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George K
George K
2 months ago

I might be wrong but last year we did have a final resolution of a long lasting ethnic conflict. Expulsion of Armenians from the enclave of Karabakh effectively ended the standoff. Tragic as it is but their children will probably live in peace in Armenia.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  George K

“They” even exhumed their dead when they were ejected so that does seem fairly final.
As you rightly say their children will hopefully be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 months ago

Well said! I will note that the ‘Palestinians’ had no state/nation BEFORE 1948 either. The British Empire’s Mandate for Palestine previously included all of Jordan; it was not a state/nation. Prior to this, the Ottoman Empire included ‘Palestine’ as a portion of its Syrian Province; it was not a state/nation.

The Arabs who lived there were from every other Arab nation under the sun; a small minority had been there for some centuries. They lived under numerous empires that came and went, such as the Crusader Kingdoms and the Mamluks of Egypt.

Therefore, they fled or were forced out of a region/province, not a state/nation.

If ‘Palestine’ becomes a state tomorrow, it will be the first time in history that happens, not a reversion to a previous state.

Israel was a state on this very land thousands of years ago. Its sovereignty on this soil was a return to a previous status of statehood.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

“Its sovereignty on this soil was a return to a previous status of statehood.“
Agreed but that is a fairly long, indeed probably unprecedented, “flash to bang”!
In fact from Pompey’s conquest in 63BC/690AUC to 1948AD.

POSTED AT 10.09 GMT and immediately SIN BINNED: ‘Kosher Nostra’ strikes AGAIN?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

All reasonable, except regarding the Arab population of the region. Arab speakers, many of whom were and are actually Christians, form the overwhelming majority of the population in that region, and have done for centuries. In fact we could see Arabic as a second main Semitic lingua franca following Aramaic (spoken by Jesus). In the 7th century, as is usually the case, the number of Arab conquerors was small, but gradually the inhabitants acquited the new language, exactly as course as had Europeans, previously done to Latin.

The Crusader states changed the population balance very little – we are talking about a few thousand knights etc – and in case they turned out to be historically ephemeral. There were no Arab or indeed any other “nations” – the region being governed by a series of empires, Arab. Kurdish, Mameluke and Ottoman Turk. Latterly the British and French.

The exception today if modern Israel (and even there Arabic is an official language).

I am a supporter of Israel, but you can hardly refer to the modern nation state of Israel, which was actually built by secularists, as a return to the “status quo” of a Bronze Age theocratic state.

Stuart Cam
Stuart Cam
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Arabic being an official language shows that Israel has tried to integrate Arabs into their sovereign land, no?

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

The evidence for an independent united kingdom of Israel encompassing all of modern day Israel is slim and if did exist, occurred nearly 3,000 years ago. What is now Israel has been part of an empire since at least 700BC.

Ed Nuhfer
Ed Nuhfer
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

“
when they cast Israelis as “colonists” — although a majority of the Israeli population descends from Jews who lived in the Muslim world, and were themselves expelled in the wake of 1948.”
 
Uhh..maybe Italy is “the promised land?” https://www.science.org/content/article/did-modern-jews-originate-italy
 

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Ze’ev Herzog, perhaps Israel’s premier archaeologist has stated that most of this so called “biblical archaeology’ is utter tosh, and that there is very little archaeology to show that anything remotely resembling an ‘Israeli’ state existed before about 650 BC.

John Tyler
John Tyler
2 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

No-one can truly claim to be descended from the first settlers of any location. We cannot prove definitively who was first in a particular place, and even were we able to do so we cannot know whether their descendants still exist. We take historic claims for ownership from whatever date suits our own perspective. Palestinians, Turks, Jews, Philistines, Canaanites, Bronze Age, Stone Age, West African or North African gatherers and hunters… Perhaps the whole globe should be awarded to whoever is directly descended from the original humans from the Great Rift Valley – oh! perhaps that’s everybody alive today. Complex innit? 🙂

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

Maybe I’m wrong, but somehow I don’t think Russia, China, or any authoritarian state is wasting even a second lamenting the plight of the people it expels in a military conflict. This is only a pre-occupation in wealthy democracies – another of many luxury beliefs befuddling the west. If Hamas or Iran overruns Israel and expels everyone, they won’t bat an eye. There won’t be endless discussion about Israeli land acknowledgments. And frankly, I would expect the vast majority of Israelis would move on and start a new life.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s only worth complaining about people who are moved by complaints.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

That don’t care about Israelis and Jews because they are a successful minority.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You’re not remotely wrong.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Your last sentence is rather odd and even trite. Firstly, we would be talking about millions of Jewish people – whom are unlikely to be welcomed anywhere in numbers. But more fundamentally, the refusal of Jews to “move on” gave the historical opportunity in the right circumstances for Zionism to exist and eventually create the state of Israel. We have almost completely forgotten many contemporaneous Bronze and Iron Age societies.

