A Gaza Breviary

by Corey Robin on July 27, 2014

1. One benefit of the carnage in Gaza is that it has given people who’ve never said a word about the carnage in Syria an impetus to say a word about the carnage in Syria.

2. On Friday night, there was a fundraiser for “Friends of the IDF” at a synagogue on the Upper West Side. On Shabbat. Which means cessation, stopping.

3. “It’s all but inevitable…that civilians will die.” A law professor defends Israel’s actions in Gaza.

4. Next time someone tells you that an academic boycott is a bad idea because Israeli universities are bastions of dissent against the Israeli state:

Tel Aviv University is giving students who serve in the attack on Gaza one year of free tuition.


“Tel Aviv University embraces and supports all the security forces who are working to restore quiet and security to Israel, including its students and employees called up to reserve duty,” the institution says in 24 July statement on its official website.



Meanwhile, a notice circulated at Hebrew University announces a collection for goods including hygiene products, snacks and cigarettes “for the soldiers at the front according to the demand reported by the IDF [Israeli army] units.”


The notice, signed by the university along with its academic staff committee and the official student union, says “we have opened collection centers on all four campuses.”


5. The world’s greatest expert on overdoing it says that Israel is overdoing it.

6. If only the Palestinians had revolted in April. Then everyone would be supporting this Arab Spring, amirite?

7. Fifty Israeli reservists write against the Israeli way of war:

To us, the current military operation and the way militarization affects Israeli society are inseparable. In Israel, war is not merely politics by other means — it replaces politics. Israel is no longer able to think about a solution to a political conflict except in terms of physical might; no wonder it is prone to never-ending cycles of mortal violence. And when the cannons fire, no criticism may be heard.


8. An oldie but a goodie. Harvard scholar Ruth Wisse writes, “Palestinian Arabs, people who breed and bleed and advertise their misery.” Not for nothing is she the “Martin Peretz professor of Yiddish and professor of comparative literature.”

9. All those liberal journos and commentators who are silent on Gaza: you can almost hear them praying for the GOP to launch a new war against Social Security so that we can all get back to business.

10. A group of Jews occupy the office of Friends of the IDF in NYC. Read a list of the Gaza dead killed by the Israelis. A counter-terror unit of the NYPD  shows up and arrests nine of these righteous men and women. There is balm in Gilead.

11. Say what you will about Mia Farrow, she’s been tweeting and retweeting messages like this: “Tell the U.S. to stop arming Israel.” And kudos to the seven other Hollywood celebrities who’ve spoken out on Gaza. Without retracting their statements, as Rihanna did.

12. James Baldwin in 1979, in response to Jimmy Carter’s firing of Andrew Young after Young met with the PLO at the UN:

But the state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews; it was created for the salvation of Western interests. This is what is becoming clear (I must say it was always clear to me). The Palestinians have been paying for the British colonial policy of ‘divide and rule’ and for Europe’s guilty Christian conscience for more than thirty years.


13. The literal othering of Palestine: Washington Post subhead reads, “13 Israeli soldiers, 70 others killed.”

14. If Netanyahu really believes that Hamas’s strategy is to amass “telegenically-dead Palestinians” and display them, why is he being so obliging in his cooperation?

15. The United Nations estimates that roughly 80 percent of the casualties are civilians, many of them children.” Let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that the Israelis aren’t targeting civilians. If you’re getting numbers like these, does it really matter?

16. Nicholas Kristof writes, “Hamas sometimes seems to have more support on certain college campuses in America or Europe than within Gaza.” In support of his claim about support for Hamas on American college campuses, Kristof links to a Washington Post article about the American Studies Association vote for BDS. In which the word Hamas appears…never. Not even in the comments. In support of his claim about European support for Hamas, Kristof links to a New York Times article about Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott of Israel. In which the word Hamas appears…never.

17. When it comes to opposing Israel, everyone always has a better tactic. So many better tactics: it’s a wonder we haven’t won yet.

18. The Senate passes a unanimous resolution—100-0—in support of Israel. (Libertarian hero of the anti-imperialist right/left Rand Paul complains that the resolution isn’t strong enough.) Next time an opponent of BDS tells you that we should be focusing instead on cutting off US aid to Israel, ask them how they plan to scale that 100% wall.

