Gabriel Latner – excellent debater with integrity

A young man studying law in Cambridge, 19 year old Canadian Gabriel Latner, found himself debating at the Cambridge Union Society for the motion that Israel is Rogue State. He was placed on the “team” that included Lauren Booth, the ridiculous sister in law of Tony Blair who converted to Islam after a visit to that shining beacon of democracy and brotherly love, Iran, and who especially enjoys being photographed in Gazan supermarkets brimming with food although she publicly denounces Israel for starving Gazans.

Lauren Booth shopping in a Gaza supermarket as part of her campaign to declare Israel's mistreatment of Gazans

Mr. Latner took the proposition for which he was arguing and proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that Israel is indeed a “rogue” state. He showed that it is a rogue state because it is a Jewish state in a world which has no other Jewish states, that it permits refugees from Sudan to enter while other states turn a blind eye, it speaks to and attempts to make peace with terrorists, its record on civil liberties stands strong in contrast with the region in which it exists and it has the courage to send official representatives to debate ridiculous motions like, say, its very legitimacy.

It is a lovely speech that he gave and one that apparently won over the audience which we can fairly assume was predisposed to accept Israel as a “rogue” state. In the end, the audience voted against the proposition.

Subsequently, Mr. Latner was banned for life from the Cambridge Union Society by some hot-headed organizer. The reason was that Ms. Booth complained that Latner had spoken unpleasantly to her. Ms. Booth and Cambridge Union Society organizers should know that we, in the new world that is, call that “sour grapes.” Gabriel Latner is appealing the decision, and also suggesting that he wouldn’t want to belong to a club that wouldn’t have him as a member anyway.

Cambridge Union Society member or not, the young Mr. Latner has a bright future ahead of him. I’m certain he’ll also make an exceptional lawyer.

Here is the talk he gave, as presented to the Mondoweiss folks, who apparently had a difficult time swallowing the loss to the motion caused by Mr. Latner in Cambridge.

This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I’m not. I’m a realist. I’m here to win. I have a single goal this evening – to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the ‘Aye’ door. I face a singular challenge – most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds.

This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I’d be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we’re destined for a tie. I’m tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they’ll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel. It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international ‘laws’ to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that’s been done to death. It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalised stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they’re your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state’ rogue’. If it did, Canada, the US, and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigour.

More importantly, I just don’t think we can win with those arguments. It won’t change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won’t. So I’m going to try something different, something a little unorthodox. I’m going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my speech – I will have presented 5 pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a ‘rogue state’ than at least ‘rogueish’.

Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is ‘bad’. I will not be arguing that it doesn’t deserve to exist. I won’t be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is ‘rogue’.

The word ‘rogue’ has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The OED defines rogue as ‘Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time ‘, while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition ‘behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way ‘. These definitions, and others, centre on the idea of anomaly – the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.

The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051% . In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% – more than twice as likely. Israel’s Jewishness is a statistical abberation.

The second argument concerns Israel’s humanitarianism, in particular,Israel’s response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis – for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that – but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. [I actually hoped that Mr Massih would be able speak about this – he’s actually somewhat of an expert on the Crisis in Darfur, in fact it’s his expertise that has called him away to represent the former Dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.] There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt – where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel’s cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees Citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets. Compare that to the US’s reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst – and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.

My Third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns — it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands – they’re in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP- an organisation of ‘freedom fighters’ that, under Abed Rabbo’s leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA – the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel can do the exact same thing – and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue – behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.

Another part of dictionary definition is behaviour or activity ‘occuring at an unexpected place or time’. When you compare Israel to its regional neighbours, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is. And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence. In fact, it beats America.

Israel’s protection of its citizens’ civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as ‘Free’ ‘Partly Free’ or ‘Not Free’. In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a ‘free’ country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in say, Lebanon- a country designated ‘partly free’, where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well. [I’m hoping Ms Booth will speak about this, given her experience working as a ‘journalist’ for Iran,] Iran is a country given the rating of ‘not free’, putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran, [as Ms Booth I hoped would have said in her speech], there is a special ‘Press Court’ which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the ‘foundations of the Islamic republic’ , using ‘suspicious (i.e. western) sources’, or insulting islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. [I don’t know if Ms Booth was affected by that] I guess we can’t really expect more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are. Theocracies and Autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

I have one final argument – the last nail in the opposition’s coffin- and its sitting right across the aisle. Mr Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr Gidor is a political counsellor attached to Israel’s embassy in London. He’s the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them to the UN. He knows what he’s doing. And he’s here tonight. And it’s incredible. Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off,to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That’s remarkable. Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was ‘This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world’, that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never. And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. But Israel has sent Mr Ran Gidor to argue tonight against [a ‘journalist’ come reality TV star, and myself,] a 19 year old law student who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.

Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now- because it forgot rule number one. You never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It’s the same reason you won’t see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.

That’s five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel. But I have a minute or two left. And here’s an argument for all of you – Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed OSIRAK – Sadam Hussein’s nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq. That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom loving peoples. But it hasn’t. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something; while you’re here, Khomeini’s Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you’re honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity act in a way that is the not the norm, and you’d better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran. [Except Ms Booth]

21 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Reading List: BDS meets Lady Gaga « New Voices

  2. Pesach Goodley, M.D.

    11/9/2010 at 1:30 pm

    I will be grateful for Mr. Latner to receive my admiration for his remarkable performance. I don’t know if he’s old enough to be one of the lamed vuvnicks who support this world, but what he accomplished with his Jewish Kup will enter the archives as a never to forget.

    I would very much enjoy a personal correspondence with him.

    Pesach Goodley, M.D.

  3. Pingback: Israel IS a Rogue State - Blog

  4. Michael Cohen

    11/14/2010 at 7:05 am

    Responding from deep within the “Rogue” State of Israel, I would like to argue that describing something as a “fucking wall” is not a term of sexual abuse in modern English. If you were to call it a “bloody wall” this would not today be construed as referring to the mother of Jesus (blood = by our lady). Similarly, but in the opposite sense, one would not describe, today, a meeting of the Union as part of social intercourse, because intercourse has now only sexual connotations. On other hand if Mr Latner had suggested to Ms Booth that he would screw her to the wall (rather than nail) then this could, I think, have had a sexual connotation. Mr Counsell, in deciding to punish Mr Latner really only exposed his ignorance of the modern use of English. This really is a disgrace for a President of the Cambridge Union. His behaviour should not only embarrass himself, but all of Cambridge.

    • themiddle

      11/14/2010 at 9:59 am

      I would suspect that if the topic were different and Latner hadn’t been so effective, Counsell would have apologized on behalf of his organization and moved on. His response deserves all the ridicule it is getting.

  5. Holly Obernauer

    11/14/2010 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you!

  6. Nala Dleifneerg

    11/17/2010 at 12:59 am

    BRAVE GABRIEL LATNER!!! ENCORE!!! The best performance I’ve seen to date – and in less than 10 minutes! By the way, the Israeli government could use a little hasbara help to say it lightly – I’m sure there is a lot of avodah to keep you busy there if you should decide to make aliyah…

  7. hf

    11/25/2010 at 10:45 pm

    Gabriel Latner you are amazing!! I am also a 19 year old college student, and I wish that every Israel activist had even half of your courage and charisma. Thank you for speaking out against this ridiculous, but increasingly normative, debate over Israel’s right to exist.

  8. haim

    11/28/2010 at 7:23 am

    very interesting article of Latner, he deserves as a tool for the brainwashing undertaken by the israeli government since 1978 the times when the setlements where substantially upgraded. Latner manipulates positive actions undertaken by israal (such as refugees etc.) and compare them to bad actions undertaken by other countires (Guantanamo, Irland etc) By this way he generates a false vision that makes understand that these are the bad actions of Israel. Nevertheless, numerous are the illegal and unmoral actions undertaken by the israeli government. Interestingly all the actions he cited are related to the sovereign israeli state of the green line and not of the occupied territories. He thus manipulate the opinion of the readers by not citing anythingrelated to the occupied zones which would prevent him from supporting the israeli government. One of these ilelgal actions is the case of palestinian Susya where settlers stollen lands belonging to palestinans since the 80’s with the support of the army, for more details read the link:
    kibush.co.il/s...

    • themiddle

      11/28/2010 at 5:00 pm

      Blah, blah, blah, illegal, blah, blah, blah, immoral, blah, blah, blah, Israel bad, blah, blah, blah, stolen, blah, blah, blah, link to extreme left wing site.

