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Post Israel, Palestine and the Golden Rule
Created by John Eipper on 10/03/12 1:34 PM

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Israel, Palestine and the Golden Rule (Istvan Simon, USA, 10/03/12 1:34 pm)

With all due respect to Carmen Negrin, I believe that her post of 2 October misinterprets the situation in Israel/Palestine.

The war in 1967, which resulted in the occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan river by Israel, was not an occupation of Palestinian land.

There had never been a single Palestinian in those lands prior to 1967. That is because the area was occupied territory, occupied and administered by Jordan, since 1948. So either that land was Jordanian, in which case the Muslim inhabitants were Jordanian as well, and not Palestinians, or else the Palestinians should have struggled mightily against the occupation of their land by Jordan, which they never did.

Now let us talk a bit about Jerusalem. The area known as the Temple of the Mount, though of some significance to Muslims, is even more significant for Jews. The Wailing Wall is there. Under the enlightened administration of Jordan, prior to the 1967 war, not a single Jew could wail or pray at the Wailing Wall.

In 1840 Jerusalem was under Turkish occupation and administration. The Turks took a census, for among other reasons, to be able to collect taxes from non-Muslims. The census revealed that what people call nowadays East Jerusalem, had a population of about 14,000. Further, that of the 14,000 inhabitants there were about 7,000 Jews, about 4,000 Muslims, and about 3,000 Christians in the city.

What's remarkable about these numbers is that in 1840 (East) Jerusalem was a city in which the absolute majority of its population was Jewish, and outnumbered the Muslim inhabitants by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio. Or to be more precise, by a 1.75 to 1 ratio. This according to official Ottoman Empire figures, almost hundred years before the foundation of modern-day Israel.

This data is available in numerous sources. For example, in Dore Gold, The Fight for Jerusalem, the reading of which I highly recommend to WAISers.

The same data is also available in ex-WAISer Haim Harari's book, A View from the Eye of the Storm: Terror and Reason in the Middle East, the reading of which I recommend even more to WAISers.



Quote from Gold, p 120: (On the Turkish census):

"Thus the demographic growth of the Jewish community of Jerusalem continued. Foreign consulates sometimes gave a more accurate picture of the breakdown of Jerusalem's changing population [in the 1840s], since the census taken by the Ottoman Empire had been notoriously inaccurate [in under-estimating Jerusalem's Jewish population]. Often it did not take into account many of the new immigrants to Jerusalem; non-Muslims who appeared in these Ottoman records would be expected to pay special taxes like the jizya (poll tax), and therefore did not have an interest in being immediately registered.

"New data became available in time. In 1842, a Prussian consulate was established in Jerusalem. It estimated that Jerusalem had a total population of 15,150 in 1845, of which 7,120 were Jews. In 1864, the British consulate reported to London that while the total population of Jerusalem during the previous year had still been about 15,000, there were 8,000 Jews , 4,500 Muslims, and 2,500 Christians."

Gold, p. 29:

"History shows that Jerusalem was not always the highest priority for the centers of power in the Islamic world at large. For example, right after the launch of the First Crusade, the dominant Islamic force at the time, the gerat Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad, whose rule is regarded by many Muslims as a kind of golden age of Islam, did not initiate any military campaign against the Crusader presence in Jerusalem. It was only when Crusader forces, based in what is today Jordan, began directly threatening the Arabian peninsula, home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, that Saladin began his campaign in 1187 to vanquish the Crusader Kingdom and capture Jerusalem... And Saladin's grandson actually negotiated away Islamic control over Jerusalem to the Holy Roman Emperor in 1229--with a provision for the protection of Islamic holy sites.

