Gaza

Over at The New Republic, Jonathan Chait states a central truth regarding the situation in Gaza. He was replying to this standard bit of lazy moral relativism from Ezra Klein:

The point is simple: You can argue, as Israel is arguing, that their air strikes are a response to Hamas’s missiles. But to the Palestinians, Hamas’s missiles were a response to the blockade (under international law, a blockade is indeed an act of war). Israel, of course, would argue that the blockade was a response to Hamas’s past attacks. And Hamas would argue that past attacks were a response to Israel’s unceasing oppression of the Palestinian people. And Israel would argue that…

The provocations and cassus belli travel as far back as anyone might care to trace. And whether you believe Israel, the Palestinians, or the international partitioners originally at fault, starting the clock on December 10th, when the ceasefire expired and Hamas’s missiles crashed into the fields around Sderot, is merely an Israeli press strategy. This is the latest tactic in an ongoing struggle over land and freedom and security and money and politics and religion and elections and oppression. It did not begin with the rockets, and it will not end with this attack.

Chait summons forth the obvious reply:

Look, it’s obviously true that both sides see the root of the conflict differently. But these two views just are not equally valid. Hamas has a problem with Israel because Hamas believes Israel has no right to exist. Israel has a problem with Hamas because Hamas believes Israel has no right to exist. If Hamas lay down all its weapons, Israel would lift its blockade. If Israel lay down all its weapons, Hamas would kill as many Israelis as it could. That fact doesn’t justify any Israeli response to Hamas, but it is a necessary starting point for any analysis. If you can’t grasp the asymmetric nature of the two greivances, then any reasoning that follows is going to come out crooked.

Exactly right. Michael Weiss expresses similar thoughts in an excellent essay for Jewcy:

No proponent of Palestinian rights can in good conscience look admiringly on such barbarism. Whatever its behind-the-scenes complexities, Hamas has clearly committed itself to an unsustainable status quo of militant authoritarianism, more concerned with saving face than altering the material conditions of its constituents. The economic sanctions imposed on the strip by Israel, justified or not, would be eliminated with the basic concession of Israel’s right to exist and the repudiation of terrorism as a legitimate means of resistance, two things Hamas stubbornly continues to refuse as Gazans continue to starve.

Once again, exactly right.

The Hamas government in Gaza has the destruction of Israel has its specifically stated goal. They are supported heavily by Iran, which likewise has the destruction of Israel as its goal. Hamas has shown its perfect willingness to target Israeli civilians through rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

Tell me, please, what Israel is supposed to do in the face of this reality. How would other countries react to direct attacks on their civilians by neighbors bent on their destruction? Would we be hearing pathetic bleats about proportionality if this were any country other than Israel? Would we be reading things like this:

In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

Nagging?

That, incidentally, was Daoud Kuttab, writing in The Washington Post. The theme of his article is that Israel has revitalized Hamas by their actions. Yawn.

The disproportionate and heavy-handed Israeli attacks on Gaza have been a bonanza for Hamas. The movement has renewed its standing in the Arab world, secured international favor further afield and succeeded in scuttling indirect Israeli-Syrian talks and direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It has also greatly embarrassed Israel’s strongest Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.

While it is not apparent how this violent confrontation will end, it is abundantly clear that the Islamic Hamas movement has been brought back from near political defeat while moderate Arab leaders have been forced to back away from their support for any reconciliation with Israel.

Forgive me, but this is an old story. The Arab world is always about to make peace with Israel, until the Israelis go off half-cocked in response to some trifling attack on their civilians. The moderates are always gaining ground until they are driven back down, Sisyphus-like, by Israeli aggression. It is always the Israelis who are to blame for the breakdown of some fictitious “peace process.” It was only three years ago that the Palestinians voted overwhelmingly for Hamas, and Hamas was no less anti-Israel then than they are now. Am I really to believe public opinion has changed so much that peace was at hand but for the Israeli attacks?

You would have to be made of stone not to be horrified by the plight of the Palestinian citizens in Gaza. They have been ill-served by their corrupt and despotic government. But my sympathy is tempered by the fact that they elected a government that sees terror as a legitimate weapon. They elected a government more interested in picking fights with Israel than in providing a life for its citizens. When you support suicide bombing and attacks on civilians, I really do not care about your grievances.

The other line against Israel is that, regardless of the morality of their actions, they are being strategically unwise. That is possible, but I do not have a strong opinion on the subject. It is rather difficult for me, sitting comfortably on the other side of the world and reading a few newspaper accounts of what is happening, to determine what Israel can realistically accomplish by military action. In general, though, I would be more sympathetic to that argument if it were applied evenly to both sides of the conflict.

The people wringing their hands over what Israel hopes to accomplish ought to spend a minute or two wondering what Hamas hoped to accomplish with their relentless attacks on Israel. The people who fret about how Israel’s actions have radicalized their Arab neighbors ought also to ponder how Hamas’ actions have radicalized Israeli public opinion.

Reading much of the anti-Israel commentary in the American media makes me sympathetic to the idea of moral clarity. Israel is hardly guiltless, and has done many unwise things in its history. But there is no question where the lion’s share of the blame belongs. Hostilities in the region would end tomorrow if the Arab governments recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced terrorism as a weapon. That, of course, will not happen. The Arab governments need to foment hostility toward Israel to distract public opinion from their own feckless and incompetent rule. Sadly, so far the public seems perfectly happy to play along.

Comments

  1. #1 Orac
    January 2, 2009

    The people wringing their hands over what Israel hopes to accomplish ought to spend a minute or two wondering what Hamas hoped to accomplish with their relentless attacks on Israel. The people who fret about how Israel’s actions have radicalized their Arab neighbors ought also to ponder how Hamas’ actions have radicalized Israeli public opinion.

    Indeed. Public opinion in southern Israel became more militant the more missiles rained down upon them. True, the missiles usually missed, but they were intentionally aimed at populated targets and occasionally caused casualties. No nation would tolerate a barrage of as many as 80 missiles a day. It doesn’t matter if they usually miss; one can’t count on them always missing. Imagine if someone in Mexico or Canada were lobbing missiles at, say San Diego or Detroit, respectively, and the Mexican or Canadian government not only did nothing to stop it but gave tacit, if not active, approval to those launching the missiles. We would not have waited as long as Israel did.

    Unfortunately, it looks as though Hamas got exactly what it wants. It was clearly trying to provoke Israel to attack, knowing that it can bolster its standing in the Arab world by standing up to Israel.

  2. #2 PalMD
    January 2, 2009

    Thanks Jason. You saved me the trouble of wading into this, and wrote exactly what i would have like to. Be prepared for traffic.

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 2, 2009

    Orac –

    Sadly, I think you’re right about Hamas getting exactly what it wanted. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Israel was wrong to react militarily.

    PalMD -

    Glad you liked the post.

  4. #4 dean
    January 2, 2009

    I agree with the comments about Hamas, and I am perplexed at how they persuaded people to vote them into power.

    I’m not so sure about this observation:
    “If Hamas lay down all its weapons, Israel would lift its blockade.” (by Chait)

    Perhaps I am too much a pessimist on this issue, but I have a feeling that the result of a weapons lay-down would mean that the correct consequent to his implication should be “Israel would forcefully remove the Palestinians”. (Don’t begin screaming at me: I do not mean this as a slight at Israel, it’s leaders or it’s people, but a comment on the consequences Hamas’ past actions generate.)

    Hamas and their supporters seem to have burrowed themselves into a never-ending hell-hole with their actions.

  5. #5 Christopher Gwyn
    January 2, 2009

    Tell me, please, what Israel is supposed to do in the face of this reality.

    Find a better way. If what you are doing is not resulting in less violence try something else. Killing people because you do not see a better way is unacceptable, no matter what the frustrations involved. And this applies every bit as much to Hamas as it does to the Israeli government.

  6. #6 PalMD
    January 2, 2009

    I agree with the comments about Hamas, and I am perplexed at how they persuaded people to vote them into power.

    Hopelessness (the external force), fear, intimidation, violence (Hamas’s contribution)

    I’m not so sure about this observation:
    “If Hamas lay down all its weapons, Israel would lift its blockade.” (by Chait)

    Perhaps I am too much a pessimist on this issue, but I have a feeling that the result of a weapons lay-down would mean that the correct consequent to his implication should be “Israel would forcefully remove the Palestinians”. (Don’t begin screaming at me: I do not mean this as a slight at Israel, it’s leaders or it’s people, but a comment on the consequences Hamas’ past actions generate.)

    Israel does not seem to want anything to do with Gaza, and would be happy if it just simply ceased to be their problem.

    Hamas and their supporters seem to have burrowed themselves into a never-ending hell-hole with their actions.

    Yes. They are quite good at doing their part in perpetuating the cycle of violence between Gaza and Israel.

  7. #7 Jeff Hebert
    January 2, 2009

    Hostilities in the region would end tomorrow if the Arab governments recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced terrorism as a weapon.

    Yes, every war would be over instantly if the other side would just give up. How insightful.

    You could just as easily say “Hostilities in the region would end tomorrow if the Israeli government recognized Palestinians’s rights to full citizenship and renounced Jewish settlements in the contested regions as a weapon.”

    Even if I imagine a scenario like you outline, there would still be two sets of people occupying one piece of land that both of them want. All the recognizing in the world isn’t going to stop them from fighting.

  8. #8 Pazuzu
    January 2, 2009

    Have you seen a map displaying the change of the palestinian territories over
    the last 50 years? Would you accept the mormons pushing you out of your
    home town? Would you perhaps even resort to violence to protect your right
    to live on your fathers land? Maybe I am asking the wrong question,
    maybe I should ask the Sioux. Whatever. If an educated american cannot see
    the problem then I guess we are in for a long haul.

  9. #10 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 2, 2009

    Pazuzu -

    If those Sioux, for whom you have so much sympathy, started firing rockets into American cities, or used suicide bombers to kill civilians, would you defend them on the grounds that they feel aggrieved? Somehow I doubt it. And if you would, then I would suggest it is you who fail to see the problem.

  10. #11 bigTom
    January 2, 2009

    But, what is Israel going to gain by acting so disproportionately? As I see it, they have no exit strategy. My reading of human psychology is that Hamas/Gaza will never stop firing rockets as long as hostilities are happening. My other reading of psychology would say that Israel by destroying Hamas v 1.0, will only create Hamas v 2.0. And that new version will make the old one look tame in comparison. All the while, Israel risks losing another batch of the few friends it has left.

    Clearly, neither party to the conflict has any good options. But disproportionate response simply digs the hole much deeper.

  11. #12 Sigmund
    January 2, 2009

    I grew up in Ireland during the worst of the Northern Ireland violence and lived in London during numerous IRA bombing campaigns. I can recall on several occasions the English locals calling for retaliatory strikes on Irish targets. The IRAs political wing, Sinn Fein, had offices throughout the Irish Republic in built-up areas, and undoubtedly there must have been individuals there who were involved in the planning of the terrorist attacks.
    I look now at Gaza and see a hellish alternative present of both Ireland and the UK if the UK leaders had given in to the cries for vengeance and sent in the bombers.
    I am a pragmatist about such conflicts. The IRA violence eventually convinced the UK government that there was no military solution, yet it also destroyed its primary objective because it showed that the threat of violence from Unionists was too high a price for the Irish to pay for unification.
    Looking at the Israel Palestine question I don’t think there is either a military solution (the ultimate victory for Israel, sufficient to wipe out all possible retaliation ?), nor is there a diplomatic solution – at least no viable and just ‘Two-State solution’.
    A pragmatic solution is probably one of compensation and emigration for the Palestinians. I don’t think justice should be our primary objective here (since neither party are going to agree on that point). The objective must be to stop the daily barbarity that disgraces the name of democracy.

  12. #13 Pazuzu
    January 2, 2009

    Jason: it seems to me that this was exactly what the Sioux did, did they not?
    Replacing rockets with the technology of the day of course.
    At least until they were finally crushed at Wounded knee. Is this what you are proposing?

    I would definitely defend their right to defend themselves. By any means?
    No, but that must hold for both parties. At any rate, the analogy between Ghaza
    and an Indian reservation is really quite striking.

  13. #14 Explicit Atheist
    January 2, 2009

    bigTom | January 2, 2009 7:34 PM

    “But, what is Israel going to gain by acting so disproportionately? As I see it, they have no exit strategy. My reading of human psychology is that Hamas/Gaza will never stop firing rockets as long as hostilities are happening. My other reading of psychology would say that Israel by destroying Hamas v 1.0, will only create Hamas v 2.0. And that new version will make the old one look tame in comparison. All the while, Israel risks losing another batch of the few friends it has left.”

