Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Arab Regimes and the Palestinians

Take a look at an interesting article by Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, titled "At the Altar of Palestine". An interesting excerpt:

I must confess that when Hamas militants blasted holes into Egypt’s border to end an Israeli blockade on Gaza, my first thought was how lucky those Gazans were. Landlocked and living on less than $2 a day, their plight rarely elicits
envy, I know. But there are Egyptian slums that swim in more sewage and are submerged in even greater poverty. In those slums, chronic diseases go unchecked
and uncured, and children grow up next to the dead in tombs turned into makeshift housing. Yet nobody rushes to blast holes into the imaginary border of poverty that suffocates those slums nor are they sporting t-shirts urging us to sympathize.

Why? Because Israel cannot be blamed.


  1. I like the way that sounds. It could be used for Revisionist-Zionist propaganda. Good stuff! I applaude Miss Eltahawy.

  2. Great blog you have here! Though it certainly is heartbreaking to consider the hardships being visited upon the Palestinians by the Israelies in Gaza and in Palestine proper as they continue to institute an apartheid modeled canton style of partintioning.

    Terrorist activity is unacceptable, but when the actions of those targeted by terrorists inflict even more severe terroristic inhumanities on innocent Palestinians, sympathy is an emotional commodity difficult to dispense.

  3. linden: you come off as an anti-Semite and terrorist-supporter but than you will call me a terrorist-supporter because I have the greatest of respect for the Irgun and Ezel and that would be typical liberal crap.

    Oh by the way there is no "Palestine proper" you imbecil. Emmanuel can tell you that himself.

  4. Whoops...Irgun and Lehi(lol)

  5. I was wondering what "Palestine proper" is too. At first I thought linden may be referring to the West Bank, but I guess he means Israel proper.

    I must say I've never heard the phrase "Palestine proper". Even those who believe in an Isratine-style one-state solution don't see a difference between Gaza, the West Bank, the Negev, the Galillee and all the rest of the country, so they wouldn't call just part of it "proper".

    I guess the purpose of this weird terminology is just to piss Israelis off.

  6. Linden Row comes off as eminently reasonable to me, not the absurd embecilic charge. I take Palestine-proper to mean the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip, that is, the internationally-recognised 1967 borders. That would exclude the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

    As for the article excerpt, yes poverty exists across the region, as it does in Israel, and the blame in this case belongs squarely on the Egyptian authorities. Contrary to your propagation, not all problems in the region are attributed to Israel, only the ones for which it is indeed responsible and culpable, and no amount of caricature or distortion will mitigate that.

  7. Oh y'all will just looooove my blog then.

    I especially like the "I like the way that sounds. It could be used for Revisionist-Zionist propaganda."

    Good stuff!

    We can use this to deflect criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza and West Bank!

    Just like Stalin's purges and mass murders could be used to deflect Hitler's mass murders.

    Good stuff y'all!

  8. In no way am I (or Mona Eltahawy) saying Israel shouldn't be criticized, just that many times the criticism is used to deflect criticism from Arab regimes. It isn't that Israel is blamed for Egyptian poverty, it's that nobody in Egypt is talking about Egyptian poverty because everybody is busy talking about the Palestinians. Both issues should be addressed.

    Ann, your guess is as good as mine. Since the term "Palestine proper" is uncommon it isn't clear what geographical area he's referring to.

  9. I guess you haven't taken a look at the rest of my blog if you think I'm just an Israeli propagandist. Anyway, thanks for the free publicity. No publicity is bad publicity :)

    Ann, is the use of the Hebrew word "hasbara" instead of propaganda supposed to be more offensive or something? I'd dare argue you follow the "Israel is always wrong" party line much more closely than I follow the Israeli party line (not that there is a single "party line" on either side, but you know what I mean).

    1. No, I haven't (yet!) said you were a propagandist in toto, just that you have seemed to employ some hasbara rationales.

    2. The Hebrew use of the word is not at all meant to be more offensive. It is a loan word just as other Hebrew and Yiddish terms are and is in common currency. Conversely, do you object to my using it, and if so, why? I also use Arabic loan words such as intifada and hudna.

