On Palestinian leadership

You know, it doesn't matter how many times I say it, there are still people out there defending the Palestinian leadership in both of its Hamas and Fatah incarnations. So, ehh, how about I let Nizo here do the talking:

However, the top spot in my maslakh list will always be reserved to our notoriously malicious and incompetent Palestinian leaderships. Not only would I like to take them to the maslakh,
but I would free the goats and invite them to Gaza and Ramallah where
they would replace them. Do not attempt to convince me otherwise, our
ungulate friends, if given the appropriate powers will actually make
better decisions.

This is fast becoming my credo, especially as
I examine our leaderships' inability to build any kind of functioning
pre-state, despite billions of dollars in aid money that has flowed
into our coffers since Oslo. I will also add that our Palestinian
voters who have elected these animals should also get an invitation to
the maslakh. Then I would
round up the millions of our arm-chair cheerleaders around the world
who continue to encourage "resistance" instead of holding us at least
partially accountable for the 60-year catastrophe that we have helped
perpetuate.

So Mr. Haniyeh, explain to me why that
cheeky Galloway deserves a Palestinian Passport, while my grandmother
who has lived in a refugee camp since 1948, and who clings to the key
to her old house can't get one?

I know the Zionist entity won't allow her into Gaza, but then what
about the refugees living in the camps of Jabalyah and Al-Shati? tell
me Mr. Haniyeh, why haven't you built homes for them in
Gaza's vacated Jewish settlements? Instead you continue to use the
"liberated" land to train the young and poison their minds.

In lieu of
undulating to "Shik Shak Shok", they wrap their waists in plastic
explosives and goose-step to the tunes of your fashistic songs, all
while you stroke yourself in excitement thinking of all the new Qassams
you'll be able to smuggle with the millions of dollars that will now
flow into Gaza after the bombardment you've helped bring upon their
heads.

But worry not ya Haniyeh, you and your hobbits aren't the only targets here. You were hardly imaginative with your gift to Galloway by the way:

Abu-Mazen
beat you to it, by bestowing Palestinian citizenship upon Daniel
Barenboim. Although I prefer the peace-loving pianist to the bombastic
Galloway, someone needs to remind Abu-Batata that his own people,
including my grandmother are more worthy recipients of such a
citizenship.

Again, I don't expect my grandmother's resettlement
just yet, give her something symbolic, a temporary passport but more
importantly an apology in the name of all the leaders before you who
stripped her of her humanity and used her as a pawn against other Arabs
and Israel.

In the meantime, what I do demand is a reformation of the PA, the removal of all the bahayem
who line their pockets with the aid money. Dollars we were very lucky
to receive in the first place. Wallah, African nations with more
pressing needs are starving while we sit back, multiply, beg for
handouts and get angry at the world when it doesn't go that extra step
and wipe our asses for us.

Speaking of asses, or goats, I will
continue to advocate for the removal of both leaderships and their
replacement with the latter, and while I don't expect to succeed, I
could at least convince some of our sheep-like cheerleaders, that
support for the Palestinians should come with a condition that we
reform and start treating our own people more like people, and less
like goats.

Amen!

Comments

  1. Aristotle's Toes says:

    Methinks these folks are developing some political maturity.

    I’m not too optimistic on less corrupt leadership. The Baathists were removed from Iraq, were replaced with all fresh people, and the corruption continues more or less as before. It’s a cultural problem.

  2. Screw corruption – probably a neccesary evil on the road to a better world, and lots better than neverending fighting without an end in sight!

    Why the friggin’ hell can’t the Palestinians vote for someone sensible for a change?!?

  3. Roman Kalik says:

    Screw corruption – probably a neccesary evil on the road to a better world, and lots better than neverending fighting without an end in sight!

    The problem with that notion is that it assumes that there’s actually enough money left, after the corrupt have taken their cut of the loot, to give anyone a better world. Or even the world they have today.

    In practice, Fatah under Yasser Arafat proved that one *can* take so much money that there isn’t anything left to live on. The rest is just a matter of rhetoric to explain who is *really* to blame for it all, making sure not to mention any Swiss bank accounts…

  4. “Why the friggin’ hell can’t the Palestinians vote for someone sensible for a change?!?” They’re an artificial construct of the greater Arab world for the purpose of fighting Israel, and after 3-4 generations of brain washing, the “Palestinians” are organically predisposed to hate Israel. Does that answer your question?

  5. “one *can* take so much money that there isn’t anything left to live on”

    I guess that’s true… All the more reason to emphasize my last, retorical question!

  6. “Does that answer your question?”