19. I get an email from some religious Zionist group called American Friends of the IDF Rabbinate asking for a donation to support “the necessary funding for the religious needs of the combat soldiers.” After all the murder and mayhem those soldiers have committed in Gaza, I can see why their “religious needs” are great.

20. It’s July 18. First tweet I read this morning is from The New Republic: “’Israel is acting strategically, not emotionally, in Gaza,’ writes Leon Wieseltier.” Second tweet I read this morning is from Alex Kane: “Israeli military analyst: Israeli tanks ‘received an order to open fire at anything that moved.’”

21. A reporter at Vox tweets this: “Israel-Palestine conflict has killed 14 times more Palestinians than Israelis since 2000.” David Frum responds thus: “Never enough dead Jews for some.”

22. Thirty-three Israeli academics condemn the bombing of Gaza. Thirty-three. That’s why we’re not supposed to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Because of these righteous 33. The logic is almost biblical.

23. It is not just the normal anxiety of airstrikes in a crowded city.” Imagine that phrase—the normal anxiety of airstrikes in a crowded city—applied to any urban center in the United States.

24. Gideon Levy on “our wretched Jewish state“:

The youths of the Jewish state are attacking Palestinians in the streets of Jerusalem, just like gentile youths used to attack Jews in the streets of Europe….The Jewish state, which Israel insists the Palestinians recognize, must first recognize itself.


25. Israeli artist Amir Schiby commemorates the Israeli killing of four Palestinian children playing on a beach in Gaza.

Four Boys on a Gaza Beach

 

 

{ 77 comments }

1

ogged 07.27.14 at 4:52 am

Great post. Thanks for taking the time.

2

Sancho 07.27.14 at 8:29 am

We have to love Israel so that God will hate it and send Jesus back.

3

Tony Lynch 07.27.14 at 11:24 am

Human Rights? Watch!

4

novakant 07.27.14 at 11:35 am

#22

Hmmm, interesting logic there.

Maybe they don’t want to sign petitions initiated by people who threaten to boycott them.

5

Patrick S. O'Donnell 07.27.14 at 11:58 am

As has been explained here before, The PACBI Call “…explicitly and unequivocally calls for institutional boycott, period.” It ‘[e]xclude[s] from the above actions against Israeli institutions any conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state’s colonial and racist policies’….”

6

Dear John Profumo 07.27.14 at 1:00 pm

“1. One benefit of the carnage in Gaza is that it has given people who’ve never said a word about the carnage in Syria an impetus to say a word about the carnage in Syria.”

How do you know? Are you keeping some kind of regularly updated spreadsheet?

7

Barry Freed 07.27.14 at 1:26 pm

Thanks for this.

8

Ronan(rf) 07.27.14 at 1:45 pm

I’m reading this book by Duncan Watts ‘Everything is obvious, once you know the answer’ where he shows(for example) why the Mona Lisa became the most famous painting of all time*, even though there’s nothing intrinsic to it that would suggest it ‘deserves’ the title. The same analysis could probably be applied to Israel/Palestine. There are more violent/destructive conflicts,but a series of historicial contingencies, demographic and geopolitical realities, global social networks etc have turned it into the most dominant cause.
Anyway, ‘what about Syria’ isn’t an argument, it’s a refusal to think through this specific case. Equally one could just reply, well why aren’t significant portions of US policymakers/analysts calling for sanctions against Israel and the arming of Hamas. Personally, I think there’s a case that sanctions against Israel might begin to change their behaviour in the occupied territories and push them towards a meaningful peace agreement. This could be an interesting topic for one of the OPer’s, compare the case for sanctions against Israel (politically and in practice) to the international response to Russian behaviour in the Ukraine.(not that I’m demanding such a post)

*although I havent actually got to his answer yet.

9

Ns 07.27.14 at 2:02 pm

It’s telling that, whenever some one asks a critic of Israel, what the state should be doing, short of allowing its citizenry to be bombed, that tbose critics have no real answer. There is no concession that Israel could make, except ceasing to be, that would please Hamas.

Of course Corey has made it clear to that reverting to the status quo ante of the pre Israeli is his goal. But more reasonable commentators are right to ask if the return of the jizya and religious repression hat would entail would be a desirable outcome for the worlds largest Jewish population.

