Palestinian Climate Change

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Very short post. I read today that Palestine has been granted full member status in the UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.palestine at unesco

I also recall from a few years ago that when Palestine was admitted to UNESCO, the US had to cut off funds to UNESCO because of US law. As an article at the time said, this was the result of “US laws that force an automatic funding cutoff for any UN agency with Palestine as a member” …

Do I see an opportunity for our lawmakers here? Yep. Will they act on it? Possibly not, but if it is indeed the law, seems like they could be forced to act …

Best to all, and I do hope some organization with money and legal resources takes up this question. At least the US could stop pouring money down a rathole, even if the rest of the world continued the lunacy.

w.

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112 thoughts on “Palestinian Climate Change

  1. Merry Christmas guys! I’ve been flat out in work this past few months and haven’t been able to give anyone a hard time lol have a good one 😉

  2. Which is strange, when you consider that the US has given the Palestinian Authority billions of dollars.

    • I read up on this as part of looking up the law (comment below). The underlying issue is consequences of recognizing Palestinian statehood without resolving the Israeli conflict issues (which include the West Bank territory mess). It is strategic diplomacy, and not about humanitarian aid to the Palestinians themselves. Intent was to prevent a Palestine UN end run, since full UN membership implies statehood, and US has veto power via the security council.

      • What a strange article this is. There is no place called “palestine” and there are no “palestinians”. There are a bunch of violent, murdering, genocidal Arabs living in Gaza, which is in Israel, but there is no “palestine”.

      • Gaian:
        There was a Palestine until a load of violent illegal immigrants took it over by force, displaced the inhabitants, and renamed it as ‘Israel’. To this day, the descendants of those who were displaced still fight to regain their lands.
        Richard

      • That’s not a very well-considered remark.
        The term ‘carbon offsets’ does not appear in the Encyclical ‘Laudato si’. Perhaps, however, ‘carbon credits’ is the same things as ‘carbon credits’? This is what ‘Laudato si’ has to say about carbon credits:
        171. The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.
        So, either what you are talking about does not even get mentioned in ‘Laudato Si’ or it is rejected. So your first error is to state, “Since sanctified by the Pope carbon offsets…..”
        Let’s now move onto indulgences. Most people who refer to indulgences haven’t actually got a clue what an indulgence is. They read what other people write about indulgences and never bother to check if what they write is actually true. The usual laziness that occurs when dealing with such matters. Anybody doing this in scientific matters would get pilloried but when it comes to religious matters obviously different rules apply.
        The common version of an indulgence is that it allows you to commit whatever sins you like and to be given forgiveness. WRONG! An indulgence is the remission of the punishment for sin. You don’t get that remission unless you have repented of your sins. To repent of a sin you must SINCERELY intend never to commit that sin ever again. So you get an indulgence AFTER having, in effect, sincerely promised never to sin again. Anybody who goes about describing an indulgence as a way of allowing people to continue committing a sin just hasn’t a clue about the real nature of an indulgence.

      • re: Alba December 26, 2015 at 7:01 am
        ARE you claiming Luther was mistaken, confused, unnecessary or what? GK

      • Alba,
        Who exactly is it that so misunderstands what indulgences were in the 16th century?
        Luther objected to the blatant commercialization of indulgences by Pope Leo’s pardoner in Germany, Johann Tetzel, whose sales jingle was, “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs”. The pope needed to raise funds to rebuild St. Peter’s basilica in Rome, and thought that soaking the dumb Germans would be a good way to do that.
        Bear in mind that pardoners were already subjects of scorn before the Reformation, as in Chaucer’s tale. It was a protection racket, plain and simple, from which the Mafia drew lessons.
        If you want to defend that practice, please, by all means have at it.

  3. That’s a nice Christmas gift. Muslims consider Jesus a minor prophet, maybe now they will celebrate his birth. UNFCCC is surely consistent.

  4. I’m sure Palestine is concerned about “climate change”. By which I mean they are concerned about how much dough they can get from it.

    • How else can we avoid the millions of new Palestinian ‘climate change refugees’ who are about to suddenly appear and will require billions in compensation from carbon dioxide ‘sinners’ to avoid the end of the world / sarc.

    • “By which I mean they are concerned about how much dough they can get from it.”
      What better demonstration of their readiness for full embrace from the worldwide family of nations?
      There is much money to be made–possibly. The West Bank government of Palestine can claim their struggle with the Gaza government of Palestine helps the climate by deterring development of the substantial offshore methane deposits. For this effort the UN CDM should authenticate billions of estimated dollars worth of carbon offsets for the West Bank Government to play on European Carbon Exchanges in return for real money (assuming these exchange markets do not crash again). But Israel will jump in and claim “additionality,” that Gaza’s attitude of non-development is a result of gas-heavy Iran’s payments for instability to keep competing, and much closer to Europe, methane production off line. Does anyone believe Iran still believes the Arab World will follow it as leader, and that is why it pays for Hamas against Israel? They got the Lebanese gas blocked up too. Now Turkey, that is Erdogan, does he really believe the Arab World wants live under a neo-Ottoman Caliphate? Or was his Gaza/Hamas romance all for the gas? What happened last week between Israel and Turkey? Now Gaza government of Palestine can spite the West Bankers by arguments there is no legitimate government in the West Bank, and how can those chaps over there claim a country when they will not even say what its borders are or will be? Then Obama might step in saying, “what about ME?” claiming his recent actions against East Syrian oil production should earn some carbon offsets to sell. Putin will step in and scream “Additionality! You only did that because I started to! That’s ME!” Gaza can step in and say, “Excuse me, but this discussion is about US and OUR holy resistance to Israel’s occupation of Israel, that is why we cannot develop our gas–pay US! Then, putting the Gaza gas matter to rest, Egypt will appear and say in a firm voice, “Pay you? We retain the the mineral rights.”

