Halevi on the War in Gaza

In the Washington Post, Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi has a moving take on the conflict in Gaza. His nineteen year old son is in the Israeli army, you see.

A majority of Israelis emerged from the first intifada convinced that we need to do everything possible to end the occupation and ensure that our children don’t serve as enforcers of Gaza’s despair. That was why I initially supported the 1993 Oslo peace process that took a terrible gamble on Yasser Arafat’s supposed transformation from terrorist to peacemaker. And even after it became clear that Arafat and other Palestinian leaders never intended to accept Israel’s legitimacy, I supported the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, simply to extricate us from that region, knowing that we would not receive peace in return.

And now my son is fighting in Gaza. The conflict he and his friends confront is far worse than my generation’s experience in Gaza. In our time, we were confronted with mere rocks and Molotov cocktails; my son faces Iranian-supplied anti-tank weapons — one more price we will pay, along with the missile attacks on our towns, for the Gaza withdrawal, just as the Israeli right had warned.

Still, I don’t regret that withdrawal. If Israelis are united today about our right to defend ourselves against Gaza’s genocidally minded regime, it is at least partly because we are fighting from our international border. My son and his friends have one crucial advantage over my generation’s experience in Gaza: They know, as we did not, that Israel was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for peace, uprooting thousands of its citizens from their homes and endorsing a Palestinian state. My son confronts Gaza knowing that its misery is now imposed by its leaders. He knows that his country was even prepared to share its most cherished national asset, Jerusalem, with its worst enemy, Arafat, for the sake of preventing this war. That empowers him with the moral self-confidence he will need to get through the coming days. The face of my Gaza enemy was a teenager throwing rocks; the face of Gavriel’s Gaza enemy is a suicide bomber.

Comments

  1. #1 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    Shorter Yossi Klein Halevi:

    Palestinians are bad and deserve what they get.

    ———-

    What a well balanced article. 0_0

  2. #2 Martin
    January 4, 2009

    And guess what, student_b ? He is absolutely right.

  3. #3 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re student_b

    The Hamas terrorists has sowed the wind and now will reap the whirlwind.

  4. #4 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    Sure.

    Rationalizations and pithy excuses and demonization of the “enemy” were always a good method to kill people and feel good about it afterwards. Who am I to argue about that?

    It’s not like it’s something new. I’m just astounded every day that people still do it and don’t feel ashamed about it.

  5. #5 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re student_b

    No Mr. student_b. The Palestinians are not bad. Their leaders are bad. Unfortunately, as is all too ofter he case in history, the subjects of bad leaders end up paying the price for the latters’ transgressions. Cases in point: Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Japan under Tojo.

  6. #6 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    As an afterthought:

    Israel military supporter:

    The Hamas terrorists has sowed the wind and now will reap the whirlwind.

    Hamas supporter:

    Israel is a violent oppressor who has sowed the wind and now will reap the whirlwind.

    One sides lobs rockets and the other drops bombs. And both have feeble excuses for rationalizing the maiming and killing of humans on the other side.

    So similar.

    Would almost be funny, if we wouldn’t be talking about real humans.

  7. #7 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    @SLC

    Just continue with your excuses and rationalizations if they make you feel you good.

    Doesn’t change the fact that you support the killing of humans. But you have to live with it, not I, so I guess, suit yourself.

    PS. Please drop the Mr.

  8. #8 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re student_b

    The trouble with Mr/Ms student_bs’ comment is that the Hamas terrorist leadership could not care less how many Palestinians are killed because their attitude is the more the merrier. They have deliberately provoked this response from the IDF for this purpose, which is to gain creds in the Arab street.

    Unfortunately Mr/Ms student_b, sometimes war is unavoidable. Armed conflict was the only way to stop Hitler and Tojo and it appears that armed conflict is the only way to stop the Islamic extremists.

  9. #9 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    @SLC

    You know, it’s still a Godwin even if you invoke Tojo into it.

    And you still only have half baked excuses for killing other humans. And really, comparing the Israel/Palestine conflict with second world war is silly.

    As I’d said before, it’s ok if it makes you feel better, but don’t think that other people can’t see behind it and see that your rationalizations are pretty weak and don’t hide the fact that you advocate the killing of people.

    PS. Please drop the Mr/Ms.

  10. #10 Kevin
    January 4, 2009

    “The Hamas terrorists has sowed the wind and now will reap the whirlwind.”

    I assume the whirlwind is a euphemism for the genocide of a people who refuse to live in a cage with a boot on their throat

  11. #11 RoyK
    January 4, 2009

    _insert_prefix_here_ student_b, I’d like to hear what would you do if you were an Israeli leader, facing the problem of almost daily bombings of your southern cities by the Hammas, even under cease fire, knowing that any negotiation is out of the question because no only the Hammas broke the cease fire when it was in power, they also refused to extend it when it ended.
    As a leader it is your job to protect your citizens. How would you go about it? What is your alternative to what Israel is doing now?

  12. #12 RoyK
    January 4, 2009

    Kevin –
    Genocide could’ve been easily achieved with zero bombs – Israel would simply stop transferring food, aid and water to Gaza. Millions dead with zero expense. Keeping the body count low is what makes the military operation more complex and risky.

    The problem is not with the Palestinian people who are justifiably fed up with the state they’re in, it is with their leadership that for years refused any type of negotiation that accepts Israel’s right to exit, thus dooming the population on both sides to a state of limbo where everyone suffers. Israel seeks to break this limbo, and it is at the expense of the Palestinians. The Hammas had every opportunity to improve the situation through diplomacy, rather than war over the last 8 years.

  13. #13 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re student_b

    PS. Please drop the Mr/Ms.

    No.

    Re Kevin

    I assume the whirlwind is a euphemism for the genocide of a people who refuse to live in a cage with a boot on their throat

    Genocide? Don’t make me laugh. If the Government of Israel had genocide in mind, they wouldn’t be using precision munitions. They would be doing what Syrian dictator Hafaz Assad did in 1982 in the City of Hama. They would line up several hundred artillery pieces along the border with Gaza and make it a free fire zone. Every square inch of the Gaza Strip is within artillery range.

  14. #14 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    Take a look what England did during the IRA bombings, or what Spain did (and does) during the ETA bombings or what Germany did during the RAF bombings, etc. (Which doesn’t mean that what the governments did in each of those conflicts where optimal, of course.)

