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Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2008
By: Hilzoy

An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind

From the NYT:

"Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza for a second day on Sunday, increasing the death toll to nearly 300, as Israeli troops and tanks massed along the border and the government said it had called up reserves for a possible ground operation.

The continued strikes, which Israel said were in retaliation for sustained rocket fire from Gaza into its territory, unleashed a furious reaction across the Arab world, raising fears of greater instability in the region. (...)

In Gaza on Sunday, officials said medical services, stretched to the breaking point after 18 months of Israeli sanctions, were on the verge of collapse as they struggled to care for the more than 600 people wounded in two days. (...)

Israel made a strong push to justify the attacks, saying it was forced into military action to defend its citizens. At the same time, heated statements from the supreme religious leader of Iran and the leader of Hezbollah expressed strong support for Hamas."

From an earlier article:

"There was a shocking quality to Saturday's attacks, which began in broad daylight as police cadets were graduating, women were shopping at the outdoor market, and children were emerging from school.

The center of Gaza City was a scene of chaotic horror, with rubble everywhere, sirens wailing, and women shrieking as dozens of mutilated bodies were laid out on the pavement and in the lobby of Shifa Hospital so that family members could identify them. The dead included civilians, including several construction workers and at least two children in school uniforms.

By afternoon, shops were shuttered, funerals began and mourning tents were visible on nearly every major street of this densely populated city."

One of the many things that makes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict so utterly dispiriting is that it's impossible to think of anything good coming of any of this. Worse than that, it's hard to imagine that even the people involved think anything good will come of it.

What, exactly, do the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Sderot think they will accomplish? That the Israelis will look about them and say: Holy Moly, I had no idea this place was so dangerous!, and leave? Do the Israelis think: even though we've bombed the Palestinians a whole lot, and it's never done much good before, maybe this time it will be different! Maybe Hamas will say: heavens, this is a pretty serious round of attacks; maybe we should just sue for peace -- ? Or what?

I imagine what people on both sides are thinking is something more like: do you expect us to just sit here and take it? Do you expect us to do nothing? To which my answer is: no, I expect you to try to figure out what has some prospect of actually making things better. Killing people out of anger, frustration, and the sense that you have to do something is just wrong. For both sides. And its actual results are numbingly predictable:

Hamas lacks the technology to aim its rockets. They're taking potshots. In response, the Israeli government launched air strikes that have now killed more than 280 Palestinians, injured hundreds beyond that, and further radicalized thousands in the Occupied Territories and millions in the region. The response will not come today, of course. It will come in months, or even in years, when an angry orphan detonates a belt filled with shrapnel, killing himself and 25 Israelis. At which point the Israelis will launch air strikes killing another 70 Palestinians, radicalizing thousands more, leading to more bombings, and so the cycle continues.

Cernig is right:

"Indiscriminate unguided rocket attacks on civilians and indiscriminate but deliberately targeted airstrikes on civilian infrastructure are both wrong. Collective punishment is collective punishment and is morally wrong no matter the relative intensity by which both sides pursue it or what has gone before in the way of provocation. Wrong (Strength 2) + Wrong (Strength 5) cannot ever = Right (Strength 7). All you can say is that one is less wrong but still ultimately morally reprehensible."

As is Spencer:

"Do you believe for a moment that leveling Gaza will stop the rockets? Well, then you've lost your right to call the peaceniks naive. You want the cycle broken? Then you can start by breaking your own."

As was Gandhi, who gave me the title for my post.

Hilzoy 10:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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Comments

As I've said before, this makes both these "states" and any that support them with $, arms or politics stupid. This is stupidity on steroids. Anyone, Christian, Jew, Muslim or any other "religion" that supports this kind of action has lost its right to claim it is acting on the behalf of God. God does not takes sides and God will not intervene on anyone's behalf. We are responsible for our actions and their consequences. Until we learn that lesson, we are condemned to this cycle of violence and misery.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on December 28, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

This has been going on all of my life, and probably most of the readers here, as well. Nothing ever changes except maybe the technology.

It brings to mind the phrase "We have always been at war with Eastasia". There seems to be a desire here for a perpetual state of war. How better to maintain control over that which would evolve otherwise? There is something at work here beyond cultural enmity.

Posted by: jcricket on December 28, 2008 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Do you believe for a moment that leveling Gaza will stop the rockets?"

Did you believe, for a moment, that building the barrier (legal or not) would stop suicide bombings?

The question was stupid and the response was equally stupid. Yes, leveling Gaza would absolutely stop the rockets. It would also be a human-rights disaster of great proportions (and likely would earn a few people a cell in the Hague). This is the wrong question to ask.

More to the point, what has the rest of the world--including the US--has done to stop those rockets? This is not a question of the standing policy of not negotiating with terrorists (and make no mistake about it--indiscriminate clandestine firing of rockets at ostensibly civilian population is terrorism). It is of question of negotiating with people who have no interest in negotiations.

I have no problem referring to the Israeli reaction to such attacks as "disproportionate". The only problem is, what would be "proportionate"? And if you don't think Israel should react with force at all, how many victims of these attacks should we find "acceptable"? One? Ten? A thousand?

This is not a "bomb them all, let God sort them out" situation. In fact, Israel has not been "bombing indiscriminately", as is being reported. In fact, the early reports have been just the opposite--most of the strikes were specifically on target, aimed at security installations. Yes, there was significant collateral damage, and, yes, "security installations" do not represent the terrorists. They represent Hamas. And Hamas is a legitimate target because they enable and supply the culprits and continuously vow to "avenge" them.

Posted by: buck on December 28, 2008 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Did you believe, for a moment, that building the barrier (legal or not) would stop suicide bombings?

Actually, the barrier (legal or not) has reduced the number of suicide bombings to a fraction of what they were before the barrier was constructed.

It still comes down to this: The Palestinians need to decide that they want a viable state more than they want to be in a state of continual war.

There are things that are non-negotiable to Israel: right of return, for example. But Israel would make other concessions in exchange, as they did with Egypt and Jordan when they negotiated their peace treaties and as they will with Syria, with whom they are also negotiating. But the Palestinians need to decide that they can peacefully coexist alongside a Jewish state. And they are not there yet.

