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'Administrative detainees must have done something wrong'

When discussing administrative detention with Israelis, there comes a point when the discussion becomes an argument like one about religion — based on blind faith in the security establishment.

By definition, administrative detainees have not committed a crime. An administrative detention order is issued against people (almost all of whom are Palestinians) against whom there is no evidentiary basis to be put on trial. None at all. Because there is no evidence, there is also no indictment, no trial, no opportunity for the detainee to dispute the charges against him, no conviction and no verdict or sentencing to determine the length of a prison term. On the one hand an administrative detainee has committed no crime, and on the other hand, there is no limit to the amount of time he or she can be jailed.

True, there is “judicial oversight” by a military judge — behind closed doors — over the detention orders that are renewed every six months. Anyone who happens to read the protocol of such hearings will figure out very quickly that they are a joke. Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents present secret evidence and and interrogations of the detainee and they refuse to answer any of his lawyers’ questions about the rationale for issuing the detention order. The detainee has no way of defending himself because he does not know of what he is accused. And so people end up in prison — for many years sometimes.

I’ve met administrative detainees — before, during and after they were held in administrative detention. Some of them are political activists and protest organizers. Others, like some of those who are currently imprisoned and have been on hunger strike for more than a month now, they are Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Some of the detainees are sick or elderly. And there are others, like Palestinian soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was imprisoned for three years without ever being indicted and was released only after launching a three-month hunger strike. It is not known, nor has it been published exactly how he threatened or harmed Israeli state security.

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Despite it all, and despite the fact that two years ago Israel committed to reducing the number of administrative detainees as part of a deal to end a mass hunger strike (it did reduce the number for about a year — and then started using administrative detention orders again), and despite the fact that over 100 administrative detainees have been on a hunger strike for more than a month and many of them have been hospitalized — there is no serious cry to release them and to put an end to the use of this anti-democratic tool.

Some of that silence, of course, stems from the wider lack of of interest in the occupation in general, in every regard. Aside from a shocking video here or there, or another fictitious round of “peace talks” (this time they called it a process), Israelis don’t really care what happens in the occupied territories. And the media also reflects that lack of interest.

But the issue of administrative detention diverges from the political plane and crosses into the realm of religious-like faith that Israelis have in the security establishment. Time after time, facts are exposed, like those with which I started this article, and every discussion is met with the same answers: “they don’t just lock people up for the hell of it”; “they’re not angels”; “nobody locks people up for fun,” and; “if they’re in jail they must have done something [wrong].”

Those are empty phrases, unfounded statements, not based on any specific piece of information about a specific detainee, about administrative detainees in general, or about the Shin Bet and army’s decision-making process in issuing administrative detention orders. They are phrases that fail to consider the possibility that this is an unacceptable practice, bad judgement in the best case (a naive conclusion), or a tool of political oppression in the worst case (the actual case). But never that Shin Bet interrogators are simply lying.

People who say such things don’t want to actually confront the meaning of administrative detention, of imprisoning hundreds of people without trial in a country that presents itself as a democracy. And so they simply choose to believe — with their eyes covered — that the “forces of good” in the security establishment act only in order to protect us, day in and day out, from the “forces of evil,” the Palestinians who are trying to hurt us.

There are no humans involved, no criminal procedures, nothing. Just faith. Try arguing with that.

Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

More on administrative detention:
Israel admits: Administrative detention unnecessary
Hunger-strikers are another statistic in an unjust legal system
Administrative detention: Months or years without due process

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    COMMENTS

    1. Reza Lustig

      A lot of times, apologists for the Israeli government’s misdeeds like to deflect the issue by saying that my own country (America) is not innocent either. A difference they overlook is simply that most Americans are not blindly faithful to the “official” story, especially if it has to do with “national security” or the “War on Terror.” In fact, these days, we take it as a given that it’s all a con to fool us into accepting a foreign policy that focuses less on being a law-abiding part of an international community, and more on redundant Machiavellian maneuvering (justified in terms of solipsistic Jingoism), and an increasingly fascistic take on “national security.”

      In Israel, it’s the other way around: it’s up to “leftists” and “antisemites” to prove that the state is lying.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        @ Reza

        “A difference they overlook is simply that most Americans are not blindly faithful to the “official” story, especially if it has to do with “national security” or the “War on Terror.” ”

        60% of Americans think Edward Snowden is a traitor, a fact which diminishes your claim that, “..most Americans are not blindly faithful..”

        Worse than that, Americans surrendered their privacy to the NSA and still haven’t demanded their privacy back (not to mention their Constitution).

        Reply to Comment
        • Reza Lustig

          According to a Huffpost/Yougov poll, while most Americans think that he did the wrong thing, more than half also think that they deserved to be in the know about the programs the government was trying to keep secret. Pew polls, as well, have consistently showed the majority of Americans as being opposed to being spied on by the NSA.

