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Israeli-Palestine Conflict - Opinions? (Keep it civil!)
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sunshine



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:15 pm    Post subject: Israeli-Palestine Conflict - Opinions? (Keep it civil!) Reply with quote

I recently recieved a chain e-mail from my dad, who is an Israeli citizen and very vocal about his loyalties, informing me that I needed to put my vote in on a CNN poll regarding which side people "favored", tne Israelis or the Palestines, because the poll's current results showed a 2/3rds majority for the Palestines. I told him I personally have no preference towards either side, as I feel they are both in the wrong for continuing to perpetuate violence and conflict instead of making genuine, committed efforts towards peace.

But the e-mail got me wondering... what do other people, both in the US and internationally, think of the current situation in that area of the world? I know we have a few people from Israel on the forum; I'm especially curious to know what your opinions are.

Please keep in mind that I am asking for opinions only, and would like to avoid getting too deeply into any kind of debate regarding who is "right" or "wrong" as that's the quickest way for this kind of topic to turn nasty. Though you guys have proven before to be very good at staying civil, so we shouldn't have any problems! ^_^
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CBB



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say my opinion is similar to yours, in that both sides have been fairly apathetic in trying to reach a peaceful resolution-although I'm slightly more sympathetic to Israel due to its recent efforts to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and allowing free elections in the PLO to elect Hamas despite its, erm..."poor" record of honoring agreements. I think the most recent airstrikes and invasion in the Gaza Strip have been heavy-handed, but the Palestinians were the first to fire in this particular conflict, but both sides have done shameful and underhanded things in the past.

As for the root problem-well, Israel has done very well in asserting its right to exist and creating a well-developed nation out of practically nothing. At the same time, though, I wish the Palestinians (by which I mean the common man, woman, and child) had the same access to security, peace, education, and employment that Israelis do. But as long as there are people in power on both sides that assert that it must be "either/or," there will be no peace for either.
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Asa



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My opinion is that the Palestinian people are less to blame than Hamas, though they aren't blameless. Hamas is a terrorist organization, no less than Saddam Houssein or any other terrorist leader. And Israel is exercising its right to defend itself, doing what they should have done in the first place (well, first they should have never pulled out of Gaza, which is what allowed Hamas to win the 'elections'), because talking has never worked. From day one it didn't work, so why should people think it should have worked this time?

I pray every day for the end to the conflict, because innocents are dying on both sides, regardless.

I'm not going to say anything else in this topic.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I see it Israel can hardly withdraw its claims to the lands it has taken for political reasons both internal, in that the ruling party at the time would be hung out to dry, and externally in that they cannot let it be seen that terrorism has won. On purely pragmatic grounds even if they were prepared to make those sacrifices still they could not do it because of the external politics in Palestinian groups. The power structure in Palestinian groups tends to be such that the leaders have built their power base on hatred for Israel, it is as much in their interests to keep the war going as anyone else's. So after Israel withdrew there would be further terrorist attacks, Israel would be obliged to reoccupy the land and the situation would advance as it has. It’s the reason why no cease fire is likely to hold for the foreseeable future.

Israel did kind of bring this on themselves I guess. Oh undoubtedly there's blame on both side but the current situation on the scale it is, is largely Israel's making. They had a relatively nice neighbour in Fatah. They hated each others' guts but Fatah was incredibly pathetic at actually doing anything. But then they went and set up the situation with Hamas and the PLO so that the Palestinians would fight between each other. Fatah and Hamas duked it out and predictably the nastier side composed of the nastier more capable people won.

If Israel had just stayed out of the way, made some comment about how unfortunate it all was and let the PLO deal with its own problems in a nice bloodbath, then we wouldn't be where we are today. Hamas would have made such a mess that the Palestinians would be too busy hating each other to actually go and attack Israel. But unfortunately political pressure within Israel was such that they couldn’t ignore the occasional attacks long enough for their strategy to work, they kept on reminding the Palestinians that the Israelis were out a raiding and killin' (which with the benefit of hindsight or even a bit of common knowledge of history they should have known wasn't a great idea when you’re trying to divide a nation against itself. Internal threats divide, external threats unify.)