    If Hamas, as you say, will “never stop firing rockets” then Israel will never stop attacking Hamas in response and it becomes a zero sum game as a result of Hamas’ commitment to war and violence (they call it resistance) and the stronger party will probably eventually win by killing off the other side. Its like any relationship between any state and violent crime. Any state will imprison violent criminals for as long as there are violent criminals. Obviously, Hamas has tons of explosives and anti-tank weapons, etc. and its over the border, and they are firing rockets, so the response has to military, not police. I doubt that Israel gives a shit about your “friendship”, they care first and foremost about their freedom to live in peace and they will us whatever force is required to live in peace even if that means thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have to be killed to stop those rockets. Those weapons will be taken from Hamas or Hamas soldiers will be killed or eventually the Israeli economy will deteriorate and that could set the stage for Israel to be military defeated. This is a zero sum game because Hamas insists that it a be zero sum game and therefore it is Hamas and Hamas only that is 100% to blame for the inevitable and fully justified Israeli military response. Hamas has a choice, they don’t have to commit to a zero sum game, they can focus on building a Gaza state, or they can focus on attacking Israel. It is their choice, you cannot deny that this is their choice simply because they refuse to acknowledge that they have another choice. They can attack Israel, but they can’t have Israel, its not their state. All the arguments about two people claiming the same land is avoiding the obvious difference that Palestinians are Islamic Arabs and Islamic Arabs have lots of autocratic Islamic Arab states (including one well governed kingdom that occupies most of the original Palestine mandate) and they could even have another autocratic Islamic state in Palestine if they choose peace with Israel or even the first Arab democracy if they were so atypically liberal minded.

  14. #15 Brett Dunbar
    January 2, 2009

    There are other approaches available to Israel, for a start they could try talking seriously to Fatah, a settlement in the West Bank might actually give the Palestinians reason to try an approach other than violence. Unfortunately for Israel while violence has had some success as a strategy, Israel was eventually forced out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and settlement expansion was brought to a virtual halt, negotiation has not achieved even a reduction in the rate of settlement building. It is unlikely that Hamas will be willing to adopt the strategy that has so conspicuously failed for Fatah without some reason to believe that things are now different. The recently ended ceasefire had one serious breach, Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza strip in November. Hamas actually kept to the ceasefire while Israel did not lift the blockade, and then launched an attack. Under the circumstances Hamas chose not to extend the ceasefire. Israel than launched an attack before Hamas actually did anything. A large part of the reason for Hamas winning the elections was that Fatah were corrupt incompetent and there seemed no prospect of Israel coming up with acceptable proposals. This actually creates pressure for Hamas to moderate in order to retain support from those who supported Hamas to fight corruption rather than Israel, if moderation has the prospect of achieving something. Unfortunately Israel still refuses to halt settlement building and continues its decades old attack on the Palestinian people.

  15. #16 Alex Besogonov
    January 2, 2009

    Israeli government is dumb.

    Right now they have killed about 20 _times_ more civilians than people killed by Hamas’ rockets. It would have been much better if Israel just waited out this round of missile shootings. Does ANYONE think that this military operation will solve anything?

    Look at what Russia has recently done at Chechnya for a (fairly) good example of how to solve such conflict.

  16. #17 Explicit Atheist
    January 2, 2009

    Alex Besogonov | January 2, 2009 10:11 PM

    “Israeli government is dumb. Right now they have killed about 20 _times_ more civilians than people killed by Hamas’ rockets.”

    Hamas is dumb. Right now they have lost 20 times more civilians than civilians killed by Hamas rockets.

  17. #18 Explicit Atheist
    January 2, 2009

    Posted by: Brett Dunbar | January 2, 2009 10:10 P

    “There are other approaches available to Israel, for a start they could try talking seriously to Fatah, a settlement in the West Bank might actually give the Palestinians reason to try an approach other than violence.”

    Palestinians have always had reason to try an approach other than violence and they still do. This notion that Israel doesn’t seriously want peace with the Arab world is such total and complete and transparent upside down, inside out, idiocy and nonsense that one has to wonder what world you are living in…. Much of the Arab world has been and still is reluctant to accept Israel and Arab societies have a tendency to demonize Israel and not take actions that would advance a peace agreement such as establish diplomatic or trade relations. Many Arabs tend to view almost any such peace agreement as defeat and a sell-out. And no, there is no alternative for any self-respecting state that is being attacked by rockets short of attacking back with whatever force is necessary to stop the rockets for however long it takes. If Hamas wants to fight, they will get a fight, and we better all hope that Hamas loses because Hamas is very clear, Hamas says they don’t want peace with Israel and they say they will never accept peace with Israel, and they act accordingly.

  18. #19 Sigmund
    January 2, 2009

    “Palestinians are Islamic Arabs and Islamic Arabs have lots of autocratic Islamic Arab states ”
    Just as its not a good idea to mix up the terms ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jew’, its also better not to mix up ‘Palestinian’ and Islamic Arab. Palestinians are individuals whose ancestors came from the geographic area of Palestine. Most of them undoubtedly are muslem but a lot are christian (although, as far as I know, most of those have emigrated at this stage).

  19. #20 penn
    January 2, 2009

    Jason, the Sioux fought for centuries against Western expansion. The Palestinians have only been fighting for several decades now. Do you really think the Sioux were the bad guys for not accepting Manifest Destiny sooner? They fundamentally rejected the right of Western powers to take and occupy their land. Just like the Palestinians and Arab nations in the region reject Israel’s right to exist.

  20. #21 Explicit Atheist
    January 2, 2009

    Posted by: Sigmund | January 2, 2009 10:37 PM

    “Just as its not a good idea to mix up the terms ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jew’, its also better not to mix up ‘Palestinian’ and Islamic Arab. Palestinians are individuals whose ancestors came from the geographic area of Palestine. Most of them undoubtedly are muslem but a lot are christian (although, as far as I know, most of those have emigrated at this stage). ”

    Yes, its a tragedy, one more tragedy in a world filled with tragedy. Has anyone here read the Hamas charter? I think it is helpful for understanding the conflict to read it. Please read it: http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/documents/charter.html

  21. #22 Explicit Atheist
    January 2, 2009

    Posted by: penn | January 2, 2009 10:48 PM

    “Jason, the Sioux fought for centuries against Western expansion. The Palestinians have only been fighting for several decades now. Do you really think the Sioux were the bad guys for not accepting Manifest Destiny sooner? They fundamentally rejected the right of Western powers to take and occupy their land. Just like the Palestinians and Arab nations in the region reject Israel’s right to exist.”

    Oh, what a noble cause this is! Palestinians are the American Indians who were slaughtered by bigoted European cowboys stealing their land! We salute the valiant Hamas in your resolute and unswerving resistance to those European interlopers who stole your land! Shoot rockets at Israel then demand that Israel that not take actions sufficient to stop rocket attacks. Down with Israel! Down with the United States!

  22. #23 penn
    January 2, 2009

    Firstly, I didn’t salute Hamas or demand anything of Israel. I just don’t think the similarities with the plight of Native Americans can be so easily dismissed. Do you blame the Sioux and other indigenous peoples for fighting until they were completely defeated? Do you think this situation is fundamentally different than what happened across the Americas and Australia?

  23. #24 ScentOfViolets
    January 2, 2009

    I think this is the comparison most people are making these days. I’m also curious as to why Jason doesn’t think there is a clear parallel with what the U.S. did to its native population. Aside from the fact that it casts Israel in a very dim light.

    Note, btw, that no matter what, Israel seems to have a propensity to declare that ‘they broke the truce first’. In fact, in this latest instance, it’s pretty unequivocal that Israel very clearly and very specifically broke the truce first. If the Palestinians are always going to be accused of breaking the truce first, well, might as well be hung for sheep as for lambs, as the saying goes.

  24. #25 Explicit Atheist
    January 3, 2009

    Posted by: penn | January 2, 2009 11:21 PM

    “Firstly, I didn’t salute Hamas or demand anything of Israel. I just don’t think the similarities with the plight of Native Americans can be so easily dismissed. Do you blame the Sioux and other indigenous peoples for fighting until they were completely defeated? Do you think this situation is fundamentally different than what happened across the Americas and Australia?”

    Laws through out Europe limited the occupations of Jews, impoverishing Jewish communities, which are targets of periodic anti-semitic violence. So while it wasn’t entirely realistic for the non-Arabic speaking European Jews to think that they would be welcome by the Arabs when they started populating that part of the Arab world with the goal of starting a Jewish state, it wasn’t exactly realistic for them to stay in Europe either where those who remained ended up getting slaughtered by the Nazis. And during, and even after,with their communities in Europe gone, it wasn’t very realistic for many Jews to remain in Europe either. They didn’t arrive in that land with the attitude of stealing or killing anyone, they arrived with the attitude of starting a Jewish state in a relatively small area of a large continent and the Arab residents could either stay or leave and live in adjacent land that would not be part of a Jewish state. But there was conflict because, not surprisingly, some of the Arab residents objected to have their property be within a Jewish state of mostly non-Arabic speaking Jewish Europeans. No, I don’t see this as being the same as the American Indians or the Australians because, among other reasons, those two situations involved an entire continent and this involves a small piece of a continent where there is enough land for everyone provided that there is a willingness to accommodate the other. Israel has always accepted two states, and while that isn’t 100% fair to everyone its a lot fairer than no Israel. Its not like telling the former residents of what is now Tel Aviv or Haifa that they have to live in what is now the West Bank or Gaza instead is such an awful, terrible, unethical and immoral thing to do like killing off the American Indians and the native Australians. Is that clear?

  25. #26 Tony
    January 3, 2009

    “Tell me, please, what Israel is supposed to do in the face of this reality.”

    I’m a US citizen as I presume you are, Dr. Rosenhouse. I do not give a damn what the Israeli govt thinks it should do. I have no opinion and hardly have any moral capital to castigate them given the way we have treated our indigenous population.

    But I most definitely have an opinion about the misuse of US military aid given to Israel. Those missiles and aircraft may as well have “USA” stamped on their sides as far the international community is concerned. Our support of Israel in no way serves our national interest and I think George Washington would agree with me in regard to his admonition against entangling alliances.

    Other than that, I usually agree with you and enjoy your blog.

  26. #27 Explicit Atheist
    January 3, 2009

    Posted by: ScentOfViolets | January 2, 2009 11:59 PM

    “Note, btw, that no matter what, Israel seems to have a propensity to declare that ‘they broke the truce first’. In fact, in this latest instance, it’s pretty unequivocal that Israel very clearly and very specifically broke the truce first. If the Palestinians are always going to be accused of breaking the truce first, well, might as well be hung for sheep as for lambs, as the saying goes.”

    Hamas has always criticized Fatah for not relying primarily on violence so they literally couldn’t renew the truce after it expired without contradicting themselves because Hamas was not getting any additional concessions in return for the truce such as an end to the economic blockade. Israel will not agree to an end to the economic blockade as long as Hamas remains committed to bringing in heavy weapons to use against Israel in accord with the goal of its charter of replacing Israel with an Islamic state. Hamas declared that the truce would not be renewed. For most of the truce Hamas continued to allow rockets to be launched into Israel daily but in smaller numbers. Hamas started increasing its rockets before the existing truce expired, and continued with the higher rate of rocket launchings thereafter.

  27. #28 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    Penn -

    The comparisons between the Palestinians and the Native Americans are not as compelling as you seem to think. The Native Americans were mostly content to live side-by-side with the first European settlers, an attitude never shown by the Palestinians toward the Jews. Things didn’t get hostile until the Europeans kept pushing them farther and farther west, breaking one treaty after another, giving them nothing in the way of civil rights, and aggressively trying to Christianize their culture. None of this applies to the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    There is nothing comparable to Manifest Destiny in Israeli culture. They do not believe they have a divine right to expand across their continent. The Jews were trying to carve out a small homeland for themselves in a part of the world in which Jews had always lived, in response to relentless and vicious anti-semitism throughout Europe and other Arab nations. They have never started a war of aggression against their neighbors, and they have routinely returned land they captured in wars started by their enemies. All of this is starkly different from how the Europeans treated the Native Americans.

