Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NEEDED: MORE TABLE THUMPING....Rosa Brooks writes today about (shhh!) the power of AIPAC and the broader Israel lobby to enforce an atmosphere in which "it just isn't possible to have a civil debate about Israel, because any serious criticism of its policies is instantly countered with charges of anti-Semitism." Well, maybe so, and I agree with her that the recent attacks on Human Rights Watch were way over the top. But here's the part that's always struck me as the most remarkable:

How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity? Skepticism a willingness to ask tough questions, a refusal to embrace dogma has always been central to the Jewish intellectual tradition. Ironically, this tradition remains alive in Israel, where respected public figures routinely criticize the government in far harsher terms than those used by Human Rights Watch.

Anyone who reads the Israeli press even occasionally recognizes that this is true. Internal debate in Israel is robust and covers a remarkably wide spectrum. And not just among fringe pressure groups either. This diversity extends all the way to top politicians and gets aired on the op-ed pages of Israel's biggest newspapers. You can routinely read stuff there that would curl your nose hairs if it were printed in the pages of the Washington Post.

Of course, that's just generally true of American opinion, which is constrained to a surprisingly narrow range of views. We could use more table thumping over here.

Kevin Drum 12:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (75)

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Comments

This country is for sale Kevin. That's the problem.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on September 1, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

OT Repubs offices in Alaska raided by the FBI,offices included (R)Ted Stevens and his son (R)Ben Stevens. Good Lord!!!

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 1, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't that people are "reflexively pro-Israel," so much as that they are reflexively supportive of the hard-liners in Israel. As you point out, within Israel itself there is a wide spectrum of opinion about what is really good for Israel, and is isn't necessarily what the US Israel lobby thinks is good for Israel.

We could certainly use some more robust discussion about what is good for the US, too.

Posted by: Mimikatz on September 1, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

It was while I was watching the movie about Freida Kahlo that I realized how constrained the range of discussion is in the US. If an American paper published an op-ed by real Marxist or socialist the sky woulld fall. The right has so narrowed the terms of debate that the public has forgotten where the left acutually is.

When I was younger I used to laugh at Billy James Hargis and his "Christian Crusade Against Communism". Remembering all the while that the early Christian church held all property in common.

Posted by: Stuart on September 1, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rosa Brooks writes today about (shhh!) the power of AIPAC and the broader Israel lobby to enforce an atmosphere in which "it just isn't possible to have a civil debate about Israel, because any serious criticism of its policies is instantly countered with charges of anti-Semitism."

Great. Now Kevin's repeating the LIES made up by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt about the enormous power of the pro-Israel lobby and AIPAC. Why can't liberal and Ned Lamont Democrats like you and Michael Moore talk about the issue of Israel without lauching into Jew-baiting? Look, if you libs didn't launch a jihad against Joe Lieberman for supporting his and Bush's War on Islamofascism, then maybe you would be given the benefit of the doubt on your attacks on Israel. But after what you did to Joe Lieberman, you libs simply can't be trusted anymore. You can only blame yourself for being questioned on whether or not you are anti-semitic and anti-Jewish.

Posted by: Al on September 1, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe more table thumping should occur here. However, a publisher probably thinks twice when Rove or Cheney (or an assigned toady) calls threatening dire repercussions for straying into unacceptable territory. It's probably pretty scary what the IRS, FBI, CIA, NSA, FCC and a host of other alphabet monsters could do to a newspaper, radio/television station or magazine if you REALLY pissed off the powers that be. And that's just going after the business side of the equation. What do they have on some of these people regards their personal lives? What could they create and disseminate even if it wasn't there to begin with? Bush is capable of almost anything and if there's one thing that royally (pun intended) pisses him off it's being challenged. Thump away if you like. But keep your records in order for the audit. And tell your wife those pictures with the 3 hookers someone slipped in the mail are photoshopped,(Yeah honey, right!?).

Posted by: steve duncan on September 1, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity

Survivor guilt.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 1, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

That will all change when Rupert Murdoch buys up all the Israeli media outlets.

Posted by: Red on September 1, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Al is getting more and more annoying.

Can we somehow have him meet the fate of the others like him, e.g. Charles, who no longer show up here?

Posted by: gregor on September 1, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Americans shy away generally from talking about politics and religion. It is one of the hallmarks of American "debate." I think it's very self-destructive.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

Posted by: Alan Tomlinson on September 1, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

What we need is more forthright, honest politicians. Seriously. There are plenty of principled people out there who would value principle over staying in office. Let's start electing them.

Posted by: The Fool on September 1, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity?

Come to think of it, how did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American identity? I could give a shit less about Israel. Last I checked, they aren't mentioned in the U.S. constitution.

Posted by: Charlie Bucket on September 1, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about table thumping, but it's certainly true that in an era of low-turnout elections in large, expensive constituencies legislators (and, under this President, administrations, are hyper-responsive to organized interests. In domestic affairs there is some balance among these interests -- if you're not on the trial lawyers Christmas card list you're on the Chamber of Commerce's, for example, and vice versa.

There is nothing similar in the field of foreign affairs. Indeed, this helps explain the general disinterest among politicians -- and especially among Democrats -- in the whole subject during the 1990s. Israel is the exception, and pro-Israel groups the one national organized interest with a foreign policy agenda.

Of course it is also true that since Anwar Sadat's murder in 1981 there has never been an Arab leader who appealed to the American public's imagination. Israel's enemies have been a remarkably unsympathetic group, which means that Israel's supporters have ready foils in American public debate.

This would have less of an impact if Americans had a stronger sense of their own country's interests in the Middle East -- if they were disposed to ask, for example, why American aid should help make it possible for the Israeli governemnt to finance settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River, stirring up the local Arabs and serving no conceivable American interest. Or, whether Israel sought to notify the American government beforehand when it began attacking targets in Lebanon tenuously if at all related to Hezbollah.

Americans are prone to take for granted that their own interests are not jeopardized by the conduct of friendly governments, but that is nonetheless the way to appeal to them if one is concerned that Israeli actions are unwise. One will never get anywhere trying to persuade Americans that we ought to object to Israeli actions because Palestinians and other Arabs feel oppressed or dealt with unjustly -- which is the gist of most international criticism of Israel. We are reading a lot of comment nowadays about how unpopular Americans are among Arabs, but that coin has two sides.

Posted by: Zathras on September 1, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Table thumping - isn't that what Rummy did the other day? Isn't that what Bush and Cheney and Lieberman have been doing all along? We need more of that?

