Monday, June 21, 2010

Freedom of Movement in Palestine?

Today, for the first time since the year 2000, a group of Israeli tour guides were allowed into Bethlehem. Not on their own, of course, in a special bus. This is in preparation to perhaps allowing them in with their groups - perhaps.

Bethlehem is about four miles from where I live, near the center of Jerusalem. At this rate, it's just possible that by 2025 Jews will have freedom of movement throughout the territories of their ancestral homeland, and there will be no Apartheid. But don't get your hopes up.


RK said...

Very droll, but those restrictions are a product of Israeli law, aren't they? Moreover, they apply to Israeli citizens, and not, say, American Jews.

(And yes, some of those restrictions are necessary to prevent violence against Israeli visitors, which is terrible. And yes, that should go without saying, but usually doesn't.)

Anonymous said...

talking of freedom of movement:

Julian Assange (Wikileaks) has surfaced in Belgium and he is well and no he will not be so daring as to travel to the US
Both the Guardian and The Daily Beast are on it somersaulting from the excitement of it.

Unfortunately both say nothing whether Assange has been able to fish the 260.000 cables out of the mass of stuff they send to themselves to screen real leaks. All very mysterious and so exciting - and if soldiers get hurt due to Mr. Assange having his bit of fun who cares.

I understand that lots of American Jews have Israeli citizenship i.e. 2 passports - so when they want to visit the West-Bank they leave their Israeli passports at the hotel?
In the old days when colleagues travelled to Egypt they had to use their second only for that purpose Israel-stamp-free passport. what a hassle! But that's just their culture, isn't it?


RK said...

Silke, since less than 10% of American Jews have even considered moving to Israel (a fact Dr. Lozowick alludes to here), I'm going to have to request a source on that claim that "lots of American Jews have Israeli citizenship."

Anonymous said...

if lots don't have both passports, anybody who can should get them, having two passports is a blessing

when Turkish colleagues wanted to become German everybody helped to find the backdoor that allowed them to keep their Turkish passport - but that is probably only ol' Europe's inability to believe that things can ever be stable forever.


Alex Stein said...

Can we surmise from this that you think people from Ramallah should be allowed to visit Haifa? Or are you just emphasising your hypocrisy?

Yaacov said...

Alex -

one of the many problems with your positions and the way you form them is that you have no memories of the first 20 years of what is now called "Israel's brutal occupation". The 20 years in which both sides enjoyed full freedom of movement and employment wherever they wished, and both sides - but especially the Palestinians - enjoyed soaring rises in standards of living. That wasn't the full story, of course, but it was an important part of it. One that somehow never ever ever gets mentioned by your ilk these days.

peterthehungarian said...


Can we surmise from this that you think people from Ramallah should be allowed to visit Haifa?

I have a suggestion. Let's allow free movements for every Israeli in the WB and every Palestinian - who want to visit Haifa or any other place inside Israel - to Israel. But let's make a compromise, for every terror attack (attempted and/or successful) give penalty to the guilty party limiting their movement on the others' territory for only one month accumulatively. I have a feeling without checking the relevant statistics, that the Israelis have to wait two more months and the Palestinians must be patient for hundreds more years.

Or are you just emphasising your hypocrisy?

Alex, sensible persons don't mention the word "rope" in the house of a hanged person.
Comparing the free movement of Palestinians inside Israel, and Israelis inside the WB without mentinoning the difference in the risk of terror attacks is the peak of hypocrisy in this case proudly demonstrated by you.

Barry Meislin said...

you have no memories of the first 20 years...

Oh please. Who needs memory? Who needs context? Who needs facts?

When you're the sole arbiter of TRUTH?

By the way, you mention "the first 20 years," which would have led up to the first intifada, which broke out at the end of 1987 (not that, as I recall, there was complete freedom of movement for Palestinians immediately following the Six-Day War, for reasons that most people would understand). But you fail to mention the freedom of movement when the first intifada ended (at the beginning of the 90s?), and throughout the rest of the 90s, especially in those heady days before October 2000 (when peace was "just around the corner"!) which time Arafat decided that the time was ripe for the second intifada (which he'd been planning throughout).

Heartfelt plea: And so, can anyone---that is, anyone with a grasp of reality---remind us why freedom of movement was curtailed in the first decade of the 21st century?

Alex Stein said...

