Today’s New York TImes features two op-eds essential to clear thinking about the situation in Gaza. The first comes from journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. He paints a grim picture of the enemy Israel faces. It is a useful corrective to those who think Hamas is a leigitmate negotiating partner interested, with the right incentives, in peaceful coexistence with Israel. You really must go read the whole thing, since it is impossible to capture all that is right with it in a few quotes. But here goes:

What a phantasmagorically strange conflict the Arab-Israeli war had become! Here was a Saudi-educated, anti-Shiite (but nevertheless Iranian-backed) Hamas theologian accusing a one-time Israeli Army prison official-turned-reporter of spying for Yasir Arafat’s Fatah, an organization that had once been the foremost innovator of anti-Israeli terrorism but was now, in Mr. Rayyan’s view, indefensibly, unforgivably moderate.

In the Palestinian civil war, Fatah, which today controls much of the West Bank and is engaged in intermittent negotiations with Israel, had become Mr. Rayyan’s direst enemy, a party of apostates and quislings. “First we must deal with the Muslims who speak of a peace process and then we will deal with you,” he declared.

And later:

I asked him the question I always ask of Hamas leaders: Could you agree to anything more than a tactical cease-fire with Israel? I felt slightly ridiculous asking: A man who believes that God every now and again transforms Jews into pigs and apes might not be the most obvious candidate for peace talks at Camp David. Mr. Rayyan answered the question as I thought he would, saying that a long-term cease-fire would be unnecessary, because it will not take long for the forces of Islam to eradicate Israel.

There is a fixed idea among some Israeli leaders that Hamas can be bombed into moderation. This is a false and dangerous notion. It is true that Hamas can be deterred militarily for a time, but tanks cannot defeat deeply felt belief.

The reverse is also true: Hamas cannot be cajoled into moderation. Neither position credits Hamas with sincerity, or seriousness.

I would ask those bloggers pecking away at their keyboards in perfect safety, far removed from the goings on in Gaza, quick to pounce on any anti-Israel reporting they can find in the media no matter how biased the outlet, to really imagine what it is like to live with such people on your doorstep. Imagine watching as they first win a majority in legislative elections and then stage a military coup in a region you had recently returned to your enemies. What conceivable reason is there for thinking that attempting normal relations with these folks would bear fruit? If Israel is to be forbidden from undertaking military action, because Hamas’ tactics and utter disreagrd for human life guarantee large numbers of civilian casualties, then what would you have them do?

Meanwhile, Thomas Friedman offers some worthy thoughts on the question of Israel’s goals:

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

Israel’s military was not focused on the morning after the war in Lebanon — when Hezbollah declared victory and the Israeli press declared defeat. It was focused on the morning after the morning after, when all the real business happens in the Middle East. That’s when Lebanese civilians, in anguish, said to Hezbollah: “What were you thinking? Look what destruction you have visited on your own community! For what? For whom?”

Here’s what Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said the morning after the morning after about his decision to start that war by abducting two Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006: “We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.”

Comments

  1. #1 Bob Natas
    January 14, 2009

    With respect, Professor,

    Friedman’s is the calculus of a state terrorist, to be frank.

  2. #2 mk
    January 14, 2009

    If Israel is to be forbidden from undertaking military action, because Hamas’ tactics and utter disreagrd for human life guarantee large numbers of civilian casualties, then what would you have them do?

    Forbid Israel from any military action? No. But this?

  3. #3 Sean
    January 14, 2009

    if you want to defeat a people it’s best to understand them. http://www.pppl.org/

  4. #4 Alex Besogonov
    January 14, 2009

    “Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future. ”

    So… Should we treat Israel as a band of terrorists, then?

  5. #5 Tyro
    January 14, 2009

    Forbid any military action? No, of course not. But that does not mean they have a green light to kill anyone they like. Haaretz has quoted an Israeli military officer as saying that killing innocent civilians is a good thing as eventually it will frighten them enough to withdraw support for Hamas: ” I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock. Maybe someone there will sober up before it continues.” (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053401.html) Whether you call this state terrorism or collective punishment, it’s immoral and grossly one-sided. The Guardian has the Israelis killing 100 Palestinians for every Israeli (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/30/israel-and-the-palestinians-middle-east). Is this justice?

    Yes Hamas is lead by religious zealots, but Israel has run policies of ethnic cleansing to drive out arabs and has forced the remainder into Bantustans, ghettos that often lack sanitation, water and the opportunity for employment or development. It may not have the wild rhetoric of Hamas but it has been every bit as religiously bigoted and far more effective.

    You ask what must it be like to have Hamas as a neighbour. What must it be like to have Israel as a neighbour? I would rather be an Israeli Jew living in relative luxury with the fear of Hamas adding to their 45 dead than to be a Palestinian living in squalor while thousands have already died.

    Let’s have some perspective. No need to demonize but painting Israel as the wounded victim is blind to the facts.

  6. #6 christopher gwyn
    January 14, 2009

    “Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.”

    What is the difference between the above and this:

    “Hamas’s counterstrategy was to use its rockets to pummel Israel and, while not directly targeting the Israeli civilians with whom the Isreali government and military was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Israel at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Hamas basically said that when dealing with a government, Israel, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the Israeli militants — to restrain Israel in the future.”

    To me they both fit within the State Department’s definition of Terrorism [http://www.history.navy.mil/library/guides/terrorism.htm#definition]:
    Definition of Terrorism
    [Source: Patterns of Global Terrorism. Washington: Dept. of State, 2001: vi]
    No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:

    The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

    The term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.

    The term “terrorist group” means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.

    The U.S. Government has employed this definition of terrorism for statistical and analytical purposes since 1983.

    Domestic terrorism is probably a more widespread phenomenon than international terrorism. Because international terrorism has a direct impact on U.S. interests, it is the primary focus of this report. However, the report also describes, but does not provide statistics on, significant developments in domestic terrorism.

    (1) For purposes of this definition, the term “noncombatant” is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty. For example, in past reports we have listed as terrorist incidents the murders of the following U.S. military personnel: Col. James Rowe, killed in Manila in April 1989; Capt. William Nordeen, U.S. defense attache killed in Athens in June 1988; the two servicemen killed in the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin in April 1986; and the four off-duty U.S. Embassy Marine guards killed in a cafe in El Salvador in June 1985. We also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against U.S. bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.

    What makes this example of terrorism being used to ‘justify’ terrorism even worse is that supposedly there is now a three-hour truce every day. Three hours in which each side is getting most of what it is demanding, and then the idiots go back to fighting. Every day they have a chance to stop fighting, and incidentally stop killing non-combatants, and they pass it by.

    This shows, among other things, the strategic disadvantage of dehumanizing your opponent. If the Israelis and Hamas would stop claiming that the other side is devoid of human feeling they would realize that the kind of attacks the other side is facing will only strengthen their resolve to continue fighting.

    As far as I am concerned both sides are ‘guilty’ and both sides should stop attacking the other side immediately. STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!

  7. #7 Bob Natas
    January 14, 2009

    Jason

    You really can’t be serious about thinking that this

    “It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians ”

    is a worthy view. I’m no expert, but I suspect they put people on trial at the Hague for stuff like this. Note that Friedman is not arguing that Israel is killing a bunch of people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (which, when hostilities are mutual, is somewhat understandable). He (and by extension, you) seem to think that killing a bunch of non-combatants should actually be the official policy.

    This entry on your blog is unbelievable. I am mesmerized by it, actually. Perhaps you could further elaborate.

  8. #8 John Monfries
    January 14, 2009

    I’m puzzled that noone mentions the Israeli domestic politics behind this.

    Olmert and Livni have Netanyahu breathing down their necks.

    It would of course be far too cynical to regard this attack as an election campaign at the expense of the Palestinians.

    Wouldn’t it?