Posted by: marcel on September 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know where the reflexively pro-Israel feeling comes from (post-WWII Jewish identity plays a huge role), but I think it is no longer quite so reflexive among younger Jews, since we grew up in an America the didn't force many of us to define our identity defensively. Lack of anti-semitism in one's hometown makes one less likely to define oneself as strongly through Judaism alone, and less likely to identify by default with one's co-religionists, rather than one's natural political allies, which at least in my case is the more dovish wing of Israeli popular opinion.

Posted by: jfaberuiuc on September 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Davis: Survivor guilt.

But there are plenty of survivors living in Israel, where the debate is more robust. And (wholly qualitative anecdote coming) I know a number of survivors here in Chicago who roundly criticize Israel's foreign and military policies. Seems it has more to do with the inability of an increasing number of Americans to brook any political discussion that involves nuance and gray area.

Posted by: shortstop on September 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

If you are advocating for more "debate" in the likes of Michael Savage and Ann Coulter, then, no thank you.

Posted by: Jon Karak on September 1, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

All true. I find it difficult to be optimistic about a long term solution for Lebanon until the country is partitioned and Israel forced to negotiate with a hypothetical Hezbollah-led government directly, but there is much that Israel, America, and the international community can do to to improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Where is the talk of a "new deal" or "Marshall Plan" for the territories to provide every Palestinian head of household with a job (sweeping the streets, rebuilding infrastructure), and an income - even if Israel continues its effective blockade. What we know is that middle class people tend to be more moderate, and if the Palestinian leadership won't be responsible it would seem that burden falls in everyone else's lap, but most of all Israel's.

Posted by: Linus on September 1, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't that people are "reflexively pro-Israel," so much as that they are reflexively supportive of the hard-liners in Israel.

Seems it has more to do with the inability of an increasing number of Americans to brook any political discussion that involves nuance and gray area.

Where I live, there is this ongoing phenomenon of which Im hardly the first person to comment: the absolute awe felt by Christian evangelicals that the State of Israel was re-established after so many years and the fact (in their minds) that this is one the end times signs of the second coming.

Thus, everything concerning Israel is seen through a sacred prism that cannot be questioned. Nuance is for ungodly liberals who do not perceive the overriding dichotomy of good vs. evil.


Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 1, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity?

I would argue that the statement above is not accurate and that the actual situation is much more complex. From Michael Massing's critique of Mearsheimer and Walt, The Storm Over the Israel Lobby:

"...On most issues, Jews are quite liberal, and the issue of Israel is no exception. J.J. Goldberg, the editor of the Forward, observes that opinion surveys consistently show that "a majority of American Jews favor Palestinian statehood, and that a significant majority favor ceding a significant amount of territory on the West Bank and withdrawing from the settlements."

Posted by: Wonderin on September 1, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, that's just generally true of American opinion, which is constrained to a surprisingly narrow range of views.

I don't know if it's surprising, but it certainly is narrow. And this:

If an American paper published an op-ed by real Marxist or socialist the sky woulld fall.

is spot on.

Like I've always said - you can do whatever you want in this country, as long as everyone else is doing it too.

Posted by: craigie on September 1, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that American pro-Israeli feelings have something to do with the fact that for years that little nation has been the sole beacon of real Western democracy in that entire area? Try to imagine the wide diversity of opinion described by Drum in Israel, in nations like Syria, Iran, old Iraq, or any of the rest.

Posted by: tammi on September 1, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAI=It's O.K. If You Are Israel is ALL we need to know!

Posted by: R.L. on September 1, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Try to imagine the wide diversity of opinion described by Drum in Israel, in nations like Syria, Iran, old Iraq, or any of the rest.

I don't have to use my imagination because there is a wide diversity of opinion in those countries.

Also, your "beacon of real Western democracy" idea is over-stated. Do a little research on the historical treatement of non-Jews in Israel, right up to this day.

Israel has good points and bad points. Don't get carried away.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 1, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

One factor is that AIPAC and the Israeli lobby operates the same as the NRA, AARP or any of the other host of "special interest" lobbies that are a cancer on the body politic; it's always you're with us 100 percent or you're against us, no compromise, no questions -- ever! It just seems more inappropriate when the "special interest" involves foreign relations.

I used to work for a U.S. Senator from Wyoming who told me this story. When he first ran for the Senate in the 1970s he addressed the issue of the Middle East exactly once when he was asked a question during a campaign event. His response was a (he thought) non-controversial "we should be an honest broker" and take an "even-handed" approach kind of thing. It merited one paragraph in an article in a weekly newspaper whose circulation was less than 4,000. My senator wins election and in the first week -- first week -- he is in office, he is visited by a member of the Israeli Knesset and an AIPAC lobbyist, news clip in hand, demanding to know what he meant by things like "honest broker" and "even-handed." The senator was both intimidated and impressed by that kind of network. He quickly got the first of several AIPAC-sponsored "tours" of the Middle East.

The "Jewish vote" is insignificant in Wyoming, as it is in many states, so my senator made the obvious political call that he had nothing to gain (except of course integrity and our national interest) by ever bucking the AIPAC point of view, which universally sides with the Israeli right.

Later, this senator, as a Republican conservative, began allying himself with evangelicals who, of course, are especially hard core on U.S. support for not just Israel but the far right of Israeli politics as "God's will" -- ironically because it will mean Jews will convert to Christianity and bring about the end of the world. Hard to have a debate with someone who sincerely believes THAT!

So, the question to me is not why the U.S. is reflexively supportive of Israel regardless of the common sense of the position, but why the "friends of Israel" here in the U.S. are so hard line. The answer, I'm afraid, is it is just part of our political culture, and so we have no more thoughtful debate on foreign policy than we have on gun control or abortion or just about anything else you can name.

Posted by: Scott on September 1, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think there is a point here about freedom of debate and respect for divergent opinions in a country is under attack by terrorists. If Israel can sustain freedom of speech with actual missiles falling on their cities, surely we can. The idea that terrorism somehow invalidates the Bill of Rights is substantively refuted by Israel, where dissent is not equated with treason.

Posted by: Roberta on September 1, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Moderates seriously consider the sensitivities of extremists who represent ideologies based on well accepted platitudes, and allow them to dominate emotional issues based on righteous morality. Support for Israel's militant territorial aggression is just one example.

Warren Jeffs is another example of moderates allowing extremists to act out their logical conclusions of an ideology. Moderates didn't want to confront the child molesting and welfare cheating of a self proclaimed religious leader who drew authority from revered religious texts. Moderate Muslims have done the same thing as moderate Mormons.