      The primary reason the conflict isn’t over and a Palestinian state doesn’t exist next to Israel is Palestinian rejection of the deals they were offered, not to mention their historical lies dismissing the Jewish connection to this region as well as their rejection of the right of Jews to self-determination.

    • Yefim

      7/6/2011 at 3:51 pm

      i don’t understand haim, palestinian land?!
      since when did palestine exist?!
      NEVER!!!
      though i didn’t expect you to know the answer because you are a leftard.
      Listen up palestine never existed this land was occupied by Romans/Muslims/Mamlukes/Ottomans/British since jews were kicked out what!
      HOW ARE THOSE LANDS OCCUPIED WHEN THEY NEVER COMPRISED AN EFFING COUNTRY CAN YOU EVEN EXPLAIN THAT?!

  9. chaim

    11/29/2010 at 12:58 am

    Why ther cannot be a legitime way for discussing?? my purposes are not bla bla bla and so yours.
    Why when somebody has a different approach has to be necessarily delegitimized by answering blabla bla and extren left link,??
    The eventsof palestinian Susya are a fact, the only sites that describe and report these illegal actions of th eisraeli government in english are the left wing sites, so in order to bring some material to the USA reader there is nothing but addressing you to these sites.
    You still did not face these facts, only you try to disqualify my position by delegitimizing me.
    The debate of Gabriel Latner was very easy to win, indeed against those who claim that israel is a nazi and appartheid state it is not difficult to overcome such arguments. I am not antisemite, I am israeli and even very attached to the jewish tradition. My concern is about the morality of our actions in front of idividual palestinians.
    you can enter the web site of Haaretz and try to get some information of Palestinian Susya to get a more realistic vision of human rights in the west bank

  10. themiddle

    11/29/2010 at 2:04 am

    Chaim, you undermined your entire comment by using the Kibbush link. Seriously, I read your link despite your anti-Israel rhetoric (immoral, stolen, etc.) and wondered what is fact and what is fiction because I consider the source extremist and biased, which was reflected in the link.

    It so happens that Jewlicious posted an article about Susya last year, written by Joseph Dana, who in my opinion can safely be labeled a biased pro-Palestinian activist. I believe he is a friend of ck’s, the founder of this site. This is the post: jewlicious.com...

    I encourage you to read the discussion that follows and note the challenges by Ben David and LB to the post and to Yoav who seeks to uphold the claims of the post – claims that are similar to your Kibush article. The one response Yoav, who upholds the idea that Israel is doing something illegal in Susya, does not give is one that convinces that Israel is indeed doing something illegal there. He is challenged on the grounds of land ownership and cannot disprove the simple claim that the land is owned by a Jewish family.

    Now, you might say that Israel with its numerous illegal and immoral actions is lying. But you know, this is a week when the Palestinian Authority officially denied any Jewish connection to the Kotel. So this week I am only going to believe Israel with its democratic institutions, free press, open and robust court system and multiple peace offers which would have put Susya with its important ancient Jewish synagogue right into Palestinian hands (which, if history is any indicator, will destroy the site). I’m also going to reject, out of hand, those who deny Jewish history or those who ignore these denials. Kibush is definitely on the side of those being ignored.

    If you want to talk about Latner, the reason he won the debate is not that he misrepresented anything but that he took a common attack on Israel – one which you yourself brought into this discussion – and properly re-framed it.

  11. chaim

    11/29/2010 at 5:33 am

    Well, this second answer sounds better, however you still have the tendence to delegitimize my position by trying to put me in the same basket with those who hate Israel.
    It looks that although you suspect the left wing link Kibush about the authenticity of the information but you realize that there maybe something there.
    OK, I was last week in Palestinian Susya and could check directly the situation myself. The 14 families have property titles dating from the Otoman times. The occupied territories are ruled according the the otoman law since the 80 after a known debate in the high court whne Shamgar via Plia Albeck accepted that the west bank will be ruled according to the otoman laws in all what concerns the rights and obligations of non israeli citizens. These families have their property contracts and nobody was able to contradict this. This are facts that you can yourself make a search via takdin site where you can find a huge number of hiugh court sentences. The lawyer of these peole is Shlomo Leker and you are invited to make your own search. There is another link, although not of those you like as it is also left wing, it describes all the developments in the high court.
    palsolidarity....
    and
    taayush.org/ne...
    Note that I use the concept of government of israel, sometimes the israeli army and sometimes the israeli setlers, but not israel as state. Indeed, if you make your search you will find that thanks to the high court of justice some of the arbitrarian measures promoted by teh government, zahal and setlers were stopped by the court. So semantically it is important as this is what make the big diffewrence between me as israeli left wing peace supporter and those foreign that spew their hate and allways talk about the zionists israel or the zionist entity.