John Tyler
John Tyler
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I’m inclined to agree with your second sentence.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’m not sure you’re right – both Russia and China are multi-ethnic empires. Russia did not engage in mass expulsion from Crimea after 2014, and is perfectly fine with a multitude of ethnicities within its sprawling lands. China seems to be comfortable with minorities as well, confident the Han will eventually swamp them.
Similarly, most of the Asian countries I’m familiar with include a patchwork of ethnicities, languages, and cultures, that mostly rub along more or less fine, though the notion of equality is not necessarily an element in the mix.
What has upset historical modus vivendi is the drawing of artificial boundaries, splitting ethnicities between states, and colonial powers’ deliberate policies of favouring one ethnicity over another to assist in their rule.
Ukraine is a case in point – Lenin and Stalin deliberately packed ethnic Russian lands into the Ukrainian SSR to prevent the SSR from developing a distinct national identity. The result of that cynical manipulation we see now.

P N
P N
2 months ago

This is a gross distortion of history. If you think Africa, Asia and the Americas were peaceful places largely getting along in a modus vivendi before the arrival of the white man then you are truly misinformed. How do you think the empires of the Mughals, the Mongols, the Han, the Zulu, the Ashanti, the Comanche, the Aztecs came about?

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

That was not the point. The point was: Did those empires evict the people they conquered, or did they develop societies where various cultures and ethnicities co-existed?
I explicitly said: They did not necessarily co-exist in equality. But they co-existed.

P N
P N
2 months ago

Many of the empires I mentioned were not literate so we have no history but we do know the Comanche did not spare the men and children of enemy tribes, taking the babies into their own tribes and keeping the women and young girls for reproduction. We also know the Mongols killed every living being in the cities which didn’t immediately surrender to them. When Darius the Great defeated the city of Miletus in 499BC he sold all of the women and children into slavery, killed the older men, and expelled all of the younger men as eunuchs(!), thereby assuring that no Miletus citizen would ever be born again.
So the answer to your question is that eviction would have been preferable in many cases.
However, I think what you might be trying to say is that it is a characteristic of empire that many different people co-exist under one ruler (once they have submitted to conquest). In the British Empire, tribes that had previously fought and conquered and enslaved each other were forced to co-exist in peace. Britain’s withdrawal from eg Africa did create artificial boundaries but to argue that it was these boundaries which caused tribal conflict is to ignore the situation before the arrival of Britain.
In the Middle East, Israel and the surrounding countries had been part of an empire for nearly 3,000 years until 1947. Maybe empires aren’t so bad after all?!

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Maybe empires aren’t so bad after all?!

I take that with a grain of salt, but the challenge remains – is it better to survive as a people and culture in repression, or to fight for equality and risk oblivion?
For our times, rephrased: Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise political structures that circumvent this invidious choice?
The EU and the OSCE, as they were 30 years ago, charted great promise in this respect. It is a grave sin that we have abandoned this promise.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

The Uyghur Muslims might not agree with this. When the Chinese take over territory, they flood it with Chinese. They don’t expel them, they overwhelm them.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

 I would expect the vast majority of Israelis would move on and start a new life.
Substitute “Palestinians” for Israelis and watch heads explode. The Israelis, rather the Jews, have spent much of their existence moving on. The Palestinians, meanwhile, were invented in the previous century.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

‘ The Palestinians, meanwhile, were invented in the previous century.’

Yes. ‘Palestine’ has never been a sovereign nation. It’s been a province in various empires since time immemorial.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Hamas dosn’t want to drive the Jews out of Israel – they want to kill all Jews worldwide.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Exactly. Some people seem to genuinely believe that Hamas were attempting to establish a Liberal rights-based democracy on October the 7th.
I’ve tuned in to Al Jazeera and many of the commentators are using the rhetoric of liberalism – ‘our rights’, democratic principles – to defend what is essentially militant jihadism

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

Given what has happened to the Ar*bs since at least 1916 is that really surprising?

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 months ago

There might be an insurpassable difference of values when one side is openly subscribing to militant jihadism.
Yasser Arrafat was probably easier to negotiate with.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago

This narrative comparing Palestinians to Germans in WW2 is as fake and vile as the frequent “genocide” claims levelled against Israel and India, with their growing muslim populations in contrast to the vanishing minorities in neighbouring muslim countries.

