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When a thread referring to someone questioning the right of Israel to exist you always get a bunch of seemingly reasonable people treating the question as if it weren't utterly  ridiculous.  They bring up Israel's systematic violation of human rights in the West Bank and Gaza, the mention the anti-Arab racism prevalent in Israeli society, the large number of religious and nationalist extremists - as if this were relevant in even the slightest degree. Think of Iran - human rights violations, check; racism and bigotry, check; extremism, check. And - so what?  Does that mean that Iran has no right to exist?. Same goes for any number of nations around the world.

The other argument is that Israel's existence was predicated on the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in 1948. True. That Zionism was a colonialist ideology that assumed that non-Europeans had fewer rights than Europeans (or none at all) - yup, the original Zionists shared the prejudices of their time and place. Shocking truth. I'd like to ask the commenter from Seattle who sees this as a persuasive argument what right she thinks she has to live in North America (unless of course she is Native American). Any Turks online? - In case you don't know a century ago northeastern Turkey was predominantly Armenian while the Aegean littoral was majority Greek - should those lands be 'returned' to the descendants of those who lived there?  Any Poles care to try this argument - I sure hope you don't live anywhere in Western or Northern Poland. Any Aussies, Spaniards, Argentines? The list goes on.

What sort of insanity does it take to believe that there is any moral sense in suggesting that Germans should be ethnically cleansed to atone for the crimes of their grandparents, in order to give land to their grandparents' victims who in turn are to be ethnically cleansed to atone for the (far lesser) crimes of their grandparents?

The one useful aspect of the Iranian president's modest proposal is that it highlights the absurdity of not acknowledging that there has to be some sort of statute of limitations in these sorts of situations.

by MarekNYC on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 02:24:46 PM EST
I wouldn't go as far as to say that there has to be a statute of limitations.

There is a point beyond which massive movement of populations is not only impractical but positively an abuse of people for crimes committed by their parents, grandparents or even further in the past.

On the other hand, the right to receive material compensation/reparations for crimes against humanity (and mass deportation/ethnic cleansing qualifies) should probably not expire.

The way the international community deals with refugees is completely wrong-headed in that they are assumed to be able to return home soon, penned in refugee camps and not allowed to integrate in their host country. The host country would be disturbed by the inflow of refugees so there should be international material aid to help the integration, as well as allowing refugees to emigrate to other countries.

It is possible that the refugees themselves choose to stay in refugee camps in the hopes that in this way they won't lose their claim to a "right of return". When you reach the 3rd generation of refugees you start having a serious problem in your hands, including a possible violation of human rights inflicted on the people born into refugee status.
For the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Having third-generation "stateless" Palestinians is a violation of their human rights.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 04:05:34 PM EST
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On the other hand, the right to receive material compensation/reparations for crimes against humanity (and mass deportation/ethnic cleansing qualifies) should probably not expire.

Time for me to sue the British government for damages over the 1845 famine then? Not to mention the Germanic peoples for pushing the Celts out of mainland Europe. You should see the interest charges on those damages mount up. It has to expire: you can't make the living pay for the sins of the long-dead.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 04:15:03 PM EST
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Can the living inherit what the dead stole? (And I am talking about civil and criminal law as it applies to individuals).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 04:24:32 PM EST
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The International Commission for Holocaust Era Insurance Claims does pay reparations to the living descendants of dead victims of dead war criminals. Granted, the deadline for filing claims passed in 2003, but that is because the Commission was established in 1998 with a view to resolving the claims in a finite amount of time. There was probably no argument that there should be a statute of limitations on the establishment of the Commission itself.

The commission also has "relaxed standards of proof" under which you only have to argue that it was likely that an insurance policy existed to receive a payment.

So, by analogy and without estatute of limitations Palestinian refugees or their descendants could claim material reparations from Israel with relaxed standards of proof, assuming that Israel and the refugees so agreed (including being forced by the international community to agree) and the refugees gave up their claim to the right of return.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 04:36:28 PM EST
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I'm sure the British government owes me a fortune, at this point as someone who comes from a family that is Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Scots-Irish.  Man, I bet that could add up to tens of trillions of dollars.

Then again, my Catholic and Protestant ancestors were killing each other, so, at some point, I might end up suing myself.  And my German ancestors killed my Celtic ancestors.  It just gets to be too much of a headache.

If someone wouldn't mind phoning the House of Commons for me, let them know I'll settle for a couple million pounds (NOT DOLLARS!!!!  This money's got to last!).

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 09:37:45 PM EST
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Considering Ireland ended up kicking Britain's butt after WWI and signing a treaty with it, there is a case that Ireland already had redress from the potato famine and however long a laundry list of grievances you care to bring up.

As far as Drew's ancestors, they were actually allowed to immigrate into a prosperous, democratic country and make a decent living for themselves and their descendants.

Plus, Ireland recognizes (and if not it did last time I heard) the right of grandchildren of emigrants to get Irish citizenship. So even the Irish who emigrated to the US between the two world wars (again, being allowed into a free country to make a living for themselves) escaping poverty in rural Ireland (viz. Frank Mc Court) have not lost their original citizenship.

Now tell me again how stateless third-generation refugee-camp dwellers of today are in any way comparable to the people of the British Isles...?

(Similar arguments apply to the Huguenots, the Pilgrims...)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 10th, 2005 at 11:40:02 AM EST
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Oh, and two of my ancestors were Captain Kidd and William Wallace.  Those have got to be worth at least double the going rate, right?

In all seriousness, I agree with Colman.  You can't have an endless number of lawsuits floating around for every person whose great, great, great, great grandfather was executed by the government of some other ethnic group.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 09:44:51 PM EST
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when history becomes inconvenient. Take our case. The education authorities have spent a great deal of time to teach the defense of our country against Khubirai Khan (which we managed to do with the help of a typhoon). That happened some 650 years ago, but we are still proud of the successful defense even though it owes in large part to the Pacific high pressure and humidity.

Now, China plays a political game of its own, taking an issue with a militarist shrine in Tokyo, often resulting in violent demonstrations against the Japanese embassy. People here are outraged. "Of course we are sorry, but it happened 60 years ago!"  Then the argument goes, "If they want to discuss history, what about Tibet!" This is not a debate, this is an attempt to create incovenience and end the debate.

When my friends ask me, "When will China forget the war?" I tell them, "Of course they will remember the war so long as we honor our campaign against Mongolia in the 14th century. So you bet it will take at least 600 years."

Israel has a right to teach their kids about their struggle for survivial and the holocaust forever. That curriculum will include a long section on the ME wars. Similarly, a Palestine state has a right to teach their kids about their struggle for independence forever. That curriculum will include a long section about Intifada.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Sat Dec 10th, 2005 at 07:16:48 AM EST
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