How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

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How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby stevenf » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:54 pm UTC

To an indifferent external observer there are many paradoxes relating to the USA and its people - no doubt the feelings are reciprocated.

This presidential election has transfixed the whole world. The Obama magic is being wrought everywhere. So much of both importance and interest to the whole world turns on the outcome of this election.

How strange then, to that indifferent external observer, that such importance seems to be attached to the relationship between the USA and Israel that the candidates appear to feel obliged to express unconditional support for Israel in the most hyperbolic terms and give it precedence above pressing domestic and international concerns.

A balanced non-partisan posture would appear far more conducive to political progress and would suggest a wise reassuring equipoise in the most influential office on the planet.

Can anyone enlighten me?

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Re: How I wish I understood...

Postby TheStranger » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:12 pm UTC

Israel occupies a unique place in both US policy and culture.

In foreign policy Israel is an important ally in a very important region of the globe. Israel has largely remained a steadfast ally and supported the US policies in the region.

Israel is a very important country in US culture due to the presence of many sacred Christian sites (including the most important sites).
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Re: How I wish I understood...

Postby space_raptor » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:21 pm UTC

stevenf wrote:To an indifferent external observer there are many paradoxes relating to the USA and its people - no doubt the feelings are reciprocated.

This presidential election has transfixed the whole world. The Obama magic is being wrought everywhere. So much of both importance and interest to the whole world turns on the outcome of this election.

How strange then, to that indifferent external observer, that such importance seems to be attached to the relationship between the USA and Israel that the candidates appear to feel obliged to express unconditional support for Israel in the most hyperbolic terms and give it precedence above pressing domestic and international concerns.

A balanced non-partisan posture would appear far more conducive to political progress and would suggest a wise reassuring equipoise in the most influential office on the planet.

Can anyone enlighten me?


I wouldn't say they're giving it precedence at all. They were speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. One would imagine a speech to such a group would be about the American-Israeli relationship. It's just big in the news because that happened recently, next week it'll be something different.


If you ask me the US and Israel will be allies for a long time, and I think there's good reasons for that.


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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby ascendingPig » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:34 am UTC

Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby fjafjan » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:46 am UTC

There are a number of reasons.
First of all there are major Jewish voting blocks in the US in important states, mostly Washingon and NY.
Second there is an influential Jewish Lobby, which not only directly will influency politics, but due to its power also has historically, together with the interest of the US in the region, completely biased the news in regards to the Israel - Palestine question, so that Obama saying something like Palestinians have a right to 67' borders, anything else would be a farse" would make for easy "Obama easy on terrorists" as well as "Obama Hamas allegiance?". I mean the very fact that Hamas realized that he would be a less terrible leader than Bush or McCain and thus said he would probably be the best candidate for them, caught him some major critisism, couples with the accusation or implications that he is a muslim it would be pretty bad.

But there basically are two reasons the US keeps letting Israel off the hook outside this election, is as I've already mentioned the Lobby, which as an unknown congressman once said, could destroy/damage the career of whoever threw the first stone, and no one cares that deeply about the rights/problems of Palestinians.
There is also the strategic interest, Israel typically has the public support to launch major attacks against it's neightbors, aswell as the military power (though obviously an American shift in policy would quickly change this). It's basically not a big enough concern for the US liberal polititians, like Clinton, to do too much about it, and Bush obviously won't. I mean we have to remember the first intafada began around 20 years ago, and before then it was essentially a non issue. So the only presidents that have dealt with it post 67' war etc, are Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush. So it shouldn't be THAT surprising, as all those republican presidents have been almost eager to get in bed with far worse offenders, and Clinton was hardly perfect in his allegiances either.

ascendingPig wrote:Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal

Please do not feed into the notion that "support of Israels existence" == "Support of Israels Racist and ultimately self destructive policies"
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby clintonius » Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:11 am UTC

ascendingPig wrote:Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal

That's sort of a simplistic way of looking at the issue, I feel, and it reminds me of the divisive rhetoric used by the Bush regime. You have to keep in mind that there are multiple sides to the issue. One of the most prominent pro-Palestine arguments that I've come across is that the entire area has been Palestinian for a long, long time, and that it was wrong for this chunk of land to be simply partitioned away and "donated" by world powers (not Palestine) in the 1940s for the purpose of creating an Israeli state.

Also keep in mind that Israel commits its fair share of atrocities. People argue back and forth about it all the time -- "Palestinians started the violence!" "Israel started the violence!" -- and never get anywhere. To make progress, you have to acknowledge that violence by either party is wrong. Taking Israel's side just because they have a democratic government doesn't do anyone any good.

Edit:
fjafjan wrote:Please do not feed into the notion that "support of Israels existence" == "Support of Israels Racist and ultimately self destructive policies"

I didn't get the sense that that's what he/she was doing ("We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies," emphasis mine). Perhaps I misunderstood the comment. If so, enlighten me.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby ascendingPig » Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:54 am UTC

Both people who responded to my post completely ignored the fact that I admitted Israel has some "oppressive, racist policies" and that we can (and should) oppose those. But it's still the closest thing to a free nation in the region. I'm not confusing support of its existence with support of its divisive policies. I don't support their divisive policies at all.

