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A matter of choice: Why optimism is integral to anti-occupation activism

Often times pessimism is caused by choosing to remain a spectator, and pretending to remain powerless instead of taking responsibility and deciding to act according to what one believes. But what does this mean, and how do you do it?

By Tom Pessah

Anti-occupation activists dress up as characters from the film Avatar during a demonstration against the separation wall in Bil’in. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

In a recent +972 post, Noam Sheizaf wrote that “there is something extremely grotesque – for lack of a better word – in hearing Israelis (or Zionists) explaining that the effort to end the occupation is simply not working, or beginning to seem pointless. Israelis are in power. They can end the occupation with a simple decision. Palestinians can’t.” Another way of putting this is that expressions of pessimism by the privileged side amount to a justification of those privileges – an irresponsible and immoral position. A man who tells a woman he is pessimistic about her chances of being paid equally, while doing nothing to further this cause, would rightly be perceived as a sexist: he is accepting her inequality.

It’s worth thinking about the alternative: regarding optimism as a moral duty for the powerful side. I came to realize this gradually, especially after the dark days of the Second Intifada, with its daily news of slaughter on both sides. I had dealt with this by isolating myself, making my world small, sticking to everyday routines. Watching TV shows may have felt safer, but it did not make me any happier. In retrospect, I realize that my pessimism was caused by choosing to remain a spectator, to pretend I really was powerless, instead of taking responsibility and deciding to act. But what does this mean, and how do you do it?

As a middle-class, well-educated, light-skinned, straight, Jewish-Israeli man, I am privileged: there are no government plans to demolish my home; mine is not a dangerous working environment where I am likely to get injured at any moment; I will not be deported to a foreign country because of my “foreign” skin color, or beaten for my sexuality; I can walk around freely late at night in most parts of my city; I know both Hebrew and English well and can use them to inform people and shape their opinions. All these are resources, and I can commit myself to constantly use these resources to challenge the policies and practices that prevent others from receiving the same privileges that I have. I can choose to stick to that commitment even when I am tempted to feel pessimistic or victimized – because I am truly not the victim here. This means I can commit myself to being optimistic, as I continuously work for change.

Optimism can be superficial, escapist. It can be fake. But committed, serious optimism is a skill you can teach yourself. Here are some tips:

Rely less on the mainstream media, more on credible alternative news sources. The media focuses very heavily on decision makers and their pronouncements, which can be very disempowering. It makes us forget that policymakers are often bound by special interests, while grassroots activists often have the ability to circumvent these interests, if they are creative enough. For example, President Obama declared in 2009 “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements… it is time for these settlements to stop,” but settlement construction continues with the tacit agreement of the U.S. At the same time, grassroots activists from around the world are succeeding in building economic pressure on companies profiting from the occupation. A campaign against G4S, which supplies equipment for settlements and checkpoints, made the University of Oslo terminate its contract with the company last week. G4S promised to pull out of settlements by 2015 , but activists are demanding that it do so immediately. Sodastream, a company based in a settlement, has warned its investors that “A number of political groups have called for consumer boycotts of Israeli products originating in the West Bank, including our products… For these reasons, we may in the future be required to transfer a significant portion of our manufacturing activities to a location outside of the West Bank.” This is much more than anything Obama achieved.

The news was hardly reported in the mainstream media. I heard of it through immersing myself in an alternative community. Through solidarity work, I now have numerous friends who are Palestinian activists, and they educate me about their struggles, including achievements such as this one. This is not the usual case for Israeli Jews: we live in an unusually segregated society where we have a special Hebrew term for “mixed cities”, instead of seeing ethnically pure cities as the exception. While more than half the inhabitants of the area under Israel’s control are Palestinians, it is common for Jews to limit their daily contact with them to frightening TV images of terrorists, or to superficial service relations with low-paid workers. But one can choose to learn Arabic, to live in a “mixed” neighborhood, to make Palestinian acquaintances and to get involved in their struggles.  And the same goes for any other disadvantaged community – you can choose to use your resources to support them. Remember that you always have more potential allies than your prejudices lead you to believe. Being part of such an alternative community can counteract the pessimism of being channeled into predictable, segregated lives.