  5. Good spot and memory, Willis. Looked it up for you: 22 USC 287e, enacted as public law 103-236 in 1994 reads in part:
    “The US shall not make any voluntary or assessed contributions: (1) to any affiliated organization of the UN which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood…”
    Palestine clearly does NOT have all the generally accepted attributes of statehood: embassies and ambassadors, treaty memberships, a single governing authority (PLO and Hamas), …
    Obama has no choice but to withhold all US UNFCCC funding under the existing clear law with the 2011 UNESCO precedent, and no hope of getting the law changed.
    Christmas has come a day early.

    • Ristvan, it seems to me the Palestinian strategy is to gain gradual recognition, set up ambassadors in several capitals, and of course it can sign a couple of treaties. This will isolate Israel as an invader in Palestinian territory. At this point the settler issue is a can of worms, since it makes Israel a de facto violator of Palestinian rights. I noticed that Brazil is refusing to allow a settler to represent Israel as ambassador. In other words, it seems nations are gradually accepting the Palestinian strategy. They are being very methodical and I think they will win, gain recognition, and have a more or less established territory. I bet they’ll get there in 20-30 years.

    • It is a bizarre state when you can not enforce/challenge a person or law because you don’t have equal standing. Clearly the law is not blind.

    • Depending a bit on what the law in question is, you do If you are a US citizen. Congress does. Most ‘official’ NGO’s do (the sue and settle EPA game is exhibit A). States do through their AG’s. Doubt this will escape the attention of Rep. Smith and Senator Cruz.

  6. Anti-Palestinian rights is rife in our country. The idea that the natives of that land are somehow ‘aliens’ in their own homeland is really outrageous.

    • Ahh, but that’s exactly what is in dispute and mystery; what are the homelands of the various people occupying Eastern Israel, the Gaza Strip=Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan… who formed Hamas, Hizbollah, Fatah, “PLA”, “Palestinian Authority”, etc.? And what makes one date as a base-line more believable or righteous or just than some other starting date?

      • How soon, Mib8, are you going to support the creation of a Canaanite National Struggle for the restoration of the land of Palestine to the people who were there before the Jews. In the nineteenth century the founders of Zionism called Palestine ‘A Land without a People’, conveniently ignoring the hundreds of thousands of people who were actually living there. Later, once it was no longer possible to ignore these people they were portrayed as being backward compared to the Jews and this, therefore, somehow justified taking over their land. Of course, in total contravention of international law, their land is still being taken away from them in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is sad that the Jews, so long subject to persecution, should now be the ones persecuting people in the land they control.

    • The state of Jordan was set up as the Palestinian homeland. They have decided to retain the mantle of ‘refugees’. The Palestinians have been given as much aid as Israel, but you would be forgiven for not noticing. It would appear to have been secreted in Swiss banks rather than used as Israel has used its aid. It can be difficult to retain the mantle of ’cause celebre’ for so long, even with the Shiite assistance.

      • I don’t think the Palestinian people, or most nations, ever accepted Jordan as Palestinian territory. It seems some people are a bit disconnected from history and fact when it comes to this conflict. Where would you ever hear such a thing? An Israeli propaganda medium?

      • Also, when Mandate Palestine was partitioned, the Arab portions were intended to be independent, separate from Trans-Jordanian Palestine (Jordan), with its capital at Amman. The capital of the Arab areas was supposed to be Jerusalem and of the Jewish areas Tel Aviv. As a result of the 1948 war, this plan didn’t come to pass. The Arab Legion under King Abdullah captured only the West Bank, that is parts of Mandate Palestine that were assigned to the new state of Palestine, while losing part of Jerusalem and connecting area to Israel. Abdullah didn’t try to capture areas assigned by the UN to Israel. Egypt occupied Gaza.

      • The majority of the present population of Jordan (or their parents, grandparents or great grandparents) came from Palestine, ie west of the Jordan River, as refugees driven out by Israel in 1948.
        One group whose ancestors definitely lived in biblical Palestine are the Samaritans, ie “the people of the land” not taken captive by the Assyrians, as were the Israelites, members of 10.5 of the 12 Hebrew tribes, subjects of the northern kingdom of Israel, or Judeans, from the southern state of Judea, by the Neo-Babylonians (Chaldeans). The Israelites disappear from history, but the Judeans, ie Jews, were freed from their Babylonian captivity by the Persians under Cyrus.

      • “The state of Jordan was set up as the Palestinian homeland.’ Says who? Very unwisely as it has turned out, although totally understandably, the Arabs living in Palestine rejected the partition of their homeland by the United Nations in 1947. This gave a minority of the land to the people who formed the majority of the population. If the Arabs had accepted that plan then there would have been an Arab state in part, at least, of the territory of what is now called Israel. Whether Israel would have willingly accepted the existence of that state in the long-term may be highly questionable, given the behavior of the Zionists before and after 1947. But the attempt of the UN to create such a state blows a huge hole in the argument that Jordan was ‘set up as the Palestinian homeland’. Such a huge hole that the argument should long ago have sunk without trace.

