June 8, 2015

The President, not the Congress, gets to decide whether a person born in Jerusalem can have his place of birth listed on his passport as Israel.

Here's the PDF of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, which just came out. There's a majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, with 5 votes. The Chief Justice writes a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Alito. Justice Scalia has a dissenting opinion, joined by the Chief and Justice Alito. And Justice Thomas concurs in part and dissents in part.

Justice Kennedy uses the 3 categories from Justice Jackson's opinion in Youngstown. This is a category 3 case, where the President and Congress are in disagreement, but the President's position prevails when the court finds the President's power "exclusive" and "conclusive." That was the case here, Kennedy writes, where the issue is the formal recognition of a foreign sovereign, and Congress was trying to require the President to "issue a formal statement that contradicts the earlier recognition."

The text and structure of the Constitution grant the President the power to recognize foreign nations and governments. The question then becomes whether that power is exclusive. The various ways in which the President may unilaterally effect recognition—and the lack of any similar power vested in Congress—suggest that it is. So, too, do functional considerations. Put simply, the Nation must have a single policy regarding which governments are legitimate in the eyes of the United States and which are not. Foreign countries need to know, before entering into diplomatic relations or commerce with the United States, whether their ambassadors will be received; whether their officials will be immune from suit in federal court; and whether they may initiate lawsuits here to vindicate their rights. These assurances cannot be equivocal.

Recognition is a topic on which the Nation must “‘speak . . . with one voice.’ ” ... That voice must be the President’s.
Justice Breyer, who joins the majority, has a 2-sentence concurring opinion saying still thinks (as he said the last time Zitofsky came to the Supreme Court) that the political question doctrine puts this matter outside of the set of things courts get to decide.

Justice Thomas's opinion is very long, and I haven't read every word of it yet, obviously. But his bottom line is:
Listing a Jerusalem-born citizen’s place of birth as “Israel” cannot amount to recognition because the United States already recognizes Israel as an international person. Rather than adopt a novel definition of the recognition power, the majority should have looked to other foreign affairs powers in the Constitution to resolve this dispute.
He votes with the majority because of the Presidents power over passports.

Chief Justice Roberts begins by declaring this case "a first": "Never before has this Court accepted a President’s direct defiance of an Act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs." He points to Justice Scalia's opinion as the "principal dissent," so let's go there first.

Justice Scalia (joined by the Chief and Justice Alito) cites Congress’s power, specified in the Constitution, to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”:
The naturalization power also enables Congress to furnish the people it makes citizens with papers verifying their citizenship—say a consular report of birth abroad (which certifies citizenship of an American born outside the United States) or a passport (which certifies citizenship for purposes of international travel). As the Necessary and Proper Clause confirms, every congressional power “carries with it all those incidental powers which are necessary to its complete and effectual execution.” Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 429 (1821). Even on a miserly understanding of Congress’s incidental authority, Congress may make grants of citizenship “effectual” by providing for the issuance of certificates authenticating them.

One would think that if Congress may grant Zivotofsky a passport and a birth report, it may also require these papers to record his birthplace as “Israel.” The birthplace specification promotes the document’s citizenship- authenticating function by identifying the bearer, distinguish- ing people with similar names but different birthplaces from each other, helping authorities uncover identity fraud, and facilitating retrieval of the Government’s citizenship records. See App. 70. To be sure, recording Zivotovsky’s birthplace as “Jerusalem” rather than “Israel” would fulfill these objectives, but when faced with alternative ways to carry its powers into execution, Congress has the “discretion” to choose the one it deems “most beneficial to the people.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 421 (1819). It thus has the right to decide that recording birthplaces as “Israel” makes for better foreign policy. Or that regardless of international politics, a passport or birth report should respect its bearer’s conscientious belief that Jerusalem belongs to Israel.

No doubt congressional discretion in executing legislative powers has its limits; Congress’s chosen approach must be not only “necessary” to carrying its powers into execution, but also “proper.” Congress thus may not transcend boundaries upon legislative authority stated or implied elsewhere in the Constitution. 
But there are no boundaries stated or implied elsewhere, Scalia says. The majority makes too much out of the President's power of recognition, which is, he says, "a type of legal act, not a type of statement." Scalia calls it "a leap worthy of the Mad Hatter to go from exclusive authority over making legal commitments about sovereignty to exclusive authority over making statements or issuing documents about national borders."
The Court may as well jump from power over issuing declaratory judgments to a monopoly on writing law-review articles.
But what about the notion that in foreign affairs, the nation needs to speak with "one voice," and that means it's got to be the President doing the speaking? Scalia disparages such "functional considerations" in constitutional analysis and not just because they go beyond textualism: Functionalism of the sort the Court practices today will systematically favor the unitary President over the plural Congress in disputes involving foreign affairs. It is possible that this approach will make for more effective foreign policy, perhaps as effective as that of a monarchy. It is certain that, in the long run, it will erode the structure of separated powers that the People established for the protection of their liberty....

A President empowered to decide all questions relating to these matters, immune from laws embodying congressional disagreement with his position, would have uncontrolled mastery of a vast share of the Nation’s foreign affairs.
Yes, that's the point, so we're forced to asked whether or not it's good — "beneficial to the people"  McCulloch v. Maryland — to have one voice in foreign affairs, understood this broadly. Scalia's way of answering this question is to do separation-of-powers functionalism from the perspective of original meaning:
That is not the chief magistrate under which the American People agreed to live when they adopted the national charter. They believed that “[t]he accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” The Federalist No. 47, p. 301 (Madison). For this reason, they did not entrust either the President or Congress with sole power to adopt uncontradictable policies about any subject—foreign-sovereignty disputes included. They instead gave each political department its own powers, and with that the freedom to contradict the other’s policies. Under the Constitution they approved, Congress may require Zivotofsky’s passport and birth report to record his birthplace as Israel, even if that requirement clashes with the President’s preference for neutrality about the status of Jerusalem.

