Your Life is Negotiable

Regarding the goings on in Israel, specifically the Gaza Strip, there is really only one thing to take from the whole nasty mess.

You can go all the way back to the Bible, then forward all the way to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and beyond — to the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948 — and I’ll be damned if anyone can make a solid case for the state of Israel or Palestine as concerns territory. What you can do is point out thousands and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on both sides, who’ve had their lives shattered throughout the whole affair by the machinations of international politics, state conquest, and politicized ideology ("religionism").

Those poor people in Gaza, today. Those poor people of the past, Jews and Arabs both, who’ve had their homes, lives, livelihoods, and even families torn apart. And the fundamental reason why is because we senselessly identify individuals only on the basis of being party to some group, ideology, race, or [arbitrary] territorial boundary line.

I, of course, don’t know that it could ever be any different, given human nature and demonstrated behavior as either conqueror or conquered, but I still like to hold onto the ideal. As I’ve said before, America is a culture, a state of mind, an attitude. America exists all over the world, in the abstract, and that’s its chief power. Identifying America as a landmass is to have no real clue as to what America truly is.

The Jewish culture, because it was party to no specific state, no "official" territory before 1948, had no alternative but to develop a strong identity and culture capable of existing virtually anywhere. They did, and they prospered wherever they existed. I can’t help but wonder if that culture has not ultimately been weakened by tying it to a state that arguably had no compelling need or reason to exist apart from some irrational sentiment.

So, what we learn from all this is that no matter what the state says or promises, everything is always negotiable under the right circumstances, including your property, your livelihood, and even your life. Remember that.

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  1. Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2005 at 15:55

    No, I'm saying that of the two, the landmass is by far (FAR) the lesser. America is an idea. There have been a thousand territories established throughout the ages, but America was the first and only to be established on the basis of an idea.

  2. ken grandlund on August 17, 2005 at 16:24

    Unfortunately, the Idea that begat America also disregarded the lives of those who had already "found" America, the land mass. America started out as an ideal for the White Christian and has only slowly become more encompassing.

    Those who followed the "idea" certainly did a great service to the world by presenting the philosophies of self-determination, freedom, and a form of democracy, but did so in a similar fashion to the creation of the Israeli state…namely, pushing people off their land or killing them outright.

    Don't get me wrong here. I love American ideals in their empirical form, and I feel lucky to have been born in this country, but the practice of them has often been just as awful as that of other government systems.

    For those who think that such things as forced movement can't happen here, remember that they already did, and in light of the SCOTUS Kelo decision, could happen again at any time.

  3. Zendo Deb on August 17, 2005 at 19:57

    The Holocaust was one reason for the state of Israel, and the turning point, but the Pogroms were also reasons. Dating back at least to the middle 1800's there was some push to have a state of Israel. (well maybe late 1800s. My history is a bit weak.)

    But the whole persecution of the Jews (The Inquisition in Spain, and the expulsion from England through to modern times) was in part made possible because the Jews were in Christian Europe. Even in the US, religious freedom was not always respected, and "restricted neighborhoods" were off limits to Jews.

    Today in the US it is not uncommon for neighborhoods to have covenants stating there can be no "church or other religious center" set up in a home. This is tantamount to saying that no Orthodox Jews (who must walk to services, and so services are often held in home) can live in that neighborhood. The courts have convieniently sided with these folks since it does not single out the Jews. But since they are the only ones practically impacted, these neighborhoods are partially restricted. (Conservative and Reform are welcome, since they are more assimilated.)

    It wasn't that long ago that employers could discriminate in hiring. "A Gentleman's Agreement" is a pretty bad movie, but an interesting look at antisemitism in the 1950's.

  4. Todd on August 17, 2005 at 14:26

    Quite frankly, as much as I try to understand that situation, the less I feel I know. There have been legal actions, wars, peace (albeit brief) and still it is diffcult to make a case for either side. There is plenty of book history, but there seems to be much more to it than that.

    And I must disagree with you. America *is* a land mass, with borders and citizens. I get your gist with regard to the philosophy of America though. I hope that what you're saying is that America is more than just land mass.

  5. carrie on August 17, 2005 at 21:59

    well-written and insightful.

  6. JollyRoger on August 17, 2005 at 17:58

    It would do us good here to remember that Iraq (with its sectarian and ethnic hatreds rolled into one State) is also largely a Balfour creation.

    I've always had this image of Balfour sitting in front of a map, pint at the ready, drawing up these "countries." As I understand it, my notion isn't very far from the actual history.

  7. Richard Nikoley on August 18, 2005 at 09:14

    "The Jewish title to Israel is as good as any land title."

    Well, Walter, obviously not.

  8. Richard Nikoley on August 18, 2005 at 09:36

    "The Holocaust was one reason for the state of Israel"

    Well, Zendo, I can certainly see the logic behind that (I'm using the term "logic" without value judgment).