EDIT: Sorry, Clintonius apparently understood me. Never mind.

That's sort of a simplistic way of looking at the issue, I feel, and it reminds me of the divisive rhetoric used by the Bush regime. You have to keep in mind that there are multiple sides to the issue. One of the most prominent pro-Palestine arguments that I've come across is that the entire area has been Palestinian for a long, long time, and that it was wrong for this chunk of land to be simply partitioned away and "donated" by world powers (not Palestine) in the 1940s for the purpose of creating an Israeli state.


The argument is invalid because (A) Jews were supposedly there thousands of years before and (B) Jews have been there for 60 years now and most Israelis have grown up in that worthless strip of desert. No reason to kick them out just because the former occupiers of that land feel threatened.

At any rate, I agree that it's a complicated issue. Should we have one state that integrates people who despise one another, or two racist states that despise one another anyway? Where do the displaced Palestinians go?
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby clintonius » Fri Jun 06, 2008 3:03 am UTC

ascendingPig wrote:
clintonius wrote:That's sort of a simplistic way of looking at the issue, I feel, and it reminds me of the divisive rhetoric used by the Bush regime. You have to keep in mind that there are multiple sides to the issue. One of the most prominent pro-Palestine arguments that I've come across is that the entire area has been Palestinian for a long, long time, and that it was wrong for this chunk of land to be simply partitioned away and "donated" by world powers (not Palestine) in the 1940s for the purpose of creating an Israeli state.


The argument is invalid because (A) Jews were supposedly there thousands of years before and (B) Jews have been there for 60 years now and most Israelis have grown up in that worthless strip of desert. No reason to kick them out just because the former occupiers of that land feel threatened.

I'm not saying that I do or do not subscribe to the argument; rather, I presented it as a big one that's been thrown out in protest of the state of Israel. The points you bring up to invalidate the argument aren't going to be persuasive to a Palestinian (I honestly don't know enough about the issue to really be able to determine whether they should persuade me. My initial reaction was "no," but I haven't got anything to back that up, so I'm staying mum for now). You mention right below that statement the fact that there will be (and already are) displaced Palestinians. That creates a lot of animosity and ill-will among those who feel victimized by the mere existence of an Israeli state.

ascendingPig wrote:At any rate, I agree that it's a complicated issue. Should we have one state that integrates people who despise one another, or two racist states that despise one another anyway? Where do the displaced Palestinians go?

It's interesting to think about the pros and cons of integrating the two states or dividing them. I wonder if either "solution" would actually be a solution.

Surely there are people in these fora who know a good deal about the situation -- we want to hear from you! Come educate us!
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:33 am UTC

clintonius wrote:Surely there are people in these fora who know a good deal about the situation -- we want to hear from you! Come educate us!
There is a hideously long thread on the subject. I was sort of glad it was gone (although it seems that it's the thread I've posted in the most).
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Turambar » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:04 am UTC

Israel's a big topic in US politics for three main reasons:
1. Conservative Christians-- It's kind of the holy land, and the fundies in particular are expecting a lot of apocalyptic stuff to start happening over there, so we better be on the right side when the endtimes come. And conservative Christians are probably the most powerful voting bloc in the United States.

2. Political/military reasons-- We are more closely allied with Israel than with any other state in the Mideast. It's a political and military foothold in the region that the U.S. government is very loath to give up.

3. Jews-- The United States has probably the second largest Jewish population in the world, just barely behind Israel. Jews tend to be concerned for the safety of the only Jewish state in existence. History gives them reason for concern

That said, Israel brought some of this on its own head. Nobody forced them to expel hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Palestine, steal their land and possessions, and discriminate against those who remained. But it's essentially a radical Zionist minority in Israel and a violent minority in Palestine that are fucking this up for everybody else.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Hammer » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:18 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:There is a hideously long thread on the subject. I was sort of glad it was gone (although it seems that it's the thread I've posted in the most).

There is indeed. Locked.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Hammer » Fri Jun 06, 2008 2:33 pm UTC

*sigh* I've been assured that this thread is different from the existing one because it focuses on US policy towards Israel as opposed to Israel itself. I have also been assured that this thread is not going to turn into another thread about Israel itself. So..unlocked.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby fjafjan » Fri Jun 06, 2008 2:54 pm UTC

ascendingPig wrote:Both people who responded to my post completely ignored the fact that I admitted Israel has some "oppressive, racist policies" and that we can (and should) oppose those. But it's still the closest thing to a free nation in the region. I'm not confusing support of its existence with support of its divisive policies. I don't support their divisive policies at all.


I was referring to your use of the term "support Israel". I mean there is no one serious who does not support a two state settlement at this point, so obviously the president always will aswell. So the president will always support the existance of Israel. There is no equally obvious reason the president should support the policies, so saying
Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal

Is a no brainer. It's as though Baracks support of Israel policies is the same as supporting the existance of a democratic state.
Thus my poorly explained quip.


