November 5, 2013

Cornell Will Return 10,000 Tablets to Iraq

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Correction appended: The original version of this article wrongly implied that Cornell was the subject of a Department of Homeland Security investigation regarding ancient tablets being illegally removed from Iraq and used in tax fraud. In fact, while the tablets were the subject of an investigation, Cornell itself was never investigated by the DHS. The error has been removed from the story.

Editor’s Note: The updated article contains language that was lifted from the Nov. 3 Los Angeles Times story it was based off of, “Cornell to Return 10,000 Ancient Tablets to Iraq.” Although The Sun’s article clearly attributes all facts taken from the L.A. Times, several paragraphs in the article contain nearly identical wording and syntax as the L.A. Times piece.

Plagiarism is never acceptable. While we expect our writers to recognize this and meet The Sun’s standards, we as editors also failed to adequately vet the story before it was published. Moving forward, we will redouble our efforts to educate our staff on editorial best practices.


In what may be the biggest return of antiquities by an American university, Cornell is preparing to return 10,000 tablets to their native Iraq.

The clay blocks, which date back to the 4th century B.C. and offer researchers a glimpse into the daily lives of ancient Mesopotamia, were donated by Jonathan Rosen and his family — of the Jonathan and Jeannette Rosen Ancient Near Eastern Seminar — in 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Some of the tablets, which were part of the private archives for a Sumerian princess in the 21st century B.C. in the city of Garsana, have been the source of much controversy. Critics believe the tablets were looted from Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, when many archaeological relics went missing, according to the L.A. Times.

The tablets were the subject of a 2001 investigation by the Department of Homeland Security when they were suspected to be illegally removed from the country of origin. Possession of antiquities illegally removed from countries who claim them as government property violates U.S. law, the L.A. Times reported.

There was also an investigation into whether the exchange of the tablets constituted tax fraud or violated the Trading With the Enemy Act, which prohibited any business with Iraq during the war. According to the L.A. Times, the Garsana tablets were valued at less than $50,000 when they were imported, but Rosen received a $900,000 tax deduction upon their donation in 2000.

There were no findings of wrongdoing because investigators could not determine the precise details of when or how the tablets were acquired, according to the L.A. Times. Additionally, Cornell was never the subject of a DHS investigation, according to John Carberry, University spokesperson.

Last year, the Iraqi government requested that the tablets be returned, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Binghamton is brokering the transfer, according to the L.A. Times.

In a statement, the University said that it is undergoing negotiations with Iraq’s government for the tablets’ return.

“Cornell appreciates the opportunity it has had to participate in the preservation and study of these invaluable historical artifacts and welcomes the opportunity to continue this work in participation with the U.S. and Iraqi governments,” the statement said.

The tablets have played a crucial role in helping scholars learn about the roles of women during the time, showing that women attained a high status in their society. The Garsana tablets show that a princess, Simat-Ishtaran, took over the estate after the death of her husband, according to the L.A. Times. Other women supervised men, received equal salaries to men and worked in construction.

“It’s our first real archival discovery of an institution run by a woman,” Professor David Owen, chief curator for the Cuneiform Library, said to the L.A. Times.

Some of the other tablets show detailed administrative records, temple rituals, agricultural outputs and information about resettled refugees, according to the L.A. Times.

The University said in a statement that it is proud of the work done on the cuneiform tablets since 2000.

“While the cuneiform tablets have been at Cornell, scholars have participated in a project to conserve the tablets and publish them, not only for historic preservation but also for the research and cultural benefits of the Republic of Iraq,” the statement said.

According to the L.A. Times, Cornell is not the only University returning ancient artifacts that scholars suspect may have been lotted. Princeton University returned 170 objects to Italy last year after they were linked to an antiquities dealer being investigated for trafficking looted objects. Last year, Bowling Green State University in Ohio also announced the return of a dozen ancient mosaics after evidence revealed they had been looted.

  • Another_Cornellian

    This letter is filled with so much misinformation I can only hope it is not representative of a university-wide understanding of the conflict. Here’s an example of twisted facts:

    “In fact, Israel was founded following the General Assembly’s adoption of UN Resolution 181(II), which called for partitioning the land into a Jewish and Palestinian state. Jewish leaders accepted the resolution, while the Palestinian leaders rejected it.”

    The authors state this right after they claim Palestinian weren’t forced out. Palestinians made up the vast majority of the population so forcing them to leave against their will is problematic. The day is called the Nakba, and the claims of destroying homes, creating hundreds of thousands of refugees, and killing many others are undisputed fact.

    Regardless, the premise of this article is flawed. It ignores the three (lucid) pieces written prior to this that actually engage the boycott debate, this piece simply tries to create a smokescreen of misinformation to distract from the reality of life in Palestine.