10

LFC 07.27.14 at 5:10 pm

#5
Madeleine Albright’s capacity for uttering platitudes is unrivalled. It’s not that she’s wrong, but she’s not saying anything esp. interesting/helpful. (Like, how to get to the 2-state solution.) One begins to understand why some people apparently called her “Madeleine Half-Bright.”

11

P O'Neill 07.27.14 at 5:13 pm

Given the academic orientation of this blog, you could have gotten an item 26 out of the concept of “Professor Frank Luntz” which one encounters in yesterday’s NYT profile of Ron Dermer.

12

Chatham 07.27.14 at 6:23 pm

I don’t recall the people yelling about Syria now having said that we shouldn’t be paying attention to the kidnapped Israeli teens because of Syria. But I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the lives of 3 Israelis are supposed to be more important than the lives of hundreds of Palestinians.

13

Lee A. Arnold 07.27.14 at 7:42 pm

Ns #9: “It’s telling that, whenever some one asks a critic of Israel… that those critics have no real answer…”

This is false. Israel’s strategic psychology is clearly wrong. Israel should adopt a tit-for-tat tactical policy, and develop a targeting system that uses one, and only one, missile to destroy the people who launch a missile, regardless of whether it is launched from the proximity of a school or hospital. That would slowly drive a wedge into the population, between the people who want war and the people who want peace and would prefer not to have their children killed, BEFORE a major incursion becomes “necessary”. The point is to drive a wedge in all the time, instead of thinking that you are going to change people’s points of view by the occasional disaster. Indeed, Israel’s current “mow the grass” strategy (Corey missed mentioning this remarkably offensive locution used by the supporters of Israel’s current action) of invading and killing lots of people at occasional intervals (the last time was 4-1/2 years ago), not only will NOT work, it almost certainly ensures Israel’s destruction in the less and less distant future, and ensures the further involvement of US troops in other places to try to prevent that. You might recall that the US is now involved in an uneasy alliance with Iran, whose leaders want to destroy Israel, to prevent Baghdad from falling to ISIS, whose leaders want to destroy Israel, in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, whose leader wanted to destroy Israel. Do you see a pattern here? Certainly rank and file in the US military have begun to see the pattern, and have begun to raise some serious objections about where this can go. Thus, someone who writes, “But more reasonable commentators are right to ask if the return of the jizya and religious repression that would entail would be a desirable outcome for the worlds largest Jewish population,” really ought to stop and think for a minute about just whom he is speaking to.

14

Dan R. 07.27.14 at 8:01 pm

Why should Israel be required to use a higher standard in urban warfare, than that used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan ?

No one has invented yet a way to secure hostile urban targets without significant civilian casualties.

15

Ronan(rf) 07.27.14 at 8:13 pm

“It’s telling that, whenever some one asks a critic of Israel, what the state should be doing, short of allowing its citizenry to be bombed, that tbose critics have no real answer. There is no concession that Israel could make, except ceasing to be, that would please Hamas. “

This is, of course, completly wrong. There has been a good bit of work done on Hamas(such as by Jeroen Gunning, Sara Roy and Beverley Milton-Edwards) which shows that Hamas is *not a monolith intent on destroying Israel*. There are splits within the organisation, some more extreme than others. Endless war just strenghtens the more militant factions.
This, of course, (contra Lee) can be extended to Iran, whose leaders have neither the intent nor capacity to ‘destroy Israel.’ Lets everyone step back and chill out. (ISIS apppear to want to destroy everything, so what’s one more among many ?)

” Israel should adopt a tit-for-tat tactical policy, and develop a targeting system that uses one, and only one, missile to destroy the people who launch a missile, regardless of whether it is launched from the proximity of a school or hospital. “

‘Tit for tat’ is only a tactic looking for a larger strategy, ie a long term plan like the two state solution. Israel will not destroy Hamas with a ‘tit for tat’ war, and probably won’t drive a wedge between them and the population of Gaza. But if you do get ‘lucky’ and do succeed, you’ll pobably just end up with something more extreme. (ie Islamic Jihad) So pushing for a ‘tit for tat tactical policy’ is pushing for exacetly what the policy is now.