    • Ah, but the modern Palestinians are not exactly native to the region. See my post below – the original Palestinians were the Peleset from Mycaenae, but they were all eliminated by the Arab armies in the 8th century, who took their name as well as their lands. So in terms of being native to the Levant the list is something like this.
      Hyksos pharaohs from Egypt
      Hittites from Anatolia
      Peleset from Mycaenae
      Phonecians from Minoan Crete
      Israelite Jews from Egypt
      Persians from Iran
      Seleucids from Greece.
      Romans from Italy, who exiled all the Jews
      Byzantines from Greek Anatolia.
      Modern Palestinians from Saudi Arabia.
      Jews returning from Europe.
      So who is really native to the region?
      Well, you work it out…..
      Ralph

      • I read recently, I think it was in ‘Biblical Achaeological Review, that the Christians kicked out the Jews from the region in 135AD, and named it Palestine.

      • The southern Levant was known as Palestine long before AD 135. The first use of the term dates from c. 1150 BC in Egyptian hieroglyphs, referring to biblical Philistia, the coastal region of what is now Israel. In AD 132, emperor Hadrian reorganized Roman administration of the area, forming the province of Syria Palaestina.

    • Yes, absolutely, these munitions are low carbon footprint:

      The aim of the Qassam rocket design appears to be ease and speed of manufacture, using common tools and components. To this end, the rockets are propelled by a solid mixture of sugar and potassium nitrate, a widely available fertilizer. The warhead is filled with smuggled or scavenged TNT and urea nitrate, another common fertilizer. This is close to Ammonite. wiki

      The propellant uses a bit of sugar but this can be considered a bio-fuel so it doesn’t count against the carbon footprint. It’s so nice to see that the world’s terrorists are so caring about the environment.

      • Gloateus Maximus says:
        December 24, 2015 at 2:36 pm
        TNT is loaded with carbon. Its formula is C6H2(NO2)3CH3.

        Those bad bad terrorists. I hope they’re buying carbon credits.

      • They could use one of several nitrostarch TNT equivalents. In WWI the US was facing a toluene shortage and investigated possible replacements based on dissolving various starches into nitric acid. They chose tapioca starch because the result was not hygroscopic (water absorbing), and named it “grenite”. The resulting explosive is about the same power as TNT and comes in the form of clumpy granules sort of like sticky brown sugar. It was approved for use in hand grenades and trench mortars, but not artillery shells. Unlike TNT which can be melted and poured into shells like candle wax, grenite remains clumpy and will therefore shift under the centrifugal force of a rotating projectile, affecting accuracy.
        Nitric acid (HNO3) contains no carbon and tapioca production is “sustainable”.

      • Bob and Alan,
        Iran could buy their carbon credits for them, as they should, since they finance Hamas and Hezbollah.
        Nitric acid might be suitable for “climate friendly” Qassam rockets.

  7. Willis, I enjoy everything you write. Common sense buttressed by an uncommon grasp of mathematics. Merry Christmas sir, you enrich my life.

  8. Thanks for the great Post Willis. For me the highlight was your description of the UN as a “rathole,” That is the best description that I have ever heard of that degenerate institution..

  9. Thanks Willis, for all the thought stimulus this year. From me and may child-bride of 35 years to you and your ex-fiance, have a memorably joyful holiday!

    • See upthread. Sketched as a reply to Gloatius comment about US aid to Palestinians. You can google a lot more of the diplomatic fine points if you wish to educate yourself on the matter. Took me all of 15 minutes. Time well spent understanding what motivated the law Clinton signed.

      • Scott,
        What exactly do you think I got wrong? It is a fact that the US gives over $400 million to Palestine annually. I didn’t mention the reasons why.

      • MRW,
        Yup, just as I said. Billions.
        Now up to around six billion bucks from the five billion in the 2014 Congressional report.
        Thanks.

      • Most of it goes to Israel to administer, Gloateus Maximus. Israel has been withholding the aid, which is part of the problem of the chronic 67-year occupation. One Israeli official (don’t feel like looking for link) said that the impetus for doing that was putting them on a diet, or some such phrase. He claimed Israel disbursed only enough dough to allow the Palestinians to exist, not live.

    • I don’t think there’s a particular logic to USA foreign policy. It seems to be run by teenagers. Both parties are usually brain dead. This explains USA blunders in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and so on.

      • It’s like when American Football players run out of bounds when they’re trying to kill the clock, or intercept 4th down passes way downfield. Both are bonehead moves by people who have been doing this for years. Why should politicians be any different?

  10. This reinforces the point that contributions are voluntary and earmarked, points with which I concur. Funding things that support one’s espoused principles is surely in the spirit of Christmas.
    There are several organisations with great power working in the climate field which would wither and die if funding were voluntary. The whole point of the $100 billion guaranteed purse in the race for climate control is that there would no longer be a need to create panic in order to ‘do development’. Calling development ‘climate change mitigation’ is a contrivance of convenience. Rather call it ‘development’ and let people or governments contribute as they see fit.
    Enjoy the hols, if your region is celebrating them.

      • I forgot to post the bit I was referring to – in case it’s not obvious, this was “There are several organisations with great power working in the climate field which would wither and die if funding were voluntary.”

  11. “…the US had to cut off funds to UNESCO because of US law….”
    U.S. funding to Israel (billions each year) is against U.S. law because it breaches the conditions of the 1976 Symington amendment.
    ===========
    The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 was amended by the Symington Amendment (Section 669 of the FAA) in 1976. It banned U.S. economic, and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections. This provision, as amended, is now contained in Section 101 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
    […]
    Legal issues
    The President of the United States has violated the law to ease sanctions on India and Pakistan, and by granting an informal exception for Israel.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symington_Amendment
    ===========
    Merry Christmas from Christian Palestine.