Keeping your activism sustainable. On the one hand, you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, one step at a time: challenging yourself to do something out of the ordinary, something you never dared to do until now, reaching out to someone you never dared talk to, saying something in public even if you know you’ll get attacked, just for the incomparable pleasure of being true to your conscience. Outrage can be especially useful in this regard – think of this the next time you get really furious at the news: what new commitment can you make, in order to use this anger productively – instead of just going back to business as usual?

On the other hand, don’t burn yourself out. Instead of turning yourself into a bitter, unpleasant martyr, integrate your efforts into your life without letting them take over. +972’s Haggai Matar is famous for his Facebook posts, typically combining a report on the latest campaign he’s involved in with mouth-watering examples of his vegan cooking. Activists do get to breathe and rest and enjoy themselves.

Finally, remember not to exaggerate the strength of the powers that be. Any oppressive social system invests a lot of resources into intimidating challengers, by pretending to be more uniform, and less vulnerable than it really is. Mubarak was toppled through massive workers’ strikes and unexpected uses of Facebook. Logically, there must always be loopholes, contradictions, vulnerabilities, especially in a non-totalitarian society like ours. Not falling into pessimism means consciously looking for these cracks in the system, and actively seeking to learn from the experiences of others. Instead of being bullied into passivity and silence, you can maintain your creativity. Because optimism really is a matter of choice.

Tom Pessah is an Israeli graduate sociology student at the University of California, Berkeley.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. rsgengland

      “The Israelis can end the occupation, the Palestinians can’t”.
      After listening to Hamas re-iterate their ongoing statements/threats,
      could you at least tell us where the occupation begins and ends.
      Is it the pre 1947 borders,
      the 1949 Armistice line/pre-1967 border or something else altogether.
      Barak offered Arafat virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza, and got the second intifada.
      Olmert and Livni offered Abbas even more and instead of negotiation , got silence.
      The refugee issue is the crux of the problem.
      without sorting out the Palstinian and Jewish refugee issue there will never be a solution or peace.
      Although you pretend there are no Jewish refugees, at least 850000 Jews were expelled from the Arab/Muslim lands by the wave of ANTISEMITISM that swept the Middle East/North Africa before and after 1948.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yochanan

        As it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned, the Palestine Papers show that even when Abbas and Erekat totally capitulated, letting Israel annex most of East Jerusalem and the E-1 construction area around Ma’ale Adumim, cutting the West Bank in half, and ruling out any refugees returning, Livni and Olmert still were not interested. They would not, and will not, let the Palestinians have even the smallest scraps of a state.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Your information is garbage. Nowhere in the Palestine Papers did the Palestinians appear willing to give up E1 or Maale Adumim. That was one of the biggest stumbling blocks. The Palestinians were also unwilling to compromise on refugees, an Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley and the holy sites in Jerusalem. I dare anyone to point me to anywhere in the documents where you find a Palestinian agreement on any of these issues.

          However, they were most certainly offered a state. You and others just didn’t like the terms, but don’t go around blatantly lying that the Israelis made no offers that would leave the Palestinians with a state.

          Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      The Israelis can’t end the war, the Palestinians can.

      Reply to Comment
    3. rose

      “Barak offered Arafat virtually all of the West Bank”…
      You mean all the parts of the west bank that he was ready to negotiate.
      If also a site like 972 starts to be full of low level readers there is nothing to be optimist about. It is not a matter of being a supporter of one side or of the other. It is a matter of basic knowledge.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Ehud Barak stated that he offered Arafat an eventual 91% of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, with some Palestinian control over Eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods as a capital of the new Palestinian state; in addition, all refugees could apply for compensation of property from an international fund to which Israel would contribute along with other countries.

        The Palestinians wanted the immediate withdrawal of the Israelis from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and only subsequently the Palestinian authority would dismantle the Palestinian terror organizations.

        The Israeli response as stated by Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s Minister of Foreign Relations who participated in the talks, was “we can’t accept the demand for a return to the borders of June 1967 as a pre-condition for the negotiation.”

        Yes Rose, knowledge and common sense.

        Reply to Comment
    4. rose

      “Although you pretend there are no Jewish refugees, at least 850000 Jews were expelled from the Arab/Muslim lands by the wave of ANTISEMITISM that swept the Middle East/North Africa before and after 1948.”
      Again, this is basic propaganda.
      The Pals didn’t have any responsability at all for that refugees. Moreover it is easy to be ‘absorbed’ when you have ready for you a beautiful house of a palestinain family that was expelled few days before. That’s the reason why the madbarot lasted so short: because there were thousands of houses in musrara, ein hod and hundreds of villages and district from where the rightful owners were not entitled anymore to go back. Something that the Palestinians did not have, in any other country of the world. there is nothing heroic in stealing houses.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >Something that the Palestinians did not have, in any other country of the world.