  9. #9 S. Rivlin
    January 15, 2009

    For all those who take a stand from their computer desks; for those who never fought a war of survival even once, let alone several times; for those who for them Hamas and Hezbollah are just exotic names of groups who claim to be charity organizations and freedom fighters; for those who call the civilians who dance in the streets when Skad missiles from Iraq fell on Tel Aviv in 1991 and when the Twin Towers in New York fell on 3000 innocent people in 2001, innocent bystanders; for those who defend “innocent” people who encourage their children to become martyrs by murdering innocent Jews; for those who somehow believe that people like these are operating on the same democratic priciples that we do, please watch the video below, produced by an Arab who knows Islam and who knows Hamas. After you have watched it, reread Goldberg’s piece and re-evaluate it.

  10. #10 Julian Gall
    January 15, 2009

    Hamas rockets have killed, I believe, a dozen Israelis in the last year (maybe longer). Of course that needs to be stopped. However, since the current conflict began, Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. Whether or not you think Israel’s response is justified and proportionate, don’t you think Palestinians might have a justified grievance which will cause further attacks in future?

  11. #11 Sigmund
    January 15, 2009

    Its been a rather shocking and sad eye-opener to see so many obviously intelligent and thoughtful people who are able to find it within themselves to argue in favor of killing 400 children and maiming thousands as a tactical means to an end. Not only that but question the morality or even the utility of this tactic and you are liable to be called anti-Semitic or a supporter of Hamas – its either with us or with the terrorists again.
    Is it really so imaginable that one might detest the aims of Hamas and support the state of Israel while simultaneously condemning the practice of collective punishments involving wholescale death of civilians?

  12. #12 Heleen
    January 15, 2009

    Israel could have had peace if it had allowed the Palestinians to live. During the cease-fire, Israel did not open the borders, so people could not work, could not export products, could scarcely get enough to eat, and had nothing to do. If Israel started to treat Palestinians as people who would like to earn an income and look after their families, basically treating Palestinians as normal people, all of them instead of most of them might behave like normal people. As it is now, Israel is on the road to self destruction.

  13. #13 mk
    January 15, 2009

    @ S. Rivlin…

    Love the quotation marks around the word innocent. Says a lot about who you are and what you’re about.

  14. #14 J. J. Ramsey
    January 15, 2009

    S. Rivlin: “for those who for them Hamas and Hezbollah are just exotic names of groups who claim to be charity organizations and freedom fighters”

    And who among here is claiming that?

  15. #15 SLC
    January 15, 2009

    I find it rather amusing relative to the folks whining about Palestinian civilian casualties. If the Government of Israel behaved like the late and unlamented dictator of Syria, Hafaz Assad did in 1982 in the City of Hama, the Israel bashers here would really have something to whine about. Mr. Assad had Hama surrounded by several hundred artillery pieces and subjected it to 2 days of bombardment, in effect making it a free fire zone. It is estimated that some 20,000 people were killed as a result. The same Thomas Friedman referred to this incident as Hama Rules in his book, “From Beirut to Jerusalem.”

    IMHO, the application of Hama Rules is just what the doctor would order for the Hamas terrorists but the Government of Israel is too timid to apply them.

  16. #16 Bob Natas
    January 15, 2009

    Jason

    Do you endorse this view?

    “IMHO, the application of Hama Rules is just what the doctor would order for the Hamas terrorists but the Government of Israel is too timid to apply them.”

  17. #17 CommiusRex
    January 15, 2009

    Just out of interest, if this was happening in, say, Sri Lanka, rather than Israel/Palestine, would those defending the actions of the IDF be so approving? In other words, if this was happening anywhere else in the world, would the same tactics be defended?

  18. #18 mufi
    January 15, 2009

    SLC makes it sound like Israel and Syria are equals with respect to their relationship to the US, such that it’s unfair for Americans to complain more about one country’s human rights violations than another’s. Yet, when last I checked, Israel was receiving billions of $ a year (much of it in the form of military aid) from the US and the Bush Administration was considering adding Syria to its “axis of evil” list. Sounds like apples and oranges to me.

    Americans are very much in the right to be vocally concerned about whether our government aids and abets crimes against humanity in Palestine via its support for the Jewish state (and not only during the latest Israeli military campaign in Gaza, the West Bank, or Southern Lebanon). It’s a shame that we don’t all recognize that moral responsibility.

  19. #19 mk
    January 15, 2009

    SLC refers to “whiners” and “Israel bashers.”

    S Rivlin makes mocking quotes around the word innocent. Clearly suggesting there are no innocent Palestinians.

    Jason suggests that your opinion only matters if you are not safely pecking away at your computer keyboard. (unless you are like him–safely pecking away, far from Gaza– and it coincides with his view. Then, I guess, we’re cool! Heh!)

    I suppose this is what happens when the irrational defends the unconscionable.

  20. #20 SLC
    January 15, 2009

    Re mufi

    To my knowledge, neither the US Government or the Israeli Government, or, in fact any European Government ever said anything negative about Mr. Assads actions in Hama. Mr. mufi may recall that attention was focused on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the actions of the Christian Phalangists in the refugee camps. That is part of the reason that Mr. Assad rightly thought he could get away with applying Hama Rules without anyone saying boo. In addition to which, the City of Hama was home to many Islamic extremist organizations who were unloved by any of the aforementioned parties.

    Incidentally, I am in favor of phasing out aid to Israel as it would free that government to protect its citizens without the necessity of asking permission from the US president.

  21. #21 JM
    January 15, 2009

    Maybe what Friedmann is searching for is a ‘final solution’ to the Palestinian problem.

  22. #22 S. Rivlin
    January 15, 2009

    mk,

    Here are the innocents you blame me of putting in quote marks.

    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=eTGbP55HGi8

  23. #23 Cappy
    January 15, 2009

    Where Israel screwed up in this latest episode, a few weeks ago Hamas fired off a rocket which fell short and killed a few Palestinian children. At that point, had Israel showed restraint and made hay over Hamas killing their own people, they might have turned public opinion away from Hamas. Unfortunately, you can’t take the moral high ground while crushing innocent people under your heel. All Israel has done is made Hamas stronger in the long haul.

  24. #24 Khalil
    January 15, 2009

    Easy to “think clearly” from the saftey of your blog. I personally am lebanese and was volunteering with the red cross in 2006 and the less known 1996. in 2006 I was busy picking up pieces of children and babies cut in half mostly sheltering in basements and refugee camps. In 1996 the ambulance infront of us was bombed with a hellfire missile. I had to pick up pieces of my friends from of the roadside. In neither of these cases was anyone from hizbullah anywhere nearby.

  25. #25 mufi
    January 15, 2009

    Re: SLC

    Heck, why go all the way back to Syria ’82? Why not, say, Sudan ’04? Too recent? or too much attention?

    Hmm, let’s look at that list again: Syria, Sudan, and Israel. Even if one buys your argument that Israel’s crimes get more attention than those of the other two nations (which, to some extent, I agree with, although I tend to think that it’s exaggerated), why would that surprise you?

    Sure, I get that you’re trying to imply that anti-Semitism is solely at work here, but I think a better explanation is that the American public has been misled by its elites to expect better of Israel, if only because the Jewish state is sold as an important US ally and thereby one of the largest beneficiaries of US aid.

    Given the contradiction between its ethno-state concept and the concept of human rights, I’m not at all not surprised when Israel treats its non-Jewish citizens and neighbors as second-class or sub-human targets. But the American media tends to brush over that contradiction, and instead uncritically repeats propaganda about Israel’s “right to exist”, thereby breeding undue shock and dismay in the public when Israel behaves at its worst.

  26. #26 S. Rivlin
    January 15, 2009

    Cappy, If survival of Israel and Israelis would depend on PR, Israel would be only a memory by now.