76 comments:

amielalune said...

If I didn't know the entire sad, warped history, the headline would seem like a joke. The fact that there is any dispute about someone born in Jerusalem being born in Israel is sickening.

The Drill SGT said...

They are right on the merits, but the moral position of State and Obama is wrong.

I think Congress can use the power of the purse to cut Tel Aviv Embassy funding if they wish and allow it in Jerusalem.

Bruce Hayden said...

Not sur if I would have called it sickening, but maybe ridiculous.

Still, despite the almost partisan lineup of the decision, it seems to make sense. This is a pretty basic and fundamental Presidental power. I remember maybe a decade or so ago when the sides were reversed and the Dems were arguing that FISA should triumph over a President's ability to wage war and to keep us safe (we were talking about warrentless interception of foreign and maybe international telephone calls) I think that you need to be consistent, and no one is here.

Bruce Hayden said...

Drill - agree with your sentiments. But not sure your solution would work. Obama and his minions may just allow our embassy in Israel to be shut down. This is a game of chicken he probably thinks he can win, esp given how he has dealt with Israel in the past. And why not? Jews continue to support him, regardless of his stance with Israel and tolerance for antisemitism.

David said...

As is often the case, Evil Scalia has a far fuller appreciation of the issue than the majority. At our peril the concentration of power in the Federal executive branch increases. And the current elites cheer, assuming that always that power will be used in ways they find congenial.

Richard Dolan said...

"They are right on the merits ...."

As with so many legal issues, it all depends on how the question is framed. Petitioner (and the amicus brief for the US Senate, among others) contended that the recognition power was not implicated, because the 'place of birth' section of a passport does not serve a 'recognition' function but instead only an "identification" function, i.e., providing identifying information about the holder of the passport was. The Court's answer was to treat the information contained in a passport as a "statement" by the US Govt on an "issue," and held that Congress could not compel the President to "issue" a "statement" that contradicted the President's "recognition" position. It also cited in support the reaction of various foreign entities, the legal relevance of which was a bit hard to see. Whether foreigners understand the ins-and-outs of US law regulating passports, and what counts as a "recognition statement" and what doesn't, seems a bit much. (But it also suggests why the Court's majority was loathe to rule against the President on this one.)

There was nothing inevitable about the way the Court chose to frame the issue it proceeded to decide. But that was the key move -- did the case involve the "recognition" function or was it instead just a dispute about the "identifying" function of a passport.

PB said...

It seems we recognize Israel and Israel recognizes Jerusalem so recording Israel as the country of birth when you are born in Jerusalem is the only correct thing to do. Legislation signed by the president and still in force should hold and not be invalidated by a subsequent president unless the law is repealed.

traditionalguy said...

No surprise. Obama is a Muslim, and we reelected him.

As for the Jews, they get the 1949 truce line and lose the Jerusalem that God gave them.the USA gets cursed by God. All as planned.


Bruce Hayden said...

Mary - contested like much of CA is contested by Mexico. But not militarily or the like for many decades.

J. Farmer said...

@amielalune:

"The fact that there is any dispute about someone born in Jerusalem being born in Israel is sickening."

No, what's sickening is the notion that a Jew born in Brooklyn has the right of return to East Jerusalem, but a Palestinian born in Jerusalem does not have the right of return to East Jerusalem. Anyone even remotely familiar with the Israel-Palestine conflict knows that an undivided Jerusalem will need to be given up by the Israelis, and the right of return to pre-1967 Israel will have to be given up by the Palestinians in any ultimate deal.

J. Farmer said...

@Bruce Hayden:

"Mary - contested like much of CA is contested by Mexico. But not militarily or the like for many decades."

Not even remotely comparable.

Cara Crawford said...

Considering the sloppy language used by Madison and others in concocting the Constitution, how can this decision be a surprise? Either this is an implied power of the President OR he could issue an Executive Order and finish the business that way. The President has always been a King. Either get used to it or change it. Don't expect SCOTUS to help you. They have already told you in dozens of ways that their job is not to limit government.

cubanbob said...

J. Farmer said...
@amielalune:

"The fact that there is any dispute about someone born in Jerusalem being born in Israel is sickening."

No, what's sickening is the notion that a Jew born in Brooklyn has the right of return to East Jerusalem, but a Palestinian born in Jerusalem does not have the right of return to East Jerusalem. Anyone even remotely familiar with the Israel-Palestine conflict knows that an undivided Jerusalem will need to be given up by the Israelis, and the right of return to pre-1967 Israel will have to be given up by the Palestinians in any ultimate deal.

6/8/15, 10:40 AM"

Between 1948 and 1967 no Jew could live in East Jerusalem even if he was born there. If the Palestinians have their way no Jew could live in East Jerusalem even if he was born there and any Palestinian, even one born in Brooklyn would have a right of return. So what is the point you are making?

Coupe said...

Zionism is just Fascism without the gas chambers.

Zionism to a Jew, is like Fascism to a German or Italian. Take away the ism's and you have otherwise normal beer drinking people. Arm them, and give them uniforms, and you have the shit-hole they want to call a country.

Unknown said...

Wow. When you return to the Planet Earth, Coupe, drop us a line.

cubanbob said...