        1 – At the time there were no “Palestinians”. Only “Palestinian Arabs”
        2 – You see, Jews really can’t be blamed that other Arabs had stolen their properly instead of compensating Palestinian Arabs.

        There were numerous ways to settle down this conflict ever since 1948.

        The only reason there is still war is because (some of) Arabs do not with to see any Jewish state in Syria Palestina.

        Well, I’m afraid we’ll keep them rather disappointed for another few hundred years.

        Reply to Comment
      • Silly Rabbit, responsibility is for kids!

        Wow! Just, wow!

        Love how Western liberals understand the ‘true’ motivations of their Koranic allies.

        Rose: the devoutly Mohammedan ‘handschar’ units that operated under Haj Amin al-Husseini certainly thought that they fought for the Nazis in the name of ‘Palestine’. But you know better – the Nazis were lying when they said they were acting in the name of ‘Palestine’.

        When the Nazi-allied Islamic states systematically exterminated their Jewish populations in the name of ‘Palestine’, they were lying. You know better. The ‘Palestinians’ aren’t responsible for the genocide committed in their name.

        When in the name of ‘Palestine’, the Soviets went to war against their Jewish subjects, they were lying. The ‘Palestinians’ aren’t responsible for the oppression committed in their name. In 1967 in retaliation for the Ummah losing the war, every Jew in Poland lost their position – ‘Palestine’ is not responsible.

        When in the name of ‘Palestine’ Saddam Hussein shot missiles to kill as many Jewish children as possible – it was all a misunderstanding. Over a million innocent Iraqis died in the name of ‘Palestinian’ steadfastness. But again, you know better.

        On 9/11, 19 American Muslims hijacked some planes and killed thousands. They said that they did it for ‘Palestine’. They used traditional ‘Palestinian’ war ethics (attack innocents, terrorize as many people as possible), but the ‘Palestinians’ are not responsible. Sometimes things just happen.

        When Mohammed Mareh ritually slaughtered a few jewish children in Tolouse, he said he did so in the name of ‘Palestine’. In the streets of Jaffa and Umm el-Fakhem they celebrated. All a big misunderstanding. You liberals understand your allies true motivations.

        When in the name of ‘Palestine’, the Islamic Republic sets off a nuke in Tel Aviv – again, the ‘Palestinians’ won’t be responsible. All a misunderstanding.

        Western liberals must be so smart to know the ‘true’ motivation of their allies.

        So please explain – how far does it go. If a ‘Palestinian’ shits his pants – is he responsible or is it like the genocide of Jews in Islamic lands (just happens, nobody’s to blame. Coulda happens to anyone. Just a coincidence). When a ‘Palestinian’ picks his nose, is it like 9/11? He only started picking his nose recently/ Usama only started talking about his pro-’Palestinian’ activism recently. Not responsible.

        Serious question: in your philosophy do ‘Palestinians’ have more or less agency than your pet goldfish? Is there line that gets crossed whereby the ‘Palestinians’ start bearing blame for the war crimes committed in solidarity with your political goals?

        (Yeah! In the 1950s under the Socialist leadership in Israel things were cushy! That’s because before 1948, Southern Syria was such a thriving economic success. ‘The Wall Street of the Middle East’, they called it. I’ve met dozens of ‘Palestinians’ who’ve described the beautiful mansions and gorgeous apartment buildings that were everywhere. And the Agriculture! Thousands of square miles of verdent glory – and that was just in the Negev! You’re right – Israel’s economic success is a consequence of what was left to them by their ‘Palestinian’ combatants)