    • Thanks, Mr. Algorithm. I note that the only citation for your Wikipedia-based claim that “The President of the United States has violated the law to ease sanctions on India and Pakistan, and by granting an informal exception for Israel” is Noam Chomsky, hardly an unbiased source … and the cited link to Chomsky’s claims doesn’t contain a single verifiable fact about either the President or the law in question.
      Also, I can’t find your claim in the Law. You say (bravely quoting Wikipedia, which is often a mistake):
      “It banned U.S. economic, and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections. ”
      However, the law itself says it bans US aid “to any country which the President determines delivers nuclear enrichment equipment, materials, or technology to any other country on or after August 4, 1977, or receives such equipment, materials, or technology from any other country on or after August 4, 1977 …”
      In other words, the law does NOT ban aid to countries that “acquire” nuclear technology. It prohibits countries from receiving funds if they “deliver” or “receive” nuclear technology to or from any other country, but it says nothing about developing the technology on their own.
      As far as I know, no one has ever proven that Israel either imported or exported their nuclear technology, so it’s not clear to me that they are in violation of the Symington Amendment.
      And if nothing else, the fact that they had an estimated 10 to 20 nuclear bombs in 1974, five years BEFORE the go-live date for the Symington amendment, puts them out of the running.
      w.

      • Poor Mr. Chomsky is, if anything, a worse source of information than Wankerpedia, on average. He’s a denier of the Cambodian genocide, among other things. He occasionally gets something right, always a huge surprise to those who follow him. This isn’t one of those cases.

      • simple-touriste December 24, 2015 at 7:21 pm

        Yes, obviously France never helped Israël in any way regarding Pu production.
        /s

        Thanks, touriste. France assuredly helped Israel regarding building the Dimona reactor and the transfer of nuclear technology … but you didn’t read the law carefully enough. All of that help was back in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Symington Amendment didn’t take effect until 1977 …
        Best regards,
        w.

      • The Samson Option is a great read on the subject of nuclear mid east. Other interesting readings are those of Alan Hart (alanhart.net).

      • Willis, there are very few unbiased opinions of a legal nature in the conflict. I think both sides are outlaws. But the distortion of history goes back over 3000 years, so of course everybody has a different version of history. You did open a can of worms introducing the subject, and the worms don’t look to me the way they look to you.

      • Fernando Leanme December 24, 2015 at 11:25 pm

        Willis, there are very few unbiased opinions of a legal nature in the conflict. I think both sides are outlaws. But the distortion of history goes back over 3000 years, so of course everybody has a different version of history. You did open a can of worms introducing the subject, and the worms don’t look to me the way they look to you.

        Thanks, Fernando, but I have to disagree. Until you or someone else can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel broke the Symington Amendment rules, I’m gonna say there’s only one opinion, which is innocent until proven guilty.
        You don’t get to hand-wave that away with platitudes about how opinions are not unbiased and with claims about worms and how they might appear to you.
        w.

    • Willis,

      As far as I know, no one has ever proven that Israel either imported or exported their nuclear technology, so it’s not clear to me that they are in violation of the Symington Amendment.

      CIA releases files about Illegal weapons-grade uranium diversions from US to Israel
      http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cia-releases-files-about-illegal-weapons-grade-uranium-diversions-from-us-to-israel—irmep-300139038.html
      CIA Cover-Up Thwarted FBI’s Nuclear Diversion Investigations
      Evidence that missing uranium went to Israel withheld since 1968”
      http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2015/09/06/cia-cover-up-thwarted-fbis-nuclear-diversion-investigations/
      Israeli nukes are finally newsworthy– as US gov’t both releases and gags info
      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/08/israeli-mentioned-releases

      • The Mondoweiss article (last link above) addresses what makes “enforcement of the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the 1961 Foreign Aid Act impossible. Corroborating links in story.

        On August 20, 2015 the Department of Energy released under the Freedom of Information Act its “Guidance on Release of Information Relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability.” (PDF)  The Orwellian title of the year 2012 document, designated WNP-136, seems to suggest that Israel might not yet even have nuclear weapons.  This is in stark contrast to the public opinion of 63.9 percent of Americans polled who believe it does.   Interestingly, it covers only Israel and not the other non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty such as India, North Korea and South Sudan.
        The official reason for promulgating the gag order, its history and development, bureaucratic champions and most of its redacted contents remain unclear.   What is clear is that it is one of the reasons federal employees and government contractors, and sometimes even the President, equivocate and run for the exits whenever they are asked to make substantive remarks.  The Israel nuclear gag order answers the question posed last week by McClatchy, “Why is Israel’s nuclear arsenal not mentioned in Iran deal debate?” Because any federal employee who does can be summarily fired and possibly go to prison.
        Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear analyst James Doyle wrote candidly about Israel’s nuclear weapons for a magazine in 2013. After a congressional staffer read the article, which had passed a classification review, it was referred to classification officials for a second review. Doyle’s pay was then cut, his home computer searched, and he was fired.
        Aside from prohibiting any informed input in the run-up to the September congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal, the secret gag order has a far more costly function—it makes enforcement of the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the 1961 Foreign Aid Act impossible.