Coupe said...
Zionism is just Fascism without the gas chambers.

Zionism to a Jew, is like Fascism to a German or Italian. Take away the ism's and you have otherwise normal beer drinking people. Arm them, and give them uniforms, and you have the shit-hole they want to call a country.
6/8/15, 11:18 AM"

So you are saying its OK to have fifty-seven Islamic countries but Jews can't have one of their own?

Hagar said...

The U.N. does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the U.N. is a creation of the United States which the United States wishes to keep going, since it is useful for so many purposes; thus the State Dept.'s position until the Israel-Palestinian squabble gets resolved at some point in the future.

And, while George W. signed the bill the suit refers to, it was with a "witholding statement" on the Jerusalem as Israel's capital provision.

amielalune said...

J. Farmer:

You're entitled to your opinion, however misguided.

I stand by my original comment.

Coupe said...

cubanbob said...So you are saying its OK to have fifty-seven Islamic countries but Jews can't have one of their own?

No. I was saying that Zionism (a Fascist ideology) doesn't make for a viable country. It can only last as long as the ammunition doesn't run out.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

J. Farmer said...No, what's sickening is the notion that a Jew born in Brooklyn has the right of return to East Jerusalem, but a Palestinian born in Jerusalem does not have the right of return to East Jerusalem.
So ridiculous, nations setting their own rules around immigration and citizenship. Thank G_d we've got a President here who realizes the right of return of peoples from south of our nation--Israel just needs to call any non-Jewish people who want to move in "DREAMERs" and everything will be fine.
Such a silly old-fashioned idea, the thought that citizens should be allowed to determine who else can become citizens and on what terms.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Coupe said... [X] doesn't make for a viable country. It can only last as long as the ammunition doesn't run out.

X = all ideologies. (Ask Ukraine.)

Steven said...

Ah, J. Farmer repeats the blatant propaganda term that is "East Jerusalem", a cynical effort to obscure that the issue is the entire Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

J. Farmer said...

@Steven:

No, I just don't believe that Jews are entitled to steal other people's land because they believe an invisible spirit in the sky promised it to them.

Bruce Hayden said...

Not even remotely comparable.

Yeh - Jeruselem was annexed maybe 50 years ago, and much of California maybe 160 years ago. I see what you mean. Frankly, I am more sympathetic with the Mexicans here than the Palestinians. But I can see why you might view it differently.

Coupe said...

It seems to me, that you have three strikes against you when you try to form a state based on monotheism.

Who's to say there is only one God, except a madman.

Bruce Hayden said...

People have been stealing other people's land as long as we have had other people. The Ruskies just stole part of the Ukraine, and the ChiComs are working on oil and gas properties in the S. China Sea. Muslims are trying to take back the parts of Europe they lost throughout the first half of the second millennium CE. Much of our world history revolves around just this sort of thing.

Bruce Hayden said...

Continuing my previous post - so what is so different with the land that the Israelis reconqueried in those wars a half century and more in the past? My suggestion is that itis because Israel is a Jewish state, there is still a lot of anti-Jewish sentiment in the world, even in this country (most notably progressive havens such as academia), and the Palistinians in particular, and Muslims more generally, are an official aggrieved victim group, according to progressives and their political correctness.

clint said...

"J. Farmer said...
@Steven:

No, I just don't believe that Jews are entitled to steal other people's land because they believe an invisible spirit in the sky promised it to them."

No, but they have the right to keep land they won in battle, exactly the same way that every single border of every single country in the world has been drawn forever.

Somehow when Israel does it, it's a problem.

This is called a double standard.

Just like every word ever written about "proportionality".

clint said...

"Coupe said...
It seems to me, that you have three strikes against you when you try to form a state based on monotheism."

There are quite a number of countries in the middle east that are so formed.

Israel isn't one of them.

It's based (partially) on an ethnic identity.

J. Farmer said...

@Bruce Hayden:

"People have been stealing other people's land as long as we have had other people."

People have been committing murder as long as we have had other people. So what?

J. Farmer said...

@clint:

"This is called a double standard."

Would you, as an American, be okay with, say, China maintaining control over our air, sea, and land borders and providing restrictions on your freedom of movement? Would the Israelis be okay with it?

That is the double standard that is operational here.

R. Chatt said...

@ J. Farmer: Last I checked the US is not in an active state of war against China with the aim of annihilating all the Chinese. Therefore there is no reason for the Chinese to maintain military control over the US in order to protect themselves. The same can not be said of the "Palestinians" who are sworn to the goal of the destruction of the State of Israel, regardless if they are called Hamas, PLO, or PA -- all have charters which state their intention to eliminate the State of Israel. Since the Palestinians are so opposed to a two state solution why does the US continue to insist on imposing that concept and blame Israel for the lack of progress in attaining it? It makes more sense to me to recognize the capital of Israel as Jerusalem, let the Palestinians get the point, and make the best of it. They lost, so get over it and get on with building a better state in peace with Israel. Instead the US is helping to perpetuate the conflict by enabling a fictional goal that Palestine will have a capital in East Jerusalem, control of the Temple Mount, Mt. Olive, the Hebrew University, and millions of Palestinians will be able to flood back into Israel and destroy Israel that way.

As far as the claim by some that Jews don't have a right to the ancient site of the Holy Temple because that's just a sky god invention, how can those same people defend the right of Muslims to the same site because Mohammed supposedly dreamed about ascending to the sky god from that place? Muslims can claim that their belief in a so called sky god supersedes all other beliefs, yet progressives will condemn Jews and defend Muslim imperialism and supremacism? Because of progressives not wanting to appear racist? But anti-Zionism/anti-Jew is OK?