The real comparison for the Palestinian refugees are:
A. The hundreds of thousands of Jews made refugees at the same time in 1948, from Arab countries
B. The millions of Hindus and Sikhs genocided or driven out of Pakistan, also around the same time. Lahore and Karachi, difficult as it may be to believe today, were 1/3 rd to 1/2 Hindu and Sikh.

In fact, these two instances were far worse.
The Jews of Iraq etc and the Hindus in Pakistan were wealthy and were never compensated.
Moreover, they were genocided purely because of their religion. At no point did they attempt violence against their muslim neighbours.

On the other hand, as the article briefly mentions and glosses over, the Arab muslims who fled “Palestine”, had gleefully collaborated with neighbour Arabs to attempt to genocide Israeli Jews – and, unlike Hindus of Karachi, Armenian Christians on Turkey, Coptic Christians on Egypt, Jews in Iraq, in this case the islamic bullies got what they deserved

As for “the Palestinians — though they could seek refuge among fellow Arabs — had no country of their own”
Neither did the Jews of Iraq and the Hindus of Pakistan. They were absorbed by Israel and India respectively.
Why didn’t Egypt and Jordan absorb these refugees?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I agree with much of what you say, but in your point B, in 1947, equal numbers of Muslims were massacred, terrorised and driven from their homes – in the other direction. It is very partisan not to even mention this!

Your use of “genocide” is hyperbolic. Genocide means the complete intentional destruction of an entire people, not just any atrocity. The same of course applies to the absurd charge of “genocide” against Israel today.

It is also far too glib to claim that every Palestinian in 1948 was involved in trying to defeat and destroy Israel. Most were civilians and many had actually had decent relationships with their Jewish neighbours But they were an inconvenient – for Israel – population, and they were consequently not allowed to return to their homes after the conflict. I am.a supporter of Israel, and entirely understand the reasons why (security etc) and it is hardly a unique case. However to deny this is to deny history.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“I am a supporter of Israel.”
Really? And when did this damascene conversion take place?
You were a special advisor to the wretched Jeremy Corbyn at the height of the anti-Semitic scandal were you not? Presumably you endorsed this policy before you were sacked for supporting a Class War candidate or have I missed something?
This Volte-face is quite extraordinary if I may say so.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago

How do you know it’s the same Andrew Fisher?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Need to know Sir.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago

?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
2 months ago

Your attempts to shut this guy down are completely inappropriate.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who first discovered UnHerd because of a slow-motion “Volte-face” of my own. Mr.Fisher has as much right to be heard as any of us. The job he held six or eight years ago hardly matters.
It sounds to me like you have a personal gripe with him.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

I am NOT trying to “shut this guy down” as you so crudely put it.

If you had bothered to do any research you would have discovered that he has form as one of the most foul mouthed Trotskyite cretins around.

Of course he has every right to heard, if only to illustrate the sort of menace he and his kind represent. Perhaps you are of the same persuasion?

Having never even met him I have no “personal gripe with him” whatsoever.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

I hadn’t realised there were so many closet ‘Trots’ on this site!

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 months ago

He’s making reasonable points.
Tribalism was half of the problem with corbynism, so it’s not good to indulge in it yourself, rise above it!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

I am not indulging in tribalism, far from it, I am just of the opinion that Fisher is an arrant fraud.
Perhaps you think differently?

Granted some of what he says sounds reasonable enough (despite some rather dodgy syntax) but I remain unconvinced by his ‘resurrection’.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 months ago

Is he the real Andrew Fisher?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

Yes.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Any discussion of these events which ignores the treatment of Jews in all Arab lands for at least a hundred years prior to the foundation of the state of Israel, or the genocidal intent behind the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s is entirely disingenuous.

Jews needed to escape persecution by Muslims as much as they needed refuge from European anti-semitism.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Thanks for this. The habit of overstating one’s case for the sake of argument has gotten too common recently. The truth is that history is far too complex to ever really know what the whole truth is. A sense of certainty is a flaw in any argument, whether it’s about war, global warming, pandemics or just a minor road accident.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

How very profound.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The Palestinians were ‘inconvenient’ for Israel because they were and are an endless source of trouble. Those that left their lands believed that the Arab armies would defeat Israel, drive out the Jews and rich pickings would be available to all. So they were tempted by greed. They miscalculated badly in 1948 and continued to do so in all the other wars that they brought down on Israel since then. Only fools keep pursuing the same tactics over and over again which have proven to be unsuccessful. And keep starting wars that they can’t win.