AcendingPig wrote:At any rate, I agree that it's a complicated issue. Should we have one state that integrates people who despise one another, or two racist states that despise one another anyway? Where do the displaced Palestinians go?

I again claim that anyone who seriously wants to solve the issue rather than people who've only briefly heard of it and wish to offer some miracle cure, all support a two state settlement. It's also the case that most people agree this should be along the 1967 borders, though with some mutual landswaps. Those who disagree are mostly supporters of a one state settlement, and who I think can be disregarded as wholly unrealistic. The rest can be discussed in the aforementioned thread
The complicated part of the issue is primarily the role of the United States, who have staunchly opposed any realistic two state settlement, the reasons for which I think we should discuss here.
But then I mostly agree with Turambar on the reasons though I feel he forgot about the Jewish Lobby. (while there is certainly valid criticism of that book it does have a number of valid points)
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby stevenf » Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:09 pm UTC

Can you forgive a foreigner? Clearly I have opened a topic with more resonance than can readily be appreciated from outside the USA. If I have offended I apologise. To the moderator - please do not hesitate to guide me if I stray from the acceptable norms for this site.

The other thread is formidable!

The depth of ignorance/prejudice/perplexity in the rest of the world regarding the relationship between the USA and Israel should not be underestimated. Dialogue may serve to bring understanding and maybe progress.

Thank you to all contributors.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Turambar » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:04 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:But then I mostly agree with Turambar on the reasons though I feel he forgot about the Jewish Lobby. (while there is certainly valid criticism of that book it does have a number of valid points)

I guess by the general category of "Jews" I meant Jews who are politically involved and will vote and lobby for candidates and measures that strengthen and maintain America's support of Israel. So the "Jewish Lobby" would probably fall mostly under the categories of Jews and conservative Christians. And I hate to say anything that sounds like the "Jews have too much power" line, but the 'Jewish Lobby' is extremely, even inordinately, influential in our foreign policy. A bit like the exile Cuban population is with our embargo against Cuba. Thousands of the rich and upper classes of Cuba who got their possessions taken from them in the revolution are eager to maintain the embargo, and that's the main reason (besides a phobia of anything that looks communist) that we maintain the embargo.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Lucrece » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:08 pm UTC

False statement, Turambar. Come down here to the Hispanic part of Miami, and you'll see that it's not only the "rich, upper class Cuban" that supports the embargo. I also feel that you're dismissing the disdain of Cubans for an actually oppressive regime as some phobia resulting from an imagined situation.

I won't elaborate further in this thread, but feel free to make a new one to address this issue if you want to communicate extensive disagreement.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby westcydr » Sat Jun 07, 2008 11:51 am UTC

OK, I have little time to devote to this sort of thing right now, maybe in a few weeks, but..
1.The speeches that Obama and Clinton gave abt Israel were planned a while back, BEFORE the nomination was known to be pretty much "in the bag" for Obama. AS this information came out, the speeches were about to be given, so they became alot more important to the world at large, as some of the first "post nomination " speeches.
2. Obama has backed out of much of what he said in that speech already, as it was a speech aimed at one voting group, and showed many syances he has never taken in the past, and very likely will not really take in the future.
Anywa, I will be glad to discuss this more in a few weeks, when I am back in a sane time zone:-).
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Vaniver » Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:18 pm UTC

westcydr wrote:2. Obama has backed out of much of what he said in that speech already, as it was a speech aimed at one voting group, and showed many syances he has never taken in the past, and very likely will not really take in the future.
Good old straight talk.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Calorus » Fri Jun 27, 2008 8:46 am UTC

stevenf wrote:To an indifferent external observer there are many paradoxes relating to the USA and its people - no doubt the feelings are reciprocated.

This presidential election has transfixed the whole world. The Obama magic is being wrought everywhere. So much of both importance and interest to the whole world turns on the outcome of this election.

How strange then, to that indifferent external observer, that such importance seems to be attached to the relationship between the USA and Israel that the candidates appear to feel obliged to express unconditional support for Israel in the most hyperbolic terms and give it precedence above pressing domestic and international concerns.

A balanced non-partisan posture would appear far more conducive to political progress and would suggest a wise reassuring equipoise in the most influential office on the planet.

Can anyone enlighten me?


IN MY HONEST OPINION

The USA has what is alleged by Professor Norman Finkelstein to be the largest Jewish population in the world. Larger even than the Jewish population of Israel, estimated at 5.5 million and 4.9 million respectively. The Jews have been phenomenally successful in America, succeeding where many other "so-called" minorities have failed - maintaining both strong intra-community bonds whilst integrating well into American society as a whole.

The Jews are well represented in the upper echelons of society with a host and a disproportionate number of the most revered legal practitioners as well as Judges being of the Jewish faith. As a result with so high an interaction between the Jewish elite and the their co-policy makers of any (either?) faith it's unsurprising that they will come, consciously or otherwise, to share common goals.

