The World's Longest War

News Abroad

Mr. Carlin is a professor of philosophy and sociology at the Community College of Rhode Island and and a writer for the History News Service. He is the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America (2003).

Everybody recognizes by now that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a singularly intractable one. The current struggle between Israel and Hezbollah is the sixth major episode in a 58-year-long war between Israel and its Arab neighbors that commenced in 1948 when the state of Israel was proclaimed. Fighting was renewed in 1956 over Suez, in 1967 in the Six-Day War, in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and in 1982 with the invasion of Lebanon. Only an incurable optimist will imagine that whatever "peace" agreement closes the current episode will bring anything like a permanent settlement.

Geologists speak of "fault lines," like the famous San Andreas fault in California. Along these lines earthquakes are likely to occur, and nothing can be done to prevent them. For 2,500 years the world's greatest geopolitical fault line has been the line dividing Europe from the Middle East. Israel, unfortunately, sits atop that line, a European nation in Middle Eastern territory. Because of this unhappy fact, it is unlikely that any truly permanent solution will be found for Israel's problems with its neighbors. Wise diplomats, therefore, will not succumb to wishful thinking, dreaming of permanent solutions.

The 58-year Arab-Israeli conflict is but the latest manifestation of what may be called the world's longest war - a 2,500-year struggle between the world of Europe and the world of Western Asia, the region now called the Middle East. The struggle began in the late 6th century B.C. when the Persian Empire demanded the submission of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and it reached its first climax in the 480s when Xerxes, the "Great King" of Persia, invaded Greece with an enormous army. Greece survived, winning two crucial battles.

The next great climax came in the 330s and 320s B.C. when Alexander the Great, in the most brilliant campaign in military history, conquered the vast Persian Empire - a realm that included the lands on which are found such present-day "hot spots" as Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Persons familiar with the career of Alexander get a feeling of deja vu when they read today's newspapers.

Even the three great wars between Rome and Carthage were part of this Europe-vs.-Western Asia struggle. For Carthage, though its empire was located near the western end of the Mediterranean, was actually a Mid-Eastern society and culture, a colony founded by settlers from Phoenicia, which is modern Lebanon.

For the next 2,000 years the struggle between Europe and the Middle East continued on many battlefields: North Africa, Spain, France, Palestine, the Balkans, Asia Minor. Sometimes one antagonist flourished, sometimes the other. The sudden and dramatic rise of Islam in the 7th century consolidated and strengthened the forces of Western Asia in a remarkable way, permanently Islamizing the Middle East and tipping the balance in favor of Mid-Eastern supremacy for many centuries - just as, later, the rise of modern science and industry re-tipped the balance in favor of Europe. The see-saw nature of the long contest should remind us that the European upper hand of recent centuries is not necessarily fated to endure.

By the 19th century, the Turks and Arabs had fallen far behind the Europeans in economic and military development. Europeans, especially the British and French, were able to "colonize" much of the Arabic world. Among these colonists were European Zionists who settled in Palestine. They represented no great power, and they were the only European colonists who had burned their bridges behind them. They were absolutely determined to stay in Palestine, for if things went bad they, unlike the British and French, had no European homeland to retreat to.

In the aftermath of World War II, a Mid-Eastern counter-offensive against the dominance of Europeans advanced under the flag of Pan-Arabism; more recently it has proceeded under the banner of militant Islamism. Since the United States is now the principal "European" country, it is no surprise that the chief object of Mid-Eastern animosity is now America.

This is a pessimistic analysis, and it warrants a pessimistic prognosis. There is no realistic hope for anything like a "permanent" settlement of either the Arab-Israeli conflict or the larger conflict between the world of Europe and the Islamic world.. Neither side can expect total victory over the other. Sad to say, the best that diplomacy can aim at is a mitigation of the conflict and a minimizing of collateral damage when fighting breaks out again, as it surely will.

This piece was distributed for non-exclusive use by the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events by setting these events in their historical contexts. The article may be republished as long as both the author and the History News Service are clearly credited.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Ebbitt made the following statement:
"Israel is the indigenous home of the Jew. It is proven that Jewish tribes cultivated figs in the now abandon village of Gilgal in the lower Jordan Valley 11,400 years ago (Smithsonian magazine, August 2006)."

This boils down to two things:
1-An absence of some 2000 + years during which other community(s) came and settled in and with whoever stayed behind formed , for over 2000+ years, a native indigenous population DOES NOT COUNT for anything.
The land, Mr Ebbitt seems to suggest, was held in abeyance, throughout these 2000+ years, by an un-indigenous "caretaker", a displaceable (disposable?) tenant, until the "original owner” decides, or is allowed, to return at which time the “care taker” has to move on and look for new lodgings.
A strange proposition indeed which, if we decide to follow this curious line of thought, raises the question:
Who is the “indigenous”?
a-Is it the one who came in “ first” then departed?
If so when, at what era, do we establish the starting date?
b- Is it the one who stayed longer? The one who has stayed uninterruptedly there intermixing and adopting new comers and together cultivating the land and building it for the last 2000+ years during which period a distinct national/cultural identity evolved imparting on the land an unmistakable national/cultural distinctiveness universally recognized as Arab for, at least, the last 1000+ years?

Mr. Ebbitt seems to favour (a) in which case the land would belong to the descendents of the Canaanites and Philistines both of whom preceded the , relatively, late incoming Jewish tribes who settled in only some parts and not all of Palestine.

2-That something was planted by somebody, or some community, is the basis of a recognized, by Mr Ebbitt, national claim.
What about those who did much more than plant a fig tree? Built , among many other things, a whole city and dwelled in it uninterruptedly for the better part of thirteen centuries , except for a short period when, with a Jewish minority , they were all massacred by the Christian Crusaders some one thousand years ago, and have been ever since its dominant majority community until forcefully dislocated in the 20th century?