"The soldiers of the First Crusade murdered Jerusalem's entire Jewish and Muslim populations when they first captured the city in 1099. It was Saladin, like a previous Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem, the caliph Umarbin al-Khattab, who allowed the Jews to return."

p. 58:

"The Jewish population apparently grew in Jerusalem in these years [around 717 AD].  The Muslim Historian al-Muqaddasi, writing at the end of the tenth century, complained that there were not enough learned Islamic religious leaders in Jerusalem and that most of the city's inhabitants were Christians and Jews."

p. 80:

"The Anglican Church established its first bishopric in Jerusalem in 1841. Thus shortly followed by the return to Jerusalem of the Latin patriarch from Rome in 1847 and the transfer of the Greek patriarch from Istanbul to Jerusalem at roughly the same time."

p 112:

"... Ibn Taymiyya argued against what he judged was an inappropriate level of devotion to Jerusalem that was still evident in some Islamic circles. His legal opinions were extremely significant, as centuries later his views on jihad and other religious matters would inspire the most militant elements in the Islamic world, from the founders of the Wahabbi movement in Arabia, to the jihadists around al-Qaeda.

"Ibn Taymiyya was blunt: 'And in Jerusalem, there is not a place one calls sacred, and the same holds true for the tombs of Hebron.' "

See also:


With regards to settlements, I am against them, and so is Ariel Sharon. This may surprise Carmen, since Ariel Sharon was the champion of settlements in the West Bank after the 1967 war.

But as Prime Minister, he changed his views, and the reason is simple. The Muslim population of the West Bank and Gaza is growing at a very fast rate, which of course puts into doubt how bad their lot really is under Israeli occupation. This population grows much faster than the Jewish population, with the result that if Israel maintained the West Bank and Gaza, within a few decades it would cease to be a Jewish state. To avoid this consequence Ariel Sharon reversed his policies regarding the Jewish settlements.

So to summarize:

1. There is no such thing as Palestinian land; The West Bank and Gaza is not Palestinian land, but Arab land.

2. I am against Jewish settlements on Arab (not Palestinian) land; So is Ariel Sharon.

3.Where Carmen Negrin talks about Palestinian land, in every instance she should replace it with "Arab land."

4. East Jerusalem has been a Jewish city for at least 172 years.

5. Houses may be occupied by Jews in east Jerusalem, and their Arab owners move elsewhere in Israel, but this is no different than houses in my neighborhood in California, which are being bought by Indians (from India) from their previous owners.

6. Water may be diverted from Arab lands. But Arabs have done precious little to build the aquifers which are necessary. This includes incredibly rich Arabs, like Kuwaitis, and Saudis, or Saddam Hussein, who gave 0 dollars to build aquifers for Arab lands, but millions to recruit suicide murderers.  [JE: Please do not change this to suicide bombers. --I left it intact--JE.]

7. Carmen said the most revealing sentence last. She said: "I really can't see why there would be a reason for occupied people to respect any Golden Rule, not in Gaza, not in the West Bank. "

This is revealing.  Yes, there are millions of reasons for "Palestinians" to respect the Golden Rule in Israel.  As for just one, they take their sick babies to Jewish Hospitals, where doctors, paid by Israel, save their lives.

JE comments:  Both sides can make legitimate "we were there first" claims; what is clear is that the other side will never be convinced by arguments like those of Mr. Gold.  What really fascinates me from this demographic information is how tiny Jerusalem was just 170 years ago.  Fifteen thousand is even smaller than modest little Adrian.

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  • Israel and Palestine (Carmen Negrin, -France 10/04/12 2:30 PM)
    In response to Istvan Simon (3 October), one can argue about the invention of Jordan or the term Palestine forever, but if I look into my 1927 Guide to Palestine, it includes part of today's Jordan, a "new" nation.

    The land was indeed occupied by the Ottomans, the British and long before that by the Romans, etc. Palestinians are very much aware of the fact that they lost part of their land to Jordan and part to Israel. They have maintained their identity in spite of it, like the Poles did some time ago.

    They are not all Muslims. A large part, now a minority, were Catholics, mainly on the West Bank.

    The relation between Palestinians and Jordanians is far better than between Israelis and Palestinians, especially those living in the occupied territories, even though the distinction is shown on the Jordanian passport for Palestinians. In other words there is not total equality between Palestinian-Jordanians and Jordanians; however this difference in treatment is not comparable to what exists in Israel, either with the Palestinians in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories or with the Arab Israelis, as they are called. (One should note that most Palestinians do not like being called Arabs, which refers to the inhabitants of Arabia whom they tend to consider culture-less.)