  12. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/12/22/us-quietly-maneuvers-to-cut-un-dues.html?intcmp=hplnws
    The U.S. is locked once again in a back-room struggle with developing nations over how much of the United Nations tab Washington will pick up over the next three years, especially the bill for peacekeeping activities.
    There is cautious hope among diplomats that the U.S. can chip away at least marginally at the U.N.’s “scale of assessments”– a dues system loaded in favor of many poor and not-so-poor countries that pay less than their fair share, and saddle the small number of rich countries — especially the U.S. — with the difference.

    … and a bunch more.

    • But the author’s definition of “fair share” doesn’t match mine, I suppose. The UN is a pretty clunky body, and it needs reform. But the USA is a bit stupid trying to reform it the way it does. And it lacks the standing to change it by soft pedaling change. So it’s hopeless.

      • Thanks for that, Fernando, but I’m unclear about:
        1) how you would reform the UN, and
        2) why the US is “stupid” to do it however we can manage to get it done, and
        3) why it is “hopeless”.
        I understand that you believe those things … but simply stating them baldly as if they were agreed-upon facts is not very helpful.
        My best wishes to you,
        w.
        PS—I strongly suspect that we could get rid of 9/10 of the UN without the world even noticing … well, except for the UN’s pluted bloatocrats drawing obscene salaries, they’d notice, but the rest of the planet, not so much. Perhaps if you could point out for me the UN’s top ten successes in the last decade, we could have a discussion.
        However, I doubt the list would include introducing cholera into Haiti and then denying responsibility and refusing to help pay the cost of their stupidity, or the current investigations of the cover-up of the sexual abuses of children by UN personnel …

      • Willis,
        Agree completely about the UN.
        Get the US out of the UN and it would fold. The little bit that it does that might be useful, such as disaster relief, could better be done by the US and other countries on their own. The WHO predates the UN.

  13. A little side-note about the Palestinians.
    The original Palestinians were the Peleset who became known as the Philistines, and they were actually from Greece-Mycenae. A contingent of the Sea People. But when the conquering Arab armies arrived in the 8th century the Peleset were all eliminated, and eventually the new Arab population took their name as well as their lands. So in terms of residency, the Arabs are newcommers to the region.

    • The name Palestine does indeed come from the Philistines, among the Indo-European language-speaking invading Sea Peoples, c. 1000-1275 BC, but they were long gone as a distinct group by the time of the Arab conquest in AD 634, et seq, swamped by their Semitic language-speaking neighbors. The main languages of Palestine in the 7th century were, as in Jesus’ day, still Greek and Aramaic. The Arab conquest didn’t bring a huge influx of Arabs, but Arabic did over time replace Greek and Aramaic as the lingua franca of the indigenous population of the Levant.

  14. A special seasonal best wishes to Willis.
    I hope you find the time to post frequently in 2016.
    Right now you can have a few days off. Enjoy :^)
    (I’m pretty generous at this time of year – you have to admit)

  15. The Palestinians have a very low carbon footprint, since they get most of their electricity from Israel. They employ the same “green policy” as California – avoid pollution from electricity generation by importing electricity from other states – which is equivalent to exporting your pollution.
    Besides, the Palestinian Authority doesn’t pay it’s electricity bills, and the Government owned Israel Electric Company is ordered by the Government NOT to cut supply to ensure the payment of the debt.
    So, the Palestinians have produced the ultimate green dream: carbon free AND cost free energy.

    • Thanks for an informative and amusing post but should we ever agree to the use of the word pollutant when describing CO2? It is a word that was apparently unknown until fairly recently and, possibly, has the same origins as the word “denier” when describing sceptics.
      Definition of the verb “pollute”:
      Post – 1938
      ” to defile; render unclean; taint with guilt; corrupt; violate.”
      Pocket Oxford – 1969
      “destroy the purity; outrage the sanctity of.”
      Collins Pocket – 1981
      “to make unclean, impure or corrupt.”
      The only noun listed by the two earlier dictionaries is the word “pollution”.
      But by 1981 the word “pollutant” had crept into the language, hence Collins: “something that pollutes, as a harmful chemical discharge into the air.”

  16. Until you or someone else can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel broke the Symington Amendment rules, I’m gonna say there’s only one opinion, which is innocent until proven guilty.

    Willis:
    Beyond a reasonable doubt is an almost impossibly high standard to meet when dealing with national security agencies which don’t have to respond to process and in some cases can imprison you for pursuing the question. Israel is widely suspected of helping South Africa with their nuclear weapons program, which was revealed when they voluntarily surrendered it in the early 1990’s. Israel declines to admit they have a nuclear weapons program at all and has gone to considerable lengths to maintain that deniability (witness Mordechai Vanunu). They also refuse to comment on any nuclear assistance vis-a-vis South Africa, although the two nations had a longstanding program of military cooperation.
    Has Israel violated the terms of the Symington act? I don’t know and am not in any position to find out. In diplomacy there is a vital distinction between what you know and what you notice. As long as Israel maintains the plausible appearance they haven’t, it is an option for the US government to not notice what it might very well know.
    The Palestinian Authority failed to consider the likely consequences when it accepted full UNFCC membership. Either that or it calculated the cash windfall from joining up with the climate gang was worth it.

    • IMO there can be little doubt about Israel’s violating the Symington Amendment. It offered to sell nukes to South Africa in 1975, before the amendment, and later Jericho ballistic missiles, plus provided aid in the development of indigenous South African nukes. Don’t be put off by the Guardian. The article shows the declassified document.
      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/may/23/israel-south-africa-nuclear-weapons
      In return, South Africa helped Israel test a joint weapon design in 1979 (among many other sources, see Seymour Hersh’s 1991 “The Samson option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy”).
      Israel was also helping the Shah of Iran develop nukes before his overthrow.