    Just don’t start bombing back, cause that never works. Stop trying to blockade the Gaza strip, since it evidently didn’t work either. (Hamas has still tons of weapons, just the ordinary citizens have nothing.)

    Start talking with your enemies, since not talking evidently didn’t work either.

    In short, stop doing always the same thing as before and think that the outcome magically will be something else.

    Or we’ll have the same discussion about this conflict in twenty years again.

    And I would stop with the blame game. You already started it again, with saying that Hamas is to blame. Now Hamas of course says Israel is to blame because of X and Israel responds with saying that Hamas did Y which it then says did because of Z. Etc. etc. into eternity.

    You can’t put the blame on a single actor, both are quite responsible for the stupidity that is happening down there (as is the rest of the world to a lesser degree).

    You won’t solve anything with blaming one side; that is just making excuses for not making something different. As I’ve said before, only rationalizations for why hurting other humans is ok because of X or Y. You’ll never have peace doing that.

    Also stop expecting a solution to this conflict in a short time. It will take a long time of trust building on each side to stop this conflict and you’ll have setbacks. A neutral third party who could oversee a peace process would be wonderful, but we don’t have one in this world.

    Both sides need to learn not to always react to the other sides mistakes with their own mistakes. And as long as you’ve tit for that, you’ve no solution.

    Of course, I’ve not perfect solution to this conflict. But that the current approach doesn’t work is quite obvious, isn’t it?

    PS. Why is a prefix to a nick name even necessary? But if you insist, you can call me Its Majesty the Plutarch of Utopia.

  15. #15 Rob W
    January 4, 2009

    @SLC:

    The Palestinians are not bad. Their leaders are bad. Unfortunately, as is all too ofter he case in history, the subjects of bad leaders end up paying the price for the latters’ transgressions.

    Prices are not paid in abstraction; they are exacted by another group of people. If I recall my history correctly, this was one of the big reasons that Hitler was able to rise to power — because after WWI the German people had been punished so severely for the mistakes of their leaders (forced reparations that bankrupted the German economy, etc.). This is a generally-accepted interpretation of history, not my own.

    So the real goal here is not “punishment” of the Palestinian people (or Hamas), any more than it should be “punishment” of Israelis for their past errors.

    The goal is to stop the escalation of violence, and weaponry, and hatred, and children killed, etc. etc., so that the extremists on both sides can be made irrelevant and powerless, and the regular people can actually try to lead regular human lives without constant fear of rockets and airstrikes.

    If “harsher punishment” works, then that’s on the table — anything is up for discussion — but the case must be made.

    Jason, can you possibly sum up what this bit is supposed to be saying about how to move this conflict towards resolution?

  16. #16 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 4, 2009

    Student_b, there’s no good reason to engage in false more equivalence here. If the actual complaint of Hamas was the blockade they would be sending missiles at Egypt also. And if the Israelis goals were as nefarious as you would like them to be they would be bombing the West Bank also. The situation isn’t good and Israel’s action over the last 40 years have been far from perfect. But that doesn’t put them in the same boat as Hamas which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and all that entails. Israel wants peace but is willing to go to war. Hamas wants just wants war. Understanding of the situation is a better than blind moral equivocation.

  17. #17 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    Where did I say that: “the actual complaint of Hamas was the blockade”.

    I responded to the question of RoyK what I would do as the leader of Israel. I didn’t speak about Hamas’ “justifications” for their crimes at all.

    And my response to you is the same as the response to the other posters above. Stop rationalizing the killing of human beings for uncertain political goals and stop the blame game.

    It doesn’t help and doesn’t work. (The current situation is enough of an example that it doesn’t work I guess.)

    I didn’t say that both sides are equally responsible to the current situation. I said stop trying to find a single culprit since both sides do contribute to the current mess and trying to blame one side only doesn’t solve anything.

    Stop using the action of the other side as a reason to do crimes yourself or apologize for them. Each side does it’s fair share of crimes. (Israels blockade and indiscriminate bombardment of police stations for example. Hamas firing of rockets at civilian populations and suicide bombings.)

    And if the Israelis goals were as nefarious as you would like them to be they would be bombing the West Bank also.

    WTF?

    I didn’t describe any goals to any one side. I just said that both sides need to stop with their half assed justifications of murder and killing and start doing things stopping them.

  18. #18 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    … Iranian-supplied anti-tank weapons …

    Odd, no reports yet of the IDF losing a single tank.

    Not much heard about who’s supplying the Israeli weapons, either.

  19. #19 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    Just for the information of Mr. Butler, Israeli tanks, which mostly consist of Merkava III and Merkava IV models, were designed and are manufactured in Israel. The diesel engines are purchased from Germany. This one the Hamas terrorists can’t blame on the US.

  20. #20 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 4, 2009

    Joshua Zelinsky

    Exactly right. Well said!

    student_b -

    As rationalizations go, responding to a direct attack on your civilians by a hostile neighbor seems like a pretty good one.

  21. #21 Brett Dunbar
    January 4, 2009

    One big problem I have with believing in Israeli goodwill is the fact that during the 1990s negotiations Israel accelerated the rate of settlement building, which directly attacked vital Palestinian interests. The placement of the settlements is incompatible with a viable Palestinian state and doing this therefore weakened the political position of pro-peace Palestinians. Removing settlers is politically difficult for Israel, much as suppressing the militants is for the Palestinians. The Palestinians actually tried to keep their part of land for peace, Israel didn’t.

    Following Annapolis Israel had approved two settlement expansions within a month, despite having just agreed to a settlement freeze. While violent opposition to Israel secured the removal of the settlements in the Gaza strip and the retreat from Lebanon, it is therefore not entirely surprising that the more violent Palestinian factions have gained additional support as they are using more effective tactics.

  22. #22 Snark7
    January 4, 2009

    Oh,yeah….

    “I assume the whirlwind is a euphemism for the genocide of a people who refuse to live in a cage with a boot on their throat”

    The horrible, horrible genocide of palestinians by the evil israelis. The only genocide in human history, where the genocided actually multiplied in numbers. Incredibly stupid.

  23. #23 student_b
    January 4, 2009

    @Jason

    Yeah, and it seems to work so well for them, no?

    But I give up. If you’re happy with your justifications for the killings I won’t be able to change your mind.