Moderate Christians allow the rhetoric of rabid preachers like Rod Parsely or John Hagee without opposition because of respect for their beliefs. Extremists draw their authority from the same revered religious texts that moderates use for their own faith. Confronting extremists also means confronting their own faith, which puts them in a double bind. Moderates cling to their beliefs rather than confront the ideologues who abuse them. Non-confrontation is safer economically, physically and emotionally. Moderates desire stability, even a very restrictive stability, over uncertainty.

Political moderates allowed the hysterical fear of Iraq's military potential to be used to invade and occupy a country that posed no threat. Little critical analysis or debate was offered because moderates were unwilling to pay any political price for their skepticism to the emotional exhortations to strike out after the 9/11 attacks. Political moderates are doing it again right now with lame responses to the demonization of Iran, which will probably lead to world wide conflagration.

One only has to look at the respect Mr. Drum pays to the thinking of people like Suzanne Nossel to understand the legitimacy moderates provide to those who desire to impose their authority on others. It is very frustrating, and I think it will lead to much suffering.

Those who do vociferously oppose the extremists have been marginalized and accused of extremism themselves. Moderates, like the extremists they provide cover for, prefer to confront those who argue from a different point of view and reject the platitudes that have served the establishment and the social psyche. Establishment opponents are smaller, weaker adversaries, who do not derive their arguments from the well worn religious or political texts that have historically been part of the milieu of political or philosophical discourse. The narrow range of views available for debate in the US is a direct consequence of the moderates' inability to critically examine their own beliefs.

Posted by: Hostile on September 1, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The difference is that public debate about Israel in Israel by Israelis is fundamentally about Israel, while public debate about US support for Israel in the USA is fundamentally about US control of Middle Eastern oil, which is the fundamental reason for US support of Israel as a regional military superpower.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 1, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry. Arguing at this point in history for more "Marxist and socialist" points of view is just pathetic. Why don't we get more absolute monarchists, Confucianists, Falangists and followers of Lyndon Larouche as well? You suffer from a serious lack of imagination if you are proposing that arguments based on a discredited murderous ideology represents a serious voice of dissent. You're correct that that the media stifles dissent and that we need a wide range of opposing viewpoints. But I've read plenty of Marxists and Socialists in my time. If you published any of them in the NYT the sky would hardly fall in, more likely their ludicrous arguments would simply serve as fresh ammunition to the Right.

Posted by: Vanya on September 1, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'd hazard that it's a lot easier for Israelis to believe in the the good intentions of other Israelis. Basically, I would imagine that the ground assumption of all Israelis is that Israel has a right to exist and the discussion is over the best tactics to use in preserving and defending that right. Faith that this is a shared assumption makes it a lot easier to make, and receive harsh criticism of particular policies which some perceive might be damaging this goal.

In contrast, it wouldn't surprise me if Israelis (and others) simply don't trust the motivation of groups like HRW or the UN (imagine that!). They see any criticism as coming with the intention of undermining the country's existance. In some cases, this distrust is almost certainly well placed (though I believe it's misplaced in the case of HRW).

The reason that discussion of Israeli policies in the US doesn't approach the level of robustness which Israel has internally is that I don't think that either side has any faith in the motivations of the other (and they're probably right not to), and that limits the discussion.

Essentially, there are some folks who truly believe that ensuring continued existance of Israel is a key National Security objective, and there are some who don't see that it matters much at all. It's going to be hard for members of these two groups to have much of a discussion about Israeli tactics for ensuring its survival, since they're operating with such different assumptions.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 1, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

TWAndrews wrote: Essentially, there are some folks who truly believe that ensuring continued existance of Israel is a key National Security objective ...

Now why would that be?

What is there in the Middle East that could possibly be "key" to US "national security"?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 1, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't that people are "reflexively pro-Israel," so much as that they are reflexively supportive of the hard-liners in Israel.

Spot on.

Posted by: Gregory on September 1, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

From the referenced article: "...it just isn't possible to have a civil debate about Israel, because any serious criticism of its policies is instantly countered with charges of anti-Semitism."

Too true, and very disappointing over at Josh Marshall's main site. I'm thinking of how he lightly dismissed Richard Cohen's "Israel was a mistake" column.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on September 1, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The SEC and the FDA are examples of Marxist institutions. Income tax and corporate regulation are Marxist ideas.

Bolshevism and Stalinism are extremist ideologies moderate socialists did not confront with enough zeal to prevent taking political control, out of respect for the legitimacy of the ideology. The moderates were the first to be eliminated for their objective disagreement.

A similar purge of moderates in the State Department took place after Bush became president, although they were not executed or placed in a gulag. Yet. Nevertheless, the result was a radicalizaiton of foreign policy that led to war, occupation, and the deaths of countless innocents that few moderates were willing to confront.

Posted by: Hostile on September 1, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting observation on the narrowness of political debate in the US. Partly because de Tocqueville mentioned it almost 200 years ago. For a whole host of reasons, political debate has been pretty narrow for most of the time in American politics.

Funny remark by Lamarr, because it's just hard to get worked up about Richard Cohen's idiocies anymore - or that of the whole Post editorial board. For some bizarre reason the LA Times and the W Post have decided that they really need to have their editorial pages filled with know-nothing conservatives of different stripes. Broder, Krauthammer, Will, Cohen, Mallaby, etc.

Yup that'll bring in readers!

Posted by: Samuel Knight on September 1, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

A few observations.

1. Discussing Israel is like discussing a friends mother. Keep it positive and youll be OK. The friend can complain about her but be careful to agree in a sympathetic way without piling on.
2. US Jews often have an idealistic view of Israel much like I have of my mother now that I dont live with her. Thats because her day to day decisions dont usually impact my life in a material way. However, I was a very vocal critic growing up and living with her.
3. I suspect that the view of US Jews toward Israel is not much different than that of a naturalized citizen toward the country of their birth. Or for that matter the attitude of any native born American with a very strong ethnic identity toward their ethnic homeland.

Posted by: Bob on September 1, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Best analogies I've ever seen on this issue. Here's to common sense.

Posted by: alex on September 1, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

RE: Observation #3, above.

Obvious exceptions for dissidents, refugees or long resident groups like Cuban Amercans which obviously have a beef with the regimes running their ethnic homelands.

Posted by: Bob on September 1, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, please explain how Israel has obtained the revered status of Friend's Mother, while Iran or Palestine or China or Mexico has not.

Posted by: Hostile on September 1, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think part of it is the parliamentary form of government, and, in some countries, the proportinal vote. Many more voices can be heard and placed in office. Officeholders are more immediately accountable.