It’s not really about land anymore, or what either side is doing to the other – the cultural component, which is the true motivation for all wars, has become abstracted away from the specific cases of land and nation, those are just rallying points. Both sides are essentially up against a wall now. Palestinian groups couldn't stop attacking and hold to a cease fire for any great length of time even if they wanted to for internal political reasons, coupled with the fact that Israel has been engendering hatred in them for generations so they don't even want to; and Israel can hardly stop doing so either because Palestine's still attacking them which provides all the motive for the whole sorry mess to continue. There's no right and wrong about it. It's just a knife fight in a dark alley and only one man's walking out at the end of the night.

This is just a case of seeing which force is greater. ‘Do as you will be done by and do it first,’ as my old man used to say. I don't sympathise with any of them but I don't blame the Israelis for defending themselves. Sure innocents die, on both sides, but, 'mess with us and we come after your family,' is an old idea, and not entirely lacking in merit if you're ruthless enough to do it on a large enough scale. Which is another major problem, somewhere at the back of my mind I fear Israel isn’t ruthless enough to see this through to the end.

On the other hand Israel is relatively friendly to the West and Palestinians tend to hate our guts with good reason. So you can guess which side I'd like to win.

Considering the nature of this issue I'd just like to add again: As I see it. I don't want this to seem like I'm taking digs at anyone or anything like that. Right and wrong don't make a whole lot of sense to me as metaethical constructs anyway
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not really sure what to reply, if anything. I don't feel like I'm educated enough about the situation. Certainly not educated at all about Palestinians, the only side of the conflict I have any interest in at all is Israel's side. I have many Jewish friends, and many friends who aren't Jewish but still come from Israel. In truth, I've never met a Palestinian.. so it's difficult to give them a face, a name, something I can consider as human.

I don't believe in peace, either. Sure, I love the idea of peace. I love the idea of Socialism too. In the real world, with real people, neither of those ideas really work out. Amusingly, both of them fail for the same reason: someone out there gets greedy. And then, that person gets violent to achieve their goals.

Nem brings up a lot of great points, too. The violence is so ingrained into the society that now, it's hard to imagine what would happen if that conflict suddenly ended. Hatred isn't something you can just "Turn off", so either you go back to fighting the same war...or you go back to fighting a different one.

::shrugs::

So, I don't know if there's an answer. I know my opinion, but like I said I've never met someone from Palestine. Of course I was Israel to win, I know a ton of people who are intricately tied to Israel.

One of the most important things to remember is that the people you decide against are just as human as the people you decide for. So long as the people with their "finger on the button" still remember that, there's hope for the world. God save us all if someone decides to end it with an ultimate act of violence.
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Virturealm



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, um...I can't really say I sympathize with Israel lately. Due to actual Israelis who come to this board who I like, it's probably best not to make a particularly lengthy post. I'll just say that, terrorists, when they're out...doing their thing, it doesn't seem like they're just you know, shooting for the high score. These are mostly deliberate attempts to provoke wars. And from the viewpoints of the spoiled americans, it kinda looks like the world would be a better place if this plan didn't work so ridiculously well.
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Squeeself



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Squee's feelings on the matter are easily summed up in two examples:

1) An article Squee read in which Fatah was receiving criticism for not acting out openly against the Gaza situation like Hamas, and losing credibility with Palestinians in the process. The more peaceful party losing favor than the violent one? What is WRONG with people?

2) While in war civilian casualties are unavoidable, Israel's tactics are certainly not helping. Not to mention their utter refusal to even talk about cessation. Israel's dealings with Gaza before the current violence only made things worse too. Israel is certainly not helping its case with world opinion.

Since the dawn of the Israel-Palestine conflict, both sides have been in the wrong. The entire reason of the conflict has really become a Romeo and Juliet bloodfeud today (hey, there's even a West Side Story parody on exactly that!) I'll admit a bit more sympathy with Israel in general...but not necessarily because they're in the right.
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sunshine



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, so thus far we have two people who strongly believe one side is more/less to blame, one who's opinion is based entirely upon their own direct and immediate connections to the situation, and three who feel that both sides aren't exactly handling this well though one side may be bungling things up a little more and/or less than the other. Four if you include me in that last group.

Fascinating. Very Happy

@ Asa & Virturealm - You've both got strong opinions and I completely respect your wish to not go into them further on the forum, but would you be willing to explain your viewpoints a little more in-depth in PM or IM? Part of why I put up this thread was also to learn a bit more about the circumstances of both sides, as I myself have only been casually following events until now.

