so it’s a thankless job.

Iceland rants can get as vindictive as Israel rants, by the way, so _caveat moderator_.

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abb1 04.12.05 at 2:18 am

Hektor,
I merely point out that using the metric of “just construction of a state” to decide whether you like a state or not means that you will have to dislike all states…

the question is not about liking or disliking, the question is about historical facts.

Modern political Zionism has its version of facts. I am sure you know the main outline of the story: there was no ethnic cleansing, Arabs who left in 1948 left voluntarily, in 1967 Arab countries attacked Israel and so on.

The Palestinians have their own story: white Europeans came, conquered their land, plundered their property, killed hundreds or thousands, expelled almost a million of people and so on.

The so called ‘new Israeli historians’ are somewhere in the middle, but they largely confirm the Palestinian version; leaving the official Israeli story to stand as a pure propaganda narrative based on lies.

If I understand you correctly, you admit the Palestinian version of events; you’re only saying that it’s not unusual. Well, OK then. I commend you.

We can discuss if it really is unusual in the post-WWII framework, but that’s a different issue.

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Jonathan Edelstein 04.12.05 at 5:45 am

The so called ‘new Israeli historians’ are somewhere in the middle, but they largely confirm the Palestinian version

I wouldn’t necessarily say that. They confirm the Palestinian version as to certain key facts – e.g., the fact that an ethnic cleansing took place in 1948 – but not as to motivations and root causes. In particular, they don’t confirm the narrative of Palestinian innocence, nor do they support the argument that Zionism was territorially expansionist from the outset. But that’s neither here nor there.

If I understand you correctly, you admit the Palestinian version of events; you’re only saying that it’s not unusual […] We can discuss if it really is unusual in the post-WWII framework, but that’s a different issue.

I’m not Hektor, but I’d say that ethnic cleansing certainly isn’t unusual in the context of post-WW2 state formation. One has only to look to India and Pakistan – which were formed around the same time as Israel – as well as Turkish Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Balkans, Sudan and increasingly the “soft” ethnic cleansing of post-Soviet Central Asia. In places where the state formation process hasn’t been kept in check through artificial stasis of colonial borders, ethnic cleansing has been a fairly common adjunct.

Note that this isn’t the same as saying ethnic cleansing is a good thing – only that it’s not uncommon, even now.

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Jonathan Edelstein 04.12.05 at 5:49 am

So what exactly is the cutoff date for “long ago?”

One possible cutoff date might be 1949, when ethnic cleansing was made illegal by the Geneva Convention. Which means that Israel, India and Pakistan just squeak by, but Turkey and Armenia are out of luck.

In the long run, of course, it seems likely that the conquest of Turkish Cyprus and Karabakh will be ratified, but modern norms mean that the ratification will take longer and involve more hypocrisy.

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Jonathan Edelstein 04.12.05 at 5:50 am

One has only to look to India and Pakistan – which were formed around the same time as Israel – as well as Turkish Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Balkans, Sudan and increasingly the “soft” ethnic cleansing of post-Soviet Central Asia.

Bhutan too – the transformation into a modern nation-state was accompanied by mass expulsion of ethnic Nepalis.

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Hektor Bim 04.12.05 at 8:37 am

abb1,

Both of the choices you present as stories or versions are incomplete. Since I don’t agree with either one, I don’t see myself as admitting the “Palestinian” version or “modern political Zionism” version as correct. So stop commending me for things I don’t say.

For example: there was obviously ethnic cleansing in 1948 by Israeli actors, but it wasn’t total or necessarily undertaken by all parts of the government.

In addition, many of the Jewish Israelis were from Europe, but many just happened to already live there, and many of them settled by buying land, not forcing people out. Of course, many people were driven out also – there were many people expelled from Haifa for example.

So these simplistic views of the historical process might make you feel good, but they are not accurate.

More importantly, once one knows the historical record, one has to decide what to do about it. That’s why jroth’s comments were interesting.

For example, did you know that the UK still refuses to apologize for the ethnic cleansing of the Acadians from Canada? Ditto for the Potato Famine.

Finally, ethnic cleansing is not at all unusual for the post World War II environment.

Let’s see, I’ll just list some examples, which by no means are complete:

Central America – widespread violence against Mayan villagers and destruction of their homes
Turkey – widespread destruction of Kurdish villages and their expulsion to other parts of Turkey and surrounding countries (Syria, Iran, etc.)
Iraq – ethnic cleansing of Kurds, Turkmen, and Marsh Arabs
Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo – widespread ethnic cleansing
Germans – expelled from most parts of Central and Eastern Europe, notable examples include Czechosovakia (Benes decrees), East Prussia (in almost complete totality), and what is now western parts of Poland
Poles – expelled from prewar eastern Poland and resettled in former German residences
Estonians – a tenth of the population shipped to Siberia (smaller amounts for the other Baltic states)
Finland – ethnic Finns expelled to Finland from the parts conquered by the Soviet Union
Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Volga Germans – all shipped to Central Asia and not allowed to return for years
Japanese – expelled from the Kuriles following WWII and also from Korea
Koreans – expelled from Japan and the Soviet Far East
Burma – Karens and other ethnic groups expelled
Tibetans – expelled from China to India
Uighers – expelled from China to Central Asia
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh – massive ethnic cleansing that continues at a low level today: Hindus in Kashmir and Bangladesh, Muslims in Gujarat
Armenia and Azerbaijan – massive ethnic cleansing
Sudan, Congo, Rwanda and Burundi – massive ethnic cleansing

etcetera, etcetera.

Ethnic cleansing is not at all uncommon. In fact it is fairly typical for emerging states. In fact, a good rule of thumb is if the British had a colony somewhere, its independence will produce ethnic cleansing: see Israel, India, Burma, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc.

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abb1 04.12.05 at 9:46 am

What’s the point of this? So, let’s say ethnic cleansing in general is not uncommon (although the Westerners don’t do it anymore and don’t approve of it). So what? What exactly are you trying to say? Apparently I keep misunderstanding you, so maybe you could just spell it out – in respect to Israel/Plestine and the different versions of history.

57

Functional 04.12.05 at 9:56 am

Given Kieran Healy’s previous approval of Juan Cole’s smart-alecky and ad-hominem-laced reply to Jonah Goldberg for supposedly knowing nothing about Iraq, will Healy chime in here where Juan Cole is likewise opining on a subject where he has no idea what the hell he’s talking about?

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Jonathan Edelstein 04.12.05 at 12:29 pm

So, let’s say ethnic cleansing in general is not uncommon (although the Westerners don’t do it anymore and don’t approve of it).

Sort of like a robber baron disapproving of theft, no? The reason why the core Western countries don’t do ethnic cleansing any more is because their process of state formation is already complete. Countries on the margins of the West – e.g., Armenia and Turkey – still do it.

So what? What exactly are you trying to say?

Again, I’m not Hektor, but his argument seems pretty clear: given the frequency with which ethnic cleansing accompanies modern state formation, it is disingenuous to single out one state as illegitimate becaust its formation process involved ethnic cleansing. It’s perfectly fine to criticize that state for its crimes and to demand that it make amends, but not to question its legitimacy on that ground unless you’re prepared to make the same argument with respect to other similarly situated countries.

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abb1 04.12.05 at 1:28 pm

I don’t think it’s singled out as illegitimate because of the ethnic cleansing – to a greater extent than, say, annexation of Tibet or, say, transfer of Crimean Tatars. If I am not mistaken, there is still a Tibetan government in exile somewhere that considers Tibet under temporary illegal occupation by the PRC, while most people and governments do accept the current status. The same is true about the situation with Israel, only it’s been terribly aggravated by continuous territorial expansionism etc. There’s little doubt in my mind that if Israel withdrew from the territories and somehow compensated the refugees, the whole 1948 controversy would immediately disappear.

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Hektor Bim 04.12.05 at 1:50 pm

Actually, Jonathan Edelstein summarized it reasonably well. To single out Israel for its process of formation as a state seems weird, since (almost) every state has been formed by ethnic cleansing or similarly horrible acts. Therefore, Israel as a state seems as legitimate as any other.

For example, China continues to occupy Tibet, East Turkestan, and Outer Mongolia and has extremely harsh practices there, including ethnic cleansing. Are you willing to boycott all interactions with Chinese academics?

How about Burma, where slave labor is commonplace and government policy is to destroy troublesome ethnic minorities where possible?

Turkey occupies parts of Cyprus and has expelled the previous owners from their homes – are you going to force Turkey to pay restitution to the people expelled from Northern Cyprus?

How about compensation for the Germans expelled from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and what is now Kaliningrad?

Some amount of hypocrisy in international relations is unavoidable, but I think people should be clear about why they are engaging in it.

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abb1 04.12.05 at 3:43 pm

Burma is under various boycotts all the time and so is China. In Cyprus there’s been a whole complicated process of compensations and various adjustments going on for a while now. And most of the Germans expelled from Eastern Europe probably were implicated in some form of collaboration with the Nazis; that was a part of the WWII.

So, what do you suggest – some kind of a statute of limitations? Like, if you, say, expel a bunch of people, plunder their property and managed to hold on to it fora few yeas – then it should be all forgotten?

Well, talking about hypocrisy: what about Germany and other European countries paying compensation to the holocaust survivors – are you opposed to that too? And, by the way, was the holocaust a terrible crime against humanity or just a regrettable episode of ‘state formation’?

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Hektor Bim 04.12.05 at 4:34 pm

What substantial boycott is China under exactly? The only one I can see is that the EU and US do not directly sell it weapons. As far as I can tell, China suffers essentially zero cost in international relations for its horrific policies.

There have not really been compensations in Cyprus, and the issue is essentially unresolved. Turkey also suffers almost nothing, at least so far.

I don’t support a statute of limitations, but that is in fact what we have now. In most cases, if you expel a bunch of people, plunder their property, and hold on to it for a while, then in fact you do get away with it. Most recently, the Czech government got away with it while entering the EU.

I am against ethnic cleansing period. When restoration of property rights is for some reason impossible, then I support reparations or at least some mechanism to support people’s lives.

What I don’t support is the ridiculous idea that only some refugees are worthy of support. Why are Germans automatically bad and Palestinians automatically good, for example?

You still don’t get it. Israel is a state, formed like other states, and is thus just as legitimate a state as they are. I see no reason to single it out as uniquely delinquent or uniquely praiseworthy. If you do see some reason to do so, why don’t you make that clear?

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Jonathan Edelstein 04.12.05 at 4:37 pm

There’s little doubt in my mind that if Israel withdrew from the territories and somehow compensated the refugees, the whole 1948 controversy would immediately disappear.

Well, not immediately and not entirely, but I agree that this would solve the problem for all practical purposes. It’s pretty clear at this point that any final-status agreement would have to involve exactly what you suggest: fair compensation for the refugees, and a withdrawal to either the 1967 borders or a modified border based on a dunam-for-dunam land swap. Thus far, I agree with you completely.

The thing is that none of this should affect the current legitimacy of Israel’s existence within the 1967 borders – that would be a bit like arguing that the occupation of Tibet undermines the legitimacy of China. The occupation of the WB and Gaza is an existing and continuing injustice that must be remedied in the present. The ethnic cleansing of 1948 was a historic injustice, but the resulting existence of Israel requires no continuing injustice to maintain, any more than the current existence of the United States derives from its foundational injustice. Therefore, Israel within the Green Line is as legitimate a state as the United States.

Keep in mind that I’m talking only about the issue of state legitimacy. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to (1) argue that the ethnic cleansing of 1948 was morally wrong, (2) criticize anyone who would deny or defend such cleansing, and (3) argue that Israel should make amends. But arguing that the events of 1948 somehow render Israel an illegitimate state from its inception – which is an argument you’re not necessarily making, but many people do – is disingenuous in light of the processes that usually attend the formation of states.

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Luc 04.12.05 at 7:08 pm

Jonathan, you’re drawing some strange conclusions.

The issue of state legitimacy of Israel is linked to the facts of 1948.

The ethnic cleansing in 1948 is just as historical an injustice as the annexation of East-Jerusalem and the building of Ma’aleh Adumim.

The obvious observations are that the states that recognize Israel do that regardless of what happened in 1948, and that in the states that don’t recognize Israel the events surrounding 1948 do play a role.