    Not really, no… The best way to fight Israel would be to build up a rich society in order to become strong enough to successfully take on their neighbour!

  7. “They’re an artificial construct of the greater Arab world for the purpose of fighting Israel, and after 3-4 generations of brain washing, the “Palestinians” are organically predisposed to hate Israel. Does that answer your question?”

    It is always amusing to see the way some opponents of Arab nationalism construct their arguments in a manner that ultimately sounds a lot like Arab nationalism.

    Let’s start at the beginning. Arab nationalism is an artificial concept modelled on European fascism and built on the entirely baseless assumption that there is such a thing as a Greater Arab people i.e. that everyone who speaks Arabic today belongs to the same ethnicity and has the same geo-political interests and therefore all of these people’s national aspirations and right to self-determination can be addressed within the context of one Great Arab state and one Great Arab ruler. This was a reaction to the Turkish nationalism exhibited by the Ottoman Empire in it’s dying days.

    It is no different from the Nazi belief that Europe can be ‘unified’ under one German ruler. And Arab nationalism failed for the same reason that Nazism failed. Arabs are no more one people than Europeans are. And the difference between an Egyptian and a Palestinian is no less profound than the difference between a German and an Englishman.

    That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will always be.

  8. SM

    Amen here too.

    Nizo said it so very very well. Right smack on the money.

  9. Nizo

    Whereever you are…thank you for these words:

    “Then I would
    round up the millions of our arm-chair cheerleaders around the world
    who continue to encourage “resistance” instead of holding us at least
    partially accountable for the 60-year catastrophe that we have helped
    perpetuate.”

    Amen and amen.

  10. As long as its profitable for both sides (Hamas & Fatah) to get bombed and then have their leadership make a shitload of money that goes to their personal Swiss bank accounts there will be be no change in leadership or how they govern.

  11. “Howie Says:
    Nizo
    Whereever you are…thank you for these words”

    I’m here, I just negotiated $150 CDN off a new garage door by telling the Tunisian salesguy that I will be forever thankful to his nation for hosting our brave PLO leadership from 1982-1994.

    The fact that I pimped Arafat’s carcass for $150 CDN will give me immense pleasure every time I open and close that new garage door.

    You should have seen how emotional the Tunisian got, he hugged me so hard my eyes almost popped out of their sockets. In fact, had I pushed any further with my charm offensive I could have easily converted the excess sympathy into fellatio.. but I didn’t feel like getting speared in the genitals with his massive nose-hairs.

  12. Roman Kalik says:

    #7, LouLou:

    It is always amusing to see the way some opponents of Arab nationalism construct their arguments in a manner that ultimately sounds a lot like Arab nationalism.

    Agreed. But there *was* a glimmer of a point there – back when the “greater Arab world” was a much more active dream, Palestinian Arab nationalism was one of Nasser’s pet projects. Pan-Arab nationalism built the PLO from the ground up, and it enjoyed Nasser’s personal protection to day he died. Palestinian nationhood was always seen as part of a greater Arabic nationhood.

    And by and large, Fatah still remains a collection of the old school Middle-Eastern Arab politicians. Mostly educated in Moscow or East Germany, nationalist secular leaders who still repeat the same old slogans… Only a bit quieter now, because the old idealism isn’t as widespread as before, and Swiss bank accounts work out much better in the long run…

  13. Nizo…

    Next time he wants a hug…ask him if he would like you to demonstrate the Himlich method…

    And joking aside…I am now a fan thanks to Drima…no matter how hard you try to slash at yourself and all of us…brilliance shines through…

    Please write a book…and when the fatwah comes out…I live in California and I am sure you will find great comfort and muscular gluts in West Hollywood, San Francisco and Laguna Beach…And all of the Disneyland area is either Mexican or Palestinian…so you should be able to score falafel in a taco shell…will raise your cultural awareness and hang with the homies as well.

    So…we eagerly wait the magnum opus….or magnum openis if I am going to be politically correct.

  14. Nizo…

    BTW…on this same line…if you ever see me choking in a restaruant…no offense…please get somebody else to Himlich me.

  15. Roman,

    I have very little appetite for defending the PLO or Hamas. I actually agree with the letter and spirit of what Nizo wrote.

    That doesn’t change the fact that to argue that the Palestinian people don’t exist or that they were magically conjured out of thin air by Nasser or Arab nationalism is an exercise in futility. Palestinians do exist as a people who are ethnically and culturally distinct from other Arabs. As is evidenced by the fact that despite all the stirring songs about Arab brotherhood, there is not a single Arab people or Arab nation that will sacrifice an inch of land to the Palestinians or to any other ‘Arab brother people’. Arab brotherhood is – and has always been – a rhetorical device useful for attacking the foreign outsider and little else. It has never succeeded in making Arabs any kinder or more generous to each other.