In addition, Israel is a unique issue for the Americans, having given $19Billion to the Israeli military over the last 7 years alone it seems safe to question the possible benefits for the incumbent Government in maintaining the status quo, in spite messianically disposing of billions of dollars which could tackle various public services crises at home. It can be inferred from strong military arms links with the USA, including the basic issue M4A1's, McDonnell Douglass/Boeing's, F15, F16 and Apache exports (Each costing at least $18 million) and a range of more basic munitions, that there is something of a vested interest in the continuation of the Israel-Palestine situation.

Since many of the younger Israelis have said publicly that they're just in favour of an end to the violence, in spite of constant reminders of Hamas's previous treats to "Wipe Israel off of the map", it seems fair to assume without the potential to extend the forced containment of the Palestinians there might be some hope, at least, for the Jews and Muslims to come to some solution.

America's interest seem, however to be far from altruistic. Far from reducing military aid to the country, in 2007 it allegedly increased it by 25% allowing the rather expensive hostage situation to continue. Whilst there are no USAF Air Bases in Israel per sé, actions such as the Reuters reported training for a bombing of the Iranian Nuclear development facilities support claims that the Israeli military are often operated as a convenient military sub-contractor, doing the dirty work to which America cannot officially be party, allowing a more convenient Middle-Eastern control tower than Ramstein in Germany from which many of their official "activities" are conducted, and a more agreeable base than Turkey which has, recently especially, been increasingly vocal about what it sees as being an enabler to a war against Muslims.

The violence has been, in simple terms, never-ending. Although as few commentators have acknowledged, not only have the casualties in general been comparatively one side, running at 4 Palestinians per Israeli, but the "terrorist" Muslim forces have, seemingly fortuitously, fallen well behind in the ratio of guaranteed non-combatants who have been killed - namely children. Since 2000, 1,100 children have died of whom 119 - less than 11% - have been Israeli.

The amount of outcry in the mainstream media around the world, though seemingly not in America, has been epic and the Muslim world in particular has been, unsurprisingly, seething. The UN have, on 65 occasions strived to reprimand Israel. But, as with the countless resolutions countered by the American government regarding its foreign policy, a majority vote countered by the United States is simply ignored, passed though never enforced.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Iconoclast » Fri Jun 27, 2008 2:00 pm UTC

Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal


I can't help but think this is complete bull. If we wanted to support democracy as an ideal, we'd stop supporting ruthless dictators, and at least apologize for overthrowing various democratically elected governments. I say this to point out that the fact that Israel is a democracy is a moot point as far as US-Israel relations go.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Calorus » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:02 pm UTC

Iconoclast wrote:
Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal


I can't help but think this is complete bull. If we wanted to support democracy as an ideal, we'd stop supporting ruthless dictators, and at least apologize for overthrowing various democratically elected governments. I say this to point out that the fact that Israel is a democracy is a moot point as far as US-Israel relations go.


Completely agree - Mugabe is a Democratically elected leader - is that a fair comparison? Just because something has a desirable characteristic, doesn't make it a desirable thing.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:23 pm UTC

Calorus wrote:Completely agree - Mugabe is a Democratically elected leader
I think you misunderstand the requirements to be a functioning democracy.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Calorus » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:34 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Calorus wrote:Completely agree - Mugabe is a Democratically elected leader
I think you misunderstand the requirements to be a functioning democracy.


I think you misunderstand irony.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Minchandre » Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:44 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:-snip-


When I saw this thread, I wondered how long it would take the Zionist conspiracy to rear its head...

Honestly, though, most of the reasons have been said, but let's clarify them, one by one:

-MILITARILY, Israel is the US's strongest ally, and provides a convenient place in the Middle East from which to extend operations. Just like Britain was jokingly referred to as an "unsinkable carrier" off Europe's coast, so is Israel one in the Middle East.
-CULTURALLY, Israel is dominated by European culture, and specifically Western European culture. The morals and values of the average American are much more closely in tune with those of the average Israeli than with, say, the average Syrian or Iranian. (In fact, one common way to view the whole Israel/Palestine thing is to ignore religion and simply consider it to be European colonialism again, but that's not really what this thread is about).
-SOCIALLY, there are a lot of Israelis in the States (including this poster), and a lot of Americans in Israel (including this poster's mother for the better part of two decades). Simply having people on hand makes you more likely to want to support them, usually.
-RELIGIOUSLY...

Actually, that's a big one. Let's split it up.