    And in twenty years (if I would remember this discussion then, probably not) I could look at the then current conflict about the same old things and think, how swell that all worked out, yes?

  24. #24 Lycosid
    January 4, 2009

    Any theocracy automatically makes a sizable portion of its populace into second class citizens. The theostates in the Middle East deserve war and no sympathy until their governments become secular.

    Shouldn’t the Jewish homeland have been created in Germany anyway? Oh, I forgot, the Germans are white Christians…give ‘em those brown folks’ land instead.

  25. #25 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 4, 2009

    Lycosid, your logic is flawed at multiple levels. A country having theocratic elements does not mean it or its citizens “deserve war”. That applies to any country regardless of the religion in question.

    Your comment about Germany is close to idiotic. The historical homeland was in Israel and it should be clear why there was a strong preference among Jews to have a state there especially when they had settled there. Moreover, Germany was only a small fraction of the total Jewish population. Why you chose it is beyond me. The establishment of the state of Israel had nothing to do with taking “those brown folks’ land”. If you can’t improve the signal to noise ratio then go do something else.

  26. #26 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re Lycosid

    Maybe the Jewish homeland should have been in Madagascar, as proposed in 1935 by Adolf Eichmann.

  27. #27 Joshua White
    January 4, 2009

    @ student_b

    Could you clear something up for me? Are you against human killing in all forms or is it permissible under some circumstances? It is unclear from you comments.

  28. #28 mufi
    January 4, 2009

    From the comfort of these shores, far be it from me to denigrate a nation for defending itself against borderline threats. There is, of course, always a question of proportionality, but that, too, is difficult to judge from afar (especially as a non-expert in political and military matters).

    I will admit, however, that I have about as much sympathy (even as one who is technically Jewish and has visited Israel) for the cause of Jewish nationalism (or “Zionism”) as I do for the cause of Arab or Palestinian (or, for that matter, any) nationalism. Especially in today’s interconnected global community, I believe that people should be valued first and foremost on the basis of their humanity (or the degree to which they live up to our best expectations of such), and far less so on the basis of their tribal, ethnic, or religious pedigrees (which I expect will be with us, nonetheless, for some time to come).

    That’s not to suggest that the “Jewish state” is alone in its ideological poverty. Hardly. Rather, it just seems to exhibit one of the more provocative and controversial forms of chauvinism these days, largely due to its location and historical circumstances (i.e. its belligerent neighbors and a large non-Jewish population that, after centuries of settlement, is unwilling to peacefully move aside, make room, or accept second-class status).

    So (to quote the old saw): Is it (in this case, Israel) good for the Jews? It seems difficult to argue that an Israeli Jewish family is safer today than, say, its American or British counterpart (and, again, my primary concern is for humanity, of which Jews represent only a very small percentage). I don’t know (as some have argued) whether Israel’s continued existence could forestall or provide a safe haven against a future Nazi-like program, but it seems rather more likely (not to mention less paranoid) that, insofar as Israel reinforces nationalism, and the old tribal, ethnic, and religious divisions on which nationalism traditionally feeds, that it may actually help to perpetuate anti-Semitic myths and libels.

    That Israel’s been hard on the non-Jews native to the Levant goes without saying; albeit, to some more than others – particularly the poor. These are the folks that Hamas, Hezbollah, and other extremist forces prey upon, which underscores the real tragedy in these events.

  29. #29 Lycosid
    January 4, 2009

    SLC and Josh Z.,
    What did the Palestinians do to warrant having their land taken from them and given to someone else. Yes I know a small faction supported the Nazis, and a big f dash dash dash to them, but wouldn’t it have made sense to carve the homeland the Jewish people desired out of the country that committed the atrocity against them and humanity at large? That’d be like putting you in jail for someone else’s crime.

    I’m not saying we should bring war to a theocracy, but when you make people second class citizens that’s what you get. Let all those countries rot until they have their own enlightenment. Until then, we focus our energies on pushing humanity forward through science.

  30. #30 Tony
    January 4, 2009

    From the Wa Post article: “I had assumed that I’d become initiated into Israeliness when I myself was drafted into the army as a 34-year-old immigrant in 1989…”

    An immigrant in 1989!! It seems odd to me that Jewish immigrants are allowed to continue to be admitted to a limited land mass when a multitude of Palestinians remain in expatriate refugee camps.

    This explains why more Jewish settlements need to be built in contravention to existing accords. Just wondering, is there a limit to the number of Jewish immigrants allowed?

    Also, explain how this is in the US national interest to furnish military aid to either side (and not just platitudes about supporting “democracy” since tyranny of majority can exist.)

    I have no dog in this fight, just trying to wrap my brain around th US’ foreign policy priorities.

  31. #31 S. Rivlin
    January 4, 2009

    Lycosid,

    You sound like an adviser to Ahmadinijad – “send all the damn Jews back to Europe or to Alaska and carve a land for them there.”

    Have you ever study just a bit of the history of the region? Where there ever a Palestinian state? People? Government? Even Arafat was not a Palestinian, but an Egyptian. Palestinians as people were invented in 1964 by the PLO. Before then, they were simply Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese, etc., who emmigrated to the Ottoman Palestine where European Jews who came there the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century brought with them economic development and much needed jobs.

  32. #32 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re mufi

    In response to Mr. mufis’ question, let us do a little counterfactual history her and hypothesize that the State of Israel had been created in 1919. In such a scenario, we must consider the possibility that the Holocaust might not have happened or at least would have resulted in many fewer deaths. As I stated, Eichmann, in 1935, proposed Madagascar as a place to exile the Jews of Germany. If the State of Israel had existed, it might have well be speculated that Hitler would have been satisfied to send all of Germanys’ Jews thither as a solution to his perceived Jewish problem in Europe. It is also possible that many Austrian, Polish and Russian Jews might have emigrated there before WW 2 as their situation was not much better then in Germany in the early 1930s.

  33. #33 S. Rivlin
    January 4, 2009

    Tony,

    Here’s an easier problem to wrap your brain around – the embargo on Cuba, si?

  34. #34 Tony
    January 4, 2009

    S. Rivlin:
    One problem at a time. Let’s go slow, this is an evolution blog after all.

  35. #35 mufi
    January 4, 2009

    SLC,

    I won’t pretend to be an historian (although I’m not exactly ignorant of this subject), much less a diviner of “what if” scenarios (although I can certainly entertain some plausible speculations of my own). But I can say one thing with confidence: The Holocaust (or Shoah) was as tragic as it was, not because its victims were (for the most part) Jews, but because its victims were humans (most of whom were Jewish).