    Palestinians in Jordan are not being killed or imprisoned, they have kept their homes, can live, they can even marry the King of Jordan!

    Perhaps the key to a future solution lies in understanding where the differences in treatment stand.

    Regarding Jerusalem, houses are not being "bought," as Istvan writes, from Palestinians in Jerusalem. Palestinians are being expelled from their house which their families have owned for generations! On the matter of religious demography, one could say the exact same thing, but the other way around, about Hebron: about 400 Jews and several ten of thousands Palestinians, yet controlled by the Israelis even if in the supposedly autonomous West Bank.

    The problem and answer may be "live and let live." Historically, for centuries, Jews and Muslims managed to do so quite well, in the region, but also in Northern Africa, and once upon a time in Spain, until... the Catholic Church got involved. Today, I would say that Hamas is a consequence, not the cause, of many seemingly unsolvable problems.

    I do not see why the proposal once made by Arafat of a joint capital in Jerusalem is not acceptable (East Jerusalem for the Palestinians and the rest for Israel), after all the Vatican, a state and a capital within a capital, could serve as an example. Another question, the more the people are educated, the fewer children they have, so perhaps promoting education would help also. Palestinians have children but Israelis are importing Jews from all around the world, including some Russian who pretend to be Jews.

    JE comments: Live and let live.  I like that.  Note that on this point, Carmen Negrín and Istvan Simon are in agreement.

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    • Palestinian Identity (Istvan Simon, USA 10/06/12 2:49 AM)
      In contrast to what Carmen Negrín wrote on 4 October, Palestinians have not "maintained their Palestinian identity," but rather forged it since 1948. Pre-1948 most of the Muslim Palestinians were not distinguishable from Arabs, of the various groups from Syria say, and the Christians were mostly from Lebanon, from the Maronite community. The overwhelming majority of the ancestors of those that today call themselves Palestinians, did not live in Palestine for centuries, as they now claim, but rather were new immigrants to the area, just like the Jewish immigrants, attracted by jobs and work provided by the Jews.

      As the passages I quoted from historian Gold's book clearly show, 100 years before the creation of the state of Israel, the Muslims had no particular interest in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem (that is East Jerusalem, for the modern city did not yet exist) had a small population, and more than 50% of its inhabitants were Jewish. Muslims were a small minority in Jerusalem, not a majority, and consisted of only some 25% of the population of Jerusalem. Therefore it follows that the migration into the area was not only of Jews, who for centuries regarded Jerusalem as their home--indeed in every new Year celebration, every Jewish family had a toast: "Next year in Jerusalem," and this toast pre-dated Islam itself by hundreds of years.

      The cultural aspirations of the Jewish people were forged in suffering and persecution for centuries. Persecution that included Ms. Negrin's Spain.

      Pereira is a common name in Brazil. And so is Lima, and Nogueira. Yet all of these family names, (and many many others) had Jewish origins. They were from Jewish families, who were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition.


      Now let me address some of Ms. Negrin's points:

      "They are not all Muslims. A large part, now a minority, were Catholics, mainly on the West Bank."

      Indeed, that is the story of people in the Middle East. If you are not a Muslim, you are soon a minority... The Catholics, as I said above, were the Maronite Christians. Many emigrated to Brazil. My father used to work for one of these Lebanese immigrants in Brazil when I was still in college, at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, which is sort of like the MIT of Brazil.

      Carmen says:

      "The land was indeed occupied by the Ottomans, the British and long before that by the Romans, etc."

      Well, how curious, that the Romans are followed by "etc." in Ms. Negrin's post. For perhaps she would then be gracious enough to remember that many of the original inhabitants of Palestine--or was it called Israel back then?--were expelled by the Romans, including my ancestors, both on my father's side and on my mother's side. In spite of this, many Jews remained, for indeed the Jews are the only people that have inhabited this land continuously for over 3,000 years. Not the Muslims, since Islam did not even exist for another 600 years. So how curious, that in spite of this, Carmen wrote:

      "Palestinians are very much aware of the fact that they lost part of their land to Jordan and part to Israel."

      Their land? Really? When exactly, in the past 3000 years did the land become theirs?