    The tragedy of the Palestinians has always been their belief in this myth of Arab brotherhood and the way their leadership has allowed itself to be manipulated to serve the agendas of Nasser or Syria or whoever. To most Arab regimes, the sum total of their interest in the plight of the Palestinians is how much they can utilize it to distract their own people – and the rest of the world – from their own incompetence, corruption and tyranny.

    And the tragedy of Israel is that it has allowed itself to be swept into this make-believe – mainly because of this fond fantasy some Zionists cling to that the ‘Arabs’ created the Palestinians just to spite the Jews and so maybe the ‘Arabs’ can make the Palestinians go away because after all, ‘the Arabs have lots of land’.

    Well, the people of each Arab state believe their land belongs to them and have never felt under any obligation to give any of it away to the Palestinians or to anyone else. So don’t hold your breath waiting for Egyptians or Iraqis or Saudis or Morrocans to start evacuating their homes and handing the keys over to the Palestinians.

    The only country which is an exception to this is possibly Jordan. And most Jordanians – including those of Palestinian origin btw – feel that Jordan has already done it’s part – absorbing as many Palestinians as it is possible for the ruling Jordanian Bedouins to absorb and still be a significant minority within their own country. The Hashemites are not going to sacrifice their state or the stability of their regime to help the Palestinians or solve Israel’s problems. Anymore than Lebanese Christians or Lebanese Shia are going to absorb that many Palestinian Sunnis.

    ‘Arab brotherhood’ stops exactly at the point where an Arab people are asked to choose between their own national interest and that of another Arab people.

    And frankly, I don’t believe – given the current state of Palestinian politics – that Jordan should be asked to absorb anymore Palestinians. Jordan is one of the few relatively stable, relatively secular, relatively pragmatic states in the region. It is a force for stability and peace in the region and an influx of politically indoctrinated Hamas and PLO supporters from the West Bank and Gaza will only serve to radicalize Jordan and turn it into another Syria. Which is not in the long-term interests of anyone in the region.

    Furthermore, the Palestinians never had any territorial claim or nationalist designs in any other Arab country.

    So Israel and its supporters need to recognize that their ‘Palestinian Problem’ is an internal one, best-addressed with those Palestinian individuals who are suffering from it and who therefore have a direct interest in seeing it resolved at some point. And that, towards that end, telling the Palestinians they don’t exist is not exactly a great ice-breaker.

    Just like the Palestinians need to recognize Arab Brotherhood for the empty rhetoric it has always been and that Israel is not going away anytime soon and that they need to focus on improving their own lives and surviving as a people within the context of that reality.

    The ‘Greater Arab Nation’ has nothing to offer either side because basically, it has no interest in resolving this conflict since while Israelis and Palestinians continue to suffer from it, Arab regimes benefit from it. And Arab people only want to see it get better if it doesn’t cost them anything.

  16. Lulu…

    I agree with most of what you said…a few things…eh…but well written…altogether well written…But the Palestinians…a distinct ethnic group? Hmmm…I mean they certainly exist as people that have a history in the land there but…anyway…a minor point

    I am still waiting for somebody to give me a good reason for “Arab nationalism” anyhow…I have always been dumbfounded by that one…Kind of like “white brotherhood”…like I give a shit about white Nazi’s or Hell’s Angels my Greek brothers or whatever…Hell…I am of very direct Russian/Ukranian descent…and they can all go fuck themselves for all I care…or let Nizo do it…he got the mojo fo sho for that job.

    So Iraqis love Egyptians and there was never a need for two Yemens…Kuwaitis are brothers with Palestinians and Iraqis…the Lebanese kiss each other and their Syrian brothers lovingly goodnight and…

    Arab nationalism? WTF! Is that not the biggest Nasserian con job in all history. “Wake up beepole…we are brothers”…united by…by…by…? By what? WHAT?

    What a complete and utter crock of horseshit.

  17. Thanks for your comments, LouLou. It’s like a breath of fresh air every time you show up around here :)

  18. LouLou:

    “It is no different from the Nazi belief that Europe can be ‘unified’ under one German ruler.”

    It differs in that arab nationalism was never soundly shot down and burried… Same with communism in Russia – officially it’s dead, but many russians minds still work in the same way it did in USSR’s haydays.