    So, from that humanist/universalist ethical standpoint, it is just as difficult for me to accept the notion of a Jewish state as it is for me to accept the notion of a Christian, Muslim, or [choose any tribal/ethnic/religious identity] state. (And, obviously, this objection applies strongly to the Aryan Nation that Nazis envisioned.) That ideal may sound unrealistic in the context of the Middle East (i.e. given its domination by Arab and/or Islamic nations), but when reality is as tragic as this, then I feel obliged to propose something better (e.g. in this case, a bi-national state in Palestine, which has long had advocates on both sides of the issue), one that might have fewer costs in terms of lost or ruined human lives.

    Whatever political alternative is best and most practical, it seems clear to me that nationalist-separatist fervor is not working here, even for those more sympathetic with its cause than I am.

  36. #36 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re mufi

    Yessir, just what the doctor ordered, a binational state in Palestine. Binational and multinational states have worked so well in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, India, not to mention Lebanon and Iraq. Dream on, Mr. mufi, dream on.

  37. #37 Lycosid
    January 4, 2009

    S. Rivlin,
    I said no such thing. A secular state where Israel is, where whoever could live in equality would be ideal. Until one side is ready to implement such a solution, neither is worth my country’s respect, sympathy, or military support when necessary. Buy books not bombs.

    Also, by your reckoning the state of Palestine was only made up 16 years after Israel was made up if we’re following your logic.

    Don’t compare me to a theocratic Islamofacist anti-Semitic jackass like Ahmadinejad. Not being for the STATE of Israel does not make one an anti-Semite. Bar Mitzvahs are way too fun to be like that!

  38. #38 natural cynic
    January 4, 2009

    Herzl, Weizmann, Jabotinsky & Balfour sowed the wind. Nasser, Ben Gurion, the grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and innumerable others contributed their parts. But it all started with the Romans and the voice in Abe’s ear. There is such a legacy that the idiots of today can only add a small part to the storm.

    And what will be gained by the current incursion other than further radicalization of the Palestinians, intransigence of the Israelis, blindness of Americans and disgust of the rest of the world.

  39. #39 mufi
    January 4, 2009

    SLC said: Yessir, just what the doctor ordered, a binational state in Palestine. Binational and multinational states have worked so well in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, India, not to mention Lebanon and Iraq. Dream on, Mr. mufi, dream on.

    I’m tempted to respond in kind by arguing that anyone who would claim that the current situation in Israel/Palestine is “working well” is deluded, lying, or morally depraved.

    Besides, there are many more national-separatist movements throughout the world (e.g. in Spain, Sri Lanka, Ireland, etc.) which have yet to carve out a plot on the map. They can’t all be satisfied.

    Look, no nation (let alone the larger ones, like Russia, China, Brazil, Canada, and the US) is mono-cultural. Historically, it’s only been a question of which group dominates a particular nation at which time. For example, here in the US, whites remain politically dominant. But, at this point, its legal system is universalist in character, thereby offering at least the theoretical possibility for a non-white individual to ascend to power on the basis of his/her personal merits (as opposed to his/her tribal/ethnic/religious pedigree). In many ways, the culture of the US hasn’t yet caught up with the ethical ideals embodied in its laws. But, especially after the last presidential election, I think it’s fair to say that it’s made progress in this regard.

    And that kinda gets to my point: We can agree that Israelis have as much right to defend themselves as any other real-world nation (say, compared to other ideologically objectionable nations) — but that’s something entirely different than actually endorsing the concept of a Jewish state (or an Islamic one, for that matter).

  40. #40 Brett Dunbar
    January 4, 2009

    There are a number of successful multinational states, the UK Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany &c.

    Belgium for example has been independent since 1830 and has had a separate political identity more or less continuously since the early 17th century (it is basically what was the Spanish and then Austrian Netherlands plus the Bishopric of Liege). It might be the longest running argument in Europe but it is a successful multi national state (there is a tiny German speaking minority as well as well as the Flemings and Walloons).

  41. #41 SLC
    January 4, 2009

    Re mufi

    So Mr. mufi would turn Israel into another Lebanon. What a great solution. The various factions in Lebanon fought a civil war for almost a decade in which over 100,000 people were killed. So far, Israelis and Palestinians haven’t even begun to approach those totals so maybe they aren’t doing so badly after all.

  42. #42 mufi
    January 4, 2009

    SLC says: So Mr. mufi would turn Israel into another Lebanon. What a great solution. The various factions in Lebanon fought a civil war for almost a decade in which over 100,000 people were killed. So far, Israelis and Palestinians haven’t even begun to approach those totals so maybe they aren’t doing so badly after all.

    Well, I’m tempted just to refer you to Brett Dunbar’s last comment (i.e. There are a number of successful multinational states, the UK Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany &c.), but I admit that the Levant is not Western Europe.

    Besides, you keep missing my point (or perhaps dodging it). You may very well be right that a two-state solution in Palestine is the only practical one. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s true or not (and I suspect that neither do you), but I would at least agree that, when last I checked, the majority opinion in Israel (not to mention that among pundits here in the US) favors it. And any proposal that lacks the faith of its immediate stakeholders (if only for the time being) is probably doomed to failure.

    My point is more of a philosophical one, one that questions the legitimacy of any legal system that discriminates against individuals on the basis of tribal, ethnic, or religious identity. As part of its conception as a Jewish state, Israel is unfortunately an example of just that — despite the efforts of its apologists to gloss over that inconvenient fact and to sell it in the West as the only democratic state in the Middle East (i.e. “democratic” to those who happen to be Jewish).

    At least in my view, that is a point that deserves to be kept in mind whenever evaluating the ethical justification for any particular military campaign launched in the name of protecting Israel. Defending human rights is one thing; defending the right of one group to dominate another within a particular territory is quite another.

  43. #43 Tony
    January 4, 2009

    Jason,
    Sure is a lot of heat without light. Maybe Megan is right:

    http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/12/the_problem_with_israelpalesti.php

    How ’bout getting back to science, doc?