  12. chaim

    11/29/2010 at 9:58 am

    my answer to the last maill of “themiddle” was first published and then removed!! is this censury???
    I don’t believe that in a free tribune there are censors among the managers of the site

  13. chaim

    11/29/2010 at 10:57 am

    thanks for placing back my message

    • themiddle

      11/29/2010 at 11:50 am

      I put it back. One of our other writers probably got offended about the additional one-sided links and propaganda and put the comment into the filter. My research on Susia and High Court rulings only reveals that some things have gone in the direction of the Palestinians and some have not. My research into the numerous videos and one-sided articles out there, however, indicates a very strong influence of left-wing activists on the activities out there that end up getting the attention of the military. It’s actually pretty shameful that under the guise of helping the Palestinians, they actually put them in difficult situations just as they do the soldiers. It makes for good video, but for lousy politics.

      Now back to Latner. Nothing that you’ve said changes the fact that everything he stated was accurate. Let me know if you plan to focus on that or to change the subject again.

  14. chaim

    11/29/2010 at 11:19 pm

    Regarding Susya: one cannot pretned that the actions of the left wing activist brough the army to the struggle, I am sorry but such argument is ridiculous. Jewish Susya and the repeted expulsions of the palestinian inhabitants were fully accomplished by the israeli army and sometimes with the help of settlers. Thus whatever you claim about the biased presentation of the information and of the reality, it applies also to our main subject of discussion which is Gabriel Latner: He does not see the whole landscape, he only face the arguments of the other side and limit his claims to what deserves to his aim: which is to discredit the detractors of israel vis a vis of showing an ideal (but false) picture of israel. Thus his approach is not less biased than that of the left wing activist according to your own words!
    The left wing israeli actvists migh be biased, but in any case is not against the state of israele but against the government who acts immorally.
    The facts are clear: there are palestinians legal owners of the territories in south Hebron hills and there are the setlers and the iDF who came, expulsed and approprate the lands of those palestinians. Thes facts are not of the arguments of Gabriel Latner!! He behaves as a lawyer, and it seems he is one!! However the real life is not the court, one has not the right to use exclusively the arguments that deserve their aims, one has to see the overall picture. In real life we want to be righteous and moral and not to win a trial (or a debate)
    With kindest regards from Israel a legitime state with many problems……

  15. themiddle

    11/30/2010 at 12:59 am

    Regarding Susya: one cannot pretned that the actions of the left wing activist brough the army to the struggle, I am sorry but such argument is ridiculous.

    I said no such thing. I said that there are occasions when left wing activists influence Palestinian activities with the explicit intention of getting some IDF response…while their video cameras are rolling. This would be ridiculous if it weren’t true.

    Jewish Susya and the repeted expulsions of the palestinian inhabitants were fully accomplished by the israeli army and sometimes with the help of settlers.

    And apparently it is legal because there has been a decade of legal activity on behalf of the local Palestinians and even a sympathetic High Court which put the Security Barrier such that the Jewish settlements are on the “Palestinian side” has not claimed it is otherwise.

    Thus whatever you claim about the biased presentation of the information and of the reality, it applies also to our main subject of discussion which is Gabriel Latner:

    No, it is completely unrelated. Latner was debating the premise that Israel is a rogue state. He argued in favor of that motion and he did so very effectively. Your problem is that he spoke well of Israel instead of denouncing it.

    Latner made 5 key points: It is a rogue state because it is the only Jewish state; it opens its doors to refugees; it attempts to make peace with terrorists; its record on civil liberties is excellent when contrasted with the other countries in the Middle East; and it is willing to officially debate motions that question its legitimacy.

    Although you’ve tried to change the subject by bringing in issues related to the Judea and Samaria/West Bank, this is a red herring and does not reflect in any way on his claims.