    And for all of that, despite the fact that the Native Americans have far greater cause to feel aggrieved than do the Palestinians, I very much doubt you would have much sympathy for any tribe that today started sending suicide bombers into a major American city. If Native Americans started fomenting violence, I don’t think you would consider it a great injustice for their victims to respond in kind.

    If you don’t think Israel has a right to exist then simply say that and be done with it. But if you do think Israel has a right to exist, then I would think you also believe they have a right to exist without having their neighbors launching rockets and trying to kill civilians. As I said in my post, I draw the line at suicide bombing and terror. Employ such tactics and I could care less about your grievances.

  28. #29 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    Tony -

    Well, sorry to let you down. I”m glad you generally enjoy the blog, though.

    I would point out, however, that America certainly has an interest in protecting our sole ally and the sole democracy in that region of the world. Furthermore, it hardly seems like an abuse of American military aid for the Israelis to use that aid to protect themselves, which is what they are doing.

  29. #30 Explicit Atheist
    January 3, 2009

    Posted by: penn | January 2, 2009 11:21 PM

    “Firstly, I didn’t salute Hamas or demand anything of Israel. I just don’t think the similarities with the plight of Native Americans can be so easily dismissed. Do you blame the Sioux and other indigenous peoples for fighting until they were completely defeated? Do you think this situation is fundamentally different than what happened across the Americas and Australia?”

    Another reason its different is that their are billions of Arabs and billions more of Muslims, so the Israelis and the Jews are the small minority here. This is a fact that groups like Hamas and Hizbollah and states like Iran are hoping to exploit to try to bully and threaten Europe and the rest of the world via incitement to hatred and violence if they don’t get their way with replacing Israel with an Islamic state.

  30. #31 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    Things didn’t get hostile until the Europeans kept pushing them farther and farther west, breaking one treaty after another, giving them nothing in the way of civil rights, and aggressively trying to Christianize their culture. None of this applies to the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    You don’t seem to have done a lot of research on the subject, but just in case I missed something, what are these civil rights that Palestinians supposedly have? Why does the amount of land they inhabit continually shrink? Why is the requirement that one must be Jewish to have full citizenship rights not comparable to ‘aggressively Christiansizing’ a culture?

    You seem to be very emotive on the subject. Unusually so, in fact.

  31. #32 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    ScentofViolets –

    Israeli Arabs have precisely the same civil rights as Israeli Jews. The only distinction between Arabs and Jews in Israeli law is that the Arabs are exempted from mandatory military service.

    The Palestinians have frequently lost territory in wars they and other Arab nations have unwisely started with Israel. Israel has also on several occasions returned the land they captured, which is not something victors in war do very often. Israel can be faulted for expanding their settlements in the occupied territories, which is part of what I had in mind in the opening post in saying Israel is not guiltless. But any idea that Israel has expansionist desires comparable to Manifest Destiny, which is what I was addressing in my earlier comment, is simply ridiculous.

    I don’t know what citizenship right you think Jews have that Arabs lack, unless you’re talking about the Law of Return. Regardless, Jews are not trying to destroy Arab culture by forcing them to live as Jews, which is precisely the sort of thing the European settlers tried to do with the Native Americans. That’s why the situations are not comparable.

  32. #33 Brett Dunbar
    January 3, 2009

    The extent of Israel’s actual commitment to peace is indicated by the settlements, they are fundamentally incompatible with a viable Palestinian state and Israel deliberately expands them rather than remove them. The cowardice of successive Israeli governments in the face of the settlers has prevented Israel from making a viable offer. Do not underestimate how much damage the settlements do to Israel’s reputation, they provide the anti-Israel lobby with an extremely strong argument that Israel is acting in bad faith and in breach of international law. The settlements have cost Israel an enormous amount of sympathy, much as Guantanamo has damaged the reputation of the USA.

  33. #34 SLC
    January 3, 2009

    There seems to be a notion that somehow Israels’ attacks on Gaza are for the purpose of killing as many Palestinians as possible and are disproportionate to the provocation. Lets examine each of these propositions.

    1. The notion that Israels’ attacks on Gaza are designed to kill as many Palestinians as possible is utter piffle. If that was the purpose, they wouldn’t be using jet aircraft and precision munitions. They would do what Syrian dictator Hafaz Assad did to the City of Hama in 1982. He had the city surrounded with several hundred artillery pieces and subjected it to 2 days of nonstop fire, killing at least 20,000 people (designated Hama Rules by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman). They would position several hundred artillery pieces along the border with Gaza and turn it into a free fire zone. Every square inch of the Gaza strip is within artillery range.

    2. As to the issue of disproportion, do those making this accusation believe that the US and Britain were being disproportionate during WW 2 in sending multi-hundred aircraft bombing raids over civilian areas of Germany in retaliation for the blitz of 1940? At least 10 times as many Germans were killed in those raids as were killed during the blitz.

    For those whining about how beastly the Israelis are being towards the Palestinians, perhaps the former should start applying Hama Rules. That would really give the critics something to whine about.

  34. #35 Sigmund
    January 3, 2009

    The tragedy of the current situation is that we have reached a political equilibrium based on a repeating cycle of attack and retaliation. To achieve leadership of the Palestinians or the Israelis has become incumbent upon showing strength in the face of external attack. Both require a permanent siege mentality where modern standards of civility and human rights can be safely disregarded.
    What we are witnessing is the ‘acceptable level of violence’ for that region. I don’t think it is part of some nefarious plot, rather it is a relatively stable situation we have eventually achieved – at least compared to the 1948, 1956 and six day wars.
    Is the current situation really the best we can hope for?

  35. #36 penn
    January 3, 2009

    Jason, you missed the point of why I brought up Manifest Destiny. The point wasn’t expansionism, but a belief in a divine right to property that was already inhabited. I also think you’ve over simplified the desires of Native Americans. They just wanted to live side-by-side in peace because they were grossly over-matched militarily. The absolute best they could hope for was for an end to the expansion, but do you honestly believe they wouldn’t have been happier to push us back across the Atlantic? I don’t blame them for fighting as long as they did, but of course I’d have little sympathy if they began attacks anew because we’ve lived in peace for over a century. At the same time, would you blame them if they thought the US and Canada had no right to exist?

    I really don’t have any answers. I do believe in the need for a two-state solution, and I do believe that Israel has the right to defend itself. I just don’t think it’s reasonable to say that the Palestinians *just* have to recognize Israel’s right to exist and lay down their arms. Those are some big concessions.

  36. #37 Sigmund
    January 3, 2009

    SLC, you are attacking a strawman argument.
    Most of us know that the Israeli state has the military capability to annihilate all the Palestinians. Nobody is suggesting it is attempting to do so.
    The argument is not whether doing something less than that is moderate or appropriate, but at where you draw the line. Criticism of where Israel has deemed to draw the line does not mean one is a supporter of Hamas. It is quite possible to believe every Hamas fighter is a fundamental extremist terrorist who deserves to die while simultaneously believing that it is wrong to kill innocent Palestinian children. When one decides that it is acceptable to kill terrorists by dropping bombs on the street where they live one is taking a conscious decision to accept the death of innocent individuals who live in the vicinity. What you are doing is creating a differential value system for ‘their’ lives and ‘our’ lives since specifically taking out the Hamas members themselves rather than the whole street can only be done by risking the lives of Israeli soldiers who go into that situation to extract or eliminate those specific targets. Lets not kid ourselves that we are dealing with a moral solution, this is a purely political reasoning. Losing members of your own armed forces is a political vote loser. ‘Collateral damage’ of the other side, not so much so. The criticism that the Israeli government faces is over the amount of ‘collateral damage’ they are clearly prepared to accept.

  37. #38 Rob W
    January 3, 2009

    ExplicitAtheist, the Hamas document you linked is apparently 20 years old and on a website called “The Jerusalem Fund” — even though the base URL is “palestinecenter.org”. That doesn’t strike me as a reliable source for information about Hamas’ goals (i.e., I didn’t read it; find a less-biased source).

    I’ve personally been quite horrified as the damage and death toll continues to rise in Israel’s current attempt to accomplish whatever the hell they hope to accomplish here. I personally have very little sympathy left for Israel.

    I’m repeatedly reminded of children fighting. “Hey, you stepped on my castle wall! Fine, I’m gonna stomp ALL OVER your entire castle!” Then the hair-pulling begins. Except in this case, the smaller child has rockets and suicide bombers, and the bigger one has aircraft bombers, missiles and a highly-equipped military. What’s the equivalent of taking away all their toys and sending them all to bed with no dinner?

    It seems there is no adult in this dispute who will ever say “hang on, this is getting out of hand”. No, they just keep going at it (in spite of various external attempts to mediate).

    @Jason:

    Furthermore, it hardly seems like an abuse of American military aid for the Israelis to use that aid to protect themselves, which is what they are doing.

    Even ignoring the history of this conflict, “protecting themselves” is a pretty big stretch.

    They’ve already killed — is it up to 500 yet? getting there — in response to how many Israelis killed? I’m sorry, but that’s not “protecting themselves”. It seems pretty obvious to me that they’re actively creating more extremists in the most efficient way possible.

    Think about it — if you were a Palestinian who was on the fence, mostly wanting peace, still retaining a small hope for a way to lead some kind of a normal life — would it *encourage* that hope if a few family members or friends were killed by Israeli bombs? Or would you be more inclined to believe that Israel just wanted you dead?

    The important time to examine is the “quiet” times when the conflict is out of the headlines. What does Israel do then? Do they take the opportunity to draw back settlements, open up commerce and traffic, and work towards a peaceful future? Or do they take the opportunity to move in & clamp down further while the world isn’t watching?

    I’m not an expert on the situation — I’m just another US citizen with no real connection to anyone in the region — but I’ve seen much more of the latter, and it’s amazingly disheartening. It gives an extremely clear message to the Palestinians. I don’t think Israel should be dismantled or anything like that at this point (though its creation was a very dubious idea), but I’m also not at all clear on why the US should give Israel such an enormous hammer to use when they clearly believe every problem is a nail.

  38. #39 Rob W
    January 3, 2009

    Another bit in the original post that I really want to respond to:

    You would have to be made of stone not to be horrified by the plight of the Palestinian citizens in Gaza. They have been ill-served by their corrupt and despotic government. But my sympathy is tempered by the fact that they elected a government that sees terror as a legitimate weapon. They elected a government more interested in picking fights with Israel than in providing a life for its citizens. When you support suicide bombing and attacks on civilians, I really do not care about your grievances.

    I can’t help but notice that in a paragraph you have traveled from “you would have to be made of stone” to “I really do not care”.

    So you have turned yourself to stone, because of what I see as a few assumptions:
    * Palestinians elected a Hamas government specifically because they approved of Hamas’ sometimes violent attacks on Israel (paired assumption: that was Hamas’ only platform — i.e., Hamas didn’t campaign on their community aid anti-corruption efforts)
    * All Palestinians deserve to be punished (and killed) for anything that Hamas does in their name, including Palestinians who voted against them.

    Am I being unfair?
    Even if I allow the assumption that all Palestinians (including schoolchildren, etc.) actively approved of and supported violence against Israel, it’s STILL true that any moral question is *separate* from how the aggrieved are personally deciding to respond. You have to be able to decide first what wrongs have been committed (and are still being committed) against Palestinians, then you can judge their various responses separately (obviously not every Palestinian has a rocket launcher), then you can judge the Israeli military response again separately.

    I’d say that NONE of these wrongs will ever add up to a single right, just more horrific wrongs, particularly as long as both sides keep their blinders firmly strapped on and their righteous pride flaming inside of them.

  39. #40 SLC
    January 3, 2009

    Re Sigmund & Rob W

    I think that Mr. Sigmund and Mr. Rob W should read the post on the attached link relative to one Nizzar Rayyan, a Hamas leader who was killed yesterday by the IDF. This is an example of the type of fanaticism Israel faces from their implacable enemy, the Hamas terrorists.

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/01/nizar_rayyan_of_hamas_on_gods.php

    From the interview that Mr. Goldberg conducted with the late and unlamented Mr. Rayyan, note carefully the following excerpt.

    There was no flexibility with Rayyan. This is what he said when I asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (or cease-fire) with Israel: “The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don’t need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel.” There is no chance, he said, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

    The only difference between this piece of filth and Adolf Hitler is that the latter had the power to follow through with his vision while the former (as yet) lacks the power.

    When the Government of Israel is criticized for not negotiating with Hamas, my answer is very simple. One doesn’t negotiate with Hitler. Period, end of discussion.

