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83 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, 7 Jun 2007
This review is from: The Case Against Israel (Counterpunch) (Paperback)
Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario. He writes, "I am a moral and political philosopher: if I have an expertise, it is in moral and political argument." In this brilliant book he clearly outlines the essentials of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. He concludes, "Israel is, generally speaking, in the wrong in its conflict with Palestinians. The Palestinians, I will claim, are generally speaking in the right."

In Part One he looks at the Zionist project and its consequences. In Part Two he examines the current situation - the occupation, the settlements, alternatives, possible Palestinian strategies, and terrorism.

He summarises Part One, "The Zionist project, as conceived and executed in the 19th and early 20th century, was entirely unjustified and could reasonably be regarded by the inhabitants of Palestine as a very serious threat, the total domination by one ethnic group of all others in the region. ... The illegitimacy of the Zionist project was the major cause of all the terror and warfare that it aroused." Zionism's "leaders literally conspired to dispossess or dominate the Palestinians. ... It was the implementation of this idea that made bloodshed in Palestine, if not inevitable, as close to it as we can expect to get. That blood is on the Zionists' hands."

The Palestinians were faced, "not with a long-standing conflict between two established populations, but with an invasion conceived and executed by a political movement. No one is morally required to compromise with an invasion. ... Any population may defend itself against the threat of an externally imposed sovereignty."

In Part Two, he argues, "Sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, there was a fundamental change in the situation .... Israel's existence became as secure as any state has a right to expect. Its settlement policy was not defensive but a form of ethnic warfare, and, therefore, outrageously wrong. The Palestinians were justified in claiming that once again some sort of violent response was not only permissible, but necessary. Moreover, all this holds regardless of whether the previous arguments hold: regardless of whether the Zionist project was justified."

The Palestinians have no alternative to fighting for survival, but Israel has an alternative - unilateral withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Neumann points out, "Its willful and pointless rejection of that alternative places Israel decisively in the wrong. ... since Israel can withdraw at will and close its border, Israel can put an end to virtually all the violence. That violence is occasioned by the settlement policy, which is Israel's sole reason for the occupation. Since that occupation has no defensive or strategic rationale, Israel has no good reason to prolong it. Since Israel is willfully pursuing an unjustifiable strategy that it can end at no cost, it is responsible for all the consequences of that strategy. It follows that all the violence, and all horrors of the occupation, are to be laid at Israel's doorstep."
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Apr 2012 20:49:07 BDT
Tobin says:
Does he offer real arguments, or just judgements without justification? In other words, does he say which occurences lead him to believe that "Its settlement policy was not defensive but a form of ethnic warfare"?

How is he dealing with the fact that the Muslims in the region have, through the Mufti Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, been influenced by Hitler's antisemitism and will deny the Jews any right to existence, period? Does he take into consideration that previous returns of land did not lead to more peace, but to more attacks?

Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2012 14:35:06 BDT
Dear Tobin, please read the book. You will find evidence for his assertions about settlements.
You claim, " the fact that the Muslims in the region have, through the Mufti Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, been influenced by Hitler's antisemitism and will deny the Jews any right to existence, period?" Fact? Or opinion? Or even prejudice?
The Mufti Muhammed Amin al-Husseini was in office from 1921 to 1945, and was indeed influenced by Hitler's repellent anti-Semitism.
Please can you prove how this is relevant to the situation 67 years later? How does it refute Professor Neumann's conclusion?
Your argument is no answer at all to Neumann's conclusion that "Its willful and pointless rejection of that alternative places Israel decisively in the wrong. ... since Israel can withdraw at will and close its border, Israel can put an end to virtually all the violence. That violence is occasioned by the settlement policy, which is Israel's sole reason for the occupation. Since that occupation has no defensive or strategic rationale, Israel has no good reason to prolong it. Since Israel is willfully pursuing an unjustifiable strategy that it can end at no cost, it is responsible for all the consequences of that strategy. It follows that all the violence, and all horrors of the occupation, are to be laid at Israel's doorstep."