Posted by: DrDave on December 28, 2008 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

So, Mr. Buck, when do you think Hamas or any other target of the Israeli attacks will surrender and submit to the partitions already in place? Is there a plan established by any of the parties defining when the conflict has been resolved? Do you imagine the relatives of the targets of either side will just disappear into the night? Since when do bombs discriminate among their targets? And why are some people OK to kill and others not? Who is the ultimate judge? You? Me? Some government official? Gandhi has it right: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. We are rapidly losing our sight.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on December 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

and further radicalized thousands in the Occupied Territories and millions in the region.

Further than what? Haven't Arabs in the region tried everything that they have been able to do ever since 1948 to destroy Israel? That was their intent in 1948, 1967, and 1973, wasn't it? Isn't it still their intention? It seems to me that every comment on this event, as with every even in the war between the Israelis and Palestinians, ought to start with an appraisal of what it would take to get the Palestinians to stop attacking Israel, and whether Israel has a right to exist.

Do you believe for a moment that leveling Gaza will stop the rockets?

It will probably be more effective than any other action to reduce the total number of rockets fired into Israel.

You want the cycle broken?

What cycle? Don't the Israeli desire to maintain the existence of Israel and the Arab desire to destroy Israel persist through all times and circumstances? If so, there won't be peace until one side or the other capitulates and abandons its goal.

The fundamental objection that Arabs have and have had with Israel is its existence, not any particular policy or set of policies. Naturally, anyone might disagree with me on this point, and think that Arabs would rally to the support of Israel if Israelis adopted the right policies. I think in time Israel will cease to exist as an independent nation. If that happens, I hope that the U.S. will welcome the millions of Jewish refugees. Had the U.S. and some other nations welcomed and protected the Jews in the 30s, this present ongoing tragedy might have been averted.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 29, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

confiscate their weapons
take them to their cells
keep them barely living
in their own private hells

take them to the border
nudge them with your gun
shoot above their heads
till they begin to run

lead them to the chambers
once their herded round
listen to the screaming
and now there is no sound

wasn't that you at auschwitz
or a thousand other deaths
one man kills another
before they've ever met

Posted by: estebanfolsom on December 29, 2008 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Ahh, the topic we actually know so little about, yet get so emotionally invested in.

I'm sick of American "experts". The American media is completely useless about this issue, but so many Americans have so many bogus "facts" and will argue passionately over these so-called "facts."

Damn it, I wish Israel and Palestine would just go away, or at least that we would stop being such a bunch of suckers.

I automatically ignore anyone in a lather about this.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on December 29, 2008 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

It still comes down to this: The Palestinians need to decide that they want a viable state more than they want to be in a state of continual war.

And Israel needs to be legal. Get the settlers off Palestinian lands, put the wall on the proper border, quit blockading Gaza from the rest of the world. Israel's current actions guarantee a steady supply of enemies.

Their response is also grossly disproportionate; I don't give a crap what they say they are doing, or where they say they are aiming their weapons, or how accurate they claim they are. What matters is the body count, and they've killed an order of magnitude more Palestinian civilians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis. To ignore the gross imbalance in deaths, and to talk instead of good intentions, is an insult.

Posted by: dr2chase on December 29, 2008 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

One of the most maddening things in our public discourse is the prevalence of false equivalence. William Jefferson of Louisiana's cash in the freezer somehow made up for the schemes of Tom Delay, even though Delay's actions had a much larger effect.

Much of the arguing over false equivalence, I believe, is attributable to the "availability bias." Same here.

Unless you read a Jewish newspaper, you probably haven't heard about Sderot being bombed at until now. So, of course, compared with that, the shock and awe attacks by the IAF recently seem to be even beyond the false equivalent and seem "disproportionate" just because this is the first most people have heard of it.

As naive as it is to believe that this solution is solvable by a military smacking down it is equally (dare I say) naive to believe that some sort of Ghandian moment will resolve this. In fact, even experts on the issue such as James Gelvin of UCLA don't necessarily even think there is an answer.

The Palestinians are being used by the rest of the Arab world for Machiavellian reasons, to justify the conditions in those countries. The Israeli right is using this situation to justify ignoring the peace process. False equivalence? Yes, actually, because the Israeli right is democratically elected.

As for the Palestinian right to return, let me ask this: do all of the Jews that muslim countries ejected after Israel was founded get to go back to be full and protected citizens there, too? (Since we're into equivalence!) If there is a solution, it surely doesn't involve the return to some status quo ante, but doing the best to address the needs of the people that live where they live now.

Posted by: jon-erik on December 29, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

I always find it amusing that the people--including my own mother--who insist that "there has to be an Israel" to protect Jews from persecution are the same people that insist "there will never be peace" and that nothing can persuade the Arabs to accept Israel. What's the point of having a Jewish state as a "safe haven" if the haven itself is constantly threatened? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

It would have been so much better to create Israel out of a few Montana counties where hardly anyone lives anyway.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Israel's current actions guarantee a steady supply of enemies.

Israel doesn't need to do anything to guarantee a steady supply of enemies. As MatthewRMarler pointed out, the problem isn't what Israel does, the problem is that Israel exists.

On the day that Israel's continued existence isn't the primary motivating factor behind armed attacks on its citizens, legitimate discussions about resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can begin.

Posted by: DrDave on December 29, 2008 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

What matters is the body count, and they've killed an order of magnitude more Palestinian civilians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis.

So the Israelis were ok to kill 20 Palestinians because the Palestinians gave them permission by killing 20 Israelis? and so now the Palestinians have permission to kill 400 Israelis or whatever?

You want equivalency. You're probably struggling for it because you favor one side in your gut but your mind won't let you appear biased. I know how that is. I struggle to be fair with the Palestinians.

You want equivalency in body count, but you want Israel to be "legal." Do you demand that of the Palestinians? and if so, which ones? The government, or each one?

Is Israel responsible for the settlers in Hebron? If so, are all Palestinians responsible for the Sderot attacks?

All of this won't go anywhere in Israel, because they have compromise fatigue, and have since 2000. So, if you want fair, nothing will happen.

If you truly want a peaceful solution, it may be time to paradoxically get a concession out of the Palestinians. That may put the Israelis back where they were before Arafat left them at the bargaining table.

Posted by: jon-erik on December 29, 2008 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, I had heard of the attacks on Sderot before today...

Posted by: hilzoy on December 29, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the problem, Israel is sitting in the middle of a ticking time bomb! To be more specific, they are surrounded by enemies.

To answer Matthew's question - yes, the U.S. will gladly take in the Jewish population.

My concern is, Israel does have technology. However, because they are surrounded by people who hate the Jewish population, can they fight every country at once that surrounds their borders?

The people of the Middle East has said time and time again, they are not afraid of death, but Westerners are.