  40. #41 Sigmund
    January 3, 2009

    SLC, you’ve outdone yourself.
    A strawman and a Godwin in a single post!
    Try reading what others have said on this tread.
    Who exactly is lamenting the death of Hamas leaders here?
    Not me, for sure.
    For the record I see myself as being pro-Israel. I have no truck with individuals or parties that seek the destruction of that State and I certainly have no love for brutal extremists like Hamas. I think that Israel can be a shining example of democracy and progress in that region. Unfortunately I think they still have a long way to go to be that sort of example.

  41. #42 penn
    January 3, 2009

    SLC, I didn’t follow that link, but it’s absurd to equate denying the right of Israel to exist with the rights of Jews to exist. I’m not defending Rayyan, but wanting to destroy Israel is not the same as wanting to commit genocide against the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism does not equal Antisemitism. Do you honestly not realize that?

  42. #43 penn
    January 3, 2009

    To clarify, I don’t support the destruction of Israel, nor do I lament the death of Rayyan. I do believe that Israel has the right to defend itself against threats to its people and its existence, but not supporting the right of Israel to exist does not mean one is a final solution supporting Nazi sympathizer. That doesn’t mean Rayyan wasn’t a bad person, it just means he’s no Hitler.

  43. #44 Rob W
    January 3, 2009

    @SLC: First, hello Godwin’s Law. But moving on.

    I absolutely agree that Hamas is doing a lot of damage to the Palestinian cause. Hamas can undoubtedly be relied upon to keep pushing on the Palestinian side of the endless violence as much as they can.

    But that’s not my point. Step outside of the argument and try to understand the situation — Palestinians had some very shitty choices when choosing their government, and they ended up with the religious extremists who want Israel destroyed (but were less corrupt and actually put some effort into community support). They still don’t have anything like a properly-functioning representative government. They also have negligible military power, and an economy in ruins. Israel, on the other hand, has a stable representative democracy and a powerful, well-funded military.

    Which side is more capable of acting responsibly (and more culpable for acting irresponsibly)? My expectations that Hamas will change drastically are low (particularly because of the anti-logical religious strain to their ideas…) so the best approach is to correct the aspects of life for Palestinians that leads them to *support* extremists. The goal isn’t to convince Hamas to change — that may well be impossible — the goal must be to remove the need for Hamas to exist in the first place (and remove their support).

    When the Government of Israel is criticized for not negotiating with Hamas, my answer is very simple. One doesn’t negotiate with Hitler. Period, end of discussion.
    “End of discussion”? No room for reason, huh? Sorry, but this is a rule based on pride, not on any effort to understand a complex system or to reach an optimal solution. It’s quite possible that more forceful (and less credulous) negotiations with Hitler during the 1930s could have saved millions of lives in WWII and avoided the Holocaust entirely. But you go ahead and stick to your rule.

  44. #45 Rob W
    January 3, 2009

    Sorry for the series of posts… I’m done after this one point.
    I’ve seen the argument so many times that Israel is using this aggressive response to “teach” the Palestinians that Hamas’ approach is wrong. This suggests that the Palestinian people will observe the death and destruction, and reason that “we brought it on ourselves by supporting Hamas, so we should get rid of Hamas to avoid future punishment”.

    Has this approach *ever* worked? If someone comes up to you, smacks you in the face and says “do X, or you’re dead meat”, do you put a smile on your face and do X? Unfortunately, even if 5 minutes earlier you had thought X might be a good idea, the violent threat and ultimatum basically changes your options from “don’t do X vs. do X” to “don’t do X vs. sacrifice your honor and do X”. It leaves no honorable exit route.

    Interestingly, Hamas started launching rocket attacks to “teach” Israel that its heavily enforced economic starvation of Gaza was unacceptable. Notice how now if Israel responds by improving conditions in Gaza, they lose face? “Ah, they’re doing what Hamas demanded!” They play the same stupid game. They should know how it works by now; it’s been going on for decades.

    At some point, someone’s going to have to sack up and “lose face” to some degree for the benefit of all — and ideally, be smart enough to design an exit route for both parties that saves as much face as possible. It seems to me that Hamas may be ideologically incapable of this; I’m quite sure Israel is capable of it, but they don’t seem to be that way inclined at the moment….

  45. #46 Pierce R. Butler
    January 3, 2009

    When has Israel ever recognized Palestine’s right to exist? (No, the bizarre sell-out by Arafat known as the Oslo deal doesn’t count.)

    And when has Israel, the only nuclear-armed state in the region, renounced de facto terrorism as a weapon? (No, it’s not just the nukes – what was the point of spraying cluster bombs all over south Lebanese villages right before the cease-fire and withdrawal from Lebanon in their last little excessive reaction?)

    See the maps at http://firedoglake.com/2008/12/26/bread-then-bombs-israel-still-likely-to-launch-major-attack-on-gaza/ for one major reason there’s an ongoing war in the “Holy Land”.

  46. #47 SLC
    January 3, 2009

    Re Rob W

    It’s quite possible that more forceful (and less credulous) negotiations with Hitler during the 1930s could have saved millions of lives in WWII and avoided the Holocaust entirely. But you go ahead and stick to your rule.

    Mr. Rob W has to be kidding me. The only negotiations that would have been effective at Munich would have been an ultimatum from Prime Minister Chamberlain to Hitler that any attack on Czechoslovakia would be met by force from Britain and France. I suggest that before making such an idiotic claim, Mr. Rob W read, “A History of the German General Staff,” by historian Walter Goerlitz where he will find that the top men, namely Fritch and von Blomberg, in the German General Staff were planning a coup against Hitler which would have gone forward if Chamberlain had not appeased Hitler at Munich.

    Re Pierce butler

    Mr. Butler is full of prunes. The reason that there is ongoing war in the Middle East is because of the Arab refusal to recognize Israel. And if Mr. butler wants to argue that the State of Israel is illegitimate, I have a flash for him. The State of Israel is just as legitimate as the United States of America.

  47. #48 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    When I ask this:

    You don’t seem to have done a lot of research on the subject, but just in case I missed something, what are these civil rights that Palestinians supposedly have? Why does the amount of land they inhabit continually shrink? Why is the requirement that one must be Jewish to have full citizenship rights not comparable to ‘aggressively Christiansizing’ a culture?

    And get this instead:

    You don’t seem to have done a lot of research on the subject, but just in case I missed something, what are these civil rights that Palestinians supposedly have? Why does the amount of land they inhabit continually shrink? Why is the requirement that one must be Jewish to have full citizenship rights not comparable to ‘aggressively Christiansizing’ a culture?

    I know that the person making these arguments realizes that they’ve lost, but they’re too weasely to admit it. Jason, I asked what civil rights the Palestinians have. Not Israeli Arabs. They aren’t citizens, are they? Allowed to vote? All of that sort of thing?

    No, they are not, contrary to your earlier claim. So no, you haven’t managed to justify your feeling that Israel is treating the Palestinians any different than the U.S. treated the Indians. And from the way you’re weaseling, you damn well know it. Grow up and accept some responsibility.

  48. #49 JimV
    January 3, 2009

    I don’t know that anyone here is entirely right or entirely wrong, but I found the positions of penn and Rob W most appealing, for the record. As a side note, there are some I respect, including Freeman Dyson, who question the efficacy of the bombing of German civilians in WWII.

    My proposal, FWLIW, is an UN resolution (yes, one more) creating a commission of people like Nelson Mandela and Freeman Dyson (if they feel they are up to it) to study the situation and create a long-term, incremental plan for peace, backed up by force and sanctions. Probably unworkable, but the best I can do. If others have better ideas, including some I can contribute to, please say so.

  49. #50 Rob W
    January 3, 2009

    @SLC: I didn’t write “1938″, I wrote “during the 1930s”, i.e., during the time when Germany was rebuilding its military capabilities and violating post-WWI agreements in the process. Obviously I grant that this is with benefit of hindsight, but it makes my original point well enough. Please at least read what I wrote before choosing to call it idiotic.

    @ScentOfViolets: This must be the second quote you intended:

    Israeli Arabs have precisely the same civil rights as Israeli Jews. The only distinction between Arabs and Jews in Israeli law is that the Arabs are exempted from mandatory military service.

    @JimV: That seems like a good idea on the face of it — if a solution comes from some external body, it would be more feasible for both Israelis and Palestinians to accept it without seeming to “give in” to the other. I’m also very interested to see if the role of the U.S. will change at all during the Obama presidency… we need more reason and less blind support all around.

  50. #51 Alex Besogonov
    January 3, 2009

    Explicit Atheist:
    “Hamas is dumb. Right now they have lost 20 times more civilians than civilians killed by Hamas rockets.”

    And who told you that it’s not the desired outcome for Hamas?

  51. #52 Blake Stacey
    January 3, 2009

    The Jews were trying to carve out a small homeland for themselves in a part of the world in which Jews had always lived, in response to relentless and vicious anti-semitism throughout Europe and other Arab nations.

    It’s basically irrelevant to the present situation, but dusty scholars like me love such things, so I note the following:

    Judaism, as we would recognize it (with rigid monotheism, an actual Torah and all that) did not come into existence until the 500s BCE, during the Babylonian Exile. Counting from the end of the Exile in 537 BCE to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE gives only a little over six centuries, which is a far cry from “always”. If you want to date the beginning of the Diaspora to the Bar Kokhba revolt, well, that’s only another six and a half decades.

    One wonders how history would’ve turned out had the Zionists embraced Herzl’s Plan B and settled in Argentina instead. (Probably no better, overall.)

  52. #53 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    Thanks, Rob W. That is exactly right. I take it that we can all agree that Jason himself realizes there is no real difference between the way the Indians were treated and the way the Palestinians are being treated today.

  53. #54 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    ScentofViolets -

    I asked what civil rights the Palestinians have. Not Israeli Arabs. They aren’t citizens, are they? Allowed to vote? All of that sort of thing?

    Most Israeli Arabs are Palestinians, you idiot. And I naturally assumed you were referring to them since even you can’t possibly expect Israel to be granting civil rights to people who are not citizens of their country.

    Rob W -

    I can’t help but notice that in a paragraph you have traveled from “you would have to be made of stone” to “I really do not care”. … Am I being unfair?

    Yes, you’re being unfair. The thing about which I do not care are the justifications and rationalizations made on behalf of suicide bombing and terrorism. Those tactics are always and everywhere wrong, regardless of what you have suffered. Thinking that a people have brought at least some of their suffering on themselves by their own unwise actions does not mean that you turn a blind eye to human suffering.

    penn

    Jason, you missed the point of why I brought up Manifest Destiny. The point wasn’t expansionism, but a belief in a divine right to property that was already inhabited.

    Manifest Destiny was all about expansionism. From Wikipedia (for example):

    Manifest Destiny is the historical belief that the United States was ordained and destined by the god of Christianity to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean.

    There is nothing comparable to this in Israeli history, as I said. You’re simply misusing the term. Furthermore, it’s very easy to exaggerate the number of Jews who really view Israel as the Promised Land. That view is held mostly by a small wing of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who are a minority within Israel.

    Your other remarks make little sense. You wrote:

    The absolute best they could hope for was for an end to the expansion, but do you honestly believe they wouldn’t have been happier to push us back across the Atlantic? I don’t blame them for fighting as long as they did, but of course I’d have little sympathy if they began attacks anew because we’ve lived in peace for over a century. At the same time, would you blame them if they thought the US and Canada had no right to exist?

    This is neither here nor there. What would have made the Native Americans happier is not the issue. I have no problem with a situation where the Arab nations would be happier if Israel did not exist. The fact remains that in North America there was plenty of land for everyone, and there is plenty of evidence for non-violent, even cordial relations between the early European settlers and the Native Americans. That’s an important difference between them and the plight of the Palestinians.

    The rest of your comment implies that if the Native Americans had maintained a steady trickle of violence for the last two centuries, then it would be acceptable to you that they continue that violence today. If you believe the Palestinian use of violence is justified, and if you believe that the Native Americans in this country are comparable to the Palestinians, then you should also think it is justified for them to use violence here. That they haven’t acted on their grievances for quite some time is irrelevant.

    The Native Americans were treated far worse by the European settlers than the Palestinians have been by the Israelis. Yet the same people who apologize for Palestinian terror and suicide bombing would not defend the right of Native Americans to use violence against their oppressors here. I find that interesting, to put it kindly.