Yaacov - I'm very aware of the prosperity, higher growth than Singapore etc etc. With that, there was remarkably little violence from people actually living on the ground (from Palestinians outside the borders of Israel and the territories, it was a different question). It was also a time when Islamism was relatively weak, at least until the build-up to the first Intifada. In short, it was an auspicious time to make serious moves towards granting Palestinians their policial rights. However, that was when we were at our most rejectionist.
In any case, this doesn't change the topic at hand: what's good for the goose must be good for the gander. Anything less will be hypocrisy.

Alex Stein said...

peterthehungarian - I am opposed to collective punishment on the basis that it is ineffective and immoral.

peterthehungarian said...


I am opposed to collective punishment on the basis that it is ineffective and immoral.

Me too. I just tried to make you understand that moralising about events without their context is the real hypocrisy - exactly what you did.

Yaacov said...

Just out of curiosity, Alex, I'm wondering if you know at what date the PLO decided to change its position of total rejection of Zionism, which can be answered only by violence, and when they adopted the phased strategy. But be careful before you respond, since the answer is tricky. Crucial, but tricky.

Alex Stein said...

"But be careful before you respond, since the answer is tricky. Crucial, but tricky." Or - to translate your doublespeak - there's an answer I think is correct, do you know it?
I suppose I'd say something about the Algiers Declaration in 1988, but am all ears.

Alex Stein said...

At the same time, can you say when the Likud decided to change its position of total rejection to Palestinian nationalism, which can only be opposed by controlling the whole land from the river to the sea?

Barry Meislin said...

Curiously, though (and no matter how inconvenient), the Likud is for a Palestinian state.

Kadima (the Likud's offshoot) is for a Palestinian state.

Labour is for a Palestinian state.

It must be said, and it cannot be stressed enough, that because Israel's mainstream parties (and the Israel voting public) are in favor of (or have been in favor of) a Palestinian state---and because they feel that a Palestinian state is GOOD for Israel (all things being relative)---that the Palestinians necessarily and completely understand that a Palestinian state (or at least such a Palestinian state) is ANATHEMA for Palestinians.

Simply put: What is good for your enemy cannot possibly be good for you. (And it doesn't get any more elemental than that, no matter how hard you want to spin it.)

All of this must keep in mind that:
1. The conditions that Israel's main political parties (and voters) place on the Palestinian state that they feel would be GOOD for Israel are in no way acceptable to the Palestinians.
2. The conditions under which the Palestinians (that is, the Palestinian Authority) have claimed they will accept a Palestinian state are: a) Israel withdraw to the May 1967 cease-fire lines; b) Israel relinquish control over East Jerusalem, except (and even this is open to debate, as far as I know) the Jewish Quarter of the Old City; and c) Israel must allow Palestinian refugees to return to their original homes within the May-1967 cease-fire lines....all of the above together with the PA's expressly stated declaration that it will NOT recognize Israel as the Jewish State.
3. Hamas has its own ideas over the conditions for creating a Palestinian state (see the Hamas Charter).
4. The PA knows that any open (or electoral) conflict between it and Hamas will likely end in a Hamas victory (unless Israel and/or the US intervene).

From the point of view of someone who believes that Israel has a right to exist and exist securely (a concept that is getting whittled down with each passing day), this situation, as described above, reflects (or ought to reflect) a fearful (i.e., non-existent) symmetry.

The longer the conflict continues (which is the plan, and has been the plan all along), fewer and fewer people will continue to hold the opinion that the State of Israel has a right to exist.

So that, ultimately (if Arafat's plan works out), peace---as it is defined by the Palestinians---will reign in the Middle East.

Alex Stein said...

When has Likud endorsed a Palestinian state?

Barry Meislin said...

Truth's a bitch, babe.

Alex Stein said...

If so, I'm sure you'll find it no problem telling me exactly where and when.

Alex Stein said...

"The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river."

Barry Meislin said...

Psst. Alex. Scroll down to the bottom of your link. What's the date?

Meanwhile, in the real world:,7340,L-3731225,00.html

peterthehungarian said...


Are you joking?
This platform is more than ten years old!

Maybe you should read this:

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Says Two-State Solution Possible, With Conditions

peterthehungarian said...

Sorry Barry

I read your post only after pushing the Publish button...

Alex Stein said...

Very clever Barry and Peter. Of course I am aware of the Netanyahu speech, but that didn't constitute a change in Likud policy.
As for 'This platform is more than ten years old', I'm sure that's your response when someone says 'This platform is more than twenty years old' about the Hamas platform.

The Likud party does not - as yet - support the creation of a Palestinian state. The Bibi speech does not change that, anymore than Khaled Mashal's comments to the NYT about a two-state solution (made for the equivalents of peterthehungarian and barry on the left) means that Hamas support the existence of a Jewish state.

peterthehungarian said...