    3. Yes I know what you mean but unsurprisingly I disagree. There is no single party line against Israel and I actively seek out Israeli initiatives and people I can applaud and support, usually from the peace movement. And you in turn would see that with a more extensive reading of my blog.

    4. True, I haven't had much of an opportunity to read more widely here. I am scaling back on all online activity to finish up a writing project and friends are administering my blog.

  10. 1. There are certain points on which I agree with the Israeli mainstream, such as calling Hamas a terrorist organization and opposing the Palestinian right of return. Does that make me "very hasbara" even though I support such very un-hasbara ideas such as giving all of East Jerusalem (except for some kind of arrangement in the Western Wall) to the Palestinians?

    2. No, it doesn't offend me. I was just curious why you prefer this word rather than something in English.

    3. You agree with the major common points of the various anti-Israel party lines (that it is genocidal, there should be a right of return, etc.). The Israelis you applaud are usually those on the Israeli fringes whose views match Palestinian views very closely (Ilan Pappe is just one example of this). There are some points on which you disagree with the Arab mainstream, but from extensive reading of your blog, they are very few and far between.

    It's a nerve and extremely disingenuous to call me "very hasbara" when you are no less the anti-Israel version of "very hasbara" than I am the Israeli version of it.

    4. That probably explains why two of my comments haven't been published - I guess your friends aren't as good at moderating as you are. I wrote them two days ago, so I hope they're not lost.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. 1 and 2. Well I applaud the fact you support Palestinian jurisdiction over East Jerusalem, with a reasonable arrangement for the Western Wall, and vice versa wherever there are other shared holy sites. No, this is not hasbara to my mind on this issue, and I'm sure on other points you would not be toeing the "party line" -- as you put it -- either.

    On specific issues, such as reflexively describing me as "anti-Israel" (to illustrate the contrast, I don't think I've ever to date called you anti-Palestinian) for supporting RoR, yes, I do see that your line of argument is identical to the hasbara one. I'm sure many of my positions are identical to what mainstream Palestinians uphold as a sacred right (such as RoR), and I have no problem with that.

    You seem to have an emotional reaction to this. I am not accusing you of not being an independent thinker, if that is the basis of your grievance. I am not "accusing" you of anything, and can see no disingenuousness because I freely admit many of my stances are identical to the key Palestinian planks for restitution.

    I am genuinely interested in what reasoning is employed, and I thought our extensive dialogue had illustrated that. To reiterate, yes I do think some of your stances (Hamas as a terror org that has to be dealt with militarily, for example) is very hasbara, but this does not mean that all your positions are.

    In turn, you would have seen that I disagreed with most of my readership and Norman Finkelstein about Israel having to suffer a military defeat.

    By the way, this term (hasbara) is not "preferred" per se but is more apt because it is both a generic term as I understand it, as well as one pertaining specifically to certain lines of Israel promotion and justification.

    3. I also agree with former Mossad head who advocates talking to Hamas, Uri Avnery, former MK, almost all of the Israeli MKs, and other establishment figures such as Shulamit Aloni; I give voice to people like Shlomo Ben Ami and Yossi Beilin, all core establishment who could hardly be described as fringe. I also see your description of Pappe as fringe as contentious but we'd have to agree to disagree on that one.

    4. Yes, they were deleted I was told, and for this I apologise. I redirected email notification and did not receive them. This is not because I wanted to end the conversation, simply for practical reasons as a friend was kind enough to take over the reins while I scale back to write.

    On a more encouraging note, this is an interesting trailer if you haven't already seen it:

    Encounter Point trailer

  13. I deleted the first comment and re-posted, but of course missed an erratum:

    I agree with most of the Israel Arab MKs.

    insert word Arab ... now that would be a fine day to agree with most Israeli MKs!

  14. Correction: just noticed that I did receive the comments by email notification.

    (They were deleted in the moderation queue, but at least I have read them).

  15. Let's sum it up this way: each one of us has both points of agreement and disagreement with the side they sympathize with more.

    Too bad about the comments, but never mind. I don't have what I wrote saved anywhere so I won't repost. Is there a reason your friends decided to delete them? Anything I should avoid in future comments?

    I've seen Encounter Point. It is an interesting and encouraging film. One of its strong points is that it is far from painting a rosey picture of these encounters. They don't always go smoothly but people still come. I wish there were more projects like these.