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The Conflict We All Love To Hate

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posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 05:10 AM
Without much surprise, I find ATS Middle East Issues forum - much like any other web based political debate forum - dominated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the petty bickering between factions. This now 60 years + old conflict we all love to hate, that passions and concern intellectuals and people in general all over the world.

I ask myself what makes this conflict so special. In my city, there are three bookstores dedicated to the 'Palestinian Cause'. There are several political organizations, movements and foundations, some anti-sionist, some simply humanitarian, dealing only in the 'Palestinian Cause'. No other conflict seems to mobilize and motivate people to this extent, worldwide. While you're already reading some kind of bias into my discourse (aha, he seems sneaky pro-Israeli), Don't get me wrong here. I'm not asking who's right or wrong in the conflict, who's to blame for whatever atrocity committed, or who should cede to the other, etc. I'm asking why this conflict stand out and above the others, and why it refuses to pan out into a settlement, which all conflicts eventually do.

After all, Germans, French, English and Spaniards now live in peace in union, after centuries of bloody wars and territorial conflicts between them.
Cambodians seem prone to forget the massacres and terrors they've suffered only a few decades ago, Tutsis now live in uneasy peace with Hutus in Rwanda, after a brutal genocide that killed nearly one million people.

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received the question (Lally Weymouth's Washington Post interview in September 2006) if he really thought Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth (after several statements that could be interpreted that way), he replied - as usual - by avoiding the question, and instead focused on the 'Palestinian Cause'.

"We need to look at the scene in the Middle East — 60 years of war, 60 years of displacement, 60 years of conflict, not even a day of peace. Look at the war in Lebanon, the war in Gaza — what are the reasons for these conditions? We need to address and resolve the root problem."

-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It is the same discourse we have already heard from Yasser Arafat, and before him Gamal Abdel Nasser, a discourse which has gone from the mouths of Nazi sympathizers (Mohammad Amin al-Husayni) to nationalist leftist ideologists (Nasser) to religious sectarian extremists (Hassan Nasrallah) without changing its ideological content.

The root problem to the rest of the world seems to be the distress and the displacement of the Palestinian people, with the refugee problem as a base for vindications against Israel.

I will stick to the intention of the thread and simply ask the question; what makes the Palestinian people's situation so special, that every escalation or development of the conflict hits the 8 O'clock news?

By asking that, I would like to compare that conflict to similar conflicts in recent history, or 'population transfers', as historians like to call it.

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 05:11 AM
As a cause of the war the Arab League launched upon the newly founded Israeli State in 1948, successive waves of Palestinian refugees left Palestine, while some were driven off by Israeli units. There are different calls on how many that left. There were approximately 1.2 million Palestinians in Palestine when the hostilities started (according to the British Mandate authorities in 1945). In 1949, an Israeli census calculated that approximately 650 000 Palestinians had left, and the UN arrived at an even lower figure, about 472 000 (according to the General Assembly Official Records, 1948). Palestinian authorities fix the figure at 850, 000, while the UNRWA cites 726, 000 people. In this text, I will use an approximate average figure of 500 000 as reference.

The return or relocation of these refugees could perhaps have been negotiated, had the Arab League desired to so, on Israeli request. But the Arab League was dead set on annihilating the Israeli state, and sure of it's capacity to do so (five countries against one, with the consent of most Muslim countries in the world), so no negotiation was necessary. The Palestinian refugees were kept in limbo ever since by an Israel happy to keep them on the other side of the fence, and an Arab world happy to keep the problem unresolved. More than 60 years later, not much has changed.

Now, let's move on to one of the biggest Population Transfers in European history, as a result of World War II:

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

"The flight and expulsion of Germans after World War II" refers to the escape and mass deportation of people considered Germans (both Reichsdeutsche and Volksdeutsche) from Soviet-occupied areas of Europe during 1945 and in the first three years after World War II 1946-48.