  44. #44 Nick
    January 4, 2009

    S. Rivlin

    Have you ever study just a bit of the history of the region? Where there ever a Palestinian state? People? Government? Even Arafat was not a Palestinian, but an Egyptian. Palestinians as people were invented in 1964 by the PLO. Before then, they were simply Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese, etc., who emmigrated to the Ottoman Palestine…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine#History
    Proven wrong by wikipedia, oooh that’s got to burn… But then, since you’re spouting propaganda, you’ll probably shift the goal posts etc etc etc.

    where European Jews who came there the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century brought with them economic development and much needed jobs.

    Yes, the capital the Jewish settlers brought in did help the local economy, only the Zionist’s weren’t interested in the slightest of keeping the locals around once they’d established a state. Ah mostly-non-lethal ethnic cleansing, too bad it really hasn’t worked out all that well.

    On Halevi, well, Israel may have withdrawn settlements from the Gaza Strip, but they’re still building them in the West Bank, complete with the business-as-usual treatment of Palestinian people, property and agriculture. Hmmn, a “slight” problem there I would think. Plus, Palestine isn’t a really a state, it’s still occupied by the Israeli’s, who since the second intifada haven’t exactly screwed up royally (r.e. the Balkans), but then again haven’t exactly helped either. Nor have the PLO been particularly bright, same old nepotistic short-sighted stupidity and corruption. Which partly is why Hamas got a significant percentage of the election vote.

    He knows that his country was even prepared to share its most cherished national asset, Jerusalem, with its worst enemy, Arafat, for the sake of preventing this war.
    lolwat? So they’re sharing it with Arafat’s undead corpse then?

  45. #45 Baratos
    January 4, 2009

    What amuses me about all this is that the Israelis are using standard Bandenbekampfung tactics: kill 100 enemies for every one of your men that dies, and so on. This did not work in Poland, it will not work in Gaza.

  46. #46 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2009

    SLC: those certified Made-In-Israel Merkava tanks didn’t cross the Gaza border until more than 400 Palestinians had been killed (and thousands more wounded) by aircraft and artillery made in, and paid for by, the USA.

    I’ve recently learned that the wonderfully named Hellfire missile is manufactured (in part) at a Lockheed plant about 50 miles from my home. Previously I’d thought Florida’s main outreach to Palestinians was produced a somehow more tolerable 150+ miles away in Orlando; maybe it was reading about the net effects of these engineering miracles (upon Lebanese villagers, mostly) in Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East* that’s made me so over-sensitive since 1/27.

    This one the “Hamas terrorists” can “blame on the US” – and so can, and will, everybody else. Please continue waving your flag, like a good American should whenever red white and blue Hellfire is delivered unto the homes of the infidel.

    * It’s a very long book: to test your own reaction, just skim pp 773-788 in the paperback edition, or the last third of chapter 19.

  47. #47 rimpal
    January 4, 2009

    Someone mentioned India. It is indeed the oldest diverse nation, and now a nation-state, and very successful at that. And that is because the 1000s of years of its Hindu ethos that has ensured that diverse traditions are not only accepted but also flourish. While China and India are the only two countries where since times ancient Jews have never suffered discrimination, it is in India that they have been able to maintain their distinct identity. Israel is politically, socially, intellectually, and culturally, more advanced and progressive than the despotic regimes in its neighbours by orders of magnitude. Anyone who is arguing otherwise is not serious. Few realise that the current action by Israel has taken time to happen because popular support was not forthcoming for a long time. I hope Israel prevails in its mission to defang the Hamas.

  48. #48 Julian Gall
    January 5, 2009

    It’s ironic that a large part of the support for Israel comes either from people who think the land was given to the Israelis by God or from people who think the second coming of Christ requires Israel to control its historical territory. Strange people for this blog to side with.

    To help in gaining a balanced view … http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/davidson-guest-op-ed-whose-interest.html

  49. #49 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    Robert Fisk, who has a long history of anti-Israel writings, is a bigger liar then Juan Cole.

    Re Julian Gall

    Mr. Gall is apparently from the Pierce Butler school of quoting proven liars like Juan Cole. Prof. Coles’ views on Israel are about as balanced as those of Don Black and David Duke.

    Mr. Gall and Mr. Butler are going to have to do better then that. Next, they will be quoting Norman Finkelstein, the noted consort of Holocaust deniers.

  50. #50 Lycosid
    January 5, 2009

    SLC,
    Why are you for a theocratic state like Israel? If you’re in the US, do you realize that the fundamentalist types who got Bush elected would be running the country according to their doctrines if church and state weren’t explicitly separated? The Israeli government is beholden to the Jewish equivalent of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, and their leaders risk assassination if they displease them.

    Why should I send my tax dollars to support a backwards theocracy?

  51. #51 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Lycosid

    I would partially agree with Mr. Lycosid that the Orthodox Jewish community in Israel has too much influence on the internal policies there. However, this is mostly due to the idiotic political system there where elections to the Knesset are based on party lists, rather then individual constituencies, such as in other parliamentary democracies. This is in addition to having too low a threshold (currently 2.5%) for representation. The result is the proliferation of parties, making it virtually impossible for any party to garner anywhere near a parliamentary majority (60 votes). Thus they end up with governments formed from multiple parties which include the religious parties. Basically, Israel under the current setup is ungovernable.

    However, I must take exception to the notion that Israel is a theocracy. An example of a theocracy is Saudi Arabia where any religion other then Islam is banned by law. Such is not the case in Israel.

  52. #52 student_b
    January 5, 2009

    @ Joshua White

    Could you clear something up for me? Are you against human killing in all forms or is it permissible under some circumstances? It is unclear from you comments.

    Isn’t it obvious? I’m against all killing and hurting of humans in all forms, always and without exception.

    Of course, that’s my Utopia and I’m realist enough to know that it is probably impossible.

    You could make a good case, for example, that use of physical force against Nazi Germany and Imperialistic Japan during WW2 was “justified”, though you would have a very hard time convincing me that the fire bombing of the cities during that time were “justified” (Coventry, Berlin, Tokyo, etc.).

    But on what I insist, is that even if harming people may seem the only way, you still can’t excuse it. It remains wrong and the worst solution, even when done with the best intentions.

    Let’s take somebody like SLC. If he would have been born somewhere else, let’s say in the Gaza strip, he would probably be a member of Hamas, given his fervent support of killing human beings as a solution to a political problem and his resistance to show respect towards people he disrespects (for example he probably loathes me; his use of Mr towards me comes probably from a need to distance himself from me [Pseudopsychology is fun, isn't it? ;) ]).

