Lebanon and Gaza

by Chris Bertram on July 13, 2006

One of our loonier commenters referred yesterday to the “locally predominant anti-Israel consensus” at Crooked Timber. Odd that. One of our contributors strongly identifies with Israel and I spoke up last year against the proposed academic boycott by UK academics. (One unexpected consequence of which was that I was absolutely deluged for a while by emails from pro-Israel lobby associations, keen to share with me their view of the latest Palestinian outrages. No wonder bloggers of a certain disposition don’t struggle to find material to relay.) We don’t have any kind of a party line on Israel at CT, but my guess is that most of us share the view that many sensible Israelis have. Namely that an eventual solution will involve two states with something like the 1967 borders, and that it would be better if that came about sooner and with less bloodshed rather than later and with more.

All of which is a preamble to saying that the current actions of the Israeli government , in bombing facilities like Beirut Airport and a power station in Gaza, in deliberately making civilians suffer (and in many cases causing their deaths) are illegal and disproportionate, words that don’t do justice to the bloody reality. Collective punishment and reprisal are not permissible actions, but that is plainly what is going on here. Lebanese people are being killed as a matter of policy in order to put pressure on the Lebanese government. There is also the matter of the Israeli government continually referring to actions against its soldiers as “terrorist”. At other times they have made a big deal out of the unwillingness of news organizations to use the term, but when they openly seek to gain the rhetorical benefits of the word in relation to actions that are plainly military, though irregular, they illustrate why the BBC and others operate the policy that they do.

Saying this is not to offer apologetics for Hamas or Hezbollah. Seizing soldiers as prisoners of war may not be illegal, but seizing anyone to use them as a hostage plainly is. And there seems to be evidence that Hezbollah’s actions are part of a power play by a Syrian government that once again sees Lebanon and Lebanese civilians as expendable pawns. But what Israel is doing in Lebanon and Gaza at the moment is wrong, and that needs to be said.

UPDATE: See Jonathan Edelstein at The Head Heeb for some further comment .

{ 228 comments }

1

P O'Neill 07.13.06 at 11:57 am

I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, but George Bush (with the complicity of the “press corps”) managed to push new frontiers of cynicism in the short news conference with Merkel this morning. There were more references to tonight’s roast pig banquet than the crisis in Israel and Lebanon, and Bush specifically refused to label the bombing of Beirut airport as excessive. Read the whole thing and contemplate what passes for diplomacy these days.

2

Anatoly 07.13.06 at 12:05 pm

I simply don’t see what options other than treating this attack as a casus belli, as an act of war of Lebanon against Israel, are there at the Israeli government’s disposal.

These attacks aren’t coming from a rogue group unrecognized by the Lebanese government, they’re coming from a political party that plays a legitimate role in Lebanese politics, and in fact forms a part of the ruling coalition.

How is it possible to argue that the Lebanese government bears no responsibility for these acts?

3

ingrid 07.13.06 at 12:13 pm

Good post. I just heard that Finland (holding the EU presidency) spoke out against the disproportionate Israeli attacks. Wonder what Merkel will say to Bush – not quite the same reaction as the USA…
The problem with any attempt to have a reasonable discussion about anything to do with Israel/Palestine is that all too often, one is put in a corner – either pro-israel, or anti-israel. As if these are the only two options. Very unfortunate for all those who would like to have an open discussion about these issues, without immediately being accused of being antisemites, or antimuslims, or not being able to understand the situation, or some other debate-stopper.

4

abb1 07.13.06 at 12:15 pm

By the way: contrary to what you may have heard, the place where Hezbollah attacked and captured the two soldiers is not Israel, but Shebaa Farms, place illegally occupied by Israel.

5

SamChevre 07.13.06 at 12:16 pm

I would agree with you that the bombing of the Gaza power stations is illegal and disproportionate, but I have a hard time seeing bombing the Beirut airport as unreasonable. Hizbollah is part of the Lebanese government; it seems entirely reasonable to consider attacks by Hizbollah to be acts of war by the Lebanese government–and airports are pretty normal military targets.

6

Seymour Paine 07.13.06 at 12:29 pm

The two-state solution was dead a long time ago. Read what Palestinians teach their children in school about Israel and Jews. Perhaps the current wave of cheering their own destruction is part of some Palestinian bravado, but it seems (as others have mentioned) that they are more interested in destroying Israel than living a decent life. Two states where one of them thirsts for the utter destruction of the other is not a solution for peace.

7

Steve LaBonne 07.13.06 at 12:33 pm

A friend of Israel will tell it the truth, that it’s on the road to nowhere. An enabler will tell it that its current policies are just dandy. Which one is really anti-Israel?

8

Anatoly 07.13.06 at 12:36 pm

Steve,

I can’t quite make sense of your “road to nowhere” comment. Do you mean to say that our pullout from Lebanon in 2000 and our pullout from Gaza in 2005 were mistakes? Are friends of Israel telling us to go back?

Anatoly (an Israeli citizen, living in Jerusalem)

9

Steve LaBonne 07.13.06 at 12:44 pm

I’m trying to tell you that the whole strategy of 1) trying still to hold permanently onto some of the territory conquered in 1967 and settled aferward, 2) trying to maintain a permanent military presence in the midst of any future Palestinian state in support of the salients rewtiend as a result of point #1, and 3) trying to make this inviable strategy somehow viable by a combination of a new Maginot line with eye-for-an-eye responses to the violence inevitably provoked by this strategy, is a poor recipe for long-term survival, and a certain recipe for impoverishment and all the ills of a garrison state in the meantime.

10

Steve LaBonne 07.13.06 at 12:44 pm

“retained”, sorry.

11

Richard Bellamy 07.13.06 at 1:00 pm

By the way: contrary to what you may have heard, the place where Hezbollah attacked and captured the two soldiers is not Israel, but Shebaa Farms, place illegally occupied by Israel.

More specifically, it is part of the Golan Heights, which the UN clearly views as a part of Syria. Which, while potentially accurately described as “illegally occupied”, fails to justify Lebanon’s attack on Israeli soldiers there.

12

Cian O'Connor 07.13.06 at 1:06 pm

“Which, while potentially accurately described as “illegally occupied”, fails to justify Lebanon’s attack on Israeli soldiers there.”

Potentially accurately? Where’s Steve Poole when you need him. If Israel wasn’t illegally occupying the land, then there wouldn’t be any soldiers there to be attacked.

13

a 07.13.06 at 1:18 pm

Two separate issues: (1) whether Israel had a justified causus belli; (2) whether it is justified in its conduct of the war; and (3) whether it is wise for Israel to wage a war in this way.

I’m afraid I haven’t been following this as closely as I might, so I will only comment on (1). Have any officials in the Palestinian or Lebanese government come forward to say, “We condemn this act, we are trying to get this or these soldiers back to Israel, we will turn over the perpertrators to Israel,” and so forth? Perhaps that sounds like a leading question; for that I apologize. It seems to me that if some statement like that did occur, then Israel is in the wrong in taking the seizures as a causus belli. If some such statement did not occur, then one would have to ask whether there was sufficient opportunity given for one. But at least at this point, I don’t exclude Israel being justified in taking the kidnappings as a causus belli.

14

Andrew Reeves 07.13.06 at 1:28 pm

I’m afraid I haven’t been following this as closely as I might…

That doesn’t stop anyone else from commenting loudly and vociferously on I/P issues…

15

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.13.06 at 1:40 pm

Attacking the airport and the harbors aren’t illegal or disproportiante, they are legitimate attempts to keep the kidnapped soldiers from being moved out of the area. They are also very normal targets in a war, which is precisely what Hezbollah and Hamas (Syria and Iran?) have started. Lebanon is in a nasty position because large portions of it are really under Syrian control and it gets punished for what are really Syrian-controlled actions.

Both the Hamas tunnel and the Hezbollah attack clearly required a good degree of advanced planning. Should we believe that the timing of the two attacks was independent?

I see that the UN is sending someone to help ‘negotiate’. Since that will amount to telling the Israelis to encourage further similar kidnappings by freeing Hezbollah and Hamas crimminals in exchange for the soldiers I’m sure they will be very helpful.

16

Anatoly 07.13.06 at 1:41 pm

Please, the argument about the Shebaa farms is a bit pointless because the mistake is believing “abb1” in the first place.

The place where Hizbollah attacked and captured Israeli soldiers is not in the Shebaa farms, is not on the Golan Heights, is squarely inside Israel on any map, and is not contested territory.

It happened along the Israel-Lebanon border in its western part, relatively close to the sea, before the border line climbs upwards. The Hizbollah fighters breached the fence and attacked the army patrol vehicle when it was travelling between the villages of Zarit (or Zar’it) and Shtula (or Shetula).

The Golan Heights, and the Shebaa farms at the northern part it, are far away in the northeast direction relative to the place of the attack.

Simultaneously with the attack, Hizbullah fired mortar shells at several civilian farming communities and small villages close to the Israel-Lebanon border, again not in the region of the Shebaa farms.

I don’t know why abb1 would resort to manufacturing or repeating obvious falsehoods this time, but all the above is uncontroversial (e.g. search for the villages’ names on Google News or other such services).

17

Dan Simon 07.13.06 at 1:46 pm

Chris, I actually agree with you that the attack on Beirut Airport was probably uncalled-for, insofar as it was clearly an attempt to coerce the Lebanese government into restraining Hezbollah, by causing discomfort to Lebanese civilians. (I haven’t heard of any actual civilian casualties in that incident, though, and Israel is usually pretty careful about attacking such targets in the middle of the night, to minimize that risk.)

The Gaza power station is a trickier case, because an absence of electric power in Gaza gives a clear tactical advantage to Israeli troops, with their night vision equipment, over armed Palestinians. Still, it’s obviously unfortunate that Gaza’s civilian residents have to suffer without power.

And I agree with you that attacks on Israeli troops do not qualify as “terrorist” attacks–although both Hezbollah and Hamas have clearly earned the label “terrorist”, given their long, ugly history of savage attacks on purely civilian targets.

But when I referred to the “locally predominant anti-Israel consensus” at Crooked Timber, I meant simply this: rockets and mortars have been raining down on Israelis living in Southwestern Israel (near Gaza) for months now. Hezbollah has also, from time to time over the years, lobbed rockets at villages in northern Israel, and the recent attack on an Israeli military unit was in fact accompanied by a heavy barrage that included nearby villages. Since the beginning of Israeli military activity in Gaza a couple of weeks ago, several Israeli civilians have been killed and dozens injured by these continuing, deliberate attacks. And at last, someone at Crooked Timber has finally bestirred himself to…condemn Israel’s attack on Beirut Airport and Gaza’s power station.

I know, I know–“[s]aying this is not to offer apologetics for Hamas or Hezbollah.” But neither is it to call any attention to these organizations’ shameful brutality–or to do a thing to obstruct their disturbingly successful respective drives for international legitimacy.

Don’t get me wrong, Chris–I appreciate your opposition to the academic boycott movement. But the fact that you’ve been willing to stand up to the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth Israel-hating crowd doesn’t mean you haven’t displayed a certain anti-Israel bias in your choice of opinions to express. No doubt it’s relatively mild by the standards of the modern Western intellectual milieu, where the notion that the fundamental underlying problem in the Middle East is Big, Bad Israel is as ubiquitous as, say, the notion that the fundamental underlying problem in the world at large is Big, Bad America. But being conventional isn’t the same as being fair, and in this case, I think the two are quite different indeed.

This same issue came up a while back, when you–a British academic–seemed to be focusing the bulk of your global-human-rights-issues attention on America’s imprisonment of suspected Al Qaeda members at Guantanamo. In that case, though, at least the various alternative atrocities you could have been harping on are unrelated enough that you can plausibly plead idiosyncratic taste–lots of American friends, perhaps, or an interest piqued by reading American newspapers. What, though, justifies focusing attention on a few bombs on an airport in Beirut, and not on months of bombardment of homes in Sderot?

(By the way, I’ll take your description of me as “one of our loonier commenters” as a compliment–at least my arguments are coherent enough to be worth responding to, if only with ad hominems….)

18

y81 07.13.06 at 1:50 pm

I’m a little puzzled by the apparent claim of Steve Labonne that if Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders and forswore all military activity outside those borders, Israel would have peace. Does anyone believe that? It seems like believing that once the situation of the Sudeten Germans was resolved, Europe would have peace.

Of course, eventually, the situation of the Sudeten Germans was resolved (there aren’t any more), and Europe does have peace. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, and that is probably the situation of the Middle East.

19

Palo 07.13.06 at 1:52 pm

Just to think that only a few months ago the Bush administration was happy that the ‘good guys’ returned to Lebanon and with the Cedar revolution… ‘change’ was coming to the Middle East… ‘our policies’ vindicated… Syria retreated, the pro-syrian government disbanded… but somehow it seems it’s still ok to bomb the hell out of that country…
So is this a victory or a defeat of the administration plan for the region? I’m so confused.

20

Beryl 07.13.06 at 1:59 pm

Chris,

My brief (6 months?) acquaintance with this blog leads me to conclude that “locally predominant anti-Israel consensus” at Crooked Timber isn’t quite as “odd” as you protest. You say: “One of our contributors strongly identifies with Israel and I spoke up last year against the proposed academic boycott by UK academics.” That may be for CT’s regular posters (and is a formulation which veers a bit too close to “some of my best friends…”) but surely CT’s comments sections – as the current thread confirms – are hardly pro-Israel, wouldn’t you say?

None of which has anything to do with the dangerous mess in Lebanon or Gaza. And I heard an interesting analysis this morning that linked, and attributed, the boldness of Hamas and Hizbullah to what’s happening in Iraq.

21

Robin 07.13.06 at 2:02 pm

Both the Hamas tunnel and the Hezbollah attack clearly required a good degree of advanced planning. Should we believe that the timing of the two attacks was independent?

It would actually seem instead to be planned to provoke a response that (i) would strengthen Hamas in the context of power plays with Fatah; (ii) strengthen Hezbollah in the context of Lebanese politics; and (iii) really strengthen the Syrians, who within Lebanon had become among the most hated powers in the region. While it’s probably not the case that Israel walked into a trap designed to strengthen Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria in the context of other politics they’re playing, it certainly looks like it.

22

franck 07.13.06 at 2:03 pm

An attack by Hezbollah on Israel proper, which is what this attack was, seems to be a clear case of a causus belli. Hezbollah is a member of the Lebanese government, and Lebanon has given its militia its implicit endorsement by allowing it to control southern Lebanon and allowing it to retain its militia, conveniently forgetting about the terms ending the civil war and UN resolutions. Obviously, Lebanon is in a tight spot here, because the Hezbollah forces are strong enough to resist and possible defeat the Lebanese armed forces, but nevertheless, the Lebanese government is responsible for the actions of Hezbollah.

The question is what the proper response to a causus belli like this is, especially since the Lebanese government seems unwilling to put pressure on Hezbollah. Unfortunately, it appears that only rapid escalation is on the agenda. It looks like war between Israel and Hezbollah.

23

novakant 07.13.06 at 2:05 pm

Israel and Lebanon are at war?

24

mpowell 07.13.06 at 2:10 pm

Does anyone know why Hezbollah chose this course? Maybe I have not been following the situation closely enough, but I was under the impression that say, 6 months ago, the northern border of Israel was relatively quiet and Hezbollah was quasi-satisfied w/ the Israeli pullout in 2000. Why would Hezbollah choose this time to throw their lot in w/ Hamas and their incredibly successful approach to Israel?

25

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.13.06 at 2:10 pm

“The question is what the proper response to a causus belli like this is, especially since the Lebanese government seems unwilling to put pressure on Hezbollah.”

This is actually an interesting question. Chris, we understand that you think the current response is “illegal and disproportionate”. What do you think would be a proper response? Bear in mind also whether your proposed response would encourage further attacks.

26

Cian O'Connor 07.13.06 at 2:11 pm

“I’m a little puzzled by the apparent claim of Steve Labonne that if Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders and forswore all military activity outside those borders, Israel would have peace. Does anyone believe that?”

Well given that Israel has never actually tried it, its got to be worth a try, no? Of course 60 years of aggression might make peace for Israel impossible, but the solution hardly seems to be further aggression.

27

gr 07.13.06 at 2:13 pm

“Of course, eventually, the situation of the Sudeten Germans was resolved (there aren’t any more), and Europe does have peace. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, and that is probably the situation of the Middle East.”

y81, there still are lots of people who identify as Sudeten Germans, it’s only that they aren’t in the Czech Republic anymore, due to ethnic cleansing. So you’re calling for ethnic cleansing here, or did I get that wrong?

28

abb1 07.13.06 at 2:19 pm

I was under the impression that say, 6 months ago, the northern border of Israel was relatively quiet and Hezbollah was quasi-satisfied w/ the Israeli pullout in 2000.

Actually, they’ve been attacking Shebaa Farms quite regularly, but only Shebaa Farms. And I read somewhere (Financial Times?) today that about a year ago they tried exactly the same kind of operation there but failed.

29

Jim 07.13.06 at 2:19 pm

Probably not just “a few bombs on an airport”…there are reports of more than 50 Lebanese civilians killed so far.

Trivial, given the circumstances, but Wikipedia tells me it’s “casus belli,” not “causus belli.”

30

felix 07.13.06 at 2:22 pm

What do you think would be a proper response? Bear in mind also whether your proposed response would encourage further attacks

Bear in mind whether Israel’s illegal, immoral, and idiotic terrorist attacks on television stations and transmission towers will guarantee further attacks.