The first stage of the event, which cost many lives, was the chaotic evacuation of the civilians organised by Germans in many parts of the country. The following deportations of those who remained, which in most areas coincided with Soviet occupation, were purportedly intended to create ethnically homogeneous nation states. The mass expulsion of ethnic minorities was legitimized by the 1945 Potsdam Conference, which called for resettlement to be conducted in an "orderly and humane manner." In the postwar atmosphere characterized by chaos, famine, disease, cold winter, crime, violent militias, and senseless killings, the number of German civilian casualties was climbing during the whole process of evacuation and expulsion. Estimates vary by source, but it is generally accepted that between one and three million German civilians lost their lives. According to Allied sources revealed after 1990, the deportation and migration of ethnic Germans affected up to 16.5 million people and was the largest of several similar post-World War II migrations orchestrated by the victorious Western Allies and the Soviet Union. The period was also marked by the contemporaneous forced resettlement and expulsion of millions[citation needed] of Poles, Romanians/Moldovans, Kashubians, Ukrainians, Hungarians and Jews throughout Eastern Europe and Russia.

The majority of expulsions occurred in areas belonging to Czech Republic, Poland and Russia after the war. Others occurred on the soil of today's Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia (predominately in the Vojvodina region), Lithuania, Slovenia and other regions of Central and Eastern Europe. Those who either migrated or were expelled included both true German citizens, some of whom had gained their German citizenship during Nazi occupation, the people simply considered ethnic Germans and those wishing to escape from communist regimes. Some were persecuted because of their activities during the war; others were persecuted solely because of their German ethnicity.

Already before the German annexation of the Sudetenland, roughly 20% of the population in Czechoslovakia had been ethnic Germans. [2] After the war, the Germans living in the border regions of Czechoslovakia were expelled from the country in late 1945. Several thousands died violent deaths during the expulsion and many more died from hunger and untreated illnesses contracted during or after the mass exodus. In 1946, an estimated 1.3 million ethnic Germans were deported to the American zone of what would become West Germany. An estimated 800,000 were deported to the Soviet zone (in what would become East Germany). [2]

It's important to note that these massive deportations were provoked by similar actions preceding them. But we must also accept that all Germans or Germanophones were not Nazi sympathizers and did not commit war crimes, just as every Arab is not a terrorist. Apparently - in the eyes of the world - you can wipe out a cultural identity such as Prussia and mass-deport up to 16 million Germans and Germanophones, who - I can assure you - did not leave by free will, and were no more content with being chased from their ancestral grounds than the Palestinians. That is apparently considered as a justified aftermath of the Second World War.

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 05:12 AM
Now, let's focus on another hotbed in the aftermath of WWII, in northern India.

In the process of independence that the Indian continent went through in the mid 1940's, concerns grew within the Muslim population that a federal Indian state would be dominated by Hindus (more than 80% of the Indian population). Muslim extremist leaders therefore worked for an independent Islamic state in the north, were Muslims were represented in higher numbers demographically. There were no ethnic, cultural or other justifiable reason for a separation other than religion (the mosaic of different ethnic groups in India is just as complex as in the Balkans, and is in no way respected by the borders between the two nations), but Muslim refusal to be part of a multi-religious nation sealed the destiny of the Punjab, Sind, Balochistan, North-West Frontier Province and parts of Kashmir.

As in Palestine, a partition plan was created to move religious communities living side by side since centuries, and massive expulsions, deportations and population transfers occurred between the two newly-formed nations in the months immediately following Partition. Once the lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders to what they hoped was the relative safety of religious majority. Based on 1951 Census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after partition. About 11.2 million or 78% of the population transfer took place in the west, with Punjab accounting for most of it; 5.3 million Muslims moved from India to West Punjab in Pakistan, 3.4 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan to East Punjab in India; elsewhere in the west 1.2 million moved in each direction to and from Sind. The initial population transfer on the east involved 3.5 million Hindus moving from East Bengal to India and only 0.7 million Muslims moving the other way.

Massive violence and killings occurred on both sides of the border as the newly formed governments were completely unequipped to deal with migrations of such staggering magnitude. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from two hundred thousand to a million.

