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Monday, January 22, 2007


The latest crackpot idea from right-wing Israeli Zionists hell-bent on a Greater Israel has been revealed in today’s Jerusalem Post.[1] The report said: “A new proposal designed to solve Israel's Arab demographic concerns suggests offering a million Palestinian residents of refugee camps in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) incentives totalling as much as $50 billion to convince them to leave the area.”

The proposal comes from two of Israel’s foremost proponents for a Greater Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and MK Benny Elon of the ultra right-wing National Union-National Religious Party.

No prizes for guessing where they expect the money to come from.

In a follow up to this story, another report, in Ha’aretz,[2] provides some perspective to Aviner and Elon’s ideas. During a tour last Saturday of the West Bank and around Jerusalem, the head of EU foreign policy, Javier Solana, said: “I had the opportunity to make a tour along the eastern part of Jerusalem and go to Abu Dis and its surroundings. You get really very shocked every time you go and you see the situation worse, the wall is more extended and settlements are more extended”.

The lunatic ideas of Aviner and Elon combined with the reality on the ground paint a grim picture for the future of the Palestinian peoples.


[1] Matthew Wagner, ‘New proposal: Transfer-for-cash plan’, Jerusalem Post, 21 January 2007. Available online: Accessed 22 January 2007.
[2] ‘Solana shocked at growth of Israeli settlements in West Bank’, Ha’aretz, 22 January 2007. Available online: Accessed 22 January 2007.


Anonymous said...

Ethnic cleansing is, according to Andrew Bell-Fialkoff (author of the essay 'A Brief History fo ethnic Cleansing' in Foreign Affairs), "the expulsion of an "undesirable" population from a given territory due to religious or ethnic discrimination, political, strategic or ideological considerations, or a combination of these".

According to Drazen Petrovic, another author in the field, defines it this way: "[E]thnic cleansing is a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory on the basis of religious, ethnic or national origin. Such a policy involves violence and is very often connected with military operations. It is to be achieved by all possible means, from discrimination to extermination, and entails violations of human rights and international humanitarian law."

The offering of incentives would hardly seem to fall into the categroy of 'ethnic cleansing' according to definitions like these, would it? Is there an alternate definition you are using?

Damian Lataan said...

Ethnic cleansing is ethnic cleansing done, as you suggest, via by any means you like - you quote: ' all possible means'.

Why would one be interested only in the definitions offered by Drazen Petrovic or Andrew Bell-Fialkoff as if no other methods of ethnic cleansing counted as ethnic cleansing?

Anonymous said...

The two were chosen because they were easy to reference online. I assume that there are other definitions of ethnic cleansing and was interested in the one that you used whereby cash incentives freely paid to people who choose them with no planned penalty for those who do not choose to take them up.

The first definition I offered is focussed on the expulsion of people. In the plan you linked to there are incentives to move mentioned, not expulsions.

The second definition does, as you note, mention "all possible means" but it also makes clear that ethnic cleansing "involves violence". Clearly, offering cash incentives is not violent. Incentives do not involve violations of human rights (unless you can suggest how they do; I may have missed this) and I don't see how offering incentives violates international law.

As I mentioned in my earlier comment, I would be really interested in understanding how you consider cash incentives to be ethnic cleansing when they can be refused and the people offering the incentives take no action against the refusing persons.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for double posting, but you asked specifically:

"Why would one be interested only in the definitions offered by Drazen Petrovic or Andrew Bell-Fialkoff as if no other methods of ethnic cleansing counted as ethnic cleansing?"

As I asked, I am not only interested in their definitions. I would be especially interested in your own defintion or the one you used to surmise that the incentive program is ethnic cleansing.

Anonymous said...

West Bank, Palestine, Iraq, all distractions. As the US army attacks Iraq (and threatens others), the US gov't erodes rights at home by opening mail, suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon, rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting 2 illegal wars based on lies. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier) and the US will invade Iran, (on behalf of Israel).
Final link (before Google Books bends to gov't demands and censors the title):
America Deceived (book)

Damian Lataan said...

As I said, ethnic cleansing is ethnic cleansing no matter how you wish to dress it up. Ethnic cleansing does not always have to involve violence. Financial incentives to move are just one other way to ethnically cleanse an area – especially when other methods involving violence or the threat of violence have been tried and, indeed, some of those that are being offered money are people who have been ethnically cleansed before; they are Palestinian refugees and were ethnically cleansed by the same peoples that are now proposing to offer them money to move them on yet again.

You can call it whatever you like; it’s still ethnic cleansing. The Israelis that move in to the areas that have been emptied will consider the area as ‘ethnically clean’.