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
2 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Their delusional dreams are kept alive for generations by at one time, the rest of the Arab world and now by the United Nazis (Nations) which seems to exist solely to hurt the only Jewish state in the world.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug Israel

‘Next year in Jerusalem’ delusional dream ?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

” in 1947, equal numbers of Muslims were massacred”
“far too glib to claim that every Palestinian in 1948 was involved in trying to defeat and destroy Israel. Most were civilians …. ”

Thank you for contributing the two most common, fallacious arguments used to defend the “chosen” groups.

Firstly, “the others did it too”.
Secondly, “even if they did it, it doesn’t count unless every single one of them was responsible/ some weee good people ”
To begin with, these are never used to excuse the “misdeeds” of Whites, Indians, Jews etc which gives you a clue.

You realise why these arguments are bogus when you flip it around, and look at it from the viewpoint of potential victims.
For instance, muslim minority in India. Might have seen some violence against them in 1947 in border states (mostly provoked by violent attacks against Hindus / Sikhs to begin with, just across the border). But….most muslims in India, including many who fought to form an islamic state called Pakistan, suffered no violence, stayed on, got equal constitutional rights, grew in numbers…..

It’s not the same as Hindus and Sikhs being almost entirely wiped out in West Pakistan, (and dropping precipitously in the East since 1947), simply for not being muslim, legalised abuses and blasphemy laws, being treated as second class citizens by law.

And that’s why the “most of them are really swell folks” argument is nonsense. How does it matter? Would it make any difference to what happens to Hindus, Jews or Christians if they are a minority? And if Israeli were not strong enough, just like Christians weren’t in Turkey 1917 or North Nigeria today, all those nice, wonderful muslims would be irrelevant.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The writer speaks only of territory gained in an offensive war. What about territory gained in a defensive war, where the aggressor loses? Should there be no penalty for invasion when it fails? I’m thinking of the West Bank which Jordan lost when it attacked Israel in 1967. I don’t believe that the whole of the WB should be annexed by Israel but some of it certainly should, not for nationalist or religious reasons but simply to underline the point that there could be a high price for invasion – and this applies to any would-be invader anywhere in the world. It might concentrate their minds wonderfully.

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Bear in mind the West Bank never belonged to Jordan. It is all part of the land that was intended to be carved between an Arab and Jewish state in 1948. The 48 armistice lines did not constitute a border,never by any party, certainly not by the Arabs who continued to plan for the capture of ALL of the mandate territory right into the 70’s. There is no such thing as Palestinian land or territory. There is disputed land, held at one time by Jordan and now held (for defensive reasons) by Israel.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug Israel

You’re correct, Doug, so I’d put it another way: if Arabs attack the sovereign state of Israel and lose, they should expect to forfeit land they hold – de facto rather than de jure – as a penalty for aggression.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Even the Israelis no longer claim Jordan started the 6 day war .

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Genocide is not a verb. This word is being bandied around too casually and making it into a verb does not help.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

(Duplicate)

D. Gooch
D. Gooch
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The comparison with Germany is “fake and vile?” Seems a bit dramatic.  Are you saying that only because you believe the author to be coming down on the side of the Palestinians?  

I agree that the displacement of 830,000 Jews from Arab countries in the years before/after the 1947-48 is a more directly relevant example, but I take the same conclusion from both examples:  Wars are bad, people get displaced, and with the exception of the Palestinians, history suggests they all tend to eventually be integrated into new homes and move on. 

What the German and Palestinian examples do have in common – but the displacement of Jews from the Arab world does not – is that both are examples of people displaced in wars that their leaders started and then lost.

I take some issue with the author’s comment that “The two cases differed in important respects. The first came after the German regime, actively supported by much of the population, had launched the most murderous war in world history, and committed the worst crime in world history. Palestinian Arabs bore nothing like this responsibility.”

That’s not completely true unless you forget that the Second World War was exactly that – a world war. North Africa and the Middle East were not isolated from what was happening in Europe and the Arab Palestinians’ leadership was firmly on the side of Germany and the Axis powers in this war.  As we know, Amin al-Husseini lived out the war in exile in Germany, where he helped the Nazis with propaganda and recruitment.  And we know from his statements, and those of other leaders, that their intent toward the Jews of Palestine was hardly benign. 

It is not hard to imagine what would have happened to the Jews of Palestine had German Field Marshal Rommel been successful in overrunning the British in North Africa and occupied the mandate. With the complicity of puppet leaders in other Nazi occupied lands as an example, it’s also not difficult to imagine what Mr. Husseini’s role would have been in the aftermath.

There is a lot to quibble about in the article, but with Germans so happily integrated today that barely anybody even knows about the displacement of 12 million of them 80 years ago, I don’t think it is an example that Israel’s supporters should dismiss as “fake and vile.” 