Apparently - in the eyes of the world - mass-deportation and massacres of more than 14 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in order to create the nation of Pakistan is regrettable, but acceptable and in any case nowhere near as important as the fate of approximately 500 000 Palestinians. For some reason, there are no bookstores or organizations in my city speaking up in defense of these people, or proclaiming the annihilation of Pakistan - a state that came into being solely on a religious base (similarly to Israel) that caused massive population transfers by far exceeding those in Palestine, which makes territorial claims solely on the base of religion (Kashmir), which has seriously de-stabilized one of the world's most densely populated regions, and brought the entire world to the brink of nuclear war in its many conflicts with the Republic of India.

Pakistan has so far not recognized the Israeli state. In 2005, former President Musharraf said Pakistan will not recognise the state of Israel until an independent Palestinian state is established.

[edit on 27-3-2010 by Heliocentric]

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 05:17 AM
Now, let's take a look at three recent 'population transfer' events involving Turkey.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The event known as the Armenian Genocide is considered by some to have been a population transfer.
The Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was transferred in the years from 1915-1919. It was organised by the Young Turk Ottoman government and officially called tehcir - meaning "forced relocation".
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն, translit.: Hayoc’ C’eġaspanowt’yown; Turkish: Ermeni Soykırımı)  – also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Calamity (Մեծ Եղեռն, Meç Eġeṙn, Armenian pronunciation: [mɛts jɛˈʁɛrn])  – was the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I.[1] It was characterized by the use of massacres, and the use of deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of Armenian deaths generally held to have been between one and one a half million.[2][3][4][5] Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.[6][7][8]
It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides,[9][10][11] as scholars point to the systematic, organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians,[12] and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.[13] Indeed, the word genocide[14] was coined in order to describe these events.[15]
The starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace.
The Republic of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate description of the events (see, Denial of the Armenian Genocide).[16] In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, twenty countries have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view.[17][18][19][20] The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.

I must admit that there are a few (mainly Armenian) organizations and associations speaking up on behalf of the Armenians, but so mainly for a recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a Genocide. The fact that the Armenians have been forced from their ancestral grounds is a conflict still unresolved. Turkey still do not recognize the systematic killings of Armenians, even less the land stolen from them.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Greece and Turkey: population exchanges, 1923
Main article: Population exchange between Greece and Turkey

The League of Nations moving the defined those to be mutually expelled as the "Muslim inhabitants of Greece" to Turkey and moving "the Greek inhabitants of Turkey" to Greece. The plan met with fierce opposition in both countries and was condemned vigorously by a large number of countries. Undeterred, Nansen worked with both Greece and Turkey to gain their acceptance of the proposed population exchange. About 1.5 million Greeks and half a million Muslims were moved from one side of the international border to the other.

Population transfer prevented further attacks on minorities in the respective states while Nansen was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace. As a result of the transfers, the Muslim minority in Greece and the Greek minority in Turkey were much reduced. Cyprus was not included in the Greco-Turkish population transfer of 1923 because it was under direct British control.

It sounds like a neat operation, orchestrated by the League of Nations in co-operation with Greece and Turkey, but I can assure you it was not. People were - as usual - forced from their ancestral land and homes, and the few elders in both Greece and Turkey still alive who remembers these events talk of it as the great calamity of their lives.

... Turkey intervened militarilly in Cyprus by sea and air on 20 July 1974. At the time Turkey claimed it was invading to uphold its obligation under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. Talks in Geneva involving Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the two Cypriot factions failed in mid-August, and Turkish forces subsequently moved from the previous cease-fire lines to gain control of 37% of the island's territory. During the invasion, approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots [3] were displaced from their home land, while Turkish forces killed several thousand Greek Cypriots captured in the occupied areas[citation needed]. While this was happening, the entire inhabitants of several Turkish Cypriot villages were massacred in reprisal for the landings at the hands of Greek Cypriot paramilitaries.[4] As of today, there are still thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots unaccounted for. The events of the summer of 1974 have dominated Cypriot politics ever since and have been a major point of contention between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as Greece and Turkey.

I believe some of you might realize now that the real Bad Boy of the Near/Middle East isn't necessarily Israel, and still I have not even touched upon Turkish atrocities and persecutions against Kurdish populations.