Terrence Valter said...

I agree with Damian that splitting hairs over words is not helpful to the debate.

Damian used the words ethnic cleansing. Now whether this is an appropriate way of describing it or not. Surely the issue is the policy itself.

The fact that Israel can do this now I find quite shocking. Considering that at one time the Germans were encouraging Jews to move out of Germany, before they started the repression.

According to an SBS documentary on the SS, a lot of younger Jews took the opportunity to move and survived. Whilst older people refused to move because they had lived there for decades, and in some cases had fought for Germany in WW1. Many who stayed didn't survive.

Now let us put this in an Australian context. Let's say the Australian government offered a sum of money to all, let's say Italians to leave Australia.

It would be a pretty safe bet that the world would consider this some sort of racial ( if you don't like the term ec ) manipulation.

Also it would be a pretty safe bet judging on world events so far, that those Italians that didn't accept the offer, would be subject to tougher times in the future.

Damian Lataan said...

Terrence has hit the nail on the head. At the core of this is racism. I chose the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ deliberately. These two Israelis aren’t offering a business deal. They are not buying land; indeed, the Palestinian refugees are hardly in a position to own any land to sell. The Israelis are proposing that Palestinians specifically are paid money to leave the land they are on with total disregard to who owns the land and exclusively because they are Palestinians.

I reiterate your own words, Anonymous, you said by “…all possible means”. I guess that means the same as “ALL means possible”. That includes financial inducements.

Anonymous said...

My point is that the term "ethnic cleansing" carries with it all sorts of conotations that I think are unwarranted in the case of offering people financial incentives. Terrence and Damian, you both seem to accept that the "ethnic cleansing" of the former Yugoslavia - the best-known example of "ethnic cleansing" as opposed to genocide in recent years - is a useful parallel to two Israelis offering financial incentives to anyone who chooses to move.

I don't share that view because I think it is important what we call things ad how we use language. Words have power when used in an argument. It is the reason why some people will choose the word "terrorist" to describe Hamas and others will choose "freedom fighter": the words matter and not for any pedantic reasons. They matter because they imply very different things. Taking the terrorist/freedom fighter example, I think you could convince more people to support a freedom fighter than a terrorist or, in another context, a liberation over an occupation.

Words matter and I don't think that you will convince me that this is ethnic cleansing. It might be discriminatory (it is only being offered to Palestinians) and even racist (only Arabs and not Jews) but this does not necessarily make things racist. There are many incentives and payments available to First Nations in Canada and Aborigines in Australia that are not available to other races - this does not make it ethnic cleansing in and of itself. Such payments are discriminatory and racist but most reasonable people would see them as useful nonetheless.

So lets let it be, aware that you won't be moved to regard the actions as anything other than ethnic cleansing and I won't argue they ever could be ethnic cleansing.

Terrence, you raise an interesting counter-example, re: Italians being offered cash to leave Australia.

Would it also be wrong for the Italian government to offer cash incentives for Italians to leave Australia? What about the Australian givernment targetting expat Aussies overseas with financial incentives to leave where they are? Such programs are not uncommon in the world, China being a great example of a state that offers incentives for Chinese heritage people to leave their western states and return to China - incentives that are not open to non-Chinese persons.

But even more, why would we restrict the choice of an Australian businessman to offer cash incentives to Italian citizens to leave? It is his money and if he was to be so pig-arse stupid as to offer it to only a certain ethnic group and only if they leave the country, why restrict him? No one is forcing the Italian citizen to take the cash, the newspapers and TV news would more than likely attack the guy for what they considered racial profiling (and blogs like this would likely attack him for "ethnic cleansing") and Italians would likely reject the offer.

But what does it matter? What is the worst outcome? For the Itlaian person who freely takes the money and leaves, he gets richer. For the businessman who freely gives his money away for a certain action, he gets what he thinks is a better reality. And for all the people who choose not to take the money their lives go on.

Damian Lataan said...

Anonymous, it’s not about the money; it’s about the motives behind it. The right-wing Zionist Israelis wish to ethnically cleanse the territory in question. They really couldn’t care less about how it’s done just so long as it is done. Since they will be looking to the US to fund such a proposal, the right-wing Zionists will see it simply as getting their way without it costing any Israeli lives or getting their hands dirty. The end result is the same as if they had done what the Serbs had done to the Muslims Bosnia-Herzegovina – the area is ethnically cleansed.

I’m not out to convince you that this is ethnic cleansing. I really don’t care what you think it is. I say it is ethnic cleansing – take it or leave it. If you want to call it something else then obviously you can, but at the end of the day it is still ethnic cleansing just as they are currently slowly but surely ethnically cleansing the Gaza Strip – in the Gaza they use guns, tanks and bulldozers, in the West Bank they are proposing to use money.