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jun 2012 22:45:12 BDT
G. Segar says:
William if the answer to the crisis is Israel simply pulls out of the west bank then why has the unilateral pull out from gaza not brought peace to southern Israel? If you relally believe it is that simple you have a naive belief in the politics of the region...

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jun 2012 12:01:58 BDT
Israel pulled its forces out of Gaza, yes, but still blockades it - an act of war in itself.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jun 2012 20:58:24 BDT
G. Segar says:
And now of course you betray your own prejudices - there has been an average of two rockets a day fired from Hamas controlled Gaza EVERY day since 2005. If that isnt an act of war, (and of course as these rockets regularly hit civillian populations, they also constitute war crimes), then what is? Hamas as you probably know has not the slightest interest in peace with Israel, and has repeatedly stated this; given its alliance with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood that should be no surprise. But as you already know who the bad guys are in this debate, you will not give this a moments thought. Welcome to the twisted world of the 'liberal' secular left that just cant seem to get enough of these reactionary Jihadists...(I blame Chomsky for most of this nonsense).

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2012 10:39:48 BDT
You write, "there has been an average of two rockets a day fired from Hamas controlled Gaza EVERY day since 2005." Not true. There was a ceasefire between June and November 2008.
"Hamas as you probably know has not the slightest interest in peace with Israel, and has repeatedly stated this". Not true. In June 2008, Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement, which held for 4 months.
"But as you already know who the bad guys are in this debate, you will not give this a moments thought." Not true - I have given much thought to the situation in Israel/Palestine, writing about 80 reviews of relevant books.
You write that I "just cant seem to get enough of these reactionary Jihadists."
Not true. I oppose reactionary jihadists, just as I oppose reactionary Zionists, reactionary Christians, reactionary Buddhists, etc.
For example, on 14 September 2006, I wrote, "But Hezbollah too committed war crimes by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. During the month-long conflict, Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets into northern Israel, killing 43 civilians, seriously injuring 33 others and forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to take refuge in shelters or flee. Hezbollah had argued that its rocket attacks on northern Israel were a reprisal for Israeli attacks on civilians in Lebanon and were aimed at stopping such attacks. But international law forbids the targeting of civilians and reprisals."

Please prove, not just assert, where Chomsky writes nonsense.

In 2006 Israel refused to recognise the elected Hamas government. When Fatah and Hamas formed a National Unity government, stating that their goal was to reach a long-term ceasefire agreement with Israel, Israel refused even to talk.
In June 2008, Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement, which Israel broke when it sent forces into Gaza on 4 November, and again when it launched its full-scale invasion on 27 December.
Israel's attack killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and made 100,000 people homeless. A third of the killed, and a third of the wounded, were children. The Israeli Defense Force shelled UN buildings and a UN-run school, targeted paramedics and fired white phosphorus shells, which are banned anti-personnel weapons.
The UN report on the Gaza war, the Goldstone report, accused Hamas of war crimes: "where there is no intended target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population'. But the UN found that Israel had committed by far the most breaches of international law. The report concluded that Israel had carried out "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability."
Israel's siege of Gaza is collective punishment (in breach of Article 33 of the Geneva Convention), depriving Gaza's people of water, fuel and electricity.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Feb 2013 02:27:54 GMT
man says:
Dear Mr Podmore, I had no idea that Israel were depriving the people of Gaza of water and other basic human needs, this is appalling and most upsetting, it has made me want to look more closely in to this situation, there seems to be an enormous amount of literature available and as a result I'm not sure where to begin, if you could recommend a good book for me to study regarding these matters I'd be very grateful, kind regards, Joe

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 10:49:19 GMT
Avi Shlaim's The Iron Wall is a fine history, which I hope you might find useful.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2013 05:48:45 GMT
man says:
Many thanks, regards, Joe
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