Finally, for the sake of clarity, there are many cities named Jerusalem -- in Arkansas, Texas, etc. So how is it sensible to list the city rather than the country? FYI, the hospital where the kid was born is located in West Jerusalem so there is no dispute about him being born in Israel.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

J. Farmer said..Would you, as an American, be okay with, say, China maintaining control over our air, sea, and land borders and providing restrictions on your freedom of movement?
Oh, did we lose a war to China? Wait, when are national borders (and control over one's own nation) ok, and when are they not? Is there a magical date where all the lines are correct, and we just have to go back to that date? What's the date?

J. Farmer said...

@HoodlumDoodlum:

"Wait, when are national borders (and control over one's own nation) ok, and when are they not?"

If Israel wants to claim that the West Bank is its territory then would that not make its inhabitants Israeli citizens? Under what theory of human rights are Palestinians not entitled to self-determination? If security for Jews is of the upmost importance to Israel then why send its citizens deep into the West Bank to form settler colonies that require an IDF presence to secure and manage?

hombre said...

One person, Coupe, claims "Zionism is fascism" and that Israel is "based on monotheism," apparently without knowing what fascism is or that Israel is among the most secular nations on the planet.

The other, Farmer, speaks of "Jews stealing other people's land" and the Palestineans "right of return," with no apparent knowledge of the history of the area, how national boundaries are formed, or that Palestineans have no legal "right of return." (In fact, the vast majority of Palestinean "refugees" have never been to Israel.)

Bubbling under the surface of their comments are either polytheism or antitheism coupled with a dose of, to put it politely, anti-Israeli sentiment.

The only informed comment between them was: "(Israel) can only last as long as the ammunition doesn't run out."

Exactly right. The obvious implication being that Israel will be overwhelmed by force if she ever lays down her arms - a result that would likely not cause either of these two whiners a moment's regret.

Gahrie said...

J. Farmer:

Show me an Arab country where the Jews are treated as well as the Arabs are treated in Israel.

Hell, show me an Arab state where the average Arab is treated as well as the Arabs in Israel.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

That is completely beside the point. If every single citizen of Israel was the most well-treated human being on the planet, it still would not give them the right to deny self-determination to the Palestinians.

Gahrie said...

it still would not give them the right to deny self-determination to the Palestinians.


Did someone go back in time and remove the ability of Israeli Arabs to vote and sit in the Knesset?

If you want to exclude Israeli Arabs, who was it that elected Hamas and Hezbollah to rule the West Bank and Gaza?

J. Farmer said...

@Hombre:

"Bubbling under the surface of their comments are either polytheism or antitheism coupled with a dose of, to put it politely, anti-Israeli sentiment."

What is the difference, in your mind, between being critical of Israeli policies and being "anti-Israel." If I say that I believe Japan behaved reprehensibly during its invasion and occupation of Manchuria, does that make me anti-Japan? If I criticize Chinese action in Tibet, must I therefore be anti-Chinese?

Gahrie said...

What is the difference, in your mind, between being critical of Israeli policies and being "anti-Israel."

Well, we can start with advocating actions that would result in the destruction of Israel...like returning to the 1967 borders or allowing unlimited Palestinian immigration.

By the way, I insist that it is possible to be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. I used to be.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

"Did someone go back in time and remove the ability of Israeli Arabs to vote and sit in the Knesset?"

I am not talking about citizens of Israel. I am talking about the citizens of the West Bank who are denied statehood and who live under Israeli military control despite having no voice in Israeli elections.

"f you want to exclude Israeli Arabs, who was it that elected Hamas and Hezbollah to rule the West Bank and Gaza?"

Please tell us about this election of Hezbollah in the West Bank. I am fascinated.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

How would a return to 1967 borders "result in the destruction of Israel?"

Coupe said...

Hombre said......with no apparent knowledge of the history of the area, how national boundaries are formed.

Well, it's been a few years, but I think it was the Zionists who started an insurgency, and the British, unable to contain it, and taking a body count, decided the best thing to do was leave.

Am I close?

Gahrie said...

The Palestine authority, dominated by Hamas, and the choice of the Palestinians, runs the West Bank.

I know I used a lot of big words, but go back and read what I wrote. Perhaps get someone to explain it to you.

Gahrie said...

How would a return to 1967 borders "result in the destruction of Israel?"

You can ask that question when they are firing rockets into Israel from the West Bank and Gaza even now?

I've known you were ignorant on a wide range of topics, but this is the first time you have shown actually stupidity.

Coupe said...

hombre said...Israel is among the most secular nations on the planet

That explains why they are immigrating huge numbers of African Jews. The story I read was that the Israeli Arabs were breeding themselves into a democratic majority, and by immigrating more Jews they can keep their majority.

Secular I guess, but with an undercurrent. Of course, now the problem of education levels, and what to do with a large number of illiterate black people is duplicating the American experience of immigrating Africans in large numbers.

Would America be considered secular, if she were immigrating large numbers of Catholic Mexicans, to the exclusion of say Islamic Africans? With television news stories everyday that Mexicans are good workers, and Muslims are all terrorists.

Coupe said...

Gahrie said...Show me an Arab country where the Jews are treated as well as the Arabs are treated in Israel.

You'd have to go back to the Ottoman Empire, before the British and French.

The Turks were good because they killed everyone. They didn't take sides with the natives.

Many novels have a chapter in them of the good old days in the Middle East (Damascus, Baghdad, etc).

hombre said...