Posted by: Edna on September 1, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK


Hosile,

Are you trying to say that, generally speaking, Mexican Americans aren't a bit sensitive about the rabid right wing anti-immigrant rhetoric? And, as corrupt as the Palestinian Authority was under Yassir Arafat, didnt Arab Americans generally defend him against non-Arab criticism?

I think the relationship is the same. Besides, my point was not that you cant criticize someone elses mother (to carry forward the analogy) - particularly when the stakes are high - but dont expect a warm reception or the child to publicly criticize either.

Posted by: Bob on September 1, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I always wonder how politicians justify the statement that "Israel is a key strategic ally of the US in the region."

Key Ally?

Has Israel EVEN ONCE sent troops to back up the US in any conflict, even a local one we've fought on their behalf?

Has Israel EVEN ONCE let US troops stage an invasion or support or supply ops on their soil?

Does Israel have any (significant) oil reserves?

Does Israel supply the US with any vital commodity that we can't get anywhere else?

Does Israel take vital part in negotiations with other regional parties on our behalf?

Does Israel manufacture any products vital to the US economy or security?

Does Israel loan the US money?

Does Israel share vital intelligence or military technology with the US? (I know the US shares with them. . . )

I think that, as an ally, Israel is a lot more trouble than they're worth.

They certainly cost the US taxpayer more than any return.

And there are certain standards of democracy and freedom that they could uphold to show gratitude for the help we give them - yet they decline.

They could even, you know, obey the UN resolutions against them, in return for, you know, the UN giving them their own fucking country.

I can't see any pragmatic (ie. non-religious-mythology-based) reason why we have any strategic interest in the nation of Israel at all.

I can certainly understand why Americans have a relationship with people of Jewish ethnicity. America has a lot of Jews, we went up against Hitler for them (among other reasons) in WWII, they represent an historically opressed minority, which tends to resonate in the American conscience, particularly after the Civil War, and particularly because of our nature as a nation of immigrants. There are many, many prominent Americans of Jewish ethnicity, some figure in very key areas of our overall success as an industrial and military superpower (ie. E=mc^2, bitches).

But the Nation of Israel itself - has been unnecessarily (to our nation's detriment) conflated with "People of Jewish Ethnicity". And part of it has to do with this idiotic quasi-mystical religious mythology about Jerusalem, etc, that really does not have a whole lot of Scripture backing it up. (particularly, the utterly baseless crap about a "Rapture" - go read your Bible again, it ain't in there, not anywhere).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 1, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

There has been a lot of Mexican and Mexico disparaging criticism in discourse by citizens, the press and politicos recently in the US. I have not seen that level of rhetoric by these types about Israel. Mexican-Americans are sensitive to the bashing, but their neighbors do not seem to be, which calls into question your analogy about why Americans do not generally criticize Israel for its policies.

Rep. Tancredo could not bash Israelis or American Jews the way he does Mexicans and Mexican immigrants. It would end his career.

Posted by: Hostile on September 1, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

I just received a constituent letter today from my Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, of my bluer-than-blue state, California, on the issue of Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. Lemme share what my liberal, Democratic Senator of my liberal, Democratic state has to say on this issue:

-------

Dear Mr. Meighan,

Thank you for writing to me to express your concern about recent violence in the Middle East.

As you may know, on July 12, 2006, the terrorist group Hezbollah launched an unprovoked attack across the Lebanese-Israeli border, killing eight Israeli troops and capturing two others. This attack took place on the heels of escalating violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza. In recent days, hundreds of shells have been launched against Israeli population centers near Gaza and in northern Israel. The Israeli military has responded by targetting terrorist centers and infrastructure in Gaza and inside Lebanon. By initiating a campaign to kidnap Israeli soldiers and launch rocket attacks inside Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, with assistance from Syria and Iran, threaten to destabilize the Middle East and trigger a wider conflict. Like any country, Israel has the right and the obligation to defend its citizens.

I believe that both the Lebanese and the Palestinian governments must do more to halt terrorist attacks against Israel. The Lebanese Government must abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the extension of Lebanese military control to the entire territory of Lebanon, as well as the disarming of all militias operating within Lebanese territory. The Palestinian Authority must renounce and end all terroritst activity and incitement; disarm and dismantle its terrorist infrastructure; and acknowledge Israel's sovereign right to exist within safe and secure borders. Syria and Iran share responsibility for the the recent violence and must cease their support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups. I believe that the latest round of violence only underscores the need for high-level and sustained American diplomacy that has been sorely lacking.

Again, thank you for writing.

Sincerely,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

---------

Remember, the above, at least in theory, represents the leftmost point of view on the recent Israeli/Lebanese conflict within the halls of the US Senate. It goes only *rightward* from there!

Note:

*Not one word was mentioned about the loss of Lebanese civilians, 10 of whom died for every one Israeli casualty.

*An allowance is rightly made for the right/obligation of the Israeli government to protect its citizens, but no such right/obligation is extended to the government of the Palestinian territories.

*Capturing of Israeli soldiers is titled an act of war that threatens to destabilize the Middle East, but the kidnapping of democratically elected members of the Palestinian government by Israel is, evidently, hunky dory, and goes unmentioned.

*UNSC Resolution 1559 is mentioned as a sine qua non of MidEast peace, but UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338 (and so many others) are, evidently, optional, and not worth mentioning.

*The capturing of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah is termed an "unprovoked attack," but the unprovoked shelling of a Palestinian beach by Israeli forces, killing 7 civilians--the military act which arguably triggered the most recent escalated conflict--goes unmentioned and is presumably grouped in with the nebulously-referenced "escalating violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza."

*Hezbollah's rocket offensive upon Israel, resulting in the deaths of 43 Israeli civilians, is rightly decried. Meanwhile, the Israeli destruction of apartment buildings full of civilians, in addition to grain silos, water treatment facilities, power plants, and a UN observation tower is described as "targeting terrorist centers and infrastructure," and, presumably, is justified, notwithstanding the 900 unmentioned civilian fatalities that resulted therefrom. No mention, of course, whether the Palestinian beach (and the civilian family slaughtered there) was a terrorist center or a piece of infrastructure.

And, again, this is in the letter from the lefty! It's certainly one thing for this point of view to be represented in America's halls of government. It's another for this point of view to represent the leftmost edge of the discussion within said halls. And yet, that's where we're at.

It's a disgrace.

I can't do anything to oppose most of these folks in Washington, but I CAN do something about my own senator, and this one richly deserves my opposition. Come November, I urge all who read this to join me in voting for Dianne Feinstein's Green Party opponent, Todd Chretien.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 1, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Try billmon.org if you want some diversity of opinion.

The trouble with Israel is that ordinary people like me have tuned out. The propaganda doesn't work any more. So I would say the politicians are behind on this one, as usual.

