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American veto history: Protecting occupation, apartheid

A few comments criticized my post on Syria for comparing the Russian-Chinese Security Council veto on the resolution condemning Assad’s repression of the anti-government protest to American vetoes on resolutions criticizing Israel. See, for example, this strange blog post, which in the usual spirit of right-wing propaganda, accuses me of opposing the UNSC resolution on Syria myself.

This, of course, is complete nonsense – I specifically wrote that even more should be done to remove Assad from power, and a Security Council resolution would have only been a first step. Still, I noted that the Russian and Chinese are no different from the American administration in protecting their regional allies even when they abuse human and civil rights – a fact I don’t really think is debatable.

Let’s go back to the issue of the veto: Jadaliyya published a list of American vetoes from the last forty years, and it doesn’t make the State Department look very good: except for killing any attempt to recognize the Palestinians’ basic human and civil rights, until the mid-1980s, the administration was busy blocking resolution against South Africa’s apartheid.

Some examples:

Year Resolution Vetoed by the United States

1973 Affirms the rights of the Palestinians and calls on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

1976 Calls for self determination for the Palestinians.

1978 Calls for developed countries to increase the quantity and quality of development assistance to underdeveloped countries.

1979 Calls for an end to all military and nuclear collaboration with the apartheid South Africa.

1980 Condemns Israeli policy regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian people.

1982 Condemns apartheid and calls for the cessation of economic aid to South Africa. 4 resolutions.

1986 Imposes economic and military sanctions against South Africa.

1987 Calls on Israel to abide by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of the Palestinians.

1997 Calls on Israel to cease building settlements in East Jerusalem and other occupied territories.

Read the full list here.

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    1. Jazzy

      You’re still doing it: “I noted that the Russian and Chinese are no different from the American administration in protecting their regional allies even when they abuse human and civil rights” – if you directly compare what Syria’s doing now to what Israel has done, you’re drawing a false moral equivalence and making excuses for Syria. Being aware of self-contradiction doesn’t make it go away…

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lauren

      We also support Saudi Arabia where human rights don’t exist. Yep, that’s us… contradictary, vengeful, self-serving and violent. It’s really unfortunate that Americans like me are represented by corrupt AIPAC owned leaders. Our voices of peace are stomped on and mocked.
      If anyone wants to know who is stirring up trouble and destabilizing the ME, blame the US and Israel. Fake Arab Springs brought to you by the CIA and Mossad. I pray every day that we don’t go into Iran. That will be the end of the world when nukes are launched. All done in the name of democracy.

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    3. And USA supports Bahrain and its government’s invasions (as I recall) of hospitals and arrests of doctors for treating wounded insurgents.

      No doubt we all recall Israel’s bombing of hospitals and shooting at ambulances and UN zones in Lebanon and Gaza. And constant preventing of Palestinians from getting to medical help.

      There is one principal differences between Syria and Israel (apart, perhaps, from the sizes of the populations involved and the numbers of killed and wounded): Israel doesn’t (very much) attack its own citizens [but recall Kafr Kassem] but reserves its oppressive violence for its prisoner-non-citizens, the Palestinians (in OPTs) and for Lebanese and occasionally Egyptians and Jordanians.

      Since Russia and China probably have a degree of fellow-feeling for Syria, since they both mistreat their own citizens, they take this distinction seriously.

      Reply to Comment
    4. aristeides

      Note the hypocrisy of Clinton criticizing the Russian veto, when the US history of vetos in support of Israeli crimes is by far the greater travesty.

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    5. As the author of “this strange blog post”, I would like to know on what basis you justify your claims that I accuse you “of opposing the UNSC resolution on Syria myself.”

      I don’t-because I don’t think that you oppose the resolution. I simply point out the undeniable fact that your post suggests an entirely inappropriate equivalency between the US veto against the umpteenth attempt to condemn Israeli construction in settlement blocks and the Russian/Chinese veto that is widely seen as a “license to kill” for Assad.

      One additional point re. my supposed “right-wing” inclinations: So far, I haven’t even once (in my 30+ year life as a voter) voted for a party to the right of Labor. I’m not sure what I will vote in the next election, but writings like you publish here simply tell me that this is not the left I used to support.

      A left that ignores all relevant context in order to argue that the US is really not much better as Russia and China is not a left I want to be part of.

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    6. Carl

      Jazzy I don’t think Noam’s claiming a wholesale equivalence between Russian, Chinese and US foreign policy, just that all three have a tendency to junk their declared principles in favour of Realpolitik.
      Lauren: “Fake Arab Springs brought to you by the CIA and Mossad”. Ease up; the real world is mental enough. No need to add imaginary craziness to it.