@Coupe: No, you are not close. Your history is faulty and incomplete. You might want to review the UN role in all that and get current on the African immigration bit.

Michael K said...

"No, I just don't believe that Jews are entitled to steal other people's land because they believe an invisible spirit in the sky promised it to them."

No, and I am sure you favor returning western Czech Republic to Germany because, after all.....

Then there is Poland and the Oder-Neisse line.

Try not to sound to stupid, will you ? I know left wing ideology requites that Israel disappear but it might help if you left wingers could point to ONE Arab country that is competently governed. Israel allowed the Palestinians free passage into Israel to work and what happened ? Suicide bombers who were no smarter than you sound.

Jeezus !

n.n said...

Libertarians believe rights are accorded through precedent and precedence.

Progressive liberals believe that rights (e.g. right to life) are earned. That they may be selectively distributed/granted (i.e. pro-choice doctrine) in order to establish and preserve their environment.

Americans believe that certain rights are inalienable, including the right to self-defense.

The Palestinians initiated and lost wars and coups fought against other people, including native Jews in the Israeli territory. The Palestinians who are excluded have a violent history similar to Mandela's faction (i.e. "Hamas") in South Africa, who posed a clear and present threat to native white South Africans and black (i.e. "Fatah") people alike.

holdfast said...

What Farmer and the other Israel-haters refuse to acknowledge is that every time Israel has given the Palestinians a bit more autonomy, they've used it for one purposes only - attacking Israel. The majority of Palestinians elected to be governed by Hamas, a groups that explicitly calls for the wiping out of Israel. The Palestinians do not want a return to the 1967 lines, or even the 1948 lines. They want Israel gone and the Jews dead. Until the Palestinians demostrate by word or deed that they are prepared to live with Israel in some form (even with non-specified borders), Israel is completely justified in treating the West Bank and Gaza as occupied hostile territory.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

"You can ask that question when they are firing rockets into Israel from the West Bank and Gaza even now?"

What rockets have been fired from the West Bank? You don't know what's going on there, and you rely on the most boring talking points imaginable.

"I know I used a lot of big words, but go back and read what I wrote. Perhaps get someone to explain it to you."

You could have just said it was a typo when you claimed that Hezbollah had been elected in the West Bank.

"The Palestine authority, dominated by Hamas, and the choice of the Palestinians, runs the West Bank."

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is not dominated by Hamas. It is dominated by Fatah. You don't know what you are talking about, and your knowledge of the area, its politics, and its history is inversely related to the certitude of your opinion.

@Michael K:

"No, and I am sure you favor returning western Czech Republic to Germany because, after all....."

I am not talking about the past, Michael. I am talking about what is happening here and now. Go tell the Arabs in Hebron who have to live under Israeli military rule that these issues are just about the past.

"I know left wing ideology requites that Israel disappear but it might help if you left wingers..."

Get over yourself already. I know that talk radio tripe is about the only means you have of making sense of the world, but this is beyond boring. If the West Bank is such an existential threat to Israel, why send its civilians deep into the territories to live?

@Holdfast:

"Israel is completely justified in treating the West Bank and Gaza as occupied hostile territory."

And as long as people feel unjustly occupied by a foreign power, they will resist, often with violence. How does building civilian settler colonies all over the West Bank, which draws security resources away from Israel proper, fit with your narrative?

Michael K said...

"I am talking about what is happening here and now. "

Of course because the left is ahistorical. The Constitution is "100 years old or something ."

Time for you to grow up if you want adults to pay any attention.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

If you made an argument about something, and someone said, "Oh yeah, well people on the right are...", would you consider that a very rational response to your argument? Is everything a tribal grudge match with you?

You want to talk about things like "adults," but you're making the most childish, illogical statements imaginable. Whether I am a raging leftist, a traditionalist social conservative, a fascist, a Maoist, or a monarchist is completely irrelevant to whether whatever statement or argument I am making about any particular issue is correct or not.

I made very specific points on a very narrow subject (e.g. Hebron, Israeli settlers), and your response to me is, "the left is ahistorical." Even if your statement were 100% true and correct, it would have absolutely nothing to do with anything I wrote.

R. Chatt said...

Hebron has deep historical and religious significance for Jews going back to Abraham. That's why Jews moved back there into homes which they had owned and previously occupied. IDF is there to protect them, well, I guess you can figure that out. Lots of good sources on the net. Check out Hebron: History & Overview Why shouldn't Jews be allowed to live there? Why does Abbas insist there will be no Jews allowed in a Palestinian State? Does that sound "fair" to you or bigoted? Sounds bigoted to me.

Michael K said...

"your response to me is, "the left is ahistorical."

Yes, that is true and you ignore thousands of years of history and try to argue that everything is now. It isn't.

You don't know enough history to conduct an argument. I'm sure you are ignorant of the fact that people who start a war and lose, usually lose their territory. The Arabs, there are no Palestinians, started several wars and lost each one.

The Arabs countries around Israel, which have no interest in having any "Palestinians" in them, ignore the plight of the "Palestinians" and use them as pawns. It's a little like Democrats and blacks.

Come back when you have valid arguments. I did provide a link about the Iraq War, for example.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

"You don't know enough history to conduct an argument."

You don't have any arguments. You have a list of talking points. Even if I accept your premise that Israel has somehow won the West Bank, then would that not make the inhabitants Israeli citizens? Israel accepted UN resolution 242, which specifically forbade the acquisition of war through territory. The primary combatants in that war were Egypt and Jordan, both of which have signed peace accords with Israel. There are almost 2 million people in the occupied territories. What should be their fate? Permanent statelessness? Would you support Israel ethnically cleansing the West Bank of its Arab population? Why or why not?

