Here's one way to get a grip the the situation:
Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.I have to say that, as the mother of five children, these remarks stopped me cold in my tracks. Aside from the obvious question "what can Condoleezza Rice - a woman who has never given birth - know about "birth pangs"? - there is another more compelling question: what kind of human being can be so callous as to say such a thing when tens of thousands of mothers in the Middle East have suffered the unimaginable grief of seeing their beautiful babies crushed under the jackboots of rapacious Imperialism and religious fanaticism?
"This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard, We're going through a very violent time," the US secretary of state said.
"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo.
"Such a step would allow terrorists to launch attacks at the time and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the region."
In the course of preparing the chapters of this book devoted to Israel's human rights record in the Occupied Territories, I went through literally thousands of pages of human rights reports, published by multiple, fiercely independent, and highly professional organizations - Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel - each fielding its own autonomous staff of monitors and investigators.Let's run that by one more time: The scholarly consensus is that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and Israel's leading historian, Benny Morris, thinks that this was a good thing.
Except on one minor matter, I didn't come across a single point of law or fact on which these human rights organizations differed.
In the case of Israel's human rights record, one can speak today not just of a broad consensus - as on historical questions - but of an UNQUALIFIED consensus. All these organizations agreed, for example, that Palestinian detainees have been sytematically ill treated and tortured, the total number now probably reaching the tens of thousands.
Yet if, as I've suggested, broad agreement has been reached on the FACTUAL record, an obvious anomaly arises: what accounts for the impassioned controversy that still swirls around the Israel-Palestine conflict?
To my mind, explaining this apparent paradox requires, first of all, that a fundamental distinction be made between those controversies that are real and those that are contrived.
To illustrate real differences of opinion, let us consider again the Palestinian refugee question.
It is possible for interested parties to agree on the facts yet come to diametrically opposed moral, legal, and political conclusions.
Thus, as already mentioned, the scholarly consensus is that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948.
Israel's leading historian on the topic, Benny Morris, although having done more than anyone else to clarify exactly what happened, nonetheless concludes that, morally, it was a good thing - just as, in his view, the "annihilation" of Native Americans was a good thing - that, legally, Palestinians have no right to return to their homes, and that, politically, Israel's big error in 1948 was that it hadn't "carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan" of Palestinians.
However repellant morally, these clearly can't be called FALSE conclusions.
Returning to the universe inhabited by normal human beings, it's possible for people to concur on the facts as well as on their moral and legal implications, yet still reach divergent POLITICAL conclusions.
Noam Chomsky agrees that, factually, Palestinians were expelled; that, morally, this was a major crime; and that, legally, Palestinians have a right of return. Yet, politically, he concludes that implementation of this right is infeasible and pressing it inexpedient, indeed, that dangling this (in his view) illusory hope before Palestinian refugees is deeply immoral.
There are those, contrariwise, who maintain that a moral and legal right is meaningless unless it can be exercised and that implementing the right of return is a practical possibility.
For our purposes, the point is not who's right and who's wrong but that, even among honest and decent people, there can be a real and legitimate differences of political judgment.
This having been said, however, it bears emphasis that - at any rate, among those sharing ordinary moral values - the range of political disagreement is quite narrow, while the range of agreement quite broad."
The injustice inflicted on Palestinians by Zionism was manifest and, except on racist grounds, unanswerable: their right to self-determination, and perhaps even to their homeland, was being denied.
Several sorts of justification were supplied for the Zionist enterprise as against the rights of the indigenous population, none of which, however, withstood even cursory scrutiny. Belief in the cluster of justifications put forth by the Zionist movement presumed acceptance of very specific Zionist ideological tenets regarding Jewish "historical rights" to Palestine and Jewish "homelessness."
For example, the "historical rights" claim was based on Jews having originated in Palestine and resided there two thousand years ago. Such a claim was neither historical nor based on any accepted notion of right.
It was not historical inasmuch as it voided the two millennia of non-Jewish settlement in Palestine and the two millennia of Jewish settlement outside it. It was not a right except in mystical, Romantic nationalist ideologies, the implementation of which would wreak - and have wreaked - havoc.