          Citing one result of one poll is not a good way to prove a point, in my opinion.

          And while the percentage of Americans who are REALLY fed up with the blossoming surveillance state may still be below 50%, that rules out an overwhelming majority in favor. I don’t think the same can be said of Israelis, who are apparently willing to allow the state to violate peoples’ rights in the name of “state security,” and then say something like “enh, he probably had it coming!.”

          Reply to Comment
          • GilGamesh

            I be happy to look at evidence that proves your claims about how the majority of Israelis feel but so far Reza you haven’t provided any.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Rab

      1. Yes, security is a factor and the security establishment is, for the most part, trusted.

      2. However, in any open system and country there should be sufficient oversight and reasonable limits to incarceration of anyone, even a terror suspect.

      3. If I were an activist opposed to administrative detentions and their unfairness, I’d fight for absolute limits – say, one year – and additional oversight of the process, such as an additional layer of oversight by a civilian panel of independent judges.

      4. Make peace with Israel and it won’t be the Israelis arresting Palestinians…

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        1. I wonder if, were you in the place of those who are on the receiving end of your state security apparatus, you would have a less cavalier attitude towards it.

        2. And I assume there IS such oversight in Israel? And that anyone responsible for ducking under such oversight, facilitating/covering for such ducking, etc. etc. are punished severely? And that those who suffer abuse for such ducking are duly granted legal vindication, and that they and their families are compensated for their suffering by the state?

        In all seriousness, why should anyone trust a government which values “national security” over civil rights and openness when it promises “oversight?”

        2. You say “if (you) were an activist.” I don’t understand: you say you would hypothetically be OK with administrative detention, as long as it was only for a year, but that you’re not “an activist against” it. So you really don’t have anything against the state holding someone indefinitely, without trial, on evidence they may well have ginned up for all you know?

        3. That’s very nice. We can talk about that some other time, when we’re not talking about civil rights violations your government is committing in the present.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Rab

      “1. I wonder if, were you in the place of those who are on the receiving end of your state security apparatus, you would have a less cavalier attitude towards it.”

      Dude, I had friends and children of friends who were killed and injured in Palestinian suicide bombings and bombings. Every day that passes without another attack is a day of success for Israel’s “state security apparatus.”

      2. There is certainly oversight. The kids here at 972 don’t like it and don’t feel it’s enough – which is fair, since Israel is an open society where the government has much room for improvement – but it certainly exists.

      3. No, we all have priorities. My priority isn’t this type of detention. See my reason #1 in this comment. However, I agree with one of the premises of this article, which is that such detention needs to shift at some point to proper criminal proceedings. If this were a priority for me, I would strive for my #3 in the previous comment.

      4. I live in the USA. We have to deal with Guantanamo and its legal implications. But if you mean Israel, the detention described is legal. You would have to modify laws and regulations, and you can do this in Israel via lobbying, the courts and a media offensive. But it’s legal. If there were any doubt that Israel has been in continuous war with the Palestinians, the PA made sure no such confusion exists any more. They are one with Hamas. If Israel has to keep its citizens safe by putting people in administrative detention to save its own people from bombings, then so be it. Maybe you could talk to the Palestinians about ending the conflict?

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        1. I’m sorry for the friends you’ve lost. But that’s not answering my question. You can’t rationalize someone else’s suffering by comparing it to your own. Suffering is suffering. I want you to imagine you are somebody who has been kept cooped up in a cell for years, without access to legal defense or any possibility of a fair trial, because the military claims you are a terrorist/know something about terrorists. The grounds for this undemocratic measure? They “just know.” They have evidence, but for whatever reason either cannot or will not show the suspect this supposedly definitive proof of his guilt, and will not allow lawyers to appraise its veracity. For all you know, you could be in there until you die. Or, if you’re the child/spouse/sibling/friend of such a person, how would you like knowing you might never see him/her again, because of some bureaucratic decision, passed without regard for legal rights?

        Let’s say your in that position. Does the “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” justification still fly for you?

        2. What good is “oversight,” if the state is determined to carry out illegal acts regardless? What good is Obama promising “oversight” if it’s for using drone bombs to extrajudicially murder enemies of the state with drone bombs? The oversight will only serve as a rubber stamp. And judging by the IDF’s refusal to obey court orders to evacuate certain illegal settlements, it looks like Israel has a government that thinks it is above the law.

        3. So everyone’s human rights aren’t as important as relative “safety” for you? Ben Franklin once said that people who thought it was OK to sacrifice freedom for security did not deserve to have either. I wonder if he thought that would go double for people who sacrifice other peoples’ freedom for their own security.

        4. I thought you were an Israeli, thank you for the clarification. It may be technically legal, but it’s abused and an abuse of other peoples’ rights.