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    7. Jazzy

      Carl: you’re being too generous to Noam – I agree that YOUR point is valid, but the US hasn’t HAD to defend Israel in the face of behavior like Assad’s; that is, not all Realpolitik is equally reprehensible, from a human rights point of view. To claim that US vetoes of anti-settlement resolutions, for instance, are “no different” from what’s just happened at the UNSC, is to diminish the seriousness of what’s happening in Syria, no matter what separate pronouncements one makes about what should happen. Noam is savvy enough to realize this. He just cares more about anti-settlement politics that taking a morally healthy stance on Syria. I too am against settlements, but I don’t think that Noam’s approach to the issue is effective or morally sound.

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    8. Sinjim

      So in the opinion of Jazzy and Petra, one regime’s destroying the lives of millions of Palestinians through deaths, tortures, forced evictions, indefinite detentions, and violent attacks for decades is simply not comparable to another regime’s year of extreme violence.
      Yes, in one year, the Syrian government has been doing unimaginably cruel and evil things to its people. But don’t you all forget that Israel too has been doing unimaginably cruel and evil things to Palestinians for decades upon decades. That adds up. Undeniably it does.
      And contrary to Carl, I do believe that the US’s foreign policy is just as reprehensible as China’s and Russia’s. The only difference is that we bother to dress what we do up in the rhetoric of “human rights” and “liberal values.” In the end what we care about is what preserves and strengthens our superpower status and nothing more, and in the process, we’ve killed a hell of a lot more foreigners than China or Russia has.

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    9. Passerby

      The list of vetoes from Jadaliyya is completely without context. What matters is not how the resolution is described by Jadaliyya but the actual wording of the resolution. There are very good reasons to veto resolutions on the basis of their language.

      It is also unfortunate that some people are comparing these vetoes, which are vetoes about the conflict between the Arabs and Israel and the Palestinians and Israel, with a resolution about the wholesale slaughter of Syrians by their government. The comparison is false and undermines the reality of the circumstances. I guess it does serve some ugly political motives, though. Maybe the author of this piece thinks he’s living in a country like Syria?

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    10. Carl

      Jazzy, I’d have to disagree with that. I read the original article as specifically criticising the Syrian regime, despite this being an IS/PL orientated site. The criticism around the US was about hypocrisy, not equivalence.
      Sinjim, I played ‘Conflict Top Trumps’ with you the other day and I’m not doing it again.
      Petra, you never voted for a right-wing party in thirty years? I’ve only read a couple of your posts but seriously, you’re missing a trick there.

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    11. Jazzy

      Carl: the kind of hypocrisy alleged requires equivalence – equivalence that’s not there – that’s the point.

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    12. Carl

      Jazzy, equivalence in terms of logic, but not import. So my government (UK) is hypocritical when it criticises other states for using torture but has been implicated in the same practice itself. No, we don’t torture as a matter of routine like has been the case in Egypt for example, but when we use it in even a minority of cases, we become hypocrites by applying the logic only to others, and not ourselves.

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    13. Sinjim

      No idea what you’re talking about, Carl. I’m making the exact opposite point, that it’s incorrect to say the US is better or that China or Russia are worse. There is no moral difference between them.
      Similarly there is no moral difference between what Israel has done to Palestinians for the past few decades and what the Syrian government is doing to its own people.
      There are certainly people who arguing for creating a hierarchy of oppression in the comments here. I’m not one of them.

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    14. @Petra: Regarding what you say on me: “ I still wish the Syrians that the UN and all the activists that are so eager to fight for human rights when Israel is accused of violating them — even if it is just by building — would be as energetic and engaged when it comes to murderous atrocities that can’t be blamed on the Jewish state. As I wrote, I support any action against the Assad regime. This was the point of the previous point. I wonder how you missed it.

      I didn’t say you are a supporter of the right, only that your criticism was “in the usual spirit of right-wing propaganda”. But for a person who thinks that the settlements control 2 percent of the West Bank – when area C, which was left under Israeli control because of the settlements, consist of 60 percent of the WB – I don’t know what’s so insulting about being part of the right, especially since your argument is the first talking point of the Yesha Council.

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    15. Carl

      Sinjim that’s crazy. You can’t seriously be claiming equivalence for all instances of oppression. It’s not a matter of arguing whether some instances of oppression are worse than others as that just self evident. It’s why we have different adjectives, like ‘bad’, all the way to ‘horrific’.
      Some stuff is worse than other stuff – that’s just obvious. The fact that the Assad regime has killed at least twice as many people in under a year than IS/PL managed to kill of each other in the entire second intifada makes me suspect there’s a greater level of oppression going on. If that doesn’t register, then I’m lost as to where to start.

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    16. Passerby

      Although you’re talking to Petra, Noam, you are probably aware that it was Saeb Erakat himself who stated that the settlements only take up 1.1% of Judea and Samaria. Actually, he didn’t call the area “Judea and Samaria,” but the 1.1% claim holds up. Maybe Erakat also gets his talking points from Yesha.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Sinjim

      Carl, this is where you and I differ in this regard. My measure isn’t just the number of dead because I wholeheartedly believe that there are things in this world that can be just as bad and even worse than death.
      The cumulative effect of what Israel has done to the Palestinian people is no different than what has been done by the Baath regime to the people of Syria since they’ve arisen to power nor any more different than what apartheid South Africa did to the indigenous peoples of that country. Certainly not morally.
      If some want to discount all the things short of death that Palestinians have suffered through, they are entitled to that, I suppose. But when this suffering touches and warps every single one of our families for generation after generation, you’ll find us Palestinians aren’t of the same mind. If that’s crazy, well, there you have it.

