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July 21, 2020

Kyle Kulinski vs Sam Harris on Israel

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:49 pm

I was going through Sam Harris interviews lately, and stumbled upon this video by Kyle Kulinski. Sam Harris, and to a lesser extent David Pakman, are pro-Israel while many on the Progressive left are very critical of it. Now, you can definitely see people’s various biases and tendencies in the following clip, such as Sam Harris’ equating Hamas with ISIS, etc. but I found Kyle Kulinski’s objection to be the most off-base, and I need to call it out. Normally I find Kyle to always argue in good faith, intellectually honest, scrupulous about giving examples and careful to say reasonable things. But not here. And that speaks to the defensibility of the position itself:

Sam Harris: “What if the roles had been reversed, and they had all the power?”

Wait what? So Kyle’s argument is that – Sam Harris may be right about a massacre of Jews occurring if you switched positioned today – but if you roll it back to 1947, with Arabs having superior firepower things would have ended up roughly the same but reversed.

Really Kyle, if positions were switched in 1947 then there would not be a massacre? If anything there would have been an even bigger massacre, if the combined Arab armies actually won back then!

In fact, we don’t need to guess. For starters, let’s look at the actual Arab leaders at the time. Let’s look at what Al Husseyni, the grand mufti of Jerusalem said over and over before 1947. He went and met with Hitler and then helped the Nazis:

Adolf Hitler talking to Grand Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini

In his radio broadcasts, Ai Husseini is reported to have said things like “Arabs, arise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.” This is the same man who Egypt later placed at the head of the first “All-Palestine government” in Gaza, their first attempt to create a Palestinian state.

Before 1947, we can look at the actions of Arabs in Mandatory Palestine, and their revolts against Jewish immigration, and massacres against unarmed Jews, but one can argue that these would not have escalated into a full-scale assault on Jews in the Yichud at the time. Instead, for that, we can look at leaders of Arab states outside the area.

Look at what the Secretary-General of the Arab League openly warned in 1947 about Arabs everywhere: that the establishment of a Jewish state in the region would lead to “a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.”

Kyle, what are you talking about? I guess to be charitable to your point, we can see what was actually done with Jews by TransJordan, a much more benign state, run by Hashemites who had a secret peace agreement with Israel. After capturing Jerusalem, they renamed themselves to trans-Jordan, gave all Palestinian Arabs citizenship (good) and then expelled the Jews from Jerusalem. An Arab commander remarked, “for the first time in 1000 years, not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter [of Jerusalem]“.

Jordan continued to raze synagogues and turned them into chicken coups, vandalized the Jewish cemeteries on the mount of olives, and Islamicized the whole region.

Okay, so it was “only” ethnic cleansing, so they didn’t kill Jews like the Farhud in Iraq, or the official policies in Iraq, or like the anti-Jewish riots in Egypt in 1945 or bombings in Cairo, or the other 900,000 Jews who had to run for their life from Arab countries where they lived for hundreds of years. Here is a more extensive list of Jewish expulsions, including from Arab countries, so thinking it won’t happen “this time” or some other time should be taken with a tablespoon of salt.

Kyle, why don’t you ask Siri “how many Jews live in {Syria | Iraq | Libya | etc. }? Seriously, go ahead and ask. Now why is the world silent about all those refugees? Because they were resettled in many countries, including Israel and they and all their children have citizenship. The same should have happened to Palestinian refugees. We should have the same today, for native-born Lebanese who are denied citizenship because they have a Palestinian grandfather, and are therefore kept stateless to this day. In the past, I have written about regional solutions to end this shameful situation.

So no, you don’t have to guess what would happen if the Jews had been defenseless vs various Arabs. You saw it happen all throughout the middle east after 1947. Whether due to Pan Arabism, or Islamic supremacy, or other reasons, they were pissed that Jews had formed their own state. The fact that Israel continues to exist today as a state is because they were able to defend themselves against all those seeking to destroy them — not just their state but actually intending to commit genocide.

So, as Sam Harris says, “intentions matter”. But, just because one side is vastly more powerful, does that mean they can’t do better? Yes, they can and they should. They should push back against war hawks and supremacists in their own government. Kyle put out a far better video a year prior, included below, explaining why intentions aren’t the only thing that matters.

But, I agree with Sam Harris on this: if you are intellectually honest, you have to admit the facts I laid out above. Attempting to say “well, maybe a genocide wouldn’t have happened” is not enough – what group of people would lay down their arms and take such a foolish risk? Here is what was said after the war by the leaders of the new Jewish state:

We must start working in Jaffa. Jaffa must employ Arab workers. And there is a question of their wages. I believe that they should receive the same wage as a Jewish worker. An Arab has also the right to be elected president of the state, should he be elected by all. If in America a Jew or a black cannot become president of the state—I do not believe in the quality of its civil rights. Indeed, despite the democracy there, I know that there are plots that are not sold to Jews, and the law tolerates this; and a person can sell his plot to a dealer on condition that it not be bought by a Jew … Should we have such a regime—then we would have missed the purpose of the Jewish State. And I would add that we would have denied the most precious thing in Jewish tradition. But war is war. We did not start the war. They made the war. Jaffa waged war on us, Haifa waged war on us, Bet She’an waged war on us. And I do not want them again to make war. That would be not just but foolish. This would be a “foolish hasid.” Do we have to bring back the enemy, so that he again fights us in Bet She’an? No! You made war [and] you lost.27

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