31

Richard Bellamy 07.13.06 at 2:26 pm

Anatoly,

I apologize for giving abb1 half-credit.

There was a report that the kidnapping occurred at Shebaa Farms (linked above), but the vast majority appear to jibe with your account.

32

Steve LaBonne 07.13.06 at 2:28 pm

y81, do you actually believe that peace can ever come if Israel tries to hold onto some of the occupied territories? I mean, it’s not as though anything in the record so far is very promising on that point.

Even simply a lowered level of belligerence all around, which unlike real peace does seem to me a possible short-term consequnece of withdrawal to the 1967 borders, would be of great benefit to Israel in my opinion- which is worth what you paid for it, of course.

33

Steve LaBonne 07.13.06 at 2:29 pm

Sorry about the unintended strikeout- I’m having a very bad typing day.

34

Christopher Ball 07.13.06 at 2:32 pm

It seems that judging military targets is really a devil-in-the-details exercise. Israel claims that the power-plant was struck because it gives its forces a greater ability to detect moving cars at night, according to this report. And the attack hit the step-up transformers rather than the generator-turbine complex, which would take much longer to repair, according to this report. The question is: does the tactical advantage of depriving militants cover of night justify the potential harm to non-combatants? The risk to water and sewage systems is that on-site generators run out of fuel; if Israel allows UN/ICRC/NGOs to bring fuel into Gaza for those generators then a humanitarian crisis would be avoided. If Israel blocks new fuel, then it would create a crisis by its strike.

35

Anatoly 07.13.06 at 2:41 pm

abb1, any words on the source of the lie you invented or promulgated in #4, as explained in #15? It’s be amusing to know whether this is your own creation.

And really, there’s no need to pile more lies on the back of this one. It’s manifestly not true that “they’ve been attacking Shebaa Farms quite regularly, but only Shebaa Farms.”

For example, “On November 21, 2005 Hezbollah launched a heavy attack along the entire border with Israel which was supposed to provide tactical cover for an attempt by a squad of Hezbollah special forces to abduct Israeli troops in the Israeli side of the village of Al-Ghajar”.

For another random example, on August 10, 2003, “16-year-old Israeli killed and five other injured in Hezbollah shelling on the northern Israeli town of Shlomi.” Shlomi is also nowhere near the Shebaa farms. It’s not part of any contested territory.

36

Bob B 07.13.06 at 2:42 pm

#17: “I’m a little puzzled by the apparent claim of Steve Labonne that if Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders and forswore all military activity outside those borders, Israel would have peace. Does anyone believe that?”

No. Because of:

22 July 1946: The terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem – 91 people killed.

9 April 1948: Stern Gang attack on Deir Yassin – by noon over 100 people, half of them women and children, had been systematically murdered.

The night of 14-15 October 1953: “. . Unit 101 was commanded by an aggressive and ambitious young major named Ariel Sharon. Sharon’s order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses, and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out this order surpassed all expectations. The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to a pile of rubble: forty-five houses had been blown up, and sixty-nine civiliains, two-thirds of them women and children, had been killed. Sharon and his men claimed that they had no idea that anyone was hiding in the houses. The UN observer who inspected the reached a different conclusion: ‘One story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them.’” – from: Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2000), p.91.

Physicians for Human Rights (November 2000): “Our conclusions regarding the IDF’s inappropriate and excessive use of force remain valid and are not based on any single finding, but rather the totality of the evidence we collected: the high number of gunshots to the head; the volume of serious, disabling thigh injuries; the inappropriate firing of rubber bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets at close range; and the high proportion of Palestinian injuries and deaths. In our analysis, we found that the pattern of injuries seen in many victims did not reflect IDF use of firearms in life-threatening situations but rather indicated targeting solely for the purpose of wounding or killing.”
http://www.phrusa.org/research/forensics/israel/update_commentary.html

Khiam prison was a detention and interrogation centre during the years of the Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon. From 1985 until the Israeli withdrawal in May 2000, thousands of Lebanese were held in Khiam without trial. Most of them were brutally tortured – some of them died. Israel has always sought to escape responsibility for what was done in Khiam
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/correspondent/1002463.stm

Soon after the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, the guards of the notorious Khiam prison fled, leaving the prisoners free. More than 100 men women and children had been held in appalling conditions.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/766746.stm

Etc, etc

For my briefing on Israel, I tend to depend on Gerald Kaufman MP:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/comment/0,,1696857,00.html

37

Palo 07.13.06 at 2:43 pm

does the tactical advantage of depriving militants cover of night justify the potential harm to non-combatants?

The answer is obviously not. It’s a war crime.

38

abb1 07.13.06 at 2:43 pm

I don’t know why abb1 would resort to manufacturing or repeating obvious falsehoods this time…

I read several news articles and they all pointed to Shebaa Farms. If they were all false, it wasn’t obvious to me at all.

39

Stuart 07.13.06 at 2:52 pm

I find the notion of “proportional” response (particularly as evaluated by academics) to be exceedingly curious. Suppose Israel had tunnelled into Lebanon, killed seven Hezbollahniks and kidnapped two more, after first lobbing shells into Southern Lebanese towns – is that a “proportionate” response, or – more relevantly – a proper one, merely because it matches what Hezbollah did? Or if in response to the regular volleys of rockets that Hamas was lobbing into Israel, followed by the tunnel, would it have been proper for Israel to do exactly the same thing: lob rockets into Gaza, then tunnel and kill/kidnap?

It seems to me that you’re massively missing the point, Chris. A military response has to have a goal that is feasibly achieved. If it is legitimate for Israel to take steps stop Hamas from firing rockets at its citizens and launching other attacks – and how can you say it’s not, given that the first obligation of any government is to protect the physical safety of its citizens – then a response calculated to do that is proportionate. Same with the Hezbollah business: a response that leaves the bad guys in place to continue their killing afterwards is not “proportionate,” it’s foolhardy and futile. You can’t expect any country to put up with these sort of attacks on its population and not do something to stop them.

In the end, “proportionality” has to be measured by context, not as a response to an individual attack. Israel didn’t do anything for a long time about the rockets. Then Hamas (and later Hezbollah) escalated. So once it’s time for a response, the response has to be to end the problem, not put a band-aid on it.

40

Chris Bertram 07.13.06 at 2:55 pm

Look, I realise that this is a subject that gets people very excited. But I’ll remind you that as recently as Monday I posted about a David Rodin article about jus in bello. To quote from my earlier post:

bq. Rodin proposes to address the problem by strengthening the jus in bello constraints on the strong. In particular he suggests that they be restrained from attacking “grey area” targets (targets that have potentially military uses by serve important civilian functions, such as TV stations, and power plants), that before an attack is authorised they be required to establish with a far higher degree of certainty than at present that a proposed target is indeed legitimate, and, third, that they be made to take “exceptionally rigourous” steps to ensure that civilians are not exposed to collateral harm and also to ensure that the environment in which those civilian live is not damaged and degraded.

When events that match just this description take place in the days immediately following, I’m going to write about it, especially when the actions are , in my view, breaches of the _existing_ constraints.

41

Palo 07.13.06 at 2:58 pm

Anatoly, even if you seem correct in that most attacks occurred in other areas, doing a simple google news search as you suggested does render many instances of Shebaa Farms being attacked. And more, the BBC even uses Shebaa Farms as the main issue in all this:

“Tension is focused on an area known as the Shebaa Farms, although clashes with Israeli troops occur elsewhere.”

The BBC report also says something interesting: part of the problem might not be Syria, but the lack of Syria.

“But the withdrawal of Syrian troops in Lebanon last year – following huge anti-Syrian protests in the wake of Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination – changed the balance of power.

Hezbollah became the most powerful military force in Lebanon in its own right and increased its political clout, gaining a seat in the Lebanese cabinet.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4314423.stm

42

Chris Bertram 07.13.06 at 3:02 pm

If it is legitimate for Israel to take steps stop Hamas from firing rockets at its citizens and launching other attacks – and how can you say it’s not, given that the first obligation of any government is to protect the physical safety of its citizens – then a response calculated to do that is proportionate.

Any response calculated to achieve that? Surely not.

43

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.13.06 at 3:06 pm

Yes Chris, we know that you wrote about the “exceptionally rigorous” standard. This situation shows the drawback of the approach–it would allow groups like Hezbollah and Hamas to carry out attacks against Israel with impunity. You of course tut-tut the naughty actions of such groups, but your approved methods allow for no realistic method of dealing with them.

You seem to be counseling Israel to lay back and enjoy it.

Perhaps you have some useful ideas about how to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas without violence, but you have been rather coy about them.

44

abb1 07.13.06 at 3:09 pm

Here’s Australian ABC, for example:

ELEANOR HALL: The ABC’s Middle East Correspondent, David Hardaker, is in Jerusalem, and I spoke to him about the latest developments a short time ago.

So, David, just what do we know about the capture of these Israeli soldiers in the north? Is it clear they’re even alive?

DAVID HARDAKER: Eleanor, they were captured in what’s regarded as disputed territory. It’s called the Shebaa Farms district, a district which was seized by Israel from Syria in 1967, so going back 40 years. But that area is now claimed by Lebanon, and indeed with Syrian backing.

45

Chris Bertram 07.13.06 at 3:09 pm

46

jet 07.13.06 at 3:10 pm

When Israel pulled out of Gaza, did that slow down the violence or anti-Israel rhetoric? Because at least in the short term, it appears every time Israel backs down, it incites the Palestinians and their Syrian/Iranian overlords to more violence.

47

Richard Bellamy 07.13.06 at 3:12 pm

Rodin proposes to address the problem by strengthening the jus in bello constraints on the strong.

I bet, depending on how you define Israel’s enemies, and how you choose to aggregate them, you will not get much agreement on who constitutes “the strong”.

48

abb1 07.13.06 at 3:19 pm

Because at least in the short term, it appears every time Israel backs down, it incites the Palestinians and their Syrian/Iranian overlords [sic] to more violence.

I believe that would be the old “they only understand force” concept.

So, why not just back down all the way, withdraw troops from all the territories occupied in the six-day war, re-settle or compensate the refugees and get it over with once and for all?

49

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.13.06 at 3:26 pm

“So, why not just back down all the way, withdraw troops from all the territories occupied in the six-day war, re-settle or compensate the refugees and get it over with once and for all?”

I don’t understand the logic here. If you accept for the sake of argument the premise “in the short term, it appears every time Israel backs down, it incites the Palestinians and their Syrian/Iranian overlords [sic] to more violence.” the answer to your question would be “because it would incite more violence against Israel”.

50

abb1 07.13.06 at 3:43 pm

Sebastian, why would it incite more violence against Israel?

There are 4 injured parties here:
1. Non-Israeli Palestinians living in Palestine (occupation)
2. Palestinian refugees (compensation/return)
3. Syria (Golans)
4. Lebanon/Hezbollah (Shebaa Farms)

Take Hezbollah for example. If they attack Israel and Israel returns 10% of Shebaa Farms, then they’ll obviously intensify the attacks, but if Israel returns all 100% of Shebaa Farms, then there is no reason to attack any more. Is this so complicated?

Or (I guess) you presume some irrational behavior on the part of Hezbollah there? Or some evil conspiracy?

Why not just assume the most simple, obvious and rational motivation – they want their fucking Shebaa Farms back?

51

Stuart 07.13.06 at 3:46 pm

Any response calculated to achieve that? Surely not.

Well, sure, I’m not advocating mass liquidations of civilian populations or anything like that. I wouldn’t imagine I’d have to spell that out. I just don’t see that your analysis has any context built into it or any method for measuring proportion that remotely makes sense in view of past actions, incentives for the future, etc. You’re viewing “proportionality” as some sort of jeweler’s scale, where individual acts get put in one side and then you pick a weight that will precisely balance it. In some fictional world that might be a nice thing to do, but it’s not the real world, and you didn’t even in this case look at the overall balance (i.e. what you were using as the yardstick was flawed).

Sorry, Chris, I think you dropped the ball on this one.

52

a 07.13.06 at 3:52 pm

abb1 – You’ve listed 4 injured parties. Suppose 3 is resolved (including Sheeba Farms). Based on the premise, this would lead to more demands on 1, 2, and 4. It’s 2 which is the sticking point. Israel does not accept the right of return for Palestinians to Israel. Maybe you think that’s wrong, but it’s a fact.

53

Bob B 07.13.06 at 3:53 pm

Israeli operations in Gaza and Lebanon are starting to awake memories of this across Europe:

“In 1942, Reinhard Heydrich was the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia which had been occupied by Germany in 1939. On the morning of May 27, 1942, he was being driven from his country villa to his office in Prague. When he reached the Holešovice area of Prague, his car was attacked by two Czech resistance fighters, Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš. These men, who had been trained in Britain, had parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December, 1941, as part of Operation Anthropoid. On June 4, 1942, Heydrich died in Bulovka hospital in Prague from an infection. Hitler, enraged, ordered Kurt Daluege, Heydrich’s replacement, to wade through blood to find Heydrich’s killers. The Germans began a massive retaliation campaign against the civilian Czech populace.

“German security police surrounded the village of Lidice, blocking all avenues of escape. The Nazis chose this village because of its residents’ known hostility to the occupation and because Lidice was suspected of harbouring local resistance partisans. The entire population was rounded up, and all men over fifteen years of age were put in a barn. They were shot the next day. . . “
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidice

54

Richard Bellamy 07.13.06 at 3:57 pm

Why not just assume the most simple, obvious and rational motivation – they want their fucking Shebaa Farms back?

Because, if I can quote from Wikipedia for ease of reference: “The disputed territory [Shebaa Farms] was not apparently mentioned by the Lebanese government after the 1967 Six Day War or the 1973 October War as an occupation issue and appears to have arisen only as a result of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000.”

While one interpretation may be “they want their fucking Shebaa Farms back,” another analysis that may more closely jibe with the facts is “they want their fucking casus belli back.”

So they made up a new border dispute (complete with forged map) so that they could continue their attack.

55

abb1 07.13.06 at 3:59 pm

…the sticking point…

“A”, like with everything else it’s simply a question of offering adequate compensation. Sure, it could be a few hundred billion dollars, but at this point it seems to be well worth it.

56

Kelly 07.13.06 at 4:04 pm

I’m going to ignore the other people posting here, since it managed to devolve already, but I wanted to say thanks for posting what you did, Chris. It does need to be said.

(See, you didn’t chase me off… ;) )

57

abb1 07.13.06 at 4:04 pm

Richard, have you been married? Avoid giving them casus belli, that’s all. And send them some flowers too.

58

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.13.06 at 4:07 pm

“Take Hezbollah for example. If they attack Israel and Israel returns 10% of Shebaa Farms, then they’ll obviously intensify the attacks, but if Israel returns all 100% of Shebaa Farms, then there is no reason to attack any more. Is this so complicated?”

The problem is that Hezbollah has as a goal the complete destruction of Israel. So returning 100% of Shebaa Farms only represents a small percentage of their goal which according to your logic leads to obviously intensified attacks.

This is precisely why the US and the EU went through the whole dance with Hamas over charity funding a few months ago. So long as Hamas retains the destruction of Israel as its ultimate goal, we can’t help them help their people.

59

Dan Simon 07.13.06 at 4:08 pm

Israeli operations in Gaza and Lebanon are starting to awake memories of this across Europe:

“In 1942, Reinhard Heydrich was the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia which had been occupied by Germany in 1939…”

Oh, Bob, that’s silly. Anti-Israel propaganda in Europe has become sickeningly shrill again these days, and has at times even flirted alarmingly with anti-Semitism, but it still hasn’t gotten anywhere near as bad as the anti-Jewish propaganda of the Nazis. I appreciate your disgust at the incessant drumbeat of anti-Israel rhetoric, but the Nazi analogy is not only trite, but also way, way over-the-top. A bit of perspective is in order, I think.

60

Richard Bellamy 07.13.06 at 4:20 pm

Richard, have you been married? Avoid giving them casus belli, that’s all. And send them some flowers too.

Yes, I am married. But not to anyone in Hizbullah.

My point is that when Henry V asks the Bishops, “May I with right and conscience make this claim?” you know the Bishops are going to keep talking until they get to “Yes.”

Or do you propose there was something France could have done (short of ceding all of their territory) to avoid Henry V’s invasion?

61

Bob B 07.13.06 at 4:33 pm

Dan – I’ve been debating online for ten years now. Every time – every time – Europeans make the slightest criticism of Israel it is predictable with absolute certainty that someone from the Israeli lobby will accuse them of antisemitism. That is complete nonsense in my case – my boyhood friends in the years after WW2 came from German refugee families; later there were girl friends; several times on casual acquaintance, I’ve been taken for a jew by jews . .

Please read message #36. The hard evidence from independent sources shows a succession of atrocities committed in the course of establishing the state of Israel and then inflicted on Palestinians over the period since the foundation of Israel in 1948. In the UN debate on the partition of Palestine in November 1947, Britain abstained warning that partititon would lead to continuing conflict and so it has proved.

I’ve just been listening to Professor Avi Shlaim on the BBC radio news at 10 pm: ” . . the Israeli government has entirely loss its way – what it is doing is out of all proportion. . . The fact is that Israel is the fourth most powerful military power in the world . . Israel poses a constant threat to its neighbours . . “

Professor Shalim has joint Israeli-British citizenship. He is professor of international relations at Oxford and author of: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books), an account of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

62

abb1 07.13.06 at 4:47 pm

Well, if indeed Lebanese Hezbullah wants to destroy Israel, could it be that it has something to do with all those problems I listed? Is it so difficult to imagine that without Israel occupying these farms they will want to destroy it a little less? And with Golans going back to Syria – a little less again? And with Israel bombing them now – a lot more? I mean, this is like talking to a 5-year-old; is it really so unobvious? Who is crazy here – I or you guys?