Adopting Mr Ebbitt’s over all curious line of thought and rationale, as in (1) &(2) above,
will necessarily lead to some inescapable conclusions:

a-Everybody has the right to return to his “original”, or which ever place he chooses to designate as his “original”, land. All newcomers have to move on to make space for him and if they refuse to do so they would be forcefully dislocated and dispossessed and, those that manage to remain, subjugated.
Well and good except that would negate human progress, whose fundamental land mark is settled communities, and revert the world to the phase of roaming and marauding tribes battling over the better pastures.
An historical retrogression by any standard.
The whole point is : the fact that the Jews, among many others, have passed and settled for some time in Palestine.
Does that efface, negate, nullify the rights of the communities that preceded them, stayed put when the Jews left and intermixed with those that followed them into Palestine to form a settled community that inhabited the land uninterruptedly up to the 1940s?
Did history start with their incoming , stayed put during their absence and was resumed, some 2000 years later , with their colonialist conquest?

b-The fact that a certain tribe from a certain community planted something or a whole community constructed something somewhere proves only one thing: that human progress is a cumulative effort the fruits of which shall be at the disposal of the settled community, in the post roaming/marauding phase, to enjoy.
To contend that it is proof of eternal “ownership” for a certain community is as absurd and inane as the hyper absurd claim that, say, Southern Spain, Andalusia, belongs to the Arabs since the irrigation system still in use was designed and constructed by them.

The fallacy and retrogressive nature of the Zionist/Jewish claim on Palestine is best revealed if we project its basic rationale onto a universal scale: that which applies to the Jews shall apply to all everywhere.

If that rationale is NOT of universal applicability, if it is a special prerogative for a certain community, then it is necessarily a racist, aggressive and retrogressive rationale which Zionism patently IS.

(An aside: Hoping that you Mr. Ebbitt will see, sooner than latter, the error and horrible implications of your statement; I send you my

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

A truly and genuinely permanent peace could only be attained with a de alienated Israel; an Israel that is truly integrable with its environment.
Integrable is NOT "soluble" nor "dissolvable" it is "mixable" and as a component of the end product it is integrable and acceptable.
A Zionist, ie an exclusively or predominantly Jewish, Israel in a colonized Palestine is, by definition, an alien, aggressive and antagonistic body since that racist, racial/confessional, ambition can only be achieved through the forced exclusion of the indigenous Palestinian Arab population, refugees and all, from their homeland and the continuation of their dispossession of their rightful and legitimate property.
Welcome back Mr Clarke.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Ebbitt
"The Jew cannot be alien to this region if they are indigenous as is proven to be the case beyond any reasonable doubt."
If I understand correctly your statement posted above to mean that only "indigenous", ie Palestine and Arab Jews, are NOT alien and Jewish new comers with and post the 1920s colonialist conquest ARE aliens then we are in total agreement.
An indigenous Jew, in the above sense, is as Arab and as Palestinian as , say, the Christian George Habbash or the Moslem Omar , my humble self, and is unquestionably entitled to the very same rights .
Hence my ever present distinction between Jews and Zionists and my often repeated phrase " ..gathered from all over the world and selected according to pure, unmitigated racist, racial/confessional, criteria".
This distinction, as you must have noticed, has been violently resented and endlessly, directly and indirectly, obfuscated by the Friedmans and Simons who, echoing standard Zionist dogma, insist that any and every Jew is entitled to settle in Palestine.
However the stand of the Friedmans and Simons faithfully conforms with the racist (Israeli) Law of Return which restricts that "right" to persons of Jewish lineage while simultaneously denying the indigenous Palestinian Refugees their Right of Return to their homeland.
( An outstanding example of a "legally" sanctioned RACIST DISCRIMINATION policy and practice evoking the early shameful, but presently discarded, South African laws and practices.)
Keep well and my

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Professor Carlin's essay has the redeeming quality of enunciating two fundamental truths that lay at the very bottom of this seemingly endless conflict:
1-That a Zionist Israel does not belong to its environment; that it is an alien body and as such is ,almost, physiologically and ,certainly, culturally and strategically, unequivocally rejected by it.
"Israel, unfortunately, sits atop that line, a European nation in Middle Eastern territory. "
2- That it is a colonialist entity , a relic of the colonialist era.
"Among these colonists were European Zionists who settled in Palestine. "
What he has called the The World's Longest War in history and I, in a previous post dubbed the Hundred Years Plus War is one and the same.
However I do not share his pessimism about it being an "eternal" war , and I do foresee a way out of this hugely expensive, in every meaning of the word, conflict.
" There is no realistic hope for anything like a "permanent" settlement of either the Arab-Israeli conflict or the larger conflict between the world of Europe and the Islamic world.. "
The solution lies in the removal, the eradication, of both those characteristics that makes Zionist Israel an unintegrable , alien colonizer of an Arab, Moslem and Christian, land which also happens to be , culturally and strategically, the heart land of the Arab and Moslem worlds.
De alienation of Israel could be achieved through its DeZionization i.e. the final , irrevocable abandonment of its impossible dream of an exclusive , or predominantly, Jewish Palestine.

The second present characteristic of Israel, being the second obstacle to a permanent peace, is still is its dominant "colonialist" nature manifested not only in its all but proclaimed, and proclaimed re Palestinian land, expansionist and domineering ambitions and designs but in its avowed and proclaimed role as an outpost of imperialist America.
The dream of a Jewish Homeland which, at the hands of European colonialists in collusion with first British then American imperialism has , inevitably, transformed Palestine, through the dislocation, dispossession and subjugation of its indigenous Arab population, into an alien imperialist outpost IS opposite in every sense to the hoped for Jewish safe haven.