        I’m not going to get into another “who shot first” argument, because it’s besides the point, and counterproductive. I will say that the any government has the moral responsibility to not only protect not only the safety, but the human/civil rights of those it occupies. The fact that Israel has garnered ill will from those it has occupied is proof enough that it has not honored this.

        Reply to Comment
      • rose

        1) “I had friends and children of friends who were killed and injured in Palestinian suicide bombings and bombings”:
        And I don’t know more than 3/4 Palestinian families without a member put at least once in jail. Give a look to the statistics of the last 10 years about how many civilians of both sides have been killed.

        2) “Israel is an open society”: go to the shuafat camp, just 5 mins from the center of Jerusalem, and explain this to them.

        3) “My priority isn’t this type of detention”: too nice (and open-minded).

        4) “I live in the USA”: I was sure about it.

        5) “If there were any doubt that Israel has been in continuous war with the Palestinians, the PA made sure no such confusion exists any more. They are one with Hamas”:
        a) Moshe Dayan: “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies”.
        b) Naftali Bennett:“There’s no room in our small but wonderful God-given tract for another state”. Should Palestinians like to deal with Bennett?

        6) “Maybe you could talk to the Palestinians about ending the conflict?”
        Stop playing the victim card. This war started in 1907, when the VII zionist congress created a department for the colonization of palestine. Its head, arthur ruppin, wanted: “the creation of a Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”.
        It is there and in the ‘avodah ivrit’ logic that you should search for the roots of this conflict.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Rab

      1. “I’m sorry for the friends you’ve lost.”

      Bullshit.

      “But that’s not answering my question. You can’t rationalize someone else’s suffering by comparing it to your own.”

      I did answer. My answer involves the need for security measures that work. I realize that’s not what you want to hear, but you’re not the one with the dead and injured friends.

      “Suffering is suffering. I want you to imagine you are somebody who has been kept cooped up in a cell for years, without access to legal defense or any possibility of a fair trial, because the military claims you are a terrorist/know something about terrorists.”

      Why would Israel bother to scoop up people and hold them in this type of detention without any reason? So they can occupy another cell or offer more free food to somebody? So they can get more negative publicity? Sure, mistakes may be made, and god knows there are plenty of stupid Israelis who goof up, but you do need to have some trust that they are not wasting their time and resources. I realize you don’t share that trust, but I suspect that most Israelis do.

      “The grounds for this undemocratic measure? They “just know.” They have evidence, but for whatever reason either cannot or will not show the suspect this supposedly definitive proof of his guilt, and will not allow lawyers to appraise its veracity.”

      Sometimes sources need to be protected. They don’t “just know,” they expend tremendous resources to keep the country safe and to have the best intelligence gathering possible.

      “For all you know, you could be in there until you die. Or, if you’re the child/spouse/sibling/friend of such a person, how would you like knowing you might never see him/her again, because of some bureaucratic decision, passed without regard for legal rights?”

      I agree. That’s precisely why I proposed that activists who are concerned should seek to create a limit of one year without permission to extend of this type of administrative detention.

      “Let’s say your in that position. Does the “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” justification still fly for you?”

      My position was that there are enough Palestinian eggs who want to blow themselves up (or send others to do it) into an omelet that includes Israeli human parts that Israel has been compelled to create an elaborate security system to try to make sure the frying pan is rarely in use.

      “2. What good is “oversight,” if the state is determined to carry out illegal acts regardless?”

      What’s illegal?

      “What good is Obama promising “oversight” if it’s for using drone bombs to extrajudicially murder enemies of the state with drone bombs? The oversight will only serve as a rubber stamp. And judging by the IDF’s refusal to obey court orders to evacuate certain illegal settlements, it looks like Israel has a government that thinks it is above the law.”

      Perhaps. That’s a different debate. If the system of government is broken, then you need to fix it. There is a comptroller (like an ombudsman) in Israel, no shortage of critical reporters and newspapers, courts and lots and lots of ethical people. These are the people who need to fight to ensure the government functions fairly and within the bounds of the law – like in any democracy.

      “3. So everyone’s human rights aren’t as important as relative “safety” for you?”

      I said that I have a different order of priorities. That’s not what you’re saying I said.

      “Ben Franklin once said that people who thought it was OK to sacrifice freedom for security did not deserve to have either. I wonder if he thought that would go double for people who sacrifice other peoples’ freedom for their own security.”

      I agree with you that Abbas and his cronies belong in prison.

      4. “The fact that Israel has garnered ill will from those it has occupied is proof enough that it has not honored this.”

      Um, those who are occupied used to attack the Jews in the Yishuv when those were a small minority, and then some more when they were a larger minority, and then again when the UN proposed peace and separation, and then later after they lost the war of 1948, etc., etc., etc.