    • john

      interesting, considering how no where in the wikipedia article does it mention that israel was the party that forced anyone out. of course, the obvious reason for this is that small, inconvenient fact: the arab armies picked the actual fight, not israel.

      • mxm123

        “how no where in the wikipedia article does it mention that israel was the party that forced anyone out.”

        An inconvenient link for john

        “During the ‘long seminar’, a meeting of Ben-Gurion with his chief advisors in January 1948, the departure point was that it was desirable to ‘transfer’ as many Arabs as possible out of Jewish territory, and the discussion focussed mainly on the implementation.[18]:63 The experience gained in a number of attacks in February 1948, notably those on Qisarya and Sa’sa’, was used in the development of a plan detailing how enemy population centers should be handled.[18]:82 According to Pappé,plan Dalet was the master plan for the expulsion of the Palestinians.”

        • john

          many historians consider that plan defensive in nature, with the intent of getting rid of hostile forces. many would contend that there was never a sinister intention of expulsion of innocent civilians. we can go back and forth citing little tidbits of selective evidence, but i highly doubt its worth my time.

          what you need to get through your head is the simple inconvenient fact that will never change: arab armies initiated the war of 1948. they are responsible for the displacement of palestinians, as well as for the current disgraceful treatment of palestinians inside those respective arab countries.

          • mxm123

            I pointed u a direct link to contradict your claim. For a guy who seems to know so much about that land its kinda interesting that u pretend not to know this.

            Your “many historians consider that plan defensive in nature” are just the kind of weasel words pro-Israeli shills have used to deny history.

            Oh and its back to the Arabs are bad. Never ever acknowledging that Jews did the same thing. When talking about “disgraceful treatment” you should actually be talking of Israel. A country that it and its supporters use every chance to claim is “just like America”

          • john

            again, there are many historians who would argue against you, just like there are many historians who would argue against me. just because you want to be right doesn’t mean everyone who disagrees with you should be dismissed as “pro israel shills…” Wtvr the heck that means.

            Yes, the Arab counties are bad when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians. do you disagree? And I will state over and over, Palestinians in large numbers prefer the governance of israel over Arabs. Get over it. It might be because israel has stopped living in a world where its sole purpose is to hate their neighbors…maybe when the Arab countries decide to collaborate with israel rather than hate their best chance for middle eastern prosperity, they might enter the world of civilized nations.

          • mxm123

            You confuse history with Hasbara. What i pointed to is fact. What u claim does is not proven anywhere except in Hasbara sites. That conveniently invent among other things “history”, “international law” and on.

            Jews in WWII preferred to get a job working in a Nazi factory. Because it improved their condition at that moment in time. Blacks during Civil War preferred working inside the white mans mansion. Or Blacks in Apartheid South Africa. Does that mean in the larger context they supported their suppression ?

            Israel stopped living in a world where it hates its neigbours. Oh how lovely. Stealing land for settlements and subjecting Palestinians to apartheid is peace and eternal love. The Hasbara never ends.

          • john

            obviously anyone, including historians, who disagree with what you and people of your mental “persuasion” claim is engaging in hasbara. same old story. no need to sound like a broken record player. go make a poster or something.

            critical difference with regard to palestinians working in israeli workplaces such as soda stream. they are treated as equals. obviously i can’t speak for every single business, but you should look into it. probably won’t like what you find out…equal treatment.

            by “suppression,” are you referring to the PA suppressing them, or israel? i don’t think israel actively suppresses anyone outside the context of stopping mass rioting and arrests of suspected criminals. and yes, criminals include youths who throw rocks. stay in school…or maybe not, considering the brainwashing that goes on there (yes, it goes on in israel too, but nowhere near the level at which it happens in palestinian schools. major research done in this area. look into it.)

            compared to what the arab countries constantly engage in, stealing land and apartheid could be considered small potatoes (if in fact israel steals land and created apartheid, which again, are lovely and time-tested talking points for the sjp and bds “hasbara”). and please, next time you want to end a paragraph with accusing people of hasbara, totally unnecessary, and making me laugh, so double whammy.

          • mxm123

            Weasel words like “Historians who disagree” are used by people who wish to rewrite history. I’ve no problem with the fact that Arabs attacked Israel (the fact not the act). However its pathetic to see people like keep using weasel words to pretend that Israel was/is this apple pie nation that did no such. Unending Hasbara.

            Palestinians workers are treated as equals. Oh please. You may want to read the end of the NYT article where Palestinians anonymously stated that they STFU because they can be easily terminated.

            Of course you don’t think Israel suppresses anyone. Building a wall and confining them in Bantustans is not suppression for you. How could it be. Because soon you’ll find a “Historian who disagree” on what is suppression.

            Ah, finally the endless straw man argument. “Those Arab countries”. On one hand Israeli shills keep telling us what a wonderful democracy Israel is. When u question that, the comparisons divert to Sudan, Saudi Arabia…..Hypocrisy at its finest.

      • Sun Tzu

        Deir Yassin

  • mention

    How is criticizing Israeli policies “hateful”? The authors of this letter provide no evidence for this utterly spurious assertion. They make it, I believe, in order to intimidate critics of Israeli policies and practices. In any case, that is often the effect of such accusations. The characterization of international activism on behalf of Palestinian self-determination as “hateful” undermines entirely the claim that this letter supports “educating toward peace” (whatever that means).

    As if that weren’t enough to reveal this letter as nothing but IDF propaganda, the idea that BDS will “encourage hate” is again made without any basis in evidence. It’s paranoid at best, and more accurately deceitful. Who will be subject to such “hate”? No-one. Only the politics of Zionism is reviled as leading, in this case, to apartheid and settler colonialism.

    It cannot be “wrong” to boycott Israel. The practice of boycott can only be in contrast to certain political positions, such as Zionism.

    • john

      no where in this letter do the authors characterize the criticism of israeli policies as “hateful.” that might be why there is no evidence…there is no such assertion. criticism of israeli policies is not the same as an anti-israel boycott, the former being fair, the latter being hateful.

      apparently, every person who comes to the defense of israel is engaging in IDF propaganda, and should rightfully be dismissed…lolz. classic and misleading tactic of pro-palestinian activists.

      problem with “settler colonialism?” I suggest you find another country to live in…

      • mention

        Do you honestly suspect that I don’t find the genocide, displacement and forced impoverishment of Native Americans problematic (to say the least)? It’s one reason why the U.S. and Israel are partners in crime.

        And a boycott of Israel doesn’t count as legitimate political criticism because… Because you don’t like it? And what if I find an anti-boycott position “hateful”? Am I allowed to play the “hate” card, too?

        So long as you talk about “hate,” so too can I. And neither of us have gotten any further.

        • john

          Assume everything you say about the US is true…Israel did not commit, and is not committing, genocide. mass displacement was caused by arab armies initiating the 1948 war. palestinians are being forcibly impoverished in refugee camps in various arab countries. gaza shares a border with egypt, not just with israel, remember that next time your think of gaza as an open air prison.

          perhaps the UNRWA should do a better job of fixing that…or maybe you could start boycotting those countries that deny citizenship to the palestinians they now govern. as the authors state, palestinians enjoy a better life in israel proper more so than anywhere in the world aside from the United States. want proof? google it.

          right of return for descendants of refugees is fanciful thinking, dangerous for israel, and out of the realm of possibility, so don’t bother going there. perhaps you could advocate for right of return on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of jews forced out of their homes in arab countries, as well as their descendants?

          yes, we both consider different things to be hateful, which is perfectly fine. you are indeed allowed to be hateful of whatever you want. all i am suggesting is that you don’t mischaracterize what the authors are saying.

          people who boycott the entire state of israel aren’t just being hateful. they’re being absurd. that computer you are reading this on…yup, microchips probably developed in israel. if you want to research helpful technological, medical, agricultural contributions of israel vs. arab countries over the past 65 years,go for it…i don’t think you’ll like what you find.

          you’re right, we haven’t gotten any further. the difference is, you lost in the arena of ideas a long time ago.

          • mention

            That Palestinians “enjoy a better life in israel proper” than elsewhere isn’t saying much, though, when Israel subjects Palestinians in the West Bank to conditions of apartheid and, as you said, imprisonment.

            Yes, sure–all refugees should get the right to return, not just the Jewish ones. Granting rights based on race is called state racism, and Israel is founded on it.

            You seem not to understand what a boycott is. It’s form of protest intended to change policies, in this case Israeli state policies. A useful example is the international boycott of South Africa in the 1980s. The point was not to abstain from eating South African apples–that was merely the byproduct of a political campaign. The point was to end apartheid. So the boycott of Israeli is not at all “absurd.” It’s a proven political strategy.

            You’re twisting my words about “hate.” I’m not asking for you to recognize my right to “be hateful.” I’m asking you to recognize my right to claim that an anti-boycott position is hateful. The authors claim that a boycott is “hateful” without any evidence of this, as I stated before.

          • john

            asked whether they would prefer to live under israeli rule or palestinian rule, a surprisingly large number, 40%, of jerusalem arabs would prefer to live under israeli rule. so yes, this says a whole lot about the attitude toward self-governance.

            most palestinians in the west bank are under the governance of the palestinian authority (read: “non-authority”). to compare what happened in south africa to the situation in israel and the west bank is humorous. fun fact, “Israel was the only internationally recognised country and UN member to afford some sort of diplomatic recognition to any of the Bantustans” (thanks wikipedia). west bank people are not imprisoned, they can travel into israel if they get the appropriate visas, and tens of thousands of them work in israel, quite happily.

            the security wall (“separation wall” for all of you apartheid in the west bank believers) is unfortunately necessary, and extremely effective. before it was built, hundreds of suicide attacks in israel perpetrated by palestinians. after being built…count them on one hand.

            “israel is founded on state racism…” yea yea we get it, old news. zionism = racism and all that jazz. getting kinda boring to see all over activists posters.

            i understand what a boycott is, and i happen to think this one is funny to watch…go nowhere fast. sodastream, really? you want to boycott a major employer of palestinians? you can be the one to hand out the pink slips, see how supportive the palestinians will be for your “activism.”

            policies carried out by israel are policies of survival, quite literally. palestinians want change? start by recognizing the right of israel to exist peacefully, and as a jewish state. quite simple, yet seemingly such a difficult proposition for them to accept.

          • The demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a racist demand, and I show why using an Excel spreadsheet and a few simple questions here.


            The Palestinians shouldn’t have to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. They should recognize Israel as A STATE DESIGNED FOR THE PROTECTION OF JEWS. It is a fine distinction, but the former is racist whereas the latter is not.

            There can be different flavors of Zionism and there can be different ways of carrying it out. The old “Zionism is racism” resolution does have a bit of truth to it, but it makes the mistake of lumping all forms of Zionism together and calling it inherently racist. Zionism could be racist, but it need not be so. It all lies in the execution. If Zionism requires Israel to maintain a Jewish majority population forever, then that is inherently racist, as I explain in my article.

          • john

            while i think your entire conception of what racism means and how it applies to israel’s demand is misguided…yes, i’m sure that’s the reason the palestinians refuse to recognize israel as a jewish state, because the demand itself is inherently racist? that is simply fanciful thinking. the palestinians haven’t thought about this issue as much as you have, trust me.

            do you think that if israel changed the demand to “recognize israel as a state designed for the protection of jews,” the palestinians would agree? cute, but i doubt it.

            also, you make a rather egregious claim in your article that palestinians “have roots going back to the ancient Canaanites and the Philistines.” complete fallacy. notwithstanding the vast sums of historical evidence contradicting you, here are two interesting facts.

            1. Sherif Hussein, guardian of the islamic holy places in arabia, said that palestinian ancestors were only in the area for appx. 1000 years. (al-qibl ,MARCH, 1918)
            2. when testifying to the anglo-american committee in 1946, palestinians asserted a connection to that land area dating back to no further than the conquest of muhammad in the 7th century. (REPORT, 1946, PART VI)

            question for you: are the 100,000 arabs that emigrated from other countries during the british mandate period considered to have ancient ties as well? how about their descendants? perhaps if we take some lessons from the “refugee’s descendants count as refugees” game, we can apply it to this scenario as well?

          • mxm123

            Trust john ??? Is it only “cute” that Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Would Jews in America accede to a demand that they be recognized as a second class citizen. So why ask Palestinians to do that for Israeli Arabs. Really cute isn’t it.

            If a 1000 year history (accepting johns “facts”) is not sufficient for a Palestinian to lay claim to his land. Then at what point does a claim to a natives land become valid ?

            And now John refers to the supposed called 100,000 arabs who emigrated during the british mandate. Now, does such a standard apply to Jews during that era too. Oh never. That would be too “cute”. As John would say !!!

            And regarding “refugee’s descendants count as refugees”. Isn’t that the game Israel is trying to play on the reverse. Run out the clock on refugees , who laid a claim almost the day they were evicted. Ah so “cute”, Johns logic.

          • john

            Just because israel is a “Jewish state” does not mean that anyone has to be second class citizens. so yea, it is cute.

            No one is saying that 1000 years inset enough to make a claim on land. Simply pointing out that the claim of modern day Palestinians are descendants of ancient philistines and Canaanites is completely absurd and easily disproved. The modern day Jews, however, have a direct connection with the ancient Israelites. No one disputes this, aside from a few incompetent dunces.

            And yes, the Jews who emigrated during the mandate period do have ancient ties. the Arabs who emigrated do not. Simple physics old chap.

            Refugees wouldn’t be refugees if Arab armies had not initiated the war in 1948, and in 1967 for that matter. I know it’s hard for you to accept. the “nakba” is a direct result of these wars. I don’t understand why this is Israel’s fault? For defending itself against 5 attacking armies at once? Cute indeed.

          • mxm123

            So cute. A “Jewish state” in which there are no second class citizens. This coming from a guys who uses weasel words to pretend that Israel did not do its share of ethnic cleansing in 1948 and then justifies it as some kind of defensive crap !!!


            “Genetic analysis suggests that a majority of the Muslims of Palestine, inclusive of Arab citizens of Israel, are descendants of Christians, Jews and other earlier inhabitants of the southern Levant whose core may reach back to prehistoric times.”

            Uh oh, and john wants to claim something else. Whose the dunce or the faker. Some how i believe your’e the later.

            “And yes, the Jews who emigrated during the mandate period do have ancient ties. the Arabs who emigrated do not. Simple physics old chap.”

            Genetics beats physics when contradicting johns weasel words.

            “Refugees wouldn’t be refugees if Arab armies had not initiated the war in 1948, and in 1967 for that matter”

            Refugees wouldn’t be refugees if Israel did not set about a pogrom of Nakba and its consequent denial of basic human rights to refugees it deemed inconvenient.

          • john

            “weasel words?” are you some sort of encyclopedia of awesome phrases?

            it really seems that you don’t understand simple facts. in 1948, arab armies initiated a war against israel. aside from getting their asses kicked, because of this aggression, israel was forced to remove threats from within. you would too, wouldn’t you? perhaps not everyone removed was actively fighting against israel, so what should israel do? pass out a questionnaire asking who among them would be hostile? obviously thats ludicrous. israel did what it had to. and they don’t need to apologize for trying to protect itself from literal annihilation.

            in terms of genetics, it has indeed been shown that “Muslims of Palestine, inclusive of Arab citizens of Israel, are descendants of Christians, Jews and other earlier inhabitants.”

            “In 638 CE, the Byzantine Empire lost the Levant to the Arab Islamic Empire. According to Moshe Gil, at the time of the Arab conquest in 7th century, the majority of the population was Jewish or Samaritan.[56] According to one estimate, the Jews of Palestine numbered between 300,000 and 400,000 at the time.[57] After the conquest, the majority of the population (probably including many Jews) became Arabized in culture and language, many also adopting the new faith of Islam.”


            there you have it, the majority of the population at the time was jewish or samaritan (a different sect of jews). palestinians were once upon a time jews who were forced to convert! my gosh, what a revelation. did you even understand the implications of you were reading in that wikipedia article you quoted? i doubt it. so yea, i believe you are simultaneously both dunce and faker.

            refugees in the west bank and gaza live better than the ones in syria and egypt. go to those countries and make some posters. oh wait, most arab countries deny basic human rights to the entire population…go figure.

          • mxm123

            “weasel words?” , no better way describe your excuses for Palestinian suppression.

            No one disagrees that Arabs attacked. What is the heights of hypocrisy and yes “weasel words” is when u claim Israel did no ethnic cleansing. More so after I point u to a direct link that points to such ethnic cleansing happening.

            Continuously pretending that the Israeli settlement pogrom and the apartheid treatment of Palestinians is because of “those Arabs” is about as shameful an excuse as one can get. Especially for a country that it supporters use every opportunity to describe as “just like America”.

            You, Mr weasel Words had pointed to a statement that stated that Palestinians existed only for about 1000 years. And i pointed out the fallacy of that statement by pointing out inconvenient genetics that dispute your baloney. I don’t care if they descended from Canaanites. They were there a long time. Long enough not to be kickd off their lands.

            “1. Sherif Hussein, guardian of the islamic holy places in arabia, said that palestinian ancestors were only in the area for appx. 1000 years. (al-qibl ,MARCH, 1918)”

            Black in Apartheid South Africa lived better than other blacks. So i guess apartheid was wunderbar. Yay !!!

          • mxm123

            “A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17,” he said. “I haven’t checked the data. I’m asking you if this is correct.”

            EU Parliament chief asked a simple question in his speech to the Israeli Knesset. To which he has promptly accused of inciting against Jews.

            Where have we seen such responses before. Totalitarian regimes that don’t want to address the truth.

          • John, your posting is worthy of a considered response. Unfortunately, I was quite busy yesterday and I might not have time to compose a suitable rebuttal today. But I promise you one within the next few days.

          • mxm123

            More half-truth alerts

            “most palestinians in the west bank are under the governance of the palestinian authority” –

            The Palestinian Authority is a provisional authority. Under Johns logic, France was a free country during the WWII because Marshall Petain was a french man !!!

            “the security wall (“separation wall” for all of you apartheid in the west bank believers) is unfortunately necessary, and extremely effective.”

            Except a teeny tiny fact that john misses. The apartheid wall runs thru Palestinian land. When u build a fence, do you build it on your property or steal your neighbors land ?

            “policies carried out by israel are policies of survival,”

            Ah yes, those settlement. Shining examples of “policies of survival”

            Any more half truths john ?

          • john

            wow. normally pro-palestinian opinions dismiss everything outright. i suppose i’ll take “half-truths” as a win.

            most palestinians are in fact under the governance of the PA. get over yourself. the funniest part is that most of them would rather be under israeli governance.

            yes, if my neighbors were trying to blow up my house, i would try and build my fence where i thought i had to, whether or not it was a few feet in deviation from the property line. the west bank palestinians forfeited their right for a normal society when they sent waves of suicide bombers into israel. sorry for the inconvenience…but not actually.

          • mxm123

            half-truth john at it again. Completely side steps the fact that the PA is a provisional authority. The implied narrative that Palestinians are actually free would not fit, if he admits that. So create more straw man arguments in the direction that the Palestinians are actually free.

            If you steal someones land, they usually fight back. Its a bad situation. If steal land and build a fence on their land its usually called apartheid.

            “forfeited their right for a normal society ”

            Well at least we could smoke out johns true intentions. His phony baloney about boycotts being “hateful” and his “classic and misleading tactic of pro-palestinian activists.” are just that. His only goal is make an excuse. Actually any excuse for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

          • john

            Oh boy, regurgitating mxm(Maximilian?) is at it again.
            call it provisional or banana republic or whatever you want. fact is Palestinians are governed by the PA in many areas. israel has been progressively ceding control of governance to that government

            fighting back generally implies attaching the people who committed the supposed crime(army). Blowing yourself up in buses and cafés isn’t fighting back…it’s cowardly and characteristic of subhuman behavior. Don’t bother bringing up Israeli killing civilians in gaza in the West Bank. It’s well known that israel does more than most countries when it comes to protecting civilians on both sides.

            Pretty sure my intentions are nothing like you would have people think. No excuse for ethnic cleansing (if in fact it is taking place). But don’t be a hypocrite and turn a blind eye to the issues stemming from the other side. random question, do you think in sjp group therapy sessions they chant “ethnic cleansing! Ethnic cleansing!” “Has-BA-ra! Has-BA-ra!” “Idf propaganda! Idf propaganda! “It’s like a religion or something.

          • mxm123

            “mass displacement was caused by arab armies initiating the 1948 war.”

            Uh oh, John regurgitating the same old half truth. John never heard of the Naqba and the historical evidence that backs it.

            Egypt shares a border with Gaza. But Israel is the occupational authority. Now that’s really convenient to omit, when a pro-Israeli shill states a half truth.

            John’s solution. If you get kicked out of your house, blame your neighbor for not giving you his house. How wonderful.

          • john

            uh oh, mxm123 regurgitating the same old phrases like, “regurgitating the same old half-truths.”

            yup, arab armies started the war. they are responsible for what happens afterward. anyone with a brain knows that.

            egypt shares a border with gaza. next time you complain about israel not letting in supplies, talk to egypt. i’m sure they will be happy to help their poor unfortunate neighbors.

            if I got kicked out of my house, and my neighbor, someone i thought was my friend, relegated me to the doghouse in his backyard, i would wonder why i cant sleep in his actual house.

            i always wonder why arab countries simply don’t want palestinians to be fully integrated into their societies, rather than languishing in refugee camps. any ideas?

          • mxm123

            Again John ignores the Naqba, a.k.a Israeli ethnic cleansing and focuses on the oft regurgitated one sided tale of “Arab Armies”.

            And goes to ignore the inconvenient fact that Israel is the controlling authority on Gaza. Addressing that would not fit into the “blame Egypt” narrative. Better fiction than fact when spinning Hasbara.

            A neighbor may let u sleep in his house for a night a month or a year. That does not negate the immorality of your house being stolen and the thief blaming the neighbor.

            Why worry about other “arab countries” when Israel has stolen their land. I would worry and wish that Israel returns their land.

          • john

            of course it’s one sided! No one disputes the fact that the Arab armies started the actual war. they should have thought about what would happen to the Palestinians if they decided to come rampaging through like wild animals. so yea, I’ll keep blaming the Arabs for the nakba.

          • mxm123

            And no one (except you) disputes that Jews did their own share of ethnic cleansing. Shocked, i’m really shocked your’e gonna blame Arabs for something (actually everything).

          • john

            israel did what it had to to remove threats from within, as i have said before. you wouldn’t have done any differently.

            also, i am quite curious. how do you deal with the (ironic) fact that when you pay taxes (if you have a job currently, or whenever you get a job), you are sending some of your money to the israeli government via foreign aid? i find that thought to be among the most humorous.

          • mxm123

            Ethnically cleansing people is not a military strategy. Its a political strategy that uses force to implement a political objective.

            What taxes i pay goes to subsidize apartheid. And thats why i don’t buy your baloney about “those other Arab nations”. I don’t find apartheid humorous. Nor do i find the holocaust humorous. I don’t get excited on the suffering of other peoples. At least i have the moral gumption to speak up for them in face of incessant Hasbara.

          • john

            oh, look what we have here, the truth comes out. its not about israel. its about JEWS! my my, the inner anti-semite comes out to play.

            and please, don’t make the usual claim of “hasbara and idf propagandists accuse everyone of being anti-semitic.”

            i urge to to consider making a poster though, for your next rally.

          • mxm123

            Arabs started the war. Jews did their share of ethnic cleansing. Now Mr Weasel words has to introduce the tired old “anti-semitc” canard. Shocker. A person who has no problem demeaning Arabs/Palestinians now cries “anti-semitism”

            As if “anti-semitsm” is such a distant cry for IDF propagandists and the Hasbara crowd. Why deny reality. Such baiting is par for course when dealing with that crowd.

      • mxm123

        Why is a boycott hateful ? Especially when the other side does far worse.

        Every person who comes to the defense of said Palestinians is obliged to ignore every half truth and focus on defending if a criticism is not hateful (but may be anti-semitic !!!) and a boycott is hateful.

        And sure pro-Israeli shills absolutely, positively don’t regurgitate the same old talking points.

        • john

          question…do you practice out loud before you write something?

          • mxm123

            Better than regurgitating the same old pack of Hasbara each time.

          • john

            Hasbara! Hasbara! Keep chanting it. I believe in you.

          • mxm123

            Better than _________ ( self censored here). The same old tired excuses.

          • john

            did i mention that i am the chief IDF propagandist? whoops, totally didn’t adhere to the rules of full disclosure. nah, jk. I’m not actually. the idf does a much better job than i could do.

            now please, don’t be predictable and claim the IDF do a terrible job. they do a gggreat job, like tony the tiger. you get an E for effort though, on leading the charge against israel. sjp all the way! and please, let me know when the next group therapy session is.

          • mxm123

            IDF propaganda. Now what a shocker. Read any israeli newspaper and they themselves admit that IDF has paid bloggers. Has one such ever admitted that. Never. They just focus on their “weasel words” version of “history”. Whether you’re one or not, you’ve learnt well.

            SJP or the ANC, both are / or once laughed at. Wonder why Bibi is crying “anti-semitism’ even louder these days. Hell, i heard even John Kerry is an “anti-semite” these days. The walls of apartheid seem to be crumbling.

          • john

            israel seems to be doing quite well…developing infrastructure, advancing in technological prowess, contributing to the advancement of medical breakthroughs, producing it’s own energy, and securing/developing ties with countries that are constructive in the world. peruse “startup nation” or “the israel test” and you will soon realize that not only is israel to be congratulated on what is has accomplished in a short 65 years…but it should be emulated. perhaps when the palestinians realize it is in their interest to cooperate with israel, rather than hope for it’s destruction, real peace can be achieved.

            Friendly tip…don’t make it your full time job to post angry comments on websites 😉 peace.

          • Guest

            “israel seems to be doing quite well” is a sickening euphemism for settler colonialism and apartheid.

            Also, friendly tip: for the possessive adjective, it’s “its.”

          • mxm123

            Doing well !!! Who cares. I give a rip for its “technological prowess”. Apartheid South Africa had “technological prowess” and all that baloney. What happened.

            Please, please don’t state such falsehoods that it’s lack of Palestinian cooperation that peace has not been achieved. Those are worst form of lies. And u know it.

          • mxm123

            “To use the language of democracy to defend Israeli policy in the West Bank is linguistic fraud. Such fraud is necessary because to honestly defend the denial of democratic rights, for 46 years, to millions of people because they happen to be Palestinians and not Jews, would require language too coarse for the Upper West Side. ” – Peter Beinart in Haaretz

            Do we see the same fraud here ? Yup. That’s what i’ve been calling weasel words.

  • Guest

    To the authors of this letter: You claim your feelings are hurt, or might be hurt. WHAT ABOUT MY FEELINGS?
    Having a lot of feelings doesn’t make you the only one to do so.

  • This column oversimplifies and puts a happy face on a very complex and murky history. I’m sure part of this is due to space limitations–one is forced to simplify in a column ofj ust a few hundred words. But some correction is in order.