Again, how do you know this is not something that is going to lead to something bigger. For instance, Ahmadinejad has said numerous times, he wants to wipe Israel off the map - so now, here goes, what can Israel do if they have to fight Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Syria & Lebanon at the same time?

The U.S. is stuck between two countries, Iraq & Afghanistan, so where does Iran fit in this picture?

Israeli actions have struck a nerve with Lybia, Turkey, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Sudan, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East and African nations.

So, where does Israel go from here?

A few years ago, it took a person older than me to say, "you need to learn how to pick and choose your battles." Meaning, you have to look at the entire picture, think about the outcome of your actions.

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

It would have been so much better to create Israel out of a few Montana counties where hardly anyone lives anyway.

So they could be suicide bombed by a bunch of rednecks with trucknuts and some Native Americans whose land they sold?

In all seriousness, your critique of the Jewish state being a safe haven is only paradoxical in the context of modern times. Even living as they do in Israel, it is a safer place than most Jews have lived in in centuries. The US is better, but it's hard to guarantee that will be permanent when it's not a Jewish state.

Posted by: Jon on December 29, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

"As MatthewRMarler pointed out, the problem isn't what Israel does, the problem is that Israel exists."

I think this is an excuse that Israel gives to do whatever it wants. If it really wanted Arab acceptance, Israel would not continue to do things like building settlements which further inflame the conflict. It should be remembered that the IRA did not recognize (and still hasn't officially) Northern Ireland's "right to exist," yet the Good Friday Agreement was reached in 1998.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, I had heard of the attacks on Sderot before today...

I doubt that's odd for someone who reads a lot. But for the average U.S. news viewer, the Sderot situation didn't exist.

Posted by: Jon-Erik on December 29, 2008 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Gandhi and Einstein (who was a pacifist himself) had a correspondence during the 1940s.

I'm trying to find a few more of the letters, but while they agreed on many things, Einstein could never convince Gandhi that his techniques of non-violent resistance would have worked in Europe.

I don't know what I'd do in this case. I've lived in Israel, and I understand what drives people; mostly, it's a desire for physical safety. The measures taken have been terrible for Gaza. And yeah, applying those measures cut down rockets and (more importantly for Israelis) the suicide attacks that killed more than 1000 Israelis. It's not about collective punishment. It's about preventing paramilitaries from killing Israelis, but the policies act effectively as collective punishment. This is small comfort if you live in Gaza, since one looks pretty much the same as the other.

I'm not going to argue any kind of gruesome arithmetic of death saying that anyone's life is worth more than anyone else's. But I do think that preventing deaths on their side explains most of what they've been doing the last few years in Gaza.

I don't know what Ehud Barak thinks he's doing, and I'm very skeptical that it's going to be helpful, even if it's even possible. And I don't know what went through the heads of Hamas' leadership in deciding how best to negotiate with the Israelis (negotiations can occur without recognition, remember) or in how they decided to deal with the rockets from their end.

Mostly, it looks to me like bloody minded stupidity from both sides getting a lot of people killed. To no good purpose for either side.

Posted by: Rob From Santa Cruz on December 29, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Jon,

"Even living as they do in Israel, it is a safer place than most Jews have lived in in centuries."

Oh, come on! Israel is perhaps the most dangerous place on earth to be Jewish today. A Jew is more likely to be killed in Israel for being Jewish than in any other country in the world. And you can't have it both ways. How can it be so safe if the warnings about Ahmadinejad and others threatening Israel's existence are valid?

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

If it really wanted Arab acceptance, Israel would not continue to do things like building settlements which further inflame the conflict.

Israel is responsible for the conduct of all of its citizens, even its whackos, but the Palestinians aren't.

The average workaday Israeli has nothing to do with the zealots in the settlements, just like the average Palestinian isn't shooting rockets at other people.

Posted by: Jon-Erik on December 29, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, come on! Israel is perhaps the most dangerous place on earth to be Jewish today

Adventures in hyperbole. Safer than India?

Most places in Israel are more or less safe more or less most of the time. And I'm absolutely not trying to have it both ways. Don't put Likud words in my mouth. Iran's threat is just propaganda.

And it's still safer in Israel than almost anywhere in space or time to be Jewish.

Posted by: Jon on December 29, 2008 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Israel is responsible for the conduct of all of its citizens, even its whackos, but the Palestinians aren't."

The building of settlements is government policy, not merely private acts by individual citizens.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

"And it's still safer in Israel than almost anywhere in space or time to be Jewish."

Where is your evidence of this? Most Jews throughout history lived out their lives without being killed or brutalized in attacks.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Ugh. I get so tired of being liberal and Jewish. 90% of the time, it's the perfect match. But that 10% of the time when Israel comes up, it's like someone farted.

The Israelis are there. We're not going to cleanse them out of Israel. The Palestinians are there and shouldn't be cleansed out any further. Both sides are locked into a retaliatory cycle. Outside help is needed.

As for an eye for and eye making the whole world blind, that's a pretty tone deaf title to use, because it's typical of Christian condescension on "Old Testament" ethics. Whatever that may have meant to the Ancient Israelites, for at least the last 2000 years it meant that (tah dah!!!) punishment must be EQUIVALENT, not necessarily identical. (Rabbis argue over whether this should be done to a man with one eye, how it would work with a blind man, etc., to the point where they decide it means it must be proportional, not literally taken.)

And since Judaism is, per se, the Bible as interpreted by the Rabbis, that is the Jewish view. Yet this Lex Talionis is a classic Sunday School example of why Christianity is superior—they turn the other cheek!

Bah humbug. Say what you want about Israel and Palestine, even Ancient Canaan, but I'll match the Jews record of war and peace against that of Christendom any day.

And really—are we Americans, in whose name perhaps a MILLION Iraqis have been killed, in the position to moralize on Israel, or Palestine for that matter?

Posted by: Jon-Erik on December 29, 2008 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

The building of settlements is government policy, not merely private acts by individual citizens.

Similarly, the "government" or whatever you want to call it, of Hamas has the policy of annihilating Israel. Whatever.

Posted by: Jon on December 29, 2008 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

"And really are we Americans, in whose name perhaps a MILLION Iraqis have been killed, in the position to moralize on Israel, or Palestine for that matter?"

Agree with you there.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

dr2chase: Israel's current actions guarantee a steady supply of enemies.

Maybe. Alternatively, Israel's creation has created with it an endless supply of enemies.