    But isn't that the state's solution to everything? Consolidate and centralize power under the reigns of some ruling elite? I mean, if you put it to statists to solve any sort of problem, more power accruing to them will always figure somewhere into the "solution."

    No surprises.

    The real solution to the Holocaust, of course, was to exterminate the Nazis. And here, the need was so compelling that the state, for once, actually did mostly the right things.

    With regard to the Middle East, of course, a Palestinian State will figure into the equation (more power and influence), but the real solution to the terror problem is to mercilessly track down and exterminate every terrorist and everyone that gives them any sort of refuge (physical or moral), and that's here, in America, too.

    I have zero, ZERO problem seeing anyone waxed on the spot for giving moral encouragement or refuge to those operating as terrorists.

  9. Richard Nikoley on August 18, 2005 at 09:43

    Ken, you've got to learn to make distinctions. There's not the remotest parallel between the milleniums long struggle and territorial dispute between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, and the expanding of civilization to uncivilized areas.

    Moreover, claims to land and territory must be rational and contextual (think through what that means, please). Migrating bands of uncivilized natives claiming vast and arbitrary swaths of land (assuming they did so, which I doubt; it's those who cam after the fact that make such claims) does not qualify as rational and contextual.

  10. Walter E. Wallis on August 18, 2005 at 06:00

    The Jewish title to Israel is as good as any land title.
    I once owned houses in two other locations. I have no further right to either of those houses BECAUSE I SOLD THEM! As for the Palestinians, they sold their birthright, if they had one, for a mess of jihadist pottage, the promise of loot from the dead Jews.

  11. Larry on August 18, 2005 at 07:31

    I also have been moved by the images of the settlers being removed from their homes. And your final comment is significant, especially for this case. However, these settlers are not only the victims of their government but of their own ideology, which they believed their Government would simply continue to support. In a sense the Settlers shouldn't have been there in the first place, much of the land they are on one could argue was simply stollen.
    I weep for them for it is painful, but it simply shows the vicious cycle that has ensued as both sides have attempted all or nothing solutions.
    My hope is that the Israeli change on the settler issue might begin to end this cycle but that remains to be seen

  12. Doug Wolf on August 18, 2005 at 13:47


    OK… I'll bite. :-) What, exactly, was misleading about Richard's post?

    The answer is Arial Sharon. He is a warmonger and terrorist who makes gestures of returning miniscule peices of land

    I don't know much about Mr. Sharon, but I've got to sympathize with him on at least one point: Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    I believe that the return is Gaza to the Palestineans is a gamble, but one worth taking. I don't think anyone in this forum (or possibly on this earth) can tell at this point how this will play out. Only time will tell. God bless all those involved, and may they have the wisdom to stop blowing each other up.

    — DW

  13. Jamal on August 18, 2005 at 12:40

    This is a misleading or naive article. its not about who can make the best claim for the land. its about who has the most power and support to keep it. The answer is Arial Sharon. He is a warmonger and terrorist who makes gestures of returning miniscule peices of land, whilst he increases his stronghold on the rest.

  14. lilly1975 on August 19, 2005 at 09:39

    I live in Israel but thatdoes'nt make the situation much clearer to me then it is to you I think…

    I try not to wollow about the past too much, for whatever reason the state of Israel came to be, also, for whatever reason (which I know but don't want to get into) the Isrealies took the Gaza area as well as other areas in the 67' war and declared them their own even though a lot of palastinians were living there.

    This have a lot of complcations in it, but the metter of fact is that there really isn't a solution for this past Israel getting out of those teritories and letting the palastinians have their own country, a million and a half palestinians wouldn't disappear into thin air or politly go live somwhere else.

    As to current state of affair, a lot of how Israel is making this seem is for world view support, this thing is a massive step towared evacuation but watching this in the news, it seem much bigger then it really is. The sattlers got evacuation notices a long time ago, more then half of them already left the teritires in the past few months. The rest mostly evacuated willinly in the past week.

    In this time al ot of more militant sattlers, mostly young adults came into the teritories and were trying to raise a lot of objection to this situation.

    I'm sad for people looseing hteir houses for political reasons, but I'm more sad for people loosing their houses cause they lost their jobs and couldn't effort to pay their mortage, the sattlers getting pretty good deal on their houses, most of them are getting twice or more then what their house costs originaly. Not to sound too cold, but real-astate wise they are doing a really great deal here.

    I'm not sad that this is going on. for every sattler in those teritories there were between 4 to 10 soldeirs protecting them, a lot of them got killed on the line of duity gurding parts of the coutry that should have been evacuated right after the 67' war. This is going ot save lifes and money for Israel, to me this wek is a happy one politicly, the first happy week in a very long time.

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