    Here are some short videos released by the IDF that show how callus the Hamas and their Palestinian supporters are.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/idfnadesk

    For 60 years Israel is being held to a different standard, an attitude that is being manipulated by the Arab countries and by terrorists organizations. The most telling is the latest call by Osama bin Laden for all believers to strike Israel for her attack on Gaza. Here’s PR for you, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks that kill 3000 innocent people is now calling to punish Israel for defending herself. Unfortunately, this is more or less the rule in the Arab world rather than the exception. Only in the Arab world people dance in the streets when innocent Israelis or Americans are dying.

  27. #27 Cannonball Jones
    January 15, 2009

    I’ve already been blasted on another blog for criticising Friedman’s views on this as being disgusting and barbaric. I stand by it though, the man is saying that it’s alright to deliberately kill civilians as long as you’re trying to make a point. He’s condoning murder and should be ashamed.

    Oh yeah, and Hamas are just as bad for firing rockets into Israel. Both sides are goddamn idiots.

  28. #28 khalil
    January 15, 2009

    By the way just to be clear I am in no way supporting hamas or hizbullah. Hamas are crazy and hizbullah merely an iranian political tool. I’m just giving an actual human experience story to balance the dehumanisation of these inocent civilians.

  29. #29 mk
    January 15, 2009

    @ S Rivlin…

    Your fascist/terrorist leanings continue to shine through! Congrats.

  30. #30 SLC
    January 15, 2009

    Re mk

    I suspect that Mr. Rivlin considers it a great honor to be labeled a fascist and a terrorist by the mks of the world. I know I would.

  31. #31 mk
    January 15, 2009

    SLC,

    His (and your?) there-are-no-innocents thinking is terrorist thinking. No two ways about it. Bin Laden feels the same way. You are aware of that, right?

  32. #32 abb3w
    January 15, 2009

    The “natural/default” state in absence of agreements to conduct restrictions is tantamount to total war. In the modern Western world, we have taken steps to try and formalize the modes of war, and limit to some degree the conduct. The West has come to a point whereby some military actions are excluded by mutual agreement, rather than only by unilateral unwillingness. What we seem to have most of all here is a breakdown in addressing whether or not actions are indeed being excluded, and appropriate response to this.

    For myself, I’m starting to lean towards Israel giving up on “Peace” as a goal within the forseeable future, and instead should concentrate on discussing mutual obligations towards determining how to get to “war conducted in an orderly fashion”.

    Some civilians citizens of one government were killed? Well, was it a military action, or by a “private party” (some individual or group)? How do you distinguish between them? If it’s by a private party acting without sanction, what actions are the party’s government obliged to take to prevent it from being considered a de facto military action? Are there types of military action that both sides will agree are sufficiently inappropriate as to require response by their own side? If that response isn’t forthcoming or is unsatisfactory, is there a limit to the appropriate level of escalation? Should enemy response for some offenses include the possibility of tactics that might otherwise be prohibited?

    As far as interested outside parties are concerned, is there a point where everyone agrees the big kids need to step in and separate these squabbling kindergarteners, and how it could be done without starting a global war? Or at least, “everyone agrees who could trigger a global war due to being unhappy about the intervention?” (Presumably, the outside parties would mostly agree with my sense that no matter how bad what these two little groups do to each other will be for humanity, starting a war between superpowers will be worse.)

    If the Palastinians decline to come to any agreement on these lines, then my only concern would be that the Israelis should declare an area a “combat zone” before starting military actions there, and give long enough to allow sensible civilians to flee with their lives. What happens to such civilians who stay after that reflects the limitations of Israel to achieve agreement by diplomatic means, the limitations of other societies to facilitate such agreement, but most of all the inability of Palestinian society to work out an agreement as to how to even limit the scope of war.

    And to glance briefly from an evolutionary perspective at the three societies, it’s the Palestinian where the society’s own inability leads most immediately to questions about the society’s chances to survive and continue evolving. (Fortunately for individual humans, there are ways to change what society you are part of.)

  33. #33 mk
    January 15, 2009

    @ abb3w…

    There is no question Israel should do what it can to stop the vicious and vile human beings that make up Hamas. But the very idea that they might be doing it poorly and counter-productively and, to many, inhumanely, is simply out of the realm of discussion for some. That mindset does nothing to help the situation.

  34. #34 S. Rivlin
    January 15, 2009

    mk,

    I never said “there-are-no-innocents.” Many, I am sure are innocent, nevertheless, there is no doubt that Hamas and Hizbullah manipulate and use the innocents and many of them are willing participants in that manipulation. They allow palcement of rockets launchers in schools and mosques, weapon-smuggling tunnels that are dug under and into private homes and promotion of martyrdom to children as young as 2 years old.

  35. #35 mk
    January 15, 2009

    for Rivlin:

    “There is no question Israel should do what it can to stop the vicious and vile human beings that make up Hamas.”

  36. #36 mk
    January 15, 2009

    Also for Rivlin:

    How many children do you really think are “willing participants?” Willing? They don’t know what life is about. They don’t know the history of the region. They are children… CHILDREN! Willing participants? What is wrong with you?

  37. #37 S. Rivlin
    January 15, 2009

    mk,

    You sound hysteric. Calm down. Parents are volunteering their children for suicide missions. Watch some of the interviews with Palestinian children when questioned about the things that will make them the happiest – “killing Jews” is their answer. Let me know if you want me to give you the link to such videos. Check what Palestinian children learn in school; visit their depictions of suicide missions in Israel and how they celebrate every Israeli death brought on by their murderers.

    I absolutely agree with your summation: “There is no question Israel should do what it can to stop the vicious and vile human beings that make up Hamas.”

  38. #38 mk
    January 15, 2009

    Rivlin,

    Children are not capable of making these decisions without the insane help of their parents. Children don’t know to believe in silly sky beings and ancient religions until they are inculcated by ignorant and superstitious parents. They know nothing of the stupidity the three Abrahamic religions have brought to this world. They watch and learn from the moment they open their eyes. These children are being abused. They are victims. They are not “willing participants.”

    Hysterical? Take a long hard look in the mirror.

  39. #39 abb3w
    January 15, 2009

    mk: true, some people rule out even considering whether Israel’s methods are “inhumane” or “poor”. I have no problem considering it; what I have a problem with is presuming Israel should rule out methods that are called “poor” or “inhumane” unless they can specifically find options that are (regardless of what they are called) actually better from the standpoint of the Israeli’s own long-term existence.

    I’ve no problem with Israeli’s shooting rockets into civilian apartment buildings to get a lone combatant who attacked Israel. Yes, it’s a violation of Palestinian sovereignty; however, it is in response to a failure of Palestinian sovereignty to prevent those of its population (or merely within its borders) from pissing off other sovereign powers, and to prevent combatants from hiding amid civilians.

    You need to keep distinct those who refuse to discuss the matter saying “there is no choice”, and those who refuse to discuss the matter saying “our other choices seem worse”. The former are blind; the latter may simply have run out of patience. Point the blind towards those out of patience, so that they may at least see that it is a choice.

  40. #40 mk
    January 15, 2009

    abb3w,

    I’ve no problem with Israeli’s shooting rockets into civilian apartment buildings to get a lone combatant who attacked Israel. Yes, it’s a violation of Palestinian sovereignty;

    How quaint.

    It’s far more than just a violation of Palestinian sovereignty.

  41. #41 Antonio Jerez
    January 15, 2009

    Hamas is a despicable band of islamists. But isn´t it ironic that the israeli government once in a time funded and helped Hamas as a way of opposing Arafat´s Fatah. Shortsightedness and stupidity goes hand in hand, just like the americans did in Afghanistan.