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    18. Carl

      Sinjim, I spent time in Nablus around 2003-5 and experienced the violence close up. Witnessed the fighting, saw the bodies and the devastation afterwards. In short, the usual gamut of experiences of anyone who spent time in the West Bank in that horrible period.
      What is happening in Syria now is of a different order of magnitude to anything I or any other activists, West Bank residents or Israeli soldiers experienced during that period. No it’s not a simple matter of casualty statistics and given your roots I understand why the IS/PL conflict would have personal primacy for you. But if you can’t see the difference in severity between the two situations, I’d say you’re sorely lacking in perspective.

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    19. aristeides

      It’s one thing to say there are or are not differences in the severity of oppression, in body counts, in suffering. It’s quite another to say, as Sinjim does here, to opt out entirely of creating a “hierarcy of oppression.”

      If this is his point, I agree. You can’t quantify suffering. More to the point, the “moral equivalence” argument is an old, old exercise in futility that Zionists have been dragging out since the Year One to deflect criticism of their oppressive policies. When you’ve been down that rhetorical road enough times, you lose interest.

      What’s noteworthy in the issue at hand is not measurable suffering but hypocrisy – the fingerpointing from the US at exactly the same veto tactics used by the US delegation to shield its own favored nation from the consequences of its acts – not the comparative heinousness of the acts themselves.

      But if comparative heinousness and deathcounts are what people want, then let’s not forget the enthusiastic US cheerleading for the recent massacres in Gaza and Lebanon.

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    20. Sinjim

      With all due respect to where and how you spent your time in a two-year period, Carl, I don’t accept your judgments of my perspective nor your very ability to make such a judgment.
      Once again, you demonstrate the difference in how we view Palestinian lives. Palestinian suffering didn’t begin in the Second Intifada, nor has it ever been restricted to Nablus or the West Bank alone. Gaza’s siege and the war that was waged on it are just as much a part of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Is the death of 1,400 human beings in 3 short weeks with thousands of families to this day left without homes or any means to a livelihood not enough to demonstrate that their suffering is unendurably severe? Or are there different levels of unendurable severity as well?
      I don’t accept the compartmentalization of Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israel into who was killed and who wasn’t and where they lived and on which date Israel’s crimes were carried out. It’s all part of the same system. When the entirety of it is taken into account along with the how long it has been going on, it’s the same morally reprehensible behavior of an authoritarian system whose only means of destroying opposition is physical and psychological oppression.

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    21. Passerby

      Sinjim wrote, “The cumulative effect of what Israel has done to the Palestinian people is no different than what has been done by the Baath regime to the people of Syria since they’ve arisen to power nor any more different than what apartheid South Africa did to the indigenous peoples of that country. Certainly not morally.”

      That may be your personal perception @sinjim, but your perception has nothing to do with facts. You can’t invent a narrative and you can’t invent facts.

      One act in Hama by the father Assad eliminates your argument completely because in that one act he killed, using an army against his own unarmed non-belligerent civilian population, more Syrians (25,000) than Arab Palestinians have been killed since 1912 by Jews or by Israel. And those Palestinians have almost always been killed in wars.

      Killing is not the point? You want to discuss oppression? Consider that under Israeli rule the Palestinians built 7 universities (yeah, I know two of them claim to be built prior to ’67, but we all know the truth) for a population of 2.5 – 3.5 million. The Syrians, with over 20 million people have 19 universities in total.

      Why don’t you take a look at the burgeoning economy of the Palestinians and compare that to what the Assad family has offered their people? In fact, more Palestinians in the territories have been connected to running water for longer than Syrians.

      How about elections? Under Israel, both Hamas and Fatah were elected into their leadership roles while in Syria nobody ever (really) elected an Assad into office and that goes back to 1966.

      Your biggest error, however, is suggesting morality is equivalent here. The Palestinians, together with other Arabs, have been trying to destroy the Yishuv and then Israel for a century. Even today the Palestinians could make peace tomorrow but refuse to give up the dream of taking over Israel in some form. Israel is in an existential war. Syria is not and has never been. It is simply a totalitarian regime beating up on its people to maintain power. The difference is quite clear, especially the morality of the situation.

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    22. aristeides

      Passerby – “The Palestinians, together with other Arabs, have been trying to destroy the Yishuv and then Israel for a century.”

      I believe this is what the young people call a FAIL.

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    23. Passerby

      Would you like me to quote the old Mufti or the new Mufti?