16

Ronan(rf) 07.27.14 at 8:24 pm

I mean think that through Lee.
For every one rocket Hamas/Islamic Jihad fire into Israel, Israel fires one back. So IJ fire one which lands in the desert. Israel responds by blowing up a school.Hamas responds by sending over 5, some reach Tel Aviv. Israel sends 5(but only 5) right back to the exact spot the Hamas rockets were sent from (regradless of whether that makes any tactical sense) blowing up a few houses. Hamas and Islamic Jihad send twenty in response, Israel …. (do you see where this is going ?) .. One of Hamas rockets gets through and kills someone, public pressure and coalition partners force the Israeli PM X into escalating, possibly with a ground invasion. This is precisely the same logic that is now at play.

17

ChrisB 07.27.14 at 8:25 pm

If someone were to ask me what the government of Israel should be doing, my reply would probably allude to it doing something that had a logic model connecting its actions to something that the said government claims to want. This would rule out, for example, having wars to stop the residents of Gaza from digging holes in the ground, something that I remember the inhabitants of Stalag Luft Whatever were able to do fairly well without shovels or concrete under the noses of on-site guards. If, that is, the government wished to stop rockets being fired, the argument would have to go a stage beyond simply claiming “We are going to war to stop rockets being fired” and suggest how the one was connected to the other. If, at that point, we were faced with two courses of action that seemed unlikely to stop the rockets, one that involved war and one that didn’t, we could make a decision to choose the one that didn’t involve killing bunches of civilians. As it is, the Israeli policy seems very like Sir Humphrey – We must do something, this is something, and therefore we must do this. And we are told that this is the default setting, and only if we can produce a solution of a cogeny that the Israelis don’t have to produce will we be heeded.
As Alex Gilliland said “Your problem has no solutions, only consequences”.

18

Layman 07.27.14 at 8:28 pm

“It’s telling that, whenever some one asks a critic of Israel, what the state should be doing, short of allowing its citizenry to be bombed, that tbose critics have no real answer.”

This is rank nonsense. Israel should eliminate the impetus for the bombing, by abandoning settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, ending the blockade of Gaza, recognizing the de facto state of Palestine in those places, and concluding a non-aggression treaty of some kind with the elected government of that state.

“There is no concession that Israel could make, except ceasing to be, that would please Hamas.”

There’s a wide range of better-than-current states even if one never gets to ‘pleasing Hamas’. Render them irrelevant by eliminating their major reason for being.

19

Nell 07.27.14 at 9:01 pm

An end to the blockade of Gaza is a requirement for any real cease fire or peace building, as Palestinian civil society members have made clear for years and again recently.

On July 16, Hamas made a ten-point proposal for a long-term truce, which has been roundly ignored while another 500 Gazans have been killed, thousands more wounded, and hundreds of thousands made homeless when Israeli bombardment reduced entire neighborhoods to uninhabitable rubble.

20

Nell 07.27.14 at 9:14 pm

Further discussion of the 10-point proposal.

Corey’s point about the false “lobby Congress instead of BDS” choice is well taken. Resources for those interested in joining active U.S. campaigns to boycott settlement products and divest from occupation profiteers are available here. A more comprehensive list of consumer boycott targets can be found here.

Of course, it’s still also important to communicate your views to Congress, the White House, and the State Department, no matter how hermetically sealed off they appear to be: Stop arming Israel.

21

roy belmont 07.27.14 at 9:26 pm

Bogus arguments I’ve seen exposed and defused in the last few weeks:

1. The American occupation and colonization of indigenous lands thesis. The US killed Indians and took their land, why pick on us? Hypocrites!
Because even a cursory historical glance shows that attempt at cultural genocide to have been founded on and enabled by Old Testament morality (gotcher tit for tat right there fella). The moral excuses for the destruction of native culture were hammered into European and American minds from the pulpits of Christianity, and not from the Gospels, with their emphasis on forgiveness and compassion, and love. It came from the watered-down Torah of the Old Testament, with its hate-filled wounds and its thirst for vengeance and its violent exceptionalism.
The OT is the very story of the very perpetrators of the horrors in Gaza.

2. Israel has a right to defend itself.
Semantically this fails because it’s incomplete. It needs a prepositional phrase, “defend itself from…” “defend itself against…”.
Without that semantic wholeness it ‘s the manipulative whine of a sociopath cornered by a larger but intellectually inferior adversary.
Who has the right to defend themselves against the backwash of their own iniquity? Against the results of their own inhumane selfishness? Against the inevitable outcome of ungoverned delusional behavior?