        Reply to Comment
    5. rose

      “Ehud Barak stated that he offered Arafat an eventual 91% of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, with some Palestinian control over Eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods as a capital of the new Palestinian state”.
      .
      Again Trespasser, this is basic propaganda.
      Jerusalem is enough as an example. Israeli neighborhoods within East Jerusalem were supposed to remain under Israeli sovereignty.
      According to the proposal to which you are referring the historically crucial Arab neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan,and At-Tur…ect.. were supposed to remain under Israeli sovereignty, while Palestinians would only have sovereignty over the outer Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
      Moreover it should be considered the the lack of Palestinian sovereignty over holy sites in Jerusalem (according to such agreement Palestinians were only supposed to receive “administrative control” over their holy sites, and the Old City’s Muslim and Christian Quarters, however Israel was to receive complete sovereignty over Jewish holy sites, and the Old City’s Jewish and Armenian Quarters).
      .
      Again, what are you talking about? You write like a parrot without knowing the issues to which you are referring to.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        So, is your point that Israel made a reasonable proposal while the Palestinians refused to make the required compromise for peace? Because that is how it sounds…

        The basic propaganda on the pro-Palestinian side is that Israel isn’t willing to make compromises for peace. The proposal your criticize seems to argue decisively to the contrary.

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        First of all – Palestinians won’t ever gain control over holy sites for two simple reasons:

        1 – They have no historical nor other reasonable rights to them other than their hot desire.
        2 – We’ve all remember too well ancient statues exploded in Afghanistan and more recent cries to destroy the Sphinx.

        Secondly – Palestinians won’t have their capital in Jerusalem either. Due to lack of historic reasons of course. Indeed, why would they have it there? Care to name three reasons?

        And thirdly – waging a war which one can’t possibly win over mere 9% of territory which would in no way affect the feasibility of the Palestinian state is a perfect proof that the territory is not an issue – there must be no Jewish state.

        Right?

        p.s. Oh, I’m aware of the situation rather well, thus I have not even slight illusions regarding who am I dealing with.

        Reply to Comment
      • Trespasser and Rsgengland are here to divert attention to their ownly (both owned and only) truth, that of corpoarte, nationalist Israel. The actual piece is of little importance. They divert attention to force their frame, thinking it the only possible path. They want to drown out all other talk, forcing everything into their “history.”

        But today is not about history–rather, people’s suffering, living truncated lives. This does not matter to the “historians.”

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          These people have had willingly chosen not to have own state.

          More than once.

          If you ask me – they should not have own state at all.

          p.s. The fact that for almost 70 years no “Palestinian” state was declared in whatever borders proves that
          1 – We are dealing with a made-up nation.
          2 – Palestinian state is not the goal.

          Reply to Comment
    6. ToivoS

      Noam’s statement “there is something extremely grotesque – for lack of a better word – in hearing Israelis (or Zionists) explaining that the effort to end the occupation is simply not working, or beginning to seem pointless…”

      This is reminiscent of many Southern liberals here in the US before 1960. They simply despaired that nothing could be done about segregation. Faulkner captures this mood perfectly in one of his bleak novels. Then once they felt boot of the federal government on their necks they realized there was something that could be done. Maybe Israel is going to need an outside boot to come to its senses.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Cute little analogy. Nonsense of course, but certainly demonstrates the limits of such a flawed view of the world. Alas, there is no global executive, no global FBI, no global justice department, no global national guard. Any boot that makes its way here better be careful to not lose its head in the process.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Without Israeli activists things would be much worse. They have opened paths in the media to what would otherwise be “unimportant” events. They refuse the characterization of West Bank Palestinians and Arab/Palestinian Israeli citizens as second class, culturally inferior, or inherently racially prone to violence. They break through the Wall of silence. And they offer their own citizenship as personal shield for their actions, thereby forcing at least some talk of rights among Israelis. Core to all this is refusal to let anyone else think for oneself, and this is a lesson which transcends all battles, which may be heard everywhere.

      It is a road with landmines of fear, and I sometimes worry that such people may be harming their future economic standing. Yet, without their hope, how would, could I know hope is possible? Hope can be controlled by no State; this you show us, which makes others rage or sneer.

      I wish I had had such strength when young.

      Reply to Comment
    8. annie

      thank you tom pessah, very inspiring.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Thanks for the encouragement to all of us, Israeli Jews and others, to be as optimistic as we can about doing peace-work. (I rather fear that people doing anti-peace and anti-justice work are feeling quite optimistic most of the time. Witness the estimable Lieberman crying “Holocaust” in Europe these days. It’s worked before. And the Europeans have done nothing for 45 years.)

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >as we can about doing peace-work. (I rather fear that people doing anti-peace and anti-justice work are feeling quite optimistic most of the time.

        That is because the work that you are doing is anything by peace-work.

        It is really nice to have pathetic, impotent, uneducated rivals. Always a source for a good laugh and a reminder that enemy can take many shapes and colors.