What matters is the body count, and they've killed an order of magnitude more Palestinian civilians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis.

In the 60 years of Israel's existence, many more Palestinians have been killed by Palestinians than have been killed by Israel. Only for a short time at the peak of the second Intifada were the Israelis killing the Palestinians at a higher rate than the Palestinians were killing Palestinians. In the last couple days the Israelis have killed more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Palestinians, but over the past few years the Palestinians have killed more Palestinians than the Israelis have. Palestinian deaths usually do not get as much press when the deaths are at the hands of the Palestinians, so they are not as well known.

Which would be more disappointing and anguishing -- that Israel should cease to exist or that the war should continue for the indefinite future? I am afraid, or at least suspicious, that these are the alternatives, and all of us are forced to choose sides. The Obama/Clinton team may phrase it any way that they want, and their rhetoric may be more mellifluous than Bush's [whose wouldn't be?] but they will be forced to choose sides.

On many things I am basically optimistic, but on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as with Zimbabwe, I am pessimistic. We shall have sorrow and anguish repeatedly through the next few decades, until one side is vanquished.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 29, 2008 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Where is your evidence of this? Most Jews throughout history lived out their lives without being killed or brutalized in attacks.

This response induces a chuckle. My evidence is on just about every page of Jewish history books. You are not discussing this in good faith anymore. Being killed or brutalized in attacks happened enough, but the utter lack of being able to live in any kind of dignity or peace is a hallmark of Jewish history almost everywhere almost always.

But, you've pulled out the whole "where's your evidence" thing, so unless I type an essay on the whole thing, you're going to dismiss it.

Posted by: Jon on December 29, 2008 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

It would have been so much better to create Israel out of a few Montana counties where hardly anyone lives anyway.

Or Alaska. If you haven't read Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Spoiler: it ends badly (for the Jews and the Native Americans at least), and in the end, the Jews of the Federal Autonomous Region of Sitka are ultimately expelled from the US, and left scrambling for countries that will take them.

Sarah Palin getting nominated for VP made it unusually prescient, in a weird way.

Posted by: Rob From Santa Cruz on December 29, 2008 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ugh. I get so tired of being liberal and Jewish. 90% of the time, it's the perfect match. But that 10% of the time when Israel comes up, it's like someone farted.

Rarely have I heard it put better.

Posted by: Rob From Santa Cruz on December 29, 2008 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

You want to be taken seriously. Fix the grammar and syntax errors. Until then, don't express feigned incredularity when you don't get taken seriously. If you want to talk like a dipshit, expect to be treated like one.

Posted by: natalie in tx on December 29, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

"This response induces a chuckle. My evidence is on just about every page of Jewish history books. You are not discussing this in good faith anymore. Being killed or brutalized in attacks happened enough, but the utter lack of being able to live in any kind of dignity or peace is a hallmark of Jewish history almost everywhere almost always."

I suggest you study Jewish history more deeply than you have. Yes, there has been much persecution in the course of Jewish history, but most Jews in most times and places were not victims of pogroms. Using your logic, I could reduce the whole experience of Jews in Israel to a list of one suicide bombing after another and thereby make Israel out to be a perpetual hell for all the Jews there.

And by your standards, who was able to live in "dignity and peace" during most of the period you're talking about? The medieval Christian serfs, most of whom had their rights severely restricted by landlords and had to worry about being attacked when wars broke out?

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Haven't Arabs in the region tried everything that they have been able to do ever since 1948 to destroy Israel? Isn't it still their intention?

Why no, you fucking racist simpleton, not all Arabs have. A significant number of Arabs in the Middle East support Israel's right to exist, and a significant number of Israeli citizens are Arab and belong to groups and political parties that strive toward a peaceful resolution.

In fact, 80% of the Christians living in Israel are Arabic.

Despite the shrewd expectations of your ganglia, everything is not black and white. There exist people and parties and ethnic groups representing a whole spectrum of nuanced views on this conflict, including Arabic Israeli citizens who support Palestine and Israel at the same time, a situation that - not being either/or and written in crayon - clearly lies outside your ability to grasp.

And your matter of fact nod to genocide in the comment about leveling Gaza being the most effective way to stop the rockets is absolutely unforgivable.

I suppose this should not be unexpected from the backwash who compared Obama to Hitler while spending eight years defending Bush and overlooking a million casualties in Iraq, among other notable epic fails.

Posted by: trex on December 29, 2008 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Jon-Erik, you are confused about what I think.

My country supports Israel. Israel is, in my somewhat uninformed opinion, breaking international law and committing war crimes. They do this by not withdrawing to legal borders, by settling occupied land, by establishing blockades, by punishing/killing civilians with their "accurate weapons", and by outlandishly disproportionate response. My understanding of the law is that there is no way to excuse these actions; it does not make things legal to point out that someone else is also behaving badly.

I do not want my country to support a state that acts like this. It is not just a matter of Israel's actions; it is also a matter of my country's support for Israel, that makes me care. I'll care less if we're not associated with this behavior, but it would be better if we could stick with Israel -- but they've got to cut this out.

I don't care about their "compromise fatigue" -- that is self-inflicted, by their own choice to not do what the law obviously demands (legal borders and no blockades, for starters), independent of the Palestinians. Your comments, also, indicate an apparent focus on keeping score. Since each side of this "game" is keeping their own score, there is no particular reason to believe that either side will ever feel like they are ahead enough to quit, and hence they will keep on killing. So quit keeping score, unless you think that is more important than stopping the killing. Quit playing games, quit killing people, obey international law.

(Note, too, that most of the "our side"/"their side" debates devolve to trying to convince me of the legitimacy of our/their methods for keeping score -- pay no attention to all the dead people, let us explain why we're not quite as evil as the other guys. Great.)

Furthermore, continuing to occupy land on the west bank is stupid, because it will create a de facto apartheid state, and that will not be tolerated indefinitely by the rest of the world. The settlers on the West bank will always be a provocation, and they will always be vulnerable, which guarantees attacks, and hence will always provide a spark to keep the war fires lit. That situation must be unwound as soon as possible.

You assert, also, that Israel would have enemies even if it obeyed international law. We don't have any recent experimental data on this, do we? What's the cost of trying? Does it differ substantially from the cost of not trying?

Posted by: dr2chase on December 29, 2008 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

And by your standards, who was able to live in "dignity and peace" during most of the period you're talking about? The medieval Christian serfs, most of whom had their rights severely restricted by landlords and had to worry about being attacked when wars broke out?