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    24. Jazzy

      Carl: that’s a flawed analogy – the only thing that China/Russia and the US have in common, under Noam’s analysis, is the FORUM for resolving security problems (UNSC), and, at an extreme high level of generality, the fact that what’s going on in Israel and Syria both implicate “human and civil rights.” By focusing on a specific PRACTICE (i.e. torture), your analogy assumes aware the entire subject of debate – whether Israeli settlements and Syrian skullcrushing are morally equivalent.

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    25. Carl

      Aristeides, yes I believe the common ‘jive’ parlance popular amongst today’s youth is indeed ‘fail’.
      Passerby, would you like me to quote old rope or new rope?
      Jazzy, I read the piece as saying that the US condemnations of the China/Russia veto whilst morally valid, were ‘hollow’ due to the hypocrisy of prior US vetoes. Anyhow, Noam’ll know what he’s talking about so I’ll stop second guessing him: but it is a line I go along with.
      That bit about sections of the left supporting Ba’athism was more important I think. More depressing from a personal perspective too.

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    26. Noam, I still don’t see how the paragraph you quote from me could be construed as me insinuating that you oppose the Syria resolution. What I’m trying to get at with this point is what motivated HRW founder Bernstein to turn away from HRW and found a new organization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_L._Bernstein

      Carl, sorry about “missing a trick” — maybe I’ll get it in the next election.

      But yes, I am among the people who voted Labor or Meretz and went to every Peace Now demonstration during the 1990s. But when the so-called Al-Aqsa intifada errupted, I suddenly realized that there had never been a Palestinian Peace Now. I said back then that whenever peace would come, the territorial difference in favor of the Palestinians from what was proposed in Camp David+Taba would barely be enough to bury those (Israelis&Palestinians) who would lose their lives until then.

      I’m not attracted to the right, I’m just appalled by the left. I wrote for some 2 years for the Guardian’s Cif, and I learned a lot there about the left – both from the talkbacks and from the articles that were published there.

      One I can warmly recommend because it succinctly states the majority Palestinian view (by a former Palestinian negotiator, no less!) is this one:


      The view that is generally propagated on here, i.e that it is somehow up to the Israelis to make peace, ultimately only reflects contempt for the Palestinians. They have always known that accepting a state of their own will also mean accepting Israel, indeed Israel as a Jewish state.
      And even if the PA jet set might flirt with the idea, there is plainly no popular support for it – that’s why the Palestinians themselves keep the “refugees” in the “refugee camps”, and that’s why nobody dares to tackle the myth of a “right of return” to Israel.

      And yes, I do think that the obsession with the largely self-inflicted Palestinian “plight” has long overshadowed and taken resources from incomparably greater suffering — and ultimately, all this contributes to a political discourse where somebody from the “left” takes a list of US vetoes to prove the point that the US is just as bad as Russia and China. What’s important is to score points – context be damned – and to scorn anyone who disagrees as “right-wing”. No problem, since I don’t want to be part of your “left.”

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    27. Passerby


      No idea what you mean by old rope or new rope. You’re welcome to quote the Muftis though. Meanwhile, I’ll stick with “The Palestinians, together with other Arabs, have been trying to destroy the Yishuv and then Israel for a century.” The evidence for this claim is overwhelming.

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    28. Hostage

      Passerby so far as the Palestinians are concerned, the new Yishuv and Israel have been trying to destroy Palestine for a century. So you’re not going to stir-up much sympathy among the well-informed by quoting Muftis while ignoring acts of incitement from Zionist nutcases and dubious religious pronouncements from the likes the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva or repeating talking points from the Yesha Council.

      I tend to agree with Ambassador Craig Murray’s views on the situation surrounding the Security Council resolution on Syria:

      “On Libya, NATO took a UN Security Council Resolution authorising a no fly zone, and twisted it as cover to wage all out aerial warfare on one side in a civil war. Long after pro-Gadaffi sources lost any serious offensive capability, NATO were carpet-bombing Sirte, killing many times more people than Assad has killed in Homs to date.

      If given an inch you take 500 miles, you should not be surprised when in future nobody will give you half an inch. That is the context of Russian and Chinese veto of any UNSCR authorising action against Syria. The total disregard for the spirit and precise wording of the resolutions on Libya to which Russia and China agreed, has stymied the chances of future united security council action, perhaps for many years. I actually predicted this, blogging on 5 October 2011

      “Having absolutely abused UNSCR 1973, plainly NATO was seriously damaging the ability of the Security Council to work together in future, and making quite certain that China and Russia would not for many years agree to any SC Resolutions which might be open to similar abuse.”

      All the sham indignation about a consequence the US, UK and France so directly brought upon themselves, and which was so obviously predictable, is pathetic.” –http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/02/know-your-limits-syria/

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    29. @PETRA: To be honest, I don’t find the debate over who is “right” and what is “left” very productive, and if it bothers you, I won’t use those labels again in this debate. The important point you make is that in order for Palestinians to have the same rights as you enjoy, they must “behave”, or meet some standards you set. This is not very liberal nor very progressive, regardless of your voting history.