    “Palestinians do exist as a people who are ethnically and culturally distinct from other Arabs”

    Before the british/League of Nations split up the territory (of Ottoman Turkey), there were no clear distinctions between what is now Jordan, North Saudi, egyptian Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, southern Syria, and Israel… 60 years ago. Their separate history is rather brief in the span of human history, to say the least! Thereby not saying that you are mistaken about the incoherence of the so-called “arab people” on the whole, the ill intentions of their leaders, or the need to find a proper solution for the palestinians in the land that they hold now – I’m totally agreeing with you there!

  19. SM

    This is important:

    Egyptian cleric claims Jewish Queen Esther serves as their logo

    Take a look at the Starbuck’s logo…NOW you know.

  20. “It differs in that arab nationalism was never soundly shot down and burried@

    But isn’t that because Arab Nationalism never actually built anything solid that you could shoot at or bury? I mean, the Nazis succeeded in occupying what? Half of Europe? And the Communists managed to build the Soviet Union which started out helping to defeat the Nazis and ruled half of the world for several decades.

    But Arab nationalism? The sum total of it’s achievements was Nasser’s speeches and his reign in Egypt, the brief union he managed to instigate between Syria and Egypt, the civil war in Yemen and the persecution of ethnic minorities all over the Arab-speaking world. All of these came to a natural end except for the persecution of minorities. So what exactly is there to shoot at and bury?

    The ‘Greater Arab Nation’ just never happened. To find something close to that concept, you’d have to go back to pre-Islamic Arabia – which was a hardly a great nation. The ‘Arab people’ then were a bunch of warring desert tribes.

    When the Islamic conquests of the ME took place, Arab reign over it was very brief in the history of the region. The Prophet’s life, the 4 Sunni Caliphs and the Ummiyad dynasty all lasted a total of less than 60 years. What followed was 700 years of Abbasid rule – which was characterized by the dominance of non-Arab elements like the Kurds and the Turks and the Persians. And then 800 years of Ottoman rule. Throughout the history of Islam, ethnic Arabs were always demographically and culturally overwhelmed by the other peoples of the ME. The wider the Islamic Conquests spread, the more other peoples and ethnicities outnumbered the Arabs.

    They managed to survive as a powerful ruling minority for a while but ultimately, with the end of the Ummayid Dynasty, they lost their political and military dominance over the ME and were left only with this symbolic, religious privilege of being the Prophet’s descendants. The armies of the Abbasids and the Ottomans were predominantly non-Arab and that had profound political implications.

    Which makes this yearning for the Great Arab Nation even sillier because it is trying to recapture something that was never actually viable. It always makes me laugh to see Arab nationalists justify hatred and persecution of Kurds and Iranians in the name of Great Arab Nation which was far more Kurdish and Iranian than Arab!

    But then fascists have never been famous for making sense.

    I think Arab nationalism is as dead as it is possible for something that never actually lived to die. People just need to recognize that and move on.

  21. I mean, the Nazis succeeded in occupying what? Half of Europe?

    They had the whole thing except for the UK. Switzerland was useful to Germany as a “neutral” banking hub, and it wasn’t in Germany’s strategic interests to actually occupy Spain while the Spaniards were actively co-operating with them anyway. It served as a valuable “neutral” buffer between the Atlantic and the Med. In a lot of ways it would have been easier for the allies to fight the Germans if they had invaded Spain, but the German’s were extremely competent war planners.

    I think Arab nationalism is as dead as it is possible for something that never actually lived to die. People just need to recognize that and move on.

    It may be dead politically but it seems alive and well emotionally, if that makes sense. There seems to be some kind of strange mixture of Islamism and Arab nationalism going on these days. I don’t think either one would be as virulent without the other.

  22. Roman Kalik says:

    #15, LouLou:

    I have very little appetite for defending the PLO or Hamas. I actually agree with the letter and spirit of what Nizo wrote.

    Didn’t expect otherwise.

    That doesn’t change the fact that to argue that the Palestinian people don’t exist or that they were magically conjured out of thin air by Nasser or Arab nationalism is an exercise in futility.

    Agreed – it is merely the matter of the the shared identity’s origin that is relevant here, nothing else. And regardless of where it came from, it exists today. And it’s today’s reality that we must live in, and today’s reality that we must try to improve.

    The tragedy of the Palestinians has always been their belief in this myth of Arab brotherhood and the way their leadership has allowed itself to be manipulated to serve the agendas of Nasser or Syria or whoever.

    To a large extent, very true. If anything, the myth of Arab brotherhood created the first true shared leadership among Palestinians – which was then imposed upon them without offering any alternative whatsoever.

    The rest… just sad, sad history.

    To most Arab regimes, the sum total of their interest in the plight of the Palestinians is how much they can utilize it to distract their own people – and the rest of the world – from their own incompetence, corruption and tyranny.