  54. #55 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    Most Israeli Arabs are Palestinians, you idiot. And I naturally assumed you were referring to them since even you can’t possibly expect Israel to be granting civil rights to people who are not citizens of their country.

    Iow, everything you wrote was a goddamn lie. Moreover, you knew it was a lie when you posted it, and you just didn’t care. This is obvious, given that this was my question:

    You don’t seem to have done a lot of research on the subject, but just in case I missed something, what are these civil rights that Palestinians supposedly have? Why does the amount of land they inhabit continually shrink? Why is the requirement that one must be Jewish to have full citizenship rights not comparable to ‘aggressively Christiansizing’ a culture?

    Bear in mind that this was your original claim:

    Things didn’t get hostile until the Europeans kept pushing them farther and farther west, breaking one treaty after another, giving them nothing in the way of civil rights, and aggressively trying to Christianize their culture. None of this applies to the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    So, no, just like the Indians, Palestinians are not being granted civil rights. And yes, the Palestinian situation exactly parallels the American Indian situation of a century and a half ago.

    I’d stop right here if I were you. You’re making Israel look worse, not better, the weasel way you try to justify the unjustifiable.

  55. #56 Alex Besogonov
    January 3, 2009

    “Most Israeli Arabs are Palestinians, you idiot. And I naturally assumed you were referring to them since even you can’t possibly expect Israel to be granting civil rights to people who are not citizens of their country.”

    So Palestinians don’t have civil rights and so can be slaughtered by Israel, right?

    Then I have two questions:
    1) Why Palestina is not a separate state (which should be allowed to buy weapons, make international agreements, etc.)?
    2) Why people of Palestina are NOT Israel citizens?

  56. #57 Uri
    January 3, 2009

    You don’t seem to have done a lot of research on the subject, but just in case I missed something, what are these civil rights that Palestinians supposedly have? Why does the amount of land they inhabit continually shrink? Why is the requirement that one must be Jewish to have full citizenship rights not comparable to ‘aggressively Christiansizing’ a culture?

    Disclaimer: I’m an Israeli. Nonetheless, I’m trying not to let any biases get in the way here (curiously, in Israel I self-identify as left-wing, but ‘outsider’ comments have a way of bringing out the defensive).

    ScentOfViolets: you haven’t done your research properly either. There is no requirement that one be Jewish to have full citizenship rights. In addition, those Palestinians who inhabit Gaza/the West Bank are not entitled to citizenship rights because they are not citizens of Israel – Gaza and the bank are not a part of Israel, otherwise this wouldn’t be an invasion, would it? It would merely be Israel deploying armed forces within its own territory. While those areas are not a full-fledged state, Hamas was democratically chosen, and attempting to relieve the responsibility for their actions is comparable to disassociating the actions of the Israeli army (under the commands of the Israeli government) from the population of the state of Israel.
    Also, let me remind you that Israel withdrew its military forces from Gaza in 2005, hoping that this would lead to increased stability in the area (the left in Israel tends to criticise this decision, because it was conducted unilaterally and without negotiations, but this is a thorny issue so I won’t go into it).

    On the other hand, the majority of the settlers (not a trifling segment of the population) do believe, I think, that all the land should belong entirely to Israel. This is, as Jason says, a religious extremist group, but extremely unfortunately, they are not as few as I would like them to be, and they do influence and bully the actions of Israeli governments, past and present. Their ability to do so, however, is enhanced by the fact that the majority of the Israeli public, as of now, believes there is no viable partner for a peace process (due to Hamas’s reign).

    I guess I don’t really know what to say apart from that – I’m not sure I support the current strike, because I don’t know if all other alternatives have been sufficiently explored. I would also like to think that negotiations, even with Hamas, could lead in the end to peace, and consider it a mistake of the Israeli government to refuse to deal with them as representing the Palestinians (even though they are terrorists, antisemites, yada yada yada).

    That’s as far as I can go in one comment, anyway.
    PS I’m a long-time reader, Jason, and think this is a great blog (just thought I should mention that on my first delurking).

  57. #58 Pierce R. Butler
    January 3, 2009

    It’s very disappointing to see a blogger I admire for independent thought parroting the Likud party line.

    Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

    Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

    The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.

    - full article, including links in support of the above numbers, at http://www.juancole.com/2008/12/230-killed-388-wounded-in-100-israeli.html

  58. #59 Leni
    January 3, 2009

    Brett Dunbar wrote:

    Do not underestimate how much damage the settlements do to Israel’s reputation, they provide the anti-Israel lobby with an extremely strong argument that Israel is acting in bad faith and in breach of international law.

    Agreed. It certainly tempers my sympathy toward Israel. Many of the settlements are regarded as illegal by notable organizations such as the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, and the European Union. In some cases, Israeli law itself. Beyond the legal issues, there is absolutely no excuse for the expropriation of Palestinian property and land by Israeli citizens.

    Sadly, the reason that we hear most often is that the settlers seem to think they have a god-given right to live on other people’s land. Of course that is not the same as Manifest Destiny, but is disturbingly similar. Whatever we compare it to, this theft is utterly indefensible and the condemnations from the Israeli government should be immediate and punishment for rogue settlers should be severe.

    For the record, I am not apologizing for Palestinian violence. I don’t think state-sponsored terrorism is a justifiable tactic and I think Hamas is largely to blame to for their current situation in that it is a direct result of their explicit approval of terrorism. But the illegal settlement activity (and violence, intimidation, and terrorism that sometimes accompany it) absolutely must stop. The Israeli government is in a position to take greater responsibility for it, particular when the settlements and outposts are in violation of Israeli law, or when the settlers are fomenting hostilities.

    I know they have taken many steps, including dismantling settlements, but it has not been enough given that the expropriation is still occurring.

  59. #60 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    ScentOfViolets: you haven’t done your research properly either. There is no requirement that one be Jewish to have full citizenship rights. In addition, those Palestinians who inhabit Gaza/the West Bank are not entitled to citizenship rights because they are not citizens of Israel – Gaza and the bank are not a part of Israel, otherwise this wouldn’t be an invasion, would it?

    Nor did I say there was such a requirement. Lest you forget, or haven’t read, the question is why – according to Jason at least – the U.S.’s treatment of it’s Indian peoples is completely different than Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He claimed, among other things, that the U.S. violated the Indian’s so-called ‘civil rights’ . . . and that Israel has done no such thing to the Palestinians.

    That is such a ridiculous argument that it’s no wonder Jason has to resort to such dishonesty.

    No, the treatment of the native populations in both cases are almost exactly the same. To claim that it isn’t without something more than Jason has tried to pass off as ‘reasoning’ just shows the bankruptcy of that position.

    I’m a science-oriented, falsifiable hypothesis sort of guy. A week or so ago, I made the claim about these parallels applying, and also made the prediction that a look at any maps marking the respective areas of control would show that Israel’s territory was expanding, and with a concomitant decrease of the Palestinians’. Surprise! Prediction confirmed. What sort of falsifiable hypothesis are you willing to make that would show that Israel is behaving just the way you say it is, and not as I say it is?

  60. #61 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    An addendum here: it seems I mispoke; I did indeed say that there is a requirement for full citizenship rights. Just goes to show that one should proofread before posting. What I meant to say was that persons converting to Judaism (as long as they’re outside Israel) are covered under the ‘right of return’. And in fact:

    The Israeli Supreme Court handed down a potentially explosive decision in January, ruling that persons who underwent reform and conservative conversions must be formally recognized as Jews on their identity cards.

    The 9-2 decision is seen as especially significant in that it recognizes the validity of non-Orthodox conversions performed in Israel, as well as those performed abroad. Previously, reform and conservative conversions performed in Israel were not officially recognized, and the Interior Ministry refused the requests of such converts to be registered as Jews on their identity papers.

    At the same time, in a move that may serve to offset ultra-Orthodox anger over the conversion issue, the court rejected a leftist challenge to the draft deferments granted to ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.

    Tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union could be directly affected by the conversion ruling, undergoing reform and conservative conversions to be recognized on the Interior Ministry’s official population rolls as Jews.

    The Chief Rabbinate and other religious officials retain control over who may marry in Israel, and the decision will have no direct bearing on their status.

    Minutes after the court announced its decision, Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau criticized the ruling as causing potential distress for the converts it was aimed at aiding. He said it also did not extend to the Law of Return, which provides immediate Israeli citizenship for all immigrants recognized under its provisions as Jews.

    So it does indeed look as if there is a certain amount of, shall we say, official discrimination. To go along with a great deal of the unofficial discrimination.

  61. #62 SLC
    January 3, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    Juan Cole is a proven congenital liar who has falsely claimed that Iran President Amadinejad has never called for the elimination of the State of Israel. His claim has been totally discredited by a professor of Persian studies who is fluent in Farsi. Juan Cole is no more reliable then Don Black, the proprietor of the Stormfront website.

    Re scentofviolets

    Mr. ScentofViolets is totally ignorant of the situation in Palestine. His calling Prof. Rosenhouse a liar is not only out of line but, in my opinion, merits expulsion from this blog. However, maybe the good professor is more tolerant then I would be. However, just to spell it out by the numbers here so that even a moron like Mr. ScentofViolets can under it, here is the situation of the Palestinians and other non-Jews in Palestine.

    1. There are currently some 1 million non-Jews living in Israel. Most of these folks are Palestinians but there are also Druze and Bedouins. All of these folks are citizens of Israel and have the right to vote, and in fact, are represented in the Knesset. By the way, for the information of Prof. Rosenhouse, many Bedouins and Druze also serve in the IDF.

    2. There are some 4 million Arabs living on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, most of whom are Palestinians although there are some Druze and Bedouins also. These folks are not citizens of Israel. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are not part of Israel. Therefore, there is no more reason for these folks to be citizens of Israel then for the inhabitants of Canada or Mexico to be citizens of the US.

    Hopefully, this explains the situation to Mr. ScentofViolets in terms that his feeble mind can understand.

    3. The solution proposed by the US, the EU, and agreed to by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is for 2 states in what constitutes Palestine. The major problem preventing the acceptance of this proposed solution is the demand of the Palestinians that those living in refugee camps be resettled in Israel. This ain’t going to happen as it would be tantamount to the Government of Israel going out of business.

  62. #63 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    ScentofViolets -

    Nor did I say there was such a requirement. Lest you forget, or haven’t read, the question is why – according to Jason at least – the U.S.’s treatment of it’s Indian peoples is completely different than Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He claimed, among other things, that the U.S. violated the Indian’s so-called ‘civil rights’ . . . and that Israel has done no such thing to the Palestinians.

    You are becoming increasingly unhinged. This is not at all what I said, and you know it. My claim regarding the comparison between the Native Americans and the Palestinians were perfectly clear. I wrote, in response to penn:

    The comparisons between the Palestinians and the Native Americans are not as compelling as you seem to think.

    Morphing “not as compelling” into “completely different,” in italics no less, is pretty ballsy from someone accusing others of lying and being weaselly.

    Your comments to this point have shown a near perfect ignorance of the basic facts about the region. You seemed completely unaware that there are many Palestinains living in Israel (not to mention Arabs of other heritages) and that they are not treated differently from Jews in any way under Israeli law (with the sole exception of mandatory military service). That’s a rather stark difference from how Native Americans were treated under American law in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, wouldn’t you say?

    You don’t seem to understand that Palestinians living in Gaza are, in fact, not Israeli citizens, as Uri explained very clearly. I don’t know what civil rights you expect Israel to grant them.

    You seem to think that America pushing its native citizens further and further west, breaking one treaty after another, motivated in large part by a belief that God wished for them to take over the continent, is somehow equivalent to Israel capturing (and routinely returning) relatively small tracts of land in wars started by their enemies.

    In short, as I said in my earlier comment, you are an idiot, and an exceptionally obnoxious one at that. I will not be replying to your comments any more.

  63. #64 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    Right. Jason, you really are a piece of work. We are comparing the Palestinians in the occupied territories to the Indians. Not Palestinians anywhere else. Not Palestinians living in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, etc. Although I grant it’s an interesting strategy, weasel and then claim it’s all ignorance on the part of someone else.

