User:GHcool

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About Me
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BA This user has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film.
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WikiProject Israel
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WikiProject Palestine

I am a Los Angeles, California native working in the film and television industry. I have a degree in Cinema and Television Arts from California State University, Northridge where I have researched and written various film criticisms and historical analyses. I also have an interest in Israel-related topics.

Wikipedia contributions[edit]

I contributed substantially to the following articles. Articles marked with an "A" mean that, to the best of my understanding, they represent a reasonably complete picture of the issue. Articles marked with a "B" are incomplete and I encourage other Wikipidians to add or delete any information necessary.

Film production[edit]

Favorite source: The Filmmaker's Handbook by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus

Specific films[edit]

Favorite source: The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Middle East[edit]

Favorite source: The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East edited by Avraham Sela.

Antisemitism[edit]

Favorite source (United Nations): A Lethal Obsession by Robert S. Wistrich
Favorite source (general): The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

Judaism[edit]

Favorite source (biblical laws and attitudes): Etz Hayim
Favorite source (Judges): Encyclopaedia Judaica
Favorite source (repentance): "An Overview — Day of Atonement and Purity" by Nosson Scherman

Views on Israel[edit]

I find that Wikipedia editors are a largely moderate bunch trying to find and publicize verifiable truth. However, there are some bad apples in every bunch who are trying to disseminate disinformation about Israel on talk pages and within articles. Those bad apples rarely succeed since Wikipedia is built on consensus and consensus is built on evidence from reliable sources. Rather than stand idlely by or commit the same logical fallacies committed by the people who are abusing this website, I prefer systematically debunking disinformation in a form inspired by two popular books on the subject: Alan M. Dershowitz's The Case for Israel and Mitchell G. Bard's Myths and Facts.

One way that fair-minded Wikipedia editors could help is by not getting emotionally involved in an argument with an anti-Semitic, anti-verifiability, or intellectually dishonest Wikipedia editor and engaged in revert wars. They should simply let the evidence speak for itself and argue in favor of the evidence. Lastly, remember that not all criticisms of Israeli policy are anti-Semitic or necessarily wrong. Have enough courage to treat a true claim with respect, even if you do not agree with the claimer's conclusion. And keep informed on Israel and read about its history.

What are the origins of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict?[edit]

To the best of my understanding, most of the present-day Palestinian refugees are descendents of Arabs (mostly Muslims) who lived in the area that is now known as Israel. These Arabs were mostly peasant agriculturalists, called felaheen, with an economy and sense of land ownership based largely on collective farming. Their identity as "Palestinians" was negligible. They thought of themselves as part of the larger Arab people or part of the smaller village they lived in. The Jewish Zionists started emigrating to Palestine en masse after waves of anti-Semitism in Russia in the early 20th century, during which time the wealthier Jews legally bought land from the ruling Ottoman Turks and gave jobs to fellow Jews. The felaheen could not compete with the capitalistic system of land ownership that the Jews were using to their own advantage. By the time of the British Mandate, the economic disparities between the two populations in Mandate Palestine was perceived to be so large that lower class Arabs frequently started riots against both Jews and Arabs in the upper classes. It was here, according to the New Historians, that a specific Palestinian Arab identity became developed and adopted by the Palestinian leaders at the time, specifically by Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem appointed by the British.

In 1947, the U.N. recommended partition of the region into one Jewish state and one Arab state. The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan while the Jews accepted. A civil war between the two populations broke out in Palestine before the British left, and then a larger, international war against Israel by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq broke out in 1948 directly following David Ben Gurion declaration of the independence of the State of Israel. The two results of the Israeli War of Independence is the present-day State of Israel and the present-day Palestinian refugee problem.

Is Zionism a racist ideology?[edit]

What is meant by the term "Palestinian" and when did that meaning come into existence?[edit]

My handy Apple Dictionary defines the adjective "Palestinian" as "of or relating to Palestine [geographic definition] or its peoples [national definition]." In the context of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, the Arab villagers were "Palestinian" by the geographic definition, but not by the national definition since the idea of a "Palestinian people" either had not yet existed or was in its infancy. Legitimate, rigorous historians of the Middle East differ on when exactly the Palestinian identity/nation formed. Crackpots and Palestinian propagandists say that the Palestinian identity formed in biblical times. This is nonsense and every reliable historian, including every Palestinian/Arab historian, rejects it as such.