Posted by: Bob M on September 1, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Mr. Meighan. If I lived in CA, I would vote for the Green Party candidate.

Posted by: Hostile on September 1, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Question: Why don't we ask Israelis whether they want the neocons influencing U.S. policy. Israelis wold undoubtedly reject them (look what they have done for Israel so far) and the neocons wouldn't have an excuse any longer. Daniel Levy keeps making this point: neocon policies have had a disastrous effect on Israel's national security. This is something that those opposed to them should trumpet.

Posted by: Pat on September 1, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK
Remember, the above, at least in theory, represents the leftmost point of view on the recent Israeli/Lebanese conflict within the halls of the US Senate.

I'm not aware of any "theory" which dictates that Dianne Feinstein holds the "leftmost" point of view within the Senate on all issues, or any particular class of issues relevant to this discussion.

Such a hypothesis could, I think, be rather easily refuted, and never reach the level of "theory".

Posted by: cmdicely on September 1, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm not aware of any "theory" which dictates that Dianne Feinstein holds the "leftmost" point of view within the Senate on all issues, or any particular class of issues relevant to this discussion. Such a hypothesis could, I think, be rather easily refuted, and never reach the level of "theory"."

Well then, that's great news! I'm very eager to hear your alternate hypothesis regarding the question of which U.S. Senator (other than this safe Democratic senator in this safely Democratic state) holds the leftmost viewpoint on the issue of Israel generally, and the recent Israel-Lebanon conflict specifically, and in what specific way that Senator's viewpoint differs from Dianne Feinstein's, who, evidently, is so far from the leftward edge of the U.S. Senate on this issue that any attempt to assert otherwise could be "rather easily refuted".

Let's hear some names of some lefty, Israel-bucking U.S. Senators, cmdicely! I await them with eagerness!

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 1, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

> where respected public figures routinely criticize the government in far harsher ..

Yes.
For example, I have very high expectation of my children and I might consider B to be a failing grade, however I still expect the teachers of my children to grade them on the curve.
The same true of Human Right Watch and American critics of Israel.
They must grade Israel on the curve. And if you compare war crimes committed by Israel to war crimes committed by any other country, Israel deserves A+.
So, the question whats the proper way for a teacher to criticize publicly his best but not a perfect student?

Posted by: jt on September 1, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well as a jew who has been heavily involved in Israel Advocasy on my college campus (UC Irvine) let me say that amungst us there is definatly debate about israeli policy, this was especially true during the run up to the elections in israel this spring.

However the reason that jews tend to be so lockstep on support of israel is that, quite simply the majoirty of the attacks that come at us about israel are ones that are thinly vieled anti-semitic attacks. In addition, many of the attacks question israels right to even exist as a nation and, quite simply when existance in on the line, sinor details such as domestic policy just dont matter as much.
A perfect example of this is the support that bush got after 9-11. I am a life long democrat who hated the fact that bush was elected and supported Dean in the primary. Yet even i looked to my President for leadership on September 11th,2001 and, if he had provided it, i might have been slightly nice to him than i have been.

As was said before many american jews are quite liberal on the domestic policy issues in Israel, however we have looked around and saw that Israels right to exist as a nation contiues to be under attack and have seen that strenght is required to move opinion past this all important point. This issue of stenght is why many american jews are supporters of the Likud party as they are seen over here as been the "more strong' party, something which is a bit of a simplitic point of view, but c'est la vie.

Thus quite simply, when the time occurs that Israel is living at peace with its neighbors and when Israel is not attacks in thinly vailed anti-semetic rants, when Zionism is no longer refered to as racism by the arab world, when the arab world allows anti-semitism to be listed as a form of racism, when the UN solidarity day with the palestinians includes Israel on the map and not just a state of Palestine taking up all of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, when the Protocals of the Elders of Zion are no longer being referenced in the charters of Hamas and other such groups and being made into Mini-Series in the Arab World and when Mein Kampf is no longer a best seller in Turkey and the Palestians Territories (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2002%2F03%2F19%2Fnmein19.xml) if you dont believe me.


Only then will American Jews openly question Israeli Policy with Gentiles. Till then, Strenght is needed and Israel must survive

Posted by: Yonatan Bryant on September 1, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

"(Human Right Watch and American critics of Israel) must grade Israel on the curve. And if you compare war crimes committed by Israel to war crimes committed by any other country, Israel deserves A+."

Human Rights Watch should not grade human rights abuses on the curve. They should report on, and solidly oppose, all human rights abuses wherever they see them, regardless of whether they're carried out by Israelis, by Lebanese, by Americans, or by Martians.

And, by the way, the aggrieved relatives and friends of the 900 Lebanese civilians that Israel has slaughtered in the past two months would have great difficulty understand what, exactly, Israel has done to earn the A+ grade you seek to give it.

And, finally, given the difference in scope between 900 dead Lebanese civilians and 43 dead Israeli civilians, you probably shouldn't be encouraging human rights observers to "grade on a curve" just now.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 1, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Only then will American Jews openly question Israeli Policy with Gentiles. Till then, Strenght is needed and Israel must survive
Posted by: Yonatan Bryant

I mean, why change now? This policy has certainly worked well thus far ... and conveniently absolves Israel of any responsibility for its own atrocities and expansionism.

seems like a win-win.

Posted by: Nads on September 1, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick Meighan: Off the top of my head I can't name any Senators that have stood up to Israel in any way, although there may well be one or more. That letter from Feinstein sounded as though it could have been written by Joe Lieberman. Yuk.

I know a number of Senators have endorsed a two-state solution, but they certainly shy away from spefific criticism of Israel.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 1, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

little ole jim from red country: "Patrick Meighan: Off the top of my head I can't name any Senators that have stood up to Israel in any way, although there may well be one or more."

I can't think of any either, but I suppose cmdicely must have someone in mind, given his statement that DiFi does not represent the left flank of the US Senate on this issue. That's why I'm so eager to hear, from cmdicely, which US Senator does.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 1, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

"That letter from Feinstein sounded as though it could have been written by Joe Lieberman. Yuk."

See, I think that letter from Feinstein sounded as though it could have been written by Bill Frist. Or Trent Lott. Which is my whole point. There's NO debate on Israel within the Senate. Even the "lefties" are righties.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 1, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with this is that from my perspective the greater danger is Mearsheimer / Walt-style "conspiracy" accusations. There's no getting around the fact that this is an anti-Semitic trope of the old school. There's no way to have a sincere discussion with someone who takes that view, it's like asking a Mexican American to have a sincere discussion with Pat Buchanan.