    He does not see the whole landscape, he only face the arguments of the other side and limit his claims to what deserves to his aim: which is to discredit the detractors of israel vis a vis of showing an ideal (but false) picture of israel.

    He actually addresses the topic extremely well and sees the whole landscape from a much bigger perspective than yours. For an example, you wanted to focus on the hardship some Palestinians face in Judea and Samaria/West Bank. By this you wanted to show that Israel does “illegal and immoral” things. Instead, he emphasizes that Israel wants peace badly enough that it is willing to negotiate with the terrorists who have murdered its people in cold blood on buses, in restaurants, at hotels, etc. so that a resolution could come about.

    You know very well that both Olmert and Barak offered peace to the Palestinian leadership – not just terrorists from the past but leaders active in the Palestinian War of 2000 which only ended about two years ago and which included numerous acts of terror against Israelis. Had the Palestinians agreed to these deals, 96.5% of Judea and Samaria (including the areas surrounding Susia) and 100% of Gaza would be in the Palestinian state. Israel offered this deal which would have removed all of your issues about “immoral” Israel and was rejected without a good reason by the Palestinians. This is what Latner refers to when he speaks about Israel being a rogue state for speaking to terrorists.

    In other words, his vision is much broader than yours. And therefore also far more precise in terms of how one should view Israel.

    Thus his approach is not less biased than that of the left wing activist according to your own words!

    Left wing activism in this conflict has done more to hurt the prospect of peace than anything done by Israel. This activism has given the Palestinians a great deal of confidence that they will emerge victorious in their war against Israel. Look at yourself for instance. Here is a young person saying 5 things about Israel which are indisputable and definitely positive. Instead of acknowledging the positive, you seek to label the statements made by Latner “brainwashing.” When the Palestinians enjoy this kind of blind and, excuse me, MISLEADING, support in many debates around the world, including in the reporting on the conflict and on many university campuses, can you blame them for thinking it is better for them not to close a peace deal and instead continue to delay because it is to their advantage?

    The left wing israeli actvists migh be biased, but in any case is not against the state of israele but against the government who acts immorally.

    Untrue. Having run out of excuses to justify Palestinian delays of coming to an agreement, or even negotiating, the Left today now doesn’t even speak of two state solutions any more. Instead, they provide more encouragement for those who don’t want to close a deal by demanding a single state solution, a full return of all descendants of Palestinian 1948 refugees and the giving up of the Kotel to people who expressly deny the Jewish connection to this site. I often hear the Leftists say today that “they don’t care” about a two state or single-state solution, they just “want a solution” that makes Israel adhere to “international law.” When you read what they actually mean, you understand that for example they consider 194 to be international law.

    The facts are clear: there are palestinians legal owners of the territories in south Hebron hills and there are the setlers and the iDF who came, expulsed and approprate the lands of those palestinians.

    Some Palestinians own some of the land there. Not all of the land. Sorry.

    Some of the land was appropriated because it turned out to be an important historical site. This also happens inside Israel and in many places around the world where important historical sites are discovered.

    The Palestinians have had years to appeal to the court system in Israel and so far have not succeeded in making the courts accept your accusations.

    These facts are not of the arguments of Gabriel Latner!!

    Because they are not connected to what he’s saying at all. They’re your red herring to try to change the subject.

    He behaves as a lawyer, and it seems he is one!! However the real life is not the court, one has not the right to use exclusively the arguments that deserve their aims, one has to see the overall picture.

    This is a debate. He stands on one side and the other side stands on the other. Of course you use the argument that serves the aims of winning the debate. He’ll make an excellent lawyer. I believe you also tried to practice some lawyering here by changing the subject…

    In real life we want to be righteous and moral and not to win a trial (or a debate)

    It is perfectly moral to say that Israel is right to negotiate for peace with the terrorists. It shows a desire to achieve peace. Peace would remove the challenges of an occupation over the Palestinians.

    If you want peace, Chaim, you would broaden your views and understand why it is imperative that people like you who support the Palestinians and have sympathy for their plight apply pressure on their leadership to come to the negotiating table to close a peace deal. That would be the moral thing to do, not to seek to weaken and undermine Israel as you have. That makes peace more distant and actually is the most immoral thing you could be doing.