63

Dan Simon 07.13.06 at 4:51 pm

Dan – I’ve been debating online for ten years now. Every time – every time – Europeans make the slightest criticism of Israel it is predictable with absolute certainty that someone from the Israeli lobby will accuse them of antisemitism.

1) I didn’t accuse anyone of anti-Semitism. I (implicitly) accused you of engaging in ridiculously inflammatory, over-the-top rhetoric (similar to comparing criticisms of Israel with Nazi propaganda–get it?).

2) I assure you that had you made “the slightest criticism” of Israel, I wouldn’t even have bothered to respond. Now, do you really think that comparing what Israel is doing in Gaza and Lebanon today with what the Nazis did in Lidice in 1942, can plausibly be described as, “the slightest criticism”?

3) I’m sure some of your best friends are Jews, and I’m sure you really do feel genuinely outraged about all the things you think Israel has done wrong over the years, and I’d even bet that you’d be happy to cavalierly trot out the ol’ Nazi analogy when attacking any country, group or individual you hate (and there are probably lots of them). But I still think it’s tasteless and inappropriate to do so, and I reserve the right to criticize you for it.

64

abb1 07.13.06 at 4:52 pm

It seems that you absolutely refuse to accept that these Hezbullah, Hamas and so on can be in fact rational actors. That is not a good approach.

65

Richard Bellamy 07.13.06 at 4:58 pm

Well, if indeed Lebanese Hezbullah wants to destroy Israel, could it be that it has something to do with all those problems I listed?

It could, if Hizbullah hadn’t wanted to destroy Israel prior to those problems. I think the 5-year-oldness is in the failure to recognize even the possibility of “pretext”.

66

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.13.06 at 5:01 pm

“It seems that you absolutely refuse to accept that these Hezbullah, Hamas and so on can be in fact rational actors.”

I think they are quite rational–given their aims. Their basic operating premise isn’t rational, but no one’s basic presmises are really subject to rationality anyway. But beyond that, they are behaving very rationally. They want war and they have taken steps to make sure that they get it.

67

Dan Simon 07.13.06 at 5:03 pm

It seems that you absolutely refuse to accept that these Hezbullah, Hamas and so on can be in fact rational actors. That is not a good approach.

Gee, if I, as a “rational actor”, were at the head of a large militia force controlling much of Southern Lebanon, and the Israeli army were on my southern flank occupying a tiny piece of territory that I happened to think I ought to control, I’m pretty sure I’d say to myself, “ya know, a tiny little tract of land isn’t worth confronting Israel over. I guess I’ll concentrate on consolidating my hold over ever-increasing portions of Lebanon.”

So who’s assuming irrationality, here?

68

Bob B 07.13.06 at 5:04 pm

Dan – I suggest you read Avi Shlaim’s book: The Iron Wall for an education about the foundation of the state of Israel, atrocities inflicted by Israeli forces and repeated disregard of peace overtures by neighbouring Arab countries. Gerald Kaufman MP is very explict about Sharon whom he names as a war criminal. If you wish to gain insights about why Europeans have become increasingly reluctant to support or sympathise with Israel it is because they do see horrifying parallels with the Nazis.

69

luc 07.13.06 at 5:20 pm

“I don’t understand the logic here”.

The logic for ending the occupation and associated settlement campaign is that it is unjust. And as such it can be the “casus belli” for almost any use of violence by Palestinians and others.

For example take the current Olmert/Peretz government policy of keeping Palestinians out of the Jordan valley, building the Maskiot settlement there to relocate Jews from Gaza, and to announce the intent of keeping/annexing that part of the West Bank.

This can be construed as a just casus belli and in analogy to what was stated here before be used as a justification to take actions against Israel using all means that they deem to be necessary.

The fact that neither the Palestinians nor Israel pay much attention to anything resembling just warfare doesn’t alter the fact that there are just causes for warfare that need to be removed/halted regardless, whether they are Hezbollah, Palestinian or Israeli.

Given that the Israeli Supreme court had to tell the Israeli government in 2000 that hostage taking wasn’t allowed and that they should release the Lebanese hostages, it is ofcourse without any cynicism that they now condemn the Palestinians and Hezbollah for taking their soldiers.

Their reaction then was as follows according to CNN:

“On Tuesday, the Israeli Security Cabinet decided a new law was needed to empower the state to abduct and imprison its enemies, but that they would not interfere with the release of the 13 detainees.”

70

Donald Johnson 07.13.06 at 5:25 pm

Avi Shlaim’s book is very very good. I have to say, bob b, that one reason it’s good is that it doesn’t make comparisons between Israeli crimes and Nazi crimes. What good do you think you’re doing making inflammatory comparisons like that? There are plenty of Israeli atrocities worth condemning (beginning with the ethnic cleansing of 1948), but I suspect most people stopped reading your post when they saw the Nazis making an appearance.

71

koshem 07.13.06 at 5:59 pm

I don’t understand what proportional means in this context. Does it imply that Israel has to duplicate Hezbollah’s actions in the reverse? Does it mean that there is some secret text in which there is a table with rows for actions and columns for proportional response?

Does anyone know where the concept of proportionally is formally defined or, at the very least, explained?

72

Bob B 07.13.06 at 6:08 pm

The Israeli state has been dubbed a racist state because of the way it discriminates against non-jews.

It would be far easier for me to become a convert to Islam, were I so minded, than it would be for me to convert to judaism and thereby become eligible for Israeli citizenship. Why is that and how is that different in principle from the kind of distinction the Nazis made between ethnic Aryans and other ethnicities?

As best I can tell, Israelis are not even willing to face up to issues like that, let alone admit to the terrorist origins of Israel and the appalling, documented atrocities inflicted on Palestinians – at Deir Yassin, at Qibya, in the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 etc etc . .

Israeli propagandists go on now about the abduction of their soldiers by “terrorists” but what of hundreds of Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails? What of the Khiam Prison when south Lebanon was occupied by Israeli forces and surrogates?

73

Steven Poole 07.13.06 at 7:06 pm

if indeed Lebanese Hezbullah wants to destroy Israel

I want to fly in a rocket-ship to Mars, and I might sing songs about it all day, but it doesn’t mean I actually can.

74

vadim 07.13.06 at 7:34 pm

I want to fly in a rocket-ship to Mars, and I might sing songs about it all day, but it doesn’t mean I actually can.

Al Qaeda couldn’t destroy the US economy and topple its government. They still caused a hell of a lot of damage. Hezbollah can also cause plenty of damage to both Lebanon and Israel attempting to carry out its ridiculous plan.

75

Christopher Ball 07.13.06 at 8:12 pm

If Musilm Kashmiri militants crossed the line-of-control and kidnapped 2 Indian soldiers and then refused to release them unless the Indian government released imprisoned militants, what would the international reaction be if India bombed airports, bridges, and power-facilities in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir unless the soldiers were unconditionally released?

76

Steven Poole 07.13.06 at 8:43 pm

Hezbollah can also cause plenty of damage to both Lebanon and Israel attempting to carry out its ridiculous plan.

Well, the specific question at hand is whether Israel will or has the right to cause more “damage” attempting to stop them, as in, for example, what was called “Operation Grapes of Wrath” in 1996.

77

JR 07.13.06 at 9:40 pm

Hezbollah’s plan isn’t ridiculous at all. Hezbollah wants to establish an “Islamic republic” – that is, a theocracy – in Lebanon. That’s not a ridiculous goal, it’s a perfectly realistic goal. To accomplish it Hezbollah must first destabilize and de-legitimize the existing Lebanese government, and to present itself as the only force that can stand up to Israel. If there is peace with Israel, Hezbollah will not flourish – therefore, Hezbollah has seen the opportunity presented by the Hamas abduction and has taken it. Hezbollah is almost certain to be the big winner in the current situation.

78

nick s 07.13.06 at 9:55 pm

I think we’ll be able to address the question of proportionality more clearly when it leads to airstrikes on Iran and Syria. Which, right now, seems likely.

For the moment, this Ha’aretz op-ed on the failure of disengagement is worth reading. And plenty of Israelis who voted for Kadima are now wondering whether they were sold a bill of goods.

79

BruceR 07.13.06 at 11:00 pm

I’d like to hear the answer to Mr. Holsclaw’s question, in #25, above. The original post seems to be wholly non-constructive criticism. If Mr. Bertram doesn’t have a better idea how to deal with an unprovoked transnational attack that kills eight of a nation’s soldiers and captures two, it seems rather disingenuous of him to author this post.

80

Donald Johnson 07.13.06 at 11:07 pm

Bob b, do I have to explain the difference between discriminating against a group vs the attempted extermination of a group?

I could go through a long list of Israeli crimes and support for other people’s crimes (they seem to have done some of America’s dirty work in supporting unsavory and sometimes genocidal governments in various places during the Cold War), but when all is said and done, Israel’s record of bad deeds looks a lot like those of many other countries, including the US.

That’s all I have to say on this–if you insist on using Nazi analogies it’s because of some perceived notion that for some reason, Israel is particularly deserving of that kind of hyperbole.

81

chris 07.13.06 at 11:07 pm

What is this talk of proportionality?

Crossing a recognized international border and killing and abducting soldiers is an act of war. When a country is attacked, it has no obligation to act proportionally. It has an obligation to its own citizens to wipe out its enemies. Under the normal rules of war, it does not have a right to wipe out towns with civilians just to kill civilians. But it does have a right to wipe out towns with civilians to further a military end, like killing the combatants who have cravenly mixed in with the civilians.

[Your comments simply show you to be an ignorant fool. Simple use of Google or the Wikipedia would have told you what the requirement of proportionality in just war theory and the law of war entails. CB]

Israel has shown great restraint and undo [Do you mean “undue” CB] “proportionality” in not removing Gaza city and Damascus from the face of the earth.

82

Vishal Mehra 07.13.06 at 11:52 pm

Why are reprisals illegal and who made them so?.

83

Chris 07.14.06 at 12:00 am

The Israeli argument, as I understand it, is not that it expects these pressures to be effective in stopping hostilities but that it must take suboptimal actions that have very little prospect of bringing about a good outcome because there are no good options available to it that will work. However sympathetic one may be to that argument, I can’t help feeling that the stronger it is the worse the prospects are for the Israeli state in the long term.

84

a 07.14.06 at 12:13 am

““A”, like with everything else it’s simply a question of offering adequate compensation.”

Well maybe. So do we agree:

1/ Pullback to pre-67
2/ Recognition for Israel and Palestine
3/ Jerusalem international, shared, or split to pre-67
4/ No right of return, compensation paid (say by USA, Europe, and rich Arab states – throw in Iran while we’re at it – in a 33-33-33 ratio)

85

Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 12:15 am

Vishal, can you really not make use of Google? 4th Geneva convention (1949) would be one answer.

86

otto 07.14.06 at 12:56 am

“my guess is that most of us share the view that many sensible Israelis have. Namely that an eventual solution will involve two states with something like the 1967 borders”

This sort of “sensible Israeli” is a myth, blurring together the non-existent with the morally indefensible. The turn-of-phrase seems to include the Israeli who wants the 1967 borders, which is all but non-existent Israeli. It also seems to include the all-too-present Israeli who wants to keep settlements all around East Jerusalem.

But it would be difficult to claim to be a liberal and say “my guess is that most of us share the view that many sensible Israelis have. Namely that an eventual solution will involve two states with 100,000s of thousands of Jewish settlers in racist settler colonies on the eastern side of the 1967 line”.

This sort of blurring together of proposals with Israel has never made with euphemistic descriptions of proposals Israel does in fact make (i.e those driven by the desire for settlements, ethnic cleansing and so on) is all too common.

87

rilkefan 07.14.06 at 12:59 am

“This sort of “sensible Israeli” is a myth”

What’s all too common is vilification by extremists on either side of the sensible majorities on the respective opposite sides.

88

otto 07.14.06 at 1:16 am

If one of your political objectives includes racist settler colonies, vilification is entirely appropriate.

89

Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 1:18 am

The sentiment I attributed to “most sensible Israelis” was voiced to me by an Israeli academic only the week before last. I can assure you he was not a myth. Still, it is good to be villified by the anti-Israel ultras at the same time as by its uncritical supporters.

90

Randolph Fritz 07.14.06 at 1:23 am

I will insert a couple of old comments of mine on the general issue; I see no hope in these specific issues at this time. They’ll fight until they get sick of it…or until it’s become a bigger war, then all parties will fight until it’s over.

“It is all a moral swamp, or perhaps desert, and any high ground will have to be reclaimed.”

“It seems to me that an Arab-Israeli alliance is potentially a productive one; the Arabs would have access to first-world knowlege and an wealth and the Israeli would, at long last, have a homeland, but so far both sides are too proud to take the steps that would lead to such a peace.”

“I want to acknowlege the history, and then make use of it to solve the problems of the area, not endlessly finger-point.”

91

abb1 07.14.06 at 2:11 am

Gee, if I, as a “rational actor”, were at the head of a large militia force controlling much of Southern Lebanon, and the Israeli army were on my southern flank occupying a tiny piece of territory that I happened to think I ought to control, I’m pretty sure I’d say to myself, “ya know, a tiny little tract of land isn’t worth confronting Israel over. I guess I’ll concentrate on consolidating my hold over ever-increasing portions of Lebanon.”

And if you’re the head of a highly unpopular state occupying this tiny piece of territory, your logic for continuing to do so is… – what exactly?

Look, a vast majority of people in the region perceive Israel as an evil enemy and Israel has never failed to give them plenty of empirical proof. That is the reason most of these movements, organizations and militias exist in the first place.

But it didn’t have to be this way, Israel could’ve helped them build a bridge, power station and airport – instead of blowing stuff up. And it would’ve been much cheaper too, I’m sure.

There’s a clear proof: Israeli Arabs. Discriminated as they are, still they don’t go around blowing themselves up. They are satisfied enough to forgo violence.

There must be conditions that will make most other groups satisfied enough as well. But it doesn’t seem to be the goal of the Israeli government; clearly they want confrontation, otherwise why keep occupying these damn farms and other areas?

92

alex 07.14.06 at 2:22 am

Chris Betram writes that the Israeli actions are “illegal” and a form of “collective punishment.” But as he himself reminds us in the comments, only recently he wrote aprovingly of a piece which advocated the countries be held to a standard which restrains them from

attacking “grey area” targets (targets that have potentially military uses by serve important civilian functions, such as TV stations, and power plants)

…which would seem to imply that the Israeli action is in a grey area, rather than plainly illegal.

For my part, I simply cannot blame Israel for attacking targets which have military uses. If Israel attacks a target which has no military use whatsoever, I’ll be happy to condemn this along with the Crooked Timber. But the job of the Israeli government is to provide security from attacks to the Israeli people – and I hope they do everything they can within the laws of war to that end.

93

zdenek 07.14.06 at 2:33 am

Chris- for clarification is Hezbollah the type of resistance movement you have in mind when you say that jus in bello rules disadavantage the weak ? ( Hezbollah is clearly much weaker than IDF and so mabe they should use – in their persuit of justice – civilians as human shields etc. this seems to be your view ? ).

Connectedly in your post dealing with assymetrical warfare you take the line that Just War principles cannot be justified philosophically ( you scoff at the most attractive approach available viz. reflective equilibrium aproach and you are not a moral realist )so I was wondering what force, your claim that Israel is not complying with jib rules ( disproportional use of force etc. )has ? I mean do these rules have force of law only and if not what force do they have according to you ?

94

Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 2:45 am

zdenek,

(1) I did not say that “the weak” should be permitted to use civilians as human shields, in fact I specifically said that they should not.

(2) I did not say that just war principles cannot be justified philosophically and nor did I scoff at reflective equilibrium. On the contrary, I think RE is the best method available in moral epistemology. I just don’t think it tells you much (or possibly anything) about the metaphysics of morality.

95

bad Jim 07.14.06 at 3:06 am

Holy shit.

The bright blue marble of human reason, our best hope for progress, is stuck once again in the trenches, as we enthusiastically resume killing each other in the name of our unquestionable rights.

The twentieth century went clean over our heads, apart from the neat new weapons it put into our hands.

Idiots! Grass is growing in Antarctica!

96

otto 07.14.06 at 3:36 am

“The sentiment I attributed to “most sensible Israelis” was voiced to me by an Israeli academic only the week before last. I can assure you he was not a myth.”

Which of the two variants that I described did he fit into? If this ‘sensible Israeli’ wanted to keep settlers on the land conquered in 1967, then there are lots of them, politically very powerful. If this ‘sensible Israeli’ advocated removing all (yes, all) those settlers, then that view is one of a permanent powerless minority in Israeli politics, and it is pointless to think otherwise. It’s like saying “most sensible Afrikaaners” wanted to end apartheid in the 1960s. The fact that you once met someone (or even several someones) who espouses this policy not a refutation.

“Still, it is good to be villified by the anti-Israel ultras at the same time as by its uncritical supporters.”

I’m not vilifying you – I’m claiming that a group whose views you associate yourself with does not exist as a political force. You offer a anecdoctal rejection. Further, opposing racist settler colonialism really is not a position to be characteristed as an ‘ultra’. It would seem to me to be the most minimum form of liberalism.