  42. #42 S. Rivlin
    January 15, 2009

    mk,

    Thousands of articles and books were written over the years about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides have their arguments against the other side’s egregious actions. We can go back all the way to biblical times (useless) or to the British mandate over Palestine or to the birth of the state of Israel (1948). I choose 1948. Israel declared her independence and on the very day was attacked by 5 Arab armies. After a cease fire and for 19 years, no Arab country was willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist and continuously supported terrorist activities against Israel. In 1967, Israel pre-emptivly attacked Egypt, and Syria and, when Jordan foolishly joined the war, Israel hit back at her, taking over large territory from all three countries. Not until after 1973 war (in 1977) that Saadat declared his willingness to recognize Israel and exchange land for peace. Israel gave up the whole Sinai penninsula for a shakey peace with Egypt. Jordan followed through in the beginning of the 1990s and signed a peace treaty with Israel. The Palestinians, despite great opportunity to get both land and peace based on the Oslo agreement, have chosen to hold on to their centeral ideology, i.e., the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state instead of it. For 60 years these people, the Palestinians, never gave up on their fanatic dream, despite the repeated overtures by the Israelis offering them their own state side by side with Israel. Until 1967, Jordanian and Egyptian occupations of “Palestinain lands” in the West Bank and Gaza never really bothered the Palestinians. They never committed one suicide bombing against Egypt or Jordan, the never attacked Egyptian or Jordanian citizens, they never asked for their land back from these two countries. However, now that Israel is in control of these territories, they are fighting with terror to achieve goals they never had before 1967. How come? Simple, they never really had a country, a Palestinain state. The real impetus for their actions, their murderous actions, is the incentive and the pleasure of killing Jews. A peace agreement with Israel is unacceptable for them because it will preserve a Jewish state in the land they call Palestine; it will force them to stop killing Jews (unacceptable for them) and they will lose the recognition of their people as refugees by the UN, a status they enjoy for 60 years (three generations), and which no other group of people in the world can even dream of. The Palestinains have chosen to live the life they live for the past 60 years because it is more imprtant for them to continue the conflict with Israel than to take care of themselves and solve their own problems.

    When one has to deal with such animals, one sometime has no choice but to kill them before one is killed by them.

  43. #43 Sigmund
    January 15, 2009

    Killing the Palestinians like animals certainly appears to be the policy. It just seems so inefficient.
    Why not just drop a few nuclear bombs on them and make sure of it?
    After all, you can’t be too sure.

  44. #44 mk
    January 15, 2009

    Rivlin,

    Your history lesson is comically elementary. Regardless, you still think children are “willing participants.”

    I think there is something seriously wrong with you. I’m also pretty sure I know what it is… a long hard look in the mirror would still be the best thing for you.

    Good luck, and please never run for office.

  45. #45 Christian Aaron
    January 15, 2009

    looks like more folks should read some Glenn Greenwald. Thomas Friedman is advocating terrorism here, plains and simple and by definition. And I can’t really say how disappointed I am to read that jason thinks these
    Views are worthy. I think finally the conservatives are being proved right about the
    Effects of TV on a nation. Looks like too many people are watching too much 24 and not enough reality. Israel is now a terrorist state, not unlike the US, since starting a war of aggression is a war crime and all… I sadly don’t see much humanity in these comments. Just warmongering and the justifications for it.

  46. #46 ScentOfViolets
    January 15, 2009

    Hamas rockets have killed, I believe, a dozen Israelis in the last year (maybe longer). Of course that needs to be stopped. However, since the current conflict began, Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. Whether or not you think Israel’s response is justified and proportionate, don’t you think Palestinians might have a justified grievance which will cause further attacks in future?

    It’s much worse than that, of course. Israel is the aggressor. The official position is in fact that Israel violated the truce, not Hamas. It is Israel, not Hamas, that has put blockades in place around the entire area, strangling any economic activity. It is Israel that has stolen money from Palestinians with zero provocation. It is Israel that continues to encroach and settle on Palestinian-held lands, and it is Israel that refuses to remove settlers which even the official government admits are there illegally.

    How many people have Israel’s policies killed through privation, disease and starvation? A whole lot more than 12.

    And they were doing this first.

    Thems just the facts. Easily researched facts at that.

  47. #47 Soren
    January 16, 2009

    One thing I have a hard time understanding is how Israel can condemn suicide bombers, but the itself use an allout war tactic.

    If a suicide bomber blows up a bus with 4 soldiers, 8 adult civilians an 6 children, then it is condemned as a terroris act.

    If Israel bombs aa civilian house killing 4 militants hiding in it, 8 adult civilians and 6 children, then the civilians are collateral damage.

    Besides that, as far as I know it is not unusual to see armed people in the streets of Israel. Armed palestinians are deemed militants and are killed with no regards to civilian collateral damage, but armed Israelis are somehow sacrosant when they are in civilian territory?

    I know that som suicide bombers target purely civilian targets, and I am not trying to defend either practice, but why is it suicide missions always are terrorism, but bombing civilian targets fair game?

    Should we hold Israel to the same standard they hold the palestinians, or should they be handled differently?

  48. #48 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    mk,

    “…you still think children are “willing participants.”

    Today’s hamas terrorists were inducted, trained and sworn in into this murderous organization as children. In 10-15 years, the “innocent” children whose their parents volunteering to the brain washing of Hamas will be the next generation of suicide bombers and murderers.

    Sometimes, when eleiminating the product of a weapon factory is insufficient, you have no choice but to eliminate the factory and the materials from which the weapons are made.

  49. #49 Marvol
    January 16, 2009

    Interestingly a Dutch newspaper ran an article in its blog section this week. About Darfur.

    Darfur, anyone?
    Death toll currently well in the hundreds of thousands. Nobody here cares, do you? Not a muslim in the world cares either, dispite the victims being muslims. At least I didn’t see hundreds of protesters burning Sudanese flags on TV.

    What about Sri Lanka? Things aren’t pretty there either. Iraq? You don’t care. The recent Russian-Georgian war. Did you go out and protest, at all? For/against whom? No, you didn’t.

    So what’s so special about Gaza?

    People screaming about what’s wrong in Gaza should realise they are being goaded by propaganda – from both sides – into thinking something really big is going on. It’s not that big.

  50. #50 mk
    January 16, 2009

    For Jason and SLC…

    I hope you’re reading this fellow S. Rivlin. SLC gave me shit the other day for making the suggestion that Rivlin appeared to have terrorist leanings. I think subsequent comments have thoroughly confirmed this.

    How gratifying it must be to be in such company.

    Cheers.

  51. #51 abb3w
    January 16, 2009

    mk: It’s far more than just a violation of Palestinian sovereignty.

    I presume you’re not refering to it’s being a demonstration of the exothermic nature of certain nitrogen compounds.

    So, what other attributes to the action do you perceive, what significance do you attach to those attributes, and why should this significance imply I should have any problem with the tactic?

  52. #52 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    mk,

    Try as you may, calling me a terrorist is foolish. Aren’t we here, in America, trying teenagers as adults for murder? How could we? these are innocent children who don’t know bad from good?

    Unfortunately, when the Palestinians choose to make “soldiers” of their children, they should not complain if these children die in war.

    That said, of course, not all Palestinian children are combatants, actually, the majority are probably not combatants, but still, there are many children who are, and Hamas and the Palestinians should stop decrying the Israeli actions and the death of innocent children when they themselves sending children wrapped with bombs to explode in Israeli towns and on Israeli busses.

    When a child approaches you with a gun ready to shoot you, would you:

    a. Try to explain to him that it is wrong to aim his weapon at you?
    b. Call the police to and later talk to his parents about his unbecoming behavior?
    c. Shoot his ass before he shoots yours?

  53. #53 Coriolis
    January 16, 2009

    Marvol, while I generally appreciate your sentiments and agree that on the scale of all the disasters going on in the world, this is pretty small; there are reasons why people in the west are more concerned about Gaza then Darfur, other than propaganda.