-FROM A CHRISTIAN perspective, Israel is the site of many holy places, and a damned sight more likely to allow access to them than a government of Muslim fundamentalists. Additionally, lots of Evangelical Christians believe that the Jews are, in fact, God's chosen people, and so need defending. Also, I seem to remember something about the Second Coming occurring when all Jews live in the Holy Land.
-FROM A JEWISH perspective, it's still the Holy Land. Important historical sites, yadda yadda (see above). There's lots of reasons Jews like Israel, which I'm not going to bother listing here. A more important point is to consider why we actually care about the Jews. They're like what, 2% of America's population? Who cares about that! Well, first it's important to note that that's more than there are Muslims. Second, Jews are perhaps the "most successful" of America's "minorities". Jews are, on average, wealthier and better-educated than non-Jews. They are disproportionately represented in the media (see: Jewish Liberal Media Conspiracy, Giant Lizards). They are disproportionately represented in government, with 13% of Senators and 7% of Representatives (the less important half of Senate) being Jewish, despite the population at large only being about 2% so.

-POLITICALLY, Israel is, in fact, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And yes, dammit, it is a real democracy. There's universal suffrage (yes, even for Arabs - all Arabs that are also Israeli citizens (~15% of the Israeli population) have the vote.) Laws strongly resemble American norms. Israeli politics have recently been somewhat corrupt, but then again so have American. It's telling that Israel is pretty much the only country that has a large number of Arab women that can vote.

Plus, by this point, there's a lot of history to it. Someone's your friend for 60 years, you don't leave them alone just 'cause they're doing something you disapprove of.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Iconoclast » Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:14 pm UTC

Calorus wrote:Completely agree - Mugabe is a Democratically elected leader - is that a fair comparison? Just because something has a desirable characteristic, doesn't make it a desirable thing.

I think you actually missed my point. I am saying America should stop supporting Israel not because of the bad things it has done (which is small in comparison to some of our other allies), but because the relationship does not benefit America.

Minchandre wrote:-POLITICALLY, Israel is, in fact, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And yes, dammit, it is a real democracy. There's universal suffrage (yes, even for Arabs - all Arabs that are also Israeli citizens (~15% of the Israeli population) have the vote.) Laws strongly resemble American norms. Israeli politics have recently been somewhat corrupt, but then again so have American. It's telling that Israel is pretty much the only country that has a large number of Arab women that can vote.

Plus, by this point, there's a lot of history to it. Someone's your friend for 60 years, you don't leave them alone just 'cause they're doing something you disapprove of.

This is not a question of being Israel's friend, it's a question of spending billions of tax dollars on them, with no gains for America. You can be someone's friend without giving them a paycheck every year; we can continue trading with Israel without interfering in their domestic and foreign affairs.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Minchandre » Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:29 pm UTC

Iconoclast wrote:
Calorus wrote:
Minchandre wrote:-POLITICALLY, Israel is, in fact, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And yes, dammit, it is a real democracy. There's universal suffrage (yes, even for Arabs - all Arabs that are also Israeli citizens (~15% of the Israeli population) have the vote.) Laws strongly resemble American norms. Israeli politics have recently been somewhat corrupt, but then again so have American. It's telling that Israel is pretty much the only country that has a large number of Arab women that can vote.

Plus, by this point, there's a lot of history to it. Someone's your friend for 60 years, you don't leave them alone just 'cause they're doing something you disapprove of.

This is not a question of being Israel's friend, it's a question of spending billions of tax dollars on them, with no gains for America. You can be someone's friend without giving them a paycheck every year; we can continue trading with Israel without interfering in their domestic and foreign affairs.


See: MILITARILY. Plus, Israel spends a lot of her own money of US military equipment, which is a US gain. Also, collaborative military research: for example, high energy laser defense systems were pioneered by Israeli engineers.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Indon » Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:32 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:-POLITICALLY, Israel is, in fact, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And yes, dammit, it is a real democracy.

And what's Turkey? Do they not count as 'liberal' enough for your standards, despite being a secular democracy? CIA World Factbook link to Turkey.

Minchandre wrote:Plus, by this point, there's a lot of history to it. Someone's your friend for 60 years, you don't leave them alone just 'cause they're doing something you disapprove of.


We co-sponsored Israel's creation alongside with the UK - but that doesn't mean they're our friend.

Actions denote 'friendship', and I don't think Israel's actions are particularly appropriate for an ally of the United States - I think they're more fitting for a nation that is exploiting us for their benefit.

Minchandre wrote:Also, collaborative military research: for example, high energy laser defense systems were pioneered by Israeli engineers.

I have something to say here, but in the interest of being civil on the forum, I won't say it.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Varsil » Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:54 am UTC

Minchandre wrote:-POLITICALLY, Israel is, in fact, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And yes, dammit, it is a real democracy. There's universal suffrage (yes, even for Arabs - all Arabs that are also Israeli citizens (~15% of the Israeli population) have the vote.) Laws strongly resemble American norms. Israeli politics have recently been somewhat corrupt, but then again so have American. It's telling that Israel is pretty much the only country that has a large number of Arab women that can vote.


Yeah, they also bar most of the Arab population in areas they claim to be Israel from ever becoming citizens. I don't call Israel a real democracy, myself. It might be a nice place to live (well, the nice parts are nice... which is vaguely tautological but there isn't really much of a range of quality, there's a hard shift). Make every one of the people in the occupied territories a full Israeli citizen (yeah, even the ones who are currently expressing their political viewpoints with the latest in explosive fashions) and watch political change take place.