      Israel was actually entirely out of Area A and inactive in B for the few years when it saw the highest number of terror attacks. Now that it’s back in and using measures to prevent these attacks, it’s ludicrous to blame it and not the Palestinians for the situation. They’ve been trying to attack Jews for a century and the Jews have been trying to protect themselves for a century. They may have the upper hand and greater strength now, but make no mistake, this strength and show of strength are there because they need to be.

      Reply to Comment
      • shmuel

        You write that ‘They’ve been trying to attack Jews for a century and the Jews have been trying to protect themselves for a century’, but just one comment above somebody else explained you that in 1907 the VII zionist congress created a department for the colonization of palestine with the aim of creating a “Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”. Who was attacking whom? The attackers become the defenders?

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “Colonized”, you say? The only way that statement would be true in the case of Palestine, if you could prove that every inch of Palestine belonged to Arabs and that none of Palestine belonged to Jews. I bet you can’t do that Shmuel. But I can prove that Jews have at least as much right to own PART of Palestine, as Arabs do. See? Shmuel, I could be as strident as you and assert that ALL of Judea and Samaria as well as Israel belong to Israel only and that Arabs are just descendants of foreign invadars who don’t belong there. But I would then just be as ridiculous as you are …

          Here is a valid test for exclusive ownership of a land by a people:

          1. Sovereignity.

          The Arabs of Palestine fail on that score because there never was a sovereign Arab Palestine in the whole history of mankind.

          2. Having a title deed according to the laws of the sovereign power governing the land.

          The Arabs of Palestine fail on that score too. They never had title deeds to every square inch of Palestine.

          3. Ownership by default by living on the land and cultivating it.

          The Arabs of Palestine fail on that score too. They never cultivated ALL the land of Palestine. In fact, when Jewish refugees started returning to the land in the 1800s, there were no more than maybe 350,000 to 400,000 people in the whole of Palestine. A land which now accommodates up to 10 million people and which still has room in it for more people.

          4. Exclusive occupation of the land.

          The Arabs fail on that score too because there always was a Jewish presence on the land even though it was a minority.

          5. History.

          The Arabs have a history in Palestine. But Jews have even a longer history here than the Arabs.

          So you see Shmuel? Your assertion about Jewish colonisation is just a fantasy. A fantasy because the Arabs never exclusively owned Palestine. We are willing to share. We are not willing to give up our rights no matter how much you guys jump up and down and how many lies you are willing to peddle.

          Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            Tzutzik, I am afraid there is a misunderstanding.
            Ruppin wrote a book entitled: “The agricultural colonisation of the Zionist organisation in Palestine”: the term doesn’t imply that Jews don’t have the right to have a state or “to own PART of Palestine”.

            ‘I could be as strident as you and assert that ALL of Judea and Samaria as well as Israel belong to Israel’:
            It would problematic, considering that ArabPalestinians represented, in 1907, about the 9/10th of the local population.

            ‘Arabs are just descendants of foreign invadars who don’t belong there’:
            Maxime Rodinson wrote what follows:

            ‘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.”

            2 peoples, 2 rights, 2 states.

            Reply to Comment
        • Brian Stockwood

          You wrote “n 1907 the VII zionist congress created a department for the colonization of palestine with the aim of creating a “Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”. Who was attacking whom? The attackers become the defenders?”

          Interesting you should say that, because in 1922, the Fifth Arab Congress of Nablus declared that they would “Boycotting Jewish goods, including Pinhas Rutenberg’s planned electricity supply.”

          How could they boycott something that was never offered to them by the “closed Zionist society?”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Arab_Congress#Fifth_congress:_Nablus.2C_1922

          Reply to Comment
    5. shmuel

      Sorry Tzutzik, I didnt notice the second part of your post.

      The idea of State is a Western concept/necessity, that the local majority was forced to adopt in this last 100-150 years.

      “in the 1800s, there were no more than maybe 350,000 to 400,000 people in the whole of Palestine”:

      Justin McCarthy indicated the number of residents in Palestine in 1860 as 411,000, the overwhelming majority of which (around 90 percent) Arabs.
      From a Eurocentric perspective these numbers might seem negligible. To get an idea, one has only to think that when Paris reached one million inhabitants in 1846, Jerusalem and Haifa numbered, respectively, little more than 18 thousand and a bit less than 3 thousand. It would, however, still be wrong to choose countries on the Old Continent instead of those in the Oriental Mediterranean area for a reliable comparison. It is more logical to compare Egypt at the start of the 1800s with Palestine in the same period. It is estimated that the first one had at the time a population of around three million inhabitants: today it numbers 77 million. The second, inhabited at that time by 250,000/300,000 people (therefore 225,000/270,000 Arabs), registers today little more than five million individuals. In comparison, these data demonstrate substantial “comparative convergence” between Palestine and the historically most important, as well as most populous Arabic country.