The ultimate question is do we have to go through X more wars, all patently progressively more destructive, before we achieve a permanent settlement or plunge in immediately and take the bitter, to both, medecine of a DeZionized Israel and decolonized Palestine?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

It is utterly useless to converse with somebody to whom the words "pogrom", "massacre", "banishment", "persecution", "battle" mean one and the same thing and can be used interchangeably.
However and for the record :human beings, whether Arab or Jews, are NOT a commodity to be "exchanged".

Equally for the record no Jew was ever forcefully dislocated from an Arab country all left voluntarily, nor were they ever denied the right to return if they so desired.Many Moroccan Jews did by the way.

If any thing , if you are really in the know, the US and the EU interceded some years ago with the Syrian government to allow Syrian Jews to migrate.
( There are all kinds of restrictions on Syrians travelling abroad.)

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


People who more often than not agree on fundamental principles are misunderstanding each other in this comment thread.

N. Friedman, Patrick, and Rob think that Omar is calling for expulsion of Jews from Palestine or oppression of them there. He is not, at least not in this thread. He is instead calling for an end to the special advantages of Jews in Israel and for an end to the status of Israel as a specifically Jewish homeland.

Omar thinks that Patrick is saying that Palestinians do not have rights to live in the portions of Palestine that are now Israel. Lorraine thinks Patrick is excusing the recent behavior of the Israel government. I don't see either point following from what Patrick has actually said about Jews being "indigenous" to Palestine.

The more important point of Omar's opening post was to rebut the pessimism of David Carlin's article. On this, I can only agree. The Norwegian Parliament is far from infallible, but surely they would not have awarded Nobel Peace prizes to Sadat and Begin in 1978, to Rabin, Peres, and Arafat in 1994, and to Carter in 2002 had they considered these recipients to be mere participants in a "58 year old war." At least in this respect, the Norwegians' judgment strikes me as unassailable. The ahistorical designation by Mr. Carlin is no less defensible for being fully in synch with a bipartisan laziness in America that tends to sweep all sorts of complicated problems under the mind-numbing rug of "war". It is a form of self-delusion reinforced by the more recent and mostly uni-partisan belief that democratic politics are little more than a series of sports matches whereby the traditional maxim about "how you play the game" being more important than winning has been perversely inverted 180 degrees. What we need in the Mideast are hardheaded and principled strategies, not trite and misleading buzzwords about "longest wars."


I think that Omar's advocacy of a secularized Israel made good sense...circa 1947. But not since, and it seems to me that Arabs in the Mideast must be assigned more than their fair share of blame for that possibility still being hopelessly out of reach within the lifetimes of anyone here. What continues to be possible, however, and at times even realistically attainable (e.g. on the rare occasions noted by the Nobel Peace Prize committee in Oslo) is a two state solution whereby a Jewish Israel (with rights for minorities) and a non-Jewish Palestine (on the West Bank and Gaza (possessing internationally acceptable and institutionalized human rights), would co-exist in peace, and with adequate security safeguards, and demarcated by something close to the internationally recognized Israeli borders of 1948-67. The Geneva Agreement of 2003 remains the leading model for this "end goal" of the "road map". A comprehensive Israeli-Palestine compromise agreement that encompassed a credible and committed termination of organized Palestinian attacks against Israel and a fully, sovereign Palestine state would certainly NOT suffice to end the SERIES of separate wars over the past half century in the Mideast. Many other goals need to be simultaneously pursued (e.g. once America is finally liberated from the current colossally pathologically, and historically unprecedent incompetent administration in Washington D.C.) including, but not limited to (1) reversing the demographic and ecological unsustainability of the economies there, (2) replacing the religious superstition and tribalism the prevails in Arab countries with something more like post-medieval liberal republicanism and democracy, and (3) attaining a far-reaching and credible disarmament, or at least a tangible shift towards denuclearization. But, though it is not sufficient, an Israel-Palestine settlement is necessary. There is no other alternative, and -despite the grievous setbacks since 2000, including the inexcusably inept and dangerous wounds self-inflicted by the Israeli and American leaders on their own countries over the past six weeks- it is still possible.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is not invitation for general denuciations of any of the parties to recent Lebanon conflict, but a factual/interpretive question.

Where the h. has the Lebanon government been this whole time?

I know Hezbollah in Lebanon has been described as a state within a non-state, but Lebanon has a flag, and a prime minister, some kind of parliament, some sort of an army, and some kind of population that considers itself Lebanese.

What is an even token state doing twiddling its thumbs while it and its people get blown to bits?

If the Lebanese are basically on the side of Hezbollah, why did they not lift a finger to help them?

If the Lebanese are fundamentally opposed to Hezbollah, why did the Israelis treat them (the Lebanese) like dirt, instead of trying to elicit some cooperation or at least helping them limit the collateral damage?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Thanks for your comments, Mr. Baker. However, I, Begin, Sadat, Rabin, Perez, Arafat, Carter, Bush Senior, Clinton, the Nobel Peace Prize panel, and all the signers of the 2003 Geneva agreement, among many many others, disagree with you that Mideast peace is only obtainable with a purely secular Israel. I daresay a fair number of the million or so Arabs living now in a not fully secular Israel would also rather have peace between that Israel and its Arab neighbors than no peace at all.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

John, Patrick's linked article is interesting as usual but also pretty weird in this context (or any context for all I know). Nevertheless, what are you driving at?

There is no doubt that there were sizable quantities of Jews in Palestine well before Jesus and long before Mohamed were born. Nobody here (I think) is claiming that this gives them exclusive rights to the whole region, but it certainly cannot mean that they are wholly "alien" to it either. Jews were I suppose a quite small minority in Palestine from the crusades era to the late 19th century, but even those scattered in the "diaspora" for the centuries in between hung on to their language, customs, and religion, all of which were connected to the Mideast. Now, I'll grant you that in 1947 the boatloads of arriving concentration camp refugees were undeniably much LESS native to Palestine than Arabs whose families had been there for centuries. But today? The Israeli born in 1948 of purely European Jewish parents is now 58 years old. So he should, all the same, be declared an "alien", and shipped back to Belarus or Bucharest where has no friends or family, cannot speak the language, etc.? THAT is way to REDUCE "aliens" ?