"Does that sound "fair" to you or bigoted? Sounds bigoted to me."

Sure, it's bigoted. So what? Being a bigot doesn't mean you forfeit your rights to self-determination within a state with recognized borders. I support Israel's right to statehood, and I support the Palestinians right to statehood. That seems like a totally reasonable accommodation to me. More than half the population of the West Bank was born after 1990.

Pookie Number 2 said...

Supporting the Palestinians' right to statehood sounds reasonable to me, too. Except for the fact that their leadership will indisputably use such statehood as another base for attacking Israel rather than enhancing and developing Palestinian society.

Palestinian self-determination is a legitimate objective. But it doesn't outweigh Israel's right to a reasonably secure existence, and the former probably won't be achieved until the Palestinians grow up and select leaders who love their children more than they hate Israel's.

Michael K said...

" Except for the fact that their leadership will indisputably use such statehood as another base for attacking Israel rather than enhancing and developing Palestinian society. "

Not everybody is as stupid as you are, farmer.

Read sometime the Dennis Ross account of the 2000 negotiations with Clinton, a Democrat and therefore no partisan of Israel and Arafat. Here is an account from another site.

The left will never stop blaming Clinton and Ross. but Ross outlined the deal and it was good one for the Palestinians. Arafat walked away.

They deserve nothing. Nothing !

Sound Familiar, farmer ?

Since 2000, there have been three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton’s parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts last year. In each case, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either “no” or no response. They determined that the cost of saying “yes,” or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high.

Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal, and negotiations — which are by definition about mutual concessions — will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision.


You are an idiot, farmer

J. Farmer said...

@Pookie Number:

"Except for the fact that their leadership will indisputably use such statehood as another base for attacking Israel rather than enhancing and developing Palestinian society.

Palestinian self-determination is a legitimate objective. But it doesn't outweigh Israel's right to a reasonably secure existence, and the former probably won't be achieved until the Palestinians grow up and select leaders who love their children more than they hate Israel's."

The notion that Israeli security concerns are the sole or even primary motivation for the occupation are unsubstantiated. Israel has spent the time since the '67 war cleaving out pieces of the land for its own use, building on it, expelling residents, moving in civilian populations from its territory, and placing nearby residents under strict military supervision, limiting their access to roads, the ability to keep their shops open past certain hours, etc. And this is all being done by a foreign power in which the locals have no democratic means of influencing whatsoever. The vast majority of them provide no security threat to Israel whatsoever, but they are told they must accept their situation because they "lost" a war that occurred when the majority of them where either small children or not alive at all. The existence of settlements increases security risks on Israel, the exact opposite of what is the claimed reason for the occupation.

On a purely pragmatic level, I happen to think that there is enough irrationality on both sides to ensure this conflict will keep brewing for quite some time. Palestinian statehood is a just right, even though I think there is little likelihood it will happen anytime soon. Frankly, in the grand scheme of things, it isn't that big of a deal. If not for Western Civilization's silly obsession with the bronze age myths of that region, we probably wouldn't bother to pay attention. More than a million people have been killed in the ethnically based warfare in Central Africa just in the past decade. These conflicts are rooted in a different set of competing myths than the ones that we think are important, so we pay less attention. It makes the suffering on both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict trivial in comparison.

That said, the fact of the matter is that obsession with Israel does play an outsized role in are politics. Conservatives are good on the issue of thought police on college campuses. They are awful on the issue of thought police with regard to the State of Israel. The ritualistic sucking up to AIPAC that every candidate is expected to perform is pretty stomach turning. Just consider two contrasts. Japan is one of the most significant allies of the United States. We are treaty bound to come to their defense in the event of war; they are the centerpiece of our strategy in East Asia, a vitally important region in the world. Is their leadership ever shown anything remotely resembling the ridiculously over-the-top praise that the establishment conservative movement lavishes on the Prime Minister of Israel? Would major candidates of for President make a key part of their foreign policy strategy ensuring that there be "no daylight" between US and Japanese foreign policy? We are far committed to Japan than we are to Israel, between a globalizing China and an intransigent North Korea, the security concerns far outweigh the Israel/Palestine conflict by an order of magnitude.

Frankly, I'm all for putting a stop to the $3 billion of US taxpayer funded corporate welfare checks we mail to Israel every year, telling them do whatever the hell they want, and lots of luck. The US pays a sizable strategic price for its relationship with Israel and gets extremely little in return for it. It is one of the most absurdly lopsided relationships in the history of statecraft.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

"You are an idiot, farmer"

Your incessant need to result to some third-rate, schoolyard insult every third sentence is a sign of either extreme immaturity or spectacular insecurity. I say take your pick, but they are not mutually exclusive.

Alex said...

J. Farmer - antisemitic bigot begone!

Rusty said...

When did the west bank become exclusively Palestinian? Didn't Israel take that away from Jordan?

Michael K said...

"extreme immaturity or spectacular insecurity."

No, it was a diagnosis. You ignore facts and resort to silly non-facts.

Rusty said...

"Frankly, I'm all for putting a stop to the $3 billion of US taxpayer funded corporate welfare checks we mail to Israel every year, telling them do whatever the hell they want, and lots of luck. The US pays a sizable strategic price for its relationship with Israel and gets extremely little in return for it. It is one of the most absurdly lopsided relationships in the history of statecraft."

You know, of course, that the money is in the form of credits that Israel must use to buy military hardware, right? You know that. Otherwise Israel would be using the superb Galil battle rifle rather than our crummy M4. Anyway. That's a distraction. The question becomes. What do you want the middle east to look like?