    Does that mean I would be ok with the Israeli Military killing him? Of course not. As I wouldn’t be ok with Hamas killing him as an Israeli supporter.

    The people on both sides (even members of the Israeli military and members of Hamas) are still human and basic human rights still apply to them, especially the right to be alive. (This is not meant in a legal way, but a philosophical.)

    What especially annoys me is the apologist on both sides of this debate that always come out when the mess gets hot in the middle east that justify the violence on one side and at the same time ignore the plights of the other side.

    And I’m even more annoyed that people wholly buy the propaganda of their respective side, can’t think clear anymore because of fervent nationalism or fanaticism and overplay the crimes of the other side while ignoring the crimes of their own side.

    Both sides lie about what is happening and supporters of each side don’t seem to have a problem with it.

    The end justifies the means and another dead human. We are in the right and another dead human. We have to defend ourself and another dead human. Our enemies are monsters and another dead human. Dead humans, dead humans, dead, dead.

    But oh, no problem there, because it’s the other side. The enemy, the Terrorists, the Zionists, the Israelis, the Palestinians.

    I just say and think my side to be without fault and thus my side cannot do wrong and thus I don’t have to feel bad about it.

    That was the whole argument from the quoted article in this post. And the argument seen in most posts about this conflict (and used on both sides in the comments here). But this argument is absolutely fucking stupid. It’s cheap. It’s the argument of cowards that don’t want to think that they may be doing something wrong. It’s the easy way, you don’t have to feel sorry then.

    And that’s what I loathe most about it.

    I think my point is now clear enough, I hope.

  53. #53 mufi
    January 5, 2009

    SLC said: However, I must take exception to the notion that Israel is a theocracy. An example of a theocracy is Saudi Arabia where any religion other then Islam is banned by law. Such is not the case in Israel.

    I would agree that Israel is not nearly as entangled with Judaism (at least in its traditional form) as Saudi Arabia is with Islam. Nonetheless, the mostly secular-minded founders of Israel wanted to found a Jewish state, which required some definition of Jewishness by which to shape and preserve its Jewish character and demographics. So, they struck some deals with the religious Orthodox, which not only legally render non-Jewish inhabitants as second-class citizens, but which also make life difficult for many non-religious Jews wishing to marry without having to go through clergy/rabbinate.

    So, Israel is legally more secular, and culturally a lot more secular, than Saudi Arabia. But this is a question of degree rather than of kind. More importantly, both governments practice a form of legal discrimination against individuals who do not meet their tribal/ethnic/religious criteria, which I cannot conscientiously endorse, whether the policy favors Jews, Muslims, Christians, or what-have-you.

  54. #54 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re student_b

    I try to refer to all persons I comment on by their titles and mean no disrespect to Mr/Ms student_b. If Mr/Ms student_b wants to refer to me as Dr. SLC, I would have no objection.

    Apparently, Mr/Ms student_b is a pacifist. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a perfectly respectable position. However, when faced with sociopaths like the leaders of Hamas or Hitler, pacifism isn’t a very effective countermeasure.

    For the benefit of Mr/Ms student_b, let me describe a couple of instances of noted pacifist Albert Einstein diverging from his principals during WW 2.

    1. Einstein signed a letter written by his friend and fellow physicist Leo Szilard to President Roosevelt recommending that the US undertake a project to develop a nuclear bomb.

    2. Einstein undertook a project at the behest of the US Navy to examine why American torpedoes were failing to explode and sink Japanese ships.

    Clearly, neither of these activities is compatible with pacifism but Einstein concluded that Hitler and Tojo were men who had to be stopped, regardless of the cost.

  55. #55 Lycosid
    January 5, 2009

    SLC,

    Nice to have some common ground. I realize that moderate Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) make up a majority of the populace. However, though Israel is nowhere close to matching Saudi Arabia’s theocratic barbarity, it is explicitly defined as a “Jewish State.” It is definitely a theocracy. That automatically marginalizes a significant proportion of the current populace.

    I don’t think peace is possible when both sides are as deluded as the Israelis and most of the Arab countries in the region. As with Somalia, laissez-faire seems to be the only possibility.

    My question to you is, by what means do you think lasting peace can be achieved, if at all?

    Despite our differences, I enjoy the exchange of ideas. Thank you for your time.

  56. #56 Julian Gall
    January 5, 2009

    SLC does not do his cause any favours by accusing those who disagree with him of being on the verge of Holocaust denial. I shall just refer him to Godwin’s Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law). i.e. The first person to introduce the subject of Hitler and the Nazis has lost the argument.

  57. #57 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Lycosid

    1. Would Mr. Lycosid consider Great Britain a theocratic state? That country has an established church.

    2. In response to Mr. Lycosids’ query relative to the achievement of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, I have to agree with Aaron Miller, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk, all of whom have had extensive experience in peace negotiations in the Middle East. They all say that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is not possible at this time and that President Elect Barack would be ill advised to shoot for it in the early days of his administration. They recommend instead that the President Elect try to manage the situation by concentrating on reducing the level of violence. In the case of Mr. Miller, he recommends instead pursuing the negotiations between Israel and Syria.

  58. #58 Benjamin Geiger
    January 5, 2009

    Julian Gall:

    The popular codicil to Godwin’s Law that you refer to does not apply in discussions directly involving WWII. (For instance.)

  59. #59 mufi
    January 5, 2009

    Would Mr. Lycosid consider Great Britain a theocratic state? That country has an established church.

    I won’t speak for Lycosid, but I will say that I am proud that I live in a country (the US) that does not have an established church (or religion). More to the point, I am proud that I live in a country that does not legally discriminate against or disadvantage certain individuals on the basis of their religion or ethnicity. Does the UK do that? Not so far as I am aware, but if so, then it seems to be a much better kept secret than the discriminatory policies of the Jewish state (which reminds me of something about the US that I am not proud of: namely, its manipulation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which I strongly suspect has helped to prolong it).

  60. #60 Lycosid
    January 5, 2009

    SLC,
    Strictly speaking Britain is a theocratic state. It would be best served by disestablishing the C of E.

    However, if we want to introduce nuance to our argument, I’d place Britain as a 2 on the 1-10 theocracy scale. Tony Blair said something to the effect of people thinking politicians who talk about their faith in office are nutters.