Of course, this is Baker's argument, not yours. So what is your point?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You have gone off the time deep end into fantasyland on this one, Mr. Amitz. By your bizarre replacement of history with myth, the great savior of Jews after 1945 would have been the Soviet Union which saved them from the genocide which the US and UK intended to perpetrate via the Arabs in Palestine. Hence, I suppose, the militant demand to the Soviet Uniov from Jewish rights organizations for decades: "Let my people stay!" And the stream of millions of Jews escaping over the years from Israel and America through Vienna to Russia. And the Jackson Amendment in America refusing favorable trade conditions for the USSR unless it prevented Jews from emigrating. Not to worry: this website only pretends to be about actual history.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

A UN resolution was one of the Olmert's administration's key international excuses for the Lebanon invasion a month ago. And the basis for the current ceasefire. Time for Mr. Amitz to get busy doing something about his hypocritical (not to mention incompetent) government perhaps? Instead of slurring entities of the civilized world?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I have nothing against self defense, and I supppose a fully competent military would have defended its soldiers on the northern border after some had been snatched already just a few days before further south, rather than blasting a thousand civilians in a ninept counterproductive offensive rage after the second failure of border defense, but a country is either part of the civilized world or it is not. Then UN charter does not specify adherence to selective UN resolutions sometimes and ritualistic bashing of the UN the rest of the time. Meanwhile, if you and your compatriots again choose playboy Neta-Yahoo, I fear that your once admirable country will be in for even more incompetence and international disgrace. It might even fall as low as the U.S. under our juvenile "president" who could barely win a global popularity contest against Saddam Hussein.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Amitz,

I hope you realize I was being ironic in my last post. The point there was that if the US and UK supported Israel because they disliked Jews and thought that this was a way to get rid of them (for which you have offered zero evidence), what was Stalin doing? Certainly not helping Jews! If the US, Israel's biggest backer by far over the past 60 years (and home to about as many Jews as all of Israel) really wanted the world's Jews wiped out, then the Earth of 1945-2006 is one giant Warsaw ghetto, with all Jews overwhelmed and on the very edge of extinction and everyone else bent on massacring them. This view is not history, it is paranoid delusion.

Back to real history for a moment:

Nobody, least of the Jews who were the victims of it, predicted the Holocaust in advance. Certainly, the U.S. and U.K. could have done much more to help European Jewish refugees in the 1930s and probably to take action against the extermination camps once it became apparent -well AFTER the most global war in history was fully underway- that that is what they were.

But, this history is anything but an "anti-Jewish story," nor does it prove, in the slightest way, that any official in the UK or US after 1945 hoped that Jews would be killed by Arabs in Palestine.

If you disagree, that is your human right, but that does not mean you have any historical facts to back up your illogic.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

There are probably some very different opinions in Lebanon about Hezbollah and Israel. But, last time, in '82, the Israelis got part of Lebanon do the dirty work whereas this time it was American supported or supplied precision weapons that did the killing. There was no winner in '82. This time there is, and it is not one that should make any American or Israeli or Israeli American happy. As for IDF, it probably is still highly competent. But Olmert is not Sharon. And Sharon was not Barak. And Barak was not Rabin. Similarly, Junior Bush is a faint incompetent shadow of his daddy, who was less successful than Reagan, probably one of the dumbest if not the dumbest presidents ever (albeit smart enough to delegate to competent deputies). The winners in all this long term spiraling breakdown of America and Israel are the Nasrallahs and Ahmadinejads. If you see it that way too, and are looking for a third country to add to your portfolio, I cannot fault you.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

As long as you're not in Kiriat Shemona or New Orleans you may be right. But for how long? It seems to me that the folks learning the most, and the lessons they are learning, from Lebanon and Iraq .are not favorably disposed towards either Israel or America. Nor does their growing capability bode well for our security. Are you familiar with the concept "living off one's capital"? I think our best hope may be to quickly try to liberate and empower a generation of Moslem females. And to quickly learn to live with drastically less fossil fuel consumption while also somehow shutting down all nuclear power plants in non-nuclear non-democratic countries such as Iran.
Needless to say, I am not very optimistic about prospects along such lines. Certainly not with the present leadership in Washington DC.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr Baker is not brainwashed, but I think he needs to check his historical facts better. Technical note: click on the message you want to respond to before sending and (normally) the post will go under it (one indentation).

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


The Bible. Also, see the unrelated works of Adam Zertal at Haifa, University who establishes Old Testament justification of Jewish homeland/dates.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

John and Peter,

My limited understanding of the question is are there any scholars able to prove/disprove Omar's point that Jews are alien to or conversely, the very first settlers of Palestine?

John is correct in that the discovery of a permanent settlement with an agricultural base versus the nomad hunter/gatherer subsistence does not prove who these people were. The articles cited only tie the discovery of +11M old figs to the city of Gilgal a known Jewish enclave.

Joshua has been tied to Gilgal however, some historians place him at 1200-1400 BC.



The discussion as seen at this board shows this topic has been of some interest.


There is also claims that the worlds oldest bead work comes from Israel.


Finally, the work of Adam Zertal attempts to prove the Bible (Torah) as true through his archeological research as proof that Jews are the original settlers of Palestine.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Hello, what's new? We did not have a chance to speak last week so, I hope all is still well with you.

My only issue with your initial post that, kicked me into play, was your use of the term 'alien' or 'alien body'. The Jew cannot be alien to this region if they are indigenous as is proven to be the case beyond any reasonable doubt.