Anonymous said...

I understand your argument, Damian, I just fail to accept it.

Your focus on motivations is interesting, though. Perhaps - in the same way I considered Terrence's Italian/Australian example - you would consider the following hyptothetical situation:

Two Arab businessmen who are disturbed by the violence in the West Bank offer cash incentives to Palestinian people to leave the area. They are bakrolled by Saudi interests. The end result is that Palestinian people move out and the Israelis move in - but the Palestinians who take up the offer are no longer at risk. It is entirely voluntary to take part.

In this situation it seems to me that you would not consider this "ethnic cleansing" as the motivation of the businessmen is not to remove people from land but to keep them safe from harm. Am I right?

I also assume that even though the end is the same (no Plaestinians in the West bank) the motivation behind the offer is what counts - thus the businessmen cannot be accused of ethnic cleansing - is this correct?

Returning to the proposal for the West bank from the Israeli pair, though some will interpret the actions of the pair as useful to their own political ends (as nefarios and "ethnic cleansing" motivated as you imagine them to be) the motivations of the pair seem just like those I describe above. Consider one of the pair's comment in the article:

"Those poor people have been suffering for six decades...I believe that if we give them the option of leaving they will grab it."

HIS aim is to reduce their suffering. While it might work towards the ends of the people who wish to see "ethnic cleansing" (as you deem it) it is not the motivation of the person making the offer. Similarly, in the hypothetical situation I outlined, while the action of the Saudi-backed Arab businessman is not "ethnic cleansing" (because his motivations are 'good') he is enabling an end that the "ethnic cleansers" would welcome.

Terrence Valter said...

I never used the term ec to describe the process. I know words have power. How Damian chooses to describe it is his business.

Although even if you strain at the term ec, I think you would have too accept what we are is seeing is race manipulation. Your description of Italy offering money for the return of expats is a totally different argument.

Although I don't want to get drawn into discussing the term ec. Could I suggest you check about silent ec which has several interpretations, one of which would fit Damian's description.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terrence:

I have no doubt it is manipulation - at the very least it is attempted manipulation. It is the term "ethnic cleansing" that I have a problem with.

The notion of silent ethnic cleansing is an interesting one. The distinguising factor for silent EC is the lack of violence which, obviously, financial incentives do not require. However, there is also the notion of organisation in EC and an idea from a couple of businessmen would not seem to constitute and organisation on a large scale.

As for Damian's definition, after offering two that I found I asked him to provide an alternate definition which he did not do. It is his blog, of course, and he is allowed to do as he wishes - we are the guests here and cannot command him to do anything. That said, I do wish he would clarify such definitions when he uses loaded terms.

Damian Lataan said...

Anonymous, I don’t have time to waste pedantically debating the pros and cons of the ethnic cleansing that is occurring in the Occupied Territories. Suffice to say that the end result as far as the right-wing Zionists are concerned is that the West Bank will, they hope, end up being ‘ethnically cleansed’.

While you’ve been busy debating this, the Israelis have ‘ethnically cleansed’ the Gaza of two more Palestinians.

Anonymous said...

Damian, it is sad to see two more victims of this conflict.

It would seem that no matter who is doing the killing, the Palestinian people are beginning to blame the worsening conditions on their own leaders and less on Israel.

A poll out today from the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (see results here: link) suggests that the Palestinians are realising that electing Hamas was a bad move if they desired peace.

According to the poll less than half (44.9%) blame Israel or the United States for the prevailing Palestinian crisis. 53.4% of the Palestinian people now conclude that Hamas being involved in the Palestinian Authority was a "wrong decision". Furthermore, 76% of Palestinians believe that the prevailing security conditions have got worse since the present Palestinian government took over - and more than half are in favour of new elections today.

The Palestinian people want the conflict to end. They don't want the Israelis to kill any more of their people nor - I imagine - do they really want to sacrifice more of their young people to the conflict. It is a shame that it has taken the election of Hamas for the Palestinian people to realise that their partners for peace cannot be groups that produce as much violence as the Israelis bring.

Damian Lataan said...