    Indeed. One of their best survival tactics for decades was keeping the conflict alive and bloody – just as long as most of the blood being shed is someone else’s.

    And the tragedy of Israel is that it has allowed itself to be swept into this make-believe – mainly because of this fond fantasy some Zionists cling to that the ‘Arabs’ created the Palestinians just to spite the Jews and so maybe the ‘Arabs’ can make the Palestinians go away because after all, ‘the Arabs have lots of land’.

    Can’t say that this fantasy has many adherents in Israel, nor did it ever. But I would say that we did allow the pan-Arabic rhetoric to define our own view of Palestinian Arabs a few decades down the line from the Israeli state’s formation – it was simply the only rhetoric around. So local conflict resolution was always seen within the context of the greater conflict, from both sides of the fence.

    The problem with disbelieving this shared myth was that it didn’t let you – it kept trying to kill us, after all. Only after it began to die on its own did we get a chance to change our own way of looking at the matter.

    Well, the people of each Arab state believe their land belongs to them and have never felt under any obligation to give any of it away to the Palestinians or to anyone else. So don’t hold your breath waiting for Egyptians or Iraqis or Saudis or Morrocans to start evacuating their homes and handing the keys over to the Palestinians.

    Can’t say that I ever did wait for it, though what I *would* like to see is the day when said distinct Arab nations admit that somewhere, along the way, they actually hold some blame for the matters as they stand today. And for the fact that their Jewish minorities got cleansed.

    The only country which is an exception to this is possibly Jordan. And most Jordanians – including those of Palestinian origin btw – feel that Jordan has already done it’s part

    Jordan is one of the few relatively stable, relatively secular, relatively pragmatic states in the region. It is a force for stability and peace in the region and an influx of politically indoctrinated Hamas and PLO supporters from the West Bank and Gaza will only serve to radicalize Jordan and turn it into another Syria. Which is not in the long-term interests of anyone in the region.

    No, not Syria. Syria is “stable”, much in the same way graves are stable. Jordan would instead become something like a mix of Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan at their worst war-zone days all rolled into one.

    And I tend to agree entirely with your view of Jordan. It remains one of the few positive influences within the Middle-East, and at least these days its attempts at said positive influence aren’t met with assassination attempts, calls of treason, and hints of war should they continue to do as they do.

    Furthermore, the Palestinians never had any territorial claim or nationalist designs in any other Arab country.

    *nod* For Fatah, it was more along the lines of mobilizing and connecting refugee camp enclaves and turning entire countries into war camps. While disastrous for both Jordan and Lebanon, it wasn’t territorial claims.

    And neither does any other faction, or the Palestinian people in general, hold such nationalist territorial designs.

    So Israel and its supporters need to recognize that their ‘Palestinian Problem’ is an internal one, best-addressed with those Palestinian individuals who are suffering from it and who therefore have a direct interest in seeing it resolved at some point.

    Agreed again! I can’t say that the current crop of Palestinian leaders is leaning toward this path, though… time will tell, I guess.

    And that, towards that end, telling the Palestinians they don’t exist is not exactly a great ice-breaker.

    Just like the Palestinians need to recognize Arab Brotherhood for the empty rhetoric it has always been and that Israel is not going away anytime soon and that they need to focus on improving their own lives and surviving as a people within the context of that reality.

    Indeed. It’s the present that we must live in and deal with, and each side needs to recognize said realities to move forward. The problem, really, is that external interference remains a very active catalyst for continuous conflict.

    The ‘Greater Arab Nation’ has nothing to offer either side because basically, it has no interest in resolving this conflict since while Israelis and Palestinians continue to suffer from it, Arab regimes benefit from it.

    If the conflict did not exist, pan-Arabist nationalism would have invented it. To a large extent, by dictating which paths were available to both Israelis and Palestinians, it did.

    Now we’re left with collecting the pieces of our broken potential.

  23. PS to LouLou: You forgot an ‘s’ on the name of your blog! :)

    http://renderingsofme.blogspot.com/

  24. Marie Claude says:

    to refresh one’s memory

    http://www.hirhome.com/israel/pal_mov.htm

  25. ‘Before the british/League of Nations split up the territory (of Ottoman Turkey), there were no clear distinctions between what is now Jordan, North Saudi, egyptian Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, southern Syria, and Israel… 60 years ago. ‘

    That’s a very European pov which doesn’t apply very well in the context of the former Ottoman territories.

    There are very clear ethnic and cultural distinctions that run pretty deep and go centuries back between the peoples who populate Jordan, Saudi, Egyptian Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Southern Syria and Israel. The fact that the Ottomans occupied the area and preferred to rule it as one province doesn’t change the gene make-up of the peoples who lived there or transform them into one ethnic or cultural unit. If you believe that, you grossly over-estimate the influence of the Ottomans over their subject peoples.

    The Ottomans – like the British – were just another imperial ruler. Before the British there were the Ottomans and before them there were the Abbasid Arabs and Ummayad Arabs. And before the Arabs there were centuries of Greek and Roman rule.

    To find European-style nation-states in the ME and North Africa, you’d need to go back to the days before ancient Greece. Since the disintegration of the ME’s ancient nation-states, we’ve had blurred borders under one empire or the other. But that doesn’t mean ME peoples were ever one culture or one ethnicity.

    Palestinians may not have had their own Ottoman province but that never stopped them from seeing themselves as seperate from their neighbors and more to the point, it never stopped their neighbors from seeing them as seperate. In other words, even if the Palestinians didn’t want to have a seperate identity, one would have been forced on them by the seperate identities of everyone around them. You have to belong somewhere. If everyone around you is forming their own cliques, you get together and form your own. The option of dissolving into neighboring cultures was never offered to Palestinians at any point in history.

    Maybe the use of the term Palestinians to refer to the ethnic/cultural unit we’re talking about is modern. But then so is the use of the term ‘Iraqi’ and ‘Syrian’ and ‘Saudi’ and ‘Lebanese’ and ‘Tunisian’ and ‘Morrocan’ and ‘Algerian’ – and Israeli for that matter. When the British and the French imposed borders and nation-states on the region, nationalism became the only available form of self-determination for all the peoples in the region. The Palestinians are no different from any of their neighbors in that sense.

    So to say Palestinans don’t exist because the Ottomans didn’t recognize a province called Palestine is exactly like saying Syrians or Tunisians or Algerians or Iraqis don’t exist.

    I may believe that the influence of Arab nationalism on Palestinian nationalism at it’s birth was very unfortunate for the Palestinians but I would never try to deny that they ARE a distinct ethnic and cultural unit which deserves self-determination as much as any other people in the region.

  26. Hi LouLou,

    It’s my turn to say that I agree with the spirit of your text, but with a few reservations.

    Regarding your statement:
    “The option of dissolving into neighboring cultures was never offered to Palestinians at any point in history.”

    I would agree with you, but I would go further and add that had the option been offered, the Palestinians would have dissolved within a generation or two into the host country, especially if the latter is one of the 3 neighbouring Levantine states.

    A branch of my maternal family were fortunate enough to get (buy) Lebanese passports, and within two generations, they intermarried and completely melted into their “pot” and are indistinguishable from any other Christian Lebanese today (some even fought for the Guardians of the Cedars and the Phalangists against their *own uncles* in Fatah/Murabitoun)

    So, if you remove the (man-imposed) obstacles to citizenship, employment, etc.. you could speed up integration and intermarriage. That said, if integration can be so quick, how different are these groups to start with?

  27. LouLou said:
    “There are very clear ethnic and cultural distinctions that run pretty deep and go centuries back between the peoples who populate Jordan, Saudi, Egyptian Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Southern Syria and Israel.”

    LouLou,
    Saudi Arabia and Egypt aside, we’re left with the 4 main entities in the Levant, between which the differences are neither clear nor deep. What are the differences between a Syrian from Dar’a, a Lebanese from Tyre, a Jordanian from ‘Ajlun and an Arab-Israeli from the Triangle?

    Culturally speaking, the variations are regional and aesthetic, the linguistic markers are at the sub-dialect level (ie Bandora/Banadoora).

    What’s left? What’s so fundamentally different between the 4 people in the example?

    Of course, they may each belong to a different religion Leb(Shiite), Syrian(Druze), Jordanian(Sunni) and Arab-Israeli(Christian) but that’s neither ethnic nor cultural.

  28. “There are very clear ethnic and cultural distinctions that run pretty deep and go centuries back between the peoples who populate Jordan, Saudi, Egyptian Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Southern Syria and Israel.”

    Are there now…? What exactly differentiates a jordanian from a palestinian? Or a northern saudi, for that matter? A “saudi” from Tabuk will historically have had a lot more in common with someone from Amman or even Damascus than someone from, say, Abha or Dahran. What is the historical difference between a southern syrian and a palestinian? 60 years ago there were no borders, and it all came down to how far the power of different city-states strechted at a certain point in time. The people living in between had little interest in who had the power, other than how they themselves were treated.

  29. By the way…

    “is exactly like saying … Iraqis don’t exist.”

    Funny you should bring this up! What is an iraqi really? Is he a kurd? A persian shiite? An arab sunni? The population of Iraq is quite diverse, and oftentimes not very accepting of each other. The state of Iraq is, like Palestine, Jordan, etc. a product of european colonialism and internal powerstruggle. There is one thing that an iraqi is NOT, and that’s part of a homogenous, cultural and ethnic group. Viewed as such a group, iraqis really don’t exist…

  30. Roman Kalik says:

    LouLou,

    I tend to agree with Nizo on the matter of cultural distinction in the Levant and nearby areas. There simply isn’t that much cultural variation in the region – the exceptions tend to be based on religious/ethnic minority lines and little else.

    Everything else is a far more recent development, with the political realities dictating the new cultural boundaries – which aren’t cultural at all as much as artificial, and sometimes their imposition is little more than an attempt to retain the current status-quo.

  31. ‘Funny you should bring this up! What is an iraqi really? Is he a kurd? A persian shiite? An arab sunni? ‘

    Iraqis shia are not all Persian. And some Iraqi Sunnis are actually of Persian origin.

    I agree that Iraqi is an artificial identity – although scratch the surface and all Iraqis will ultimately start talking about Babylonia and Hammurabi as if he was their favorite uncle so in that sense they do have a common identity.

    But again, they won’t like it very much if you tell them they don’t exist. They do exist and have existed on their land for a very, very long time. And yeah, they’ve alternated between co-existing and killing each other for centuries. None of their modern conflicts are new by the way. Under the Islamic Caliphate or Sultanate or whatever, there were no national symbols or national borders for people to build their cultural identities around. So instead they formed ethnic or religious or tribal cliques and each clique pretty much did things their own way. So long as they paid their taxes and fought in the army when the Sultan or Caliph declared war on outsiders, they were left pretty much to their own devices. Over the centuries, they became increasingly more independent, isolationist, inward-looking and distrustful of external interference and outsiders, even if the outsider is the guy next door so long as he belongs to different clique.

    Enter the British and French and that Whitehall bureaucrat with a pencil and a map. So he draws a circle on his map and calls it Iraq. And all of a sudden all these non-homogenous cliques find themselves in a modern nation where they’re all supposed to answer to one government and one set of laws. Of course all hell will broke loose. Isn’t the core of Iraq’s problem the fact that a Sunni won’t answer to a Shia leader and a Shia wants Shia in power and a Kurd doesn’t want anyone who isn’t Kurdish telling him what to do?

    And isn’t that also Lebanon’s problem? And wouldn’t it be Syria’s problem if the Syrian regime wasn’t so brutish? And Saudi’s? And Algeria’s? And Sudan’s?

    So does that problem come from a lack of ethnic identities or too many old ethnic/cultural/religious/family/tribal identities taking precedence over new national identities and national interests?

  32. LouLou, let me put it in another way – if you asked their great grandparents if they were iraqis, would they have said sure or would they have looked at you in confussion? How about palestinians? There is a difference between nationality and ethnic groups; iraqis have the same (modern) nationality but belong to various ethnic groups and the same goes for palestinians/israeli…

    You may not think so, but you’re actually arguing my case in your post – you’re basically pointing out that a modern, western-made entity called Iraq is actually composed of several factions who’ve been living in the general area, and fighting with each other for centuries, even millenia. The exact same thing can be said of Palestine and many other countries in the region, as you yourself point out.

    What it all boils down to is that any argument that portray palestinians as a cohesive and historical ethnic group is missing the mark. Claiming that what is today Israel/Palestine (can be said of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, northern Saudi, and Sinai as well…) has been inhabited by one cohessive ethnic group of arabian palestinians for centuries which was suddenly invaded by foreign jews, is not being factual. The entire region has been an unorganized mesh of ethnic and religious groups with centuries of rivalry and coexistence, ruled over by various powercenters throughout history. The latest power – the europeans – just happened to mark up a set of lines on the ground and give a fixed name to each lot. Now, suddenly, because one ethnic group happens to gain the upper hand (jews are the first to proclaim a national state in the region), history is distorted by giving these arbitrary borders status of eternal truth, where the core of the problem actually originates in the age-old rivalry between local ethnic groups – take your own example: will a shia answer to a sunni leader? Not likely. Will a muslim answer to a jewish leader? No way.

    The way out of this mess is to find a way to accept one another, or, failing this, to split the land between the opposing groups; NOT by distorting facts in an attempt to annihilate the opponent.