    Since you can’t explain how Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – in the occupied territories(Does anyone seriously think that Jason isn’t aware that this is exactly what we’ve been talking about?) – is any different from how the U.S. treated its Indians, and instead prefer to ‘misunderstand’ what I am writing about, to spin, to prevaricate, I think we can take it that even you don’t really believe there is a difference. But Israel still has to be in the right, somehow, doesn’t it? In fact, as is easily verified, you refuse to admit that Israel has behaved badly in any way whatsoever. Settlers – illegal settlers in Palestinian controlled territory? Oh, that’s nothing to get upset over. Israel breaking the truce with it’s blockade (ironically, blockade was given as the reason for the Six Day war), killing six Palestinians before there were any rockets fired, collapsing a tunnel? Oh, somehow, that’s still the Palestinians fault. Somehow.

    I think we can safely say at this point that Jason is nothing more than a blind partisan.

  64. #65 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    Uri

    Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you like the blog. You wrote:

    ScentOfViolets: you haven’t done your research properly either.

    Since what you said in your comment is nearly identical to what I said, I object to your use of the term “either.”

    What I described as the view of a small minority was the idea that Israel is the Promised Land. That is, that the land of Israel was promised to the Jews as part of a covenant with God. I believe I am right in describing it that way. This was in reply to penn’s remark concerning the religious dimension of manifest destiny. I have no doubt that the more extreme elements within Israeli society have disproportionate influence with the government. I see them as equivalent to Christian fundamentalists in the US, who have political power out of proportion to their numbers. That is very unfortunate, since it presents yet another hurdle to any sort of two-state solution. But it doesn’t change the basic moral calculus of the situation.

    Pierce Butler -

    Sorry to disappoint you. Three points though. First, in the interests of accuracy, it is not the Likud Party who is behind the current military action in Gaza. The two dominant parties in Israel right now are the Kadima party and the Labor party, and as far as I know they are essentially united behind the current action.

    Second, I fail to see why my support for Israel generally, and my rejection of many of the arguments made against them in the current conflict, somehow represent a slavish devotion to the Likud party or as evidence that I don’t think independently.

    Third, I reject the argument made by Juan Cole. That Hamas’ military attacks are mostly (though not entirely) ineffective does not mean that Israel can not reply forcefully to stop missile attacks on their cities. Of course I would be much happier if some peaceful solution could be found, and as I said in my opening post I am not at all sure the present military action is strategically justified. But the relative effectiveness of the two military campaigns does not seem morally relevant to me. Israel is not just raining down destruction willy-nilly (unlike Hamas which, to the extent that they are able, do precisely that). They are doing everything they can to limit civilian casualties and only go after military targets.

    SLC

    Thanks for the comment! Just to clarify, my point was that Arab citizens in Israel are not required to serve in the military, not that there are no Arabs in the Israeli military.

    As for Mr. ScentofViolets, he is an annoying twit but for now he can continue to comment here. I have a high tolerance for this sort of thing.

  65. #66 S. Rivlin
    January 3, 2009

    Jason, good post and generaly, along with your responses to several commenters, is supprisingly accurate, considering that you sit half the world away from the region.

    Many asked, including yourself, what would Israel achieve from its latest operation that would be different from other past operations either in Lebanon, the West Bank or Gaza?

    I believe that the ground operation, which have started today, aims at achieving the aim that was not achieved in the other operations.

    As a veteran of two different wars, the Six-day War and the Yom Kipur war, I can attest to both success and failure in achieving the goal of stopping hostilities militarily. In 1967, Gamal Abdul Nasser managed to inflame not only the Egyptians, but the Syrians and the Jordanians against Israel. The pre-emptive strike by Israel against all three nations succeeded beyond all expectations and hostilities in the region ceased completely. The mistake Israel committed after the war was a political one, i.e., not pursuing the great opportunity then to strike a peace agreement with every Arab country of the region by exchanging land for peace. That is why six years later the Yom Kipur war had an entirely different outcome, despite the defeat of the Egyptian and the Syrian armies. Israel sufferd large number of casualties and thus was less willing to talk about land for peace. It took an Arab leader (Anuar Saadat) to pursue such venture. He offered peace to Israel in exchange for land.

    The present operation in Gaza has an important objective, which I believe Israel will pursue to its completion – the complete destruction of the military infrastructure of Hamas and the elimination of as many of its operatives as possible. Only by achieving this aim that Israel will be able to stop completely rocket fire from Gaza on its cities and villages in the south, block any smuggling of weapons and ammo into Gaza and offer the Palestinians in Gaza all the supplies and money they need to conduct their daily lives.

    I strongly believe that Israel is conducting as clean as possible an operation, targeting only militants and militant posts. Even Hamas officials have admitted that most of the casualties are their own fighters. The success of Israel in minimizing innocent casualties is due mainly to the excellent intelligence that Israel has regarding all the targets they have already hit and those they will hit in the days to come in Gaza, down to the house or car of a Hamas leader or a munition depo in a mosque. The ground troops that enter Gaza today are equipped with that intelligence and they know exactly where to go to find the terrorists. Already dozens of militants were eliminated in the first few hours of the operation and I believe that this time not the UN security council, not the EU morons and not even the American Government will be able to halt the Israeli operation until its goals are achieved.

  66. #67 Raymond Minton
    January 3, 2009

    The Israelis are certainly entitled to retaliate against their enemies, providing their response is targeted and proportional. That appears not to be the case in this instance, and seems likely to strengthen rather than destroy the resolve of their adversaries.

  67. #68 SLC
    January 3, 2009

    Re S. Rivlin

    I have every expectation that the current Israeli operation will be more successful then the clusterfuck in Lebanon in 2006, if for no other reason that Barak and Ashkenazi are more competent then Peretz and Halutz. I hope that the Government of Israel has learned a lesson; don’t put an air force officer in charge of the military. We made the same mistake in putting Air Force General Myers as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; he approved the greatly flawed operational plan in Iraq.

  68. #69 S. Rivlin
    January 3, 2009

    SLC, I agree that the lesson of Lebanon 2006, has been learned. That is why I believe that the ground operation will carry on until the goal of eliminating the Hamas’s threat is achieved.

  69. #70 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    S. Rivlin –

    Thank you for the helpful and informative comment. I hope you are right about the outcome of the current military action.

  70. #71 S. Rivlin
    January 3, 2009

    Also important is to watch the response of Hizballah in the north. Israel is doing just that and preparing for any action from these terrorists by calling on tens of thousands of reservists. The main reason for such preparations is the involvement of the Iranians with both groups of terrorists, in Lebanon and Gaza, and the possibility that Hamas is acting with the urge of the Iranians, attempting to take advantage of the temporary vacuum in Washington. Nonetheless, that very vacuum works for Israel as well, and hence, the large assault in Gaza, one that neither the Iranians nor Hamas were expecting.

  71. #72 penn
    January 3, 2009

    blockquote>If you believe the Palestinian use of violence is justified, and if you believe that the Native Americans in this country are comparable to the Palestinians, then you should also think it is justified for them to use violence here. That they haven’t acted on their grievances for quite some time is irrelevant.

    I never once said, nor has anyone else here I believe, that Palestinian violence is justified. You nonchalantly stated that the Palestinians need to *just* accept Israel’s right to exist and lay down their arms, and quite frankly that just isn’t reasonable. I’d love it if they did, but it’s stupid in its simplicity. Essentially, you said if one side completely surrenders then the conflict would be over.

    Israel has consistently rejected the rights of Palestinian’s to have autonomous rule on a contiguous and economically viable piece of land. They have continued to expand their settlements and even President Bush has called for their illegal outposts to be dismantled. You also have for every Israeli civilian killed by Hamas at least 10-100 Palestinians are killed by Israel. You then have Israel denying a ceasefire for humanitarian aid. Israel is a nuclear state with the full support of the United States and there currently are no threats to its existence. Hamas’s desire to destroy Israel is just as irrelevant as those hypothetical Sioux who would have been happy for us all to pack up for Europe. That doesn’t justify Hamas’ rocket attacks, and Israel has every right to defend themselves, but that defense must be proportional to the threat faced.

  72. #73 Alex Besogonov
    January 3, 2009

    “Gaza and the bank are not a part of Israel, otherwise this wouldn’t be an invasion, would it”

    Nope. Gaza IS A PART OF ISRAEL, that’s why it’s called ‘autonomy’.

    S.Rivlin:

    The main lesson of Lebanon 2006 should have been “don’t be idiots”. Look at the results: Lebanon was brought on a brink of civil war, Hezbollah became a major player and the whole country is still in turmoil. However, Israel will probably call this ‘a success’.

  73. #74 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 3, 2009

    penn –

    It is not unreasonable in the slightest to expect the Palestinans to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to renounce terrorism as a strategy. By doing so they would join in a long line of people who believe (whether justified or not) that land was unfairly taken from them, but who got over it and went on with their lives. The United States took over land controlled by Mexico by defeating them in a war in the mid-nineteenth century. But Mexico did not pledge themselves to the destruction of the United States or resort to terrorism. Japan believes that Russia is unfairly controlling the Kuril Islands, but the Japanese don’t send suicide bombers into Russia in protest.

    And arguments based on tallying the body count on both sides are simply ridiculous. In World War II, for example, the United States killed far more Japanese soldiers than they killed from our side. We used far more powerful weaponry on them than they used on us. Were we acting disproportionately? Do you condemn the United States for taking the actions it did? Or do you far more sensibly say that they attacked us (and our allies), and we responded with measures designed to make sure they could no longer do such things?

    Hamas launched rockets, repeatedly, into Israeli cities. It is only dumb luck that casualties and damage were as low as they did. That they were hapless and largely ineffective should not be used as a weapon for hamstringing Israel’s response. The Israelis are responding with the level of force necessary to severaly cripple Hamas’ ability to attack them.

    It’s a bit rich for you to say that you are not justifying Palestinian violence, but then call it surrender for them to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. And your claim that Israel has never acknowledged the rights of Palestinians to their own state is absurd in light of both the original 1947 UN Partition Plan, and the negotiations surrounding the Oslo Accords.

    And let’s not forget that the Palestinians haven’t actually shown much interest in a two-state solution. It’s pretty hard to negotiate a two-state solution when one of the sides boasts of its desire to push one of the states into the sea.

  74. #75 ScentOfViolets
    January 3, 2009

    Chuckle:

    It is not unreasonable in the slightest to expect the Palestinans to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to renounce terrorism as a strategy. By doing so they would join in a long line of people who believe (whether justified or not) that land was unfairly taken from them, but who got over it and went on with their lives.

    Notice that no one is forcing Jason to post this.

    ‘Get over it’ indeed.

  75. #76 Trey Jackson
    January 4, 2009

    How is conducting massive air strikes not an act of terrorism?

    For every Israeli Hamas kills, Israel kills 20-100 Palestinians. Israel is just as culpable in this situation. Israel is continually taking over more and more land (illegal settlements anyone?), and making life for Palestinians incredibly difficult. The wall they’re erecting does not provide more safety, it is a land grab pure and simple.

    I agree, Hamas should give up its stance that Israel does not have the right to exist – that’s a show-stopper for any kind of negotiation. But that does not give Israel the right to bomb the fcsk out of Palestine.

    If I ran the world, I’d wall that whole region in, throw in a couple of nuclear bombs for both sides to use, and let them all kill each other. We’d be better off w/out both sides.

    Also, Hamas was elected to govern by the Palestinians, and what do Israel and the U.S. do? Aggressively arm and support the opposition party. So much for promoting democracy. Democracy only matters when it’s one we like. How should Hamas react when they’re actively undermined by Israel? Sit back and take it? Who in their right mind would wage a conventional war against Israel? c’mon, a little common sense here. They’re fighting for their lives.

    Assigning proportions of blame as to whose “started” this or who is “responsible” does nothing to solve the problem.

    Again, I think the world would be better off w/that whole region bombed to smithereens so that neither existed.

  76. #77 Jim Harrison
    January 4, 2009

    You can get away with stealing land. We Americans acquired the Southwest of our country by conquest; but very few, even those who acknowledge that the Mexican War was morally indefensible, propose to give LA back to Mexico. The problem comes when you just can’t break your ethnic cleansing habit, when you keep taking more and more in broad daylight. I’m well aware that many if not most Israelis are not in favor of the endless extension of settlements in the West Bank, but that doesn’t matter very much so long as Israeli leaders are too frightened to curb their own dogs. And right-wing Israelis are every bit as violent and dangerous as Hamas. Indeed, many of the are utterly deranged religious fanatics or secular fascists. Want peace in the Middle East? How about going back to the 1967 borders without the usual diplomatic confidence games?