Reminding fellow Zionists that Jewry's "historical right" to Palestine was a "metaphysical rather than a political category" and that, springing as it did from "the very inner depths of Judaism," this "category ... is binding on us rather than on the Arabs," even the Zionist writer Ernst Simon was emphatic that it did not confer on Jews any right to Palestine without the consent of the Arabs.
The term Lebensraum... was coined by Friedrich Ratzel in 1897, and used as a slogan in Germany referring to the unification of the country and the acquisition of colonies, as per the English and French models. It was adapted from Darwinian and other scientific ideas of the day about how ecological niches are filled. Similar concepts are still used today in geography and biology.That sure does sound familiar, doesn't it? And it was soundly and violently condemned by the entire world which fought a World War to end such expansionist aspirations on the part of Germany.
Ratzel believed the development of a people is primarily influenced by their geographical situation and that a people that successfully adapted to one location would proceed naturally to another. This expansion to fill available space, he claimed, was a natural and necessary feature of any healthy species.
These beliefs were furthered by scholars of the day, including Karl Haushofer and Friedrich von Bernhardi. In von Bernhardi's 1912 book Germany and the Next War, he expanded upon Ratzel's hypotheses and, for the first time, explicitly identified Eastern Europe as a source of new space.
The attempts to implement the Lebensraum happened in Zamosc County and Wartheland (see Generalplan Ost). The biggest obstacle to implement the Lebensraum further was the fact that by the end of 1942 the Sixth Army was defeated at Stalingrad. After the second big defeat in the tank battle at Kursk during July 1943 and the Allied landings in Sicily, all further Lebensraum plans came to a halt.
The Lebensraum ideology was a major factor in Hitler's launching of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. The Nazis hoped to turn large areas of Soviet territory into German settlement areas as part of Generalplan Ost.
Developing these ideas, Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg, proposed that the Nazi administrative organization in lands to be conquered from the Soviets be based upon the following Reichskommissariats:
Ostland (Baltic States, Belarus and eastern Poland),
Ukraine (Ukraine and adjacent territories),
Kaukasus (Caucasus area),
Moskau (the Moscow metropolitan area and adjacent European Russia)
The Reichskommissariat territories would extend up to the European frontier at the Urals.
These administrative entities were to have been early stages in the displacement and dispossession of Russian and other Slav peoples and their replacement with German settlers, following the Nazi "Lebensraum im Osten" plans. [Wikipedia]
Another sort of justification conjured away the injustice inflicted on the indigenous population with the pretense that Palestine was (nearly) vacant before the Jews came. Ironically, this argument has proven to be the most compelling proof of the injustice committed: it is a back-handed admission that, had Palestine been inhabited, which it plainly was, the Zionist enterprise was morally indefensible. Those admitting to the reality of a Palestinian presence yet functioning outside the ideological ambit of Zionism couldn't adduce any justification for Zionism except a racist one: that is, in the great scheme of things, the fate of Jews was simply more important than that of Arabs. If not publicly, at any rate privately, this is how the British rationalized the Balfour Declaration. For Balfour himself, "we deliberately and rightly decline to accept the principle of self-determination" for the "present inhabitants" of Palestine, because "the question of the Jews outside Palestine [is] one of world importance" and Zionism was "rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of a far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land." [Finkelstein]At the time, British Cabinet Minster, Herbert Samuel, recognized that denying the Arabs majority rule was "in flat contradiction to one of the main purposes for which the Allies were fighting," but he then turned around and bought into the smokescreen belief propagated by religion, to wit "the anterior Jewish presence in Palestine "had resulted in events of spiritual and cultural value to mankind in striking contrast with the barren record of the last thousand years."
Finkelstein makes a small apology for the Brits saying:The so-called "historic necessity" of Jews being given a National State is also bunk. There was a massive exertion of the Zionists to get Jews to go to Palestine; Jews were often conscripted in a heavy-handed way to go to Palestine. Zionists vigorously opposed the settlement of any Jews anywhere else. In documented cases, many Jews were given the choice between going to concentration camps under Nazi rule or going to Palestine.
"The point is not so much that the British were racists but rather that they had no recourse except to racist justifications for denying the indigenous population its basic rights. Pressed to justify what was done, they became racists not from predilection but from circumstance: on no other grounds could so flagrant a denial be explained."