@ Nem - you make some excellent points, and I was not previously aware of just how intricate the situation between Fatah and Hamas and the PLO was, so thanks for that. One thing I am curious about though is the logic behind your belief that all wars are ultimately motivated by cultural factors?
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electricpanda



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While my initial bias would have been/is towards the Palestinians, I suspect this is more of a support-the-underdog-knee-jerk reaction to the fact Israel has taken over a significant amount of Palestinian land. And perhaps also to the fact that I misspell Israel frequently, instead rendering it as something closer to Isreal.

I suspect the truth of the matter, though, is somewhat closer to the fact that both side seem to be composed of utter morons who can't help their knee-jerk reactions to seek revenge.

And I also suspect that Palestinians are somewhat victim to something that also plagues the Chinese, the Russians, and so many other people who have been involved in some kind of bitter war - the lack of understanding the cultural psychology behind the people. I mean, these are the people who, for hundreds of years, would be more than happy to take a traveller into their home but chop off their hands if they tried to steal anything.
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really know enough about the situation to render an opinion. I've been thinking that I ought to read a couple of books on the history of the conflict, starting from the establishment of Israel, so that I'll have a better basis for judgment.
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electricpanda



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, this whole thing makes me think of muffins... is that just me/incredibly insensitive to the families of the millions who've died over the past 40-50 years?
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel a little representative right now, so I'd like to point out that I am not. I may be the most active Israeli on the forum, but that doesn't mean my opinion represents that of my nation.

Also, I'd like to note that my opinions aren't particularly objective. If Hamas succeed in increasing their rocket range a little bit more, my home and family will be among those endangered. Though life in this country is always kind of dangerous, the thought of rockets raining down on my city is hardly a fun one.

So. My opinion? I think our operation is justified. I think we're doing what we need to do in order to keep our citizens safe.

CBB wrote:
I wish the Palestinians (by which I mean the common man, woman, and child) had the same access to security, peace, education, and employment that Israelis do. But as long as there are people in power on both sides that assert that it must be "either/or," there will be no peace for either.

You've gotta understand, we really aren't trying to keep that from them. If they were at all interested in living together with us, we could have reached an agreement long ago and we could have provided them with all sorts of things. It's not like we hate anything Arabic with a passion; a large percentage of students at my university are Arabs with Israeli citizenship. We're fine with living with them. And it's not like we haven't talked to them in the past; we have.
But when they swear that they'll never rest until every last Jew is eradicated and fire rockets at highly populated cities with total abandon.... how do you even approach that? Money that they've gotten from various nations has gone into weaponry instead of basics for the population. Their democratically elected leaders want nothing more than the destruction of Israel. How do you approach that?

Pants wrote:
I suspect the truth of the matter, though, is somewhat closer to the fact that both side seem to be composed of utter morons who can't help their knee-jerk reactions to seek revenge.

A friend of mine (who's against the operation) said the other day that it seemed to her that this war was between those who want war and those who don't. This sort of reminds me of that, in the sense that I'm insulted in the same way by both. I don't think I'm very interested in war, and I don't think I'm an utter moron, but I think this needs to be done. Our current goal is to rid them of their ability to shoot rockets at us, no more. If you think we should be acting differently, then I'd be interested in hearing what you think we should do.

Pants wrote:
(...) Israel has taken over a significant amount of Palestinian land.

I'm watching myself to make sure I don't overreact to anything, but I'd like to note that I hate that sentence.

I should also say that I don't agree with everything Israel does. I think we've made many bad moves, damaging both sides. I think that we're a little too zealous sometimes, and not enough other times. As with anything in this world of ours, there isn't really a "right" side. There's plenty of hatred to go around. But I think Israel's actions are a good deal more justified than those of Hamas.

Which reminds me - Virt, I'm particularly interested in what you have to say. I appreciate the thought which kept your post short, but it's always the opposing opinion I want to hear most.