In a separate note, the word “genocide” is already been shamefully misused by Israel’s detractors.  There is a big difference between genocide and displacement, and we should use these terms properly. Casual misuse of the term genocide mocks the true victims of the act.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

‘Why didn’t Egypt and Jordan absorb these refugees?’

Probably because Egypt and Jordan knew only too well that to let Palestinians in was to court endless trouble.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

It is a great pity the UK didn’t adopt the same policy from 1948 onwards.
Thus we would for example have been spared the sight of gangs of testosterone filled P+kis* hunting white ‘sl*ts’ like jackals through the backstreets of Rochdale, whilst our Police and Social Services did absolutely NOTHING.

(*A common abbreviation for Pakistani muslims for US readers.)

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago

Yes true. but the government of the day encouraged immigration to fill the jobs that Brits didn’t want to do. A lot of them came up here to the north west during the 60s to work in the cotton mills before they all closed down.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

‘We’ also had about 2 million National Servicemen whilst we were still pretending to be a Great Power! Plus the so called ‘welfare’ system was far too generous, thus encouraging for too many Brits not to work as you so correctly say!

In retrospect it was the beginning of national suicide.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago

The 1st generation immigrants of the 50s and 60s did make more effort to integrate though. I don’t recall ever seeing a woman wearing a hijab when I was growing up, let alone the burkha monstrosity. It seems to have been the descendants of that 1st generation that have adopted fundamentalist beliefs. Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech seemed very shocking at the time, but now it seems to be prophetic.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Powell had served in India during the war and knew what he talking about.

D. Gooch
D. Gooch
2 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

No, not back in 1948. They wouldn’t have known that then. The reason was because they wanted another retry on eradicating “the Zionist entity” and keeping the refugees as refugees helped keep international pressure on the conflict as an active conflict. If refugees had been integrated,eventually the issues would have simply faded away, as they did in Germany and every other conflict that ended with a large group of displaced people.

Paul Monahan
Paul Monahan
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Wish millions would read your post

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Jordan absorbed many.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

“A People Should Know When They Are Conquered”.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago

Are we talking about Germany 2023?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Yes, but some others as well!
For example today is the 52nd anniversary of a minor disturbance in Northern Ireland, known to some as “Bloody Sunday” to others as “Good Sunday”.
Then of course those recalcitrant Ar*bs have still to be beaten down.
The Russians and Chinese also need disciplining but that may have to wait a while.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago

As the author says, these conundrums will not be resolved any time soon but one general proposition might make sense: “Adverse possession”. Successful squatters (cf. conquerors) eventually become the rightful owners of land at least under English law. If US law recognises a statue of limitations on crimes then perhaps international law should recognise something similar on land claims.

In international terms, the issue is how long a period should be required. I suggest the practical length is when all those who have personal memory of living there die off i.e. after about eighty years. We are approaching this number for the expulsions of the late 1940s but are still some time off for the creeping displacements of the West Bank. 

The approach of such deadlines might encourage earlier negotiated solutions.

One can quibble about the length of time it takes to legitimise ownership but any other approach leads to chaos. I suppose taken to its logical extreme, the alternative would be to rewind the clock to 10,000 BC and compulsorily relocate 95% of the world’s current populations or even to 65,000 BC and say all Homo sapiens should return to Africa.

The reality is that the now Oklahoman based Lenape will not get the States of New Jersey and New York back even if it fair to recognise their old lands were acquired by force or fraud three hundred years ago and perhaps they should receive some extra federal grants in recognition.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

A most reasonable suggestion but I fear totally impracticable in somewhere like Northern Ireland for example, where vindictiveness is practiced as a national sport. Never FORGIVE and never FORGET as they say.

Currently a former member of the Parachute Regiment and 22 SAS is on trial for a fairly minor incident* that occurred 52 years ago today! How do you deal or even reason with such people?

(*By comparative analysis with such atrocities as the Omagh Bomb for example.)

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

“Fairly minor incident”. Shooting fleeing protestors in the back, I think you are referring to. Apart from the ethics and legality of the issue, Bloody Sunday was a propaganda and strategic disaster for the Union. It massively increased recruitment to the then tiny Provisional IRA.

Pure indiscriminate brute force might eventually achieve its aims in authoritarian states; it was never going to in a liberal democratic society with a free press.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Bingo!
Well done Fisher old chap, I knew you would fall for it!
Did I not qualify it by referring to the Omagh bomb?

That “tiny’ IRA you speak had already murdered 60 members of the Security Services by January 1972, most notoriously at Ligoniel in early ‘71.
The ‘propaganda war’ had already been lost well before Blood/Good Sunday by the inept implementation of Internment in the summer of ‘71.