    Basically, because it’s much closer both geographically and culturally. Israel is one of the US’s closest allies, and it is generally much closer culturally to westerners then the other places you mention. As such, people care alot more about their actions. This would be the case also if people for various ethnic reasons started killing each other in Britain or Germany – even if the scale is much smaller than what happens every day in darfur, there would be much bigger shock and outrage.

  54. #54 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    Coriotis,

    Do you thus mean that Westerners are hypocrits, holding Israel to a higher standard than they hold the murderers in Darfur or Nepal?

    Of course, you are crrect. People have always held Israel to the highest standard, higher than they hold themselves to. Without getting into the historical and religious reasons for that tendency, I can assure you that most Western countries will be much more carnal than Israel if they would face what Israel and Jews have been facing for the past 500 years. The only difference between the response of the Jews to pogroms, slaughters and the Holocaust until 1948 and their response since is that for the past 60 years they are fighting back, which does not sit very well with all those “holy than Thou” Westerners and UN members who expect the Jews to take it and die like their predecessors

  55. #55 SLC
    January 16, 2009

    Re Sigmund

    Killing the Palestinians like animals certainly appears to be the policy. It just seems so inefficient.
    Why not just drop a few nuclear bombs on them and make sure of it?
    After all, you can’t be too sure

    If the only thing that the Government of Israel was interested in was killing as many Palestinians as possible, they wouldn’t have to use nuclear weapons. They would just take a page out of the Hafaz Assad playbook and line up several hundred artillery pieces along the Gaza border and make it a free fire zone. If the Syrian army could kill 20,000 people in Hama in 2 days, think how many the IDF could kill in 3 weeks! I think that the implication that the Government of Israel might consider an Eichmann solution for the Palestinians is atrocious.

    Re mk

    For Jason and SLC…

    I hope you’re reading this fellow S. Rivlin. SLC gave me shit the other day for making the suggestion that Rivlin appeared to have terrorist leanings. I think subsequent comments have thoroughly confirmed this.

    How gratifying it must be to be in such company.

    Cheers.

    I would take exception to labeling the Palestinians as animals. Other then that, I see nothing in Mr. Rivlins’ comments to take exception to.

  56. #56 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    SLC, I never call all Palestinians “animals.” However, all Hamas and Hizbullah members are absolutely desrve this title. On a second thought, I think that sticking the title “animals” to these murderers is defiling animals. These beasts are lower than animals. We sure saw actions of their brothers in Iraq with beheadings and mutilations of Americans captured by them and the executions of their own Muslim brothers. How can one relate to them as human beings is beyond me.

  57. #57 Coriolis
    January 16, 2009

    No Rivlin, despite your desire to turn everything into anti-semitism, that’s at best a minor effect. Let me remind you that the european nations are also very much critical of what the US did in Iraq – even though of course the same defense could be applied there – what we did wasn’t nearly as bad as what Sudan does in Darfur let’s say. Were they also anti-semitic for that then? Perhaps it’s that great love for Muslims that europeans have? Clearly, that’s not that case. Before you continue conflating the case of Israel and the case Judaism you might want to read a recent post on the Good math, bad math blog on anti-semitic assholes who think that every Jew supports every action of Israel.

    So yes, there is a different standard for sudan vs. western countries – and there ought to be. Both Israel, the US, and the rest of the western countries claim to to stand for a more civilized form of government actions (and in my eyes at least they honestly try to). We’re supposed to be on the moral high-ground. We’re supposed to care more about killing civilians. We’re supposed to live in a society which does not consider the extermination of another group of people an acceptable solution to our differences.

    Now in this whole thread there is alot of examples of how bad hamas is – a point which NOBODY is disputing. The question is whether you consider essentially every palestinian as bad as that, as animals. And we all know the way people who consider others animals have dealt with those so-called animals in the past. There, we have our disagreement.

    And SLC, if you disagree with that characterization of palestinians, then tell us, what do you think is the end-game here. If you’re not going to exterminate all the palestinians, then what will the solution to this conflict be, and how do you think the current war over Gaza furthers that goal along.

  58. #58 mk
    January 16, 2009

    SLC…

    You’re clearly a lovely person, too.

  59. #59 Gordon S
    January 16, 2009

    Wow. What an insanely fucked up article, I’m frankly shocked that you, someone who is so salient on so many other issues, would endorse it. (The Goldberg article.)

    Yes, of course Hamas is an organization that has used terrorism, but for anyone remotely able to detach themselves from the situation, terrorism has also, and I would argue much more, been used by Israel.

    And yes, Hamas’ charter does say that they deny they right of Israel to exist. Israel likewise has refused to allow a Palestinian state to exist for six decades.

    And, yes, I’m sure Hamas is stuck full of bigoted, insane religious nutjob. But no, there are no nutjob crazies in Israel, right?

    The last paragraph, I think, is the most idiotic thing in the entire article. Israel and the US must support Fatah?! Israel was supporting Hamas in order to destabilize Fatah just a few years ago! The US supported elections Hamas was in, then delegitimized those elections when Hamas won.

    Even more troubling is the goal of Mr. Goldbergs article. Is it to justify the attacks on Gaza by (as if he really needed to) villainizing Hamas? Insane.

    I don’t even have the patience to go through the idiotic Friedman article other than to say that, once again, Friedman proves that he is only opposed to boldfaced war crimes a couple years after the fact. What a contemptible mouthpiece for criminality.

    Again, I’m just in awe of how this issue turns otherwise reasonable people (you, not Goldberg or Friedman) into drones who are all too willing to abandon their humanity because someone, somewhere in Israel, might have a rocket land only a few miles away from them.

    Jesus fucking Christ.

  60. #60 abb3w
    January 16, 2009

    From the standpoint of evolutionary biology, Hamas are clearly Eukaryotes, Animals, Vertebrates, Mammals, Primates, and Human. They’re just not our favorite shining example of any of these.

    The question is, how should the society/culture of Hamas (which some humans choose to remain members of) be characterized?

    Might I suggest “pustular“, in the sense of “resembling pustules”?

  61. #61 mk
    January 16, 2009

    SLC…

    You were correct on one point, though. Rivlin made no distinction when calling Palestinians animals. So now we know he’s liar as well.

    The Palestinains have chosen to live the life they live for the past 60 years because it is more imprtant for them to continue the conflict with Israel than to take care of themselves and solve their own problems.

    When one has to deal with such animals, one sometime has no choice but to kill them before one is killed by them.

    Nice company you keep.

  62. #62 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    Coriotis,

    Not every anti-israeli sentiment is necessarily rooted in antiSemitism. Nevertheless, despite the fact that in the past 60 years many countries committed actions much worse than Israel ever committed, Israel is still the most condemned country in the history of the UN. US, Britain, Spain, Poland and others attacked Iraq without the approval of the UN, yet, none of them was ever condemned. Ten of thousands of innocent Iraqis were slaughtered by the invading forces and the criticism of these countries never reached the decibles that the criticism of Israel is reaching every time Israel is reacting to attacks on her.

    Remember 1982? Israel went into Lebanon to stop the continuous attacks by Arafat in his murderous PLO. Christian Phalangists took advantage of the opportunity and slaughtered 800 Palestinains in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla. Of course, Israel was blamed for the massacre and Ariel Sharon was marked as a war criminal. Shiites massacring thousands of Sunnies in Iraq, but the US and British generals or ministers are never marked as war criminals by those who marked Sharon as such. History is full of examples of different standards (higher ones) for the Jews than for everyone else. Why do you think Hamas cowards are mingling with the civilian population in Gaza? Because they know that the Israelis will be held for a higher standard than themselves and the Palestinain side will win the propaganda war, even when everyone knows that none of the Israeli bombs would fall on civilians if the cowards would avoid hiding among them.