Palestinian Arab historian Rashid Khalidi has written the most comprehensive book I've seen on the subject. Its called Palestinian Identity. In the book, he argues that the modern day Palestinian identity developed during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. This is the earliest I've seen a legitimate scholar place the development of the Palestinian identity. My personal opinion based on my readings of a variety of sources is that the Palestinian identity developed in fits and starts and at different speeds in different places some time between the 1930s and 1960s with the 1948 Palestinian exodus being the key moment in the development of the identity.

Was the goal of the first Jewish immigrants to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs of land through armed force?[edit]

The claim that the goal of the Jewish immigrants to Palestine was to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs since the 1880s is simply fallacious and amounts to a bogus conspiracy theory. The Zionists had not even collectively agreed upon which region of the planet to focus their dreams of Jewish statehood until 1905 (Uganda was still an option before that time). History is not done by taking an event and saying that all events that occurred before it must have been part of a brilliant conspiracy to lead to that event. This is a logical fallacy called post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Has Israel ever committed anything that could be described as a genocide?[edit]

The Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines "genocide" as "the deliberate and systematic exterminization of a national, racial, political, or cultural group" (emphasis added). The term has been used inaccurately and with malicious intent to twist the facts about the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This may burst the bubble of anti-Israel propagandists, but Israel does not implement forced labor of Arabs (as the Turks did to the Armenians and the Nazis did to Jews), send Arabs to concentration camps (as the Nazis did to the Jews), permit military roundups and execution of Arabs without due process of law (as the Nazis, Turks, and the Hutus of Rwanda did and the Janjaweed currently are doing in the Darfur region of Sudan), or any other action that could be described as the "systematic exterminization" of Arabs or Palestinians based solely on their "national, racial, political, or cultural" background.

What is U.N. Resolution 242?[edit]

Ignorance about the content and interpretation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 is perhaps the second most common reason for Israel's critics to be so critical (the first most common is ignorance over the genesis of the Arab-Israeli conflict). The text of the resolution can be read on Wikipedia.

To the best of my understanding, Israel achieved a major victory in the Six-Day War in which they gained control over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. These were then and still remain Israel's most valuable bargaining chips in the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw "from territories" (the English version of the resolution was the one voted upon) in return for "[T]ermination of all claims or states of belligerency." It also calls for "a just settlement of the refugee problem." The resolution clearly implies a negotiation process as opposed to a "you do your part first and I'll follow" kind of a process. The resolution was accepted by Israel not long after it was passed by the United Nations, but was rejected by the Arab nations at the time and remains so in many of the more radical Arab organizations such as Hamas.

Is Jerusalem the capital of Israel?[edit]

Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since 1948. It remains the capital today. The fact that Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 war has as much to do with Jerusalem's status as capital as Israel's capture of the Golan Heights or the Sinai or the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel despite any injustices Israel may or may not have committed against Palestinians. Furthermore, capitals don't require foreign embassies to be located within their borders.

The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East is incredibly succinct on Jerusalem's status: "[Jerusalem is the c]apital of the State of Israel though not recognized as such by most of the international community" (491). This is the first sentence of the encyclopedia's entry under "Jerusalem." Other reference books that explicitly denote Jerusalem as the capital of Israel include The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2007 (p. 785), The Statesman's Yearbook (2005 ed., p. 939), TIME Almanac 2005 with Information Please (p. 797), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (p. 285), The World Book Encyclopedia (Vol. 11, p. 94a), Atlas of World Geography (Rand McNally: 2000, p. 44), Webster's New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia (2003 ed., p. 628), and Britanica Online Encyclopedia. Many of the above state that most countries' embassies are in Tel Aviv, but most of them simply identify the capital of Israel as Jerusalem just as they identify the capital of the United States as Washington, D.C.

There are those who claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. This is incorrect except on perhaps some theoretical level, legal fiction, or through plain old wishful thinking. I will be ready to accept that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine only when Palestine's seat of government actually exists in Jerusalem.

Although Jerusalem's situation is unique, it is not so complex that we would have to censor facts. If a thing satisfies all of the requirements entailed in the definition of a word, then that word must be applied to that thing. As I said above, Jerusalem's complexities are such that it may be necessary to explain some of the more subtle details.

Is Hezbollah an Islamic terrorist organization[edit]

Hezbollah is an organization funded by Iran with the explicit purpose of spreading the Iranian Revolution to Lebanon. They hold Islamist views and target Jewish civilians in Israel and elsewhere based on this theology. If that isn't Islamic terrorism, I don't know what is. The group is officially on the US list of terrorist organizations. There is no significant debate among people who specialize in the study of terrorism over this question. This is as close to a worldwide view as such an issue can get. You can find reliable sources all over the Internet which refer to Hezbollah as a terrorist organization (here are just three[1][2][3]), but the reference is extremely common in print sources as well such as in The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East (p. 836), The Terrorism Reader (p. 268), A Lethal Obsession by Robert S. Wistrich (p. 731), The Fight for Jerusalem by Dore Gold (p. 233), The Israelis by Donna Rosenthal (p. 74), and Future Jihad by Walid Phares (p. 148).