      Ms. Negrin continues:

      "The relation between Palestinians and Jordanians is far better than between Israelis and Palestinians, especially those living in the occupied territories, even though the distinction is shown on the Jordanian passport for Palestinians. In other words there is not total equality between Palestinian-Jordanians and Jordanians; however this difference in treatment is not comparable to what exists in Israel, either with the Palestinians in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories or with the Arab Israelis, as they are called."

      Now I know a few things about Israel myself, so I have to correct Ms. Negrin. For her last sentence is simply not true.

      I could argue, that if so, then all that the more than a million Muslim citizens of Israel would have to do, was to move a few miles East, that is to move to Jordan. But surely no such emigration is occurring, even in small numbers, much less on a massive scale, which makes it evident that Ms. Negrin's statement is simply not true.

      Contrast this with the emigration of Jews from Iran to Israel. JE marveled some time ago that there are still 25,000 Jews in Iran. Indeed. But in 1979, when the disgraceful government of the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, there were more than 80,000. What happened to the rest? Well they moved to Israel. That is what people do, when they are not well treated in a country. If the same proportion of Palestinians had moved to Jordan in the same period (let us account for demographic growth, so let us say for the sake of argument, that in 1979 there were 500,000 Muslim citizens of Israel), then about 330,000 Palestinians would have moved to Jordan from 1979 to today. Since no such migration ever occurred, we must conclude that Ms.Negrin's statement is inaccurate.

      Ms. Negrin continues:

      "Palestinians in Jordan are not being killed or imprisoned, they have kept their homes, can live, they can even marry the King of Jordan!"

      Not true. At least not true if they are female. For if they are female, and let us say 16, and that they fall in love with a 17-year-old descendant of the Hashemite King, they will be murdered by their own brother and father, in so-called "honor killings." They will not be protected from such fate in Jordan, but on the other hand, they will be protected in Israel.

      Ms. Negrin continues:

      "Regarding Jerusalem, houses are not being 'bought,' as Istvan writes, from Palestinians in Jerusalem. Palestinians are being expelled from their house which their families have owned for generations!"

      First, this is another untrue statement. If not, perhaps Ms. Negrin would provide some proof of her allegations. But let us, for the sake of argument, assume that I am mistaken, and Ms. Negrin is correct. I would then ask Ms. Negrin for how many generations did they own said houses, because my statistics of my previous post already proved that there were no more than 4,500 Muslim souls in East Jerusalem in 1865! How many houses can 4,500 people own, considering that they lived with their numerous children, and their parents as well in the same house? Simple arithmetic then disproves Ms. Negrin, for clearly we may safely divide 4,500 by at least 10, giving us a grand total of at most 450 houses.

      Ms. Negrin continues:

      "I do not see why the proposal once made by Arafat of a joint capital in Jerusalem is not acceptable (East Jerusalem for the Palestinians and the rest for Israel)"

      Well, I am on record, that in the interest of peace, I have defended a similar idea. But Ms. Negrin's arguments are making me more militant, not less, so in this post I will reverse myself, and say this: the joint capital proposal is unacceptable for Israel, because East Jerusalem was a Jewish city nearly 100 years before the creation of modern-day Israel. Because Jews were not allowed to pray at the Wailing Wall from 1948 to 1967. And so Jews have been, since 1967, a far more generous administrator of the Muslim Holy sites, than the Muslims were of the Jewish Holy sites from 1948 to 1967.

      JE comments:  If arguments from the other side tend to make folks more militant, not less, can there ever be hope for peace in Israel/Palestine?

      I would like to explore further the notion of Palestinian identity.  Most modern articulations of nationalism came about in the 19th century.  What was the "consciousness" of the Palestinians, say, at the time of the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of 1920?

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      • Palestinian Identity (Carmen Negrin, -France 10/07/12 7:00 PM)

        I will not answer each and every point of Istvan Simon's post of 6 October, but I will just point out that the queen of Jordan, Rania, is of Palestinian descent.

        Regarding expulsions, I will suggest to look at the enclosed video, one of many on the subject: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xavppv_expulsion-des-palestiniens-de-jerus_news

        Finally regarding Palestinian identity I would refer to Edward Said or Mahmoud Darwich, but mainly I'd like to ask a simple question: what would they be fighting for since 1948? Does Istvan think they invented their identity after the state of Israel was created?