97

Bob B 07.14.06 at 3:52 am

#80: “Bob b, do I have to explain the difference between discriminating against a group vs the attempted extermination of a group?”

You have selected only one defining characteristic of Nazi policies and ideologies and conveniently ignored all the others for the purposes of your case. I can readily understand why you felt impelled to do that that but that rhetorical device does not withstand dispassionate scrutiny.

The Israeli state is explicitly based on racist doctrines – full citizenship is only available to ethnic jews in much the way as the Nazis intended to restrict full citizenship rights to Aryans. Non-Aryans had about as much difficulty in becoming Aryans as non-jews have in becoming jews.

The Israeli state discriminates against remaining Arab residents in Israel – they are treated as inferior citizens.

The Israeli state has established, supported and defended by military means ethnically segregated colonies in conquered territories and populated the colonies after the fashion of the Nazi policy for creating “lebensraum” in conquered lands in eastern Europe.

By several accounts, the treatment of Palestinian women and children held in the Khiam Prison in south Lebanon prior to the pull-out of Israeli forces from the area in May 2000 can stand comparison with the treatment of concentration camp prisoners who avoided extermination to the point of the liberation of the camps in 1945. The slaughter of thousands of Palestinian in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982 amounted to a crime of genocide.

The murderous atrocities inflicted by Israeli forces in Deir Yassin in 1948 and Qibya in 1953 certainly targeted a specific ethnic group.

98

abb1 07.14.06 at 4:19 am

Bob B, I don’t necessarily disagree with your analogy, but it is considered out-of-bounds and unnecessary offensive here, so they’re likely to close the thread.

99

Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 5:00 am

so they’re likely to close the thread.

My post was not “open thread on people’s views of the entire Arab-Israeli conflict”, but rather was about Israel’s response to the Hezbollah and Hamas seizures of its soldiers. If you want to have an unrestricted historical discussion, I suggest you do it on your own blogs (or start one).

100

Bob B 07.14.06 at 5:10 am

abb1 – I’m not surprised by your post because I’ve been through similar hoops before for the last 10 years.

The Israeli lobby is completely unwilling to face up to dispassionate analysis with rational argument and persists in dubbing critics of the state of Israel as “antisemitic”.

This syndrome very likely explains why the Israeli-Palestine conflict has persisted for as long as it has but then the British government in 1947 on the occasion of the UN debate on the Palestine mandate predicted that if Palestine were partitioned then there would be continuing conflict. Sadly, too few heeded that wise insight at the time.

It happens that I and many others are offended by the actions and policies of the state of Israel but, of course, that counts for absolutely nothing compared with any offence caused to Israeli citizens and its lobby. It is always the same.

101

abb1 07.14.06 at 5:56 am

Bob, as far as the direct Nazi analogies go – there are all sorts of rules, restrictions and taboos in our culture, and you might as well accept this one too as simply a fact of life. It’s not that irreplaceable.

102

Anatoly 07.14.06 at 7:20 am

It isn’t true that in Israel “full citizenship is only available to ethnic jews”. It’s a preposterous lie. bob b seems to be as much a habitual liar as abb1; while there’s little point in debating either, I’d like to suggest that giving credit to their statements is not in best interests of anyone who’s looking for facts.

103

Bob B 07.14.06 at 7:22 am

abb1 – I’ve listened carefully to the broadcast interviews and statements on BBC radio news coming out of Israel during the recent escalation of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The accounts virtually always starts from the base point of the “terrorist” abduction of Cpl Gilad Shalit – who is just a tragic pawn in all this IMO – as though that is the starting point of history when it plainly isn’t. What of the hundreds (?) of Palestinian prioners held by Israel? Don’t they count as human captives too? Is the hope that the rest of us will suffer sudden afflictions of amnesia and overlook the long, awful history of the Palestine conflict.

I’m not the first to draw and document the analogies that I do. Others, many others, including some jews – such: as Jews For Justice for Palestine, and Gerald Kaufman – have made persistent and consistent criticisms of the actions of successive Israeli governments, including the explict naming of Sharon as a war criminal. Try:

“Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Member of Parliament, Manchester, Gorton): I became a friend of Israel when I was eight days old, and I have the scar to prove it. [Laughter.]

” . . The suicide bombers are mass murderers whose aim is to kill the maximum number of victims. Yet we need to ask ourselves why young Palestinians, men and women with their lives before them, decide to turn themselves into human bombs. We need to ask how we would feel if we had been occupied for 35 years by a foreign power that denied us the most elementary human rights and decent living conditions. We need to ask what the Jews did in comparable circumstances. In 1946, the Irgun, controlled by Menachem Begin, who later became Israeli Prime Minister, blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem, slaughtering 91 innocent people, 17 of them fellow Jews. . . “
http://www.deiryassin.org/gkaufman.html

That and its like is regularly brushed aside as ramblings of jew-hating-jews or antisemites if non-jews are involved. From long personal experience, the real intent is evidently to block presentation of documented accounts of the terrible history of atrocities inflicted on Palestinians in the course of the creation and support of the Israeli state. I’ve no hesitation in describing those atrocities for what they are – crimes against humanity. The indisputable fact is that the Israeli state is based on racist ideologies. The fact is that Britain warned in 1947 that partition of Palestine would lead to continuing conflict.

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Bob B 07.14.06 at 7:34 am

anatoly – On the treatment of Arab citizens of Israel, try this news report from just over a year back on the BBC website:

” . . A special commission was established under a Supreme Court Judge to investigate what happened. Its report made sombre reading. While pointing to a growing Arab radicalism it said that the government’s handling of the Arab population had been both ‘neglectful and discriminatory’ and it criticised the police service for its attitude towards Arab demonstrators.

“For an assessment of the impact of the intifada on Arab attitudes in Israel I turned to Mohammad Daroushe, a member of one of Nazareth’s most prominent families and a leading researcher on Jewish Arab relations in Israel. He told me that the intifada had highlighted the essential dilemma facing Israel’s Arab population.

“‘We wanted to be treated as equal citizens inside the State,’ he said. ‘But this is a dream that has not materialised.’
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4493525.stm

105

Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 7:59 am

OK abb1 and Bob B. You’ve more that had your quota of comments. You are barred from commenting further unless or until comment #155 has appeared.

106

BruceR 07.14.06 at 8:42 am

One might point out that trying and failing to control one raging anti-Semite (and his foil) from subverting a blog comments queue is a somewhat harder task than stopping Hezbollah and the Israelis from killing each other, and yet you haven’t seemed to have much luck with that, either, Mr. Bertram.

I believe you’ve been asked a direct question as to what Israel should have done instead, at least three times in this thread now, and you’ve avoided commenting each time. I honestly can’t understand why you’re ducking honest requests to clarify your original position.

107

Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 8:57 am

Excuse me? I’m certainly not in the business of providing detailed strategic advice to the Israeli government. But the obvious answer to what Israel should have done instead of bombing Beirut airport, is, amazingly, _not bombing Beirut airport_ . And so, for a whole series of actions that punish the Lebanese people as a whole for the actions of Hezbollah.

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Stuart 07.14.06 at 9:01 am

Chris, I was thinking about our exchange in the comments yesterday, and I guess what I have concluded is that the notion of “proportional response” has a faulty premise. If you believe that the purpose of the response is retaliation or retribution, i.e., to inflict as much harm as was inflicted on you, to punish, then the premise is sensible. As in criminal law, the punishment has to fit the crime, which is why we don’t hang pickpockets [any more]. Reasonable people don’t think that’s a proper response, even though it is probably effective.

But in response to a border raid, or series of border raids and rocket launchings, it is reasonable for the people on the receiving end of the raid to take steps to stop the raids. And it’s at this point that you and I apparently are disagreeing. The point of responding to the rockets and raids isn’t to exact retribution, it’s to prevent future similar activity (I know, there are arguments that the two overlap, and maybe they do, but they are two distinct logical premises). To my mind, if the usual rules of warfare [ugh, what a term] are followed, a plan of action that is reasonably calculated to solve the problem, and not do more harm than is reasonably needed to solve the problem, is proportional. A plan that simply is vengeful, or one that inflicts pain but simply defers the issue to be dealt with another day, is ineffective and thus, in the long view, immoral. You and I could disagree, perhaps, about what is “reasonably calculated to solve the problem, and not do more harm than is reasonably needed to solve the problem” but neither of us has military expertise or access to intelligence, so to a degree we’d be arguing in a vacuum.

Problems tend to be solved when bad actors are put out of business. That’s why we have a civilized Japan and Germany now. Hezbollah and Hamas have to be neutralized, for good. These are bad people, they are a danger to themselves and all their neighbors, on both sides of the Israeli border. Most of the arguments I hear about proportionality are arguments to let these miscreants slip the noose – for what purpose? So that we’ll be having this precise discussion again in 10 years? I read some Lebanese blogs over the last few days, and while many of those people have no great love for Israelis, they are even more furious at Hezbollah. I don’t blame them.

I have some thoughts about your “gray areas” argument as well, but I’ll take that up elsewhere and at another time.

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Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 9:16 am

Stuart, how strong were Hezbollah and Hamas in 1982? How do you think they came to enjoy their present levels of strength and prestige? And how will undermining the post “Cedar revolution” Lebanese government improve Israel’s security?

110

jet 07.14.06 at 9:23 am

Chris Bertram,

So is it your take that Israel has a right to respond to Hezbollah, but that they should adjust their response so that risk is shifted away from Lebonese civilians and onto Israeli soldiers?

Abb1, Bob b,
Look at Vietnam. They are probably owed war reparations by China. They have a pretty good claim to some offshore oil rich areas (much more important than Shebaa Farms) which China disputes. But if Vietnam started firing rockets into China proper, targetting civilian centers, and dug a tunnel in order to insert commandos into China to abduct Chinese soldiers to be used as bargaining chips, the whole world would condemn Vietnam without question. And yes, Vietnamese ethnics are treated as 2nd class citizens in China. And the world would applaud China if they restrained themselves to the scale of Israels response in Lebanon. If you wonder why people who bash Israel’s response are called anti-semetic, it probably has to do with the different standard they are held to (and yes, please fall into the trap by saying they are a Democracy and should be held to a higher standard).

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Ben 07.14.06 at 9:30 am

The point about these bloody debates is that if you are going to talk about action (and counteraction), you’ve got to agree on a starting point for who started it. No-one can. Why bother?

It started with Corporal Shalit, but Israel was still strangling the Palestinian territories, but Hamas and Hezbollah were still shelling Israel, but Israel was still indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians in military responses, but Hamas were suicide bombing checkpoints. I’m too bored to actually continue the chain.

What should Israel have done in response?

Take the moral high ground. Tough as it may be, accept that the behaviour of a powerful sovereign nation with a cohesive, accountable political structure has to be different to that of terrorists, militants or guerillas. Not kill and injure far more civilians than have been killed in Israel. Not engage in mass destruction of infrastructure which, deliberately or not, will lower quality of life for a huge number of people.

Not because Palestinians don’t deserve it – although that argument can be easily debated – but because IT PLAINLY DOES NOT WORK. Is Israel really any safer for having razed parts of Gaza and shelled a wide range of sites in Lebanon? I doubt it.

If the British Army in Northern Ireland had razed areas of Glasgow or Ulster or Dublin as a response to IRA murders and bombings I can’t conceive for a moment the situation would be better now than it is.

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Ben 07.14.06 at 9:39 am

“So is it your take that Israel has a right to respond to Hezbollah, but that they should adjust their response so that risk is shifted away from Lebonese civilians and onto Israeli soldiers?”

That’s certainly my take. A view I would hold equally for the British Army in Iraq. Who are targeted by militants hiding among civilians on a regular basis, have suffered countless deaths and yet still don’t look to root out the protagonists with actions that incur significant levels of civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.

By your standards, Jet, this would make me anti-British, which is as absurd as calling people anti-semitic for holding Israel to a different standard of behaviour. By your standards, the prevailing school of thought in the British military is anti-British, which is equally absurd.

113

Robin 07.14.06 at 9:45 am

And the world would applaud China if they restrained themselves to the scale of Israels response in Lebanon.

Seriously?!?! I think the world would be equally horrified. I know I and just about everyone I know would.

114

abb1 07.14.06 at 9:58 am

[sorry abb1 — see comment 105]

115

Stuart 07.14.06 at 10:04 am

Chris, I believe there was no Hamas or Hezbollah in 1982; both came into being later. Each is a separate case. More on that below. But Chris, I really did want to get your reaction to my analysis of your idea about “proportional response.”

The 1982 invasion of Lebanon was due to activity by the PLO in Lebanon not all that different from what Hezbollah is doing now. Ultimately the steps taken by Israel were not successful in the sense that the north of Israel did not have permanent peace. But the issues of success and proportionality are distinct, aren’t they? Much of human effort is trial and error, and wise people will not repeat mistakes once made — which is why I would be shocked if Israel repeated the “security zone” strategy again, at least not in the same form. I’m not sure what will replace it. And the creation of Hezbollah is a perfect example of the laws of unintended consequences. But one would hope people learn from mistakes.

I agree with you that Israel should be encouraging democracy in Lebanon and should not be undermining the elements of the Lebanese government that want the country simply to be left alone and that want to leave others alone. So the rhetoric from some Israeli quarters about holding the Lebanese responsible is probably not helpful; they’re not the ones who are really responsible (other than by omission of not disarming Hez as the last UN resolution required – but once you start going after omissions there’s no real stopping point). But if you look at the actions Israel is taking, it’s not indiscriminate at all. The direct assaults are mainly at Hesbollah-affiliated targets, and the infrastructure attacks mainly are to prevent movement (so that, for example, Hez can’t move the Israeli soldiers into Syria or Iran – that’s why the IAF bombed runways and not terminals or planes). Obviously this isn’t being done surgically and probably can’t be. At least they’re warning residents ahead of time.

Don’t you think it’s telling that Saudi Arabia, of all countries, publicly blamed Hez for setting this off? And that Egypt is blaming Hamas for refusing to end the current round of problems in Gaza?

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.14.06 at 10:22 am

“So is it your take that Israel has a right to respond to Hezbollah, but that they should adjust their response so that risk is shifted away from Lebonese civilians and onto Israeli soldiers?”

That’s certainly my take. A view I would hold equally for the British Army in Iraq. Who are targeted by militants hiding among civilians on a regular basis, have suffered countless deaths and yet still don’t look to root out the protagonists with actions that incur significant levels of civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.

The problem with this view of sort-of fighting against a guerilla force is that it effectively allows the civil war to go on for generations. That isn’t particularly good for civilians either. This problem is going to become progressively worse as really scary weapons become available to such groups (my guess is that they will show up in the biological realm first). Your process encourages hiding among civilians so that the murdering can go on unabated for decades. You seem to be willing to allow the military to absorb huge losses in not fighting against them except in the small moment when the other side’s soldiers are actually shooting. The problem is that guerillas know that isn’t enough. So they target civilians. Again and again and again. You want to call that a “crime” but you won’t take steps to ensure that the crime ever stops. Your theory seems precisely calibrated to ensure that civil wars with large-scale terrorist tactics last forever. That is rather bad for civilians.

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Chris Bertram 07.14.06 at 10:26 am

Stuart, I find the claim that the aim of the infrastructure attacks is to prevent Hezbollah from moving those soldiers about incredible. Surely you don’t believe that, do you?

If you make your war aims big enough, so as to encompass the total destruction of H&H, then of course all kinds of means become proportionate to that end. But you surely can’t believe that anyone in the Israeli government entertains that as the serious goal of this operation can you?

And even if the principle of proportionality were satisfied, it is hard to see how the Israeli operations are sufficiently careful to discriminate combatants and noncombatants.

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Beryl 07.14.06 at 10:33 am

Chris,

You are right. Endangering the current Lebanese government is the great risk that Israel is now taking. But a few facts about Hezbollah should not be overlooked. They became heroes to the Shiites in Lebanon and to the Palestinians elsewhere after Israel withdrew from its buffer zone in Lebanon. In Arab eyes Hezbollah “defeated” Israel, just as Hamas has tried (with moderate success) to paint Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza as its own victory. The message in each case is that violence and terrorism works (where, seemingly, peaceful negotiations à la Arafat-Barak don’t). But Hezbollah is more than a terrorist organization; it is the de facto government in southern Lebanon (as well as part of the coalition government in Beirut). And… Syria’s (and, to a lesser extent, Iran’s) proxy in Lebanon. Israel realizes that it will never have a peaceful border in the north (Shebaa Farms is just the latest red herring) as long as Hezbollah is “in power”. I am guessing that the Israelis have calculated that they need to bloody Hezbollah’s nose now or the situation on all its borders will only get worse. Ideally, for Israel, Beirut will assume some official control of Southern Lebanon and rein in the militias. But this can only happen if hands are forced.

As well, Chris, you are underestimating the effect Hezbollah’s raids/abductions/rockets has had on Israeli public opinion. Even dovish leftwingers (my mathematics correspondent at Technion in Haifa [coincidentally I have another correspondent at the American University in Beirut, but he is visiting family in Canada]; or just read Haaretz columnists) see no alternative but a confrontation with Hezbollah. (I find it a bit strange when we in the West augustly include a far more easily manipulated “Arab street” in our political considerations but pay no attention to the highly independent opinions of average Israelis. Do the latter not “count”, or is some reverse racism at work here?) I am just as frustrated as you are by many Israeli policies (in particular its failure to allow Abbas some obvious “victories”), but I am not presumptuous enough to tell someone in Haifa that he should be stoically sitting in a bomb shelter in the name of proportionality.