That the fate of approximately 200 000 Greek Cypriotes expelled from their ancestral homes does not match that of approximately 500 000 Palestinians is evident, since the expulsion of 16 million Germans or 14 million Indians cannot match it. Once again, stories of deportation, people loosing their land, homes and memories, forgotten by all except those who suffered from it, and a hand full of historians.
All in all, the Cypriotic conflict resembles the Palestinian conflict in many ways, except a major one; media coverage.

[edit on 27-3-2010 by Heliocentric]

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 05:20 AM
Now I'll touch upon a sensitive subject, that of expulsions of Jewish populations in Arab countries, as a direct result of the foundation of the Israeli state.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The Jewish exodus from Arab lands
800,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were either forced out or fled their homes in Arab countries from 1948 until the early 1970s; 260,000 reached Israel in 1948-1951, 600,000 by 1972.[1][2][3] The Jews of Egypt and Libya were expelled while those of Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and North Africa left as a result of a coordinated effort among Arab governments to create physical and political insecurity.[4] Most were forced to abandon their property.[2] By 2002 these Jews and their descendants constituted about 40% of Israel's population.[3] One of the main representative bodies of this group, the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, (WOJAC) estimates that Jewish property abandoned in Arab countries would be valued today at more than $300 billion[5][6] and Jewish-owned real-estate left behind in Arab lands at 100,000 square kilometers (four times the size of the State of Israel).[1][6] The organization asserts that the Jewish exodus was the result of a deliberate policy decision taken by the Arab League.[7]

In other words, more Jews were forced to leave their ancestral lands (800 000 to 1000 000) than Palestinians (472 000 to 850 000). Still we do not see Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rally to the defense of these refugees, and no para-military terror organizations such as PLO, Hamas or Hezbollah blow up buildings, planes and buses to alert the world of their sufferings.

As an example, let's take a closer look at the (former) Jewish community in Egypt, present since more than 2500 years, before there were even Muslims in Egypt.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Egyptian Jews constitute both one of the oldest and youngest Jewish communities in the world. While no exact census exists, the Jewish population of Egypt was estimated at fewer than a hundred in 2004,[1] down from between 75,000 and 80,000 in 1922.[2] The historic core of the indigenous community consisted mainly of Arabic-speaking Rabbanites and Karaites. After their expulsion from Spain, more Sephardi and Karaite Jews began to emigrate to Egypt, and their numbers increased with the growth of trading prospects after the opening of the Suez Canal, to constitute the commercial and cultural elite of the modern community. The Ashkenazi community, mainly confined to Cairo's Darb al-Barabira quarter, began to arrive in the aftermath of the waves of pogroms that hit Europe in the latter part of the 19th century. Yet 90 % of Egyptian Jews, regardless of how many generations they resided in Egypt, were seen as foreigners (khawagat) and denied Egyptian citizenship. Conditions worsened for Egyptian Jewry by the 1930s, and the decline accelerated after the 1947 Company Law that barred employment to non-citzens. Gamal Abdel Nasser's coup in 1952[citation needed] heralded a new era when anti-Jewish measures became more intense, and the dispersion of Egyptian Jewry accelated.

It has been said by pro-Palestinian factions that these Jewish populations left these countries by free will. It is my belief that people rarely leave the land where they were born, the houses they grew up in and the land where their ancestors have lived for countless of generations by free will. They left to escape persecution and death.

[edit on 27-3-2010 by Heliocentric]

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 05:21 AM
There are a number of similar contemporary conflicts that I will not reference to, such as for instance the systematic extermination of the Karen people by the Myanmar regime, persecution of indigenous population by the Indonesian state in Irian Jaya and East Timor, or persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang (China), and the illegal occupation of Tibet by the Chinese regime is perhaps the one conflict that has managed to mobilize the international community somewhat to the extent of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As you've understood by now, media coverage is sometimes the only reason why one conflict is commonly known while another one isn't, or why opinions and sympathies swing one way or another.

