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The Biggest Obstacle of Them All: The West Bank and the Israeli Settlements

When looking deep into the concept of Israeli-Palestinian peace, what will always come up is the issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.  What do to do about them?  It has to be addressed.  It began when Menachem Begin first led the Likud party to victory, and he stated that he wanted to create a Jewish presence on the West Bank.  Begin was of the old school of Zionist thought, the creation of a Jewish homeland.  But also he was a part of the transition of Zionism from creation of a Jewish homeland to the Jewish homeland co-existing with its Arab neighbors.  He welcomed Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, he agreed to the peace treaty with Egypt, and the withdrawal of Yamit in the Sinai.  So it was not that Begin was an evil Zionist, he was a man of transition from the old school of thought to the present school of thought.  When it comes to the removal of the settlements it is basically the work of non-government organizations (NGOs), and how much influence they have on the political parties of Israel.  One Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is calling for the complete removal.  When I asked Marcia Freedman, the executive director, about Ariel, a settlement of 15,000 people, about its removal, she said "yes" we want to see the removal of Ariel as well.  This leads to the question, how much influence do NGOs such as these have on the three major political parties that have ruled Israel -- Likud, Kadima, and Labor?  Likud started the Israeli settlements, but are the incapable of removing them as well?  Kadima and Labor both support a two-state solution, but how are they going to enact it?  Apparently, there is a non-partisan movement in Israel called "Blue Arrow" calling for the removal of settlements, but I have not heard as of yet, how they plan to start the process of removal.  Removal of the Israeli settlements has to be a process within Israel, it cannot be a U.N. resolution or an American president saying they are illegal.  It must be an Israeli decision, and Israel starting the process of removal, just like when Yamit was dismantled in the Sinai. What happens if the settlers start an armed resistance to removal, will it lead to civil war?  First of all, the settlers in the West Bank do not have the population numbers that the Palestinians in the West Bank do.  Second of all, they would not have the arms equivalent to the Israeli military.  There can be resistance, but not to the magnitude of civil war.  That leads to the next question, can the settlers stay there, and become citizens of an independent Palestine?  At first the Palestinian Authority said they could, then they changed their statement saying first they would  have to leave, then they could come back.  So what is that suppose to mean?  That someone in Ariel would have to go and stay at a hotel in Tel-Aviv, then later they could come back to their home in Ariel?  Which is the reason why Israeli-Palestinian peace needs international mediation, the same way that the Israel-Egypt peace treaty required it.  Start using examples, such as when the Soviet Union broke up into separate independent countries, but ethnic Russians stayed behind.  Latvia held a referendum on whether to make Russian into the second official language.  It was voted down, because Latvia did not want to use the language of the oppressive Czarist empire and Soviet dictatorship.  If Israeli settlers are allowed to stay, then it will have to be the decision of the Palestinian Authority.  But if a Palestinian dignitary were to agree to that, they would risk assassination?  Yes they would.  Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because he started negotiations with the Palestine LIberation Organization, and allowed areas to be under their control.  Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated because he allowed the partition of Pakistan from India.  But what led them to agree to autonomy?  Not being able to suppress a restive population.  Which leads us back to Israeli-Palestinina peace, not being able to suppress a restive population.  So there are two risks, assassination or even greater yet, not being able to suppress a restive population.  So when it comes to international mediation, this should be the first thing on everybody's mind, this is being done so there will no longer be a restive population.

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Here, Tim, I'll help you simplify:  There is an Israeli Jewish organization that has been in existence for over sixty years whose main function is to rescue Jewish women trapped in marriage to Muslim men and being forced to live as virtual prisoners.  There is no equivalent organization for Muslim women.  Why?  Because the instances of Jewish men in Israel marrying Muslim women are very very rare.  It would be considered a desecration of the Koranic law if a Muslim woman married a Jewish man and converted and the penalties would be high, including death.

When you start looking at intermarriage among Jews and Muslims within Israel, it goes beyond religious laws.  First of all, these people were associated with a synagogue or mosque during childhood, and are not affiliated with them as adults.  In Israel, there is no such thing as civil marriage, regardless if you are Jewish, Muslim, or Christian.  All marriages are performed by a clergy, who also issues the marriage certificates.  But Israel will honor marriage certificates from abroad.  So what these couples do is go to Cyprus, to get a secular marriage.  They return to Israel, and their marriage certificate is deemed valid.  The reason why Israel does this, is because they had people come into Israel from the former Soviet Union.  Their marriage certificates were issued by the Communist dictatorship of the former Soviet Union.  So their Soviet marriage certificate will be considered valid within Israel.  Just like the married Jew and Muslim will have their Greek or Turkish Cypriot marriage certificate considered valid within Israel.  So despite what a rabbi or mullah would prescribe as being religiously correct, their marriage is completely outside of this, because they had a secular marriage.  Jews and Muslims do not do everything under religious law.  The organization you mentioned, deals with Jewish women in the Dispora.  So I am sure there is no organization within Israel or the Dispora, that deals with Jewish men marrying Muslim women.  But there are marriages between Jewish men and Muslim women within Israel, because they go to Cyprus to get a secular marriage which is recognized as valid within Israel.  So sometimes we have to throw religious affiliation out of the window.  Because generalizing under it, just feeds into bigotry.

Yad L'achim deals with Jewish women from Israel who have married Muslim men from Israel or the Westbank.  That is hardly considered the "diaspora".  The term "diaspora" refers to Jews outside the state of Israel.  You must have confused yourself, Tim.