The trick has been to know when things are going bad. England was good until Edward II expelled all the Jews in England. Spain was great before the Reconquista. And when Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, founded the modern Zionist movement at the end of the 19th Century, most people thought he was nuts to worry about the safety of Jews in Europe, because in 1900 or so, Germany was as fine a place for Jews to live as there had yet been. Why worry?

You have the advantage for hindsight. Like they say, it's 20/20.

Come 1935 or so, Jews in a lot of places were willing to cut the Zionists an awful lot of slack.

Posted by: Rob From Santa Cruz on December 29, 2008 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

"There was a shocking quality to Saturday's attacks, which began in broad daylight as police cadets were graduating, women were shopping at the outdoor market, and children were emerging from school.

Can't the Israelis' say the very same thing about the unprovoked rocket attacks coming from Hamas controled Gaza?

If parts of Southern California was under rocket attack from Mexico, would the One not order our military forces to destroy whoever was doing so?

Posted by: Chicounsel on December 29, 2008 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

It will probably be more effective than any other action to reduce the total number of rockets fired into Israel.

Actually, according to the Carter Center, the cease-fire was extremely effective at reducing the total number of rockets fired into Israel. Before the cease-fire, it was 200 a week. During the cease-fire, it was 6 or 7 a month. So your condition was, in fact, met during the cease-fire.

So what's your excuse now for Israel's actions in blocking humanitarian aid during the cease-fire, which led directly to the Palestinians refusing to renew the cease-fire and ramping their rocket attacks back up to pre-cease-fire levels?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 29, 2008 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Rob,

"You have the advantage for hindsight. Like they say, it's 20/20."

I could say the same thing about your post. You're taking events that happened over many centuries and stringing them together in a sequence. That's only how it looks from hindsight, not how it looked to people living through the events. Take, for example, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 by Edward I (not Edward II, as you said). The expulsion of the Jews from Spain didn't occur until 1492, 202 years later. The interval of time between these two events is as great as that between 1806 and 2008. In 1806, Thomas Jefferson was president and Napoleon was marching through Europe! So to Jews at the time, it didn't seem like "Hey, we're really getting kicked out of everywhere. We were just expelled from England, and now Spain too!" Granted, there were many other medieval expulsions of Jews as well, but they only seem to be constant and overwhelming when we, with hindsight, put them all together on a list.

And I'm not sure that "safety" was Herzl's main goal with Zionism. It should be remembered that the event which had the greatest influence on him was not the pogroms in Russia or anything in Germany, but the Dreyfus trial in France. The Dreyfus case raised serious questions about anti-Semitism and discrimination, but not necessarily physical danger.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

"What, exactly, do the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Sderot think they will accomplish?"

They think it will provoke an invasion of Gaza. Hamas is not stupid. It's been preparing for this invasion for six months, and it wants it now. It knows that Olmert will kill hundreds but not thousands, as Netanyahu would, and it knows that Olmert will use force to shut down the rocket attacks - if he does not, Livni will lose the election and Netanyahu will conduct the invasion. So Hamas gets a limited invasion that will fail to destroy it, but will make for great TV and will create sufficient Palestinian support to allow it to resume suicide bombings. This is exactly what Hamas wants.

Israel is going to lose this round. It's Lebanon all over again, and Olmert can't seem to learn from his past mistakes.

Posted by: Bloix on December 29, 2008 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel, FYI, Cali is already under attack from Mexico. The border patrol agents cannot defend themselves. Cali is a sanctuary state, the police cannot ask for I.D. from illegal immigrants even if they know he's an illegal immigrant. Remember the teenager that was killed by an illegal immigrant - his mother was serving the country in Iraq.

Illegal immigrants can get free medical care, whereas, the citizens if no insurance no treatment.

Illegal immigrants have taken the jobs from citizens here.

Illegal immigrants can not be discriminated against in housing - citizens, if credit is bad no apartomento.

Mexican Military have been caught crossing our borders for the past 8 years.

Not only that, it's not just Mexican migrants crossing this border.

As to Boy George's statement that we will have an attack on American soil. I believe it, especially now that Middle Easterners have been protesting here in Anaheim & Los Angeles over the Palestine/Israel conflict.

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

Can't the Israelis' say the very same thing about the unprovoked rocket attacks coming from Hamas controled Gaza?

Well, let's see:

Number of people killed in rocket attacks on Israel since the end of the cease-fire: : Zero.

Number of people killed in air attacks on Gaza since the end of the cease-fire: 300 and counting

I suppose that if you think that Israelis being frightened but not killed is exactly the same as killing 300 people, you could say that the two things are exactly equivalent. In your case, you probably think that more Palestinian civilians should have been killed for frightening (but not killing or apparently even seriously wounding) Israeli civilians.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 29, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

The Jewish Nazis, known to the world as the Likud, need to re-read the history of the Warsaw Ghetto.

And then they need to kick the American Nazis of the Kach Movement out of the West Bank.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 29, 2008 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I will now visit the site I heard about on C-Span this morning called free gaza

freegaza.org

I want to see up to the minute details of what's going on there.

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

I am so tired of this false equivalence argument, "ohh, they are both overreacting." Gaza is not occupying Israel, Israel is occupying Palestinian land. Israel continues to slowly occupy more and more Palestinian land, destroying houses of Palestinians and pushing the people out. Israel is engaging in an aggressive, expansionist policy to remove Palestinians.

Israel has never acknowledged the right of Palestinians to exist.

There was a cease fire - and Israel broke it before Hamas did.

Posted by: JohnN on December 29, 2008 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

re the comment that the inaccurate rockets fired by Palestinians represent indiscriminate punishment of the Israel civilian population, I would point out that if the resistance had accurate weapons, they might very well target Israeli soldiers instead. To me, the characterization of indiscriminate applies so far only to the Israeli army and air force, which do possess highly accurate weapons, thanks largely to the civilian population of the United States.

Posted by: rbe1 on December 29, 2008 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

rbe1,

check out the website freegaza.org

this site has humanitarians from all over the world there -

**see the part where an Israeli woman was arrested for visiting Gaza although she didn't enter through Israel

**a couple of Israeli's were fishing with a few Palestinians, allegedly the some Israeli soldiers kidnapped all of them, but, eventually deported the Israelis that were fishing.

wow, this is a site!!!!

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK
And I'm not sure that "safety" was Herzl's main goal with Zionism. It should be remembered that the event which had the greatest influence on him was not the pogroms in Russia or anything in Germany, but the Dreyfus trial in France. The Dreyfus case raised serious questions about anti-Semitism and discrimination, but not necessarily physical danger.