    Check the UN security coucil record and see how many times Israel was condemned. Considering the history of the world events in the past 60 years, one would conclude based on this record that Israel is a country of beasts that must be erased from the map of the world, as the great President of Iran has declared numerous times. Well you can play the semantics game as much as you want, the point is very clear, there is a pervasive anti-Israeli sentiment in the Arab world (of course), in Europe (especially in England) and in the UN. I let you decide if this is equal to antiSemitism or not.

  63. #63 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    mk,

    Since you tend to hang on details, I’ll clarify myself, again: Hamas members are animals, not all Palestinians.

  64. #64 mk
    January 16, 2009

    Rivlin,

    Hang on details? Heh. That’s cute.

    Words matter, son. That entire diatribe I pulled that quote from you referenced “Palestinians” repeatedly. You used the word “Hamas” not at all. Neither did you use the words “extremist” or “terrorist”. You made no distinctions. This suggest to me a person that has come undone. Someone who is irrational and has difficulty discussing the conflict without going over the edge.

    Your broad strokes; your putting the word innocents in quotes; your children are willing participants comments; your Palestinians are animals that should be killed… all these things suggest to me, at the least, a deeply irrational person. And taken the wrong way–and I may have–they look like the kinds of things said by the very people you so despise.

  65. #65 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    mk,

    Whatever. Palestinian members of Hamas (are there any other nationals who are not Palestinians in this terrorist oeganization?) are animals and child abusers who convert innocent children into murderous, blood thirsty animals. Many Palestinians celebrate openly this murderous behavior and encourage it. If this is not a beastial behavior, go ahead and find a more fitting term for it.

  66. #66 mk
    January 16, 2009

    Well… it took an awfully long time to get you to say something relatively understandable and rational, but hey, I’ll take it.

    Now, as to whether this current round of bombing and ground incursions will actually do anything to fix the problems…

    Heh!

  67. #67 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    mk,

    Since talking with these animals is impossible (they refuse any negotiations, recognition of Israel’s right to exist, let alone peace agreement) the Israeli current operation is aimed at inflicting great damage on these animals, such that it will be very difficult for them, if not impossible, to recover and continue their rocket attacks on Israel. If you remember, these rockets were the reason Israel initiated “cast lead.”

  68. #68 SLC
    January 16, 2009

    Re mk, Coriolis, and Gordon S

    You know, I don’t recall the UN or any Arab country or Israel, or the US or the EU condemning Syria and its fascist government for the massacre it committed in the City of Hama in 1982. 20,000 people killed in 2 days of indiscriminate shelling by the Syrian Army, who made of that city a free fire zone. Compared to that atrocity, the IDF is made up of angels. Even Hamas looks almost benign.

  69. #69 S. Rivlin
    January 16, 2009

    SLC,

    And the son of Hafez al Assad, Bashir, the current president of Syria, decries the Israeli actions against Hamas “a holocaust.”

    Actually, Israel did try to get the world’s and the UN’s attention to the atrocities in Hama in 1982, however, only Time megazine had a blurb about it at the time. Of course, the fact the Assad did not allow any foreign media into the region for months helped him greatly to cover up his ass.

  70. #70 SLC
    January 16, 2009

    Re S. Rivlin

    In some fairness, the Government of Israel was trying to divert attention from the actions of its ally, the Christian Phalangists in the refugee camps. It be noted that part of the reason for the lack of attention was the fact that the headquarters of the Islamic terrorists, who were not popular anywhere, and who have been committing terrorist acts in Syria, was located in Hama.

  71. #71 mk
    January 16, 2009

    Terrorists.

  72. #72 Coriolis
    January 16, 2009

    Rivlin, there’s certainly no lack of liberals saying that George Bush is a war criminal and should be prosecuted as such within the US. Indeed within the US at least, I think the anger towards the Bush administration for Iraq is significantly greater than that towards Israel for what’s happening now in Gaza.

    When it comes to the UN, I think the biggest reason there isn’t the same level of anti-american sentiment in the UN is that it’s much riskier – it’s much safer to whine about Israel than the US, simply because the US is a much bigger economic force. Not that I don’t think there’s a decent amount of anti-semitism in western europe – there is, but there’s probably even more anti-muslim sentiment.

    SLC, if you didn’t notice I agree completely that there’s a different standard for the actions of Israel/western countries then there is for most other countries – and that’s a good thing. We should hold ourselves to higher standards.

    I notice that neither of you will even attempt to answer how you think this conflict will realistically be ended, and how this fight in Gaza is helping move us towards that. And that ultimately is the only thing that really matters.

  73. #73 Jim Harrison
    January 17, 2009

    The Israelis were early sponsors of Hamas back when it was a minor Palestinian offshoot of the Islamic Brotherhood and the people endlessly denounced as “animals” belonged to Arafat’s secular outfit. The Israelis invented their enemies and now want to be pitied for rocket attacks they have never ceased to invite by their policy of settlements in the West Bank. Want to defang Hamas? How about giving up the ethnic cleansing and getting serious about a real two-state solution?

  74. #74 SLC
    January 17, 2009

    Re Jim Harrison

    Like all Israel bashers, Mr. Harrison lies through his teeth. Israel evacuated all settlements from the Gaza Strip and was rewarded with Qassem attacks from the evacuated areas. Were Israel to evacuate the West Bank, there is not the slightest doubt that they would be similarly rewarded with Qassem attacks from that area. Only the presence of the settlements on the West Bank is preventing the rocketing of other Israeli cities and towns.

  75. #75 S. Rivlin
    January 17, 2009

    SLC,

    I disagree with you about the role of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These settlements do not in any way prevent rocket attacks, on the contrary, they are a cause for clashes between their occupants and the Palestinain population around them. It is the Israeli military that prevent any escalation in the fighting where the West Bank is concerned. I strongly believe that Israeli settlements on any of the occupied territories is a hindrence to any peace agreement. The problem is that no one really know how truthfull are the Palestinians (Fatah) about peace with Israel. We know that Hamas will never consider recognizing Israel, let alone having a peace agreement with her. Any talk about Israel’s mistakes regarding Hamas, Fatah and any other off-shoot of these terrorist organizations, has to do more with wishfull thinking by the Israelis than cool calculated manipulation, as Jim harrison has suggested.
    Unfortunately, I don’t believe that the Palestinain leadership is really interested in peace and a two-states deal. Any deal achieved, for them is just a step toward the real goal, i.e., having a Palestinain state all over the land where Israel is now existing. I know such a view sounds fatalistic, but I still have to see one Palestinian leader who would dare standing up in front of his people, asking them to lay their weapons down and accept a truthfull peace deal with Israel based on mutual respect and fairness.
    I know for a fact the the majority of the Israeli leadership and people are ready immediately for such a deal.

    Until such a day come when the Palestinians change their attitude about such a deal, Israel will have to continue to try to crush those who attempt to destroy her.

  76. #76 Jim Harrison
    January 17, 2009

    The Israelis, or at least the Israeli right wing, absolutely needs Hamas because only the continued existence of people dedicated to ending the Israeli state can justify Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza. The down side of this approach, over and beyond the hideous human suffering inflicted on millions of Palestinians, is that the endless crisis gradually erodes the legitimacy of the whole idea of Israel in the minds of large groups of people who never questioned it before. Many states are founded on dubious narratives, but it isn’t advisable to put too much weight on these imaginary foundations. Israel is now in a false position, as witness the sometime hysteria of its supporters in these threads.

  77. #77 S. Rivlin
    January 17, 2009

    Jim, this is BS. Who are those people that decide the legitimacy of Israel? Does anyone beside Americans decide the legitiemacy of the US? How about Sudan? Kongo? Zimbabwi? Since when some “large groups of people” decide the legitimacy of another country? Israel is here to stay no matter what. You may disagree with her government’s policies, but you have no say in her legitimacy. China’s atrocities in Tibet and Nepal, that are hardly been covered by the news, do not drive you to talk about group of people that question the legitimacy of China as a country. What it is about Israel that some how her existence should be decided by “groups of people” who are Israelis? As if the Jews need a special permission from someone to exist in their own independent state. What a crock of shit!!!