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    30. Passerby

      Hostage, the well-informed know the history quite well and it has nothing with the Zionists “trying to destroy Palestine.” Never mind that there was no Palestine, there was also nothing in the Zionist mission that involved destroying any part of it. Quite the opposite.

      The sad fact is that if you go back to 1920 you get the first Mufti, before he was Mufti, but already implicated in those key riots and attacks on Jews. Without that, you might not have Jabotinsky and his outsize influence, you might not have an Yishuv sensitive to danger and preparing to defend itself in the subsequent years and you certainly wouldn’t get the outcome of those early decades including 1948. Everything begins in 1920 with Arab attacks on the Jewish community incited by Haj Amin al Husseini. These aren’t Yesha talking points – my politics are Labor, not Likud. This is simply history.

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    31. Carl

      Apologies Petra, it was a throw away comment.
      I’ll take your professing of left-wing feelings at face value, but I’d say that CIF – or for that mater all most all ‘Talkback’ sites – are about as representative of left-wing politics as they are of the right-wing grasp of grammar. The reason I post here and not other places is down to the lack of people with their fingers on the caps-lock button or those who insist on referring to Israel as IsraHELL.
      If you’re looking to have your theory that no Palestinian peace movement exists challenged, this is as a good a site as any to start.

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    32. Noam, I’m not “disturbed” by this or that formality, I disputed the substance of your argument (or at least I was trying to). But I think you’re right: our debate here doesn’t make much sense, because e.g. now, I would have to address your contention that my point is that the Palestinians must “behave” or meet some “standards” I set. This is not my point, and again, I have no clue how you come to this conclusion. Since we’re both very busy, I guess we leave it at that and agree to disagree sharply.

      Carl, no apologies necessary (not for a Cif veteran!)

      I agree, the debate here is by and large admirable in tone and in the effort put into making an argument—though, as I said, it is my very thoroughly thought-through view that this site propagates fringe views that, for good reason, have no mainstream appeal and are therefore politically irrelevant.

      So e.g. your invitation to come here to have my “theory” about the non-existence of a Palestinian peace movement challenged is not very tempting to someone who has read through about a decade worth of quarterly or semi-annual Palestinian opinion surveys and is very familiar with the writings of Palestinian activists etc.

      I started out with the same “theory” as you about the Palestinians, but I came to the realization that it’s just that: a theory for whose validity there is precious little evidence.

      It should go without saying — though maybe for Noam it doesn’t — that this does NOT mean that I hate the Palestinians or some such. However, different from some commenters here who see the Palestinians exclusively as victims, I see the Palestinians as having as much agency as we do – and I think we shouldn’t forget that on the international stage, they always had the Arab League (i.e. oil) and the OIC (i.e. the Muslim world) behind them…

      And the fact of the matter is that for almost a century now, the Arabs and Palestinians have regarded themselves as our (Zionism’s/Israel’s) enemy, and in my view there is no point in not acknowlegding that fact. The progressive arrogance that looks at them as little brown people victimized by white Europeans/Westerners who therefore always have to feel guilty and try to make up for all their crimes doesn’t appeal to me — and that is, for all I can see, ultimately the message of this site.

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    33. Carl

      Petra, there isn’t a ‘message of this site’. There’s a wide range of frequently conflicting views and you’ll find the authors arguing with each other as readily as those of us clogging up the comments section do.
      It’s getting a bit far from the original article but anyhow, the longevity of protests from Ma’sha to Bi’lin show there is and has been, an active Palestinian peace movement. Those are concrete instances you can form a judgement from, rather than Internet warriors and opinion polls.
      As for Palestinians as victims, well I agree they have as much agency as Israelis, or indeed anyone. But until the Palestinian airforce or nuclear stockpile comes into being, then the power to dictate the conflict remains on one side. There is no equivalence in terms of power or experience.
      Your end point is somewhere between weird and offensive. I didn’t notice a preponderance of whites, Europeans or Westerners last time I was over IS/PL way, well excepting tourists, so is your point that I feel guilty because I’m European and white? If so, how did you work out what colour I am?
      Yours – progressive – but not very guilty feeling,

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    34. aristeides

      Every time I see the words “Palestinian” and “agency” in the same sentence, I know it’s another Zionist apologist insisting on Palestinian guilt for their own victimization. That’s what “agency” always seems to mean in this context: guilt.

      We never see discussion of Israeli agency in coming into Palestine to expropriate Palestinian land.

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    35. Carl, the point you found weird/offensive was meant to characterize an attitude that IMHO often seems to inform “progressive” views in the I/P debate-in general, nothing to do with you personally!!!

      I’m most amazed that you regard protests like those in Bi’lin as evidence for a Palestinian peace movement. The Israeli peace demonstrations in the 1990s I attended were for sure very different: the focus there was to demonstrate popular support for compromise, for a 2states-for-2peoples peace etc.–nothing of the kind ever heard in a Palestinian demonstration, let alone in one of comparable size to Israeli Peace Now demos in the 1990s.