    Latner’s position is not only moral, it is exceedingly so considering that he was in a hostile environment trying to crucify Israel. He stood firm on the side of justice and morality and peace.

    With kindest regards from Israel a legitime state with many problems……

    Be well.

  16. chaim

    11/30/2010 at 4:58 am

    I was glad to have somehow a dialogue with you, we diverge in essensial issues and I have to stop my letter for work reasons.
    1- Left wing israelies do not support palestinans, they have a humanitarian approach for activities of israel as state and as government
    2- We are not less syonists than any right wing israel supporter, so refrain from defining the left wing israelies as palestinians supporters, this is still in the limits of delegitimization of the others.
    3- settlements are psot-zyonists and they bring about one state for two people. thus necessarily not a jewish/zyinist state
    4 I am glad that you agreed finally that some land belongs to the palestinans, I spoke specifically about the land of 14 families in south hebron hills who losse about 50% of their land because of the setlements and zahal politics.
    5- Finally, it is good that our first discussion turned somehow to a dialogue even if we agreed to disagreed.
    thanks

  17. themiddle

    11/30/2010 at 6:06 am

    Chaim,

    Sadly, as I review B’Tzelem, Gush Shalom, Yesh Gvul, Taayush,and independent activists like Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber (nom de plume) or Noam Sheizaf, I think the debate over whether they “support Palestinians” or have a “humanitarian approach for activities of Israel” is moot. For them it’s the same thing and the impact they have, on both the international movement against Israel and especially on the Palestinians themselves who now have confidence that they can continue to wait because time hurts Israel and benefits them, only hurts the chance for peace.

    2. This past week was a strong test for the Left, because of the Fifth Fatah Revolutionary Council meetings. The outcome of that meeting essentially described a Fatah and a PA committed to destroying Israel. In addition, the Palestinians officially denied a Jewish connection to the Kotel. Finally, there was a poll that just came out explaining that Palestinians envision a two-state solution as a mere stopgap on their way to a single Palestinian state.

    What condemnations of these positions did we hear from the Left? One group’s leader openly spoke out against these things. In the US, after a week, J Street put out a press release condemning the Kotel statements but then describing it as a parallel to Israeli wrongs.

    Does that qualify the Left as less Zionist or more Zionist than the Right? You tell me.

    3. Depends on how you define settlements. With all due respect, having a Jewish settlement built near the historic archaeological site of Susia doesn’t seem to be “post-Zionist” but very Zionist. It’s true that this is land which will become part of Palestine if the Palestinians actually decide they want peace or a state, but that’s a political issue, not one that defines Zionism. Furthermore, there is no reason these Jews should not be permitted to live in Susia in a future Palestine…except that the Palestinians don’t want any Jews living there.

    With respect to Jerusalem, none of it is a settlement because it has been annexed. The Left needs to let go of Jordanian rule of 19 years as some magic powder that renders anything the Jordanians captured and cleansed in 1948 as permanent. The Jordanians are the ones who wanted non-final armistice lines instead of a peace agreement and they’re the ones who attacked in 1948 and 1967. The Old City contains the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel and those are not settlements or post-Zionist or anything of the sort. They belong to the Jewish people.

    Finally, settlements as defined by the Palestinians and the Left include neighborhoods in Jerusalem outside the Old City and Holy Basin as well as towns like Maaleh Edumim. Those do no harm to peace or a Palestinian state. As I wrote above, Israel offered 96.5% of Judea and Samaria/WB to the Palestinians. That’s because 80% of the settlers live on the other 3% which generally borders the Green Line very closely. In other words, the suggestion the settlements stand in the way of peace is simply incorrect.

    4. I will tell you again that the Palestinians have legal mechanisms that are open to them and they have used them. What is legal and proper is allowed and what is improper has been disallowed. If your argument to Latner is about 14 Palestinian families in the South Hebron Hills, then once again I will reply that he is speaking about the macro and not the micro.

    5. We should always have dialogue. My disagreement is with the rhetoric and propaganda that constantly vilifies Israel without referring to the reasons that things might be happening. You started with referring to Israel as “stealing,” “immoral,” and a one-sided Kibush article. It is kind of hard to start a dialogue after that. Maybe next time you can approach the subject with a more reasonable approach, and then we can have the kind of dialogue that will lead not only to politeness but maybe even to common ground.

    Thanks to you.

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