If your issue is with the odd ball collection of settlers who have come from across the globe especially, Eastern Europe/ Russia then you make a very valid claim. These vagabonds are alien who have parlayed a little Jewish blood into becoming your new/unwelcome homey's.

Moving from Moscow to Jerusalem must be akin to Canadians flocking to Miami for retirement. Nice weather brings down the snow birds but, Canadians usually head back north in summer. Unfortunately, for Arabs there went the neighborhood. No borrowing cups of sugar or covered dish/block party's here.

As to your other points it's OK by me for you (and only you Omar because, I realize what you are up against/ trying to relate/ state/ accomplish with you well thought out position) to use my name as an example of a westerner who's ignorance has allowed this tragedy to take root/unfold and in turn provide support to your claims but, I think you know me well enough by now to understand that I neither conclusively agree or fully support any of the items you attribute to my name.

The plus here is that you were able to lay out a really solid post with some very substantial/excellent points that will be interesting to see if/ how/ when the supporters of Israeli immigration react/refute your well stated opinions/facts.

Take care.

PS... I concur with Omar... Welcome back Peter C.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


I am sorry to disappoint you however, I am a renown HNN butt-in-ski. The issue is to get these people talking. Only through dialogue can we remove the barriers and work together to achieve solutions.

It's when folks refuse to talk like Israel and Hamas/Hizballah that we have useless death, destruction and hatred.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


One news item repeatedly stated throughout the conflict was that Hizbollah had two members of their organization serving in the Lebanese Parliament in cabinet level positions.

The US media tried to paint a picture that these two terrorist leaders held the Lebanese government at bay maybe, with strapped on bombs, to effectively prevent any government action against Hizbollah. The fact is that Lebanon hates Israel and as enemies any enemy of Israel is Lebanon's friend. The non-existent/ token/ in name only Lebanese government and Hizbollah are allies/one in the same/interchangeable.

UN Resolution 1701 does nothing to check Hizbollah. The 'Blue Hats' will now be the target de jour and no disarming will occur. Lebanon and the UN will allow Hizbollah to keep it's arms/ infrastructure/ command-control/ organizational capability intact as long as they do so in a low key/ out of plain sight manner until the next full scale flare-up erupts.

The fact that a militia can arm itself within a sovereign state without state assistance is not as strange as Mr. Willis contends. Visit the UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan on any weekend and you can witness our very own citizen militias playing army in the woods. I used to ski the areas (Indianhead/ Powderhorn/ Blackjack) around Hurley, WI in the late 80's-early 90's and witnessed these exercises first hand. The Michigan Militia wing of Posse Comitatus is a very real flesh/blood myth.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

When Israel announced nationhood it was recognized by Truman/ US eleven minutes later.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Good point. However strong Omar's position may be he misses a key point that present day Israel is the indigenous home of the Jew. It is proven that Jewish tribes cultivated figs in the now abandon village of Gilgal in the lower Jordan Valley 11,400 years ago (Smithsonian magazine, August 2006).

A handful of dry figs were found/dated by Harvard anthropologists who were stunned at not only the discovery but, that the soft/sweet fruit came from sterile trees meaning the Jewish tribesmen had to cultivate the plants from shoots.

Jewish tribes established permanent enclaves along the Jordan River well over 11 millennia ago. How can the Jew not be native to this region. It makes no sense to argue otherwise.



Elliott Aron Green - 8/25/2006

In the context of my comment above, let's not forget the lenient European Union attitude toward the terrorism and mass murder perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah, PLO, and similar groups against Jews [inside and outside Israel, as in Argentina in 1992 and 1994], and against Christian Lebanese.
Further, why is the mass murder perpetrated by Sunnis in Iraq against Shi`ites, fellow Muslims, misrepresented as an "insurgency" against foreign occupation?

Elliott Aron Green - 8/25/2006

Just want to add one more point to my comment above.
Edward Said was wrong to identify the Arabs and Islam with the East, which is the mistake that Carlin makes too, probably under Said's influence. As I said, the Arabs wrecked the ancient East. Further, Said minimized the rights of the non-Arab and/or non-Muslim peoples in the Middle East, as well as their traditionally oppressed, exploited and humiliated status under Muslim law. I wouldn't deny a certain Western prejudice against the ancient Middle Eastern civilized peoples [even including modern Greeks and Jews], but this has meant favoring Muslim peoples. How else do we explain the Smyrna Affair [1922], the German-Austrian collaboration with the Armenian massacres, the British effort to keep Jews out of the internationally designated Jewish National Home [Israel, then called the Palestine Mandate] during the Holocaust, the American subsidies for Saudi Arabia through the US tax system [using the device of the Foreign Tax Credit], etc???

Elliott Aron Green - 8/25/2006

Carlin is a prof of phoolosophy and sociology [just as phoolish]. History is not his strong suit. To say that a conflict between Europe and the Middle East has been going on for 2,500 is outrageously misleading. It is also ridiculous to identify the Arabs with the East or ancient East.

First of all, within his 2,500 year time frame, Carlin forgets about the Arab collaboration with the Roman Empire in its wars against the Jews. Tacitus [The Histories, book 5:1] reports on the Arab auxiliary troops fighting on the Roman side in the siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. Aryeh Kasher points out that the Roman effort to suppress the Jewish revolt led by Bar Kokhba [132-135 CE] depended on a legion recruited in the Roman province of Arabia [the Arab-conquered areas formerly known as Moab, Ammon, and Edom]. Moreover, Arabs were so influential in the Roman Empire that Philip the Arab became a Roman emperor [we should point out that he was not known for being hostile to Jews]. Now, the final wreckage of the ancient civilizations of the East or Orient was not perpetrated by Romans but the Arab-Muslim conquest. The developed cultures from Egypt through Israel [originally called Judea by the Romans] and Syria and Mesopotamia to Persia were all wrecked by the Arab-Muslim conquests. Perhaps Carlin as a sociologist as well as phoolosopher could review what Joseph Schumpeter, an earlier sociologist and economist wrote about Arab imperialism in his work, Imperialism. [by the way, I justify calling Carlin a phoolosopher because he is in fact ignorant of the facts, and his broad generalizations are based on minimal knowledge plus imagination and prejudice].
Now, I agree that the Arab-Israeli is intractable. But this is due to the age-old Islamic jihadist drive and the open favoritism of the Western powers for the Arabs against Israel [see EU policy for the past 33 years], for Muslims against non-Muslims. Although Carlin may fantasize that Israel is "European," the EU as an institution has little sympathy for Israel. US policy too has long been pro-Muslim, and pro-Arab, whatever US presidents may say for public consumption at home.
I suggest that Carlin go back and study Middle Eastern history in detail since Alexander's conquest, particularly Rome's wars against the Jews, with Arab collaboration with Rome, the Arab-Muslim conquest of the 7th century, with particular attention to the effect on pre-existing cultures, as illustrated in works by Moshe Gil, and, most notably, Bat Yeor, etc.
--some other misconceptions by Carlin are seeing Carthage and Rome as so far apart. Carthage was in fact a colony [of Tyre], and many Phoenician/Carthaginian institutions are similar to those in Rome. Moreover, there were many Phoenician trading posts/colonies in Greece and considerable cultural influence from the East on ancient Greece, influences from Egypt, Israel, Phoenicia, Assyria-Babylonia, etc. The first "Greek" philosopher Thales is identified as a Phoenician by Herodotos and other fairly early Greek writers. Moreover, Pythagoras --as well as Thales-- show certain parallels to Judaism in their philosophies and rules of personal conduct. Many names in Greek mythology are derived from Canaanite [Phoenician] names.
As to the Jews in Israel, Carlin seems unaware that 100 years ago, the Judeophobes in Europe accused the Jews of being alien to Europe, of being Oriental. Today, the grand-children and great-grandchildren of those Judeophobes call the Jews in Israel alien to the Middle East, and the Land of Israel in particular. Essentially they are saying the same thing as their forefathers. The Jews are alien in essence. As to the population of Israel today, about half of the Jews belong to families that 100 years ago were living in Arab & Muslim countries from Morocco to Persia. They were oppressed, exploited and humiliated in those lands according to the Islamic laws of dhimma [see Quran 9:29]. The Jews in Europe are mainly descended from migrants from Israel and elsewhere in the Muslim domain who left Muslim oppression in the Middle Ages before the Crusades.
I am glad that Carlin knows about Alexander's brilliant conquests. But he has to do a lot more studying before obtaining the right to be taken seriously.

john crocker - 8/20/2006

"Truman's commitment was quickly tested after Israel's victory in its War of Independence when she applied to the U.S. for economic aid to help absorb immigrants. President Truman responded by approving a $135 million Export-Import Bank loan and the sale of surplus commodities to Israel. In those early years of Israel's statehood (also today), U.S. aid was seen as a means of promoting peace."
--- www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Yehudi Amitz - 8/20/2006

Go to your public library DVD or VCR areas and take "America and the Holocaust" (a PBS documentary) and "The long way home" (another documentary - I think it got oscar). If you have any mininaml honesty you may want to comment on the facts but I don't keep my fingers crossed.
The truth is that after 1941 when the allies knew very well that the holocaust begun, US continued to refuse entry for the Jews into the US.
The State Department ordered its employees not to pass to other branches of the US government documents about the holocaust (no one was sent to jail for that)

Rob Willis - 8/20/2006

Peter, the answer is, we don't know that the scenarios you posit didn't take place. The reporting is so slanted, it will take years to figure out what was really going on.

The Lebanese have effectively helped Hiz'b Allah for years anyway, it seems. How does an alien force build military infrastructure (bunkers etc.) in your own country without help? Very strange.

Yehudi Amitz - 8/19/2006

Yes USA accepted 2-300000 Russian Jews as a part the cold war (as a way to stir upheaval in the soviet union) but they did it after the full cooperation with Germany (together with UK) in exterminating 5-6 millions of Jews. Can you explain the following historic fact: in 1940 the US congress refused to pass a law allowing 30-40000 of European Jewish children to come to US but about 3 months later the same congress passed a law accepting 30-40000 British children into the US? The Jewish children died in the camps. The UK had huge areas in Australia and Canada where millions of Jews could be accommodated but they didn't move one finger. The allies didn't even bother to bomb the railways to the camps and they had full knowledge about what was going on there.
If you are going to write another of your rubber room anti-Jewish stories, don't bother! Of course I cant stop you but try to stick to the historic facts?!

Yehudi Amitz - 8/19/2006

Of course USA, UK and the rest of the world wanted the Jews in Israel killed by the Arabs. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were left to defend themselves with only minimal help from Jewish organizations. The British soldiers left instead of enforcing the borders of the new two states defined by the UN. UK didn't have in 1948 the money to maintain the army there but USA could help them to do it (as a part of the Marshall plan for example).
YES the Jews were concentrated in the Palestinian mandate after 1945 for the finishing touch of the final solution. The problem was that the holocaust taught that only the Jews can keep themselves alive and made them very hard to defend. After all in 1945 the Poles organized pogroms against the Jews trying to return to Poland and no one said one word about, the message was "get the f**k out of Europe dirty Jews" and the Jews did follow the message! Also the Arabs sent a similar message to the Jews from the Arab countries and the Jews there did follow the message!
USA and UK could, between 1945 and 1948, accept Jewish immigration but the almost didn't.

