Palestinians Barred From Bathing in Dead Sea

on 18 Comments

Realistic Dove has picked up an unbelievable story about the Israeli army not allowing Palestinians to bathe at the Dead Sea:

Israelis bathing on the north shore of the Dead Sea had not
been pleased with the presence of the Palestinians who they feared
might harm them…
[An IDF spokesman]said that since the opening of the bathing season large
numbers of Palestinians have been coming to the northern Dead Sea
shore, which is the only beach where Palestinian from the West Bank are
allowed to bathe. In some cases, the officer said, violence and
scuffles broke out between Palestinians and Jews.

To his credit, Dove arrives at an inescapable conclusion: "Israel is not South Africa…yet. But slowly, inexorably, Israel is
moving towards a situation that is very similar to that of South
Africa’s during the apartheid years." And he says that the "experience" of Palestinians under occupation may well be worse than that of blacks under apartheid.

I have a somewhat different response. Last year, on a campus tour here, the great Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence showed nauseating photographs of the Israeli army’s routine abuse of Palestinians in the territories, and when uncritical Zionists in his audience rose to shout him down, with a woman law student saying, "Your
perspective is very minor, very exceptional, an extreme view," and invoked Israel’s security,
Shaul responded eloquently:

We always talk about security. Security
is a very powerful word. You know in order to justify the existence of a
society, security is not enough. … I will prove that to you in a black and white way.
What if it was shown, In order to have peace in the Middle East, the only thing you must do, is genocide
all the Palestinians. What will you say, to do it or not?

The woman refused to


Then Shaul said, "

My answer is no. Why no? Because there are moral red lines."

Beautiful. Shaul said that Israel had crossed those moral red lines again and again in ways that had corrupted Israeli society. The Dead-Sea-beaches story is yet another shocking example. And the story is not in the U.S. press, let alone on the front page of the Times, where it belongs. Neither was Yehuda Shaul’s campus tour. That is the bottom line here. Yehuda Shaul is trying to have a large conversation about what has happened to his society, in order to save it (ditto Realistic Dove). But in the U.S., we can’t have that conversation, because we are forcibly invested in an illusion about Israeli democracy. What do we know about the reality of Palestinian life? What are we allowed to know?

18 Responses

  1. Klaus Bloemker
    May 10, 2007, 2:39 pm

    When I was bathing in the Dead Sea in December 2002, there was a Palestinian selling jewlery and other items. I was studying his merchandise and he gave me a cup of tea. He told me he was the only one of his five brothers and sisters from Jericho who got a job.
    I chose two necklaces, not out of pity but because I liked them (so did the women I gave them to). I didn't bargain on the price.
    Before I got on my way he thanked me and said:
    "You helped me – may my god help you." Well, the Moslem God can help everyone, even me.
    Can you imaginge a Jew saying the same thing to a gentile? No, you can't because he is the God of the children of Israel and not of mankind.

  2. Phil Weiss
    May 10, 2007, 2:55 pm

    Klaus, I can imagine a Jew saying that. There's a lot of personal religiosity, like generosity, that has nothing to do with various literal scriptural programs. phil

  3. Steve
    May 10, 2007, 9:59 pm

    Again, I would like to emphasize integrity.

    Details may be painful.

    The Palestinians have not been able to find a decent reply to the Jewish immigration, and many were engaged in indecent banditry.

    Instead of sympathizing with the refugees, murder became an option.

    Are we going to murder the Guatemalan and Mexican illegal immigrants here?

    So, please encourage the Palestinian people to find a decent civil reaction by now.

  4. Anonymous
    May 11, 2007, 11:59 am


    "It would appear that the ideological bias flows almost naturally from the basic immorality of excavating in occupied territory: The rush to declare that this is Herod's grave recalls various vain attempts by local archaeologists to deceive the world with sensational discoveries that have little connection to reality and which dissipate like soap bubbles: beginning with the dubious Josiah inscription, which turned out to be a forgery; continuing with the fraudulent James Ossuary, reputed to be that of Jesus' brother; the family tomb of Jesus' family, that recently caused a baseless sensation; not to mention the cave discovered in the Judean Hills a couple of years ago, which, based on a few blurred carvings on its walls, was attributed to John the Baptist, with the same certainty and insistence that the same Jerusalem professor is now attributing four broken stones to Herod."

    link to

  5. Klaus Bloemker
    May 11, 2007, 12:45 pm

    red lines

    Phil quotes Yehuda Shaul asking a Zionist-favoring woman law student (on an American campus):
    "What if it was shown, in order to have peace in the Middle East, the only thing you must do is genocide all the Palestinians. What will you say, to do it or not?" – The woman refused to answer.