My less serious glib solution is to ask the Israelis if they have nuclear weapons. Pretend to listen to their non-denial denial, and then say, "Well, just so we're sure, here, have fifteen or twenty. We've got lots. Now we all know where you stand." Then go to the Palestinian authority of the moment and ask them if they have nuclear weapons. Everyone has a good chuckle at that one. Then say, "Well, we've got some extras. Here, have fifteen or twenty." Politely suggest to both sides that they might want to meet and have a chat. Chances are good that they'll manage to hammer out an agreement involving compromises on both sides, but hurry out of the blast radius in case they can't.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Iconoclast » Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:14 am UTC

Minchandre wrote:See: MILITARILY. Plus, Israel spends a lot of her own money of US military equipment, which is a US gain. Also, collaborative military research: for example, high energy laser defense systems were pioneered by Israeli engineers.

Yes, the US government gives taxpayer money to Israel who then spend some of it on US to the benefit of those in the war industry (who then donate to various politicians to help start the cycle again). That is not a US gain, that's just the military-industrial-congressional complex.

As for the military benefit, it would be much better for the US to end military support of Israel and all other middle east countries, withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, open drilling sites in America, and invest in alternative energy.

I think Israel can survive without US support, given its military capabilities. I'll admit, however, that I do not know enough about Israel to say what THEY should do to gain peace.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Minchandre » Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:18 am UTC

Indon wrote:And what's Turkey? Do they not count as 'liberal' enough for your standards, despite being a secular democracy? CIA World Factbook link to Turkey.


Actually, I don't consider Turkey to be in the Middle East. Despite the fact that their military recently almost had a coup, they've got a pretty good democratic system going on. I meant no offense to the nation that should have joined the EU a few years ago. EDIT: Just to be clear, that last comment was pointed towards France and Germany, not Turkey itself; I realized it came off as a little sarcastic when it was, in fact, completely sincere.

We co-sponsored Israel's creation alongside with the UK - but that doesn't mean they're our friend.

Actions denote 'friendship', and I don't think Israel's actions are particularly appropriate for an ally of the United States - I think they're more fitting for a nation that is exploiting us for their benefit.


Please. Have an opinion; don't be an idiot. US/Israeli relations are pretty much more cordial than US relations with any other country except maybe Canada and UK. The part of Israel that is "exploiting" us for benefit is the military and - guess what? The US military really likes the Israeli one.


I have something to say here, but in the interest of being civil on the forum, I won't say it.

Honestly, I would have figured this to be the least potentially offensive part of the post; please PM me.

Varsil wrote:Yeah, they also bar most of the Arab population in areas they claim to be Israel from ever becoming citizens. I don't call Israel a real democracy, myself. It might be a nice place to live (well, the nice parts are nice... which is vaguely tautological but there isn't really much of a range of quality, there's a hard shift). Make every one of the people in the occupied territories a full Israeli citizen (yeah, even the ones who are currently expressing their political viewpoints with the latest in explosive fashions) and watch political change take place.


Most Palestinians don't want to become Israeli citizens - they want the end of the State of Israel (and don't tell me it's just that they want a home - both Fatah and Hezbollah list the destruction of Israel as goals). I agree assimilation would have been better, but all of Israel's attempts to educate and assimilate the Palestinians in the 60s and 70s were blocked by the Arab League, who find it politically convenient to have a large refugee population, even though it sucks for two of their nominal members. Plus, more directly, a large Palestinian population destabilizes Lebanon, allowing Syria to control it more effectively.

My less serious glib solution is to ask the Israelis if they have nuclear weapons. Pretend to listen to their non-denial denial, and then say, "Well, just so we're sure, here, have fifteen or twenty. We've got lots. Now we all know where you stand." Then go to the Palestinian authority of the moment and ask them if they have nuclear weapons. Everyone has a good chuckle at that one. Then say, "Well, we've got some extras. Here, have fifteen or twenty." Politely suggest to both sides that they might want to meet and have a chat. Chances are good that they'll manage to hammer out an agreement involving compromises on both sides, but hurry out of the blast radius in case they can't.


Not a bad idea except that the democratically elected "political parties" in charge of the PA have a track record of blowing stuff up to kill Israelis even if it means dying themselves. Honestly, the problem is that certain very reactionary elements on both sides are preventing a compromise from existing. But honestly, both of your points belong in the Israel thread, not the USA/Israel relations thread.

Iconoclast wrote:Yes, the US government gives taxpayer money to Israel who then spend some of it on US to the benefit of those in the war industry (who then donate to various politicians to help start the cycle again). That is not a US gain, that's just the military-industrial-congressional complex.


Note that not all of Israel's military budget comes from the US. That said, your point remains a valid one, but the military-industrial complex is so far in bed with the American government that it's sometimes hard to figure out where Northrop-Grumman ends and the Pentagon begins, and when the Pentagon begins and Congress begins. But that's not Israel's fault, as the US has been doing that since at least the Civil War.