        If one wants to go back to a more remote period, go to the Philistines, a people who occupied the land of Palestine before the arrival of the Israelis. Philistine and Palestine have the same word origin (XIIth century before JC).

        In my view, discussing who was there before (meaning centuries ago) does not help solve the problem; the fact is that both groups are there now and have to live together.

        JE comments:  Yes, both groups must learn to live together.  What could possibly be the alternative?

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        • Palestinian Identity; Edward Said and Said Sidki (Istvan Simon, USA 10/09/12 4:24 AM)
          In response to Carmen Negrín (7 October), the Queen of Jordan is indeed of Palestinian origin, though educated in the United States. She has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to stop the practice of so-called "honor killings" in Jordan.

          There is no proof at all that the Philistines have anything at all to do with Palestinians today. It would be very easy to actually provide proof. It would be sufficient for 1000 Palestinians to submit DNA samples to the National Geographic migration study based on DNA. I do not know what the result of such a study would be, but it would conclusively settle the issue whether the Palestinians have anything at all to do with the Philistines or not.

          Concerning the video that Carmen has provided, other than the sympathetic French TV commentator's comments, we know absolutely nothing about why the two families were being evicted. So this proves absolutely nothing at all about violations of the Geneva Conventions, any more than it would prove violations of the Geneva Conventions if I took a video of an eviction in my city in the United States by the police, and made sympathetic comments on it about the family being evicted, and then posted it on YouTube.

          Edward Said was an American Professor of Palestinian origin at Columbia University. He was famously militant against Israel, and was a friend of Daniel Barenboim, the great Argentinian-Israeli-American conductor and pianist, with whom he founded the East Divan Orchestra which has perhaps made a significant contribution towards understanding between the two communities, Jewish and Arab Palestinians, by giving them the chance to play music together.

          But Edward Said does not prove that Palestinian identity existed prior to 1948. Were it so, I could bring up my friend, Dr. Said Sidki, who is a mathematics Professor at the University of Brasília, and a lifelong friend of my family, at whose home in Brasília I slept. For Dr. Sidki is also of Palestinian origin. But instead of throwing stones at Israel, as Edward Said has done, he befriended Jews like me and my brother in Brazil, and we usually discussed mathematics and life in general, rather than the Israel/Palestinian dispute.



          Carmen asked: "what would [the Palestinians] be fighting for since 1948? Does Istvan think they invented their identity after the state of Israel was created?"

          Indeed I do. What happened after 1948 is that about 600,000 Palestinians got herded into United Nations refugee camps, a few miles from where their former homes had been. A large number of these 600,000 were encouraged by the Arab States to leave their homes, waiting for the counter-attack of the Arabs, expected to occur within days, which would again allow them to return to their former homes. But the counter-attack never came. A significant number of the 600,000, we do not know how many, fled their homes in fear for their lives, due to Israeli terrorist attacks by the Irgun. They were herded into the refugee camps with all the others as well.

          Not only the counter-attack of the Arabs never came, but they also cynically then kept their brothers and sisters in the said UN refugee camps for the next 64 years. They did not offer them new homes in Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, or Kuwait, or Egypt, or Iraq, or Syria, or Lebanon, or Tunisia, or Libya, or anywhere else in the vast lands controlled by Arabs. Instead, they kept them in refugee camps for 64 years, where their grandchildren are imbued daily with propaganda and hatred for Israel, and encouraged to become suicide murderers. Where babies carry Kalashnikovs with militant slogans painted on green headbands on their heads. This is what created the Palestinian identity. This is how the Palestinian identity was forged since 1948.

          I add finally, that there were also Palestinians who chose a different future for themselves. Like my friend Said Sidki, who became instead a mathematics professor in Brazil, and would not dream of educating his children to become suicide murderers.

          I do agree with Carmen's conclusion: "the fact is that both groups are there now and have to live together."

          JE comments: Edward Said (died 2003) has come up numerous times on the Forum, but I've never posed the question: did any WAISers know him? Said's book Orientalism is one of the foundational texts of Post-Colonial and Cultural Studies.