    If I had been the woman I would have retorted: 'A more plausible supposition is that if it was shown, in order to have peace in the Middle East, the only thing all Jewish Israelis must do is go back to the countries they or their parents/grandparents come from. What will you say, to do it or not?' – What would Shaul have said? "No, because there are moral red lines"?

    I remember an article by Saul Bellow in the New Yorker after he had visited Israel after the 1974 war making this point in the sense that Israelis he had talked to expected this to be the only way out – and expected the Europeans to evacuate them. (Bill Pearlman are you listening?)

  6. Klaus Bloemker
    May 11, 2007, 1:28 pm

    I should ad that the Israelis Saul Bellow quoted (who expected the Europeans and not the Americans to send an evacuation-fleet) had implicit the same logic as Iran's president: 'Israel is the fault not of the Israelis but of the Europeans – so they have to take us back.'

  7. Klaus Bloemker
    May 11, 2007, 3:27 pm

    Israel – a crime scene

    When I was going to Israel in December 2002 (when everybody was afraid to go there), I was thinking 'why shouldn't I take the risk of entering a crime scene called 'Israel''. Cynically speaking: the German Jews had their
    risk in criminal Nazi-Germany, why shouldn't I at least
    partly respond in kind.

  8. LOL
    May 12, 2007, 9:44 am


    Are you saying Germany should take back the Israeli descendants of all German Jews that were slaughtered in the Holocaust? Thanks! You sound like the kind of guy who would welcome them as your next door neighbors!

    Oh yeah, while you're at it, are you going to travel to the villages in Poland and the Ukraine and Moldavia whose residents slaughtered Jews who were returning to their homes and villages after the Holocaust? Are you going to persuade those villagers to welcome the children or grandchildren of the people their parents and grandparents slaughtered?

  9. Klaus Bloemker
    May 12, 2007, 11:27 am

    I tell you, most Germans would rather see the return of the decendants of the emigrated or killed Jews as their neighbors than other groups of immigrants. And if this would bring peace to the Middle East – all the more so. At least I think so. But unlike at the time Bellow wrote his article, it's probably no longer an option. (The Soviet Union added one more million to Israel.)

  10. Klaus Bloemker
    May 12, 2007, 12:58 pm

    "There is always a problem – this is Israel"

    When I was driving around in the West Bank, there was Jeep and a couple of Israeli soldiers standing by the side of the road. I stopped, walked up to them and asked:"Is there a problem?" One of them answered: "There is always a problem, this is Israel." – That was in a nutshell what Israel is all about.

    But also: I picked up a hitchhiking soldier in the Negev who wanted to get back to his base. I was speeding and got flagged down by the highway patrole. I showed my German passport and explained to the policeman that I was just doing the Israeli army a service by taking one of their soldiers back to base in time. He replied:"So you want the army to pay the ticket?" He talked to the soldier in Hebrew and let me got.

    You see, we German Stormtroopers and the Israeli highway patrol get along fine.

  11. Dieter
    May 12, 2007, 1:07 pm

    Mr Bloemker:

    Which so-called "human being" would you most want to be your neighbor- the Jew, the Nigger, or the Arab?

  12. Klaus Bloemker
    May 12, 2007, 2:22 pm

    It's a shame that a German Dieter is posting this trash. But let me tell the rest of you: the 'Dieters' are just a nuisence not a threat unlike the 'Dieters' in Israel.

  13. Dieter
    May 12, 2007, 3:08 pm

    Please, Mr. Bloemker, answer the question.

  14. Klaus Bloemker
    May 12, 2007, 4:12 pm

    Dieter, Germany should relocate the West Bank ('Judea and Samaria') settlers to where you live – they will take care of you, because they think the same way you do.

  15. Rowan Berkeley
    May 13, 2007, 1:33 am

    I don't see any value in phil's moralism.

  16. phil weiss
    May 13, 2007, 12:56 pm

    I'd eliminate the post that uses the word Nigger– I censor this blog– but I feel like it's been responded to forcefully. I find it offensive.
    Also, Rowan, why dont you find my moralism a value here? Phil

  17. Klaus Bloemker
    May 13, 2007, 2:47 pm

    Phil, even worse than `Nigger` is the category "so-called `human being`".
    Dieter obviously doesn`t realize that if it hadn`t been for the cold war, when the rest of the West needed the Germans, we might well have been put into Dieter`s category ourselves.

  18. Rowan Berkeley
    May 16, 2007, 7:01 am

    The reason I sometimes make these anti-moralist remarks is that my only claim to the respect of others is my dystopian realism.

    I present a world in which all idealism is merely brainwashing.

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