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Stuart 07.14.06 at 10:47 am

Chris, let me flip this around on you: what in your view would be a response by Israel that would be both proportionate and effective?

And yes, if you look at the targets of the attacks, it’s been mainly transportation infrastructure (to seal off the country) and Hez facilities. I should add that it’s prob not just to keep Hez from moving the kidnapped soldiers out but also to keep Hez’s allies in Teheran and Damascus from bringing more arms and reinforcements in. But surely you can see that both you and I are speculating on much of this – neither of us has the military expertise to evaluate what is the best way for Israel to get its soldiers back and disable Hez without getting a lot of people (Lebanese and Israeli) killed unnecessarily. That’s part of the reason why the clamor about proportionality puzzles me.

The best solution, so far as I could see, would be to have the Lebanese government send the Lebanese army into the south and have them be in charge of the border areas. I’m not sure it would work in the current situation.

With Gaza, so far as I can see the best solution would be to have Egypt run the place, like it did from 1948-1967. It’s pretty clear the locals are not willing to govern themselves responsibly. But I’m not sure that would work either.

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Tom Womack 07.14.06 at 11:08 am

I would say that a proportionate and effective response by Israel would be to ignore entirely the provocations set up by a tiny minority among the Lebanese, give up the kidnapped soldiers for dead in the way that even civilian hostages were considered in the nineties, and work on deploying the anti-Katyusha laser systems that have already been tested; a wall in the sky to balance the wall on the ground.

I believe Israel has Patriot anti-missiles enough to deal with the threat from longer-ranged missiles of the type that were fired into Haifa.

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Anatoly 07.14.06 at 11:17 am

beryl is completely right on the question of Israeli public opinion, as far as I can tell from here. The people are furious and will not accept any solution that will maintain the status quo of Hezbollah controlling the Lebanese side of the border, shelling civilians and trying to seize soldiers, etc. The government will not survive if it limits itself to a token response.

One of the expressions most often heard everywhere in the media and on the street is “changing the rules of the game”. The rules of the game for the last 6 years have been: every now and then the Hezbollah shells some Israeli civilians, or breaches the border and kills an army patrol, or tries to abduct soldiers – and in response Israel shells some Hezbollah bunkers. These rules are no longer acceptable to the Israeli society. One way or another, Hezbollah will not be allowed to control the Lebanese-Israeli border (or, if it is, we’ll have early elections, and a government far to the right of this one will rise on the promise to get rid of Hezbollah. This is a scary possibility, as far as I’m concerned).

How can Israel make sure Hezbollah does not control the large swath of land in southern Lebanon adjacent to the border, from which it could fire mortar shells or mount attacks? There are three possible ways. Israel could invade Lebanon and create a “security zone” – a disasterous solution which we had tried for 15 years and finally got rid of in 2000. It could flatten that strip of land, basically destroy everything on it, retreat to our border and afterwards proceed to destroy with artillery or air attacks anything or anyone who goes there. This would create a humanitarian catastrophe for the people who live there and nearby. Finally, it could force the Lebanese government to accept responsibility for a large part of their country, and to send the Lebanese army there to ensure order and keep Hezbollah away. This is what Israel is currently trying to do. Damage to infrastructure, air and sea blockade, civilian losses – all these are tragic and very, very regrettable – but the other two alternatives I outlined above would be much worse.

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Ben 07.14.06 at 11:21 am

“The problem with this view of sort-of fighting against a guerilla force is that it effectively allows the civil war to go on for generations.”

You see, I’d argue the opposite. In the absence of a unified enemy, civilians typically look to end violence and get on with things. A robust, less descriminate military response against embedded armed groups creates a common enemy and generations of embittered, would-be protagonists.

I also don’t see how the robustness of the response would affect the scariness of the weapon used. For example, Hamas/Hezbollah source their weapons from their sponsors, and the capability/ willingness of the sponsors to give them “scary” weapons is the defining factor here, in my opinion.

“You seem to be willing to allow the military to absorb huge losses in not fighting against them except in the small moment when the other side’s soldiers are actually shooting.”

I don’t agree. Firstly, I’m not talking about not fighting, just adopting a more cautious set of rules of engagement – specifically with a view to the longer term ramificatins. I don’t think the British Army in Iraq has suffered huge losses – certainly trivial amounts relative to the US Army. By trying specifically not to antagonise locals, I would argue they’ve mitigated the threat of attack to some degree.

“The problem is that guerillas know that isn’t enough. So they target civilians. Again and again and again.”

The Northern Ireland example doesn’t really support that. The only way the IRA could maintain support among Catholic civilians was through demonisation of the enemy – Unionists and British soldiers. Without that ability to demonise support networks began to fail.

If there is a fault in my argument, it is that by allowing the military to hold back, it allows militias and armed groups to take control. However, these groups only last as long as they have something to protect against – an enemy “other”. The main concern with my strategy is how to manage in-fighting for political power – probably the main issue before this round of attacks in Israel and certainly the overriding concern in Iraq. However, I still believe that this risk is the least worst one.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.14.06 at 11:24 am

“I should add that it’s prob not just to keep Hez from moving the kidnapped soldiers out but also to keep Hez’s allies in Teheran and Damascus from bringing more arms and reinforcements in.”

For what it is worth, there are also rumors that the bombing of the airport was specifically to keep further Iranian arms out, and evidence of Iranian human support in.

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Ben 07.14.06 at 11:50 am

“For what it is worth, there are also rumors that the bombing of the airport was specifically to keep further Iranian arms out, and evidence of Iranian human support in.”

Do you really believe that? Look at Iraq. Theoretically all land, sea and air borders are controlled by the Coalition and yet it acts as no real deterrent to the movement of arms and spies. Israel doesn’t yet control all passages of arms into Palestinian territories despite all its efforts. It might be a small hindrance but the real message was to the Lebanese government along the lines of “if you don’t rein in Hezbollah, see how quickly we can crush your dreams of rebuilding”. Israeli politicians have virtually stated as much with their talk about taking Lebanon back 20 years.

I can’t imagine that given Israel doesn’t control the land borders in Lebanon, Syria or Iran, that it poses much of an issue for Iran or Syria to move people or guns in/out.

125

Joshua W. Burton 07.14.06 at 1:27 pm

On the doctrines of “disproportionate” and of “decisive” force….

After Cape Engaño (Battle of Leyte Gulf), the Imperial Japanese Navy no longer had a single effective carrier in the Pacific. From that point onward to VJ Day, what would have been acceptable tactics for Allied naval aviation, under the proportionality doctrine?

I ask because there were once many hostile tanks and artillery pieces on Israel’s northern and Gaza borders, at an earlier stage of the currently unresolved 58-year conflict. Absent a peace treaty, how do the rules of proportionate engagement change with time?

126

Steven K 07.14.06 at 1:47 pm

Beryl, why do you think that the “Arab street” is “easily manipulated,” but that Israeli sentiment is not? (I would think that Israeli and Arab sentiment is as easily manipulated as American sentiment, which is very easily manipulated.) Likewise, Stuart, why are you arguing in 119 that “It’s pretty clear the locals [in Gaza] are not willing to govern themselves responsibly” and yet you don’t seem to be criticizing Israel for refusing to return to its 1967 borders (I think a pretty clear case of Israelis not “govern[ing] themselves responsibly”). Perhaps you think Egypt should just run Israel as well if Egypt is so “responsible”? All too often discussions of Israeli security fall into two fallacies: one, the assumption that Arabs are inherently irrational (stupid, savages, etc.) and two, the assumption (made earlier) that Hamas and Hezbollah form a real threat to Israel’s existence. (There is an enormous difference between Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s propaganda and what they are capable of doing, and I’m sure most of their supporters understand this.) I think that Chris is right to focus on power disparity, as you cannot make a serious argument about reducing civilian causalities (or promoting any humanitarian cause for that matter) without taking into account power disparity. I actually find a lot of the talk on this thread about teaching Hamas and Hezbollah “a lesson” to be really disgusting, especially because the Israeli government is still actively stealing Palestinian land and Israeli leaders continue to talk about “peace plans” that sound a lot like Sharon’s 1981 plan. (I see very little reason to think that Sharon and the Israeli right changed their minds about this plan.) Given that Israel will come out on top in this struggle (and that the Palestinians will be decisively screwed), and given that Israeli military actions have killed many more Palestinians civilians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis, why are some of you still resisting putting constraints on Israel’s “right” to decimate its opposition?

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Dan Simon 07.14.06 at 1:48 pm

To return to the original topic, Chris–one of the big problems I see with your approach is that by privileging irregular, melt-into-the-population forces over national armies, it creates a huge incentive for the latter to act via the former. We see the results in Gaza and Lebanon, where Hamas and Hezbollah–both heavily supported by foreign governments–actually prefer to hover between official legitimacy and unaccountable lawlessness, in order to try to garner both the power associated with the former and the relatively free hand many people (including you, apparently) grant the latter.

This state of affairs plainly benefits neither the civilians who have to live under highly unstable political conditions and unaccountable quasi-authorities, nor the foreign civilians who are being targeted by those same quasi-authorities. And if your standard becomes widely accepted, we would expect other governments to follow suit. Why wouldn’t Israel, for example, react by creating and cultivating lawless bands of angry, well-armed Israelis striking back at Lebanese, Palestinians, and who knows whom else? And do you really believe that that would improve matters for anyone but the most militant, warlike Israelis?

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BruceR 07.14.06 at 2:41 pm

Stuart said (#119):

“The best solution, so far as I could see, would be to have the Lebanese government send the Lebanese army into the south and have them be in charge of the border areas.”

You’re kidding, right? Quoth the commander of the Lebanese armed forces, in an interview three months ago: “We need them,” Gen. Michel Sleiman said of Hezbollah’s fighters during an interview at the military command in Yarzeh, east of Beirut. “Israel is our enemy… and [Hezbollah] provides specific operations and abilities that, in general, [are] not provided by anyone in the army.

“We are not talking about Hezbollah as a strange foreign entity here,” Sleiman added. “We are talking about Lebanese people who provide a resistance… We have in Hezbollah brothers and relatives of those who serve in the army.”

Note also the Lebanese army’s triumphant press release a few weeks ago where they claimed to have “smashed a Mossad attack cell.” The national armed forces as presently constituted (largely Syrian-armed and trained, of course) will never stand between Hezbollah and its Israeli targets.

As for Mr. Bertram, I confess I can’t understand his latest question-ducking, that he would never dream of giving advice to Israelis; he just feels the need to condemn their actions. It’s fair to say that, in any walk of life, if someone refuses to give you anything but non-constructive criticism, that person really doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Hence the accusations of anti-Israeli bias at this site have essentially been borne out, I should think.

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jet 07.14.06 at 3:02 pm

Steven K,

Are you honestly saying that the Palestinians and Israelies be treated equally? One is a democracy, for what all that is worth. The other is a mash of militias and crazies who operate a lot like the mob, extorting citizens and participating in running gun battles over turf all while executing people on a whim (don’t wave at a Jew across the fence, that is a capital crime).

Israel has proved it can at least make a decent claim to governing its own citizens fairly. Claiming the same of Palestine says quite a bit about you and the lens through which you see the world.

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Beryl 07.14.06 at 3:12 pm

Beryl, why do you think that the “Arab street” is “easily manipulated,” but that Israeli sentiment is not?

Good question, Steven. Perhaps because the press is free-r in Israel and represents the entire political and social spectrum. Perhaps because Israel is the only country in the region (Lebanon coming in at a reasonable second) where the government does not – indeed, cannot – dictate to its press. Using post 9/11 as a benchmark, I would venture that Israeli public opinion is probably less easily manipulated than that of the U.S. (Sorry if that isn’t the sort of answer you wanted…)

As for

the assumption (made earlier) that Hamas and Hezbollah form a real threat to Israel’s existence. (There is an enormous difference between Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s propaganda and what they are capable of doing, and I’m sure most of their supporters understand this.)

I’m not so sure either that their supporters understand this or, indeed, that the threat isn’t real. Wasn’t the thread about assymetrical warfare about this? No one thinks the U.S. or U.K. are danger of being annihilated by militias in Iraq, or even a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea, but Israel is a very small country (in both territory and population) surrounded by large neighbours who would be very happy to have it disappear. Israel has taken great care to ensure that its existence does not depend on the foreign interests of European countries or votes in the UN.

given that Israeli military actions have killed many more Palestinians civilians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis, why are some of you still resisting putting constraints on Israel’s “right” to decimate its opposition?

I don’t think even Chris is arguing that proportionality should be measured by a balance of casualties. As for “constraints”, the old saying still applies: if Israel’s enemies dropped their guns, there would be peace (yes, yes, it’s a simplistic cliché) ; if Israel dropped its guns there would be no Israel. I don’t know of any other country that would be lectured on cheek-turning while its cities were being shelled from a neighbouring country and its soldiers taken hostage in cross-border raids.

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Doctor Slack 07.14.06 at 3:37 pm

Beryl: but Israel is a very small country (in both territory and population)

… with the world’s third-most-powerful conventional military and an undeclared but generally acknowledged nuclear arsenal. Which is why the talk about size and population is and has always been misleading.

As for “constraints”, the old saying still applies: if Israel’s enemies dropped their guns, there would be peace (yes, yes, it’s a simplistic cliché) ; if Israel dropped its guns there would be no Israel.

IOW, as for “constraints” the usual sophistry still applies: disingenuously pretend that any talk of “constraints” amounts to asking Israel to unilaterally disarm. Tack on an implication that anyone you are talking with is “singling out” Israel and that any taking of issue with ridiculous Israeli policies or rules of engagement amounts to crypto-anti-Semitism. (You honestly, truly, can’t think of any other country that has drawn criticism for targeting civilians and failing to observe constraints in war? Somehow… I just don’t believe you.)

Going back a bit:

if Israel’s enemies dropped their guns, there would be peace…

Since guys like Irit Katriel would then have a free hand to deal with the “cancerous demographic threat” the Palestinians pose…

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Beryl 07.14.06 at 3:44 pm

Apropos your comment about civilian casualties (Israeli vs. Palestinian), Steven, I recently saw a calculation showing that the ratio of civilians-to-fighters/soldiers/bombers killed was far higher among Israelis than among Palestinians. (I’m sorry I can’t find it via Google.) Chalk it up to assymetric warfare, I suppose.

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BruceR 07.14.06 at 3:50 pm

Cite, please, Dr. Slack. Name a second country other than Israel that you feel was similarly “lectured on cheek-turning while its cities were being shelled from a neighbouring country and its soldiers taken hostage in cross-border raids.” If you can’t come up with an actual contradictory example, your criticism of Beryl’s post immediately above has to be seen as invalid.

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Steven Poole 07.14.06 at 3:58 pm

I recently saw a calculation showing that the ratio of civilians-to-fighters/soldiers/bombers killed was far higher among Israelis than among Palestinians.

You can derive any ratio you want on either side, depending on how you choose to apply the term “civilians”.

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Beryl 07.14.06 at 4:09 pm

the world’s third-most-powerful conventional military

I think Abb1 settled for Israel in fourth place, Doctor Slack. In either case, I’d be interested in some elaboration of that claim. Off hand I would guess that many countries have larger standing armies: in addition to the U.S. and Russia… India, Pakistan, China, France, U.K., Italy, Spain, Brazil, Indonesia, Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Japan, both Koreas, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, possibly even Syria and Saudia Arabia… And many of these countries have more planes, tanks, etc. Anyone have a reliable source?

136

Doctor Slack 07.14.06 at 4:11 pm

Brucer: I reject the premise that Israel is being “lectured on cheek-turning” (being criticized about disproportionate response is not remotely the same thing). The only people I see routinely being “lectured on cheek-turning” in the Israeli conflict — and I mean literally so lectured, as in being told at every turn that they should act like Gandhi and Martin Luther King — are the Arabs.

However, Israel is drawing fire for a disproportionate response to the crisis. I can think of any number of countries that have drawn criticism for human rights abuses and disproportionate actions. Russia’s war in Chechnya comes to mind. (The source of the criticism is somewhat ironic, no? But nevertheless.) Indo-Pakistani binksmanship over Kashmir comes to mind. The Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militias in Darfur come to mind. And so on.

Good enough?

137

Beryl 07.14.06 at 4:36 pm

You’re forgetting the “while its cities were being shelled from a neighbouring country and its soldiers taken hostage in cross-border raids” part, Doctor Slack. Not even the Russia/Chechnya situation is equivalent — the Chechnyans may be engaging in terrorist acts but Chechnya is officially part of Russia and they are not shelling St. Petersburg from across the Finnish border. Not to mention that Chechnya has not threatened to wipe Russia “off the map” (perhaps the Sudan situation comes closer in that respect).

138

Beryl 07.14.06 at 4:47 pm

A final note before I leave for a meeting, Doctor Slack:

A quick search of the Internet turns up an estimate by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies of Tel Aviv University that Israel’s standing army numbers 130,000 men and women. I can’t imagine that most of the countries I listed above don’t have more troops in uniform.

139

novakant 07.14.06 at 4:48 pm

I don’t think even Chris is arguing that proportionality should be measured by a balance of casualties.

oh well then, I’ll argue that it would be a splendid idea to do so and I’ll make it really simple:

2 guys get kidnapped and soon thereafter at least 50 guys (that includes a few children and grandmas) are dead – sounds a tad unporportional to me

140

BruceR 07.14.06 at 4:53 pm

Beryl, James Dunnigan rates Israel eighth in manpower, and third in terms of “combat power”: http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/2004617.asp.