You are of course correct about Edward I.

As for Herzl, you overstate your case. The trial (which he covered as a journalist, I seem to recall) really shook him up, it is true. And the issue of safety was very large in people's minds since the Ostjuden -- the Eastern European Jews -- were not only top of mind due to the pogroms, but because these people were also migrating into places like Vienna. There were political parties in Austrian (and particularly in Vienna) that were the direct predecessor of the National Socialists of 30 or so years later. This was Hertzl's country, and his world.

And the idea that life in the Diaspora was precarious was very heavily ingrained in Jews generally, but particularly in Europe. Jews had only had much in the way of civil rights since Napoleon, who was closer to Hertzl than we are to Hertzl. And I don't know what your background is, but if you've never read it, you might find yourself a copy of Martyrology Service that is in most Yom Kippur prayer books. The list of events is very long, and any Jew who went to synagogue on the High Holidays heard them every year. Simply, you are incorrect to state that Jews didn't believe that you could be thrown out of a country because you were Jewish. Jewish refugees were in the experience of most generations; they were even in the experience of late 19 century Austrian society. So it's specious to make the claims you make are simply not based upon what these people themselves wrote or understood. While Jews like Hertzl were secular and not that well educated in Jewish sources, it was certainly a part of his culture, and was something he reacquainted himself with once he got past the Dreyfus Trial.

Posted by: Rob From Santa Cruz on December 29, 2008 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

What I don't get is why they think these are 'surgical strikes' when they do them in the middle of the day and target what may as well be random authorities.

And what these strikes are supposed to do... They blow things up, but it's not like someone won't just smuggle in more weapons, or steal the police force's guns while the policemen are busy being dead or dying.

What? Less people died from suicide bombs? So that means they have to kill even more Palestinians?

Posted by: Crissa on December 29, 2008 at 4:06 AM | PERMALINK
And what these strikes are supposed to do... They blow things up, but it's not like someone won't just smuggle in more weapons, or steal the police force's guns while the policemen are busy being dead or dying.

I believe this was in one Sunday's pieces in the NYT. According to Hamas sources, the Israelis destroyed essential all of Hamas' "security installations". Since the initial air attacks were a pretty complete surprise, most of these positions were manned at the time; the Times surmises that the initial death toll was as high as it was for that reason. The Hamas source also said that most of the people who were killed in this first wave were not civilians, but security people of various kinds.

Whether it made any sense for the Israelis to do this is a very different question. But the initial information I've read in the Times and on the Ha'aretz web site suggest that the military infrastructure was what the Israelis intended to hit.

What they've done since then I have no idea; I don't have a clue what they think they are going to do with tanks, if those reports are correct.

Posted by: Rob From Santa Cruz on December 29, 2008 at 4:59 AM | PERMALINK


So they could be suicide bombed by a bunch of rednecks with trucknuts and some Native Americans whose land they sold?

I think you've reduced your own argument to absurdity. Unless you can point to any suicide bombing, ever, done by rednecks or Native Americans. Impossible to imagine.

Half of the Jewish population of the world lives in the US already. Why not just give them a chunk of land bigger than Israel is now? This 'holy land' nonsense is the main problem.

Posted by: winner on December 29, 2008 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

Rob from Sta Cruz,

according to freegaza.org that's not all the targets they are alleged to have bombed.

The human aid workers there said, it was more than that. They also talked about 2 kids that were killed from the bombing - 2 kids were burned to death under a car.

BTW, these Europeans. They are posting the events as they happen.

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 5:16 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know much about the Middle East, but I strongly feel that having good intentions can solve any problem.

Hamas are very determined and will never stop trying to inflict damage on Israelis. So therefore Israel should not try to force them to. If Israel thinks that the rockets make life in its southern cities unbearable, it should move its citizens out of these cities.

As Hamas gets better and better rockets, Israel should evacuate more and more cities (meanwhile it should start the evacuations in the north because Hezbollah are just as determined as Hamas).

Israel should also abandon its nukes. If Iran nukes Israel, Israel can't possibly be allowed to retaliate because innocent Iranians would die, and it would anyway be too late to prevent the Iranian attack.

Gandhi believed in the efficacy of non-violent resistance, but out of moral necessity my conscience tells me that the Israelis must practice simple and ineffective non-violence.

Posted by: Clueless but well-meaning liberal on December 29, 2008 at 5:57 AM | PERMALINK

"I doubt that's odd for someone who reads a lot. But for the average U.S. news viewer, the Sderot situation didn't exist."

Every article in every major story in the last few days has gone into great detail on it. But hardly any of them even *mention* the blockade - an act of war aimed squarely at the civilian population that has now been ongoing for *years*. For the average US news viewer Israel's terrorism is simply airbrushed out of the picture - it is made not exist. By contrast the Siderot is omnipresent.

Posted by: chaboard on December 29, 2008 at 6:13 AM | PERMALINK

it is a mistake to believe that either side in the conflict wants a solution other than annihilation of the other. Both side are too invested in violence.

Posted by: pluege on December 29, 2008 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

And the plot thickens.

On the business channel this morning, it was noted that oil has risen due to the Israel/Palestinian war-conflict.

Last week, I noticed on the business channel, they kept saying gas would be moving higher.

What a coincidence!

Earlier this year, a guy from Texas was in Israel looking for oil - he said according to a map he had, Israel must have oil there.

The website www.theheadlines.org alleged that Boy George's administration was aware of this, and allegedly one of the staffers said they (meaning Israel & the U.S.) wanted to get this over with before the new administration takes office!!!

**is this true or rumor?

Other allegations swirling around is the current Israeli leaders did this to win the upcoming elections.

**is this true or rumor?

I'm not sure, because the of the constant spoon-feeding of B.S.

Apparently, Cynthia McKinney, presidential candidate for the Green Party, is enroute to Palestine.

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

Rather than debating the current antagonisms of Israel and Palestine---the "betwix and between" tandem of the planet, one might say---might'nt it be better to begin discussing how the rest of the world will get on, once the entire region is coated in radioactive ash? Israel's "once-and-for-all" plan to settle the Hamas issue will leave it adrift in a sea of rabid hate not witnessed by the denizens of this planet since the great massacres of Rwanda, and the killing fields of Pol Pot.