          I have always been struck by the tendency of émigré Jewish and Arabic Muslim communities in Latin America to get along, a phenomenon Istvan Simon's friendship with Prof. Sidki brings to life.

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          • Palestinian Identity and Jerusalem (John Heelan, -UK 10/09/12 10:42 AM)
            In his rebuttal to Carmen Negrín's post on Palestinians, Istvan Simon wrote on 9 October: "I do agree with Carmen's conclusion: 'the fact is that both groups are there now and have to live together.'" Previously, Istvan had reminded us of the traditional toast at the end of Seder celebration, "next year in Jerusalem."

            It is worth remembering that "The name Jerusalem literally means City of Peace or ir shalem in Hebrew. Throughout the centuries, Jerusalem has rarely lived up to that name. Destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, fought over by the Crusaders and Muslims, and the fault line between Israelis and Palestinians. Jerusalem may not currently be seething with violence, but it is roiling with tension. Jerusalem is far from being a city of peace, at least right now. And perhaps that is the point of the prayer."



            (By the way, presumably Palestine existed as a named entity between 1922 and 1948, when it was governed by the British Mandate for Palestine, authorised by the League of Nations.)

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  • Israel and Palestine (Robert Gard, USA 10/05/12 1:31 AM)
    What Istvan Simon (3 October) overlooks is the provision of the Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a state party, prohibiting the colonization of territory conquered by military force. It doesn't include any exceptions.

    The UN mandate establishing the state of Israel also provided for a Palestinian state. Zionist governments openly advocated producing "facts on the ground" that would prevent it.  They have succeeded.

    JE comments:  By the "facts on the ground" reference, I presume Robert Gard has in mind the Israeli building of settlements.

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    • Post Unpublished - please check back later

    • Israel and Palestine, Turkey and Cyprus (Istvan Simon, USA 10/16/12 5:25 AM)
      Unlike what General Robert Gard (5 October) claims, I did not overlook the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. I disregarded them, which is different. And I disregarded them because the Geneva Conventions have been repeatedly violated by numerous countries.

      For example, the occupation and partition of Cyprus by Turkey was and is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, yet I do not hear General Gard clamoring for a restoration to the status ante in that case.

      Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States, while Israel is only a special friend of the United States, without a formal alliance, as NATO is. So that would be even more grounds for General Gard to protest Turkey's behavior, but he does not seem to mind.

      JE comments:  Istvan Simon sent this response about a week ago, but I inadvertently overlooked it.  The issue of divided Cyprus has now become especially relevant for WAIS, given Yusuf Kanli's interesting post of 15 October on the water pipeline being built from Anatolia to the Turkish side of the island.  See also Marga Jann's detailed report from her experience in Cyprus:  "Teaching Design in the Developing World:  Four Divided Nations" (10 August 2012):  http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=71441&objectTypeId=64312&topicId=5519

      Is Istvan claiming that Israel should not be bound by the Geneva Conventions because Turkey disregards them?  This doesn't strike me as a productive argument.

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      • Israel and Palestine, Turkey and Cyprus (Robert Gard, USA 10/16/12 2:01 PM)
        Just as Istvan Simon (16 October) disregarded the Geneva Conventions, I disregarded other cases of clear violations of them, in the belief that because other nations have failed to comply is not an excuse to continue the practice.

        Cyprus is not as clear-cut as Istvan implies; perhaps he has forgotten that the military dictatorship in Greece stated its intent to annex the Island.

        JE comments:  I'd like to visit the case of Cyprus, which we've mentioned only tangentially in recent years.  Among WAISers, Marga Jann lived there; Yusuf Kanli travels there regularly.  What is the current mood on the island, vis à vis the Greek-Turkish division?  How easy is it for Cypriots to cross the border?

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      • Geneva Conventions (Istvan Simon, USA 10/18/12 4:29 AM)
        When commenting my post of 16 October, JE asked: "Is Istvan Simon claiming that Israel should not be bound by the Geneva Conventions because Turkey disregards them? This doesn't strike me as a productive argument."