      “The Arabs fail on that score too because there always was a Jewish presence on the land even though it was a minority”:
      100%correct, and in fact Palestinians didn’t oppose jews as such, but instead they started to fight the idea to create, in Ruppin’s words, a “Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”.

      “The Arabs have a history in Palestine. But Jews have even a longer history here than the Arabs”:
      Read Rodinson int he previous post. Both have a very long history and “Arabs” didn’t arrive from the moon in the VII century.

      Reply to Comment
    6. shmuel

      ‘the Arabs never exclusively owned Palestine’:
      The concept of “ownership” was mainly a Western concept. In Iraq still in 1951 only 0.3 per cent of registered land (or 50
      per cent of the total amount).
      I suggest you to read this open access academic article on the BJMES:
      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13530194.2013.878518
      Before that you can misunderstand the content,it doesn’t claim that all the land “belong to Arabs” but that to speak about private property/ownership means to read an historically non-Western context in Western terms.
      Again, to me both peoples have the full right to self-determinate their past, present and future.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “The concept of “ownership” was mainly a Western concept. In Iraq still in 1951 only 0.3 per cent of registered land (or 50”

        OK Shmuel, but then you must admit that the word “colonialism” is also a western concept.

        So either drop that word too when you talk about the return of us Jews to our ancestral homeland. Or accept my western concept based rebuttal to your western concept based claim of “colonialism”.

        You can’t have it both ways.

        Reply to Comment
        • shmuel

          The correct sentence was: “The concept of “ownership” was mainly a Western concept. In Iraq still in 1951 only 0.3 per cent of registered land (or 50percent of the total amount) was categorised as ‘private property’”.

          “OK Shmuel, but then you must admit that the word “colonialism” is also a western concept”:
          Again, the Eight Zionist Congress created a department with that scope. From Chaim Weizmann’s memoirs: “”Dr. Ruppin, member of the Zionist Executive in charge of colonization”.
          I never talked about “the return of us Jews to our ancestral homeland”, but instead I pointed out that in 1907 the VIII zionist congress created a department for the colonization of palestine with the aim of creating a “Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”.
          Ruppin was the key figure at the time: from them on started the clashes.

          Reply to Comment
    7. Tzutzik

      “2 peoples, 2 rights, 2 states.”

      I could respond to your entire post but that would be debating for debating’s sake. So I won’t.

      You know why? Because that sentence of your’s above is what I too essentialy said in my previous post.

      The problem is that the Palestinians are the ones who don’t agree with you or me about that.

      The PA wants one and a half states and that is just their pretend position when they speak to gullible western journalists and politicians. To their home crowd they too say what Hamas says. That they want the whole of Palestine to be a single Arab Muslim state and they see no room for a Jewish state.

      As for Rupin, he was just one person. Who by the way was among the founders of the Brit Shalom peace movement, which supported a binational state, but he left Brit Shalom after the 1929 Hebron massacre. Why do you suppose he would have done that? Because he was a coloniser at heart? Or because after that atrocity he lost hope for the possibility of a binational state?

      Reply to Comment
      • shmuel

        Ruppin’s strategy much predates 1929.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          You do know what you are doing, don’t you Shmuel? You are playing word games.

          I don’t care how some people described our return home 100 years ago or today. The fact still stands. The Arabs did not exclusively own Palestine around the time when Jews started to return. My previous post outlines why.

          You claim that those reasons are not valid (if you do?) because the Arabs had different concept of land ownership? What does that mean? They assert that they own uncultivated lands say 100 miles away from where they live without having title deeds? How does that work? Can we all play that game? What is the limit of the distance before it becomes ridiculous to make such assertions? And if there are no limitations, can we too play that game?

          You say that the Arab concepts of land ownership was different to Western concepts. You are right. This is how it worked historically: the stronger tribe raided the weaker tribe and took their land and posessions.

          Are we supposed to respect that but not what we Jews did? We came back and bought lands from Arabs and Ottoman owners. But that is somehow more disrespectable because some people decided to call it (wrongly) “colonialism”?

          Give us a break …

          Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            You should apply your idea of ownership to Iraq and all the other present-day countries that formed the Ottoman Empire.
            As for the rest, I already answered you:

            I suggest you to read this open access academic article on the BJMES:
            http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13530194.2013.878518

            Again, to me both peoples have the full right to self-determinate their past, present and future.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Again, to me both peoples have the full right to self-determinate their past, present and future.”

            Ok so you and I basically are in agreement overall but perhaps not over some of the details and the semantics.

            I can live with that, I hope you can too.

            I suspect though that about some other things we have major disagreements. Oh well maybe we will see some other day …

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            You know Shmuel, I had a quick look at your link. You are right , their concept of land ownership had more nuances. But the basics were not all that different from ours. They too had the concept of private land ownership and state ownership. Within each of those they had various nuances.