"Hamas lacks the technology to aim its rockets", you say? This is a truth, to be sure, but only for a little while longer will it remain a truth; technology being capable of evolving chaotically on its own, without much help from anyone. Leveling Gaza beneath the boot of Israeli airstrikes and motorized artillery will not stop this evolution from taking place. It is written in the history-yet-to-be of this planet, and will be set in stone by those neighboring nations siding with the plight of the Gazans. They will mobilize against Israel en masse, and Israel will be put to its final test of survival by unleashing its arsenal---a "final solution" of its own making.

Then---and only then---will the world witness what happens when "the evolution of conflict" is suppressed for a half-century in a region where the primal law of avenging one's own has held sway over common sense for thousands of years over two disparate cultures who, by hating in the name of their God, do not care one whittle that they likewise hate themselves just as much....

Posted by: Steve W. on December 29, 2008 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

According the website www.freegaza.org

these are the targets that were hit -

playground
market
police stations
mosque
Hamas t.v. station

these are reports from Human Rights Defenders from UK, Poland, Canada, Spain, Italy & Australia

there's also video links

this is spooky - looks like the NWO

Posted by: annjell on December 29, 2008 at 7:14 AM | PERMALINK

AND, the most wonderful part of this whole cycle is that a majority of these people (and far too many others) use their RELIGION to justify their actions and thereby completely negate any true meaning and comfort that those beliefs should bring them and others...the end to this cycle is COMPLETE DESTRUCTION...but good to know that there is a HAPPY AFTERLIFE for those who were "right"!

Posted by: Dancer on December 29, 2008 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

Rob,

"Simply, you are incorrect to state that Jews didn't believe that you could be thrown out of a country because you were Jewish."

That's not what I said. I was refering not to the events listed in the "martyrology" but to the more casual way events that happened centuries apart are often strung together to seem as if they practically happened in sequence.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

It is bad idea to poke bear with stick. A butt kicking usually follows.

Posted by: gttim on December 29, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Gaza is the new Warsaw Ghetto.


Posted by: Buford on December 29, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Blinded by hatred. Deaf to sanity. Tasting blood of the enemy. The stench of violence. And the ice-cold touch disfigured lifeless bodies. A total sensual hellish nightmare!

S/he who stops the hate starts the peace! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 29, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Overwhelming retaliation stopped the rockets being fired from northern Lebanon, so the last time the technique was used, it worked.

Posted by: Andrew on December 29, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I forget who it was who formulated "Nixon's Law"--"If two wrongs don't make a right, try three"--but the Israelis and the Palestinians keep trying. Sadly, we seem to be up to 15 or so wrongs.

Posted by: Donlad A. Coffin on December 29, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

The US should defend Gaza as vigorously and as generously as it defends Israel.

Posted by: Brojo on December 29, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Collective punishment is a violation of the Geneva Convetnion.

Yet Israel has blockaded Gaza for months, preventing vital supplies from entering, denying medical supplies to NGOs in Gaza

Targeting of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Yet, in Lebanon and in Gaza, civilians have been targetted
So has infrastructure... to punish, collectively the civilian population

Witness the modern pogram
Unmentioned and/or sanitized by the media

Posted by: MSierra, SF on December 29, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
What, exactly, do the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Sderot think they will accomplish?

The ones lobbying rockets are extremists, either embittered directly by violence that has struck near them and seeking simple revenge, or callously recognizing that they have no place in a world of peace and seeking to radicalize the rest of the population by provoking an Israeli response that helps convince the rest of the population that peace is not possible.

And for the most part, they are getting exactly what they are looking for out of the attacks.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK
The ones lobbying rockets [...]

Or even lobbing rockets.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Quite a collection of mostly garbage.

1. I will ask HILZOY to point me to her posts on S'derot.

2. Gahndi's approach was very effective with fighting the British. I wonder if it would have been quite so effective had he been fighting Mao. And of course, the Muslim problem was "solved" to a great extent (not completely obviously) by a vast resttlement of Hindus to one part of the subcontinent and muslims to the other. We are still living with the problem, though.

3. The "legal borders" referred to above were never anything more than inartfully drawn armistice borders reflecting where various forces were at some point in 48 (or was it 49). They were never meant to be permanent, respected borders, as the palestinians and their allies in invading states proved in 1967. (As a result of that invasion, surely everyone will recall, we ended with a different set of armistice temporary borders, although states that wanted peace with Isarel now have adjusted, permanent and internationally respected borders. If current negotiations do well, perhaps Syria will soon join that list. Perhaps I should add "if that is the will of G-d)

As to the rest, even the Hamasniks here seem to acknowledge that rocket attacks from Gaza continued during the supposed 6 month agreement. And that Hamas still speaks not of those nasty Israelis, but about "The Zionist Entity". Good peace stuff, Hamasniks,

I have no doubt that if Canadian rockets began to arrive in upstate new york villages launched from densely populated portions of Ottawa or Quebec or Toronto, President Bush, President Obama or any President of the United States would do something about it, and there would be a lot of "collateral damage" And none of them would have waited six months. (Matter of fact, I suspect some folks in Canada could make out a pretty good historical case that some of that land was stolen from them and they have a right to reclaim it. Certainly as good a claim as the Hamas folks have.)

If the Hamas folks (being Hamas members, and the tens of thousands in Gaza supporting them) want to end the war, they should come to the table, and make peace. THey aren't particularly strong, and so might get a deal they won't particularly like --- they might comit not referring to Israel as "the Zionist Entity" anymore, for example, and lay down their arms --- but the strong always get better terms than the weaker. The US Civil War didn't conclude with an agreement that Negros still located in the former confedaracy would have to go back to their owners.

One other thing: there are several reports that Hamas leaders have "gone underground". Presumably the Palestinian equivalent of Dick Cheney's undisclosed location. I am sure that these people continue to eat well, have no problems with bandaids should they cut themselves, with lots of Airborne to avoid catching a cold. They are cowards, and, I suspect are less troubled by the 300 dead than are the Israelis. The dead serve a purpose, furthering their cause.

In part because the deaths influence well meaning people populating blogs in the West, who don't really know any better (or who simply don't like Jews --- and there clearly a bit of that on the posts here --- and are horrified about those nasty Israelis who are killers of the poor, peaceful Palestinians.

Suckers!

Posted by: Democratus on December 29, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

"... people who don't really know any better (or who simply don't like Jews --- and there clearly a bit of that on the posts here --- "

ROFL. Here it comes, just like always.
Opposing Israeli theocracy/apartheid = Anti semitism

Unfortunately, truth and justice seem to have an anti-Israel bias.