As for 'This platform is more than ten years old', I'm sure that's your response when someone says 'This platform is more than twenty years old' about the Hamas platform.

Bad mistake Alex. The Hamas charter is older but nobody changed it ever. What Mashal told the NYT, he told it in English only for the consumption of your kind of naive souls, no one in Ghaza heard about it, all Hamas leaders are singing the good old song in Arabic, even in English.

The Bibi speech does not change that, anymore than Khaled Mashal's comments to the NYT about a two-state solution (made for the equivalents of peterthehungarian and barry on the left) means that Hamas support the existence of a Jewish state.

Really? I seem to remember Bibi told it in Hebrew more than once even he told it at a Likud convention. All Israeli papers were full of it. Yes Alex - the Bibi speech did change that...

Gavin said...

I see Alex using that devastating phrase again. Collective punishment. The war crime of an occupying power. Why do people resort to this canned rhetoric, can't they think for themselves and use their own words? It really is irritating when people chant some mindless mantra like brainwashed zombies, a bit insulting too.


Barry Meislin said...

I stand corrected. The Likud Party does not support a Palestinian State.

Merely, the leader of the Likud Party (and someone who happens---merely---to be the Prime Minister of Israel).

Nonetheless, the Likud rationale---that a Palestinian State would, under the current circumstances, be a danger to Israel's security---is indisputable; and, in fact, such a formulation leaves the door open, at least as I see it, to a change in the Likud position, should circumstances warrant such a change.

To compare this stance with remarks by Khaled Mashal is, therefore, to get the whole situation backwards.

Bryan said...

Even if Likud does not support a Palestinian state, there's a fundamental difference between that stance and Hamas' and the PLO's rejection of Israel's right to exist.

Israel already exists. To deny it the right to exist is to say that it must be destroyed. This is an act of destruction. A Palestinian state, however, does not and has never existed. To deny it the right to exist is to say that no action should be taken. This is an act of neutrality, a decision of no action.

Further, it is a fact that there is already a state with a large Palestinian plurality, while there are no other states with a Jewish majority or even plurality. The destruction of Israel would be the destruction of a unique entity, while not creating Palestine would be not creating a redundant entity.

Anonymous said...

while reading through your discussion I wrecked my brain and tried to find a story where a state had nannied another state into being who by all its actions (TV, books, maps - provided those reports are not all inventions of the "Israel-Lobby" of course;) proclaims that it is in no way inclined to practice good neighbourhood intent on give and take and heavy on the compromise agenda.

By all standards of everyday human relations (in - lets say - a village) they should be grateful for the riches their present status brings to them again and again and again
- they "misbehave" (encouraging the flotilla is misbehaving) and another 400 million are sent their way
- that's the pattern I see
- misbehaving pays, creating uproar pays

- why should they give up that easy source of income for something as mundane as work for a living, who would roll out the red carpet for their top brass if they were just another state?
By keeping the conflict going they continue to be celebrities and whenever they do something the "west" doesn't like the perks (money and honors) are getting upped.

In some way I understand Alex' feeling for those who suffer from the situation, but why does he seem to feel only for the sufferers on the other side and not his own kind. Sderot and Shalit as symbols don't seem to bother him. why? because they are rightful victims of the wrongdoings of somebody?
Let's assume that ludicrous thought to be true, then it applies to the others also. It is their own leadership, chosen or tolerated or helplessly subdued by, which keeps them in that condition.

And to be very hyperbole about it
- in let's say 1944 Alex would have preferred to commiserate with us screaming toddlers in a Nuremberg bunker over visiting wounded British pilots in hospitals???
But who brought the misery on us toddlers in the first place? OUR people and only OUR people.

That's where you go wrong, Alex.

If somebody has reached the point of threatening death for your own, there is only one place to be and any wiggling out of that choice is suspect (thank you, Mr. Churchill for getting that into my head)
if you think their's is the more honorable position, switch sides - that said: of course you may continue to criticize, but you do much more you aim for the groin.


Rabbi Tony Jutner said...

I dont think that Jews, much less israelis should be anywhere near Bethlehem. In fact, I dont think they should be anywhere around historic Palestine or Turkey, where they have done a fine job inflaming things. Bring them home to America, Ukraine, Poland etc and everyone will have complete freedom of movement. We have got to stop inflaming the world

Anonymous said...

amazing even Tony Baby leaves out Germany - what a trendy guy he is