Did these women voluntarily marry these men?  Because if that is the case, then it sounds more like a case of domestic violence that is being dealt with.  I cannot imagine Jewish women in Israel being forced into marriages with Muslim men.  It would have to be voluntary.  So it sounds more like they are dealing with battered wives trying to get away from abusive husbands.  Domestic violence can be found in Jews marry Jews, and in all cultures and religions.

The women, once rescued, tell stories of virtual confinement.  Yes, they married voluntarily.  They made terrible mistakes.  Only with help from outside sources, i.e., Yad L'achim, are they able to flee.  They are imprisoned in Muslim homes not only by the husbands but by entire extended families.  They often stay, even when a means of release is found, due to their children.

Two points:  My response was about your use of the term "diaspora".  More intellectual honesty on your part, rather than diversion, would be appreciated.

As noted, the occurence of Muslim women marrying Jewish men and Muslim women converting is very rare.  You have not addressed this aspect of the debate although it has been brought up many times.

Final thought:  Constantly attempting to rationalize your point of view with delaying action, diversion and illogic has not gained you credibility on this forum as you can see from the various responders.  One mark of intellectual honesty and integrity would be to admit when you are wrong and to seek a new path accordingly.  You have continued to embrace your opinions and perspectives in the face of those of us who, response after response, have continually identified holes, gaping holes, in your arguments.  Of what merit is that? 

We all our have own way of responding.  My method is using what I know, what I have researched, and what I have experienced.  Everybody else has their own methods.  When I counteract to what is stated, I use the method mentioned above.  I do not resort to personal insults nor name calling, because anybody can that.  Especially when they do not have the facts to counteract to what I stated.  So all this reprimanding that I am some sort of naughty child, is really not that different from using personal insults.  People either have the option of not reading what I stated, or not responding.  I do not demand an answer from anybody.  But I have noticed with a lot of the responses I received, that people have a strong edge of bigotry to them.  I cannot go along with bigotry.  So it is either vote to have me removed, or simply respond back to what I am stating.  Because what else are you going to do, force me to sit in the corner for being a bad boy.  Since I have not resorted to personal insults nor name calling, I do not see how I have offended anybody.  I just see that I am not expressing political opinions that are the same as theirs.

Sincerely yours,

The Bad Boy

Ghazi. Peace cannot be achieved simply by wishing it or distortions to jive with the prevailing PC dogma in certain circles. The Israeli public is very savvy to this by now and will mot allow peace to be based on empty promises rather than on a solid security foundation.

There are problems that have been ongoing between Muslims and Jews and Christians and left to their own devices in Muslim majority countries neither Jews nor Christians fair well.

Examples abide as in Sudan, Egypt , Syria, Iran, Iraq and beyond.

Yes there are some very nice people and hospitable ones at that but they are either too scared or unwilling to speak out so we do not know if they are a tiny minority or the silent majority with emphasis on silent. Throughout history it is a proven fact that a minority have committed all the atrocities while the silent majority remained that "silent"

Igor:  You are right on as far as I'm concerned in the main in the subject of the above passage. 

I would question you regarding "silent" people who go along with atrocities, either silently supporting them (atrocities) or at least remaining silent out of fear.  In WWII, atrocities against Jews were carried out with the tacit support of the Nazi machinery but not always their (Nazis) active complicity.  I am thinking, here, of Daniel Goldhagen's thesis which, in a nutshell, points out that without the active complicity of the German public, Jews would perhaps have fared significantly better.  I do not know if you are familiar with Goldhagen but I wanted to mention it in order to gain a response from you about this matter.  Goldhagen is turgid reading, however, and I, myself, was unable to plow through it.  A much more descriptive and concisely written book was by Jan T. Gross, a Princeton University professor who emigrated to the USA from Poland.  Perhaps you are familiar with him.  He wrote an astonishing book entitled "Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne".  The reading is not for the faint of heart.  The massacre, the burning and pillaging and absolute frenzy of the Polish people who resided in Jedwabne, were almost too agonizing to read about.  The Nazis stood aside and allowed the Polish citizens of Jedwabne to complete the massacre.  Gross is an excellent historian.  He details the facts in a very clear and objective fashion.  Where he has doubts, he's honest enough to say so.  Apparently, the Polish government authorities agreed, in the main, with what he wrote, or so it seemed.  The point I am trying to make is that I am actually very cynical wherein the public at large is concerned.  That goes for the Mideast as well.  I believe that "moderate" elements are a lot less "moderate" when a possible "feeding frenzy" is set out before them, in this case, hatred and extermination of Jews.  My conclusion is: Never risk depending on the crowd as the psychology of groups (or crowds) is at a different, and more unconscious level, than that of the individual.  In this, I think, Freud and Jung both proved their value (as well as in many other instances or derived principles).  What do you think, Igor?

Ghazi. As you gathered from my name I do hail from Russia but lived for a while in Poland as part of the "repatriation". I did visit  Jedwabne as well as Kielc, a pogrom perpetrated by Poles right after the war ended. I even stayed with a very "nice" family on their farm.

Ghazi, I lived it ,so I take great umbrage when some pundits with an agenda tell me that I have no clue or worse that I am a fascist, occupier or thief ,without a shred of evidence from their favorite side. But this has nothing to do with peace,or rights and wrongs but simply the act of demonizing Israel is what these people crave and morality and truth be damned.

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