As for the military benefit, it would be much better for the US to end military support of Israel and all other middle east countries, withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, open drilling sites in America, and invest in alternative energy.


Obviously current military planners disagree with you.

I think Israel can survive without US support, given its military capabilities. I'll admit, however, that I do not know enough about Israel to say what THEY should do to gain peace.


I certainly agree; the American military support isn't necessary, but it's definitely helpful. Israel's military certainly couldn't be maintained at current levels without it, though; not unless the economy was willing to take a huge hit. Of course, Israel doesn't need such a large peacetime army, but there've been a couple recent wars that suggest military demobilization may not be the best idea...as for peace, well, if it was a military issue, it would have ended thirty years ago when the Israeli military completely pasted whatever ragged-ass group of insurgents the PA was able to gather. But it's not, and the politics of the situation belong in another thread.

Anyway, that's my piece. I can see that the topic of this thread has approached religious proportions in that no amount of arguing is going to change anyone's opinion. Any further inquiries should please be PMed.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Hammer » Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:43 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:Have an opinion; don't be an idiot.

Address the problem you see with the opinion expressed. Do not call people idiots.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Iconoclast » Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:46 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:
Iconoclast wrote:Yes, the US government gives taxpayer money to Israel who then spend some of it on US to the benefit of those in the war industry (who then donate to various politicians to help start the cycle again). That is not a US gain, that's just the military-industrial-congressional complex.


Note that not all of Israel's military budget comes from the US. That said, your point remains a valid one, but the military-industrial complex is so far in bed with the American government that it's sometimes hard to figure out where Northrop-Grumman ends and the Pentagon begins, and when the Pentagon begins and Congress begins. But that's not Israel's fault, as the US has been doing that since at least the Civil War.

Yeah, I think politicians the world over are to blame.
Minchandre wrote:
Iconoclast wrote:As for the military benefit, it would be much better for the US to end military support of Israel and all other middle east countries, withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, open drilling sites in America, and invest in alternative energy.

Obviously current military planners disagree with you.

True. I guess I didn't mean military benefit, as much as national security benefit. But keep in mind it's the military's job to follow orders politicians give them (which right now is protect the oil at any cost, and build nations). It's not their job to keep America safe. So, if military planners did agree with me, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it anyway.

Minchandre wrote:
Iconoclast wrote:I think Israel can survive without US support, given its military capabilities. I'll admit, however, that I do not know enough about Israel to say what THEY should do to gain peace.


I certainly agree; the American military support isn't necessary, but it's definitely helpful. Israel's military certainly couldn't be maintained at current levels without it, though; not unless the economy was willing to take a huge hit. Of course, Israel doesn't need such a large peacetime army, but there've been a couple recent wars that suggest military demobilization may not be the best idea...as for peace, well, if it was a military issue, it would have ended thirty years ago when the Israeli military completely pasted whatever ragged-ass group of insurgents the PA was able to gather. But it's not, and the politics of the situation belong in another thread.

Anyway, that's my piece. I can see that the topic of this thread has approached religious proportions in that no amount of arguing is going to change anyone's opinion. Any further inquiries should please be PMed.

I'll admit that supporting Israel makes sense if we keep all our other policies dealing with the area. I think one of the reasons America-Israel discussions go nowhere is that it really is part of a much bigger and nuanced issue that most people fail to recognize.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Iv » Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:12 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:-POLITICALLY, Israel is, in fact, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And yes, dammit, it is a real democracy. There's universal suffrage (yes, even for Arabs - all Arabs that are also Israeli citizens (~15% of the Israeli population) have the vote.) Laws strongly resemble American norms. Israeli politics have recently been somewhat corrupt, but then again so have American. It's telling that Israel is pretty much the only country that has a large number of Arab women that can vote.


This point is, in my humble opinion, the more important morally (the military one being the most important cynically) Too bad it isn't true. Lebanon, Turkey (if you consider it part of middle-east) and (wait for it) the Palestinian Territories all had fair elections and democratically elected leaders. Apart from that, several constitutional monarchies like Jordan offer fairly open societies (remember that several "good" countries in the world have constitutional monarchies like UK or Japan). Almost all the countries in middle-east where elections are held recognize women vote.

Why don't they get the same amount of support ? I guess that is because several other points you mentioned are deemed more important that the political point. Anyway, good summary.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby yoni45 » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:49 pm UTC

Iv wrote:Why don't they get the same amount of support ? I guess that is because several other points you mentioned are deemed more important that the political point. Anyway, good summary.


I'd say it's not so much as 'democracy', as much as it is liberal democracy - I'm going to refer to the word liberal as following Western ideals.

Lebanon is a diamond in the rough. It's democratic process is questionable, as government positions and seats are set aside by religion. The president can only be of a certain religion. The prime minister can only be of a certain other religion. There is a certain number of seats that can only be occupied by Christians, another number of seats by certain types of Muslims, etc, etc. In many ways, it is very liberal, but there's also a strong dominance of Islamic conservatism - the south is pretty much hezbollah-stan...