      I also find it amazing that you think it’s preferable to form views on the basis of what some relatively small activists group do, instead of e.g. systematic, regular and professional opinion surveys. That’s like somebody comes to this site and forms his views on how Israelis think on the basis of the writings and activism of the bloggers here…

      Anyway, seems we agree at least that it’s time to wrap up this debate. Since we have very substantive disagreements, it would also take a lot of dedication to really explain our respective views and their basis, and I wouldn’t want to hijack this forum to argue for views that are clearly very far from anything welcome here.

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    36. Hostage

      Passerby you’re simply demonstrating your own ignorance. Of course there was a Palestine.
      The US had a consulate located there. Its officials had submitted country reports to the State Department for many decades before Herzl came along in 1896 and requested that the Sultan cede the place to the Zionists.
      Many, if not all, of the Western powers operated their own consular courts as a result of the extraterritorial powers granted them under the Ottoman capitulatory regime. Most of them considered Palestine to be a formal jurisdiction for their own government’s purposes. See for example Ruth Kark, American consuls in the Holy Land, 1832-1914, Wayne State University Press,1994 and Leland J. Gordon, The Turkish American Controversy over Nationality, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2189916
      Forget about Jabotinsky, the Mufti, and the 1920 riots. Ahdut Ha’avodah was already established in 1919. Its founding Charter demanded a Jewish Socialist Republic in all of Palestine, and “the transfer of Palestine’s land, water, and natural resources to the people of Israel as their eternal possession.” See Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs,Oxford University Press, 1985, page 99.

      So, the Labor Socialist wing of the Zionist movement would have started the conflict even if Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor had never been born.

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    37. Piotr Berman

      Israel can be justly proud that it does less shit than Syria, and USA can be justly proud that it defends the Israel ability to continue doing lesser shit.

      Moreover, Israel is committed to progress. Defecating in Palestinian homes and offices by IDF troops was practically eliminated — and it is not even listed by any of Geneva conventions! Instead, IDF sprays homes with a quite hygienic liquid that merely smells like shit.

      Recent news item suggest that Israel subjected fewer prisoners to anal rape than Syria, and the trends suggest that this undignified practice will also be replaced with something more mechanical, perhaps remotely controlled.

      There was an article recently in JP how IDF was destroying home after home in Gaza, as they COULD contain “arms caches” using drones, and how they developed a technique then when inhabitants did not want to leave and instead were gathering on the roof, one drone would shoot at the corner of the roof, so the inhabitants would jump down, and another drone would instantly mow the roof down. Technology! Experimentation! Care for human lives! Civilization!

      Read several thousands miles from Jerusalem, the article seem to suggest some monstrous mental sickness in Israel. But I was assured by commentators in JP that Israel is right even if it “does not look pretty”.

      But one has to be careful how to praise Israel. After all, it is not the only liberal theocracy in Middle East — Iran strives for moral superiority as well. Petra cites the size and admirable motivations of Israeli demonstrations. Iran also had very nice demonstrations. And fewer demonstrators were killed in Iran, much fewer if we take the numbers into account! Also, at some point Iranian parliament outlawed torture and it seems that they really do not do much of it.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Passerby

      You know, that’s really interesting, Hostage. I couldn’t find page 99 of Teveth’s book and sadly I don’t have it handy on my shelf. However, I was able to find this quote from pages 31 and 32 of the same book:

      “In 1920 he [Ben-Gurion] told a visiting delegation of Poalei Zion that ‘… the most important economic asset of the native population is the fellahs, the builders of the country and its laborers … Under no circumstances must we touch land belonging to the fellas or worked by them. … They must receive help from Jewish settlement institutions, to free themselves from their dead weight of their oppressors, and to keep their land. Only if a fellah leaves his place of settlement should we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price.’ And if an effendi landowner sold land worked by fellahs, ‘then we must give the displaced tenants their own plots, and the means to cultivate such tracts more intensively. When this is impossible, the fellahs must receive new land elsewhere.'”

      Poalei Zion are part of Ahdut, which seems to belie your quote. Of course, if that doesn’t convince you, we can visit page 43 from that same book about Ben Gurion, who was elected head of Ahdut in 1921,

      “Ben-Gurion placed the work of renewal in the desert and the wastelands. He told a visiting delegation in 1920 that the possibilities for massive settlement of Jews lay in the abandoned or uninhabited reaches … on land that had no owners, and on partially utilized tracts owned privately or by the government. He estimated that four fifths of the country’s territory was available for new settlement. Six million persons using modern methods could earn their livelihoods from farming these lands; an untold number could prosper from industry. None of this activity would impinge on the Arabs, who would continue to live in their established areas, while Jews lived in new settlements and worked new fields.”