  17. PLO executive committee member (31 Mar. 1977 ) Zahir Muhsein interviewed by “Trouw” (Dutch newspaper) stated: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism….”
    Before going on to become a PLO founder Ahmed Shukeiry told UN Security Council (1956): “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria”.
    Also in accord with this earlier (1937) testimony to the Peel Commission (considering a Jewish “Palestine” homeland) given by an arab leader Auni Bey Abdul-Hadithat: “There is no such country! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”

    • May I add a few more to gringojay’s quotes.
      In 1919 a Congress of The Muslim-Christian Association [of Palestine] informed the Paris Peace Conference that:
      “We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria as it has never been separated from it at any time…we are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds…in view of the above we desire that our district Southern Syria or Palestine should be not separated from the Independent Arab Syrian Government and be free from all foreign influence and protection…”
      In a report by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Council of the League of Nations on the administration of Palestine and Trans-Jordan for the year 1938, the British made it clear:
      “Palestine is not a State, it is the name of a geographical area. ”
      Professor Philip Hitti of Princeton and, after retirement, Harvard Universities and whose seminal work History of the Arabs, first published in 1937, is still considered to be the standard publication on the subject, giving evidence to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in 1946 is reported as stating:
      “…that there was actually no such entity as Palestine – never had been; it was historically part of Syria,” and “…the Sunday schools have done a great deal of harm to us because by smearing the walls of classrooms with maps of Palestine, they associate it with the Jews in the minds of the average American and Englishman’.”
      Sabri Khalil al-Banna, better known as Abu Nidal, once described as “the world’s most wanted terrorist”, an early member of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah section of the PLO made several statements that can be translated as:
      “I am an ardent believer in the Greater Syrian state. . . . We are Syrian citizens. For us, Syria is the mother nation, it is history, society, community, geography. Until recently, half of Lebanon was a region of Syria. As you see, we are true Syrian citizens. I myself have Syrian parents. . . . Greater Syria consists of Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria. A state like Jordan did not exist in Arab history prior to the twenties. Geographically seen, Greater Syria covers the territory from the Turkish border in the north to the whole of Palestine in the south.”

  18. They are good at innovative solutions. They can solve unemployment by branding,
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_29308573/war-torn-gaza-tiny-high-tech-sector-emerges
    In war-torn Gaza, a tiny high-tech sector emerges.
    By Fares Akram, Associated Press
    The firm, called Haweya for Information Technology, specializes in branding for new or restructuring businesses. Its name in Arabic means “identity.”
    “I was shocked by the painful work situation in Gaza; there were no jobs and getting a job is very, very difficult. That’s where the idea came from,” Qudih said, sitting behind a white laptop on his dark wooden desk.

  19. Here are a couple of interesting factoids.
    The people who call themselves Palestinians are related to Syrian Arabs in both language family and DNA haplogroups. Since they don’t have the letter “p” in their alphabet (like the Philistines did), they cannot even spell the words “Palestine” or “Palestinian”. And since they’re not related to any Mediterranean “sea people” (as the Philistines were), they can’t lay ancient claims to the lands they now occupy.
    Time to put this fable to bed.

    • Larry,
      It’s not a fable but a fact. Of course they can lay a claim to the land which their families have occupied for hundreds if not thousands of years. The Palestinian Christian towns cleansed by Israel in the 1948 war to connect West Jerusalem with the coast had, for instance been Christian since the 1st century. St. Agapius of Palestine was a native of Gaza, martyred along with seven others during Diocletian’s Great Persecution, c. AD 303. Even earlier examples exist, such as St. George, from Lydda, now Lod, site of Ben Gurion Airport. As you may know, one of the most infamous episodes in the 1948 Palestinian Diaspora was the exodus from Lydda and nearby Ramle of 50,000 to 70,000 Arabs, mostly Christian, expelled when Israeli troops captured the towns in July that year.
      Of course Palestinians are related to Syrian Arabs. Of course they speak the Levantine dialect of Arabic. So what? Their ancestors spoke the Semitic languages Phoenician, Canaanite, Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as the Indo-European tongue of the Philistines. Three thousand years ago, Arabic and Hebrew were dialects of the same West Semitic language, and, as the OT shows, Arabs already lived then in the Holy Land.
      That they speak Arabic now doesn’t mean that they aren’t descended from the biblical inhabitants of Palestine. Most people in the British Isles are descended from ancient Britons, to include the Paleolithic inhabitants, but the vast majority speak English, the language of the Germanic invaders, as modified by later French invaders. While some speak Welsh and Gaelic, no one still speaks whatever was spoken there in 1200 BC.
      The majority of Israelis, by contrast, are of European (Ashkenazi) or North African (Sephardic) ancestry, plus some from Iran, and of course the ancestors of Eastern European Jews were mainly Khazars. Many Palestinians are to be sure also descended from more recent immigrants to the British Mandate, like Arafat.
      I have a lot of respect for what Israelis have achieved, and have myself gained from their work, having for a decade consulted for an Israeli biotech. But facts are facts, admitted by honest Jewish Israeli historians. And Rabin, who himself expelled Arab Christians from the Lydda and Ramle areas. Some from Lydda died en route to the safety of Arab Legion lines. The refugees from Ramle were luckier. They were bused out under the IDF’s guns.