As for the legitimacy of the border of Israel, the only relevant states are those that recognize Israel. And those countries, almost exclusively, don’t recognize the expansion after 1967.

Now people arguing about these issues can pick and choose, and if they base their opinion of the legitimacy of Israel on the border issue, that may be disingenious, but your argument that it is disingenious because the ethnic cleansing is historic injustice and, for example, the annexation of Jerusalem is not, is, well, strange.

Another obvious observation is that the state of Israel exists, is recognized by the UN and all relevant bodies, and therefore an opinion of an individual about it’s legitimacy is mostly irrelevant, except as to have an opinion about those states that don’t recognize Israel.

Undoubtedly you can get a clearer picture of these issues by following one of those IR courses that once were the subject of this discussion, whether they have a ‘zionist bent’ or not.

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abb1 04.13.05 at 3:22 am

Nah, Hektor, if you could measure the whole spectrum of Chinese and Israeli transgressions objectively and carefully, i.e. annexation vs. 38 years of military occupation, political assassinations, torture, house/property demolitions as a matter of official policy, firing missiles and dropping bombs into populated city blocks and crowds, etc. etc. etc., and if you add to this that the Israeli government is controlled by enlightened Europeans, then, you’d have to conclude, I believe, that levels of public condemnation are not disproportional. Indeed, inside the US it is disproportional in the opposite direction. That’s how I feel, anyway.

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Hektor Bim 04.13.05 at 8:16 am

abb1,

I guess we just fundamentally disagree. Tibet effectively is under military occupation if you are ethnic Tibetan, and it is worse in East Turkestan (Xinjiang). I don’t think you actually know what is going on in China, frankly.

It is nice to see you admitting hypocrisy. “Enlightened Europeans” indeed. Israel isn’t in Europe, so I don’t see how Israelis can be Europeans, especially when the majority of them don’t even have European roots.

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abb1 04.13.05 at 12:54 pm

Hektor,
I don’t know where you get your info. The AI’s 2004 report has this:

Tibet Autonomous Region and other ethnic Tibetan areas

A series of releases of high-profile Tibetan prisoners of conscience during 2002 was not maintained in 2003, and freedom of religion, association and expression continued to be severely restricted. Contacts between the Chinese authorities and representatives of the Tibetan government in exile apparently failed to result in any significant policy changes. Over 100 Tibetans, mainly Buddhist monks and nuns, continued to be imprisoned in violation of their fundamental human rights, and arbitrary arrests and unfair trials continued.

* Choedar Dargye, Gedun Thogphel and Jampa Choephel, three monks from Khangmar monastery, Ngaba prefecture, Sichuan province, were tried in August. They had been arrested for distributing material calling for independence for Tibet, painting a Tibetan flag and possessing photographs of the Dalai Lama. They were sentenced to 12 years in prison. Three others were arrested in connection with the same case. Some sources indicated that they had been sentenced to between one and eight years in prison. One of the three, Jamyang Oezer, was reported to be seriously ill in hospital.

I don’t see anything even close to the occupied territories. No shooting of civilians and children, no checkpoints, no walls, no random settler violence, no destroying houses and orchards, no assassinations. Tibetans who live in Tibet are citizens of China. Yes, separatist movement is suppressed.
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I don’t think this is hypocrisy. The government of Israel is controlled by Westerners, Ashkenazi Jews. They are a product of the Western civilization, European culture. When some Hutus massacre some Tutsis in Africa, we can only guess what cultural/socioeconomic clashes are at work there, but when Westerners with tanks, missiles and fighter jets start wrapping local villages into barbed-wire – we know exactly what’s going on there and react accordingly.

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Noah 04.13.05 at 5:26 pm

“I believe, that levels of public condemnation are not disproportional. Indeed, inside the US it is disproportional in the opposite direction.”

I would have to agree. Has anyone noticed the deafening silence in the “liberal blogesphere”, regarding Ariel Sharon basically telling Bush to f**k off, at their press conference in Texas, Monday?

Geez, even the AP ran with headlines like, “Sharon Dismisses Bush on Settlement Expansion”.

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