I ask myself why the media coverage of the recent war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza by far exceeded that of the Sri Lankesian war of destruction against the Tamil rebels (yet another conflict that resembles the Israeli-Palestinian one. From 1983 to 2001, this ethnic war killed at least 60,000, with another 20,000 missing. Huge numbers of people were driven from their homes. Even though more than 400,000 refugees and internally-displaced persons returned home after the ceasefire, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, a roughly equal number are still hoping to come back. But the resumption of conflict again displaced some 300,000 people) - the Gaza war causing approximately 1500 deaths, and the Sri Lankesian offensive over 7000 deaths according to the U.N:

And yet again, it is not the numbers of dead that entices our interest, but rather the romanesque qualities of the conflicts.

Should I perhaps also ask why the sinking of Titanic or the 9/11 attacks stands out as the major catastrophes of our time, while in fact they're dwarfed by more anonymous ones?

Once more, to conclude, this is not about justifying the actions of one side or the other, it is a question of why a particular conflict is constantly brought to light while others are forgotten.

For those of you who wants to trumpet your opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, keep it in those threads that already exists on the subject. I urge moderators to be attentive to this request and keep the thread on-topic to the extent possible.


posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 06:27 AM
could you please refrain from copy pasting from google and make something original i don't want to sift through 1/2 an hours worth of material that could be summed up as follows. War bad peace good religion evil /thread.

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 06:33 AM

Originally posted by rationaluser
could you please refrain from copy pasting from google and make something original i don't want to sift through 1/2 an hours worth of material that could be summed up as follows. War bad peace good religion evil /thread.

If it took you 1/2 an hour to read that you need to work on your reading skills my friend,

The references to Wikipedia could have been linked, I agree, but they're excerpts of longer articles leading you straight to the related facts.

With links, it would have taken you even longer to read than a half an hour...

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 07:21 AM
I am impressed by your eloquence...

You are someone i would enjoy having a conversation with.
A well balanced intelligent human who sees the bigger picture.
In actual fact you hit the nail on the head with this post, the question is will it make a difference.

A star and flag for you...

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 01:37 PM
Hey jean59, and thanks.

We kind of are having a conversation, wouldn't you say?

I was just trying a different take on it, from a different angle, if you know what I mean.

I suspected that by now, this thread would be thoroughly dragged through the mud, but it's so silent in here you can hear a pin drop.

In the general 'look what the evil Jews/Muslims did' threads it's business as usual though...

[edit on 27-3-2010 by Heliocentric]

posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 02:15 PM
reply to post by Heliocentric

People tend to avoid the truth, it is to tame for them.
Also it is hard to face up to the fact that they have been had, not so much sheep as sleepwalkers.

But then children will be children, destructive and deaf to any thing that
spoils their fun.

You display maturity and wisdom with your words, and it is my pleasure
to meet you...I just adore a sharp mind..better than chocolate !!!

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 01:55 AM
I'm not so sure I've presented the truth jean59, just another piece of a puzzle, without really knowing where it fits.

I found a thread on the ATS front page today that illustrates one of my arguments in this thread:

"Israeli fighter planes scrambled after foreign warplanes approach Israel"

This thread is about a short news dispatch (spreading rapidly over the internet) claiming that war planes from an unknown country was approaching Israeli air space.

Nothing else. There has been no violation of air space reported (although violation of air space in this region is not an uncommon thing), no aggression, no threat, apparently just a false alarm (lots of those in this region too!) due to a military exercise or likewise, all scrambled jets are back at base. A military analyst could tell you about how common these things are. In the Middle East and elsewhere.

Still, this subject mobilize enough people to push it to the front page of the site, where posters change POW:s on what could have been, if only... but wasn't.

To me, this illustrates perfectly the hyper-sensitivity we have developed to this conflict above conflicts. Even non-events get covered. Apparently, there's a market for it.

So why would anyone like to discuss the "root problem" of this conflict, or rather, the reasons why it's being kept alive, when we can talk about nothing? After all, talking about nothing is so much easier. It takes no research, understanding, analytic skills, etc.

Well, it was not my intention to belittle that thread or this incident's impact on world events, but I invite anyone to discuss why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is orchestrated the way it is, and how mass media approaches it.

To me, that's where the real conspiracy lies...

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