Arnold Shcherban - 8/19/2006

UN as the body expressing the will of
majority of the international community surely did not create Jewish state (actually, also Palestinian state) <to consolidate Jews for the Arabs to exterminate>
and that particular goal was the main motive of the British at the time.
However, based on the traditional, and historically proved being quite successful, methods of British foreign policy in those colonial times (cherished and inherited by the US imperialists), one of which was reflected in the old motto: Divide and Conquer, the British very likely expected the bloody conflict to materialize and last for long time to
provide them and their(always temporary) allies with the ample and permanent opportunity to interfere (in the interests of the White Man carrying the global burden of morality and civilization).
What they did manage to accomplish (mostly as the younger [older?] Yankee's brother, though).

john crocker - 8/18/2006

"Of course the same UN, in its infancy, allowed Israel to exist, expecting a swift extermination of the Jews there by the Arab armies when the British left the area. The bloody (in the British sense) Jews in Israel chose to survive and defeat the Arabs with the usual Jewish chutzpah (insolence) and forced the UN to show its real face.You are of course referring to the same anti-Jewish UN whose resolution was integral to the formantion of Israel."

Do you really believe that the UN helped to create the state of Israel to consolidate the Jews for the Arabs to exterminate?

john crocker - 8/18/2006

Note the title of the post. The point is I was curious if he could actually support the claim he made in his post.

The claim was made that the cultivators of these figs were Jewish. I am curious to see evidence of this claim. I don't believe Judaism existed 11000 years ago. Perhaps the fig growers were the ancestors of todays ethnic Jews, perhaps they were the descendents of todays Palestinians. What evidence is there to support either contention?

It is interesting though that figs were cultivated in this region 11000 years ago.

I think it should be obvious that the ethnicity of the fig growers has no bearing on the current conflict. Again, note the title of the post.

john crocker - 8/18/2006

If Hezbollah with Iranian money quickly and effectively rebulds Southern Lebanon, how might this affect the politics of Southern Iraq? Is it at all likely that someone will revive Hezbollah al-Iraq, this time politically allied with the larger Hezbollah and financed by Iran?

john crocker - 8/18/2006

The Bible was not yet written 4000 years ago. Forgive me if I don't trust it as an impartial source for history 11000 years ago.

Can you give me a more specific citation for Zertal?

Yehudi Amitz - 8/17/2006

For the record!

Yehudi Amitz - 8/17/2006

Sure, I was addressing your "oops" message (and the indentation for it is correct) but the madrasah guy interpreted it as a response to his rant, or he is simply very angry and madrasah isn't the place where one can learn anger management.
I guess the problem appears when too many messages are grouped together.

Yehudi Amitz - 8/17/2006

Go get a life!

Yehudi Amitz - 8/17/2006

For the record, you didn't address the exchange of refugees point?!

john crocker - 8/17/2006

What is the evidence that these fig growers were Jewish?

Yehudi Amitz - 8/16/2006

In 1982 I was in Lebanon, during the war, doing my duty as a reserve soldier. I did patrols in Lebanon afterwards and after a jeep accident (not an IED) when i broke a leg I was moved south to patrol the Gaza border till I moved to USA and now I am too old for reserve duty.
I don't intend to look for a third country and anyway all these third western countries can't take care of their own security without the heavy help of the American GIs (in Bosnia out of 60000 soldiers 22000 were Americans and the logistics was almost 100% American), so USA and Israel are the safest places under the circumstances.

Yehudi Amitz - 8/16/2006

The Israeli Army is very competent but a war has always surprises especially when the enemy is a irregular non conventional force which uses women and children as human shields.
About elections, I don't want Netanyahu, the Arabs want him. Politically I am a liberal (in the American sense) I voted for Clinton, Gore and reluctantly Kerry, Reluctantly because I believe that the candidate for democrats should have been Dick Gephardt or Wesley Clark, not a ketchup millionaire. I am a "Ron Silver" liberal, which means liberal on social issues and centrist on foreign policy.
The Lebanese paid the price for the former silent social contract between hezbollah and the rest of lebanon, which was: as long as hezbollah kilss only Jews and lets the rest of the Lebanese to go ahead with the daily business the situation is fine, but Israel showed the Lebanese that if they don't take responsibility for all the Lebanese actions this social contract is void.

Yehudi Amitz - 8/16/2006

The reason Israel attacked Lebanon is that a force coming from Lebanon killed 8 Israeli soldiers and highjacked 2.
I guess you are one of these people who considers any self defense action of Israel unacceptable because not enough Jews get killed.
This "civilized" UN does nothing when hundreds of thousands of people are killed in Darfur in a genocide perpetrated by Arabs but constantly condemns Israel for self defense.
I agree that the present Israeli government was quite incompetent during the last about 30 days of operations in Lebanon. As far as I see in the news hezbollah wants to give the Israeli government a second chance to correct errors it made. If not the terrorists have a good chance to face Netanyahu as the next elected PM of Israel.
Paraphrasing Abba Eban the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. If the Arabs don't want peace they'll get war and that's to bad for all of us.

Yehudi Amitz - 8/16/2006

In 1948 about 700000 (seven hundred thousands) Palestinians left Israel, most of them voluntary, to make it easier for the Arab armies to exterminate the Israeli Jews and a small part left "encouraged" by the Israelis (it was a war after all). But immediately after the independence of Israel (in a period of 2-3 years) about 800000 (eight hundred thousands) Jews left Arab countries (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, North African countries etc.) "encouraged" by persecutions, public executions of Jews and more. We can have a long and compelling argument about the historic rights the Jews have in Israel, but we have a very compelling modern history argument: in a short period of time after Israel declared independence, in 1948, took place an exchange of refugees between Israel and Arab countries, so from a moral and practical point of view the CASE IS CLOSED.
Of course the anti-Jewish organization named UN "forgot" to pass a resolution about the rights of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Of course the same UN, in its infancy, allowed Israel to exist, expecting a swift extermination of the Jews there by the Arab armies when the British left the area. The bloody (in the British sense) Jews in Israel chose to survive and defeat the Arabs with the usual Jewish chutzpah (insolence) and forced the UN to show its real face.