3. Both sides are at fault, with the ultimate causes going toward religion – Abramic covenant versus Abramic apostasy – or “culture” with its obscuring fogs of origin and foundation. They’ve always been fighting, they’re both crazy, it’s all nuts.
People are refusing this in increasing number, because the facts are readily available through social media, for all the concerted efforts by some to make social media seem a mere balloon full of hot air and escaping noise, and nothing else.
Seven years ago a guy who was all in my face about “Palestinians” and Israel and “terror”, a man who knew he knew more than I did about what was up, a Jew as it happened, had nothing on the Nakba, he’d never even heard the word. That’s getting rarer by the minute.
-
My own meditations on why Gaza is so crucial when the body count of Syria is an order of magnitude higher, and continuous right alongside the snarling sadism of Israel’s inhumanity in Gaza, have led me to the controversial, but honest, self-accounting, that I believe Syria’s, and Iraq’s, mortality statistics are driven by the same sick minds that are engineering the attempted genocide of Palestinians.
It’s just that in Gaza the masks are off, there are no proxies to take the blast of uninformed but genuine moral outrage.
-
Kids.
Family gets told to leave their house by a text message from the “restrained” Israeli military (most moral army in the world).
House gets bombed to rubble.
Family takes refuge in UNRWA shelter.
That gets bombed, their parents die.
Kids are injured, taken to hospital.
Hospital understaffed, no supplies, almost no water, dedicated medics working to the outer limits of physical tolerance.
Hospital gets bombed.
Kids die.

There is no argument that can defend that, that can rationalize it into legitimacy, that doesn’t lead straight to hell.

22

Donald Johnson 07.27.14 at 9:35 pm

It’s fascinating how people who never say one word against the blockade, (probably because they support it), become outraged about academic boycotts or even the Presbyterian Church’s decision, not to boycott Israel, but to divest from companies like Caterpillar that are complicit with the occupation.

Palestinian rights don’t matter to these people. The majority who claim they support a 2SS seem fine with the blockade on Gaza, but oppose any action whatsoever that might be seen as pressure, however mild, on Israel.

And one message the West has sent to Palestinians–we will pay no attention to your wants or desires unless you fire rockets at Israel. Use nonviolent means, or advocate BDS and we won’t mention the blockade on Gaza, but instead denounce BDS as antisemitic. But fire rockets and only then will the NYT start reporting that ordinary Palestinians in Gaza support Hamas’s demand that the blockade be lifted. The NYT editorialists still can’t bring themselves to mention the blockade. The NYT is starting to become like the WSJ used to be–the purely factual reporting on the war has often been good, but the NYT editorialists are a joke.

23

Corey Robin 07.27.14 at 10:51 pm

An owl in Israel has been injured by rocket fire. The Times of Israel reports.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/owl-hurt-by-hamas-fire-recovering/

24

engels 07.27.14 at 11:08 pm

Thanks for this post.

25

J Thomas 07.27.14 at 11:40 pm

#14 Dan R. (Did the first 20 or so comments disappear? What happened?)

Why should Israel be required to use a higher standard in urban warfare, than that used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan ?

The US military got a lot of expert advice about how to do MOUT from the Israeli military. We based our tactics etc on theirs.

When we first came in a whole lot of Iraqis treated us a liberators, they were very glad to see us. After we used Israeli methods a lot of them got very interested in finding ways to hit back.

Obviously it was a great big mistake to copy Israel that way. We shouldn’t have done it.

This in no way implies that since the USA tried out Israeli methods and then got Israeli results, that Americans should not criticize Israel for doing it.

26

Kaveh 07.27.14 at 11:45 pm

A very easy answer to repeated ‘why care more about this than Syria’ objections or self-reflections is that the US has a big role supporting Israel, and also Israel depends on trade with EU countries, so both in terms of moral culpability and things-we-can-actually-do-about-it, if not in the absolute needs of the victims, Israel/Gaza is a more urgent cause than Syria.

And Corey, thanks for writing this. Your writing on this topic has been stellar, and I’m glad you’ve continued it in spite of some of the forehead-slappingly clueless objections people have raised to previous writing.

27

Matt 07.27.14 at 11:52 pm

Why should Israel be required to use a higher standard in urban warfare, than that used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan?

This is an excellent question to challenge the abundance of people who defend US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan but criticize Israeli action in Gaza. Crooked Timber is the ideal place to issue to issue the challenge, because the regulars are so hawkish when the topic is American use of military power.