Pookie Number 2 said...

J. Farmer -

I agree with some of what you wrote, and disagree with other parts, but I'm a little pressed for time, so I'll highlight your biggest error.

On a purely pragmatic level, I happen to think that there is enough irrationality on both sides to ensure this conflict will keep brewing for quite some time.

There is some irrationality on the Israeli side, but it's small and would be over-run immediately if there was a credible reason to expect Palestinian society to behave like civilized human beings with collective goals and aspirations beyond Jew-hatred. Unfortunately - and it's unfortunate for both Israelis and Palestinians - that's not a realistic expectation.

The choice Israel faces isn't occupation versus peace, it's occupation versus continuing violent existential challenges, and, like any responsible government, it has to choose the least bad of the available options. If and when the Palestinians get leadership that can be trusted to act in a civilized fashion, better options will become available, and political pressure within and without Israel will surge. Until then, the non-optimal reality should and will outweigh an unachievable ideal.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

"You know, of course, that the money is in the form of credits that Israel must use to buy military hardware, right?"

Yes. That's why I referred to it as corporate welfare, though a certain percentage is not so specifically earmarked. Obviously, in the terms of the federal budget, the aid is trivial, but it would still be an easy cut for me. I also wouldn't provide military aid to Egypt for what it's worth.

@Michael K:

"No, it was a diagnosis. You ignore facts and resort to silly non-facts."

Please cite one non-fact.

@Pookie Number 2:

"There is some irrationality on the Israeli side, but it's small and would be over-run immediately if there was a credible reason to expect Palestinian society to behave like civilized human beings with collective goals and aspirations beyond Jew-hatred."

Have you considered the possibility that the reason Israelis figure so prominently in the minds of Palestinians is because Israel exercises a tremendous degree of power over Palestine? There are not many examples of foreign occupations I can think of that do not produce a local backlash. The existence of the backlash is inevitably used to justify a never-ending occupation.

"The choice Israel faces isn't occupation versus peace, it's occupation versus continuing violent existential challenges, and, like any responsible government, it has to choose the least bad of the available options."

It is ridiculous to say that Palestinians are an existential challenge for Israel. Israel faced far greater challenges against far larger adversaries (e.g. Egypt) for decades. There are only about 3.5 million Palestinians, less than half the population of Israel. I happen to support a state "for the Jewish people," because I'm a racialist, but this bogus attempt to disperse civilians into settlement outposts and then cry victim is silly.

@Alex:

"J. Farmer - antisemitic bigot begone!"

If I say that I believe what the Chinese did in Tibet was wrong, does that make me anti-Chinese? Did opposing Soviet action in Eastern Europe make you an anti-Slav? And, of course, even if I was anti-Semitic, it would make no difference to whether or not my argument was correct.

Pookie Number 2 said...

Arab - and specifically Palestinian - hostility to the Jews significantly predates the occupation, so your assertion that it's a consequence thereof is factually completely wrong. I've no doubt the occupation rankles, but it's not the cause of the Palestinians' dystopia or violence.

If the Palestinian proclivity toward anti-Jew violence disrupts normal life to the extent that people cannot confidently take a bus or buy a slice of pizza, then that loss enough of a challenge to daily life to qualify as 'existential', but if there's another term you deem more accurate, I won't quibble. The point stands - the Palestinians' challenges are due to their own violent inability to tolerate Jews, and Israelis need not and should not restrict their choices of where or how to live in response.

Pookie Number 2 said...

^* 'loss' should read 'poses'

Rusty said...

The question wasn't rhetorical.
What do you want the middle east to look like?
We know what a Palestinian state would look like. Just look at Gaza. What would a Palestinian West Bank look like?

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

"What do you want the middle east to look like?"

This question is completely irrelevant. I don't believe in principle in absolute monarchies, but that has nothing to do with discussing the Saudi regime as it exists in the real world. The Palestinians have a basic human right to self-determination regardless of what you, as an American I presume, happen to feel one way or another about what kind of regime might result. I, for example, support the Iraqis' right to self-determination while not agreeing with the kind of conservative religious parties many of them like to vote into office. One question is entirely separate from the other.

@Pookie Number 2:

"Arab - and specifically Palestinian - hostility to the Jews significantly predates the occupation, so your assertion that it's a consequence thereof is factually completely wrong."

This is undoubtedly true. Religiously motivated hostility towards Jews by Muslims in the Middle East and Christians in Europe is well understood. My point is that the occupation figures prominently in the lives of many Palestinians, and it is not legitimate to point to reactions to occupation as evidence for why an occupation must continue. Second, the settlements are a significant source of hostility, and they are a strategic liability. How does an IDF outpost in Hebron protect bus passengers in Tel Aviv?

A lot is made about Israel's "only democracy' status in the Arab worlds, and its level of domestic human rights and rule of law. The primary reason for this outcome is that modern Israel is basically a creation of European and American Jews and is itself a product of the same European intellectual history that produced the modern nation-states that we used to call "the first word." That's to say, despite the incessant references to the ancient world, modern Israel is the creation of exactly what immigration restrictionists rightly fear, invasion by immigration. It's always interesting when one wants to start the clock on grievances with these things.