  78. #78 Jim Harrison
    January 17, 2009

    Since Israel is the beneficiary of an immense amount of foreign aid and diplomatic protection from the U.S. and other countries, it is kinda silly to act as if legitimacy isn’t a significant practical issue. But the people who are obviously getting increasingly anxious about the anomalous status of Israel aren’t outsiders anyhow. They are Jews, both in the U.S. and in Israel itself where discussion tends to be a lot more free than it is here.

    Note how the assumption gets made that anybody critical of Israeli policies wants Israel to be destroyed. Israel is a major nuclear power. Nobody is going to drive anybody into the sea, though Israel will eventually have to come to terms with the demographic realities.

  79. #79 SLC
    January 17, 2009

    Re Jim Harrison

    Since Israel is the beneficiary of an immense amount of foreign aid and diplomatic protection from the U.S. and other countries, it is kinda silly to act as if legitimacy isn’t a significant practical issue.

    This type of talk is exactly why I advocate phasing out aid to Israel. The way it is now, the Prime Minister of Israel has to ask the permission of the President of the United States to defend his country from terrorist attacks and the threat of Irans’ nuclear program. The current aid package of 3 billion/year is a hangover from the 1979 Camp David negotiations between Egypt and Israel and, in addition to the 2.2 billion/year allocated to Egypt, is nothing more then a bribe from then President James Earl Carter to the two countries to behave themselves.

    Mr. Harrison accuses the the Government of Israel of being beastly to the Palestinians. Mr. Harrison hasn’t the slightest idea of what true beastliness is. Just ask the residents of the Syrian City of Hama, 20,000 of whom were killed in 2 days of artillery bombardment by the Syrian Army. They’ll tell him the meaning of true beastliness.

  80. #80 Jim Harrison
    January 17, 2009

    SLC apparently thinks that Israel has the right to act badly so long as they don’t match the stats of Assad in Syria. Of course the subtext of his “everybody does it” excuse is that the Muslims aren’t fully civilized, etc. so that Israel’s activities amount to taking up the white man’s burden.

    The fascinating counterfactual here is what would have happened if the Israelis hadn’t had tremendous influence in American politics and therefore had had to make a fair deal with their neighbors. What if the U.S. and Europe had said, “OK, Israel gives back the West Bank for real and removes the settlements and the Palestinians agree to normalize relations with a non-expansionist Israel.”

  81. #81 SLC
    January 17, 2009

    Re Jim Harrison

    Mr. Harrison shows his total ignorance of the situation in Palestine. Let’s look at the record. From 1948 through 1967, Israel wasn’t occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. How come the Palestinian State wasn’t created during those years? Then, in 1967, there was a Middle East war between Israel on the one hand and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan on the other hand, participated by the Egyptian dictator, Gamal Abdul Nasser who was trying to divert attention from his ongoing clusterfuck in Yemen. As a result of that war which the Arabs lost badly, Israel ended up occupying the Sinai desert, along with the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Hights. All of a sudden, the inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza strip suddenly started calling themselves Palestinians.

    After that little history lesson, lets examine Mr. Harrisons’ counterfactual history musings. If, in fact, Israel had been left to its own devices after the 1948 war, in all probability it would not be here today and its population would have been exterminated. It is only the mighty military machine that Israel has been able to build up over the years that has prevented the Arabs from overrunning it. As I stated earlier, total withdrawal from the West Bank will not bring peace, any more then total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip brought peace. Mr. Harrison should have spent some time in Sderot since the Gaza withdrawal in 2005. If he had, he would not be making such bullshit comments.

  82. #82 windy
    January 17, 2009

    “Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical.”

    Collateral casualties are by definition unintended. Friedman is saying that it was Israel’s intention (implied by his saying it’s part of their strategy) to inflict unintended casualties. No, it’s not logical.

  83. #83 Jim Harrison
    January 17, 2009

    Politics promotes moral imbecility. The failings of the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Syrians don’t excuse Israeli behavior. The surrounding countries were indeed unmindful of the interests of the Palestinians, which is part of the reason why people on the West Bank were not initially hostile to Israel in ’67. Israeli behavior since ’67 explains much of their current hostility.

    By the way, the Israelis were hardly on their own between 48 and 67. They went in with the French and English in the Suez war, for example, though Eisenhower prevented their intended annexation of the Sinai.

    The point isn’t that the Israelis are villains and the Muslims heroes, but that the history of the region in our times has been at least a duet and never a solo. But there is this difference between the Israelis and their Arab enemies: since my country is a close ally of Israel I feel some responsibility for their behavior. My taxes don’t pay for Hamas rockets, but they do pay for Israeli bombs.

  84. #84 J. J. Ramsey
    January 18, 2009

    SLC: “From 1948 through 1967, Israel wasn’t occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. How come the Palestinian State wasn’t created during those years?”

    Because the West Bank had been occupied by Jordan and the Gaza Strip by Egypt.

  85. #85 SLC
    January 18, 2009

    Re J. J. Ramsey

    The point is that the so-called Palestinians were not agitating for a Palestinian state in the years 1948-1967. That agitation began after 1967.

    Re Jim Harrison

    I don’t know how many ways I can say this. I am 100% in favor of phasing out aid to Israel. Period, end of discussion. Of course, Mr. Harrison has to realize that the influence of the US on Israel will be greatly diminished after such a phaseout which is why I favor it.

    As for Mr. Harrisons’ whining about his tax money currently going to support Israel, as columnist George Will put it several decades ago, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the US has any guarantee of being able to land a plane 6 months from now.

  86. #86 S. Rivlin
    January 18, 2009

    Jim, I will be the first one to agree with you that israeli settlements in the West bank and Gaza do not contribute anything to Israel’s security and in many ways agitate the local Palestinian population. At the same time, I strongly believe that in 1999-2000, the Israeli government and the Israeli people were really and absolutely ready to withdraw from most of the occupied territories, including parts of East Jerusalem and the Old city, recognizing a Palestinian state alongside Israel and a true and lasting peace agreement. This was the moment in which the Palestinians had their greatest chance to change the face of the Middle East for ever. Unfortunately, this was also the moment that the Palestinian leadership exhibited their real intentions, living the talks that took place in Sharem Al Shiekh and starting the second intifiada. Beside losing the great opportunity to achieve independence in their own land, the Palestinians lost the goodwill and the trust of the Israeli public. All the events since October 2000, hardened the resolve of most Israelis not to be caught again in the Palestinians’ lies and fantasies. Though Israelis supported the withdrawals from both Lebanon and Gaza, they were rewarded with two terrorist organizations that now rule both of these regions, organizations that as long as they are in power will prevent any real peaceful ending of the conflict. Under such conditions, unfortunately, Israel will find itself continuing to send its military to quell terroristic attacks on its citizens, with or without American-supplied weaponry.

  87. #87 Jim Harrison
    January 18, 2009

    Mr. Rivlin buys the canonical narrative of the 2000 talks lock, stock, and barrel. I’m not interested in promoting an equal and opposite view of what occurred, but I think Israeli intransigence–and the end of the Clinton administration–had as much to do with the outcome as anything else. Both sides in the discussions had internal political problems with making a deal, but the press (as usual) took the Israeli side as if the Arab concerns were arbitrary, the Israeli concerns somehow legitimate. What we had in this case was the umpteenth example of the truth of an old saying, “The reason of the strongest is always best.”

    The settlement issue is not important simply because settlements “agitate the local Palestinian population.” The settlement issue is at the heart of things. The settlements continue the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the ’48 War and endlessly remind the Arabs of what they consider the fundamental injustice of the Zionist claim. Meanwhile, it is terribly hard for the Israelis to give up the settlements because, over and beyond the political leverage of the right wing, to admit that the settlements are illegitimate is to admit that Israel itself is problematic. Unfortunately, Israel is problematic.