        Reply to Comment
    10. rose

      Trespasser, “At the time there were no “Palestinians”. Only “Palestinian Arabs””. So what? call them palestinian arabs or if you want call them zoulus. But always remember that that zoulus were originary of this region – the region that u can find in the writings of al din al ramli (“filastin biladuna [palestine our land]“, XVI century) – and were at the beginning of the XIX century the 9/10th of the total population
      .
      “Jews really can’t be blamed that other Arabs had stolen their properly instead of compensating Palestinian Arabs”: a very brilliant statement.
      ..
      ..
      Kolumn, “So, is your point that Israel made a reasonable proposal while the Palestinians refused to make the required compromise for peace?”.
      No, I claim that was a colonialistic proposal that only a person that does not know the issue or has a “colonial mind” could perceive as”normal”.
      .
      Silly Rabbit, u should study a bit the creation of the charge of ‘gran mufti of jerusalem and the region of palestine’ and the creation of the ‘supreme muslim council’. than, when you know a bit more the topic, I will be happy to discuss with you.

      Reply to Comment
      • Silly Rabbit, Responsibility is for kids!

        Talk to me Rose. Let’s have that dialogue.

        Please explain why the “Palestinians” are not responsible for their alliance with Nazi Germany.

        Please explain why the “Palestinians” are not responsible for their alliance with Soviet Russia.

        Please explain why the “Palestinians” are not responsible for their alliance with Ba’athist Iraq.

        Please explain why the “Palestinians” are not responsible for their alliance with the Jihad.

        Please explain why the “Palestinians” are not responsible for their alliance with the genocidal Islamic Republic of Iran.

        Explain it to me – is the fault of the British? The Zionists? The Illuminati? Who forced the “Palestinians” to choose these alliances?

        Oh, and when you explain why the “Palestinians” are not responsible for Haj Amin al-Husseini (and the depredations of their Nazi/ Communist/ Ba’athist/ Jihadist/ Khomeinist allies) please also explain why +972 reacts the way it does to “Price Tagging”. (As you know, any time some 12 year old kid sprays some graffiti against her Islamic oppressors, +972mag goes into war mode – so clearly Israel is responsible for every last piece of graffiti committed in her name. Which genocidal crimes committed in the name of “Palestine” do YOU take responsibility for?)

        And in having this dialogue we’ll keep in mind the Summud of the “Palestinian” people. We’ll remember how they rioted over cartoons; we’ll remember how they went on a killing spree because an Israeli politician visited the Temple Mount. So any talk about the Nazi leader of “Palestine”, Haj Amin al-Husseini was imposed needs to explain why “Palestinian” Summud couldn’t just riot and butcher his family – the way “Palestinians” do to Jews (and fellow Muslims) with which they disagree.

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        In this case Zulus could only be compared to Jews, while Boer are not any different from Palestinian Arabs – both came uninvited and eventually are thrown out.

        It seems that you think that if Arab lives in a certain area for few hundred years it gives him any more rights to the land than a white man should have.

        You don’t even realize that you are a racist, do you?

        Arabs claimed that Palestine is their home in 16th century?

        So what?

        Jews did it 3000 years earlier.

        By the way, other Arabs claimed that al-Andalus is their home. Not really.

        Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Oh dear. Are we going to have to argue about whatever ‘normal’ is? There was a proposal on the table that would leave the Palestinians with a state and Israel with peace and security. Certainly it was insufficient for those that belive that any agreement that leaves Israel alive is not ‘normal’. Then again, those people can hardly be considered to be interested in peace of any kind, so why would anyone bother to listen to their objections?

        Reply to Comment
    11. rose

      “We are dealing with a made-up nation”. Are u speaking about Israel?