Simple fact number 1. Israelis took the land at gunpoint and expelled the inhabitants so they could create a state dominated by a single religion, race and culture. They continue to expand their land base at will.

Simple fact number 2. Israel can't allow Palestinians return because it would 'pollute' the purity of their culture. Why they expelled them in eh first place.

Simple fact number 3. Israel was founded in the crucible of terrorism. Zionist organizations were the number one terror groups of their day. Hotel bomber Begin and peace envoy asassin Rabin later became prime ministers. Streets in Israel are named after the Stern Gang (Israelis somehow get pissed when you point this stuff out).

Simple fact number 4. Israel is not really an ally of the US... the US is used at their convenience and to achieve their own ends.

Educate yourself...

Read up on the firebombing of the US embassy in Egypt by Israeli agents, strafing of the USS Liberty, add the account of the Israeli agents dancing and singing as the filmed the towers going down on 9-11... "we were there to film the towers going down"... Then peruse information on the 60-some odd Israeli agents expelled after 9-11.

Of course, there is the continuing efforts of Israel to get their spy Johnathan Pollard released from jail (He stole US Nuclear secrets which were later traded to the Russians by Israel).

Sorry if the facts are er... 'anti-semetic'.

Posted by: Buford on December 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that what's driving these actions isn't based on solving the problem. It's political power for the actors involved. Hamas WANTS civilian casualties. They don't think they are going to defeat Israel with a few rockets. They are looking for PR: those funerals and bodies laid out for the cameras are precisely the entire point of this exercise. Not stability. Not even winning peaceful concessions from Israel. They need recruitment video, and they get it.

On the other hand, Israeli politics is dominated by a fear of looking weak in the face of the hordes at the borders. Peace has been tried over and over, and failed. But no other solution seems to be around. So what are they going to do, allow rocket attacks to continue and simply sit there? You're not going to stay in office very long like that.

Posted by: Bad on December 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why no, you fucking racist simpleton, not all Arabs have. A significant number of Arabs in the Middle East support Israel's right to exist, and a significant number of Israeli citizens are Arab and belong to groups and political parties that strive toward a peaceful resolution.

It's true that not all Arabs want to destroy Israel. The real question is whether there will always be attempts by some Arabs to destroy Israel independent of Israeli policies. Arabs attempted on a large scale to destroy Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973. So what do you really think? Do you think that it is the existence of Israel that provokes these relentless attacks against Israel, or do you think that it is particular policies of Israeli governments?

Hamas may be a small subset of Arabs, but they receive considerable military support from other Arabs and Muslims (including the non-Arabic Iranians.) Somehow, Hamas has been able to smuggle in endless supplies of weaponry, but not food, medicine or other civilian goods. Their announced intention is to destroy Israel, and in support of this intention they have invested sincere efforts. Tell us what you think, trex, will Hamas stop short of destroying Israel, or is it necessary for someone to stop them?

Everyone dances around this question. But it is one of the first questions to which you have to have at least a provisional answer before your other opinions can have any foundation. The other question is whether Israel has as much right to exist as, for examples, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 29, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

"the problem isn't what Israel does, the problem is that Israel exists"

What a biased view. There was certainly a powerful justifiable resentment toward Israel's existence at the beginning, but to ignore the actions carried out by the governments and especially the settlers of Israel since, actions which have contributed enormously to the resentment and even hatred from the Palestinians and other Arabs in the region in the past few decades, is delusional. For me the settlers are the most violent and dangerous element present in Israel, and the most likely reason why there will not be a two state resolution anytime soon. I think if the Israelis could get the settlers under control and if Israel were forced by the USA to obey all of the UN resolutions, there might be the possibility to negotiate some kind of land swap and the establishment of two states with a border maintained by an international force. As far as I can see, the Israelis will never consider a solution which integrates significant numbers of Palestinians as equal citizens, and Hamas will not recognize the state of Israel. However, I don't see a problem with either position as long as there are secure borders and a permanent truce with Hamas, a condition Hamas has stated publically they would support.
For Israel to insist that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist makes about as much sense as having gays in the USA insist that the Christian political right agree that gay marriage is supported in the bible.

Posted by: rbe1 on December 29, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Arabs attempted on a large scale to destroy Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973. So what do you really think? Do you think that it is the existence of Israel that provokes these relentless attacks against Israel, or do you think that it is particular policies of Israeli governments?"

I notice that the most recent of these attempts was in 1973, 35 years ago. A lot has changed in 35 years--two of the most prominent participants in these wars, Egypt and Jordan, have signed peace treaties with Israel. It's also well to remember that there was no end in sight to the Northern Ireland conflict in 1973 either.

As for your question, the only honest answer is: We don't know. It's not clear whether there will always be a significant number of Arabs who want to destroy Israel. But I think there is a way to reduce the likelihood of this being the case. If the bulk of the Palestinian population becomes satisfied with their political and economic conditions, there will likely be less support for groups like Hamas. It might then be possible for these groups to be so marginalized that they become insignificant. Unfortunately, instead of trying to achieve this, Israel seems to always go in the opposite direction, pouring salt in the wounds of Palestinians and other Arabs rather than trying to find an acceptable situation that might bring peace. As I said before, the "Arabs hate Israel because Israel exists" line becomes a self-serving rationale for Israel to treat the Palestinians however it damn well pleases, since if Israel will never be accepted whatever it does, it might as well do whatever it wants (this is not my viewpoint, but it is how many in Israel think, particularly the rightwing).

The other thing Israel might do is publicly acknowledge that the creation of the Jewish state resulted in enormous injustice to Palestine's Arab population. There is no reason why this can't be acknowledged. The U.S. no longer claims it didn't do anything wrong to Native Americans, and America hasn't collapsed because of it. Such a gesture might allow the Palestinians to make peace without feeling like they are giving up their honor and dignity (concepts which are extremely important in the Middle East) in the process.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"For Israel to insist that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist makes about as much sense as having gays in the USA insist that the Christian political right agree that gay marriage is supported in the bible."

This is absolutely true. I wouldn't expect the Navajo or the Cherokee to recognize the right of the United States to exist either.

Posted by: Lee on December 29, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"I wouldn't expect the Navajo or the Cherokee to recognize the right of the United States to exist either"

You're absolutely correct. Why should they ? Certainly they should not, based on the way they've been treated. But all this says is that overwhelming force usually gets its way. Might makes right isn't just a trite expression, is it ?

Posted by: rbe1 on December 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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