For a notorious old Trotskyite your admiration for a “liberal democratic society with a free press” is most touching, if entirely insincere.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago

An adroit pivot to the subject you wished to talk about?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Guilty as charged.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
2 months ago

Like the “ethnic Germans” expelled from Silesia in 1945, my father was expelled (technically he could have stayed, and be murdered) from Germany in the 1930s and became a refugee in Great Britain. Bell would have it that, the Silesian ethnic Germans were in fact just coming home (though their demo that he mentions would suggest otherwise), but my father wasn’t coming home in any manner. Throughout his life, he retained certain emotional and sentimental ties to his lost homeland, but he just got on with his life in his new country, and didn’t really look back. I have friends and neighbors whose families were expelled from Morocco, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Their expulsion was traumatic and violent. They left behind their homes and businesses, and arrived penniless in Israel where they were housed in tents and shacks. Israel accepted them with open arms but was ill equipped to absorb them and they suffered racism and disadvantage. They maintain their traditions from there old homelands and are proud of their heritage but again, they just got on with their lives.
Bell contrasts the fate of the “ethnic Germans” with the fate of the Palestinian Arabs in that they had a country to go to but they did not. There is a bit of anachronism here, which in fact highlights the absurdity of the modern way we look at the sanctity of borders. Before the colonial powers drew the borders in the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot agreement, there was no border between Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Trans-Jordan. They were all one territory. So to say that in the late 1940s “ethnic Germans” who were born in Silesia had a homeland to be resettled to in Germany, whereas “ethnic Levantine Arabs” did not have a homeland to be resettled to in Lebanon, Trans-Jordan or Syria is to apply concepts of the 21st century to the situation of 75 years in the past.
Israel accepted “ethnic Jews” expelled from Arab countries, but those same countries refused to accept “ethnic Arabs” expelled from Israel in return.
Especially in our day where states wield military power far greater than the warring kingdoms of the 17th Century, there need to be curbs on what citizens of the World should accept as legitimate use of power. Might is not right, but as Bell points out, our sanctification of sometimes artificial, illogical and undefendable boundaries between nations sometimes causes more damage than accepting the need for change that could lead to resolution of implacable conflicts.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

There are many conflicts mentioned here and the overarching point seems to be that we all need to move on i dividually and collectively. All I would add is that ” moving on” depends primarily on property rights and oppertunity which is dependent on prosperity. For example the palestinians have neither – they are forbidden from purchasing land in Israel due to religious descrimination and have been economically destroyed by Israel over the previous decades. In contrast the Germans had the good fortune to start over in the Capitalist West with both property rights and oppertunity in prosperous society. They could work, buy a house, invest etc. Property rights and prosperity are the key

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Palestinians or anyone else is not forbidden from purchasing land in Israel. Wherever did you get that from? Palestinians are forbidden by the Palestinian Authority to sell land to Jews though on pain of death. And they call us racists.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 months ago

But in an attempt to rectify the expectations around population displacement through conquest and foster the ‘Schlesien relaxation’ you could use a ‘one lifetime limit’ (70 years) for ‘righting wrongs’.
This smacks into some peoples’ long held hopes of return. The long argued fate of Kashmir could be resolved. The displaced Cypriots would have only another 30 years to have a ‘claim’. Talk of reparations for slavery would immediately fail. Scottish Independence could still be campaigned for but the ‘justification’ of previous battles dismissed as too old to be considered.
I’m afraid that such a simplistic definition would fail, partly because of the hopes of the dispossessed, but mostly because of the self interests of the politicians involve.

Edward Hadas
Edward Hadas
2 months ago

To put this argument in a broader perspective, the entire shift to expecting wars to be “just”, which was supposed to make wars rare and brief (because the international community would quickly punish aggressors) has been a disaster. When both sides think they are fighting for a just cause, the high ends justify terrible means and generally only permit an end to the fighting after tremendous slaughter. Even then, as the article points out, the righteous and often violent indignation often persists. I have a blog about that here: https://edwardhadas.substack.com/p/unjust-war-holy-historic-and-civilising