What the Palestinian people want, and have wanted for many years, is their own nation which includes the lands that are now occupied by the Israelis – in other words, the land they had prior to 1967. While there are right-wing Zionists controlling the Israeli government there will never be peace with the Palestinians, and the Palestinians, regardless of who they choose to lead them, will never be allowed to have a state of their own – not even one within Israel’s proposed modified borders which have stolen much of the West Bank lands from the Palestinians. Right-wing Zionists are prepared to wait a very long time to ensure that they end up with a Greater Israel which includes the Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon up to the Litani River. This is their dream. For all the talk from Israel about peace there has never ever been anything other than Israel pushing further and further into the West Bank and elsewhere. Withdrawal of settlements from the Gaza was purely a political ploy. They knew that the Palestinians in the Gaza would continue to fight the Israelis, despite their withdrawal, in order to support their fellow Palestinians fighting the Israelis in the West Bank. The Israelis know that it will only be a matter of time before they reoccupy the Gaza on the pretext of subduing Gaza Palestinian militants. It will then only be a matter of more time before the Israelis make life so unbearable for the Palestinians in the Gaza that they will then want to leave. You can call it what you like but the rest of the world knows this as ‘ethnic cleansing’. The same will then eventually happen in the West Bank.

As far as the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon is concerned, the Israelis are only waiting now for the Iranian and Syrian ‘menace’ to be eliminated in order to be free to deal with an unbacked Hizbollah. All this will take time but they are willing to take their time. For years the right-wing Zionists have been chipping away at Palestinian lands. They take some and then give some back but never more than they have taken in the first place.

It is only current circumstances in the Gaza and the West Bank that are driving the polls. The numbers reflect only a growing despondency and frustration over what seems to be a lack of headway. The Palestinian people, weakened by years of fighting, discrimination, suppression and fear are very malleable and can be pushed and pulled easily by the mood and circumstances of any given moment. The reality is that Hamas romped home over Fatah at the last election. Israeli, US and western interference and hypocritical inability to accept the Hamas victory in what was possibly the fairest elections the Middle East had seen in years, has been directly responsible for the friction that now exists within Palestinian politics. It is a setback for the Palestinian people but, in the long term, it will not diminish their desire to have a free Palestine based on borders that put the Israelis back where they belong behind the 1967 lines. Only when this has happened and the world, including the US, accept this will their ever be peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There will be no peace before that happens.

Anonymous said...

Damian, you are right about poll numbers being fickle and reflecting only the current situation. Long term the Palestinian people do want land no matter what today's polls suggest about their feelings about the people in charge. In our own region a similar argument could be made for polls that suggest feelings towards China, the US and Japan - it might even explain how a politician like Howard might win elections despite being disliked by a significant proportion of Australians. As with the Palestinians, polling is one thing and long-term desires another.

One thing that has always puzzled me about the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the refusal of the Palestinian people to use tactics other than the violent ones that Israel endorses. Do you think a non-violent approach would work? I am thinking here of applying a Ghandi or Martin Luther-King Jr strategy of non-violence to achieve political ends. Do you think it might work? Has it been tried before?

Damian Lataan said...

Anonymous, as far as I’m aware a Ghandi-style approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Palestinians has not been tried for the simple reason that the right-wing Zionist Israelis would not respond to it. The right-wing Zionist Israelis will settle for nothing less than a Greater Israel. It’s a religious thing; they believe it is their god-given right to have these lands and that the Palestinians have no rights to it.

The Ghandi-style approach also involves a massive effort in time and energy from a large percentage of the people. The Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza, are too busy simply trying to survive let alone embark on peaceful demonstrations that need to be ongoing for months, even years, before they see any rewards – assuming there are any rewards to be had. Also the Palestinian psyche, after decades of oppression and violence from the Israelis, are in no mood for a Ghandi or an MLK-style approach to the problem as a means to obtaining peace and a nation-state of their own.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians see violent struggle and resistance as the only means of gaining their freedom and a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the Palestinian view of the situation is unfortunate.

It is likely true that "peaceful demonstrations [would] need to be ongoing for months, even years, before they see any rewards".

Yet the current strategy of violence doesn't seem to have got them anywhere. When a strategy doesn't work for decades, isn't it time to try something new?

Damian Lataan said...

They’ve tried everything including appealing to the UN but the Israelis simply ignore the UN. Their only option is to continue to resist and fight for their nationhood and at the same time push harder at the international level to get the nations of the world to pressure the US to listen to the Palestinians instead of only the Israelis. While the neocons are in power that’s not going to happen, but it won’t be too long now before the neocons and their allies are out of power in the US.

In the latest development in the Gaza, it is claimed that some 40 ‘members of al-Qaeda’ have attacked an abandoned seaside resort in the Gaza. This stinks of another of Israel’s ‘False flag’ operations which serves two purposes; it wedges the continuing inter-Palestinian political and factional fighting but, more importantly, it also provides Israel with an excuse to invade and reoccupy the Gaza on the pretext that the dreaded ‘al-Qaeda’ are now there.

See the story here in the Jerusalem Post: