Talk:Israel

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This is not a political forum; please restrict all discussion here to discussion about how best to improve the Israel article. Off topic debates, political rants, nonsense poetry, etc. will all be removed as it is added. This is a travel guide and political disputes are utterly irrelevant except insofar as they directly bear upon the experience of a traveller. See Wikivoyage:Be fair#Political disputes for further guidelines.


American Support[edit]

I know this is not directly relevant to travel, but I think the fact that Israel has unconditional American support in terms of foreign relations is most certainly significant to its history. For instance, it was with American weapons that Israel was able to win wars against the Arabs, and even today, Israel continues to receive a lot of funding from American Jewish and Evangelical groups. I'm not here to argue for or against any particular foreign policy, but I feel that U.S. support is such a cornerstone of Israeli and American politics that it feels like ignoring the elephant in the room if we do not mention anything about it. The dog2 (talk) 05:01, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

I disagree. Israel's creation also needed Soviet support. In the 50s-early 60s, its main ally and weapons supplier was France not the US. Nowadays, it also has strong relations with some European states, Jordan, India, and other allies. Within the US, Israel has strong support from most of the Jewish spectrum (not just Orthodox), and among non-Jews, from many people who are secular but value a democracy in the Middle East. So I think what you wrote was a bit misleading or inaccurate, and also not particularly important to add, so I would not include it. However, let's wait to see what other people think. Ar2332 (talk) 07:38, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
American support for Israel since 1967 can be noted, but of course Ar2332 is correct on other points, particularly that France was the most important ally of Israel before 1967 and the Soviet Union was a crucial advocate of the 1947 Partition Plan, though they broke with Israel later. The U.S. was pretty hostile to Israel during the Eisenhower Administration, and neither the Carter Administration nor the first Bush Administration gave Israel anything close to a blank check. Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:01, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
It's also worth pointing out that the overwhelming bulk of U.S. "aid" is actually the U.S. government sending money to foreign countries that has to be spent buying things from U.S. companies, so what it really amounts to is the U.S. government paying American corporations, with a foreign government as the middleman. Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:02, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
The fact that Nixon would go on antisemitic tirades and yet still deliver a last second weapons shipment in 1973 should tell one that this American "support" has everything to do with geopolitics and nothing with religion. Why the even more (compared to the United States) secular and multiparty countries of Europe largely do not see a kindred nation in Israel is beyond me, but maybe that's to do with Germany's and Austria's decision to start courting the Islamic Republic when everybody else justifiedly dubbed them for attacking embassies, the no-no in international relations. At any rate, Israel doesn't necessarily get to choose allies. And in some cases it should in my opinion abandon bad allies like Erdoğan in favor of rapprochement with Kurds and Armenians... But for a travel guide all this is beside the point. I do think Israel requiring a visa off Nicaraguan citizens may have something to do with the policy of Ortega/Murillo towards the middle east, though... Hobbitschuster (talk) 13:00, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
OK, I guess I didn't know about the pre-1967 French support, as most of the European countries, including France, voted in favour of recognising the Palestinian state, while the U.S. voted against it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you look at the modern American political landscape, Republicans tend to support Israel unconditionally, while Democrats, while by no means anti-Israel, can sometimes be critical of Israel over things like the settlement building. My understanding is that as a whole, most Jews vote Democrat, but Orthodox Jews vote Republican. And while we do not have to go into detail in this article, the Jewish population of the U.S. is too small to have that significant an effect on U.S. foreign policy. The Evangelical voters are probably the single most important factor behind the Republican Party's unconditional support for Israel; they want the Jews to kick the Muslims out of the Holy Land and demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome on the Rock to fulfill the prophecy in the Book of Revelation to bring about the Second Coming of Christ, and in fact, they want Israel to go to war with Iran as they believe that to be a prophecy that has to be fulfilled for the Second Coming. Of course, that doesn't mean that the Evangelicals actually like the Jews, but rather they see the Jews as cogs in the wheel needed to bring about the Second Coming; they believe that Jesus will kill off most of the Jews and all the other non-Christians (which means all Hindus, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, etc.) and send them off to hell for all eternity, while the surviving Jews would convert to Christianity and finally accept Jesus as their saviour. So while American support for Israel most certainly has a geopolitical aspect, it is very much a religious one as well. The dog2 (talk) 15:10, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I find it funny that people who often say (and to make this clear I do not mean anybody on this talk page) stuff to the effect that the likes of Al Qaida leaders or the leaders of Iran "don't actually mean" all the religious stuff they keep saying day in and day out are quick to say that American leaders actually do mean all the religious stuff they are saying. If anything, it seems to me more likely that a scion of a billionaire family like Osama bin Laden would be genuine in his warped worldview when it includes him moving to a cave in Afghanistan for a while than a politician being genuine who knows that professing his never ending love for "jeebus" will get him votes and cost him practically nothing. Not least the phenomenon of the closeted Christian homophobe seems to point that way... Anyway, I think leftist Jews often vote Democrat holding their noses as many, many Jews are - and have historically been - very involved in the advancement of the causes of numerous minorities (just look at who the light skinned allies of MLK and the ANC tended to be for one example - Jews and Communists, mostly - or Jewish communists), so they often overlook the "geopolitical antisemitism" of the far left... At any rate, outside of a tiny but very loud minority of the likes of Neturei Karta (who are like what, 300 people?) most Jews are at least implicitly Zionist of some kind. That implicit Zionism can go from "Well I guess we can live with Bibi until the Messiah comes" to "You know, I dislike the Rabbinate, but at least you can get married in Cyprus" to "Well I guess a Jewish state the size of Tel Aviv would be okay" to "You know, the Jordan river has two banks, doesn't it?" However, despite the common portrayal, Jews are not an important voting bloc. They make up a single digit percentage of the electorate and largely congregate in areas that are not "in play" during presidential elections. It is, however, as seen by the example of the AfD in Germany often advantageous for PR among goyish voters to have "Jewish supporters" - especially when the cause is rather bigoted or even antisemitic. The "logic" in this is often "Well they might be saying mean stuff about Muslims, but they have a Jew who says Antisemitism is mostly caused by Muslims these days, and we don't want antisemitism, so maybe let's vote for them". Of course the AfD has a lot of antisemitism in its ranks if one looks even a bit more closely, which is why most Jews do not vote for it. Hobbitschuster (talk) 15:25, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I did mention in my comment that the Jewish population is too small to have that significant an impact on foreign policy. However, white Evangelicals are the single largest voting bloc in the U.S., so they are most definitely a major factor in the unconditionally pro-Israel foreign policy of the Republican party. Notice how Donald Trump has gone after Australia, Canada, Germany, France and so many other traditional U.S. allies, but he has never said a single thing criticising Israel since becoming president; notwithstanding that Malcolm Turnbull and Angela Merkel are both right-wingers as well. The dog2 (talk) 15:52, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

I didn't read through the entirety of these latest comments, but a few quick rejoinders: In 1947, it was the supporters of the Partition Plan (which included France, see the tally here) that voted for the Palestinian state. Those who voted against it were not per se taking a position on whether the Palestinian Arabs should have a state, and in some cases, didn't really give a damn which Arabs ruled the area (and note what the then-Transjordan did with the West Bank and how many U.N. resolutions there were objecting to that - were there any?). Secondly, Orthodox Jews in the U.S. are split - many vote for Republicans and many vote for Democrats. Their position is not at all close to monolithic. Thirdly, many of the anti-Zionists who are not against Zionism for regions of religious solidarity because they are fellow Muslims, and also don't oppose the existence of a Jewish state because they hate Jews, are motivated by the belief that Israel is a kind of colonial entity that displaced native people who were already living there, and this type of thinking became stronger after the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel occupied the remaining areas set aside for the Arab state in the 1947 Palestine Partition Plan and started settling (colonizing) them with Jews. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:15, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
Well of course like everything connected to Israel, the very question of whether Jews, Palestinians both, neither or some supgroup(s) of either are "indigenous" to the area is a matter of debate that we should neither get into here nor does it show any sign of being settled soon... Hobbitschuster (talk) 20:19, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
I agree that this is not the place for that debate. But it's most certainly true that American support has been a very key aspect that has allowed Israel to thrive in such a hostile geopolitical environment, so I think we should mention the U.S. alliance with Israel, but of course in a tone that doesn't indicate approval or disapproval. The dog2 (talk) 21:23, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
Except the phase of life or death for the Jewish state happened before the US became a major ally. Maybe Camp David would not have happened without US help/involvement (though it seems Sadat wanted peace pretty badly after 1973), but Israel had shown by late 1967 that it was going to be here to stay, whatever the Arab countries did or did not do. And iirc the 1973 war was such a disaster early on for Israel because Golda Meir decided to not launch a preemptive strike (as had been done 1967) for fear of a negative US reaction - leading to significant early gains for the Arab armies, before the Israelis could reverse the course of the war... Hobbitschuster (talk) 21:35, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
[Edit conflict] I think the way to add it is to say that Soviet and American support for the 1947 Palestine Partition Plan resolution in the U.N. General Assembly was crucial to its passage, that during the War of Independence, arms from Czechoslovakia were crucial for the Israeli side, and that France was Israel's most important ally and military supplier until 1967 and the U.S. has been Israel's most important ally and military supplier since 1967. And Hobbitschuster, I was explaining reasons for anti-Zionism. I wasn't taking a position on them. I think in understanding European anti-Zionism, it helps to keep in mind all three reasons: Religious solidarity from European Muslims, Jew-hatred, and opposition to anything that smacks of colonialism from Europeans who feel the weight of Europe's colonial history (and even in some cases the injustice of arbitrary boundaries set by European colonial powers in places like the Middle East). Some anti-Zionists are motivated by only one of these things and some by more than one, but I think it's fair to say that all these factors are present within the anti-Zionist movement. And of course there are also a fairly small number of anti-Zionist Jews who oppose the existence of a Jewish state in Israel because they consider it a false messianic state and believe that only God can miraculously reestablish Jewish control over the Land of Israel in the time of the Messiah, whereas any human attempt to do so will only bring disaster to the Jewish people.
I notice that the 1956 Suez Crisis is not mentioned in the "History" section. I think it should be, because it was at the insistence of the U.S. and the Soviet Union that Israeli forces withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza to the previous international border without getting any substantial thing in return (the U.N. stationed observers along the border with Sinai but understandably removed them at the first sign of potential trouble in 1967, leaving the Israeli government to decide what to do about the closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and the massing of Egyptian forces in the Sinai). Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:48, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
Agreed with Hobbischuster's points in the last post. The U.S. helped in 1967, though. And the Yom Kippur War, while indeed a disaster for Israel, also enabled Sadat to adopt the posture that Egyptian honor had been regained through the retaking of a sliver of land on the Sinai, regardless of the fact that any Egyptian claim of victory is highly debatable, and made it easier to agree to a peace deal with Israel. So it's hard to know what might have happened if Israel had instead occupied the African side of the Suez, as they were capable of doing. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:52, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
Speaking of which, would it be accurate to say that Israel's rapid economic development is in large part because of investment from American Jews? Israel is most certainly more developed that virtually any other country in the Middle East. The dog2 (talk) 01:04, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Israel isn't actually that rich. It's GDP per capita is comparable to the likes of the Czech Republic in PPP terms. A large part of Israel's success can be explained by its immigration rate (immigrants tend to be more willing to take economic risks, which might not pay off individually, but do pay off collectively) and lower corruption (If the highest politicians in Israel are corrupt, there's an investigation and eventually trial. If they are corrupt in certain countries, those who say so are jailed or worse) as well as the relatively functioning democracy. For a case study of whether the latter two factors matter, just compare the economic development of Costa Rica and Nicaragua from 1948 (end of the w:Costa Rican Civil War) to 1979 (end of the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua)... Hobbitschuster (talk) 01:24, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Israel is also a hotbed of technology and science. Dog, I think you may be overstating the role of American Jews who aren't dual citizens in Israel. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:50, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
While I will not address any potential reason, this article shows that Jewish people punch way above their population numbers in terms of Nobel prices. And Israel is famously a majority Jewish state. Whether there is any link is for everybody on their own to decide. And again, I am not saying there is any causal relationship nor what the cause is. I am pretty confident an explanation that looks for a "smart Jew gene" is heading down the wrong track, given how genetically similar humans are to other humans and how small the influence of genetics on intelligence seems to be. Hobbitschuster (talk) 12:17, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As a side note, one thing that was pretty surprising and dare I say, heartwarming, was that when Trump enacted his Muslim ban, for the most part, the American Jewish community was among the harshest critics of the ban. I was kind of expecting them to be largely supportive of the ban due to the tensions in the Middle East, but although there were exceptions like Ben Shapiro and Dennis Prager, most of the Jewish community instead chose to stand in solidarity with the Muslims who were affected by the ban.

Speaking of academic achievement, in U.S., you'll find that for the most part, Jews and East Asians (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) outperform the general American population. My hunch is that this is very much due to the culture within these communities, as one thing in common among these communities is the emphasis on studying hard in school and making the necessary sacrifices now so you can enjoy life in the future. Unfortunately, most of the top universities still have discriminatory admissions policies against Asian-Americans, but well, what can you do?

Anyway, back to this article, I guess we can incorporate all the points about the Partition Plan, French support before 1967, and American support since then. Just as a side note, the building of settlements in Palestinian-controlled areas is actually funded in part by American Evangelical Christians, as they want the expulsion of all Muslims from the holy land in order to fulfill a Biblical prophecy. The dog2 (talk) 17:05, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

I vote against including any of this politically charged, sometimes dubiously accurate material in the page. It is not relevant to travel, and there are plenty of other places people can go if they want that. Ar2332 (talk) 17:30, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Nothing that's not unambiguously accurate should be on the page. Do you consider any of the following inaccurate? (1) Soviet and U.S. support was indispensable for the passage of the 1947 U.N. Partition resolution; (2) Czech weapons were of crucial importance to the Haganah in the War of Independence; (3) France was Israel's most important ally and military supplier following independence, until 1967; (4) Israel participated in a war with Egypt called the 1956 Suez Crisis along with the U.K. and France; Israel's army withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza, which it had occupied in 1956, at the insistence of the Soviets and the U.S.; in exchange, the U.N. posted observers to guarantee the demilitarization of the Sinai and free passage of Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran; (5) at the first sign of danger in 1967 (or maybe it was at the demand of Egypt - you may know, and it would be easy to check this), the U.N. withdrew these observers, leaving Israel to decide what to do about the movement of large numbers of Egyptian forces and planes into the Sinai and a blockade of Eilat through closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping; (6) the U.S. has been Israel's most important ally and military supplier since 1967.
If we're going to have any kind of history section (and we already do), I think that highlights that any fair-minded person would agree on should be included, so let's agree on what those highlights are. And as you can see in this thread, some of these highlights are unknown by a large number of people, who have demonstrably false beliefs like the U.S. having been Israel's most important (or even only) ally since independence. Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:03, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Of course the U.S. is not and never was Israel's only ally. Singapore can to an extent be considered an Israeli ally because Israel was the first country to respond when we needed help to build up our army just after independence. And I won't get into details here because of sensitivities, but Singapore's geopolitical situation in some ways mirrors that of Israel, albeit with neighbours that are not openly hostile, so Singapore's good relationship with Israel continues even today. But regardless, I don't think any reasonable person can deny that the U.S. is Israel's most important ally today. As I have said in another thread, simply mentioning that does not necessarily imply endorsement of or opposition to the U.S. position. It's merely the stating of a fact. The dog2 (talk) 19:33, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
And speaking of which, I think we should also mention about Israel gaining control of the Golan Heights from Syria and Sinai from Egypt in the 1967 war. And of course, we should also mention that Israel returned Sinai to Egypt when they signed the peace treaty in 1979. The dog2 (talk) 20:48, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I must say being surprised by the American Jewish community coming out in support of Muslim Americans in light of the Muslim Ban indicates to me a lack of knowledge of the history of Jewish Americans. There are of course a very large and diverse number of viewpoints among Jewish Americans and there have always been, but whichever movement for the emancipation of an oppressed group of people you could think of historically or currently, Jews have often been among the most ardent supporters and over-represented among it. There is a very simple reason for this. Jews experience antisemitism everywhere outside Israel and a position of geopolitical threat in Israel. Both have times where they are barely perceptible and times when they seem (or are) immediately life threatening, but this combined with very clear mentions in the Bible of how to behave to non-Jews (e.g. "Be nice to foreigners, you yourself were foreigners in Egypt") have made many Jews to see the similarity in struggles like African American Civil Rights, Catholic Emancipation, Women's Rights and many other issues to their own struggles. Now the "Palestinian solidarity" movement is a different case, as - and no honest defender of rights of Palestinians (who would then have some stern words to say about Hamas, Fatah and numerous non-Jewish oppressors of Palestinians) who knows anything about anything can deny that - many who proclaim to be members of it couldn't care less about the actual lives of actual Palestinians and just use their (very real) suffering as a bludgeon to beat Israel over the head with. And I have heard anecdotally of quite a few Jews who were asked very uncomfortable questions and pressured into condemning Israel way more than goyish members of the same groups when they were - grudgingly - admitted into "Palestinian solidarity" groups. On the other hand, of course, a "token Jew" works wonders among the simple-minded to deflect accusations of antisemitism, which is why Ahmadinejad invited Neturei Karta to his Shoah denial conference... Hobbitschuster (talk) 22:09, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I think we need to focus on historical events that are 1) relatively uncontroversial, 2) relevant to the traveler.
Looking at the current state of the page, this is mostly the case already. In the "Until the middle ages" section, almost every sentence explains a kind of archaeological ruin you are likely to see. In the "Since World War I" section, most sentences are necessary to explain the borders you will cross, or the demographics of the people you will meet. I would actually prefer to delete a few sentences which do not meet those criteria. On the other hand, I would add a description of exactly which territories were captured in 1967, since that is relevant to travelers. But there is no need to specifically mention 1956, since it did not have long term consequences (for Israel) or border changes.
In any cases, details of alliances and foreign support are not relevant to the traveler. Ar2332 (talk) 11:20, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
I don't think you realize that what you want is for the "History" section of this article to be approached differently from every other article about a country. The philosophy of Wikivoyage has been that travelers should have some basic background on the history and culture of a country, in order not to be entirely ignorant when they arrive. Look at United States of America#History, Germany#History, China#History, South Africa#History, etc. It's good to connect the "History" section with travel-relevant specifics as much as possible, but I think that your concept of relevance to the traveler is not what's been governing "History" sections, and I would ask you again whether the specifics I mentioned above are unambiguously accurate, because contesting their accuracy is different from debating about the overall nature of "History" sections in Wikivoyage country articles - I think that debate is probably best joined in the existing Wikivoyage talk:Country article template#Country history sections thread. Ikan Kekek (talk) 11:40, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────There doesn't seem to be any objection regarding the accuracy of your points. Why don't you go ahead and make the changes? I'll probably butcher it if I do it since I don't know the history as well as you do. The dog2 (talk) 02:41, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

Merenptah stele[edit]

Another user the following comment to "History":

In the Fifth Year of Pharaoh Merenptah (roughly 1208 BC) Israel is mentioned on a stele as having been "laid waste" (likely a propaganda exaggeration), which constitutes the first mention of Israel known to history. Incidentally that same year is also the date of an inscription on behalf of the same Pharaoh mentioning the "Sea Peoples" who are often blamed for the virtual collapse of urban and writing society in the eastern Mediterranean of the time, ushering in - among other things - the "Greek Dark Ages" and the collapse of the Hittite Empire.

I replaced this with:

The first surviving mention of the name "Israel" is in an inscription by the Egyptian ruler Merenptah (roughly 1208 BC), though this may refer to the nation Israel rather than a geographic area.

My issues with the original comment were, in no particular order: 1) It is much too long in proportion to the other content in the History section - no other pre-modern historical event has more than a sentence or two 2) When the stele mentions "Israel" it is likely referring to the Jewish people not to the geographic area of modern Israel, so this is misleading 3) I think Merenptah's mention of the Sea Peoples refers to their attacks on Egypt, not modern-day Israel, and though modern scholars do seem to think that Philistines were descended from the Sea Peoples, this was just one of the Sea Peoples and just one of the ancient nations in modern-day Israel, and anyway this connection is not spelled out in the comment. For these reasons I replaced the comment with a shorter and more focused one. To resolve the resulting edit war, I am taking the discussion here. Does anyone have thoughts? Ar2332 (talk) 07:15, 6 January 2019 (UTC)

I like reading Hobbitschuster's historical accounts, but I think your edit is reasonable. Destination articles are often not places to hold forth at any length about history, especially when it's a bit of a digression. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:54, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Maybe the Peleshet (who have been pretty consistently identified with the Philistines, one of Israel's biblical enemies) should've been pointed out explicitly, but maybe this is indeed too much detail for this article. And where do you get the idea that the stele mentions a people not a geographic area (and wouldn't both be germane for this article?), after all, the history of Israel cannot be divorced from the history of its people. Hobbitschuster (talk) 20:02, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
The phrase in question is "Israel is laid waste and his seed is not", "his seed" seemingly referring to a people not a geographical area. Furthermore, the previous lines mention Canaan, Ashkelon, etc - which, if they are territories, overlap the territory we now call "Israel". I don't think that is likely, it would be like a Russian leader saying "We went to war and defeated the US and Texas", even though Texas was once an independent country it's now part of the US so this wouldn't make sense. Ar2332 (talk) 05:29, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
The "seed is not" line seems to be something of a standard stencil which is found in many Egyptian inscriptions. Still, there has been debate whether it means "their progeny is eradicated" (which, given how history went on, would be at the very least an exaggeration) or whether it means "their stores of harvested grain were depleted/destroyed" (which would imply a settled society). And judging by some of the rambling speeches I have heard, it is quite common to mention "the same place twice". "We're going to invite all the European partners, we'll invite London and Paris and Madrid and Rome and Berlin, we'll have the English leader there, we'll talk to the Spanish bosses..." is entirely something somebody with a certain tendency to ramble would say. The modern English language might have less of a tendency to such ramblings... And even still, it doesn't matter whether the "Israel" mentioned in the Merenptah stele refers to a geographic or an ethnographic unit, both are important to the history of the modern state of Israel. Hobbitschuster (talk) 15:47, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I happen to dig Egyptology and can testify that Pharaonic inscriptions are almost always shameless propaganda, and always full of premade "standard stencils". The classic example is Ramses II's description of the battle of Kadesh, which was a draw but is presented as a resounding victory in the Egyptian sources. However, this stele is indeed the first mention ever of "Israel" known to history. I support Hobbitschuster's point, just for the record. Ibaman (talk) 18:50, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

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