      • Gloateus Maximus:
        “The majority of Israelis, by contrast, are of European (Ashkenazi) or North African (Sephardic) ancestry, plus some from Iran, and of course the ancestors of Eastern European Jews were mainly Khazars.”
        http://www.cija.ca/resource/israel-the-basics/demographics-of-israel/
        “The majority of the world’s Jewish population are Ashkenazim, tracing their ancestry to Europe, In Israel, Sephardic Jews, who descend from communities in the Middle East and North Africa, account for just over half (52%) of the Jewish population. There is also a small population (approximately 125,000) of Ethiopian Jews who account for 1% of the Israeli Jewish population.”
        Actually with intermarriage between the Aahkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrahi communities it is becoming more difficult to assert that any single community is larger than any other.
        Gloateus Maximus:
        “The Palestinian Christian towns cleansed by Israel in the 1948 war to connect West Jerusalem with the coast had, for instance been Christian since the 1st century.”
        And, while the clearing of Arab Christian towns and villages did occur in 1948 during the Israeli war of independence it is worth mentioning that since then Israel is the only country in the Muddle East where the Christian community has increased and is still increasing.

      • Soolomon,
        True, however the Christian population is growing more slowly than either the Jewish or Muslim, and around a fifth of “Christians” are only nominal. They’re ex-Soviets who were able to immigrate to Israel thanks to a Jewish grandparent. The 80% who are Arab Christians or long-established Armenian or European Christians still constitute a small fraction of the Christian share of population of Mandate Palestine in 1948 and even less of population before the first Aliyah. There are more Druze than Arab Christians in Israel.
        There are now somewhat more Arab Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Territories than in Mandate Palestine in 1947. The population of Israel and Palestine however has increased about seven-fold. Today Israel has about 8.2 million people and 5.1 million in the Palestinian Territories. The Mandate had around 1.9 million people in 1947, but I don’t know if that included Trans-Jordanian Palestine or not. Most Palestinian Christians are in the Diaspora.

    • Mods,
      I posted a long, respectful reply to Larry, which hasn’t appeared yet. Am I being moderated or is there some other holdup? Thanks.
      Merry Christmas!
      GM

      • Here is the draft of it that I saved. Final version was longer. Please excuse double posting if that version appears later. Thanks.
        Larry,
        It’s not a fable but a fact. Of course they can lay a claim to the land which their families have occupied for hundreds if not thousands of years. The Palestinian Christian towns cleansed by Israel in the 1948 war to connect West Jerusalem with the coast had, for instance, been Christian since the 1st century. St. Agapius of Palestine was a native of Gaza, martyred along with seven others during Diocletian’s Great Persecution, c. AD 303. Even earlier examples exist, such as St. George, from Lydda, now Lod, site of Ben Gurion Airport. As you may know, one of the most infamous episodes in the 1948 Palestinian Diaspora was the exodus from Lydda and nearby Ramle of 50,000 to 70,000 Arabs, mostly Christian, expelled when Israeli troops captured the towns in July that year.
        Of course Palestinians are related to Syrian Arabs. Of course they speak the Levantine dialect of Arabic. So what? Their ancestors spoke the Semitic languages Phoenician, Canaanite, Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as the Indo-European tongue of the Philistines. Three thousand years ago, Arabic and Hebrew were dialects of the same West Semitic language, and, as the OT shows, Arabs already lived then in the Holy Land.
        That they speak Arabic now doesn’t mean that they aren’t descended from the biblical inhabitants of Palestine. Most people in the British Isles are descended from ancient Britons, to include the Paleolithic inhabitants, but the vast majority speak English, the language of the Germanic invaders, as modified by later French invaders. While some speak Welsh and Gaelic, no one still speaks whatever was spoken there in 1200 BC.
        The majority of Israelis, by contrast, are of European (Ashkenazi) or North African (Sephardic) ancestry, plus some from Iran, and of course the ancestors of Eastern European Jews were mainly Khazars.
        I have a lot of respect for what Israelis have achieved, and have myself gained from their work, having for a decade consulted for an Israeli biotech. But facts are facts.

      • Gloateus Maximus December 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm
        That they speak Arabic now doesn’t mean that they aren’t descended from the biblical inhabitants of Palestine.
        Being descendants of them and being an identifiable group called “Palestinians” are two different things. The “Palestinians” were invented for political purposes and have been abused by the world powers who invented them, by their Arab “brothers” and by their own incredibly inept and brazenly corrupt leadership. This is the tragedy of the Palestinian people. They most harm they have suffered has been at the hands of those who have used them for their own corrupt and inhumane politics.

      • David,
        The Palestinians have been no more invented than the Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Sudanese, Libyans, Tunisians, Algerians and Moroccans, the boundaries of which majority Arabic-speaking states were also drawn by imperial powers. If the borders were based upon Arabic dialects, yes, then there would be a single Levantine state, a Mesopotamian state, including Aramaic and Mandean speakers but ideally not Kurds or Turkomen, a large Maghrebian state, including Berber speakers, and something like Egypt, the Arabic of which contains various related sub-dialects of accents, plus of course the Coptic Christian language.
        The difference in the case of Palestine is that along with drawing the borders, the imperial powers, Turkey and Britain, also permitted millions of non-Muslim, non-Christian and non-Arabic European and later, under Israel, North African, immigrants to settle in that small area, displacing up to a million of its indigenous Muslim and Christian population and driving them into refugee camps.