    As has been pointed out many times, the gruesome irony of the Israeli situation is the way in which it puts the Jews in the position formally occupied by the Germans, that is, it makes them act as if one Jew is worth hundreds of Arab untermenschen. Nobody is going to gas the Palestinians, but the rhetoric of American defenders of Israel has a genocidal logic. Israel must prevail though the whole region die. And granted that Israel is a state the size of El Salvador in a sea of hostile nations, it may one day come down to an apocalypse finale. After all, the alternative for the Palestinians is not a decent peace but subjugation–who believes that Tel Aviv will ever allow any Palestinian state real sovereignty? The argument isn’t that Israel is in the right, but simply that it is overwhelmingly powerful. The Palestinians have no right to any pride or dignity. Thing is, though, the Arabs are not like the American indians. They aren’t outnumbered. Indeed, demographic trends are very unfavorable for the Israelies. Maybe the nuclear weapons won’t be enough after all.

  77. #78 Dave K
    January 4, 2009

    I tend to be pretty middle-of-the-road on all this, and think that there have actually been some pretty good arguments from both sides in this thread, albeit with some unfortunate name-calling, also on both sides. But I can’t let this go.

    SLC wrote:

    2. There are some 4 million Arabs living on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, most of whom are Palestinians although there are some Druze and Bedouins also. These folks are not citizens of Israel. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are not part of Israel. Therefore, there is no more reason for these folks to be citizens of Israel then for the inhabitants of Canada or Mexico to be citizens of the US.

    That seems to me to be a pretty bad analogy, because the US is not militarily occupying Canada or Mexico, as Israel is doing in the West Bank, and which it did in Gaza until a few years ago. When ScentofViolets was complaining about Israeli treatment of Palestinians, I understood him to be referring to the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories, as he later confirmed. Jason’s response only referred to the rights of Palestinians in Israel proper, which seemed like a non sequitur.

    Jason, what is your opinion of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, and in Gaza while they still occupied it? (I’ll leave to one side the issue of Gaza since 2005.) Is there anything you think Israel could have or should have done differently there? I ask this not in any sneering way, but because I would genuinely like to know. I think you’ve done a pretty good job of articulating the pro-Israel side of all this, even if I don’t necessarily agree with everything you’ve said. (Nor do I agree with everything said by the posters here who have been most critical of Israel — as I said, I’m pretty middle of the road on all this.)

  78. #79 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 4, 2009

    Dave K –

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I can’t give you a detailed answer to the question of how Israel has treated the Palestinians in the West Bank, because I just don’t know enough about the minutiae of what they have done there. In general I think it reflects badly on Israel that they have consistently expanded settlements throughout the region. (Though even here I can understand their reasons for doing it. For example, the settlements provide a buffer between Israel on the one hand and Jordan and Syria on the other.) I think it is inevitable that there will be human rights abuses any time you have an unwelcome occupying power in a region (just as the US has committed abuses in Iraq, for example).

    In general my position on Israel is that it is far from perfect and has a lot to answer for in its history. But I also think they fare far better in the area of human rights than most other countries in the world, especially given the provocations they have faced. They are orders of magnitude better than any of their Arab neighbors. I think they are held to ludicrous standards that no other country in the world is held to (which was the main point of the opening post).

    Concerning ScentsofViolets, he was talking specifically about civil rights and citizenship rights. He said, for example, that one has to be Jewish to have full citizenship rights. That is not true. This discussion was going on in the context of his feeble attempts to liken the Palestinians to the Native Americans. The nascent United States, however, did not treat the Native Americans as equal under the law. That’s starkly different from Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens. That was hardly a non sequitur.

  79. #80 PalMD
    January 4, 2009

    Comparing the current conflict to one that started in a rural 15th century outpost and continued as a “hot” war until pretty much the end of the 19th century is useless. What is the point? Should we also examine Ceasars conquest of Gaul?

  80. #81 S. Rivlin
    January 4, 2009

    Alex said: “The main lesson of Lebanon 2006 should have been “don’t be idiots”. Look at the results: Lebanon was brought on a brink of civil war, Hezbollah became a major player and the whole country is still in turmoil. However, Israel will probably call this ‘a success’.”

    No, the main lesson of Lebanon was that when you start the job you better finish it. In 2006, Israel limited the ground invasion and didn’t take Hizbullah out, allowing the latter to claim victory and gain political power. Lesson learned! This will not happen in Gaza; the ground operation along with other actions will put an end to the terror brought by Hamas both on Palestinians and Israelis.

  81. #82 ponderingfool
    January 4, 2009

    And let’s not forget that the Palestinians haven’t actually shown much interest in a two-state solution. It’s pretty hard to negotiate a two-state solution when one of the sides boasts of its desire to push one of the states into the sea.
    **********
    Is a two-state option truly viable?

    From everything I have seen, Israel’s two-state solutions create a Palestine that is a buffer dependent on Israel. When presented that as the two-state option, why wouldn’t Palestinians turn to Hamas? Especially when they are sold constantly on the notion that it is Israel that is the cause of their problems. An election to be democratic takes more than a vote that got Hamas in control and lets face it those conditions do not exist in the occupied territories.

    The Middle East has a cycle of creating “Others” that helps keep the status quo in power. Arab regimes use the blight of the Palestinians & fear of Israel to rally their subjects. Hamas and such groups use the fear of Israel to maintain themselves. Israel uses the fear of the Arab regimes to justify its Palestine policy, offering a two-state solution that only keeps the status quo going. Real fear or not, it is a cycle that keeps itself going and one that is not going to end by rockets being launched by one side and military strikes by the other. In fact, it will only serve to keep the same dynamic in place.

    (Slight non-sequitur- have the secular-religious tensions in Israel subsided? Remember them being discussed after Rabin’s assassination but little about them since.)

  82. #83 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    Why is it always the aggressors in a criminal transaction, like Antonin Scalia regarding the stolen election of 2000, who insist that the victims (and everybody else) need to just “get over it” – even while the blood is still flowing?

  83. #84 Tony
    January 4, 2009

    SLC says: “The major problem preventing the acceptance of this proposed solution is the demand of the Palestinians that those living in refugee camps be resettled in Israel.”

    Simple question: Where did those refugee Palestinians come from, and how long have they been in refugee camps?

    Honestly, I do not have a pro-anything agenda (unlike most people in this thread); I’m just wondering.

  84. #85 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    In response to Jason R’s three points above:

    1) My description of Israel’s policies as “Likud” was a shorthand for belligerence and brutality, just as US foreign policy tends to default to the Republican mode of militarism and corporatism regardless of which party holds the White Palace. My apologies for using an unclear label (though since the Kadima party is a scion of Likud, perhaps not so far off).

    2) If you were thinking independently, would you be parroting the exact same cherry-picked points used by Tel Aviv?

    3) Said talking points include a number of flat-out lies, particularly the worn-out “everything to limit civilian casualties” jive. (Wholesale blockades of food, fuel, medical supplies to all 1.5 million Gazans, for months on end, with UN agencies declaring a “humanitarian disaster”? Hellfire missiles fired at a women’s dormitory at a university? Artillery strikes against the American School and at least three others?) Israel is in process of committing multiple war crimes, as detailed by Juan Cole – your “rejection” of his reports is no more valid than any creationist’s argument by personal incredulity – and many others. Just why do you think they’re barring all journalists from Gaza?

    Olmert and his crew belong in the defendants’ dock at the Hague, along with the Bush gang.

  85. #86 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    As I have previously stated, Juan Cole is a proven congenital liar. Continually Citing him as an expert makes Mr. Butler also a congenital liar.

  86. #87 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 4, 2009

    Pierce Butler -

    If you were thinking independently, would you be parroting the exact same cherry-picked points used by Tel Aviv?

    And if you were thinking independently, would you be parroting the talking points of every anti-Israel propaganda group in the world?

    There’s no need to make this personal. My opinions are my own, formed from getting as much information as I can about what has been going on from a variety of perspectives. Disagree with me all you want, but leave out the personal attacks. Your comments are usually more thoughtful than that.

  87. #88 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    SLC – if by “proven congenital liar” you mean “well-informed critic of US and Israeli crimes”, your point is well taken. Otherwise, some sort of evidence might be helpful.

    Jason R – do you think fact-based criticism of Israel – which tends, by the nature of facts, to be repetitious, specifically in including facts thoroughly omitted by the Israeli govt/lobby – is ipso facto anti-Israel propaganda, motivated by blackness of soul so odious it deserves no consideration?

    Or do you assert that disproportionate response, collective punishment, reckless bombardment of civilian targets, etc, are not war crimes as defined by the Geneva Conventions, or that the specific instances thereof discussed in the above links (from Human Rights Watch and the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories) are non-factual?

  88. #89 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    Prof. Cole has stated that President Amadinejad has never called for the elimination of the State of Israel. He has stated that claims to the contrary are based on mistranslations of the presidents’ remarks. However, the New York Times consulted a Professor of Persian studies who is fluent in Farsi who has publicly stated that Prof. Cole is in error. Since Prof. Cole has continued to make this claim, despite having been corrected, that makes him a liar.

  89. #90 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    SLC: One difference in translation, from a source chosen by a notoriously biased newspaper, equals “proven congenital liar”?

    See Cole’s response:

    He didn’t say it, and spoke of the regime. He quoted Khomeini saying, “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” (Een rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Quds bayad az safhih-i ruzgar mahv shavad; the verb construction mahv shodan is intransitive). (Khomeini had said ‘vanish from the arena of time.’) He has explained that he meant that the Zionist regime would collapse just as the Soviet one did. He didn’t threaten to wipe anything off anything.

    ….

    The Iranian press has acknowledged that I am right on this issue.

    Others who also claim fluency in Farsi (“Persian”) agree with Cole. Please consider this fairly exhaustive review from the Guardian, and reconsider your absolute declaration against Prof Cole & myself.

  90. #91 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    SLC: I posted a reply to you which seems to have been held for moderation due to having more than two URLs. An hour later, our host still seems to have found some more entertaining than a SciBlogs filter review, so this is an abbreviated version:

    See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/jun/14/post155

  91. #92 Pseudonym
    January 4, 2009

    Disclaimer: I don’t claim to know anything about the morality of the current conflict. Having said that…

    dean:

    I agree with the comments about Hamas, and I am perplexed at how they persuaded people to vote them into power.

    Hamas are excellent politicians who understand the power of winning hearts and minds. They were building hospitals, schools, health care clinics and libraries when the PLO was doing nothing. For many years, they were the closest thing that the Gaza Strip had to a social welfare system.

    In some respect, that makes their two-faced nature even more horrible. The way that they present themselves to Palestinian citizens is very different from the way that they deal with Israel.

    BTW, if you want to really understand Hamas, it helps to ignore everything that comes from MEMRI.

  92. #93 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    Oh joy – now Israel is using cluster bombs in the most densely populated area on the planet.

    When you support … attacks on civilians, I really do not care about your grievances, somebody said?

  93. #94 ThungurKnifur
    January 5, 2009

    I’m surprised to see this kind of totaly uncritical cheering from someone working at a University.

    And this line almost made my fucking head explode:

    “Reading much of the anti-Israel commentary in the American media”

    Who the fuck are you trying to fool?

    There are no bigger Israel cheerleaders then the American media, and you fucking know it.

    Well, maybe you then….

    Why don’t you just write more plainly how you feel:

    “Israel has the right to kill Palestinians. Palestinians have NO rights at all.”

    That would be WAY more honest then the half hearted tripe you barfed up so far.

  94. #95 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    The Guardian is one of the most anti-Israel news outlets in Great Britain, second only to the BBC and has no credibility as a source of information on the Israel/Palestine issue. Mr. Butler is going to have to do better then that. I’ll take the New York Times over the Guardian any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  95. #96 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re ThungurKnifur

    If Mr. ThungurKnifur doesn’t like Prof. Rosenhouses’ opinions, he should vote with his feet and not wander over here. After all, this is the professors blog.

    Re Pierce Butler

    As an aside, I find the claims of Mr. Butler and Prof. Cole relative as to whether President Amadinejad has called for the elimination of the State of Israel rather interesting, considering that they are in agreement with the good president. It reminds me of many of the Holocaust deniers who deny that it took place but, on the other hand would have supported it if it had.