    Blumenthal et al write “There were isolated cases in which Jewish forces coerced Palestinians to flee, but there was no mass expulsion”

    This of course depends on what you mean by “Isolated cases” and “mass expulsions”. Israeli historian Benny Morris has documented that between 50,000 and 60,000 Arabs were forced by gunpoint from their homes in Lydda and Ramle in
    July 1948. This is out of 700,000 Arabs that he claims left Israel under various circumstances.

    Both of his figures may be a bit on the low side, but lets not quibble over 10,000 and 50,000 Arabs respectively. And while Morris is undoubtedly a fine historian, we need not accept all his conclusions at face value. I think most Palestinians would disagree with his conclusion that “While the “population exchange” was no doubt traumatic, in the long run both peoples have vastly benefited.”

    Even though they weren’t forced to leave their homes at gunpoint, many fled after hearing stories of well over 100 people being massacred at Deir Yassin. If the authors had been Arab in Israel in 1948, if they had heard stories of the massacre and if they heard that Israeli soldiers were on their way, I am willing to bet they would have fled from their houses as well.

    Israel’s greatest crime was not the forced expulsion of tens of thousands during the Nakba. In war, people often do desperate things that they would never do in peace time. As cruel as the expulsions were, they were understandable in the context of war. Israel’s greatest crime during the Nakba–its original sin, was its refusal to allow the Arabs to return to their houses after the war and its confiscation of Arab property. Even Palestinian books were looted in a “Great Book Robbery” and incorporated into Israel’s National Library.

    The authors also ignore that Israeli settlement in the West Bank is considered an illegal occupation by nearly everyone outside of Israel. Even Israel’s own Legal Council, Theodor Meron, wrote in 1967:

    “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” For more details, see

    The authors also fail to mention the brutality of the occupation. I urge them to watch the Gate Keepers, where they will see former Shin Bet leader Avraham Shalom say:

    “The future is bleak. It’s dark, the future. Where does it lead? To a change in the people’s character because if you put most of our young people in the army, they’ll see a paradox. They’ll see it strives to be a people’s army, like the Nahal unit, involved in building up the country. On the other hand, it’s a brutal occupation
    force, similar to the Germans in World War II. Similar, not identical. And I’m
    not talking about their behavior toward the Jews. That was exceptional, with its own particular characteristics. I mean how they acted to the Poles, the Belgians, the Dutch. . . To all of them… The Czechs. It’s a very negative trait that we acquired,
    to be… I’m afraid to say it, so I won’t. We’ve become cruel, to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population, using the excuse of the war against terror.”

    Nor do the writers mention the campaign of terror against Palestinian farmers in the West Bank carried out with impunity by right wing Israeli settlers. Though Israeli leaders have verbally condemned these attacks, they have done almost nothing to stop them. And though I’m sure it is not official IDF policy, IDF soldiers have been caught on tape watching these attacks and not preventing them. For more info see:

    And see this:

    There are indeed good things about Israel. But the picture presented here paints a happy face that has little to do with the reality faced by Palestinians. I do have some
    reservations about the form the BDS movement has taken, and those in favor of BDS would do well to read this post by by Hussein Ibish explaining why BDS should be aimed at the settlements and not Israel as a whole.

    Still, despite my reservations with the specific tactics of the BDS movement, I have to acknowledge there is ample justification for a boycott.

  • mxm123

    “There were isolated cases in which Jewish forces coerced Palestinians to flee, but there was no mass expulsion.”

    “During the ‘long seminar’, a meeting of Ben-Gurion with his chief advisors in January 1948, the departure point was that it was desirable to ‘transfer’ as many Arabs as possible out of Jewish territory, and the discussion focussed mainly on the implementation.[18]:63 The experience gained in a number of attacks in February 1948, notably those on Qisarya and Sa’sa’, was used in the development of a plan detailing how enemy population centers should be handled.[18]:82 According to Pappé,plan Dalet was the master plan for the expulsion of the Palestinians.”

    “The separation barrier was unfortunately necessary to stop the onslaught of Palestinian suicide bombings of the second intifada, but it doesn’t restrict normal movement.”

    “A UN report released in August 2005 observed that the existence of the barrier “replaced the need for closures ……… but also says that restrictions on movement between urban population centers have not significantly changed.[69]”

    “There is currently an ongoing peace-process with the goal of reaching a two-state solution.”

    “On Friday, it went ahead, announcing that 1,400 more new houses and apartments will be constructed in the contested areas that Palestinians claim as part of their future state.”

    It takes a lot of gumption to blithely make up facts as to how peace loving Israel is. But then are we surprised.

  • mxm123

    “To use the language of democracy to defend Israeli policy in the West Bank is linguistic fraud. Such fraud is necessary because to honestly defend the denial of democratic rights, for 46 years, to millions of people because they happen to be Palestinians and not Jews, would require language too coarse for the Upper West Side. ” – Peter Beinart