Dr. Slack: good point re Arabs and cheek-turning. But several posters in this thread, including possibly the original post’s author (he’s being coy about it), seem to be arguing that *any* military response by Israel to Hezbollah, not simply the disproportionate ones, would have been immoral. To use two of your examples, would it have been equally valid to say that any Russian military response into Chechnya after Beslan, or by India across the line of control after the attack on their Parliament, without reference to specific details, would have been automatically immoral? I don’t recall anyone saying that here at the time. I think Beryl was fair to say that the level of demand for self-denial of one’s internationally accepted rights of self-defense seems to be reserved for one country only.

This is separate from the question about whether a given military option is a good or useful one, which I’d say does not appear to be the case in the Lebanon situation. But the original argument of this post was not that the Israeli response was stupid or pointless, but that it was “wrong.”

141

soru 07.14.06 at 5:07 pm

Anyone have a reliable source?

SIPRI rank Israel 15th in terms of 2005 military spending, behind Saudi Arabia in market terms, and both SA and Iran in PPP terms.

Israeli war-fighting capability is probably somewhat above their spending, but I am not a particular fan of the ‘IDF are military superheros’ line of thinking. Arab armies have traditionally been a bit crap, but I think expecting that to always be the case smacks of cultural determinism, maybe even racism.

A lot of the subtext of the current conflict is ‘who gets to control the Saudi army?’. On paper it really is a mighty force, which makes it one coup and one military genius away from being in a position to give the mapmakers some redrafting work to do.

142

Kevin Donoghue 07.14.06 at 5:16 pm

I think Beryl was fair to say that the level of demand for self-denial of one’s internationally accepted rights of self-defense seems to be reserved for one country only.

How quickly people forget. I recall a great deal of criticism being directed at a country whose armed forces shot a number of known terrorists at point-blank range. Much of the criticism came from American politicians. Oddly enough the criticism was taken quite seriously. Even oddlier, the campaign of terror has largely ended, so maybe there is something to be said listening to critics and respecting laws.

But the original argument of this post was not that the Israeli response was stupid or pointless, but that it was “wrong.”

I don’t know of any moral code which countenances stupid and pointless killing. In fact that is the best line of argument against what Israel is doing. We can cut through all the guff about whether just war theory, or international law, or common morality, or whatever you’re having yourself, is the appropriate standard. Stupidity violates them all.

143

rilkefan 07.14.06 at 5:51 pm

I recently saw a calculation showing that the ratio of civilians-to-fighters/soldiers/bombers killed was far higher among Israelis than among Palestinians.

Steven Poole: “You can derive any ratio you want on either side, depending on how you choose to apply the term “civilians”.”

Sure, but you can’t do so if you want to be intellectually honest. You can derive any ratio of 11-year-old girls to 25-year-old males killed you want, too.

144

BruceR 07.14.06 at 6:05 pm

Oh, Kevin, “immoral” and “pointless” (at least in terms of self-defeating) don’t overlap as much as all that, I suspect. The Belgian resistance to Germany in 1914 and 1940 was both just and pointless, in that it didn’t slow the Germans up and only led to harsher reprisals. See also the Dutch resistance that led to the firebombing of Rotterdam, or the Warsaw ghetto uprising… well, just about every war Poles have ever fought, for that matter… several American Indian wars (from the PoV of the Indians) or the Namibian wars against German occupation also would easily qualify, I should think. No chance in hell of winning, and every likelihood of making things significantly harder on the losers. No comparisons to Israel or Hezbollah implied or intended by any of the above, mind you: just addressing the general point expressed.

145

BruceR 07.14.06 at 6:08 pm

By the way, I have no idea what your first reference in #142, above, is referring to.

146

Steven K 07.14.06 at 6:38 pm

Jet re: 129
Yes, I absolutely am saying that “the Palestinians and Israelies be treated equally”; they are all people and thus their lives should count for the same. Although I don’t think they should be “treated” the same; the Palestinians have a lot less power than the Israelis and that needs to be taken into account. Your claim that “One is a democracy, for what all that is worth. The other is a mash of militias and crazies . . . ” is, I’m afraid, a very nice demonstration of the kind of the anti-Arab racism that discussions of this issue tend to be full of. I also don’t see how the fact that Israel is a democracy and thus has an incentive to treat its own citizens well is relevant to this debate. Unless you are actually arguing that the Palestinians are held hostage by militant groups and thus those militant groups can’t in any way be seen as fighting for the interests of the Palestinians. If that’s the argument you’re making, good luck. Hamas was democratically elected (and who else can be counted on to look out after their interests? Israel!?).

147

Steven K 07.14.06 at 6:43 pm

Re: 130, Beryl I think you’re exaggerating the freedom of a commercial press. There is a strong commercial incentive for a corporate press to play into fear-mongering, racism, and jingoism: they sell. (I could certainly find examples of the US press doing this; I’m sure there are plenty of examples of the Israeli press doing it as well.) In any case, I’m not sure how the “Arab street” is more easily manipulated about this issue than the Israeli street. I’ve heard Thomas Friedman make the argument that Arab governments have screwed their own populations by keeping their own people more focused on the Israeli-Palestinian problem than on local problems, and there may be some truth to this, but a willingness to express humanitarian concern for an oppressed foreign population (the Palestinians) seems to me like a generally good thing (not really “manipulation”). Are you arguing that the Arab street is mislead about Israeli and US intentions in the Middle East and about the horrors of the Israeli occupation? Anti-Semitic conspiracy garbage aside, I doubt this is the case.

“I don’t know of any other country that would be lectured on cheek-turning while its cities were being shelled from a neighbouring country and its soldiers taken hostage in cross-border raids.” As an American citizen, I certainly would lecture the United States on this. And one very good reason for Americans, in particular, to be especially concerned with Israel’s behavior is the long history of US support for Israel’s policies. As a US citizen I feel in part responsible for this. Not quite as responsible as if the state of Iowa were carrying out these policies, but pretty close. I don’t see the same direct causal connection between the policies of my elected representatives and China’s treatment of Vietnam. There is also the problem that aggressive Israeli foreign policy makes a marvelous recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. I’ve heard the US press play down Bin Ladin’s interest in the Israeli-Palestinian problem (although he seems pretty obsessed with it in this Peter Arnett interview), but we’re kidding ourselves if we think that nasty Israeli policies doesn’t fuel anti-Western (and especially anti-American) sentiment.

148

Martin James 07.14.06 at 6:45 pm

Just a quick post to get to post 150 and get abb1 back in the game.

The idea that you give a proportionate response to an enemy is odd. How do you establish a dominance hierarchy without understanding who wins an all out fight?

Second, the use of the term “illegal” for international relations seems preposterous to me no matter how many treaties there are in the world.

What, the injured parties should dial up the police?

Furthermore, why is collective only a bad word when punishment or reprisal is tacked on the end.

149

Steven Poole 07.14.06 at 8:19 pm

Steven Poole: “You can derive any ratio you want on either side, depending on how you choose to apply the term “civilians”.”

rilkefan: Sure, but you can’t do so if you want to be intellectually honest. You can derive any ratio of 11-year-old girls to 25-year-old males killed you want, too.

Who said anything about being intellectually honest? There are people on both sides who minimize or completely deny the existence of “civilians” on the other. So until I see an explanation of who does and who doesn’t count as a “civilian”, I won’t trust “calculations” such as the one Beryl alludes to.

150

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.14.06 at 9:01 pm

“Who said anything about being intellectually honest?”

Good point for this thread…

151

Leinad 07.14.06 at 9:17 pm

Good point for this conflict…

152

rilkefan 07.14.06 at 9:44 pm

“So until I see an explanation of who does and who doesn’t count as a “civilian”, I won’t trust “calculations” such as the one Beryl alludes to.”

Sorry to have made my point with apparent subtlety, but those plots have been made for all casualties, and they show what one would expect – a much higher ratio of young or old Israeli victims, a much higher female to male ratio.

But in any case your response should have been more along the lines of, “Of course there is a skew in such measures – it’s simply a consequence of the asymmetrical warfare the Palestinians feel it is necessary to wage – the question is how much skew would one expect for this sort of conflict given various models of what’s justified and various metrics for what casualties to consider.”

153

Jonathan Edelstein 07.14.06 at 10:04 pm

Furthermore, why is collective only a bad word when punishment or reprisal is tacked on the end.

What about hysteria and psychosis?

154

Peter H 07.14.06 at 11:20 pm

I cannot believe that people on this comment thread are defending Israel’s action in Lebanon. Let’s review what Israel is doing: It is attacking civilian targets (over 60 Lebanese civilans dead at this point) and destroying Lebanon’s infrastrcture, in an effort to pressure the Lebanese people into disarming Hezbollah. Is this not the very essence of state terrorism?

Certainly, Israelis deserve to live in peace ans security, but the way to achieve is not by terrorizing Lebanese into turning on Hezbollah, or by depriving 3.5 million Palestinians of their basic human and political rights.

BTW, the people who claim that Israel has “left” Gaza have no idea what they are talking about; Israel controls who can enter and exit into Gaza, and what food, medicine, and goods can come into Gaza – the very essence of occupation. And the commenters who criticize CT for not mentioning the Qassams should realize that even before Operation Summer Rains, Israeli shelling and missiles in Northern Gaza killed far more people than the Qassam attacks.

In 2002, the Arab League offered Israel full normalization of relations in exchange for withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, the creation of a sovereigh Palestinian state, and a “just resolution” of the refugee problem. That offer is on the table, and would be a more sustainable path to Israel’s security than pummeling its neighbors into submission.

155

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.14.06 at 11:26 pm

“and a “just resolution” of the refugee problem.”

Is that all?

156

Robin 07.15.06 at 1:41 am

sebastian, you prefer an unjust solution?

157

abb1 07.15.06 at 2:34 am

Chris, you’re acting like a spoiled child. There was absolutely no reason to delete my comment up there.

You could exchange private letters with your friends, but have chosen to make a public speech and you solicit comments. Obviously you’re bound to be annoyed once in a while, even though it wasn’t my intent to annoy anyone here. But I’m sure you can take it without resorting to hysteria.

Cheers.

158

Chris Bertram 07.15.06 at 2:57 am

abb1. I don’t solicit comments, I permit them, and I reserve the right to moderate threads as I see fit. I rarely delete anything. But two people were dominating the thread with a private exchange so I announced that they must have a time out. You chose to ignore that policy. So you got deleted. If you don’t like the rules around here, go and post your comments somewhere else.

159

abb1 07.15.06 at 3:12 am

I got your point, I stopped the private exchange, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the comment you deleted, except that it had my signature.

So, are trying to teach me a lesson or something?

Well, just like the incident you’re discussing in your post, it may produce an entirely different result. Not to mention damage to your reputation.

160

Chris Bertram 07.15.06 at 3:36 am

I got your point

Clearly not the part of it that read

You are barred from commenting further unless or until comment #155 has appeared.

And please don’t issue threats.

[I may as well add that I won’t be online again for a few days]

161

zdenek 07.15.06 at 3:52 am

peter h – your remarks regarding Israel being a terrorist state are over the top : no deliberate targetting of civilian population ( and taking pain to limit it of which the dropping of leaflets is proof ) is enough to refute that slur. To point to the destruction of some infrastructure is compatible with jus in bello rules so you cannot establish your claim about terrorism that way . Disproportionality though is another matter of course and here Israel is open to serious criticism.

162

abb1 07.15.06 at 4:23 am

Zdenek,
definition of terrorism chosen by wikipedia…

Terrorism refers to a strategy of using violence, or threat of violence to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, or personal demands.

…says nothing about “targetting of civilian population” or “dropping of leaflets”. Non sequitur.

163

zdenek 07.15.06 at 4:23 am

steven K in #147 — note that your remarks about freedom of press dont work as an answer to berryl’s point which was that Israeli press was freer and importantly freer in the sense that Israeli government does not tell the press what to write.( your general remarks about capitalist press are ‘interesting’ to put it politely but off the topic I am affraid ).

164

zdenek 07.15.06 at 4:28 am

clearly an inadequate definition of the term because it has the consequence that all military conflict turns out to meet that requirenment ( including self defence )

165

Bob B 07.15.06 at 4:57 am

#158 relates: “I don’t solicit comments, I permit them, and I reserve the right to moderate threads as I see fit.”

Stalin died in March 1953.

“But two people were dominating the thread with a private exchange so I announced that they must have a time out.”

The messages were intended for public, not private consumption, and were intended to show the long provenance of the current conflict in and around Palestine by posting citations from jews suggesting that atrocities committed by Israelis could be a contributing factor.

Predictably from long personal experience, this is invariably characterised as “antisemitism” by some. In Britain, we seem to be usually fortunate in having many antisemitic jews by this criterion.

166

Angela 07.15.06 at 5:31 am

I obviously don’t want to troll and this will be my final comment.

I’m disappointed that you felt the need to delete my comment. I felt, rightly or wrongly, that you were unfairly targeting abb1.

167

abb1 07.15.06 at 5:45 am

Anatoly,
For another random example, on August 10, 2003, “16-year-old Israeli killed and five other injured in Hezbollah shelling on the northern Israeli town of Shlomi.” Shlomi is also nowhere near the Shebaa farms. It’s not part of any contested territory.

Wikipedia:

Hezbollah after the Israeli withdrawal

On May 25, 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon to the UN-agreed Israeli border, and their pullout was certified by the UN as complete.[15]. However, Hezbollah claims the Shebaa Farms, a 35 km² area, which is still occupied by Israel, to be Lebanese territory, and on that basis has continued to engage Israeli forces in that area. The UN recognizes the Shebaa farms as part of the Golan Heights, and thus occupied Syrian (and not Lebanese) territory.

Israeli aircraft continue to fly over Lebanese territory, eliciting condemnation from the ranking UN representative in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s retaliatory anti-aircraft fire, doubling as small caliber artillery, has on some occasions landed within Israel’s northern border towns, inciting condemnation from the UN Secretary-General.

So, if that’s the case, I’ll ask again: why wouldn’t your government try to return the Shebaa farms, stop flying over Lebanese territory and see what happens? Wouldn’t it seem to you as the most obvious remedy? It sure does to me. And yet it hasn’t been tried.

How would you explain it? Either your country’s leaders are complete idiots, or they like it this way. So, then, what are you complaining about? You elect the leaders, so quit complaining.

168

Kevin Donoghue 07.15.06 at 6:49 am

Belated response to BruceR re 142, 144, 145 above:

As to whether futile resistance can be morally justified, I think a case can be made along rule utilitarian lines. If those who are attacked generally put up a fight then the strong will tend to be more circumspect. It may not be empty rhetoric to say of the defenders that they didn’t die in vain. The example to mankind is a real benefit which may offset the immediate loss. The futility involved in Israel’s attack on Lebanon’s infrastructure is of a different kind, without any offsetting benefit that I can see.

Regarding the complaint that “the level of demand for self-denial of one’s internationally accepted rights of self-defence seems to be reserved for one country only”, the counterexample I was referring to was British policy towards the IRA. For decades American politicians lectured the Brits about the need for political initiatives rather than repressive measures. Yet even at its most drastic, British action was much more precisely targeted than that of Israel. If they had bombed Dublin airport there would have been quite a bit of criticism, I think. Certainly I wouldn’t have been supportive – I live in Dublin. Of course the Northern Ireland problem is pretty minor compared with the problem Israel faces, but the notion that only Israel gets criticised for excessive use of force is just wrong.

Incidentally I notice that you criticise Chris Bertram for not broadening his discussion to cover Israel’s alternative courses of action. Maybe he just doesn’t have any bright ideas about that? Bloggers are not required to cover everything. He did link to Jonathan Edelstein, whose post and responses to comments are well worth a look.

169

Peter H 07.15.06 at 7:17 am

peter h – your remarks regarding Israel being a terrorist state are over the top : no deliberate targetting of civilian population ( and taking pain to limit it of which the dropping of leaflets is proof ) is enough to refute that slur

Zdenek,

For the record, I said that Israel was engaging in “state terrorism”, not that Israel was a “terrorist state” (which has a different meaning). And, yes, I stand by my comments:

The destruction of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure is not an incidental byproduct of attacks on military targets. Rather, as IDF spokesman Dan Halutz has made clear, it’s a political strategy to pressure the Lebanese government into disarming Lebanon. If we accept the definition of “terrorism” as “a strategy of using violence, or threat of eviolence to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, or personal demands”, then, yes, destroying the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon in order to pressure the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbollah qualifies as state terrorism.

170

zdenek 07.15.06 at 7:36 am

# 168– no we cannot accept wkipidia definition of the term ‘terrorism’ because it is so broad that practically any use of violence meets the definition : police action aimed at releasing hostages meets it and so does my defending myself against unjustified attact and so on. Which means that the definition is worthless because what we want when we use languege like that is a contrast between morally acceptable and morally problematic violence. Which means that to put it politely your description is not helpful ( as analysis ).

171

zdenek 07.15.06 at 8:03 am

Peter before I forget the question you should be asking is whether IDF action meets the jus in bello rules ( it is on this basis that inernational community is criticising Israel )to see whether they are acting ethically and not whether it is licensed by politicised definition of the term. More specifically is Israel complying with :

1)restriction on weaponry ( biological chemical )

2)is it respecting non combatant immunity ?

3)are they using proportional means ?

4) enemy soldiers treated properly ? ( Geneva C specs )

5)using weapons evil in themselves such as mass rape/ ethnic cleansing ?