      It surely seems strange to me that the leader of a movement that wants to remove all the Arabs from the land and dispossess them would actually be concerned about, um, their displacement and would focus on land that is abandoned or uninhabited if it can’t be purchased. By the way, do you notice how he believes 80% of it is available as abandoned or uninhabited. Yes, thanks for bringing up this book.

      Now if you want to get into whether Palestine existed, why don’t you have a look at this 1855 map of the Ottoman Empire (click on the map to download the enlarged file and then click inside the map to zoom). You will note that there is no Palestine listed there. You will see Damascus and Syria and that’s because Palestine did not exist except as a sub-province of the Syrian Eyalet.


      The date of this map is critical because 9 years later, the Ottomans would change laws regarding their lands and vilayets (provinces) would overtake eyalets. Of course, the Syrian vilayet includes Palestine. I’ll show you in the next comment.

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    39. Passerby

      Thanks to Wikipedia, we have the Syrian vilayet laid out as it was in 1918 when the British came to control it. You will note there is no Palestine there. There is a special division for Jerusalem (which gained this special status in 1877, after centuries of being a sanjak of the Syrian elayet.


      So now can we get back to the Mufti in 1920?

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    40. M Hatherstone

      Where did all these Ziotrolls come from? Haven’t been here for a while and suddenly the site’s comments section looks like the Beitar message board. It seems their arrogance is nearly (though not quite) as great as their ignorance.

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    41. Passerby

      This “Ziotroll” is always eager and ready to learn something new. You see how quickly I learned from Hostage’s reference to the Teveth book? Feel free to educate me on any mistakes I’ve made.
      Then again, I’m not quite sure how you consider me the troll but you don’t think that Piotr or Sinjim are trolls. You can even be clever and call them “Palestrolls” if you like. My intended contribution to this discussion was my first comment. My other comments are responses to things others have said, and I’ve addressed their comments respectfully and with an attempt to be accurate about any points I’ve made.

      I guess it’s a matter of taste.

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    42. Passerby

      Yes, under the British Mandate to create a national home for the Jewish people in this area, the former southern sector of the Syrian province became officially recognized as Palestine.

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    43. Deïr Yassin

      Yeah, because as long as no “White” man has formalized borders and created a State, a place doesn’t exist ! It’s like the “Discovery” of the Americas in 1492.
      Read al-Muqaddasi (al-Makdisi) – from Jerusalem as his name indicates – a famous geographer from the 10th century. He clearly talks about a Palestinian unity within Bilâd al-Shâm.
      Here’s Edward Said reading a short extract from his “Description of Syria. Including Palestine”:
      My family and ancestors are Palestinians so Palestine does exist, that’s as simple as that ! Don’t waste your time on me…

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    44. Passerby

      I’m sorry, Deir, I’m just reporting the history, I’m not creating it. I have no idea whether your ancestors lived in Palestine but I accept your claim that you are Palestinian. Who knows, maybe your family even goes back in Palestine to al-Muqaddasi’s time. Or you might have been Egyptian immigrants from the mid-1800s, or Syrian immigrants from the 1930s. The Palestinians of 1948 include all the aforementioned.

      And just so you know, my connection to the land is similar to yours in that it involves a collective memory and not a specific one. I couldn’t tell you about my great-great grandparents’ whereabouts. I’m lucky to even know a little about my great-grandparents’ history, and I know that most Israeli Jews and most Palestinian Arabs are the same.


      It so happens that I was planning to quote al-Muqaddasi in this discussion but felt I had already written too much. Since you bring it up, however, I suggest that you read the book carefully. Here is a link to a translation from the late 1800s.


      Go to pages 8-10. al-Muqaddasi lists the six districts into which Syria is divided. One of them is Filastin. As I’ve noted all along, it is a part of Syria and does not rule itself other than as a district, along the lines of a county of a state in the USA.

      Interestingly, he breaks each district down to its principal towns. Tiberias, Hula, Acco, Gaza and Beit Shean all belong to different districts than Filastin. Ar Ramlah is the capital of Filastin, not Jerusalem. Bait al Makdis which is in Filastin is what he calls Jerusalem. That name sounds suspiciously like Beit Hamikdash or House of the Temple in Hebrew, so you might want to hide this book from the PA and Waqf leadership. By the way, al-Muqaddasi also makes a point of stating that there are many poll tax payers in the population, meaning non-Muslim Jews and Christians. In fact, on page 37 he writes about Jerusalem, “Everywhere the Christians and Jews have the upper hand; and the mosque is void of either congregation or assembly of learned men.”


      Of course, the world he’s writing about shifted dramatically a century or two later when the Crusaders came, and we can safely assume that the Muslim population became much sparser in Filastin and al-Urdunn (Jordan) for a long while…

      Reply to Comment
    45. Hostage

      Passerby, those clever boffins at Google Books allow you to search inside Teveth’s book for matching phrases. So it is trivially easy to verify that you were lying about the quote I supplied from page 99, like so:


      If you’d like to see the British maps of Palestine that were in use by the War Cabinet after the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1917 see:

      Former Reference: GT 6506A
      Title: Maps illustrating the Settlement of Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula.