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

The article fails to mention that the international law principle of assurance of a state’s integrity is opposed by the equally valid international law principle of self-determination of peoples. International law does not specify a hierarchy between the two.
There is no doubt in international law that a people’s right of self-determination is not dependent on anyone’s consent – a goodly portion of today’s members of the UN acquired their independence against the resistance and without the consent of their imperial or colonial masters. The UN’s declared mission in its first decades was decolonisation.
Both Bangladesh and Kosovo obtained their independence through a war involving third-party interference. A unilateral declaration of independence by, say, Scotland or Catalonia might fail not because it would be in breach of international law, but because not enough members of the international community would recognise it. Many territories have declared independence, only to fail in making it stick, and often in the bloodiest circumstances, like e.g. Katanga.
A shift in boundaries is “successful” in international law if it can be militarily defended and legitimised through a vote by the affected populace. Recognition might still be withheld to nurse grievances or preserve diplomatic leverage, to reserve a justificatory casus belli for a more opportune time. Withholding recognition is then an act of war, even if not hot war.
The situation of the Occupied Territories in Palestine is special because Israel never intended to make the Palestinians living there citizens of Israel, or allow them a vote, or to even define boundaries – it is that, not the passage of time, the makes the situation special.

P N
P N
2 months ago

Two million Arabs live in Israel with equal rights to the Jews.

Kolya Wolf
Kolya Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

But there are 3 million Arabs in the West Bank, and 2 million in Gaza, who are denied citizenship of any sovereign state by Israel.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

That damned A word 
again!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Quite correct and they feed exceedingly well and consequently are exceedingly fat!
On my last visit some years ago I must admit, the sight of an obese Ar*b did got me wondering if he or she was about to explode, and blow us all to Kingdom Come!

P N
P N
2 months ago

From the film, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee based on the book by Dee Brown:
Sitting Bull: You must take them out of our lands.
Col. Nelson Miles: What precisely are your lands?
Sitting Bull: These are the where my people lived before you whites first came.
Col. Nelson Miles: I don’t understand. We whites were not your first enemies. Why don’t you demand back the land in Minnesota where the Chippewa and others forced you from years before?
Sitting Bull: The Black Hills are a sacred given to my people by Wakan Tanka.
Col. Nelson Miles: How very convenient to cloak your claims in spiritualism. And what would you say to the Mormons and others who believe that their God has given to them Indian lands in the West?
Sitting Bull: I would say they should listen to Wakan Tanka.
Col. Nelson Miles: No matter what your legends say, you didn’t sprout from the plains like the spring grasses. And you didn’t coalesce out of the ether. You came out of the Minnesota woodlands armed to the teeth and set upon your fellow man. You massacred the Kiowa, the Omaha, the Ponca, the Oto and the Pawnee without mercy. And yet you claim the Black Hills as a private preserve bequeathed to you by the Great Spirit.
Sitting Bull: And who gave us the guns and powder to kill our enemies? And who traded weapons to the Chippewa and others who drove us from our home?
Col. Nelson Miles: Chief Sitting Bull, the proposition that you were a peaceable people before the appearance of the white man is the most fanciful legend of all. You were killing each other for hundreds of moons before the first white stepped foot on this continent. You conquered those tribes, lusting for their game and their lands, just as we have now conquered you for no less noble a cause.
Sitting Bull: This is your story of my people!
Col. Nelson Miles: This is the truth, not legend…

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Conquest is as old as humanity. The pearl clutching over “stolen land” is one of the greatest wastes of time on the market, and there are plenty to choose from. To some degree, we’re all living on land that someone else once occupied.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Right now, my country and much of the West is being invaded by millions of foreigners at the invitation of the government. Who is wringing their hands over our displacement?

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 months ago

Not a strong criticism, but the author omits to mention that a great many of the Jews coming into Palestine at the time were themselves refugees from Nazi persecution and displacement, and the refusal of postwar regimes to allow their return to their former homes.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
2 months ago

What a good article. I had never really thought about it…but now I have and like the author, find that neither Might Makes Right nor War Without End is a great option.

Peter Gray
Peter Gray
2 months ago

“As late as 1940, when absorbing the Baltic States and eastern Poland, the Soviets had first [
]”
Correction: The Soviet Union annexed eastern Poland in September 1939, acting in alliance with the Nazi Germany.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
2 months ago

No mention of Taiwan of which The West attempting to encourage Taiwanese separatists and trick us into
Believing that Taiwan does Not really belonging to China who shall either peacefully return Taiwan to the Motherland if not so and The West crosses The Red Line and breaches aggressively the 2nd great wall of China
Then make no mistake about it China will
Immediately declare War upon you and on a unconditional surrender
And should the West throw everything at this War ( which they will have to do )
Then it’s a fight to the bitter end
And China shall win
Do not doubt this even for one millie second

James Love
James Love
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Sure China will win, but at what cost to its prosperity? It is facing a demographic crisis and real estate crisis. The West is already pulling back it’s manufacturing. The resentment against China for unleashing Covid on the world has yet to manifest itself politically. This smoldering animosity has yet to be satisfied. If China invades, The West need not win. It will be sufficient to cripple its ports and trade capacity. The old dragon will have its pearl but never fully recover from its foolishness.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Would that be a thoroughly modern millie second?