  33. Marie Claude says:

    a map on how was ME before, today and …

    in june 2006 the Armed Forces Journal edited Ralph Peters article on how should become the ME borders

    http://fig-st-die.education.fr/actes/actes_2008/de_tapia/article.html#sdfootnote8sym

  34. Sorry, my french ain’t good enough to make sense of your link.

    I couldn’t help wondering about the expanded yemenese border in the first set of maps, though… I’ve lived in southern Saudi (Nahjran, to be precise), and there was no particular affinity towards the yemenese among the locals in that area – on the contrary, they seemed quite happy to be exempt from the tribal warfare rampant on the other side of the border…

  35. Marie Claude says:

    sorry, but this the only site I found that shows the whole story

  36. Nizo, Lebanese and Syrians are very different from Palestinians and Jordanians. First off, Jordanians are Arabs, which none of the other groups named above are. And Palestinians and Jordanians look very distinct from Lebanese/Syrians. They are generally darker.

  37. “In the meantime, what I do demand is a reformation of the PA, the removal of all the bahayem who line their pockets with the aid money.”
    That’s a little harsh on the bahayem, isn’t it? What have they got to do with anything?

    p.s
    abu batata – lol.

  38. “What it all boils down to is that any argument that portray palestinians as a cohesive and historical ethnic group is missing the mark. ”

    I think you’re still superimposing a European outlook where being a cohesive and historical ethnic group is tied to a European-style nation-state.

    The people who are called Palestinians today ARE a cohesive and historical ethnic group in the only sense it was possible to be in this part of the world for millenia. The fact that they didn’t have a nation-state or a national anthem or a flag doesn’t change the simple fact that they have existed on this land within their communities, families, villages etc…for centuries over which they have developed ties of common cultural and historical experience that are as strong as any other people’s ties to their nation. If anything, the lack of national symbols only made the ties to geographical land, community and tribe stronger.

    To go back to the Iraqi example, Iraqis may not ultimately care if you call them Iraqis or Martians. But whether they are Sunni or Shia or Kurdish, all of them would turn against you in an instant if you tried to suggest they didn’t belong where they lived. They may not care if they live there under the rule of a nation-state called Iraq or several nation-states called X, Y & Z but they do care about living in their homeland, in their communities.

    Similarly, I’ve met many Saudis who actually dislike being called Saudis because they oppose the Saudi regime. And yet they would die rather than be uprooted from their homeland.

    Never underestimate this tie. It has survived for millenia – and successive colonial rulers have tried and failed to eradicate it.

    The people in the ME and North Africa don’t think of themselves as non-existent because they were occupied by the world and his brother – or because they are ethnically and culturally and religiously diverse. On the contrary, we take pride in having survived and retained our distinctions against all external attempts at imposing uniformity.

    And the argument that Palestinians don’t exist on those grounds is threatening – not just to Palestinians – but to virtually all of the peoples known as Arabs today because it applies to all of us.

    I really don’t see the advantage to Israel and its supporters of pushing this line. All it does is feed the conspiracy theories about Zionists having designs on the entire ME and North Africa. When the average ‘Arab’ hears this line of argument, he looks at himself and thinks well my grandparents weren’t called Iraqis or Morrocans or Saudis or Tunisians either so maybe these Zionists really are coming to get my land and my home too. Maybe if I don’t join AlQaeda I’ll end up in a refugee camp one day too.

    I mean, isn’t it a bit pointless to rail against Arabs not recognizing Israel but begin the discussion by not recognizing the people you’re asking to recognize you?

  39. Adam B. says:

    LouLou, I have to say that you haven’t quite grasped my point…

    I do not deny that people feel a connection to the area from which they hail, even if their particular ethnicity happen to be a minority and even if they don’t consider themselves a part of the greater community in the area. My argument has been that many existing countries, and even some “ethnic groups” are somewhat artificial in nature, and defending their “historic right” to a certain area over others’ is basically faulty.

    Examples:

    Iraq – it would easier to argue that the present day Iraq should be split up into several smaller regions; these could be kurdish north, shia east, and sunni west. Practically, this might not be possible, but historically there’s nothing wrong with arguing that the kurdish north would be better off as a separate state. This, however, does not mean that any resident shias or sunnis would HAVE to leave…

    Palestinians – It would be historically acceptable to argue that present day palestinians could be assimilated into the existing countries of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel, since no countries, and therefore no distinct nationalities have existed in this area prior to the rule of the Ottoman empire. Keeping this in mind, the jews were the first indiginous group to proclaim a sovereign nation, and provided Israel provides equal right to all it’s indiginous ethnicities (assuming these accept being citizens of the country, of course), there is really no argument against it’s existance. And likewise to the state of Palestine, of course…!

  40. fireweednectar says:

    “Ungulate”? Nice!