Rob Willis - 8/15/2006

Omar suggests the "DeZionization" of Israel, which can only mean the oppression of those who believe that Israel is the historical and now legal Jewish homeland. I say legal because, whether there was a true and fair legal issue at the time of creation of Israel, it has long since been settled by the Jews winning the territory in several wars - wars they didn't start.
"Zionism" is an ideology, a thought process, a state of intellectual being. How do you rip that from those Jews who believe in such a concept? Re-education camps? Exile to (pick your favorite GULAG here). Outright extermination? Are you getting it now?

So Lorraine, what does the "indigenous" question have to do with the events of now? Everything, absolutely everything. If the so-called Palestinians really think that Israel is going to open up there border to the same rabble that has been blowing up their babies for decades, then they are more insane than I first suspected. Israel has worked for generations to keep night-stalking murderers out of her cities, they will never let them back in without a fight.

Trevor Russell Getz - 8/14/2006

This article is merely a reiteration of Huntington's Clash of Civilization thesis, itself derived from a long legacy of classificatory history that fails any reasonable social science test. Frontiers may at times be fault lines, but they are more often zones of interaction and exchange, hybridization and diffusion. More conflict takes place 'within' supposed civilizations than between them. To my knowledge, Alexander didn't ride to battle as a defender of the 'west', just as Darius never saw himself as a champion of the 'east'. Carthage was NOT a 'Mid-Eastern' society... such was the typical view of Africa-phobic scholars until recently, perhaps, but it is more appropriate to see it as a hybrid Asian-African-Mediterranean society. Rome, too, was a hybrid (did Romans not claim roots in Troy, after all?).

Even if you would like to suggest some sort of east-west showdown (which I don't see), you would have to admit the borders shifted frequently - Between the seventh and sixteenth centuries, for example, the 'frontier' was frequently in central Asia, Hungary, and even Spain, while other than during the brief duration of the crusades the 'Middle East' was usually safely near the core of one Islamic super-state or another.

I even find it ironic to refer to Israel as a European nation... Jews have not often been all that happy in Europe, did not claim Europe, and certainly Europe did not until recently claim them!

History lessons like this one have been surpassed by thirty years of scholarship now.

Lorraine Paul - 8/14/2006

I'm shocked Patrick that you would enter into such a useless discussion! "..the indigenous home of the Jew.". What has that to do with the atrocities being committed on each 'side' in the here and now?

I'm a great believer in the past being the parent of the future but I am also a believer in the ability of humanity to overcome.

As for your N, what do you mean by 'ethnically cleanse'? Where does Omar advocate that? My interpretation was that he calling for de-partitioning. Something many other people are in agreement with. A discussion on this aspect would be more than welcomed by me, and, I'm sure others who visit this website.

Instead of concentrating on 'explaining' let us discuss peaceful outcomes.

Jeffery Ewener - 8/14/2006

The author describes this article as a "pessimistic analysis". Pessimistic it may be, an analysis it ain't.

Geologists use the term "fault line" to describe a pehnomenon for a very good reason -- there is a fault there, and it has a linear shape. Merely to list off a whole series of historical events, connected by nothing except the place in which they happened to occur, is to cloud not illuminate current events. We are not enlightened if we confuse Cyrus the Great with Ahmadinejad, or Olmert with Solomon, no matter how much they may want us to. History is an accumulative & ever-changing series of causes and effects.

This article also grotesquely ignores the centuries of mutually beneficial cultural, religious and scientific exchanges that took place across this very same so-called "fault line".

"Explaining" real acts of living human beings by the bad vibes of a place is more like Biblical prophecy or New Age mumbo-jumbo than valid historical thought.

N. Friedman - 8/14/2006


In other words, your position is to ethnically cleanse the Middle East of Jews. In that your claim is that Israel was founded by ethnically cleansing Arabs, why should anyone take your position seriously?

Here is my suggestion: your version of history is nonsense. Arabs arrived in the region as conquerors - which is the norm in human history and not stated by me to suggest anything evil -. Jews have as much right to be in the region as anyone else as there is no such thing as an implant society. That is ideological clap-trap. And to say otherwise is to be a racist.

On your view, the Arabs who now live in the West have no business making it their home.

DM Jordan - 8/14/2006

You mention that Israel is a European nation in Middle Eastern lands. At the end of World War II many European Jews and Holocaust survivors emigrated to Israel, thus validating your assertion. However, why don't more historians, politicians, or journalists paint any larger historical pictures of that region--histories that go back millenia before World War II. This region was inhabitated by the Jews. While their early history proved to be mobile, they did settle and establish many of the cities we see and hear in the news today (and not just those with modern Israel's borders). Why is there no mention of the Romans destroying Judea and Jews being dispersed as refugees or by slavery? In spite of this, there are some Jewish sects that have remained through it all. Why is there no reference to Israel's ancient claims, and they having the land taken from them? I have not read the modern Arab position ever acknowledging this (possibly because they claim it as their own post-Muhammed, Saladin, and Crusades?).
I'm interested in anyone who can address these under-reported circumstances.

Ricardo Luis Rodriguez - 8/14/2006

Hard to disagree with the general point of the article, but I have a major quibble with the authors wording concerning Jews in Israel. The impression is that they are part of a "wave" of 19th century european colonists. While there is no denying this fact, it is also true that in the disputed territories of Israel and the "transJordan" there have been continuous jewish populations predating both christians and muslims. Furthermore, the creation of a Jewish state was a twin event to the creation of a state across the Jordan river ("trans Jordan") for palestines. Because the creation of a Jewish state within "muslim lands" is viewed as such an offensive aberration whereas the creation of a state for palestinians is not; jews and westerners must die.