So if you want to have an open dialog on Israel's policies and what the US position on them might or should be, you have to start by understanding the fact that many of the interlocutors are not sincere. And that has to be a legitimate part of the discussion.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on September 1, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

So if you want to have an open dialog on Israel's policies and what the US position on them might or should be, you have to start by understanding the fact that many of the interlocutors are not sincere. And that has to be a legitimate part of the discussion.
Posted by: larry birnbaum

agreed ... so what are the pro-ziosists doing to root out these insincere, genocidal warmongers amongst them?

Posted by: Nads on September 1, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that Russ Feingold has criticized Israeli foreign or military policy on occasion. Y'all feel free to correct me.

Posted by: shortstop on September 1, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

"I believe that Russ Feingold has criticized Israeli foreign or military policy on occasion. Y'all feel free to correct me."

Here's Feingold's entire statement, on July 14th, '06, on the subject of this war: "I stand firmly with the people of Israel and their government as they defend themselves against these outrageous attacks. The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and missile attacks against Israeli citizens are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. The first steps toward establishing peace must begin with the unconditional and immediate return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Lebanon, Syria, Iran and countries throughout the region must also condemn the actions of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups committed to blocking the peace process and must take strong actions to return stability to the region immediately.

Did you see any criticism of Israel's foreign or military policy within that statement of Feingold's? No, me neither. Nor did I find any mention of the attacks, by Israel, against Lebanese citizens or Palestinian citizens. Apparently Russ Feingold finds them acceptable, and that they can be tolerated. Which is scary enough. But what's scarier is that this is the *leftmost* edge of the debate within the U.S. Senate on this issue! My beef isn't that this point of view is represented in D.C. My beef is that it's the ONLY point of view represented in D.C., with regard to this issue.

It's a freaking joke.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 2, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Patrick,

> Human Rights Watch should not grade human rights abuses on the curve.

In all history of humankind in all wars including American war of independence, Civil war, WW2, all sides always committed war crimes and human rights abuses.

Equally oppose all abuses without singling out worst violators means pretty much condoning all abuses.

BTW, everybody agrees, including you that compare to all military campaigns in the history of humankind, Israel committed the least amount abuses and war crimes.

- Jacob

Posted by: jt on September 2, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

> And, finally, given the difference in scope >between 900 dead Lebanese civilians and 43 dead >Israeli civilians, you probably shouldn't be >encouraging human rights observers to "grade on > a curve" just now.

Here is again Patrick applies a unique standard to Israel.
How many American civilians were killed by Japanese in ww2 and how many Japanese civilians were killed by Americans?
How many American civilians were killed by Germany in ww2 and how many German civilians were killed by Americans?

Again, I challenge Human Rights Watch, Patrick, and anybody else to show me examples of wars
where any side behaved better then Israel in Lebanon ?
Here are a few wars to choose From:
- WW2
- Vietnam
- France in Algeria
- Russia in Chenchia
- Iraq - Iran
- Pakistan against future Bangladesh
- Jordan against PLO
- USSR in Afghanistan
- USA in Afghanistan
- NATO in Yugoslavia
- USA in Korea
- USA in Iraq
The complete list in:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_1945%E2%80%931989
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_1990%E2%80%932002
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_2003%E2%80%93current


Posted by: jt on September 2, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

jt:
Many of us have no interest in picking on Israel or applying a different standard in any respect.

But I also discarded my "idealized" view Israel (and any other country) long ago.

Israel will be judged by its actions. Recently, many observers believe that Israel's action (not reaction mind you) against Lebanon was way over the top when compared with the actual threat of Hezbollah. Israels action guaranteed that many Lebanese innocents would die, be made refugees, and impoverished, to say nothing of the huge amount of infrastructure and environmental damage. Thats very weighty action to take when you cannot easily demonstrate conclusively a large threat, regardless of who started it.

One aspect of the backdrop to this war is the six-year period since Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon (except for the Sheeba Farms). During that period, according to Juan Cole, Hezbollah had killed a total of 6 Israelis. I dont remember the number, but Israel had, of course, killed more Lebanese. So, it is difficult for Israel to demonstrate a threat so serious that a broad based attack against Lebanon is justified.

I would suggest you take a look at JuanCole.com and other sources if you are interested in perspectives that attempt not to be one-sided and provide a lot of information.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 2, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

There are two separate issues:
- Was Israel justified in responding to Hezbollah attack that killed 10 soldiers and kidnapped other 2 soldiers by starting full blow war ?
My answer is yes, your answer is not. We can discuss this issues more.
- What was the conduct of Israel in this war ?
My answer is that Israels behavior is exceptional good compare to all other participants in all wars in the history in humankind.
Whats your answer ?

- Do you believe that allowed conduct in the war depends on justification for the war ?
My answer is No

Posted by: jt on September 2, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

JT,

I have no idea how you arrive at the conclusion that " everybody agrees, that compare to all military campaigns in the history of humankind, Israel committed the least amount abuses and war crimes."

The war lasted 34 days and Israel killed 1300 people during that period, most of which were civilians and a third of whom were children. Thats an average of nearly 40 people a day. It created 1 million refugees and turned Southern Lebanon into a wasteland.

Much is made of the four thousand rockets Hezbolah fired at Israel, but the statistics show that Israel were overwhelmingly disproportionate in their reposnse.

The Israeli Armed Forces (IDF) launched 5,000 missiles, 5-ton bunker-buster bombs and cluster bombs as well as anti-personnel phosphorus bombs each day into Lebanon for 27 days totaling over 135,000 missiles, bombs and artillery shells. During the last 7 days of the war Israel launched 6,000 bombs and shells per day over 42,000, for a grand total of 177,000 over a heavily populated territory the size of the smallest state in the US. In contrast, the Lebanese national resistance launched 4,000 rockets during the entire 34-day period, an average of 118 per day. The ratio was 44 to 1 without mentioning the size differentials, the long-term killing effects of the thousands of un-exploded cluster bombs (nearly 50 killed or maimed since the end of hostilities) and Israels scorched earth military incursion.

In answer to the issues you raised:

1. Israel responded not by attacking Hezbollah, but by attacking Lebanon. Dan Halutz, Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, said at the very beginning of the war that the purpose of the air strikes was to send a message to the Lebanese government that if they didn't rein in Hezbollah, that the Lebanese population would pay a heavy price. That's prima fascia evidence that the strikes were designed as collective punishment. The sheer level of the destruction, the destruction of the electrical infrastructure, the water infrastructure, the roads, the bridges, houses, businesses, etc., just doesn't match the Israeli claims that this was either collateral damage or due to the fact that Hezbollah was shielding amongst the civilian population.