      Reply to Comment
    12. rose

      “In this case Zulus could only be compared to Jews, while Boer are not any different from Palestinian Arabs – both came uninvited and eventually are thrown out.”
      So funny. Uninvited by whom? By your god?
      .
      A Palestinian who moved to south Lebanon or a Lebanese who moved to Palestine – or a Syrian or a Jordanian, for that matter – is surely not a foreigner because he is part of the culture of the society of Bilad-al-Sham, or Greater Syria, where there were no borders between countries. The whole region is Arabo-Islamic. Other minorities, even though they were neither Muslim nor Arab, were nonetheless part of that Arabo-Islamic culture. Jews, for instance, spoke Arabic. The same was true for Jews living in other Arab Islamic countries. Therefore, there is a big difference between them and foreigners who came from Europe, wether Christians or Jews….Its was common and natural for a Palestinian to go study in Al Azhar for instance, and remain there; or for a Hebronite merchant to go to Cairo and live there; or go to Damascus or other places, whether to study or to live….This was a natural phenomenon
      .
      Trespesser you grew up full of hatred and ideologies, and probably you don’t have enough education. I will not be able to change this. That’s why for me this conversation ends here.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Ah, there it is. The area of Israel is inherently an Arab and Islamic area and all others are denied any rights. Is that the argument? And at what point did that definition of the land become irreversibly set in stone?

        Well, in that case the land was Hebrew and Jewish before it was Arabic and Islamic. The problem of claims has been solved. Oh, and in case it is still an issue for you I hereby declare that as of this moment the land is Hebrew and Jewish and has been for 65 years. What is the Arabic and Islamic claim based on now?

        Let me also point out that according to your definition a ‘Palestinian’ is not particularly different from a Syrian and so his right to a separate country is questionable. This was also the position of most ‘Palestinians’ before the late 1960s since the prevailing notion was one of either pan-Arabism or Baath style pan-Syrianism. It also explains why no real demands were made for a Palestinian state before 1967.

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Dutch, British and others came uninvited by Zulus – the only ingenious population of the time.

        Arrived in 1688, kicked out in late 1994. Some 300 years of rule gave no right to the land.

        Arabs came uninvited to Spain, uninvited by the Spanish.
        Arrived in 711, kicked out in 1492.
        Almost 800 hundred years of rule gave no right to the land.

        Arabs came to Palestine uninvited by Jews of course.
        Arrived in 638, kicked out in 1947.

        Do you honestly believe that Palestinian Arabs have any more rights to Palestine than al-Andalusian Arabs to Spain or Afrikaners to South Africa?

        If you do, please explain on what basis.

        Reply to Comment
        • Nasdaq7

          70% of South Africa was uninhabited. The whites asked the crocodiles, the elephants, the lions permission to become the FIRST HUMAN SETTLERS ON THAT LAND.

          The white South Africans / Afrikaners first met the black tribes 150 years after setting foot in the CAPE. Duh? Brother. Duh?

          Reply to Comment
    13. dukium

      The Pals didn’t arrive from nowhere, especially not from other continents. They were here:
      “A foreign people had come and imposed itself on a native population. The Arab population of Palestine were native in all the usual senses of that word. Ignorance, sometimes backed up by hypocritical propaganda, has spread a number of misconceptions on this subject, unfortunately very widely held. It has been said that since the Arabs took the country by military conquest in the seventh century, they are occupiers like any other, like the Romans, the Crusaders and the Turks. Why therefore should they be regarded as any more native than the others, and in particular than the Jews, who were native to that country in ancient times, or at least occupiers of longer standing? To the historian the answer is obvious. A small contingent of Arabs from Arabia did indeed conquer the country in the seventh century. But as a result of factors which were briefly outlined in the first chapter of this book, the Palestinian population soon became Arabized under Arab domination, just as earlier it had been Hebraicized, Aramaicized, to some degree even Hellenized. It became Arab in a way that it was never to become Latinized or Ottomanized. The invaded melted with the invaders. It is ridiculous to call the English of today invaders and occupiers, on the grounds that England was conquered from Celtic peoples by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the fifth and sixth centuries. The population was “Anglicized” and nobody suggests that the peoples which have more or less preserved the Celtic tongues – the Irish, the Welsh or the Bretons – should be regarded as the true natives of Kent or Suffolk, with greater titles to these territories than the English who live in those counties.”

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Huge chunk of antisemitic nonsense with contradictions to nearly every known historic facts.

        Reply to Comment
    14. carl

      “Arabs came to Palestine uninvited by Jews of course.”
      and who said that the history of this land started with the jews?
      urushalem was created 2000 years before that king david – if ever existed – set a foot in the region

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        I’ve never pretended it started with Jews. Unlike pro-Palestinian activists who claim that so-called “Palestinians” are the only rightful owners of the land.