28

The Temporary Name 07.28.14 at 12:05 am

Via P O’Neill some sort of peak in the “look over there” tactic:

“The price of sovereignty is imperfection,” Mr. Dermer said, in a riff that could have come from the lips of his mentor.

29

Francis 07.28.14 at 1:32 am

I would rephrase Ns (#9) a little:

It’s telling that, whenever some one asks a friend of Israel, what the future holds, short of ethnic cleansing, that those friends have no real answer.

Seriously. There are really smart people here. I learn something every time I commit the time and energy to readings posts and comments seriously. And I have absolutely no idea what any friend of Israel plans to do with the Gazans except starve them, bomb them and really hope that they go someplace, anyplace, else.

The US certainly has made millions of people into implacable enemies. But for all the dumb things we’ve done since 1945, we didn’t jam our worst enemies right up against our own rib cage.

30

Collin Street 07.28.14 at 1:50 am

Obviously it was a great big mistake to copy Israel that way. We shouldn’t have done it.

Well, yes. Normally counterinsurgencies take about ten years to quieten down. If you’ve been fighting one for forty, it means you’re kinda shit at it.

31

J Thomas 07.28.14 at 1:59 am

#9 Ns

It’s telling that, whenever some one asks a critic of Israel, what the state should be doing, short of allowing its citizenry to be bombed, that tbose critics have no real answer. There is no concession that Israel could make, except ceasing to be, that would please Hamas.

Ns, I have to applaud your courage. You come here and try to defend the indefensible, and people call you out on your bullshit. It isn’t a whole lot of people who’d be brave enough to do that, especially under their own name.

And yet you have a point. How could there possibly be agreement between Israel and Gaza, regardless who was running each of them? Israel has around 8 million people, Palestine 4 million. Gaza has 1.5 million in a tiny area. There is no way to run a first-world economy for 12 million people in Israel/Palestine. Somebody has to be kept down, or Jewish Israelis will suffer a drop in standard of living.

Imagine it was the other way round. 1.5 million Jews were allowed to live in Gaza, while 6 million arabs let another 1.5 million Jews be second-class citizens in Israel, mostly not sharing in the tremendous prosperity. Would you find that acceptable?

There is no possible solution. People from Gaza will not become loyal citizens to a zionist Israel. Israel cannot continue to enforce the status quo. A Gaza nation would be inevitably hostile, just as an Israeli Gaza would be hostile to an Arab-owned Israel, so that’s no solution. And if Israel commits genocide or genocidal “transfer” that’s worse than the status quo.

Israel has been at war for nearly 70 years and Israel will be at war forever or until they lose, whichever comes first.

There is no good reason for the USA to stay stuck to this tar baby. We need to get unstuck.

No military assistance to either side. No trade with either side. No tax-deductible contributions to either side. No dual-citizenship for either side.

This is not our fight.

32

Lee A. Arnold 07.28.14 at 2:11 am

Ronan(rf) #15, 16: “Hamas is *not a monolith intent on destroying Israel*.”

Next we will hear that the U.S. Republican Party is not a monolith bent on destroying Obama. But I rather doubt that Gunning, Roy and Milton-Edwards mean exactly what you say they mean.

33

Pierre 07.28.14 at 2:27 am

I wonder if Corey would consider this disclaimer in his posts “I have never been to Israel or Palestine and speak no Hebrew or Arabic.”

34

Luke 07.28.14 at 2:29 am

For the record, I support the right of owls to defend themselves.

35

roy belmont 07.28.14 at 7:28 am

“Tel Aviv University embraces and supports all security forces acting to restore the quiet and security to Israel, including its students and workers who were called for reserve duty”.
“The university denounces and condemns all offensive and extreme remarks propagated these days on social networks which have no place in the public discourse. The university will operate in accordance with disciplinary regulations applicable to students and faculty in all cases of infringement.”