  96. #97 CommiusRex
    January 5, 2009

    I don’t want to get involved in the discussion, generally. These things degenerate into name-calling pretty quickly whenever Israel/Palestine is invovled. However…

    SLC – Neither the Guardian nor the BBC is anti-Israel. The BBC does not have an editorial line. Accusations of bias against the BBC are a pretty good indicator of someone not liking what they’re hearing, somewhat along the lines of reality’s well-known ‘liberal bias’. The Guardian, as a leftwing newspaper, takes an editorial line critical of Isreali government violence, illegal expansion of settlements and other illegal activities sanctioned by the Israeli government. It also condemns all terrorist attacks and affirms Israel’s right to self-defence. I think the problem here may be that the media in the US has an enormous pro-Israel bias, as does US culture generally.

    That’s getting dangerously close to actually joining the debate, which I emphatically don’t want to do. In conclusion then – accusing the Guardian of being anti-Israeli is a pretty standard rightwing or pro-Zionist thing to do. Criticisng the BBC for the same suggests a slipping grip on reality…

    Commius, Rex Atrebatum

  97. #98 spinynorman
    January 5, 2009

    I’m not taking sides either, they’re all child-murdering theocratic savages, but it’s curious to see so many zionist zombies on Scienceblogs. I suppose in America even the ostensibly rational and secular mind picks it up by osmosis.

  98. #99 Pierce R. Butler
    January 5, 2009

    SLC: It reminds me of many of the Holocaust deniers…

    Funny – your reactions remind me of a couple of 9/11 truthers I know, who, when challenged on such details as to whether heated steel loses strength before it reaches its melting point, turn around and start ranting about the journalistic misdemeanors of Popular Mechanics and the Hearst empire.

  99. #100 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    Just for the record, I am not a truther or a birther. I accept the official government position that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by aircraft flown by Muslim terrorists and the the Pentagon was hit by an aircraft also flown by Muslim terrorists. I am also convinced by the evidence that President Elect Obama was born in Hawaii and not in Kenya, as alleged by nutcases like Philip Berg (Mr. Berg has conspicuously failed to present a shred of evidence of a Kenyan birth).

    As for my previous comment, the point was that Prof. Cole denies that President Amadinejad called for the elimination of the State of Israel, even though the good professor agrees that the State of Israel should be eliminated. Therefore, my reaction is why should he care what President Amadinejad said?

  100. #101 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re CommiusRex

    I am afraid that I am going to have to take exception to Mr. CommiusRexs’ claim of Israel/Palestinian neutrality on the part of the BBC and the Guardian. Attached is a link to a column in the Times of London relative to the BBCs’ anti-Israel bias.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1154525873721&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    An egregious example of the anti-Israel bias of the Guardian is found in the following attached link where the paper had to apologize for its totally bogus coverage of the events in Jenin.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b91_1204653896

  101. #102 ponderingfool
    January 5, 2009

    Attached is a link to a column in the Times of London relative to the BBCs’ anti-Israel bias.
    *********
    Dude your reply to bias is to call upon the Times of London owned by “Mr. Fox News: Fair and Balanced”, Rupert Murdoch, and a column from the opinion section of the Jerusalem Post?

  102. #103 Explicit Atheist
    January 6, 2009

    Posted by: Rob W | January 3, 2009 8:11 AM

    “ExplicitAtheist, the Hamas document you linked is apparently 20 years old and on a website called “The Jerusalem Fund” — even though the base URL is “palestinecenter.org”. That doesn’t strike me as a reliable source for information about Hamas’ goals (i.e., I didn’t read it; find a less-biased source).”

    If you read it you would find that the website is a genuinely Arab and Arab Palestinian group with a pro-Palestinian orientation. That 20 year old document is the unrevised official platform of Hamas today. You can obtain copies of the same document from other web sites, including academic web sites of universities. Hamas has some diversity within its ranks, some have even hinted at a willingness to revise some parts of that document at one time or another, but that doesn’t change the fact that Hamas’ positions on the conflict are on the extreme theocratic and anti-semitic side as reflected in its official platform. Its almost shocking to me that people would sincerely argue otherwise because this is so obvious from Hamas’ actions, statements, and behaviors, which are numerous and well publicized. Your comments strike me as too ignorant for anyone who claims to be knowledgeable enough to actually speak intelligently on the subject.

  103. #104 Pierce R. Butler
    January 6, 2009

    Explicit Atheist – If you want to talk about speaking knowledgeably on a subject, let’s hear your analysis on the Israeli government’s financial assistance in the founding of Hamas back in the ’80s as an attempt to undermine Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

    For extra credit, please include a comparison to massive CIA support for the war in Afghanistan which transformed Osama Bin Laden from a Saudi playboy to a leading jihadist.

    Please do not, as others have here recently, cite blatant propagandists as if they were reliable sources on the target of their propaganda, or attempt clumsy smears by association.

  104. #105 Explicit Atheist
    January 6, 2009

    “Explicit Atheist – If you want to talk about speaking knowledgeably on a subject, let’s hear your analysis on the Israeli government’s financial assistance in the founding of Hamas back in the ’80s as an attempt to undermine Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”

    “For extra credit, please include a comparison to massive CIA support for the war in Afghanistan which transformed Osama Bin Laden from a Saudi playboy to a leading jihadist.”

    That is all correct. My understanding is that the U.S. government gave weapons to Pakistan who in turn distributed the weapons to the most ideologically extreme factions fighting against the Soviets. In the case of Hamas, I don’t know enough about the politics of the people that Israel supported to make a critical judgement, but the outcome was similar.

  105. #106 Pierce R. Butler
    January 6, 2009

    Explicit Atheist – it’s a relief to find someone still persisting in this thread with a better connection to reality.

    If you think the blowback from the founding of Hamas was painful for Israel, just consider what they’ll experience after having unified most Palestinians (and an increasing number of others) behind the big H. The US’s misadventures with its own Franksteinian monster, aka Al Qaeda, will pale by comparison.

    Apparently the IDF is using White Phosphorus now. What’s next – napalm, mustard gas, or blankets bearing smallpox?

  106. #107 Explicit Atheist
    January 6, 2009

    Posted by: Pierce R. Butler | January 6, 2009 7:45 PM

    “Apparently the IDF is using White Phosphorus now. What’s next – napalm, mustard gas, or blankets bearing smallpox?”

    You are engaging in unbalanced hyperbole. Israel telephoned the residents of buildings in Gaza before they bombed the buildings to warn residents to leave. They are proceeding slowly in Gaza at least in part to try to minimize civilian causalities. White Phosphorus is used in smokescreens and/or illumination by the British, U.S, Russians, and almost certainly by other militaries. Napalm, like white phosphorus in smokescreens, isn’t outlawed, but the other weapons are out of the question. All napalm in the U.S. arsenal had been destroyed by 2001, but even if Israel still has any napalm it is a weapon we can expect that they have not and will not use during this assault on Gaza.

  107. #108 Pierce R. Butler
    January 6, 2009

    Israel telephoned the residents of buildings in Gaza before they bombed the buildings to warn residents to leave.

    A seemingly humanitarian gesture actually being used as psychological warfare.

    From a Palestinian blog:

    … Report from Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza – Bomb Blows Hole in Hospital Wall; No Electricity, No Water, Streets Covered in Blood

    I was able to speak to Suhalia Tarazi, Director of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza this morning. I took notes and I am sharing with you as best I can her situation in Gaza:

    “… We all have received leaflets and telephone calls ‘You have to leave your home, we will attack it.’ Where should the 700,000 people in Gaza City go???”

    From another activist, via email:

    Three hours ago I was able to speak to my friend … in Gaza, the person that my Israeli “mom,” …, wrote about in the article I posted yesterday. Our call abruptly ended when she was interrupted by her neighbor to learn that there is a rumor that the Al-Omma University building in al-Rimal, Gaza City, which is 3 houses away from her families, has been targeted for an air strike. Israel has been terrorizing people for the last few days by actually calling and advising of an oncoming strike. They like to brag that this is forewarning – an expression of their humanity. What they like to forget to note is that hundreds of residential homes have received these calls and were not yet targeted. … and her family, and her brothers family (9 children in all), now sit in a candle lit room, freezing cold, awaiting the fallout of the attack. I got through to her again 20 minutes ago, her voice, trembling, while she advised they still sit, huddled in a single room they believe is least exposed, and wait while they listen to the thumps of attacks taking place further away.

    All napalm in the U.S. arsenal had been destroyed by 2001…

    Funny, nobody told the US Marines:

    American jets killed Iraqi troops with firebombs – similar to the controversial napalm used in the Vietnam War – in March and April as Marines battled toward Baghdad.

    Marine Corps fighter pilots and commanders who have returned from the war zone have confirmed dropping dozens of incendiary bombs near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris River. The explosions created massive fireballs.

    “We napalmed both those (bridge) approaches,” said Col. James Alles in a recent interview. He commanded Marine Air Group 11, based at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, during the war. “Unfortunately, there were people there because you could see them in the (cockpit) video. …”

    … Before March, the last time U.S. forces had used napalm in combat was the Persian Gulf War, again by Marines.

    During a recent interview about the bombing campaign in Iraq, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Jim Amos confirmed aircraft dropped what he and other Marines continue to call napalm on Iraqi troops on several occasions.

    I’ve already run into a spamfilter here by trying to post a comment with three URLs, so I leave it to you to search for recent stories about IDF use of cluster bombs in the most densely populated area of our planet – about half of said population being under the age of 16.

  108. #109 bmkmd
    January 7, 2009

    “Why now?”

    Hamas has been firing rockets for months.

    The answer is…to get in some hostilites before the Bush administration is out of office.

    Maybe Obama will be good for Israel. maybe he won’t, but the Israelis aren’t willing to wait without getting in one last lick against Hamas.

  109. #110 Leni
    January 8, 2009

    Pierce R. Butler wrote:

    What they like to forget to note is that hundreds of residential homes have received these calls and were not yet targeted.

    Is that really worse than not giving them warning at all? Would it be better if Israel launched unannounced, randomly lobbed and ill-aimed missiles on them?

    Look, I’m very ambivalent about the whole thing, but this argument is a bit like asking when one has stopped beating one’s wife. It’s loaded. If Palestinians aren’t forewarned about possible impending attacks, then Israel is directly targeting civilians and not giving them the opportunity to protect themselves. If they do, then Israel is waging a psychological war against civilians. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, nevermind the constant barrage of rockets and suicide bombers from the other side.

    Did Hamas forewarn the people in areas adjacent to where they sorta meant to lob bombs? Did the suicide bombers sent out at their behest call the bus companies, restaurants and markets ahead of time?

  110. #111 Pierce R. Butler
    January 8, 2009

    Leni – my point was that the IDF is waging psychological warfare under the pretense of humanitarianism. If they didn’t deliberately invalidate their own “warnings” with so many false alarms, you might have a valid argument.

    Regarding the “constant barrage of rockets and suicide bombers from the other side”, that looks an awful lot like projection (except the IDF aren’t risking many personnel at all, never mind sending any on suicide missions). When one side is taking over 99% (literally) of all the casualties in a war, which one would you say is barraging constantly?

  111. #112 Leni
    January 9, 2009

    If they didn’t deliberately invalidate their own “warnings” with so many false alarms, you might have a valid argument.

    How do you know they are false? It’s a war. Targets change. Especially when one is fighting an “army” that uses civilians as shields.

    Aside from that, you didn’t answer my question. Is that worse than not telling them anything at all and engaging in the type of random, indiscriminate bombing that Hamas has?

    Regarding the “constant barrage of rockets and suicide bombers from the other side”, that looks an awful lot like projection (except the IDF aren’t risking many personnel at all, never mind sending any on suicide missions).

    Are you saying that the IDF would be more legit if they used suicide bombers? If they “risked” more personnel?

    And again, did the Palestinian suicide bombers call first? If not, does that make their actions more humanitarian?

    When one side is taking over 99% (literally) of all the casualties in a war, which one would you say is barraging constantly?

    Pardon me, I guess I should have said an “intermittent, random, and unannounced barrage” instead of a constant one. How thoughtless of me.

  112. #113 Bongo
    January 13, 2009

    Completely ridiculous

    Not only do you ignore the distinction between occupier and occupied, the pro Israel attitude is dripping off your article.

    The only aspect you seem to understand of the situation is that the hostilities of the surrounding Arab governments is a great cause of the situation and that they use it to foment hostilities toward Israel to distract public opinions from their own incompetence.

    Sadly you fail to understand that Israel is using this war to distract the public opinion from internal problems among different Jewish communities.

    Apart from that ‘detail’ you justify this war as a retaliation against Hamas, while it is actually a colonial, racist war against the Palestinian people.

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