            So, since there was no Arab state when we Jews started returning to the land of our forefathers, any state owned lands which were uncultivated, were Ottoman owned. Not Arab owned. You could argue that the ones designated for the Ummah should be Arab owned but my understanding of the word Ummah is that it relates to the people of Islam. Which included the Ottoman Turks too, not just Arabs.

            And another thing. If land can be claimed based on religion, then why should we abide by their religion? We can equally claim it based on our religion. After all the Torah describes the whole of Israel as a land promised to the Jews by G-D. I know non Jews don’t have to accept that. But equally non Muslims don’t have to accept their claims either. Fair is fair … No?

            Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            “You are right , their concept of land ownership had more nuances”: this shows that you are a flexible person. And it is of course something positive.

            “were Ottoman owned. Not Arab owned”:
            the article exaplains this aspect. As I wrote you, if you believe that you are right you should apply your idea of ownership to Iraq and all the other present-day countries that formed the Ottoman Empire. You have to explain to each of these populations that they are not the legitimate owners of their lands.

            “my understanding of the word Ummah is that it relates to the people of Islam”: the point is that mushâ was considered by the local population as an inalienable asset at the disposal of entire villages.

            “If land can be claimed based on religion”: religion is not the reason why they claimed their land. Religion was one of the key issues that kept this people united. For example in Palestine the local majority organized every year the Nabi Musa Festival, a religious festival that involved only persons from present day Israel and the Palestinian territories (no lebanon, no jordan, no syria).
            They claimed their land because they were living on it and didn’t have any necessity to register it using a Western necessity (private property).

            Raiding was mainly a prerogative of Bedouins, that’s also why most of the population preferred to live on hilly areas.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Tzutzik:“were Ottoman owned. Not Arab owned”:

            Shmuel:”the article exaplains this aspect. As I wrote you, if you believe that you are right you should apply your idea of ownership to Iraq and all the other present-day countries that formed the Ottoman Empire. You have to explain to each of these populations that they are not the legitimate owners of their lands.”

            No I should not. Their history evolved in a different direction. So it would be pointless to discuss how things were in 1850.

            The only reason why we are discussing Palestine is to discuss how Israel was created. You seem to be saying it was a colonialist venture. I am saying that it was an act of descendants returning to our ancestral homeland. And that there was room to create two nations for two people. You agree with my last sentence yet you lend credence to those who claim that we were colonialists. That is self contradictory.

            Tzutzik:“my understanding of the word Ummah is that it relates to the people of Islam”:

            Shmuel:”the point is that mushâ was considered by the local population as an inalienable asset at the disposal of entire villages.”

            Your article did not define the actual are that this encompassed. If it wasn’t defined then what stopped people making competitive claims?

            Tzutzik:“If land can be claimed based on religion”

            Shmuel:”religion is not the reason why they claimed their land. Religion was one of the key issues that kept this people united. For example in Palestine the local majority organized every year the Nabi Musa Festival, a religious festival that involved only persons from present day Israel and the Palestinian territories (no lebanon, no jordan, no syria).”

            Yet your article definitely said that some land was allocated as land for members of the religion of Islam.

            Shmuel:”They claimed their land because they were living on it and didn’t have any necessity to register it using a Western necessity (private property).”

            Actually, like I said, they did NOT live on all the land. Vast areas were not cultivated. Some were useless swamplands. Even so, the Jewish refugees who came to redeem the land, were willing to pay exhorbitant sums of money to buy such lands. Yet we were still coloniaists usurpers? Of course not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Here you can read about the concept of tribal Arab raiders:

            http://www.angelfire.com/az/rescon/mgcbedu.html

            “Raiding (ghazw) used to be an important means of supplementing the tribal economy, especially in times of drought, and it followed strict rules. Settled communities and caravans had to pay tolls and protection money to avoid raids.

            The swift raids employed cunning and guile. Bloodshed was avoided as far as possible. Goods, women and children become property of the victors. Successful leadership in raiding was a way of building up the leader’s personal reputation and power. Muhammad led his followers on some caravan raids. King Ibn-Saud conquered all of Arabia through successful tribal raids on a large scale.”

            Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “Ruppin’s strategy much predates 1929.”

          Yea but it seems Ruppin had more than one strategy. And it seems some of his strategies were self contradictory.

          So why should we be hung up by Ruppin? I don’t want to disrespect the guy but he was not our king and his words are not gospel.

          I would rather deal with actual history and facts.

          Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            “So why should we be hung up by Ruppin?” Because Ruppin was the leader chosen to lead the “Palestine Office” of the Zionist Organization in Palestine. It was not the opinion of secondary figure, it was instead the official policy of an organ created by the Zionist organization. The ‘avodah ivrit logic’ was part of that ideology and created similar damages.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            I still say that talking about Ruppin is irrelevant to our discussion. But if you insist that we do then remember this: in Ruppin’s days, the word “colonialism” had positive connotations. That’s why he used that word. But his usage of it still does not make it accurate.