      • Gloateus Maximus December 25, 2015 at 3:12 pm
        displacing up to a million of its indigenous Muslim and Christian population and driving them into refugee camps.
        That is a gross misrepresentation of history. If you are going to continue this discourse, I challenge you sir to post under your own name rather than hiding behind a pseudonym. For those who give a d*mn, and aren’t already entrenched in one position of hate or another, here’s the (admitted) very short version of an extremely complex matter:
        1. In 1947 there were no Palestinians. There were only Arabs and Jews living in place loosely called Palestine.
        2. In 1947, the UN enacted the Palestine Partition plan which called for the State of Israel to be created in 1948 and an Arabic state called Palestine to be created in 1949.
        3. On the birth of Israel in 1948, the Arab countries attacked attempting to destroy Israel. On doing do so, they over ran the West Bank and the Gaza strip, which constituted the majority of the land promised to a Palestinian state.
        4. One of the consequences of the war was that a lot of people got displaced, and when the shooting stopped there were new borders and lot of people standing on the wrong side of the border. It was a war, evil things happen in a war, and this is one of the consequences.
        5. So yes, hundreds of thousands of Arabs got displaced. A little known side effect is that about the same number of Jews were forced from their homes into Israel by the Arab states.
        6. For the next 19 years, the Palestinian quest for a state was stymied by….Egypt and Jordan, who occupied Gaza and the West Bank respectively. They could have turned it over to the Palestinians to create a state of their own, but they had no interest in doing so. Their only interest was in having a border with Israel they could launch another war from. The Palestinians were kept in abject misery, with hatred for Israel fomented among them to produce a steady supply of terrorists.
        7. In the 1967 war, Israel captured Gaza and the West Bank from Egypt and Jordan respectively.
        8. Since then, Israel has been attempting to trade both territories for a peace deal.
        9. Palestinian leadership has been looting the treasury and abusing the Palestinian people ever since. Arafat went so far as to take the cement donated by Egypt to rebuild Gaza and sell it to Israeli contractors building the fence he railed about in public, and pocket the money. In all, he may have looted the Palestinian treasury of over a Billion dollars, which his wife and daughter now spend freely on themselves. If anyone think Mahmoud Abbas is any different, they are fools.
        So…. were people displaced? Yes. War is an ugly thing. Were hundreds of thousands of Jews displaced as well as hundreds of thousands of Arabs? Yes. But here is the big question. Who paid in blood to capture the land promised to the “Palestinians” and then turn control of it over to them? Not the United Nations who promised it to them and then for 19 years were silently complicit with Egypt and Jordan, not their Arab brothers in Egypt and Jordan, who, for 19 years could have, with the stroke of a pen, turned it over to them, but in fact they received it from the hated Jews who fought wars and paid in blood in order to do that.
        The suffering the Palestinian people is one of the grotesque tragedies of history. But they have been abused primarily by their Arab “brothers” and by their blatantly corrupt leadership.

      • David,
        Talk about gross misrepresentation!
        Jewish settlers in Palestine moved into the territory allotted to or captured by Israel. To compare that with permanent refugee status in other countries would be ludicrous if not obscene.
        Israel forcibly drove people from their homes in land their families had occupied for thousands of years, and have not been allowed back. To say, that’s war doesn’t cut it. Before Arab armies came to the rescue of Palestinians, Jewish terrorists had been driving Arabs from their land for decades. During the war, tens or hundreds of thousands of Europeans flooded into Israel. The only competent army among the newly independent Arab states was Jordan’s Arab Legion, which intentionally didn’t attack into land assigned by the UN to Israel, because he hoped to benefit from the Jewish state.
        To this day, Arab Israelis are third class citizens. Israel still has no written constitution because it would have to enshrine theocratic rule, with Jewish Israelis as first class citizens, Samaritans, Druze and Christians second class and Muslims as third class, based upon their military status, for example.
        Israel’s right to exist is the same as any other conqueror’s, but that hardly affords it any moral high ground. Sorry, but you’ve bought into Israeli propaganda, designed for consumption in the US. Israelis in Israel know the score.

  20. Questing Vole December 26, 2015 at 9:51 am

    this string is getting into territory that has no place on this site.

    Indeed, it’s the dreaded “thread drift” phenomenon working its troublous ways …
    Folks, how about we all let go of the Middle East problem? We’re not going to solve it here, that’s for sure. My thanks to all who have posted opinions about it, and this is a site for science. So let me suggest that we leave the comments on the history, present, and future of that poor benighted section of the planet for another time and place.
    Thanks, and best Boxing Day wishes to all,
    w.

    • “I was going to reply to Gloateus Maximus, but in view of Willis’s very reasonable request, I would just wish both of them all the best for 2016.

      • שלום עליי אדמות; רצון טוב לגברים.
        السلام على الأرض؛ النوايا الحسنة للرجال.
        Ειρήνη στη γη; καλή θέληση με τους άνδρες.
        Pacem in Terra da; hominibus bonae voluntatis.
        Sorry I can’t do Aramaic, the language of the Essene Jewish, 1st century itinerant rural Syrian/Galilean/Palestinian preacher Yeshua and His Disciples.

    • Thanks, Soolomon and Gloateus. The denizens of this site are the best! The best of the season to everyone.
      w.

  21. Thanks Willis, given the teeny-tiny sliver of land; this tiny prosperous country, Israel is surrounded by Arab-Muslim countries – not so prosperous to say the least- very pathetic that they get away with beating up on Israel at the rathole that is the UN, but nothing against any of these other countries with extremely horrific human rights abuses.
    Like when are Gaza’s next elections again? Tyrannical barbaric rulers ok with UN…
    All I can say is Always Live Israel.
    Belated Merry Christmas to you as well Willis. 🙂

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