That was sitting there while debate over BDS sanctions against Israeli academic institutions raged across the screens of thousands.
Just sitting there, biding its time.
-
Well anyway, we know, because we have to know, now, that the mounting carnage in Gaza, that God-sanctioned Israeli cannibalism of Palestinians, has nothing to do with the BDS campaign, because how could it? It’s not like people capable of the monstrous Guernica-like nightmare of Gaza would turn rabid when cornered. Or about to be cornered.
Oh no, sensibly stepping back down to humbly face the ICC and own up to their inhuman criminality, any day now. And we’ll make them, force them, by cutting off their retail transactions with the world. Or most of it.
Cowards armed with nuclear weapons will never back down and face the music. They’ll blow us all to Kingdom Come first.
This threat may explain at least some of Kerry’s inconsistent pronouncements.

36

Chris Bertram 07.28.14 at 7:54 am

When apologists for murder are reduced to a series of arguments from rhetorical questions, they are clearly in a tight spot.

37

roy belmont 07.28.14 at 7:56 am

Jack Moore ‏@JFXM 29m:
A fourth UNRWA humanitarian worker has been killed in #Gaza by Israeli fire, @ChrisGunness says.

38

Colonel Blimp 07.28.14 at 11:20 am

They used to say that Israel and Egypt are implacable enemies, now they’re collaborating against Hamas. The US and Iran are collaborating on Iraq, because of ISIS.

The truth is, nobody knows how any of this will end up.

39

novakant 07.28.14 at 11:30 am

Donald, I know you’re probably not addressing people like me, but just for the record:

I oppose cultural and academic boycotts on principle. I also oppose economic sanctions (with the exception of blocking actual arms trade) since they cause much suffering among civilians and are counterproductive in most cases. In fact, I consider the latter war crimes (cf. sanctions against Iraq and Iran).

This doesn’t have anything to do with my stance on Israeli politics.

40

Ronan(rf) 07.28.14 at 11:33 am

Lee, I have not the foggiest what you’re going on about.

41

Ronan(rf) 07.28.14 at 11:38 am

Not all sanctions are equal. If they don’t target the civilian population with extensive suffering (as in Iraq) and they are implemented with a set of clear achievable (and reasonable) aims that the sanctioned country can meet to remove the sanctions, then I don’t see the problem. (Unfortunately a lot of sanctions tend to be implemented just to do ‘something’, or as a response to political pressure, but when they’re targetted they can change the behaviour of the sanctioned. And are better than the other alternatives, such as military action)

42

ZM 07.28.14 at 12:37 pm

“A fourth UNRWA humanitarian worker has been killed in #Gaza by Israeli fire, @ChrisGunness says.”

world humanitarian day is on August 19th and UNHCR are asking people to fundraise and raise awareness during action hour for refugees between 1pm and 2pm in their local communities or workplaces. You could fundraise for Palestinian refugees too and donate to UNRWA instead of or in addition to UNHCR.
The Australian site is actionhour.org.au I don’t know elsewhere

43

novakant 07.28.14 at 12:55 pm

Countries currently under US sanctions (duration in years)

North Korea (64)
Cuba (52)
Iran (35)
Syria (28)
Burma (17)
Sudan (12)

Worth it?

44

Ronan(rf) 07.28.14 at 1:12 pm

You’re taking the most unsuccesful (ie longstanding) examples as representative (and so your list is skewed by not including cases that actually worked – when sanctions were lifted – or cases where the threat of sanctions changed behaviour.) It’s also completly unresponsive to anything I said above – ie the specific conditions under which they can work – because your list is generally examples of sanctions implemented as punishment against geopolitical rivals, or in response to domestic political pressures.

45

Ronan(rf) 07.28.14 at 1:15 pm

I’m not saying Israel should(theoretically, because politically it won’t happen) be sanctioned, Im just saying I wish mainstream pundits would actually consider/analyse it. My understanding is that in cases like Israel(deeply integated into the global economy, where reputation matters and where the sanctions would come from allies with clear goals) that there is a greater possibility for success.

46

Lynne 07.28.14 at 1:25 pm

Corey, I’ve been hoping you would post on this topic and now you have. Thank you.

47

Corey Robin 07.28.14 at 1:35 pm

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for jaw-dropping justifications for the slaughter of innocent civilians, The New Republic brings moral casuistry, Israeli-style, to a whole new level:

“We can say that there is a principle worth fighting and dying for: Civilians cannot be used to make just wars impossible and morality will not be used as a tool to disarm. And once we have that principle, the proportionality calculation changes. The deaths of innocents are not simply outweighed by Israelis’ right to live without daily rockets and terrorists tunneling into a kibbutz playground; but by the defense of a world in which terrorists cannot use morality to achieve victory over those who try to fight morally. It is the protection of that world, one in which moral soldiers still have a fighting chance, that justifies Israel’s operations against Hamas today. And it is that greater cause that decisively outweighs the terrible toll in innocent life.”