Is Israel to blame for the fact that there isn't peace today?[edit]

Israel has not failed to comply with United Nations Resolution 242, which encouraged the principle of land for peace in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel accepted the resolution while the PLO rejected it; not "mutually agreed upon" as Pco claims (read any reliable book on the Arab-Israeli conflict and you'll find the same information). The Oslo Accords are the perfect example of both Israel and the PLO trying to abide by Resolution 242, and achieving some important milestones, but ultimately failing due mostly to the continuation of anti-Semitic indoctrination of Palestinian youths, the illegal arming of Palestinians not involved in law enforcement, and, of course, Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians even though Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority explicitly promised to halt all three. It is important to remember that Resolution 242 does not call for Israeli withdrawl from territories (or "the territories") before the Palestinians uphold their end of the bargain.

The Oslo peace process culminated in the Camp David and Taba Summit in 2000-2001 with Arafat leading the negotiating team for the Palestinian side, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak leading the negotiating team for the Israeli side, and U.S. President Bill Clinton leading a team of American mediators. The summits yielded few if any positive results; in fact, the Second Intifada began only days after the Camp David summit failed. Nearly all of the American diplomats present at the summit including Bill Clinton and Dennis Ross agree that Arafat was to blame for the failure of the Camp David and Taba summits to achieve a lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It goes without saying that most Israelis at the summit, including Ehud Barak and Shlomo Ben-Ami, agree with Clinton and Ross's assessment. The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East, a peer-reviewed historical reference book covering the entire region, clearly states, "In the weeks following the summit, most of the criticism for its failure was leveled at Arafat" (Eran, 145). Not "some of the criticism," but "most of the criticism" meaning that a majority of critics blamed Arafat. Even editorials critical of Israel admit that "[o]ne thing nearly all pundits seem to agree on is that Yasser Arafat's rejection of the land-for-peace offer made by Ehud Barak at Camp David in the summer of 2000 was indefensible."[4][5]

As for the Israeli settlements, in the opinion of many, many intelligent and informed people, the Israeli settlements are not an "obstacle" to peace. These people cite the proposed dismantling of 63 settlements as part of the Palestinian sovereignty over 97% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip in exchange for peace in the Camp David 2000 Summit. Yasir Arafat rejected this deal.[6] Therefore, according to the logic of the argument, Israeli settlements must not be a significant obstacle to peace because Israel was willing to dismantle them in exchange for peace and the Palestinians rejected this offer. Thus, Israeli settlements are a significant factor in Israeli-Palestinian relations, but not an obstacle to peace. It's also possible that Arafat rejected the deal for other reasons, but the issue of the Israeli settlements was clearly not the reason the Camp David and Taba summits failed. The second argument against describing the settlements as "obstacles to peace" is the 2005 unilateral Gaza disengagement. The logic was that if the settlements were an "obstacle to peace," and because the maintenance of the settlements are costly and problematic for Israel, it would be best for all sides if Israel would remove this obstacle with the hope that doing so will foster trust on the Palestinian side and with the world that Israel is a reasonable partner for peace. The disengagement was carried out like chemotherapy in a cancer patient: bravely going forward with a process that hurts as much as it is intended to heal without any guarantees that this process will cure the problem. Unfortunately, the disengagement did not cure the problem. Palestinians in general (and Hamas in particular) interpreted the disengagement as a victory made possible through terrorism. As of this writing, more than 7,500 Qassam rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into civilian areas of Israel proper. These attacks began before the disengagement and became more frequent after the disengagement. Therefore, it is plain to see that the presence or non-presence of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and one can infer the West Bank as well) is nothing more than a contentious factor in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Is Israel an apartheid state?[edit]

A fair comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa could not reasonably be made given the facts on the ground in both 21st century Israel and the history of apartheid South Africa. The apartheid system of government in South Africa were marked by the following:

  • Segregation - In apartheid South Africa, black citizens could only run businesses in designated areas and were considered migrant workers in their own country. In Israel, Arab citizens can and do run their own businesses wherever they want.
  • Forced relocation - There were several incidents of forced relocation of black citizens of apartheid South Africa from their homes to other designated places. There has not been a similar forced relocation of Arabs in Israel since the founding period, and most of those Arabs were not Israeli citizens.
  • Unequal rights - In apartheid South Africa, black citizens did not have the same rights and freedoms enjoyed by white citizens such as voting, freedom of movement, employment opportunity, etc. In Israel, Arab and Jewish citizens enjoy the same rights (except in the case of the Law of Return, but that's not the issue advocates of the Israeli apartheid epithet are concerned about).