War was not Israels only option. According to the UN, cross border skirmishes were a daily occurrence since 2000. Hezbollah were seeking a prisoner exchange, which had been successfully implemented on numerous previous occasions.

2. Comments from Halutz and Peretz (rolling back Lebanon by 20 years) make it clear that Israel were seeking to inflict as much damage as possible in the hope of alienating Hezbollah. Collective punishment is not only a war crime, it is the most cowardly form of warfare and amounts to state sponsored terrorism.

Finally, lets not forget Dan Gillermans comment in response the question as to whether Israels response was disproportionate.

Damn right its disproportionate was his comment,

Posted by: Shingo on September 3, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yonatan Bryant,

You raised the issue over Israel's right to exist. This is such a straw man argument. I all the criticisms I have =ever read of Israel, less than a minute percentage have even raised this issue.

Israel's right to exist is only ever raised by Israel's amen corner, often as an attempt to conflate the debate, in much the same way that anti-Seimitism is used.

In fact, if the debate about Israel is argued on the basis of facts alone, it matters not whether anti-Seimitimes take part in the discussion. Facts and reality speaks for themselves.

Posted by: Shingo on September 3, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Shingo,
> I have no idea how you arrive at the
> conclusion that " everybody agrees, that
> compared to all military campaigns in the
> history of humankind, Israel committed the
> least amount of abuses and war crimes."
I came to this conclusion because nobody offered an example(s) of the war(s) in the history of humankind where less abuses and war crimes were committed.

Let me make a couple of specific points:
> Israel killed 1300 people most of which were > civilians.
I doubt those numbers. Hezbollah reported 48 fighters killed. Obviously this is lie. I would guess that at least half of the killed are Hezbollah fighters.
> Israel responded not by attacking Hezbollah,
> but by attacking Lebanon.
Hezbollah is Lebanon from the military point of view. Hezbollah could use all of the territory of Lebanon for moving weapons and troops and storing military equipment.

In answer to the broader issues you raised:
There are 3 aspects to the war in Lebanon: Justification for the full scale war, Conduct of sides during the conflict, Wisdom of the decisions made.

- Justification.
I think, based on all wars in the history of humankind, that Israel had as good Casus belli to start the full scale war as any other country that ever responded to small scale military action by starting a response disproportional in scale. It doesnt mean Israel had to do it, as you said it has other choices, and you suggest that there were wiser alternatives available for Israel, but Israel was within its rights to respond to Hezbollah with total war.
For example, FDR didnt had to respond to Pearl Harbor attack by starting total war against Japan; he could have chosen another alternative, but he had moral right to do this.
- Conduct
You are trying to prove that Israels conduct was bad. Im not arguing this point. Obviously, war is a dirty business.
Im just saying that Israels behavior is exceptionally good compared to all other participants in all wars in the history in humankind.

- Wisdom.
This is the area of legimited debate. I'm not smart enough to add much to this debate.

Posted by: jt on September 3, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

JT,

Your system of metrics seems very broad if not dubious. The numbers killed depends on a variety of parameters. For example, Israel warned the civilians in Lebanon to evacuate their homes before destroying them, but that does not equate to thei response having been measured or restrained in any way.

There are no doubt countless examples of wars that have resulted in fewer deaths per day. Lebanons population for example, is 3.8 million, yet over the 24 days, an average of 38 people were killed each day. If you were to compare that with Iraq (population 26 million) then the fatalities fro Israeli bombardment over that period is double the highest rates in Iraq.

I respect that you may doubt the number of deaths in Lebanon, but unless you can produce more credible figures, the remain undisputed thus far.
If you wish to argue that Lebanon is Hezbollah, then the reverse argument become that all of Israel is similarly a legitimate target. The IDF most certainly uses any part of Israel they wish to use.

- Justification.

Israel may within their rights to respond, but given that cross border skirmishes were a frequent occurrence, and indeed that it is still unclear whether the IDF soldiers were captures on the Israeli or Lebanese side of the border, the notion that Israel were looking for a causus belli seems pretty obvious.

Pearl Harbor is a poor comparison. It was an unprecedented attack inflicted on US territory. The capture of IDF soldiers was not unprecedented. Israel has detained more than 9000 Lebanese prisoners for over a decade, including women and children.

Finally, wars of aggression are deemed by the Nuremberg Principals and Geneva Conventions to be the mother of all war crimes. Israels attack on Lebanon was a war of choice and therefore a war of aggression. It was not inflicted to rescue the captured IDF soldiers, but to punish the people of Lebanon, with the hope that the suffering would turn public opinion against Hezbollah. That is akin to bashing your neighbors wife, hoping that she will end up hating her husband rather than you. It is absurd.

- Conduct

It is still unclear how you intend to prove that Israels behavior is exceptionally good compared to all other participants in all wars in the history in humankind. For example, when Israel ordered a family of 20 to evacuate their homes, then incinerated the vehicle carrying those people as they were fleeing, that is about as evil an act as one could imagine. Similarly, in spite of being contacted by the UN for a period of 8 hours to request due care, Israel still attacked UN offices, killing 4 workers. Just think about that! Imagine if Iran or Saddam had done the same thing?

Posted by: Shingo on September 3, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

I like Brooks but I think she is ignoring the large number of left-wing Jews who are vocally against Israeli "expansionism." I mean, can you say Chomsky, anyone? His admirers, among Jews even, are legion.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on September 4, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Only then will American Jews openly question Israeli Policy with Gentiles"

On a thread pertaining to Israel, AIPAC, and anti-semitism I find it ironic that this is the most bigoted comment.


Posted by: proudly wearing my IAF campaign 2006 tshirt on September 4, 2006 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

Shingo,
1. Whats your number of civilians and freedom fighters killed in Lebanon ?
2. "that all of Israel is similarly a legitimate target"
Of course, every Israeli civilians was a target. Hezbollah were trying to kill as many Israeli civilians as they could. They didnt killed a lot but not for lack of trying.
3. "that it is still unclear whether the IDF soldiers were captures on the Israeli or Lebanese side of the border"
I dont think that even Hezbollah claims now that IDF soldiers were captured on Lebanese side.
4. "Israels attack on Lebanon was a war of choice and therefore a war of aggression"
Im just curious, how many wars in history of humankind were not a wars of choice.
How many of numerous wars that US fought were not wars of choice ?
4. "Israel still attacked UN offices, killing 4 workers"
Im wondering why would Israel attack UN offices instead of attacking Hezbollah ?
5. "Israel has detained more than 9000 Lebanese prisoners for over a decade, including women and children."
Just to clarify, are they children now, or 10 years ago. How old they are now ?