As I've said before, I am fine with Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. I'm fine with the US as the nation-state for the Anglo people. My immigration policy wouldn't be as restrictive as Israel's but it wouldn't be that much more generous. But again, the security concerns are a pretense. Fully 3/4 of Israelis oppose giving up any part of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. And for a sizable number, I don't recall the precise figure, of Palestinians, a capital in East Jerusalem is non-negotiable. This is the kind of irrationality I am referring to. As a Palestinian, I imagine I would likely feel a bit of resentment overt the fact that the premises of Zionism had been opposed on me by force. I would likely find it equally unfair that I was forced to pay the compensation for the crimes of European Christians. Now while I can understand that, I still accept Israel as a Jewish state as an historical reality and as a people that are likewise entitled to self-determination. I don't support undoing that historical fact anymore than I support giving back territory taken from Mexico in the 19th century.

Pookie Number 2 said...

(I)t is not legitimate to point to reactions to occupation as evidence for why an occupation must continue. Second, the settlements are a significant source of hostility, and they are a strategic liability. How does an IDF outpost in Hebron protect bus passengers in Tel Aviv?

Your point begs the question - an informed view of the regions history demonstrates that Palestinian violence is something quite different from a reaction to occupation.

I'm not a military strategist, so my response to your second question is not particularly well-informed, but it seems plausible that having a presence in the West Bank allows Israel to collect information useful security information. An Israeli presence may have added to the friction that led (at least in the past) to suicide bombings, but may have prevented the organization of better-organized larger-scale violence.

What I can say more confidently is that the absence of leaders working to improve daily Palestinian life is due to Palestinian intransigence rather than Israeli occupation.

Rusty said...

J. Farmer said...
@Rusty:

"What do you want the middle east to look like?"

This question is completely irrelevant. I don't believe in principle in absolute monarchies, but that has nothing to do with discussing the Saudi regime as it exists in the real world. The Palestinians have a basic human right to self-determination regardless of what you, as an American I presume, happen to feel one way or another about what kind of regime might result. I, for example, support the Iraqis' right to self-determination while not agreeing with the kind of conservative religious parties many of them like to vote into office. One question is entirely separate from the other.

It is entirely germane to your position. Your stated claim is that you want self determination for the Palestinian people. What you don't recognize is their complete inability to get along with their neighbors. If my neighbors self admitted goal was to see the end of my existence I doubt I'd acquiesce to those wishes. Yet you seem fine with that. The Palestinians cant even govern the land it does have.
But lets suppose the Palestinians do get autonomy of the West Bank. Keeping in mind that their oft stated goal is the complete destruction of Israel what do you think their relationship is going to be with Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan? What tactical advantage would owning the West Bank give the Palestinians? It is one thing to desire self determination for a people and quite another as to if they deserve it.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think the issue is whether or not the Palestinions should have self-determination, but rather where. Unfortunately, for them, and for Middle East peace,the landtheywantis occupied by someone else. And, the reality is that the only way that that land could support their current population, even ignoring the Jewish population, is through the century or so of hard work on the part of the Jews to make the desert bloom. We are talking maybe a 10x increase in the population this land can support, in roughly the last century. Y should be

Self-determination here is completely irrelevant. The Israelis aren't really standing in the way of Palestinian self-determination or statehood - but rather are just refusing to give up any of their hard earned land for the purpose. The countries that convinced the Palestinians to flee their homes, when they were attacking Israel, are the countries that morally be providing a Palestinians. Or, maybe we should call it another Palestinian state (counting Jordan, Gazza, etc as Palestinian states already).

Which brings me back to my point above, that this is little different from the Mexicans trying to reclaim California, or the Muslims trying to reclaim Spain and even part of France. Group A had land.. Group B ended up with it. Group A wants it back. Except that sometimes Group B had it even earlier. That is the real issue - plus the Muslim hate of Jews dating all the way back to the days that their Prophet walked the Earth.

Michael K said...



"Please cite one non-fact." OMG ! Where do I start ?

"No, what's sickening is the notion that a Jew born in Brooklyn has the right of return to East Jerusalem, but a Palestinian born in Jerusalem does not have the right of return to East Jerusalem. Anyone even remotely familiar with the Israel-Palestine conflict knows that an undivided Jerusalem will need to be given up by the Israelis, and the right of return to pre-1967 Israel will have to be given up by the Palestinians in any ultimate deal."

My mother, who was a granddaughter of an Irish immigrant, had the right to an Irish passport,

You are a treasure of leftist non-sequiturs on Israel.

The Palestinans and the Gazans (Is that a word ") are living in a lunatic asylum run by suicidal maniacs who are determined to lead them all over a cliff.

Try to imagine what the Arabs of the West Bank could accomplish for themselves if they were to ally themselves with Israeli entrepreneurial intelligence and energy, I know the left does not like to consider that there are subgroups of humans who are more intelligent than others. To the left "The Bell Curve" was the equivalent of "Mein Kampf."

I had friends at Dartmouth who asked if thy could read it after I finished. They were afraid to be seen buying it in the Dartmouth Bookstore.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

"I had friends at Dartmouth who asked if thy could read it after I finished. They were afraid to be seen buying it in the Dartmouth Bookstore."

Talk about non sequiturs. As I've said too many times to you already, this "leftist" caricature that you have conjured in your mind and are itching to have an argument with is your own particular windmill. For what it's worth, would you mind pointing out where in The Bell Curve, a book you claimed to have read, Murray and Hernstein discuss "subgroups of humans."

"My mother, who was a granddaughter of an Irish immigrant, had the right to an Irish passport,"

This is another non sequitur. You don't understand how the right of return for Jews works under Israeli law. The second sentence of mine that you quote is also exactly what Dennis Ross, the guy you were quoting with such authority earlier, believes. The U.S. has opposed Jerusalem as the capital for Israel since the 1940s.