    Israel I’d place around a 6, and Iran around 10. Don’t really have time to flesh these out because I have to run, but I think they’re reasonable. Suffice it to say that these governments aren’t worth the money we put into them.

    I’ll be out the rest of today, so that’ll do it for my contribution.

  61. #61 Pierce R. Butler
    January 5, 2009

    Attention everybody:

    Any journalist or scholar who criticizes Israel’s warmaking is a big liar.

    Thank you. You may now resume your regular browsing.

  62. #62 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Benjamin Geiger

    Fair enough, I was being a little snarky there. Let me be clear here. I have no evidence that either Prof. Cole or Mr. Fisk are Holocaust deniers. Further, I don’t think that Dr. Finkelstein is a Holocaust denier. However, he associates himself with Holocaust deniers, leaving himself open to guilt by association accusations.

  63. #63 Benjamin Geiger
    January 5, 2009

    SLC:

    I didn’t intend to make any judgment in either direction about this disagreement. As I’m of two minds about the whole situation, my comment was intended to avoid any pronouncement on the matter.

    I was merely making a point about the use of Godwin’s Law (both the correct ‘probability converges to 1′ meaning and the better-known ‘argument over, you lose’ codicil) in discussions where Nazi Germany (or the effects of its actions) is an actual topic.

  64. #64 Coriolis
    January 5, 2009

    “Clearly, neither of these activities is compatible with pacifism but Einstein concluded that Hitler and Tojo were men who had to be stopped, regardless of the cost.”

    Really SLC you’re not doing yourself any favors with such comparisons. Apart from any considerations of whether the palestinian leaders are as evil as hitler and the like, there is the issue of their power. Nazi germany and imperial japan were powerful enough to destroy other countries and kill millions of people – and a superior military force was needed to stop them.

    There is no equivalence in the case of Israel and the surrounding arab states. Israel, even without explicit support from the US can simultaneously defeat all of its potential opponents, and has done so before (and there’s no reason to believe that the US wouldn’t fully support Israel in any direct military attack). Hamas itself of course doesn’t even register as an actual military threat.

    Since for the most part this isn’t about a military threat, actions must be judged primarily by their political consequences. i.e. the question to my mind is what exactly does Israel hope to accomplish with this attack. Do they believe that this will somehow weaken Hamas’s political strength? Do they believe this will eventually lead somehow to a better chance for peace?

    If the answer is no, then it looks like a pretty dumb action.

  65. #65 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Coriolis

    1. I have no doubt that if Hamas had he power, they would finish Hitlers’ work. Thankfully, they don’t have the power.

    2. I think that Israel hopes to end the incessant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip which has made life in towns like Sderot unbearable. I think that Mr. Coriolis should ask himself/herself the question as to his/her reaction if somebody was firing mortars into their back yard. I know what the US would do if mortars were being fired across the border from Mexico into El Paso.

  66. #66 SLC
    January 5, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    Mr. Fisk and Prof. Cole have long histories of antagonism toward the State of Israel and both are of the opinion that it should be eliminated. To be fair here, they don’t propose an Eichmann solution or expulsion of the Jews from Palestine. They propose that all Palestinians living in refugee camps be resettled in Israel, which would effectively eliminate the State of Israel as a Jewish state. Unfortunately, it is my view that an Arab majority in Israel would lead in short order to at least expulsion and probably mass murder. Prof. Cole and Mr. Fisk are willing to take that risk from the safety of Ann Arbor, Michigan and London, England. I am not.

  67. #67 Pierce R. Butler
    January 5, 2009

    SLC – It’s time to call this dialog to an end: I see no advantage in trying to communicate with someone who confidently asserts non-facts for the sake of slander.

    Lurkers please note: Robert Fisk lives in Beirut (and has since the ’80s), and has reported from the front lines of wars from Algeria to Afghanistan. He opines freely throughout The Great War for Civilisation, yet somehow manages to leave out the sentiments attributed to him above. Decide for yourself who’s the more reliable source.

  68. #68 S. Rivlin
    January 5, 2009

    Ok, here’s some more recent history, undeniable one, of the region.

    November, 1947 – The UN passed a resolution, dividing Palestine into a Jewish and Arab states. The Jews in Palestine grudgingly accepted a crooked carving of land according to that resolution; the Arabs did not.

    May, 1948 – Israel declared its independence. Five Arab armies attacked the newly form state. As a result of that war, the Independence war of Israel, 600,000 Arabs Palestinians fled into Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria where they are kept in refugee camps for over 60 years (as a gesture of love by their Arab brothers in those countries). Israel of the ceasefire agreement of 1949, is a bit larger than the land alloted by the UN and somewhat easier to defend. Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its Jewish holy sites. Syria controlled the Golan Heights.

    1950-1954 Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from all over the Arab world emmigrated to Israel, leaving behind them all their belongings and properties. The UN formed UNRA to take care of the Arab refugees who fled Israel. This organization is still taking care of them today, 60 years later, not their host countries. The UN never took care of even one Jewish refugee.

    1950-1967 Hundreds of attacks in Israel by Arab-Palestinian from accross the borders with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon took place weekly with bloody results. All the targets of these terrorists, without exception, were civilian targets. No attacks ever occured against the Egyptian, the Jordanian, the Syrian or the Lebanese armies who kept these Palestinian refugees in their camps, who prevented them from assimilating into the local population. No suicide bombing against Jordanians who ruled with an iron fist over the West Bank or against Egyptians who ruled in Gaza, Rafa and Khan-Yunis with as strong an Iron fist as their counterparts in the West Bank. No demands for Palestinian independence in Gaza and the West Bank. All the violence aimed only at the Israelis.

    How come the idea of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza was never even uttered between 1950 and 1967? Will the Palestinains really accept an idependent state only in these two regions, or their real goal is an independent state in these regions and in what is today Israel? So far, all the signs are that their wish is the latter.

  69. #69 SLC
    January 6, 2009

    Re Pierce Butler

    1. OK Mr. Butler, let’s let Mr. Fisks’ record speak for itself.

    http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/000104.html

    2. Here’s a quote from Holocaust denier David Irving:

    The Daily Telegraph diary reported yesterday (29th April, 2004) that when the Independent asked extreme right-wing historian David Irving for a quote about his plans for a lecture tour of Britain, he replied: “I will be happy to assist any journalist on the newspaper that publishes Robert Fisk.”