James Love
James Love
2 months ago

The challenge with international law is it is being coopted in such a way the it undermines Western Civilization. The UN has become a haven of barbarism paid for by The West. Gaza for example is supported by UNRWA which is paid for by The West. That has to end. Hamas is not by being charged with international crimes but Israel is. This farce has to end. The Houthis fire rockets from mountains knowing The West will not attack their infrastructure or cities. There becomes no effective deterant. We end up endless abuse by these enclaves of barbarism. The Barbary Piracy of the 1800s ended when the port cities of North Africa were bombed. The Houthis could be deterred in a single day … before lunch!

John Tyler
John Tyler
2 months ago

The big shift from ‘might is right’ coincided with the birth of ‘human rights’ (not named so at the time) and the rise of moral relativism. In my opinion none of these is a valid basis for moral arguments about ownership of land. In fact, I see very little in the way of any moral justification for land ownership. The concept of ownership of land is a legal issue, and the law has nothing whatever to do with what is fair.
I live in a house that I own legally (and is uncontested as far as I am aware); what would happen if someone turned up claiming the land was stolen from their ancestor 600 years ago? Nothing! even though at some time in the past someone was no doubt shoved aside before the legal chain of ownership started. Human rights, moral relativism and bullying are all causes of enormous discontent and suffering.

Bruce V
Bruce V
2 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

Very true. Also like your earlier comment about going back to the Great Rift valley. Many groups of humans invariably go back to whatever point in time is most advantageous to them and then pause acting like true history only started at that point in time. That in turn just provides more fuel for this Age of Victimhood where being a victim seems to be more important than overcoming and achieving with whatever hand you’ve been dealt. Guess it’s easier that way.

Bruce V
Bruce V
2 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

<argh, try #2 then try #1 shows up finally ??>

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
2 months ago

It seems impossible to discuss this thought-provoking thesis without immediately descending into the Palestine question. Believe it or not there are other matters of importance in the world.

Joe Wein
Joe Wein
2 months ago

It’s fascinating that the author chose to compare the post-war ethnic German expulsion with the Palestine partition rather than the infinitely more comparable India / Pakistan partition which happened in 1947, the same year as the war between the Arabs and the Jews.
It is true that the Arabs in Palestine (neither they nor anyone else in the entire world thought of themselves as as a group distinct from other Arabs back then) were not more Jew-hating than others in the region. My grandfather (born in Jerusalem in 1888) was trapped in his shop in Jaffa in 1936 by a mob of Arabs who had launched a pogrom to kill Jews. His life was saved by an Arab friend who stood outside my grandfather’s shop with a club. So Arabs in my family history were both villains and heroes.
But the Arab world and their leaders thought that a Jewish state in their midst was a travesty that they could not abide. And so they brought war. Some Arabs in Palestine joined their Arab brethren to fight the Jews. Some Arabs left because their leaders told them to leave, to make it easier to drive the Jews into the sea. Some left because their Jewish neighbors threatened them. Some stayed because their Jewish neighbors and Jewish leadership begged them to stay. And once the war was over, and the Jews were still alive, the new, battered State of Israel declined to let return, those Arabs who had left. This was not an immoral position for Israel to take.
If the Arab armies had won the war they started, there would not be calls for a do-over today. The Arabs have declined to help their brethren, preferring to leave them as a stateless irritant in the region. This is scandalous but unsurprising. Arabs don’t seem to care much for their fellow Arabs.
The war displaced 700,000 or so Arabs. The aftermath of the war saw the expulsion of 700,00 or so Jews from a dozen Arab countries in which they had lived. Baghdad was over 20% Jewish in 1947, and that community had existed in Iraq (Babylonia) for over 2000 years. All were expelled and came to Israel as penniless refugees.
If there is any parallel to the Jewish / Arab conflict and the exchange of ethnic or religious populations, it would be India and Pakistan, except that the Muslim / Hindu population exchange was over 17 million

Angus Douglas
Angus Douglas
2 months ago

You don’t mention South Africa. I live here (a descendent of settler colonists) and they are coming for us because of the very points you so sensitively and expertly articulate. Yes, it is inter-generational war, stirred up by notions of universal human rights, the original sin of Europeans, and all the usual lefty tropes. It is destroying South Africa, and is working its evil in the West. Whites conquered this land and built a viable state. This state was handed to Africans who are now unravelling it because they cannot help themselves stealing. And when not stealing they’re chasing impossible ideological dreams.