      Author: Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office
      Date 21 November 1918
      Catalogue reference CAB 24/72

      Reply to Comment
    46. Passerby

      I just clicked on your Teveth link and it showed nothing related to what you said above, just as it didn’t when I tried. I presume you have the book, however, and surely you can scan that page and post it somewhere if it’s important to you. In the meantime, you may wish to look again at what Ben Gurion said because you have to reconcile that with your claims.

      By the way, if you think you can deflect all the evidence I’ve brought your way by calling me a liar because I couldn’t find a page from a book that isn’t online, go right ahead. It just makes you look like you have no answers (which you don’t since the facts are irrefutable).

      I fail to see the point of your Sykes Picot map. The British DID view Palestine as its own territory and made sure the world did as well. That’s one of the reasons we’re here! British colonial adventures. Wanting Palestine to be its own place was caused by the fact that some of their leaders were philo-Semites and by the desire to colonize and control this area or at least have it as a possession to give away to Arab and Jewish allies.

      The French and the English reconfigured all of the Middle East to their liking. But this doesn’t change the fact that there was never an official entity called Palestine. There was a Syrian province of the Ottoman empire and part of that province was an area called Palestine, so known because that’s what the Romans named Judea. This isn’t complicated. It’s a waste of all of our time, but it’s not complicated.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Hostage

      Passerby the Zionists arrived in Palestine shooting off their big mouths in public about their plans to dispossess the Palestinians.
      That fact is amply demonstrated, not only by the quotation from the Ahdut Ha’avodah Charter supplied by Teveth, but also by the report of the King-Crane Commission, and the testimony of Dr. Eder the head of the Zionist Commission to the Royal Commission (aka Haycraft Commission) sent to investigate the 1920 riots.
      Dr Eder said there can be only one national home in Palestine, a Jewish one, and that no equality of partnership between the Jews an Arabs was possible.
      The British Colonial Office was so upset that it demanded the Zionist Organization, acting in its role of the Jewish Agency, remove Dr. Eder from his position. See Doreen Ingrams, Palestine Papers 1917-1922, George Braziller, 1972, page 135.

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    48. Passerby

      That’s rich. Temple denial isn’t enough, now we have denial of how the riots of 1920 came about and whose fault they are. Unbelievable.

      Your information is inaccurate. The book you’re thinking of is by Sahar Huneidi about the Samuel administration (a book very sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, to put it mildly).

      There, on page 135 you will find Eder’s testimony. As noted by British officials, his testimony of Zionist control belied the ideological positions of important Zionist leaders such as Weitzman FROM HIS OWN ORGANIZATION.

      Furthermore, that commission, the Haycraft Commission, was established to attempt to understand not the 1920 riots as you explained but the 1921 riots in Jaffa against the Jews (you see, it happened in 1920, 1921 a number of times, 1926, 1929 and on many other occasions, always instigated by the Arab majority).


      Just to elaborate further about early Zionists, since you seem to be getting your information from places like LoonyWeiss, here is what the ideological guru of Poalei Zion, later to become part of Ahdut, Ber Borochov, wrote:
      “Many point out the obstacles which we encounter in our colonization work. …and still others charge us with the odious crime of wishing to oppress and expel the Arabs from Palestine…

      When the waste lands are prepared for colonization, when modern technique is introduced, and when the other obstacles are removed, there will be sufficient land to accommodate both the Jews and the Arabs. Normal relations between the Jews and Arabs will and must prevail.”

      Here is part of the Poalei Zion platform, also from 1917:

      “It is clear that this colonization has nothing in common with the politics of colonial conquest, expansion, and exploitation. The Jewish people possessing no power of statecraft and seeking neither markets nor monopolies of raw materials for production in favor of a “mother country,” cannot think of launching a policy of colonial politics in Palestine or of molesting the population of the country. The Jewish people aims at creating a secured place of employment for its déclassé, wandering masses: it seeks to increase the productive forces of the country in peaceful cooperation with the Arab population. The Jewish colonization is already a considerable factor in Palestine’s economic development. The Jewish immigration brings progressive methods of labor, a higher standard of living, and a higher scale of wages. It can therefore only assist the Arab population to overcome their primitive standards of civilization and economics.”

      You see? Nobody wants to kick anybody out. These guys actually think they’ll be helping the Arabs.

      At the time of that writing and also 3 years later when the Haj Amin al Husseini first incited the Arab rioting against the Jews, that Jews were a small minority in a place with a much larger Arab population? Jews were 10% of the population.

      Huneidi points out, and I remind you again that he is extremely sympathetic to the Palestinian version of history, that both the Palin and Haycraft commissions, of the 1920 and 1921 riots respectively, blame the Arabs for instigating the riots. Huneidi, around pages 140-145 also points out that one key consequence of the Arab-instigated riots is that the Jews began forming military forces to protect themselves.

      Exactly as I pointed out long ago in this discussion.

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