The UK and Japan, which you mention as "good" constitutional monarchies, are only monarchies by name - the power of the monarchs is severely limited, and largely ceremonial. This is not the case in Jordan.

The Palestinian Territories did indeed have a successful democratic vote (although the system itself is flawed, but I won't hold it against them).

That said however, on the 'liberal' aspect, Israel is by far the most liberal democracy in the region. This includes almost complete separation of church (or synagogue ^_^) and state, near-equal womens' rights, near-equal LGBT rights, freedom of speech, (mostly) equal rights for all minorities, etc...

(That said, I have no qualms with Jordan - while they may not be democratic, their constitutional monarchy, at least at the moment, functions quite well on the liberal front, given their circumstances. You'll also note that the US is also quite friendly with them as well. Turkey is also supported by the US, but I'd imagine the more fragile military rule is a turnoff...)
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Calorus » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:09 pm UTC

ascendingPig wrote:Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal


Erm - Iran seems way more democrat, actually...

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby westcydr » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:25 pm UTC

Calorus wrote:
ascendingPig wrote:Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal


Erm - Iran seems way more democrat, actually...

Ok, so a supreme leader for life is democratic how, exactly? Yes, both countries have figurehead presidents, but Israelis get to vote on the actual power, the Prime Minister, while this is not the case whatsoever in Iran. Do you even know how Iran's government is put together?
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby Calorus » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:31 pm UTC

westcydr wrote:
Calorus wrote:
ascendingPig wrote:Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal


Erm - Iran seems way more democrat, actually...

Ok, so a supreme leader for life is democratic how, exactly? Yes, both countries have figurehead presidents, but Israelis get to vote on the actual power, the Prime Minister, while this is not the case whatsoever in Iran. Do you even know how Iran's government is put together?


Yes, hence my comment. As I see it "Supreme Leader" is a long term elected figurehead position. Making it instantly more democratic than, say Britain...? The Supreme Leader is voted in by other people, who're voted in and so on and so forth. Pretty damn democratic, as I see it

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby westcydr » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:50 pm UTC

Calorus wrote:
westcydr wrote:
Calorus wrote:
ascendingPig wrote:Israel is the only real democracy in the mideast. We can work to change its oppressive, racist policies, but the fact is that any candidate who doesn't support Israel is publicly giving up on democracy as an ideal


Erm - Iran seems way more democrat, actually...

Ok, so a supreme leader for life is democratic how, exactly? Yes, both countries have figurehead presidents, but Israelis get to vote on the actual power, the Prime Minister, while this is not the case whatsoever in Iran. Do you even know how Iran's government is put together?


Yes, hence my comment. As I see it "Supreme Leader" is a long term elected figurehead position. Making it instantly more democratic than, say Britain...? The Supreme Leader is voted in by other people, who're voted in and so on and so forth. Pretty damn democratic, as I see it

Only if you happen to be a Muslim Cleric. Other than that, you don't get to choose a whole lot there. the supreme leader is chosen by the assembly of experts (all Muslim Clerics, by law), and is pretty much set for life. The assembly is chosen by the Guardian council (again, all clerics) who in turn, are chosen by, you guessed it, the Supreme Leader.... nice liberal democracy there, as I said, as long as you are a Muslim Cleric.
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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby andqso » Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:59 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:This includes almost complete separation of church (or synagogue ^_^) and state


I don't know that I would say "almost complete."

On a basic level, yes; certainly to a greater extent than in Iran or that lovely system they have in Lebanon, but as long as Israel remains a Jewish state it seems a bit of a stretch to talk about the "almost complete" separation of church and state.

On a fundamental level, that's why they can't make residents of the occupied territories citizens - in doing so, there would no longer be a Jewish majority and Israel would cease to be a Jewish state. This is the reason (IMO) why two states is the only viable solution.

They certainly have a democracy, but you just can't have a secular democracy in a Jewish state.

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Re: How I wish I understood... [USA and Israel]

Postby yoni45 » Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:19 am UTC

andqso wrote:Israel remains a Jewish state it seems a bit of a stretch to talk about the "almost complete" separation of church and state.


Well, that's precisely why it's "almost" complete - there are a few laws that touch on religion, but barely so. In fact, Israel doesn't actually have an official religion (Britain, by the way, does). Specifically, the two laws that touch on religion are those of the law of return, which grant Jews near-instantaneous citizenship, and the army conscription laws, which don't obligate Israeli Arabs to conscript, giving them the choice to do so if they wish.

andqso wrote:On a fundamental level, that's why they can't make residents of the occupied territories citizens - in doing so, there would no longer be a Jewish majority and Israel would cease to be a Jewish state.


That's not why they don't make them citizens, that's just one of the reasons why it'd be a stupid idea to annex the West Bank. They don't make them citizens simply because they're not part of the state of Israel, and because they don't want to be (as far as the relevant loud ones are concerned).
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