On the bright side, this operation is probably almost over with, and I expect things will return to normal soon. If you can call it that.
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I've always found such hate mind-boggling, and to me - being the naive person I am - I just can't understand what is so difficult about living together in peace. I know it can be done, I just wish it were so simple. I think both parties are to blame really, but as people have pointed out, the whole situation is a bit impossible. I'm tempted to side with Israel, but at the same time, some friends of the family lived in Gaza for years, so I sympathize with them also. I don't know enough about the situation to offer much of an opinion, but I strongly object to bringing innocents into a blood fued - and for that, I have to say I blame both sides. Intentional or not, it's happened, and so I think I'll remain sitting on my fence.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sunshine wrote:
One thing I am curious about though is the logic behind your belief that all wars are ultimately motivated by cultural factors?


Why are people at war? Because their religion has been insulted, their land stolen, because they want to steal someone's land, because there's oil in them thar' hills. The reasons are numerous but they're not universal. Some tribe that lives in the jungle isn't going to go to war with you over oil, but if you break their totem pole they might just skin you alive and leave you for the ants.

Value is in its most basic form not a rational thing. Rationality comes later and is given in the form, ‘if you want X then do Y’ and other derivatives of that general statement; it can support other values and create them but they’re always going to be based on those core unreasoning values. When we’re born we irrationally want certain things, food, breath, freedom from pain, etc, due to the biological nature of our lives – these are our core motives and our innate reactions to their presence or denial (being either discomfort or pleasure of varying degrees) paired with different situations and the biological mechanism of association goes on to determine what we will value.

We learn our values from our environments and as we share broadly the same environments over time we’ve created roughly the same value systems with regards to certain things. The main themes of that learning we call culture. When I say all wars are cultural in origin I’m not talking about something as simple as just having angry sounding music leading to violence, although music is obviously a part of culture – it’s more holistic than that, it’s the sum of all the learning, the way all our values interact with each other that produces certain effects. Sure you can remove one or two values and alter the overall equation but that’s not to imply that only those values are responsible for the outcome.

Interestingly you can see the effect of this if you take two groups with the same genetic background and introduce them into two different physical environments as was witnessed with the Maori Moriori conflict. They both came from the same genetic stock but one group landed in a land of plenty, developed weapons, a warlike culture, etc, and the other landed within a place of very limited resources and developed a system of pacifism and ritually sterilisation to maintain low numbers. Eventually the Maori came across them and wiped them out.

For some reason a lot of Westerners, and I'm not accusing anyone here of holding this view, seem to think that people all want the same things and think in the same way about those things. That any rational person would desire peace and prosperity and so on and that there must be something dreadfully wrong with you if you don't. But values aren't rational to begin with any more than a rock rolling down hill to crush an ant has a rational regard for that ant. Values are natural forces, there's nothing right or wrong with them.

If you want to know why people are at war look at what they value and where they’ve learned it. The history of warfare, how it is carried, out, where, when and why, is the history of what people value and what they’re prepared to do to get it.
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Allicat



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in Manchester recently and bore witness to the Socialist Worker's Party protest in favour of Palestine and Hamas. The aim was to encourage people to protest at the attacks on the Gaza strip to their political representation in the hopes that they would condemn the attacks, as if that would put an end to it. As if the two nations were feuding children that a parental country could separate and send to their rooms.

A lady I was with at the time was very taken with it all and professed that she hadn't known what atrocities were being committed by the Israelis. She vowed then and there to write to her MP and the Prime Minister and anyone else she thought would pay attention. This struck me as entirely naive and gullible. The SWP were clearly in favour of the Palestinians and reading their literature, I could see that it was blatant propaganda. Pictures of crying children and wrecked hospitals and such. To my mind Israel would not be doing any of this if they did not believe it to be 'right' (whatever that may be). I went home that evening and did some research on the situation but found it hard to watch the news and find a pro-Israel viewpoint. It seems to me that Britain as a nation are pro-Palestine, but personally, I'd rather find out what I could and form my own opinion than be told what to think by being force-fed one side of the story with minimal consideration for the other. From what I have found out myself and what I have read here I find myself firmly on the fence. Atrocities have been commited by both sides, and stupid mistakes have been made to great cost of life.

The mistake that is so often made with these issues is the blurring of nations and peoples. Israel as a nation is represented as a bully, but their people are suffering when the bombs drop just the same as Palestine.

Death is a great leveller.

I side with the people. Those who have lost everything, whether Palestinian or Israeli, because of the decisions that have been made for them.

I apologise if anything I have said has offended. If you feel I have misunderstood please correct me. I live to learn.
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