            Like I said, if you want to label us as descendants of colonialists, which is a western concept, then you must show, using western concepts of land ownership, that the lands that we supposedly colonised, ALL of it, were the sovereign property of the other people who now want to claim it, the Arabs.

            It is a logical error to try and mix concepts. To claim that the Arabs believed that ALL the land was theirs and therefore the Jews were colonisers is illogical. After all, we Jews too claim that the land is ours. Why does their claim trump ours?

            The fairest way to decide is to apply the 5 criteria that I listed in my first post on this thread.

            Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            Tzuzik,
            “I still say that talking about Ruppin is irrelevant”:
            it the issue, because his (Ruppin) was the official policy adopted by the Zionist organization at the time.
            “label us as descendants of colonialists”: who said that? why continuing to talk about “colonialism”? This was simply the name adopted by Ruppin and the department at the time. It was never part of our discussion.
            I simply wrote you that the VIII zionist congress created a department for the colonization of palestine. Its head, arthur ruppin, wanted: “the creation of a Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”.
            It’s the “Closed Jewish economy….ect” the core-issue. No one cares about how they called their department or if ruppin liked or not this term.
            Please dont write again about “colonization”.

            “you must show, using western concepts of land ownership, that the lands that we supposedly colonised, ALL of it, were the sovereign property of the other people who now want to claim it, the Arabs”:
            Why? It’s you that have to show why we should apply a Wester concept to an historically non-western context.
            And again, in Iraq still in 1951 only 0.3 per cent of registered land (or 50percent of the total amount) was categorised as ‘private property’”.
            Go to explain to Iraqis that they are not entitled to have their land because they should adopt retroactively a Western necessity and concept.
            Otherwise you risk to apply your outlook just to 1 reality that you have interest to annex or exploit (I refer to the OPT)

            “to apply the 5 criteria that I listed”: I think that I answered to all of them. If not, please paste and copy the ones that I didnt adress.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “arthur ruppin, wanted: “the creation of a Jewish milieu and of a Closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”.
            It’s the “Closed Jewish economy….ect” the core-issue.”

            So?

            “Why? It’s you that have to show why we should apply a Wester concept to an historically non-western context.”

            Since your point was not about colonisation, there is no need for either you or me to show anything. But I will say this: the Jews who started returning from the mid 1800s settled on lands for which they paid good money to absentee Arab landlords or the the Ottoman authorities. So those who claim (I am not saying that you do) that Jews stole lands, are just liars.

            “And again, in Iraq still in 1951 only 0.3 per cent of registered land (or 50percent of the total amount) was categorised as ‘private property’”.
            Go to explain to Iraqis that they are not entitled to have their land because they should adopt retroactively a Western necessity and concept.”

            OK, I’ll talk about too if you want.

            In Iraq too, there are more than one people. Let’s just take the Arabs and the kurds. If Kurds buy lands from Arabs, then that land becomes land that is owned by the Kurds who bought that land.

            Also, if both the Arabs and the Kurds live in Iraq, the Kurds have every right to separate from the Arabs and form a separate Kurdish majority state. And they even have the right to form a Kurdish closed economy.

            Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            Tzutzik,
            “Closed Jewish economy….ect” the core-issue. So?”
            So the local majority had the full right to fill angry & threatened. Even more so thinking that, in the words of the Simpson report of 1929:
            “The result of the purchase of land in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund has been that that land has been extra-territorialised. It ceases to be land from which the Arab can gain any advantage either now or at any time in the future”

            “the Jews who started returning from the mid 1800s settled on lands for which they paid good money to absentee Arab landlords or the the Ottoman authorities”:
            only the 6% percent of the total land was bought. About 1/20th of the total land.

            Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            Tzutsik@ “If Kurds buy lands from Arabs, then that land becomes land that is owned by the Kurds who bought that land”:

            True, but if they buy only the 6% of the total land and they receive the privilege to establish a state on 55% of the total land of Iraq (despite being a minority), they (kurds) would be foolish to build settlements in the little piece of land remained on Iraqi’s hands claiming that settlements are built “on state land and not private property”.

            Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            “If Kurds buy lands from Arabs, then that land becomes land that is owned by the Kurds who bought that land”:
            True, but if they buy only the 6% of the total land and they receive the privilege to establish a state on 55% of the total land of Iraq (despite being a minority), they (kurds) would be foolish to build settlements in the little piece of land remained on Iraqi’s hands claiming that settlements are built “on state land and not private property”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “True, but if they buy only the 6% of the total land and they receive the privilege to establish a state on 55% of the total land of Iraq (despite being a minority), they (kurds) would be foolish to build settlements in the little piece of land remained on Iraqi’s hands claiming that settlements are built “on state land and not private property”.