Justification.
Im confused by your position. It seems to me that you adhere to Hezbollah / Hamas / Iran point of view:
Israel is aggressor because it holds Arab prisoners and Arab lands (Sheeba Farms, West Bank, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc). Therefore Arab freedom fighters have a right to resist aggression by all available means. Any attempts by Israel to fight back is, by itself, aggression and War crime. Its even bigger crime if any innocent is hurt. By definition, freedom fighters are innocent, because they fight for Freedom.
Capturing freedom fighters and holding them in jails is act of aggression and Human Rights violation. When freedom fighter resist this new aggression and being killed or captured, Israel is ...

- Conduct
Yes, I agrees that conduct of American military in Iraq and Afghanistan is exceptionally good compared to many other conflicts in 20th century. Its definitely a huge improvement over Vietnam.
I argue that conduct of Israeli military in Lebanon were at least as good.
Moreover, dont forget that American population were not staying in bomb shelters.
If one third of population of USA had to stay in bomb shelters , US government would use overwhelming force to destroy enemy, no matter how may thousands or millions of civilians would be killed.

Posted by: jt on September 4, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

JT,

1. The numbers being reported from Lebanon of those killed is 1300, which is sure to rise as more are found and more children are killed by cluster bomblets. As for the numbers of Hezbollah killed, that seems very vague. Anyway, my question to you was, what is the source of your numbers? With due respects, I am not interested in what you believe.


2. Hezbollah were firing unguided rockets, knowing full well that most would no hit anything other than open fields or hillsides. I do believe that Hezbollah did have longer range missiles but abstained from using them to avoid escalating the war further.

3. Initial reports about the captured IDF soldiers stipulated that the event took place in Lebanon.
Newsweek's Michael Hirsh of MSNBC.com, on July 12, said: "As a result, things are blowing up so quickly it's difficult to know where to focus any longer. After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah in Lebanon on Wednesday, which the hard-line group linked to a similar kidnapping by Hamas the week before, the mideast seemed to be closer to all-out war."

4. The numbers of wars throughout history that were a war of choice is irrelevant., You seem to be of the opinion that Israels actions are excusable merely by pointing out that other have also perpetrated the same crime. Do you think a murderer deserves leniency on the grounds that murders have taken place before, or on a larger scale?

4. Im wondering why would Israel attack UN offices instead of attacking Hezbollah ?
You would; have to ask the IDF commanders who ordered the attack. You might also ask why the IDF shelled the UN compound in Qana nearly ten years ago, or shelled 8 Palestinians on a beach n Gaza

5. Just to clarify, are they children now, or 10 years ago. How old they are now ?
Excuse me? What difference does it make what age they are now? They were captured at least ten years ago. The children were children when they were captured and the women were women. That is absurd and so is your logic.

Justification.

It seems to me that you adhere to Hezbollah / Hamas / Iran point of view

What I adhere to is evidence of what took place on the ground. Israelis believed Nasrallah before they believed their own government. They waited impatiently for the sheikh's speeches so that they could find out what was happening, while dismissing the briefs from their 'defense' establishment. The reason? The Israeli government bullshitted up one side and down the other. Every day they were waging daring commando raids, killing hundreds of Hezbollah fighters - no, thousands - no, millions and squillions of them - and every day they were taking prize hostages like the greengrocer named Hasan Dib Nasrallah, and you could barely move for the debris of Hezbollah's "terrorist infrastructure" falling around you.

Halutz, Livni, Peretz and Olmert queued to get into the television studios and tell everyone how fabulously it was all going. And they're still telling people they won.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3299073,00.html

You cant have it both ways. If Israel occupies territory, attacks another country or invades, that is an act of aggression. Retaliation is to be expected, yet according to Israels yardstick, anyone who resists is a terrorist.

If you walk into a bar and slug somebody, or break into his house, you cant complain when and if he fights back. That is why the Geneva Convention stipulate that those who instigate war are guilty of the greatest of all war crimes.

Of course, some of Israels prisoners are there legitimately, but most of those being held in Israeli jails are innocents. Very few have been charged with any crime. Israel even admits that up to 1000 being held by Israel are only there because of administrative reasons.

Remember that those 9000 Lebanese in Israeli prisons were captured in Lebanon during Israels illegal invasion into Lebanon.
Conduct
The conduct of American military in Iraq and Afghanistan is no better than any other occupation. Perhaps it is better than what it did in Vietnam, but again, serial killers dont; get clemency for exercising restraint.
The Israeli military bombed all manner of infrastructure, including milk factories, tissue factories, hospitals, power stations, vehicles carrying away those they ordered to abandon their homes. All the while they were claiming that they were going after Hezbollah, which is insane. This was a brazen act of collective punishment and conduct that is beneath contempt.

If one third of population of USA had to stay in bomb shelters , US government would use overwhelming force to destroy enemy, no matter how may thousands or millions of civilians would be killed.

JT, you are sounding like a madman to be honest. The words genocide see to roll of your tongue. You trivially throw around the notion of killing millions for no apparent reason. When I last checked, wiping cities off the map was considered the absolute last choice in a conflict.

Posted by: Shingo on September 4, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Shingo,
Finally we are getting somewhere.

First a few points:

1 "Im wondering why would Israel attack UN offices instead of attacking Hezbollah ?
You would; have to ask the IDF commanders who ordered the attack."

No, we dont need to ask the IDF commanders.
We can just read:
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=37278180-a261-421d-84a9-7f94d5fc6d50&p=1

"Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel."

3. Initial reports about the captured IDF soldiers stipulated that the event took place in Lebanon.

Please, please, no bushtit.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20286568-2703,00.html

Nasrallah regret at seizing troops.
He had linked the cross-border raid to the plight of.....

Anyway, we can continue back and forth but the bottom line is the following:
You summarized your position realty well:
If you walk into a bar and slug somebody, or break into his house, you cant complain when and if he fights back. That is why the Geneva Convention stipulate that those who instigate war are guilty of the greatest of all war crimes."
You believe that Israel broke into Arab house when Israel was established and Arabs have a right to fight back but when Israel responds, its guilty of the greatest of all war crimes.
I dont think there is no point to argue anymore.
Thank you for discussion. Best luck.

Posted by: jt on September 4, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, for people interested to know why
Hezbollah abducted Israeli soldiers, read the folllowing info about a "freedom fighter":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Kuntar

" Samir Kuntar shot the father, Danny, at close range in front of his daughter in the back and drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead. Next, he smashed Einat's, the four-year-old girl, head on beach rocks and crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle."

Posted by: jt on September 4, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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