6) is the violence actually reprisals ?
As far as I can see there are questions about 3 probably not much doubt here but some people might thing also 6 is violated. At any rate to prove ‘terrorist like behaviour’ requires clasically 2 to be broken surely ?

172

abb1 07.15.06 at 8:49 am

Zdenek,
A strategy of using violence etc is hardly something you would employ while defending yourself against unjustified attack.

And hopefully the police wouldn’t either, or at least they are not aiming to achieve political, religious, ideological, or personal goals. If they do, they are probably terrorists.

173

zdenek 07.15.06 at 8:56 am

abb1 — I most certainly can plan my self defence in some detail and hence it is appropriate to talk about my ‘strategy to survive’ and police do have a political motive /aim viz. to make you comply with the current law.

But if you dont like my examples there are many more ( the problem is the definition you are advocating and not the examples ) : Soviet Union fight against nazi Germany meets your definition and so does US attact on Japan after Pearl Harbor or US atack on Taliban in Afghanistan … all of these were terrorist acts dont you get it ?

174

soru 07.15.06 at 8:57 am

In what sense of the word do the police not routinely act to achieve political goals?

Stability, the rule of law, the punishment of offenders and the protection of innocents, how can anyone say that is non-political?

175

zdenek 07.15.06 at 9:09 am

abb1 — here is an improved definition :

1) use of random violence ( especially killing type ) against civilians.
2) with intent of spreading fear throughout population
3)with hope that the fear will advance a political motive.

This is not as counterintuitive as the politicised wikipidia definition and enables us to sanely say that while allied bombing of Dresden was terrorist action ( as was 9/11 ) the US atack on Taliban was not ; we want to be able to say things like this and we cannot do that with your definition.

176

zdenek 07.15.06 at 9:42 am

Question nobody asks is which side has justice on its side and hence who deserves support from ethical point of view ( this I have friends in Israel or I am an Isreali so I support Isreal or I have friends in Lebanon is not going to get us anywhere ) ?
This seems to be a question about which side has a just cause for fighting . Does Hezbollah have just cause does Israel ? Which side has minimal justice on its side ?
One way to answer this is to ask what each side is aiming for in long term : is it inclusive peace involving reciprocity and tolerance ? if not such a side does not deserve our considered support.

177

Steven Poole 07.15.06 at 10:21 am

those plots have been made for all casualties, and they show what one would expect – a much higher ratio of young or old Israeli victims, a much higher female to male ratio.

Have been made by whom? The B’tselem numbers, eg (and I am not necessarily endorsing them either) show no such thing.

But in any case your response should have been more along the lines of…

Terribly sorry not to have responded in the way you think I “should” have. Maybe you can give me a clue next time.

178

Robin 07.15.06 at 11:30 am

zdenek,

Your definition of terrorism, with “2) with intent of spreading fear throughout population”, may exclude many instances. There are cases of terrorism where the intent is not to spread fear but to elicit a strong response which will not really discriminate between combatants and non-combatants (hard to do in geurilla war), with the hope that the indiscriminate response will get supporters for the terrorist movement.

179

zdenek 07.15.06 at 11:45 am

robin- good point thanks

180

rilkefan 07.15.06 at 11:56 am

“Have been made by whom? The B’tselem numbers, eg (and I am not necessarily endorsing them either) show no such thing.”

Do you have a link? I’ll look for the plots I saw.

“Terribly sorry not to have responded in the way you think I “should” have. Maybe you can give me a clue next time.”

Um, that was precisely a clue. Just trying to help out – the comment of yours to which I responded didn’t seem to show much interest in the facts of the matter, and the argument I presented represents what I consider a better line from someone of what I take to be your position.

181

Peter H 07.15.06 at 12:32 pm

Zdenek,

I agree with you that the Wikipedia analysis of terrorism is inadequate. How do you feel about this analysis of terrorism by Gary Gambill:?

To be analytically useful, the definition of terrorism must be shorn of such normative connotations and predicated on a functional distinction that unambiguously delineates terrorist violence from conventional warfare. Toward this end, I propose defining terrorism as the attempt to alter the policies of a state or nonstate political actor through the use or threat of violence against its civilian constituency.

We can argue about this definition…but I agree that whether we describe IDF actions as “terrorist” or not doesn’t shed much light on its morality. The reality is that there are many non-terrorist acts of warfare that are immoral, while, conversely, it’s possible for a terrorist act of warfare to be justified by extenuating circumstances.

182

Steven Poole 07.15.06 at 2:52 pm

Just trying to help out – the comment of yours to which I responded didn’t seem to show much interest in the facts of the matter, and the argument I presented represents what I consider a better line from someone of what I take to be your position.

I’ll help you out with a tip in return: don’t bother speculating as to what my “position” is over and above what I have actually said about the matter in question.

183

lurker 07.15.06 at 3:11 pm

“So everything is relative, but by definition, to return to what I said earlier, if you are strong and you are fighting the weak, then anything you do is criminal.” Martin van Creveld, as quoted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_van_Creveld.

184

Bob B 07.15.06 at 3:15 pm

#180 relates: “I propose defining terrorism as the attempt to alter the policies of a state or nonstate political actor through the use or threat of violence against its civilian constituency.”

Fine. That would seem to unequivocally include the current series of Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon which have killed more than 80 Lebanese civilians according to media reports this evening:

“Israel has expanded its bombardment of Lebanon, attacking a large number of targets across the country. Warplanes fired rockets on the Lebanon-Syrian border and hit the centre of Beirut for the first time.

“More than 80 Lebanese have died, including 18 fleeing border areas, in the strikes launched after Hezbollah militants seized two Israeli soldiers.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5183870.stm

Presumably, the string of political leaders from many countries who have described the Israeli airstrikes as a disproportionate response are all antisemites.

185

abb1 07.15.06 at 4:02 pm

“So everything is relative, but by definition, to return to what I said earlier, if you are strong and you are fighting the weak, then anything you do is criminal.”

Hey, I like this. This is great. No beating around the bush – this is the simplest and most elegant response to all this perverted jus ad bellum/jus in bello nonsense. This is it, simple as that.

Thanks.

186

Bob B 07.15.06 at 4:41 pm

It’s starting to look like the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in May and June 1940 all over again:

Britain’s “Defence Secretary Des Browne has given orders for HMS Illustrious and HMS Bulwark to ‘make ready’ for operations off Lebanon.

“The pair will depart as soon as necessary, possibly within 24 hours.

“No order for evacuating UK citizens has yet been given, but ministers and defence staff are considering a plan to evacuate those trapped in Lebanon.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5184018.stm

187

Henry 07.15.06 at 5:01 pm

bob b – yeah, because Stalin got the reputation he did for temporarily banning arseholes from comments threads on his blog.

abb1 – a warning. You’re treading on some pretty thin ice. For a long while the majority of your comments on this blog have been as close to trolling as makes no difference. That you’re purportedly on the left makes this worse, not better. If you don’t reform your ways, you’re cruising for a longer term ban. I’d strongly suggest that you limit your comments to those where you have a substantial claim to make that has some resemblance to empirical facts. Indeed, I’d strongly suggest that you consider limiting your comments, full stop. Commenting here isn’t a right – it’s a privilege, and can be withdrawn.

188

gray 07.16.06 at 12:45 am

I have enjoyed this thread immensely

Events have practically and ethically bankrupted Mr. Bertram’s “Israel should turn the other cheek” idea, of a few days ago. Still his concern remains reining in Isreal. It is, as other posters have insinuated, very telling.

Look at this post to have a clue what is going on
http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001132.html

As for Abb’s idea about unilaterally giving up the Shebaa farms well unilaterally leaving Southern Lebanon and Gaza hasn’t made Isreal more secure but maybe third time is the trick?

189

Bob B 07.16.06 at 1:42 am

Henry – Do you really suppose that abuse, bluster and threats amount to rational discussion focused on the timely and crucial issues raised here? Personally, I’m entirely unconvinced if that is the very best you can muster for your cause.

I’ve had years of experience of debating Israel-related issues online and invariably critics of Israel get accused of antisemitism and are abused. The curious factor is that I often cite prominent British jews as my initial sources and, of course, the history texts like Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall (Penguin Books). Here is another apposite comment from four years back:

“Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, today delivers an unprecedentedly strong warning to Israel, arguing that the country is adopting a stance ‘incompatible’ with the deepest ideals of Judaism, and that the current conflict with the Palestinians is ‘corrupting’ Israeli culture.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,781113,00.html

When obliged to choose, I’m rather inclined to agree with Jonathan Sacks on this but I’d be much instructed to learn why you so profoundly disagree with him.

190

BruceR 07.16.06 at 1:55 am

Belated response to Kevin, #167, above:

Good point about Ulster, but to be fair there were differences in the Brits’ favour between the Provos and Hezbollah. Such as the fact that the PIRA, due to their sources of funding and support, also had an interest in observing some measure of proportionality.

By the way, I love the irony of a post that starts by wondering why Crooked Timber is seen as anti-Israeli, that results in a thread where not one, but two moderators end up threatening to permaban a guy whose initial offense was twice politely asking an anti-Semite to tone it down a little (98 and 101, above).

191

Bob B 07.16.06 at 2:30 am

Brucer – Since my position on Israeli atocities has been mostly informed and motivated by Gerald Kaufman and Professor Avi Shlaim, logic impells me to draw the conclusion that you must regard them as antisemites.

Very curious that.

192

Kevin Donoghue 07.16.06 at 3:12 am

BruceR,

I don’t want to push the IRA-Hezbollah comparisons too far. My point was merely that it’s just wrong to say that only Israel gets criticised for excessive use of force. The Brits got criticised despite using much more discriminating methods.

But you have aroused my curiosity with your response. Off-hand, I can’t see that the Provos showed any greater concern for proportionality than Hezbollah. I really don’t know what you are getting at there. Bombing, kidnapping, extortion, mutiliation were all standard operating procedure. To my mind the most significant differences between the two cases are:

(1) the Irish government was always in a strong position to curb the IRA, while the Lebanese government is weak.

(2) the Irish community in England had more political clout than Arabs in Israel.
These factors encouraged Britain to exercise restraint in the use of force, to keep support for the IRA among the Irish to a minimum.

Now these differences are important and they are a big part of the reason why Israel has a much thornier problem. But the first one totally undermines the case for bombing Lebanon. The government can’t restrain Hezbollah and bombing won’t change that.

As to what abb1’s “initial offence” was, it wasn’t committed in this thread or even in the last twelve months. His response to an earlier accusation of trolling was that trolling is fun. So it is, at times, but Israel is a topic that raises hackles so he really should try a little harder to stay on-topic.

193

zdenek 07.16.06 at 3:18 am

peter h – yes Gambel is – if not spot on- close. What puzzles me though is his thinking that he has offered non normative definition. This is clearly not the case because on his analysis to call action ‘terrorist’ is pejorative , it is to condemn it because targetting civilians is incompatible with norms that underwrite international law. ( norms in question are basically the ‘just war’ principles ).
I also probably part company with you ( this time for empirical reasons ) over the question whether Israel is delibarately targetting civilians – I dont believe it is ( at any rate not in this conflict ) . What that means is that even on Gambel definition I dont think Israel is acting like a terrorist organization.

————————————————
bob b 185 — two comments first note that there is no particular concern by the British, French or any other government that IDF may kill foreign nationals because there is recognition that Israel is not deliberatelly targetting civilians ( native or foreign ). The ships that are being redied for evacuation are there for purposes of evac. should Israel invade ; here the worry is that civilians may be cought in cross fire ( or may be used as human shields by Hezbollah ).
Second in the light of this your point about Dunkirk ( again here we have your conviction that Israel is or resambles Nazi Germany on display )is to put it mildly silly.
BTW I dont know whether you are an anti semite but even if you were that is not what you are being criticised for ; the problem with your view ( at least on this thread ) is that you either offer no argument to back up your claims about Israel or the ones you do offer dont work.

194

abb1 07.16.06 at 3:31 am

Henry, what are you talking about? Give me an example of what it is you don’t like, please. I really have no idea.

195

zdenek 07.16.06 at 3:53 am

bob b (183)- general comment about your take on anti semitism. There are two kinds of criticism of Israel : reasonable and non reasonable ( irrational ). Reasonable criticism is guided by facts and logic plus common sense morality and importantly is revisable in light of new evidence ; this sort of criticism of Israel cannot be rebutted by claiming that the critic is an anti semite. ( would involve crude ad hominem fallacy if you tried to block the criticism this way ).
Not so with the irrational criticism which is based on some sort of ethnic hatred or ideological hatred of jews and as a trademark does not aim at greater understanding of anything ( similarity with racism ). This type of criticism can be rebutted by saying that one is an anti semite.

The point is nobody is saying that you must stop making – if you think you have a reason to- criticism of Israel but only that if you start making claims that you cannot justify by sound argument you open yourself to the charge of being an antisemite but only then.

196

abb1 07.16.06 at 4:37 am

he really should try a little harder to stay on-topic

Kevin, the farthest I got off topic in this thread was to advise Bob B to avoid Nazi analogies. How is this ‘trolling’? This is, in fact, exactly the opposite of trolling. Maybe I’m missing something, tell me what is, please.

197

Bob B 07.16.06 at 5:03 am

zdenek #194 relates:

“the problem with your view ( at least on this thread ) is that you either offer no argument to back up your claims about Israel or the ones you do offer dont work.”

C’mon. On Israeli atrocities, I’ve quoted and cited from a speech by Gerald Kaufman, a British MP (legislator) and previous minister in Labour governments:
http://www.deiryassin.org/gkaufman.html

. . as well as from Avi Shalim’s book: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books) on the atrocity at Qibya in 1953 where Sharon was directly implicated.

There are numerous web sources relating to the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982 and on Sharon’s complicity.

These comments were made by a US based group, Physicians for Human Rights, in November 2000, on the use of force by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian children:
http://www.phrusa.org/research/forensics/israel/update_commentary.html

As for the Khiam Prison in south Lebanon, this report on the BBC website was the winner of the Amnesty International Award in 2001:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/1002463.stm

Taken together, the cited evidence on Israeli responsibility for atrocities against Palestinians is compelling and IMO stands comparison with what happened to the people of Lidice in 1943 following the assassination of Heydrich – in which btw Britain was implicated to the extent that those directly responsible for organising the attack on Heydrich were trained in Britain and then parachuted into Czecho-Slovakia.

Least you might think I’m taking a holier-than-thou position, I have posted critical commentary here and elsewhere on the morality and military cost-effectiveness of Britain’s heavy bombing campaign of Germany during WW2. Such concerns are not recent on my part and were not in the highest levels of the Britain’s wartime government. It happens that I once discussed this c. 1960 with one of my economics teachers who was one among three economists who worked in the (famous) British ministry of aircraft production during WW2 when the minister appointed by Churchill was Lord Beaverbrook. That discussion left a clear impression with me of internal wartime debates on the cost-effectiveness of using heavy bombers compared with the faster and more accurate twin engined Mosquitoes – a debate which has continued in books and on the web ever since. The facts are that total civilian casualties in Britain from German bombing during WW2 were just over 60,000 but almost as many German civilians were killed in just a few weeks of thousand bomber raids on Hamburg alone during the summer of 1943.

Btw I’ve just checked the above links. If the links here are broken, they have probably been sabotaged – as oftens happens in this context. Some don’t want the truth to be known.

198

zdenek 07.16.06 at 5:05 am

abb1 — maybe your comment in 184 ( I personally thought it was tongue in cheek ) in which you sound like a complete nihilist without offering any reason for your view : ” all this perverted jib/jab nonsense “. [Remember that these rules are what underpins international law when it comes to morality of war , so your comments are pretty extreme. Not that there is anything wrong with extreme views but without pretty good supporting argument thre might be a problem (? )].

199

Kevin Donoghue 07.16.06 at 5:08 am

Kevin, the farthest I got off topic in this thread was to advise Bob B to avoid Nazi analogies.

Scroll up. Long before you got to that, you were engaging in “unrestricted historical discussion” as Chris Bertram calls it. Why don’t you take his advice and start your own blog? Bring in every aspect of the matter back to the Balfour Declaration, or the fall of Massada if you feel so inclined.

The thread is about Israel’s response to the Hezbollah and Hamas seizures of its soldiers, proportionality etc. It isn’t about Shebaa Farms, the Golan Heights, rights of return, the status of Israeli Arabs and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

Personally I think your comments are often entertaining, even – or especially – when you are talking nonsense. So, in the hope that you won’t get banned, I humbly entreat you to fuck off out of this thread. But if you must comment again, please let it be just a link to your new blog.

Good luck.

200

zdenek 07.16.06 at 6:00 am

bob b — all of this is off the topic so very briefly : your Lidice comparison is wrong headed because in Nazi case this type of behaviour was :
1) the norm wheras in Israeli case it is an aberation ( about which its citizens can write books and demand that the perpatrators are punished ; where do we find anything like that in the Nazi case ?)

2) Nazis operated outside the law and were not subject to it and could change it anytime they wished ; again where is the similarity in Israeli case ?

3) the Nazi ideology itself which is behind the Lidice behaviour and the mass murder in concentration camps has no parallel in Israeli case.

For this reason your comparison strikes me as a tendentious slur.