            You are alluding of course to the 1947 UN partition plan of Palestine but you are a bit negligent with your figures, Shmuel.

            True, the Jewish state was allocated 55% of the land. But it was also allocated a large Arab population with it as well. In fact, according to the partition plan, 45% of the population of the Jewish state would have been Arabs.

            Moreover, over 50% of the land allocated to the Jewish state was an extremely infertile desert, the Negev. So, are you really saying that somehow the lands allocated to the Jewish majority state were somehow disproportionate and unfair?

            As for what happened AFTER the wars of aggression which the Arabs either started outright or provoked (like in 1967), that is an entirely different debate. Yes, we seized additional lands. We, most of us, were and still are willing to give up most of those lands in exchange for genuine peace. Not pretend peace and not wishful thinking peace but REAL peace that has a chance of turning into a long term peace deal rather than the chapter before the next bout of violence.

            Mind you, if the current situation persists, I can see a time coming after which we will not entertain giving up anything under any circumstance or even worse. You know why? Because if the Arabs want to play endless war, then let us have real war. Not this cat and mouse game. I don’t want that to happen. But I CAN see it coming …

            Reply to Comment
          • shmuel

            Tzutizk,
            “45% of the population of the Jewish state would have been Arabs”. Even more than 45%, and this is something that further supports what i claim.

            “was an extremely infertile desert”: most of the coast, the best part of the country, was part of the jewish state. and of course also the Negev: or you suggest that a small mainly new minority should take the 100% of the best part of the country?

            “So, are you really saying that somehow the lands allocated to the Jewish majority state were somehow disproportionate and unfair?”
            That was unfair is clear to anyone even to persons that like me, are ware that jews have the right to build their state in the region. In uri avner’s words:
            “No one asked the Arab Palestinians whether to accept or reject anything. If they had been asked, they would probably have rejected partition, since – in their view – it gave a large part of their historical homeland to foreigners. The more so, since the Jews, who at the time constituted a third of the population, were allotted 55% of the territory – and even there the Arabs constituted 40% of the population. ”

            “REAL peace”: is just an empty word if you continue to colonize and build settlements.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Average American

      You guys are discussing all kinds of lofty ideas that drift away from the facts under our noses. Israel is on a mission. It is a long-term project, initiated and guided and funded by Zionists to create a Jewish Lebensraum. These Zionists believe anyone who is not a Jew does not deserve the same treatment as a Jew, and conversely that Jews deserve better treatment than a non-Jew. It could be any Jew, from any part of the world, as long as he or she is a Jew. Being a Jew is the most important thing. Everyone else, sure unlimited detention is fine for them, they probably don’t like Jews. And as we see from Israel’s actions, being a Jew is the most important thing in the world.

      Reply to Comment
      • shmuel

        Average American, “lofty ideas?” I think instead that we are discussing the roots of this tragedy. Please read again.

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          Nobody owns land in Israel.

          You can lease it off Rothschild if you want ,for 49 or 99 years.

          Source; Respected British Jewish historian Simon Schama in his book “Two Rothschild’s and the land of Israel”

          Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Butt out Average, and let the adults talk.

        Reply to Comment
        • IlonJ

          Oh no, every time some half intelligent discussion ensues, Shackalnur and Average American crawl out of the woodwork and try to spoil the discussion by making pointless comments.

          Reply to Comment
    9. Average American

      It started out discussing the roots of this tragedy (the tragedy is unlimited incarceration without charge or trial). Then it went to land ownership. Then it went to Tzutzik’s ideas God help us. The roots are a government in Israel that follows Zionism, which says unlimited incarceration without charge or trial of non-Jews is OK. The roots are first a view of law and detention that is not democratic in any way, and second a racist distinction of who the laws apply to.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Then it went to Tzutzik’s ideas God help us.”

        My ideas, Average? You haven’t got the foggiest about my ideas. You are delusional.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Gideon Gitai

      According to the Zionists, the Palestinian PEOPLE have done “something wrong” by daring to claim that they too deserve a HOMELAND — a State of their own.

      The Palestinians claim that they too are “the SEED of ABRAHAM”, and Rebecca was told that “Two nations are in thy womb” and (in Genesis 25) we are told of the trickery that Jacob used to steal / acquire Esau’s birthright…

      And Israel still refuses to recognize International Law.

      Reply to Comment
      • IlonJ

        “According to the Zionists, the Palestinian PEOPLE have done “something wrong” by daring to claim that they too deserve a HOMELAND — a State of their own.”

        Ummmmm
        Between 1948 and 1967, the West Bank and Gaza were under Arab control. So why didn’t they establish their Palestinian state then if that was the only thing they wanted?

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