        Reply to Comment
    15. carl

      if you write “Arabs came to Palestine uninvited by Jews of course” – a ridicolous sentence – you are implying that history started with the jews.
      You also wrote: “Huge chunk of antisemitic nonsense with contradictions to nearly every known historic facts”. Actually what Rodinson – an antisemite jew according to you (btw, you use the accuse of antisemitism in a childish way) – has written is perfectly agreeable. Think about it and if you can try to refute it with arguments.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        I don’t see how statement like “Arabs came uninvited by Jews” or “Arabs came uninvited by Spanis” could be ridiculous.

        I’m only implying that Arabs came uninvited by the local population. Like Jews did few thousand years before that.

        I can’t be bothered by refuting each and every peace of antisemitic nonsense.

        I’ll provide one fact however to prove that the historian is liar.
        He’s talking about “A small contingent of Arabs from Arabia did indeed conquer the country in the seventh century.”

        Small – is how many exactly?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_conquest_of_Syria#Conquest_of_Palestine

        Warriors for the most battles, some of them happened simultaneously, were numbered 20000-30000, so there were at least 50 000 Arab warriors.

        50 000 warriors meaning at least twice as much servants, medics, stablemen and others which would give us some 150 000 invaders.

        Population of the Palestine at the time comprised about 100 000 Jews – maybe even less, and another 100 000 of Byzantine invaders, who eventually been driven out by Arabs.

        There are more carefully hidden lies in the text, but since I’m not payed to do it I’ll leave you with your ignorance. Not that it would change anything.

        Reply to Comment
    16. carl

      Jews were just one of the many populations that were on the spot. Never the only one. Your answer confirms that you don’t have arguments. You simply don’t know the topic. You are simply full of ideologies. Snotty go to study and search for better sources.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        You see, you seem to be arguing against an exclusive Jewish claim to the land, but the problem for you is that Trespasser never argued for one. He is arguing against the claims made that Arabs have an exclusive claim to the land. So, overall, are you actually disagreeing with him?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Of course he won’t answer.

          It is not nice that you are asking such questions.

          Don’t you know that your question implies that questioned has some degree of what’s called “honesty”

          Asking Carl to answer such question is basically equivalent to asking Steve Hawkins do dance.

          Reply to Comment
    17. carl

      “I’m only implying that Arabs came uninvited by the local population. Like Jews did few thousand years before that.”
      .
      “The local population” is one. Read before to write.
      .
      If for you is fine to read questions like “Do you honestly believe that Palestinian Arabs have any more rights to Palestine than al-Andalusian Arabs to Spain or Afrikaners to South Africa?” it means that you are another ignorant. The only pity is for the pals that are obliged to deal with little fascists like u and your friend.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >“The local population” is one. Read before to write.

        Is what “one”?
        Before to write?

        I think you should reboot.

        > …it means that you are another ignorant…

        Than why won’t you enlighten me and explain why and on what basis one certain group of people must have more rights than any other group of people?

        Reply to Comment
    18. carl

      “Do you honestly believe that Palestinian Arabs have any more rights to Palestine than al-Andalusian Arabs to Spain or Afrikaners to South Africa?…Arabs came uninvited by the local population…They [pals] have no historical nor other reasonable rights to them other than their hot desire.”
      ….
      Who is the person that claim that one certain group of people must have more rights than any other group of people?
      You are ignorant and a liar, are u aware of this?

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        All I’m aware right now is that you still haven’t explained why Palestinian Arabs should have more rights than Palestinian Jews (or Afrikaner and al-Andalusian Arabs for that matter)

        Reply to Comment
    19. carl

      You claim that Pals have less or no rights at all on Palestine and then you accuse me to write that Pals have more rights than Jews. You look like a little child: Ignorant&liar

      “Do you honestly believe that Palestinian Arabs have any more rights to Palestine than al-Andalusian Arabs to Spain or Afrikaners to South Africa?…Arabs came uninvited by the local population…They [pals] have no historical nor other reasonable rights to them other than their hot desire.”

      Reply to Comment
    20. The Trespasser

      I see.

      Instead of solidifying your position by explaining why Palestinian Arabs should have more rights to Palestine than Palestinian Jews you are concentrating on my personal opinion.

      You don’t know what “recursion” is, do you?

      And probably you’ve never heard of the Dunning–Kruger effect…

      Reply to Comment
      • carl

        search for a doctor (and a good university), a good one

        Reply to Comment
    21. naomi raz

      kol hakavod! brilliant

      Reply to Comment
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