201

Roy Belmont 07.16.06 at 6:01 am

“The thread is about Israel’s response to the Hezbollah and Hamas seizures of its soldiers, proportionality etc. It isn’t about Shebaa Farms, the Golan Heights, rights of return, the status of Israeli Arabs and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.”
Kevin Donoghue
“The legitimate basis for the IDF’s operation was stripped away the moment it began. It’s no accident that nobody mentions the day before the attack on the Kerem Shalom fort, when the IDF kidnapped two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from their home in Gaza. The difference between us and them? We kidnapped civilians and they captured a soldier, we are a state and they are a terror organization. How ridiculously pathetic Amos Gilad sounds when he says that the capture of Shalit was “illegitimate and illegal,” unlike when the IDF grabs civilians from their homes.”
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz
Levy is an Israeli. Ha’aretz is an Israeli newspaper.
Noam Chomsky also points to this incident in an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!
198 comments in this thread and not one mention.
But plenty of discussion of abb1’s character.
Way to go.

202

abb1 07.16.06 at 6:15 am

203

Bob B 07.16.06 at 9:41 am

zdenek – We had best agree to differ.

I don’t regard this discussion as irrelevant and regard it instead as fundamental to the root causes of the continuing conflicts in Palestine.

The Israel lobby – and its allies – do like to cherry pick the facts and issues to deploy when trying to legitimise the violence the Israeli state inflicts on Palestinians and neighbouring states.

The victims – for understandable reasons – relate to a history of dispossession and atrocities inflicted by Israelis and the state of Israel. This is not just my perception – try reading Avi Shlaim’s book: The Iron Wall, and doing a google search on “Israel pariah state” to retrieve commentaries by Gerald Kaufman.

I agree that the state of Israel does not have an explicit policy of genocide of specific minorities after the fashion of the Nazis but the Israeli state was created to provide a home for ethnic jews to the disregard of other ethnicities. Non-jews have as much difficulty in becoming jews as non-Aryans have in becoming Aryans. Ethnic discrimination is built in. For comparison, in London where I live, a quarter of the residents were not even born in Britain – and London’s population is larger than the total population of Israel. The Nazis were, and Israel is concerned with lebensraum – hence all those ethnically segregated colonies on the West Bank.

The history of Israeli terrorism and atrocities inflicted on Palestinians is well documented. I have already posted several times here citations to sources by ethnic jews and to independent agencies which are anything but racist – such as PHR. From long experience, the standard response to such citations is to dismiss their relevance and to paint me as antisemitic. It never seem to occur to those who do that they are failing to understand why the Palestine conflict goes on.

Britain didn’t bomb the Republic of Ireland through the 35 years or so of troubles with the IRA and it would be (rightly) regarded as crassly stupid to bomb Pakistan because two of the suicide bombers of 7/7 last year received training there.

What is really sad is to witness how quickly the veil of rationality, pluralism and academic norms are ripped away in debates over the Palestine conflict. The Israel lobby depends crucially on the normal political amnesia of the wider public beyond the Middle East. Numerous polls have shown how most folks can’t name most current ministers in their own governments let alone pick up on the history of Palestine going back before WW2. For predictable reasons, the Israel lobby doesn’t wish that wider public to be reminded of Israeli atrocities and documentation so discussion is quickly manipulated away from intruding on all those inconvenient areas. The trouble is that it is impossible to fool all the people all the time.

204

jet 07.16.06 at 12:43 pm

Dr. Slack #126

The Palestinians will stop being lectured about Martin Luther King and Ghandi when they actually give those methods a try. I would think that it is not okay to resort to illegal and immoral warfare until all non-violent means of resistance have been tried. Ghandi wouldn’t have succeeded if he had been supporting blowing up British civilians. Martin Luther King wouldn’t have succeeded if he had supported an armed uprising. And the Palestinians won’t succeed until they stop supporting terrorists. Because now that they have elected Hamas, it makes it all the easier for those sitting on the side-lines to not feel so bad for idiots who vote terrorists to run their country.

205

Robin 07.16.06 at 1:00 pm

Jet,

Somehow it seems that the same reasoning doesn’t apply to Yitzak Shamir, given his unapologetic Lehi past.

206

jet 07.16.06 at 9:56 pm

Robin,

I’m not sure what your point is. We were talking about the morality of the underdog using terrorist tactics.

If given Israel does indeed have the right to exist, why should Israel give back any land it conquered in wars it did not start?

207

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.17.06 at 1:00 am

“Non-jews have as much difficulty in becoming jews as non-Aryans have in becoming Aryans.”

Strictly speaking it is difficult and time consuming for a non-Jew to become a Jew while it is impossible for a non-Aryan to become an Aryan.

208

Bob B 07.17.06 at 6:03 am

“Strictly speaking it is difficult and time consuming for a non-Jew to become a Jew while it is impossible for a non-Aryan to become an Aryan.”

Thanks for that welcome insight. I must confess that I have never inquired too closely about personal prospects for either transition.

Until the terrible scale and detail of the concentration camps in Europe hit the public in Britain in 1945 – British troops were the first to come upon the Belsen camp in the allied advance through Germany – a fairly standard popular perception of Nazis was to regard them as unpleasant and misguided jokes led by a meglomaniac who had been a corporal in WW1, a perception which seems to converge with that of Prussian aristocracy serving in the German high command but then the Prussians were our allies at Waterloo in 1815. [1]

This British perception of Nazis comes out clearly in our satirical music hall songs of the 1930s and from popular cartoons. Ribbentrop served as German ambassador to Britain (1936-8) and left hating the place and we British, perhaps because he wasn’t taken as seriously as he would have wished (except possibly by our uncrowned king Edward VIII) but he had taken to delivering Heil Hitler salutes as a social greeting and on departures, which was considered a definite sign of something akin to bad breeding.

It probably has to be admitted that this popular perception of Nazis is not entirely creditable as it partly reflected self-regarding national sentiments of innate superiority – hence our nationalistic songs like: Land of hope and glory; and, There will always be an England . . But that has to be tempered by the satirical regard for The True-born Englishman as a member of a mongrel race in Daniel Defoe’s hugely popular poem of 1701:
http://www.blackmask.com/books63c/trueborneng.htm

Disraeli, one of our more illustrious prime ministers, was the grandson of immigrants to Britain and the “socialist” Orwell fully endorsed a notion of Englishness:
http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/England/england.html

In short, aspiring to become fully-fledged Aryans never held much attraction for we British. Some nations do go for politicians with prior military careers but since our previous unfortunate experiences with Cromwell and Wellington, we have tended to avoid a replay. As Wellington is reported to have said after his first cabinet meeting as PM: “An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.” But then Wellington had a very developed sense of irony.

[1] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/canaris.html

209

Alexander 07.17.06 at 6:49 am

It’s unlikely to become a world war. It is very possible it will become a regional war beyond Israel/Palestine/Lebanon.

210

gad 07.17.06 at 9:55 am

Jet, Robin’s point was very simple: if the palestinians are ‘idiots’ for electing hardline terrorists to head their government, then so are Israelis for having elected hardliners like Begin and Shamir, both unrepenting ex-terrorists with civilian (Arab and British) blood on their hands.

211

jet 07.17.06 at 12:18 pm

gad,

There is still a difference. The terrorist organizations that Begin and Shamir were part of were outlawed the same year that Israel became a country. Hamas isn’t “a terrorist” like Begin or Shamir. It is a political party based upon terrorist actions, with every member a terrorist or direct terrorist supporter. Equating the two is ridiculous.

Wishing for symmetry doesn’t make something symmetrical.

David Duke is a racist. But him getting elected to office is quite a bit different than the KKK’s political party becoming the controlling party in Congress. That metaphor work for you?

212

Robin 07.17.06 at 2:19 pm

The terrorist organizations that Begin and Shamir were part of were outlawed the same year that Israel became a country.

Palestine has yet to become a country, a nation-state.

Besides, what’s your point? That Lehi’s actions and positions were acceptable prior to 1948? only to be repugnant afterwards?

Moreover, the Jabotinskite movements including the terrorist came together to form the right wing parties which merged into the Likud.

There are plenty of reasons to be terrified of and detest Hamas, but the criteria you suggest would imply either a similar position toward parties emerging from the right wing of Zionism or aribitrary application.

213

Peter H 07.17.06 at 2:26 pm

Jet,

Spare us the anti-Palestinian moralizing. The same people who ask “Where is the Palestinian Martin Luther King?” (never mind that the civil rights movement could not have integrated America without the threatened use of force by the United States Government) are the same people who demonize Rachel Corrie and the International Solidarity Movement. Divestment from companies like Caterpillar that support the Israeli occupation is a form of non-violent protest. Do you support that? Do you support Israel’s compliance with the International Court of Justice on the Separation Barrier?

Targeting civilians is an unmitigated evil, whether it’s done by Hamas or the Israeli Defense Forces in Lebanon. Ariel Sharon killed far more Lebanese, Jordanian and Palestinian civilians than Hamas ever did. So stop pretending that Palestinians have some unique monopoly on electing people who employ ruthless violence.

214

Doctor Slack 07.17.06 at 2:31 pm

137 and 138: As someone beat me to noting, the strength of armies is not meeasured in terms of raw numbers (if it was, Mao’s China would have stood astride the world like a colossus!), but also in terms of things like firepower, efficient command structure and so on. Having said that, it occurs to me that Israel’s third-place ranking is somewhat apocryphal, the sort of thing one often hears from the mouths of Israeli generals. It’s probably not possible to fix it easily or absolutely, but this is beside the basic point, which is that Israel has a clear and widely-acknowledged advantage over every neighbouring power in terms of conventional and non-conventional arms.

140: Agree with 142. And I’m sorry, but I’m finding it really hard to believe that either you or Beryl actually think that Israel is the only country ever to have been criticized from a strictly pacifist position or philosophy. (Something which I don’t see much of in this thread and certainly not from Chris.)

141: Arab armies have traditionally been a bit crap, but I think expecting that to always be the case smacks of cultural determinism, maybe even racism.

Nifty trick, this: anyone who doesn’t paint the Arabs as a Dread Menace just might be a racist! Nicely heads off speculation about the potential racism in, say, a persistent determination to exaggerate the Arab Threat.

However, we needn’t play games like that, right? A more serious analysis would look at the structure of Arab states (in most cases still a ramshackle post-imperial/ post-colonial legacy not known for fielding high-quality conventional troops) and assess their likely military effectiveness on that basis. “Cultural determinism” and “racism” need not apply.

204: The Palestinians will stop being lectured about Martin Luther King and Ghandi when they actually give those methods a try.

Mmm-hmm. Think I’ll let Jonathan Cook speak to that one.

215

Peter H 07.17.06 at 2:40 pm

If given Israel does indeed have the right to exist, why should Israel give back any land it conquered in wars it did not start?

The rule in international law is that you cannot gain territory in war. Period. The prohibition of the acquisition of territory by war applies equally to “defensive” wars as well as offensive wars. Nobody ever claims to be the aggressor in war.

216

jet 07.17.06 at 3:13 pm

Peter H,
You think so? Even counting all the Jordians killed in the Palestinian uprising (counting all those captured off-duty Jordanian soldiers who were tortured to death by slowly having nails driven into their heads)? Or maybe counting the Lebanese housing developments which were targetted by Palestinian 152mm artillery in reprisal ?genocidal? attacks for not siding with them in the 12 sided war? Or maybe counting the random executions and arbitrary justice metted out by the several militias who run Palestine? Don’t piss off your well connected neighbor, and especially don’t wave hello at a Jew.

The Palestinians killed more Lebanese civilians in 1 artillery barrage than Ariel Sharon’s whole career. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a criminal who needs to find a court. But everything by degrees or we have no way of measuring/judging.

217

rupes 07.17.06 at 3:29 pm

#216 Jet – Could you explain please?
I am not sure which comment Peter H’s you are replying to (a good example of how a new technology -blogs- is inferior to the predecessor -usenet. But that is a separate discussion…)
And I am not quite sure what your point actually is? Can you expand for those of us slow on the uptake?
Aside from the lurid details, can you give references?
The Palestinians killed more Lebanese civilians in 1 artillery barrage than Ariel Sharon’s whole career. Given what I have heard of Sharon’s career, that sounds like a very impressive barrage ;) Do you have a reference?

218

abb1 07.17.06 at 3:57 pm

The prohibition of the acquisition of territory by war applies equally to “defensive” wars as well as offensive wars.

Not to mention that the six-day war was started by Israel.

219

Peter H 07.17.06 at 4:40 pm

Jet,

You’re the one who brought up the Palestinian vote for Hamas as evidence that Palestinians are idiots who deserve no rights. Now you’re bringing up Fatah atrocities. But I brought up the example of Ariel Sharon only to point out that Palestinians do not have a monopoly on electing leaders who employ ruthless violence.

And, for the record, can you back up your claim that “the Palestinians killed more Lebanese civilians in 1 artillery barrage than Ariel Sharon’s whole career.” According to the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar, more than 18,000 Palestinians and Lebanese were killed in the first 4 months of Operation Peace for Galilee alone. And that was before Sabra and Shatila.

220

jet 07.17.06 at 4:50 pm

On a lighter note, doesn’t anyone think that since there are only 2.5 million Palestinians, couldn’t they be bought off a hell of a lot cheaper than they can be bombed? This whole ordeal is costing the world billions of dollars, makes markets shaky, and costs needless death and misery. Maybe we have Israel go back to the 67 border, have Palestine get all of Israel’s foreign aid and perhaps a light water reactor powering a desalination plant, and the world can be a bit better off. Or would Hamas and Hezbollah not accept that?

221

rupes 07.17.06 at 4:59 pm

#220 Jet, I think that is one of the most constructive points I have seen on the subject.
This morning I got a newsletter from an investment bank (HAMBRECHT) discussing what this means for Israel’s market and technology companies (fwiw: “not much so far, but gets ugly if reserves get called up or Tel Aviv is affected”).

If you think of the cost of munitions, the impact on oil price, the cost of infrastructure that needs to be repaired – just from dollars-and-cents there must be a better way.
(Human cost is huge but harder to quantify)

222

Andrew Milner 07.17.06 at 5:50 pm

Israel’s recent actions in Lebanon have separated anti-Semitism from anti-Zionism. Example: Saying the Jews cause all the trouble in the world” is still unacceptable and indeed inaccurate, while saying “America is Israel’s bitch” (in the same way as Britain is America’s bitch), while obviously offensive, has a ring of truth to it. Anti-Zionism, I suspect, is a cause a lot of people could embrace. Acting against the interests of the country in which you reside (Jewish lobby) ends in tears. Witness Germany between the Wars. Eventually Americans will wise up, but I’m not holding my breath.

223

gray 07.17.06 at 6:19 pm

Abb

Your assertion in #217 is incorrect. While it would be true to say that Isreal started shooting first, the first act of war was undertaken by Egypt. So really Egypt started the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casus_belli#Historic_uses

224

Doctor Slack 07.18.06 at 12:46 am

222: Acting against the interests of the country in which you reside (Jewish lobby) ends in tears. Witness Germany between the Wars.

Ummm, by “Jewish lobby” I’m assuming you mean the Israel lobby? And what about Germany between the Wars?

225

abb1 07.18.06 at 4:28 am

Gray, your link doesn’t support your absurd statement.

All it says is that the Israeli government declared that it had a casus belli. This is totally irrelevant. It also says that Germany declared a casus belli for invading Czechoslovakia – does it mean that Czechoslovakia started that war?

226

Kevin Donoghue 07.18.06 at 5:05 am

Andrew Milner,

What on earth are you trying to say? Unless you are trying to say something quite repulsive, it would have been better not to say it like this: “Acting against the interests of the country in which you reside (Jewish lobby) ends in tears. Witness Germany between the Wars.”

Yes, a lot of Germans acted in ways that harmed their country during 1918-1939. I don’t see what that has to do with the original topic of this thread (proportionality), or even the topic with which the trolls have replaced it (who is to blame).

227

Kevin Donoghue 07.18.06 at 5:12 am

Apologies for duplicating Doctor Slack’s question, which I didn’t see. Maybe it was stuck in the pipeline (which BTW plays hell with the numbering of comments).

228

Monty 07.18.06 at 2:46 pm

I found this page today and having read through it I cannot believe some of the comments I have seen, such as those of Peter H and Steven K.

Israel had complied with the UN to withdraw from Gaza and was within her own recognised and accepted borders. Israel had complied with the UN in staying south of the blue line recognising the border with Lebanon.

Since the Gaza withdrawal last August over 1000 Kassam rockets have been fired from there into Israel. Katyushas have also been fired from Lebanon into northern Israel. The final straw, after an incredible degree of restraint by Israel, was the murder of 8 soldiers and kidnapping of 2 more from internationally recognised Israeli territory.

What was the purpose of this? Israel had done what was asked but still it was not enough. The only thing that will ever be enough for Hamas and Hezbollah and their sponsors in Tehran is the complete annhilation of the Israeli people and destruction of the country.

The Israelis have tried to prevent their kidnapped men from being moved out of Lebanon by cutting transportation links. They have also tried to degrade the ability of Hezbollah to operate by denying them electricity and oil supplies and the ability to move freely.

It is terrible that Lebanese civilians have been caught up in this action. But their Government has failed to control Hezbollah and the ongoing attacks on Israel from their soil.

If Israel was targeting civilians then thousands would have died this week. The response has been incredibly proportionate and even officials in Egypt and Saudi Arabia grudgingly accept this. It seems only you cannot because of your hatred of Israel.

Hezbollah is targeting civilians with the continuing rocket attacks. None of this would have happened if they had not launched a premeditated attack on Israel simply for existing.

Your arguments are wrong, nonsensical, devoid of logic and completely crass. Apportion the blame and indignation where it belongs, with Hamas and Hezbollah and that dangerous meglomaniac in Tehran.

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