  70. #70 Coriolis
    January 6, 2009

    SLC, of course that’s the natural reaction. I never doubted that. It’s also now the natural reaction of the palestinians to want to kill Israeli’s after the bombing. That’s why they call it the cycle of violence.

    The question I’m asking whether it’s the intelligent reaction. The natural reaction of India towards the mumbai killings would also have been to invade pakistan. They would certainly be justified in doing so. Would it have been a good idea however?

    If you believe that in fact they should have invaded Pakistan, then fine there’s not much point in discussion with you. If you don’t, then I’d like to know what you think makes invading Gaza a much better idea than invading Pakistan. Other than the fact that pakistan is quite a bit better capable of defending itself of course.

    And as for Hamas, whether they would or wouldn’t is largely beside the point as they don’t have the power; and there is no remotely likely scenario in the future where they would gain that power. As such claiming that they need to be destroyed because they pose a threat equivalent to hitler is just stupid fear-mongering with no impact on anyone with a clue.

    I could make a similar claim about white supremacists in the US (or any other western country), and yes it’s quite likely that if they had power they would like to do something like what hitler did. But they no longer do, and hence we no longer need to feel threatened by them to the point of wanting to kill them. Just prevent them from having any real political power.

  71. #71 SLC
    January 6, 2009

    Re Coriolis

    Quite frankly, I think that if the terrorist attacks in India continue, India is going to have to take action against Pakistan. Given that the officials in Pakistan are either unwilling or unable to crack down on the Islamic extremists there, the Government of India cannot stand around picking their collective noses while their constituents are murdered by terrorists based in Pakistan.

  72. #72 J. J. Ramsey
    January 6, 2009

    SLC: “Mr. Fisk and Prof. Cole have long histories of antagonism toward the State of Israel and both are of the opinion that it should be eliminated.”

    You haven’t even come close to providing evidence for that claim. You’ve said nothing about Cole, and what you’ve provided about Fisk is (2) an op-ed with little nibbles of Fisk’s words taken from who knows what context and (2) a quote whose point is something along the lines of “Hitler-lover likes X, therefore X is bad.” (Hint: if you don’t see what’s wrong with that, substitute “sugar” for X.)

  73. #73 Damian
    January 7, 2009

    How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

    Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state’s legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

    The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

    I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

    [snip]

    No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel’s concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

    This brief review of Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism – the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so. [Source: guardian.co.uk]

    Read the rest here.

    Avi Shlaim is an Iraqi-born British historian who identifies ethnically as an Iraqi Jew. He is now a professor of International relations at Oxford [...] Shlaim is considered a key member of a group of Israeli scholars known as the New Historians who put forward critical interpretations of the history of Zionism and Israel.

    [snip]

    His deep academic interest in the history of Israel began in 1987. (Source: Wikipedia)

  74. #74 Coriolis
    January 8, 2009

    “Quite frankly, I think that if the terrorist attacks in India continue, India is going to have to take action against Pakistan”

    This obviously isn’t the first nor the last terrorist attack in India coming from Pakistan, and everyone with a clue understands that. Pakistan and India have also had pretty large wars in the past, so it’s not like India hasn’t tried to do what you claim they’ll “have to do”. You might want to rethink what exactly your position actually is apart from a boilerplate response that doesn’t make much sense considering the history of the conflict.

    It turns out it’s not that easy in the real world to magically kill all the terrorists in a population without killing so many civilians that you end up creating more terrorists than you kill. In the older days this was “solved” through truly horrific massacres that destroyed support for terrorists through fear – but this has become rather unfashionable for obvious reasons. The only real long-term solution is some type of political reconciliation like there was between the IRA and England.

  75. #75 Tom
    January 8, 2009

    The situation reminds me of an incident with my neighbor. Last year I moved my fence to take over two thirds of his garden. He had the cheek to argue back. Things came to a head when he threw an apple core at me.

    Naturally enough, I slaughtered his wife and kids and cut his dog’s throat. That’ll teach him to use violence against me!

  76. #76 Soren
    January 11, 2009

    Like others have said. The piece tries to paint the adversaries as “bad” people. Not that I agree in any way with the rocket or suicide attacks against unarmed civilians. Armed civilians or military targets are fair game of course by rocket or suicide bombers.

    But the article is lying through omission. It was the right thing to draw back from Gaza, but that alone does not do the trick. Until ALL settlements have been abandoned Israel still is in the wrong. And the wall has to come down. IF they need a defensive wall, they are free to build one in Israeli territory. IF Israel had no settlements, and the wall only was placed in Israel, then the author would have a point.

    And yes Hamas is partly a terrorist organization, but for all the defenders of an all scale attack on Gaza with no regard for the civilian population. How the hell do you imagine this would bring about a change?

    In a year you will have yet a generation marred by havinf their children, wives, husbands and parents torn away by bombs, rampant disease or starvation. The direct cause of all this grief is Israel, however justified. And this will make them want to support some new organization that preaches peace and friendship with Israel.

  77. #77 chat
    January 11, 2009

    One of the things that i love about science is that no one is above reproach.

  78. #78 S. Rivlin
    January 11, 2009

    Here are several updates on Hammas and their actions in Gaza since the Israelis began their offensive 16 days ago:

    1. Hammas members are assassinating Fatah members
    2. Hammas militants taking over supply trucks comming from Israel, distributing the supplies among Hammas members themselves instead to the peple these supplies were intended for.
    3. Hammas shooting rockets and mortar shells toward Israel from houses occupied by innocent civilians. Those who are object to these tactics are expelled from their own homes.
    4. Schools and public buildings, including those who bear the insignia of UNRWA are boobytrapped, including classrooms.

  79. #79 S. Rivlin
    January 14, 2009

    Just to complete my previous comment, here’s a video prepared by an Arab about Hammas’s terror rule in Gaza.

  80. #80 S. Rivlin
    January 14, 2009

    I have just received a short video on another Hamas’s “good-doing” in Gaza.

    http://fun.mivzakon.co.il/flash/video/2701/חיילים.html

  81. #81 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 14, 2009

    S. Rivlin –

    Thanks for the updates. You might be interested in the following op-ed in today’s New York Times:

    Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas

  82. #82 S. Rivlin
    January 14, 2009

    Thanks, Jason. Unfortunately, I have to agree with Goldberg’s opinion.