    Most nations, including, obviously, the U.S., grew by acts of violence and oppression. That doesn’t mean they ought to be destroyed. However, sometimes it is important to recognize that those who have been injured by the process of nation building have a right to their perceptions of injustice. As it is, it appears that the Israelis believe that continuing and expanding the original injustice will somehow rewrite history. It won’t.

  88. #88 S. Rivlin
    January 18, 2009

    Mr. Harrison,

    You appears, still, to hold Israel to a higher standard than any other nation and so ,of course, is anyone else who continuously get on Israel’s case since its birth. Are you as active blogging and commenting on the “fundamental injustice” that befell the Native Americans? The Tibetians? The Nepalease? Kashmirians? Cyprians? Curds? Basks? Irish in Northern Ireland? Darfurians? Georgians? Chechnians? Could you point me to any blog where you voice your objection to the injustices of hundreds of ethnic groups that claim rights over land and wish for independence around the world and who resort to terrorist activities? Or is it only when Israel fight back against such terrorists that your conscience starts to bother you?

    You see, if the outrage of the Western and the Arab world had been more balanced about countries that fight terrorist organizations, I would be among those who criticize Israel and others, too. However, there is no balance; Israel is condemned loudly everytime she takes action to protect her citizens, while other countries, commit great atrocities in their fight against terrorists (Britain in Northern Ireland, Russia in Chechnia; China in Nepal and Tibet, Turkey in south eastern Turkey against the Curds, etc.) and the UN is still to meet for the first time to deal with these conflicts. The EU ministers are still to send their representitive to try and work out a cease fire in Chechnia or to stop the war of Turkey against the Curds or pressure the Brits to leave Northern Ireland (and the Falkland Iselands). So, yes, Israel is always being held to a different, higher standard, especially by those whose standards are actually lower than Israel’s.

  89. #89 Jim Harrison
    January 18, 2009

    Israeli behavior is a central issue because of its geopolitical significance. I don’t think the Israelis are worse than the others or should be judged by a higher standard. I simply perceive that the consequences of their actions are potentially more grave. Also, I would very much regret the destruction of Israel, which I think is the likely long-term consequence of establishing permanent Apartheit in Palestine.

  90. #90 SLC
    January 18, 2009

    Re Jim Harrison

    Since Mr. Harrison wants to talk about the so-called ethnic cleansing of Arabs in 1948, how about the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries in 1948/1949 (at least 1/2 million from Iraq alone). But of course, Jews don’t count to the Harrisons of the world.

  91. #91 Jim Harrison
    January 18, 2009

    The modern wave of ethnic cleansing began with the Turkish destruction of the Armenians, a genocidal act carried out in the name of integral nationalism–Turkey for the Turks. In effect, it was inspired by an ethnic identity movement somewhat similar to Zionism—Palestine for the Jews.

    It’s a shame that our world is still so menaced by 120 year old ideological movements.

  92. #92 S. Rivlin
    January 20, 2009

    Interesting, though absolutely true, opinion from a British colonel on the IDF:

  93. #93 Kevin
    January 21, 2009

    “where the US has any guarantee of being able to land a plane 6 months from now.”

    WTF? I thought that’s why we spend billions of dollars a year on a frakn navy!

    The western powers carved a state for the Jews out of the British protectorate of Palistine or whatever. My understanding is that only christians and muslims were there after wwII.

    So we stuck them there and were suprised that they used terror tactics to drive out the British and declare their own state. Then when the arabs attacked, the Isrealis kicked their butt and took their land.

    Then the Isrealis setup an aparthied ssytem where cheap arab labour was used to build jewish settlements and businesses. They cut down olive and fruit trees, adn then declared the land abandoned.

    THe desperate pals kill a few jews and then the jews kill a 1,000 pals. and then they order more munitions from the US of A.. STAT!

    There is a reason more jews live in the US than Isreal.

  94. #94 S. Rivlin
    January 22, 2009

    Kevin, you are full of shit and your understanding is that of an ignorant (“My understanding is that only christians and muslims were there after wwII.”)
    There were alway Jews in Palestine, long before the colonial Brits took Palestine away from the Turks and screwed up the whole region (including Jordan (Trans Jordan), Iraq, India, Pakistan etc. I am an 8th generation Jew from Palestine (my family goes back to 1800s); there are Jewish families that have lived in Palestine (with documented history) for over 1,200 years. As for Christians in Palestine, excluding a few religious nuts, there was never a Christian presence in Palestine.

  95. #95 S. Rivlin
    January 22, 2009
  96. #96 Kevin
    January 22, 2009

    Hmmm wasn’t the whole place run by the Byzantines, who were christian until it was taken over by the muslims circa 600 ad?

    “In general the situation of the Jews, under the rule of the Mahomedans, was quite favourable, and considerably better than under the Greeks, since the former are naturally more favourably inclined to Judaism;–so that scarcely any persecution took place in this whole period. Only when the Calif Omar ibn Kataf banished, in the year 4398 (638), the Christians from Tiberias, the same fate was soon meted out to the Jews, and they also had to quit this place.”

    OK OK so

    “1880 First Zionist colony in Palestine Established funded by British Zionists.”

    I was off by 70 years.

    But I think the Christians would complain that you are giving them the brush off….Greek Orthodox are christians right?

    “The Greek Orthodox clergy wrested control of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Ottoman rulers declared a status quo for the holy sties of the city and control of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was split primarily among the Latin, Greek and Armenian patriarchates of Jerusalem and secondarily among the churches of Egypt, Syria and Ethiopia. This arrangement was formalized in 1852.”

    anyway the whole point is that Isreal and the Jews will kill as many Pals as they need to in order to control the land. 100 to 1, 200 to 1, I don’t think they care.

  97. #97 S. Rivlin
    January 23, 2009

    Kevin, if you were a history teacher, all your students would fail, just as you have. So much ignorance in one little comment, even George W. Bush could not compete with you. I don’t have time to educated you on the history of the region and that of the Jews in it. There are enough reliable sources for that and you should catch-up with the facts before you start rumbling your comments.

    Byzantines were Christians? Soon you will claim that the Neandertals were Christians, too. After all, some of their remains were found in caves around Mt. Carmel in Israel. And Greeks? Were they Christians? Were do you get your information? Shooosh!

  98. #98 Kevin
    January 23, 2009

    err Constantine?

    and just keep ignoring the point about killing the locals so you can take over their land…nothing to see here….

  99. #99 Adam
    January 23, 2009

    Hamas does not want peace. It wants victory.

    Either abolish the state of Israel or destroy Hamas. That is the only choice.

  100. #100 S. Rivlin
    January 23, 2009

    Kevin,

    Israel gave up huge area of land and resources (the Sinai peninsula) for peace. She also wanted to give up the Gaza strip to the Egyptians, but they refused. Israel is willing to give the Palestinains most of the West Bank for peace and even the Golan Heights to the Syrians. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon only to have another war with a terrorist organization that controls the region now. In short, we do not know what you are talking about.

  101. #101 Kevin
    January 24, 2009

    Bull. The Sinai was a stone around the Is neck. and they needed peace with Egypt. Why would the Es want Gaza?

    most of the west bank? you mean except for that parts that they are building settlements on. and there is no movement on the issue of the Golan. Hezzbola won in Lebanon, and is an indigenous social and political force, as well as an armed militia. There have been very very few attacks from them, except for in the Shebaa farms area. They did make a mistake when they grabbed that soldier though.

    In any event it does not matter. The state of Isreal cannot exist without refusing the Palestinains basic human rights both within and outside of Isreal proper. and sure its a response to constant and repeated (though ineffective) attacks from the desparate people they abuse, but that don’t make it right.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!