        On the contrary, this is a very powerful argument. For either the Geneva Conventions apply to all, or to none. Turkey is not the only one that disregarded the Geneva Conventions. There are many other examples. Yet the only one that seems to bother General Gard is that of Israel.

        More recently, Russia violated the Geneva Conventions in its blatant modification of the boundaries of Georgia. Though Cameron Sawyer has lots of theories, many of which may be perfectly valid, it is a fact that the boundaries were modified by force. Even if Georgia attacked Russia, a dubious claim, after all Israel was attacked by the Arabs in 1948, and again in 1967. I am completely at a loss, of why Russia can modify the boundaries of Georgia without the slightest protest from General Gard or anyone else here, yet when Israel does so, annexing East Jerusalem, which has been a Jewish majority city for over 100 years, she violates the Geneva Conventions. Enough is enough.

        Or is it, that only powerful countries, that have veto power in the UN, can modify boundaries by force?

        JE comments:  If all multi-national treaties/conventions are thrown out the window because they are not fully adhered to by every signatory nation, this doesn't bode well for multi-national treaties.  But I will grant Istvan Simon one point:  if you're a powerful nation with the UN veto, a different set of rules applies.

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        • Geneva Conventions (Robert Gard, USA 10/18/12 9:45 AM)
          I'm mystified by Istvan Simon's logic (18 October).

          When I pointed out the applicability of a clear prohibition in the Geneva Conventions against colonization of territory conquered by military force, it was in response to his lengthy justification of Israeli occupation, and even annexation, of territories it conquered in the '67 war.

          It did not seem to me necessary to list other violations of the conventions by other nations. Of course I do not excuse them.

          Interestingly, in the case of Cyprus, which Istvan pointed to as justification Israel's ignoring a treaty to which it is a states party, he did not comment on my pointing out that the case was not as clear-cut, in that the military dictators of Greece at the time stated the intent to annex Cyprus, which of course influenced action by Turkey.

          JE comments: I'd like to hear Yusuf Kanli's thoughts on this topic.

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          • Geneva Conventions (Istvan Simon, USA 10/20/12 4:15 AM)
            I'd be happy to address Robert Gard's questions to me (18 October), and at the same time have a few questions for him as well.

            Robert wrote: There are no exceptions to the Geneva Convention. Yet the fact that Greece had an intention to annex Cyprus is sufficient for you to, if not to excuse Turkey, but to state that the case is not as "clear cut." Isn't Turkey a signatory to the Geneva Conventions? Just like Israel is? So why is Turkey an exception? And why is the case clear cut in the case of Israel? Did not Egypt announce not only its intent to annihilate Israel, but actually surrounded it with an alliance with Syria under Nasser in 1967? Did not Syria in fact bombard Israeli border towns with artillery for months from the Golan Heights before June 6, 1967? Did not Jordan annex East Jerusalem and Cisjordania in 1948? Cisjordania was not part of the UN partition agreement. It was occupied by Jordan militarily. Therefore that occupation was illegal. Wasn't it? Was not the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands illegal? Do they have a right to return? The several hundreds of thousands more descendants as well?

            What about the Asians expelled by Idi Amin? Do they have the right to return? What about the Vietnamese Boat People? Do they have the right to return to Vietnam and change the Communist government for a more democratic one?

            Why is it, General Gard, that you can find reasons for the case against Turkey not to be so clear cut, but cannot find any for Israel, in spite of all that I wrote above?

            Is not Russia a signatory to the Geneva Conventions? So why can it modify the borders of Georgia by force?

            I eagerly await your answers to all these questions.

            JE comments:  As long as the subject is Israel, has anyone in WAISdom seen the Arnon Goldfinger documentary, The Flat?  It's receiving a lot of accolades, and will be coming to my town in November.  Here's a trailer and additional information:


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            • Geneva Conventions; Response to Istvan Simon (Robert Gard, USA 10/22/12 7:36 AM)
              I think Istvan Simon (20 October) and I have made our points about our interpretations of the Geneva Conventions vis a vis Israel; I see no reason to bore readers with repetition.

              JE comments: Healthy, informed disagreement is never boring, but I do agree with Robert Gard that this discussion has become repetitive.

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