Was the 2006 Lebanon War a just war?[edit]

Was it legal for Israel to raid a flotilla full of provocateurs?[edit]

In May-June 2010, a group of Islamic fundamentalists and European extreme leftists tried to break Israel's and Egypt's blockade of the Gaza Strip by sailing to the shores of the Gaza Strip to deliver aid to the Palestinians there. They put themselves in harms way hoping for a confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces. Most of the ships in the flotilla were boarded and detained by Israeli authorities without incident, but on one ship, the MV Mavi Marmara, the Hamas-supporting "activists" stabbed Israeli soldiers with knives, bludgeoned them with clubs and steel bars, threw things at them, and threw a soldier off of the deck of the ship. These weren't humanitarians. They were enemy combatants. Naturally, the soldiers defended themselves and nine enemy combatant "humanitarians" got themselves killed.

No reasonable person could claim that the idea promoted by the flotilla organizers (that Israel ought to let anybody carrying anything into Gaza without inspection) is sensible considering that the Gaza Strip is run by Hamas, an organization that actively pursues Israel's destruction and the genocide of Jews. Lots of unreasonable people do make this claim; people who work for Press TV (the official mouthpiece of the government of Iran), the IHH (a radical Islamic group linked to al-Qaeda and Hamas), websites like WitnessGaza.com, and people associated with the 9/11 Truth movement, just to name a few.

The blockade itself is problematic, but 100% legal according to both international and Israeli law "[o]n the basis that Hamas is the ruling entity of Gaza and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity."[7] I say that it is problematic because I believe it can be reformed, while still being in place. The blockade ought to be designed to hurt Hamas leadership maximally and the "common man" in the Gaza Strip minimally.

Are official Israeli sources reliable?[edit]

If Wikipedia did not quote the Israeli government on the issue of terrorism, the integrity of the encyclopedia would be severely compromised. Israeli government organizations, army, and elected officials are as reliable as any other country's government organizations, army, or elected officials. The Al Qaeda article cites the foreign affairs offices of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada without any challenge to the reliability of those nations' foreign affairs office. Because Israel is a democracy and has a greater degree of freedom of the press than any other nation facing similar circumstances regarding its security, much of what the IDF and the government claim can be easily verified by independent research. Critics of Israel could easily do their own research into official Israeli claims rather than flat-out condemning them all as "unreliable."

As for the claim that Hezbollah does not purposefully target Israeli civilian areas, there are countless sources documenting the opposite.

I was in Haifa (Israel's third largest city) in the summer of 2006 and saw the aftermath of Hezbollah's wrath with my own eyes. As for the claim that Israel distorts collateral damage statistics, I challenge anyone to find definitive proof from a reliable source of a claim by any IDF or any Israeli government official or publication stating that "every male killed in Lebanon was a member of Hezbollah."

Are Israeli historians and pro-Israel advocacy groups as evil as Holocaust deniers?[edit]

David Irving is the notorious English Holocaust denier and pseudo-historian who was exposed as a fraud and a racist in a court of law. He associates with neo-Nazis and served a prison sentence in Austria. David Duke is an American Holocaust denier and former Ku Klux Klan leader. Not a single reasonable person takes Irving or Duke seriously as academics, historians, or even as responsible human beings. Comparing Israeli historians and pro-Israel advocacy groups to these racists is embarrassingly falsifiable at best and offensive and disgusting at worst. Being a professional, habitual racist is worse than being a professional researcher.

Requiem for an Arab-Israeli conflict editor[edit]

I have committed an act of hubris that may cause my early retirement on Arab-Israeli conflict articles on Wikipedia. Before I go on, I must say a word about my victor, User:IRISZOOM. In my roughly eight years of editing, I had not come into contact with IRISZOOM very much, but in our brief encounters with him, I've found him to be someone respectful of Wikipedia guidelines and ruthless in his pursuit of editors he disagrees with, even slightly. This is what makes him a great editor, indeed, a greater editor than I when it comes to disagreement on talk pages; for I have the former quality, but not the latter.

In my eight years, I've made Wikipedia a less anti-Semitic, more intellectually honest place. I can go on and on about the animated discussions I've had, most of which I won, but instead, I'd rather discuss my major contributions I've made to articles:

Thank you and you're welcome.