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118788/israels-war-gaza-morally-justified

48

Ronan(rf) 07.28.14 at 1:35 pm

Or put it this way, the EU(afaik) is beginning (or has done)to restrict access to european markets for goods produced in the settlements. Is that illegitimate and a war crime ?

49

J Thomas 07.28.14 at 1:54 pm

#44

My understanding is that in cases like Israel(deeply integated into the global economy, where reputation matters and where the sanctions would come from allies with clear goals) that there is a greater possibility for success.

When the demands are perfectly clear, sanctions work best when they are intensely enforced, and imposed suddenly. When the intensity is slowly ratcheted up, the victims learn to cope.

Chances are, sanctions on Israel would be effective fairly quickly if they involved a total blockade, a no-fly zone over all of Israel and Palestine, let unlimited refugees leave but let no one enter, allow unlimited capital to leave Israel but none to come in, saturation bombing of military bases with care to avoid civilian casualties, etc.

As soon as the demands were met the sanctions could be removed with little long-term harm.

50

Ronan(rf) 07.28.14 at 3:03 pm

Eh, I was thinking more along the lines of banning the import of Israeli butter. Seriously though(assuming you’re serious re saturation bombing) I don’t think there’s any need to go apocalyptic here.
How would you sanction Israel in an effective way ? Start with goods produced in the occupied territories and then start to renegotiate preferential trade agreements ? Start isolating their financial and tech sectors (what would ‘isolation’ mean in practice – really, I dont know) ? I’m just wondering how you could do it in practice and what are the chances of it being succesful. How would you tie it into resolving the conflict (sanction settlement building, incentivise them to negotiate with Hamas, make market acces dependant on meeting certain criteria in the peace process etc?)
I think a mass blockade etc would probably be counterproductive and end up getting locked in as long term policy. (also completly unlikely, of course)

51

engels 07.28.14 at 3:21 pm

‘You can say we killed innocent people who got in our way, and you’d be right, but we did in pursuit of a noble dream, of living in a world in which innocent people don’t get in our way, so we don’t have to kill them.’

52

Nell 07.28.14 at 3:44 pm

An immediate embargo on arms and military aid to Israel is the kind of sudden and targeted sanction that might make a difference here. President Obama could impose it right now.

It can be used to arrive and at enforce a truce that ends the blockade of Gaza. Without an end to the strangulation of Gaza there will be ongoing repetitions of these increasingly genocidal assaults, because Palestinians will not stop resisting.

An Israeli drone has just fired on the outpatient clinic at Shifa hospital in Gaza, and many people (mostly children) have been killed and wounded by a strike on a park in Al Shati camp. Mortar fire from Gaza has killed four Israelis in the Eshkol region and wounded another four or five.

53

Nell 07.28.14 at 3:51 pm

Ayman Mohyeldin witnessed the strike on Shifa hospital, and says it was from an Israeli drone. MSNBC is showing video from his crew. The IDF says it was a Hamas rocket, because why not stick with an outrageous, already multiply-disproved lie?

Most of the dead and wounded arrriving at Shifa are from the strike on Shati, which was far larger. Still unclear whether bomb/shelling or what, but obv not “stray Hamas rocket”.

54

geo 07.28.14 at 3:57 pm

Corey: The New Republic brings moral casuistry, Israeli-style, to a whole new level

This seems to me the key move:

“Traditionally, moral thinking about war is divided into two broad questions. First, we ask whether the decision to go to war was a moral one. In doing so, we ask: Are the reasons for the war morally compelling? Were less-destructive alternatives considered and pursued?

The less-destructive alternative of unilaterally removing the casus belli, i.e., ending Israel’s long-standing and illegal settlement policy, has not been pursued or, as far as we know, even considered. Doing so is, in any case, a moral imperative whether or not it stops the Hamas rockets — settling land occupied after a war, especially if it involves dispossessing the inhabitants, is unambiguously wrong. That The New Republic never acknowledges this, while pronouncing one bloody Israeli military offensive after another fully justified, is one of the great exploits in the annals of intellectual dishonesty.

55

Nell 07.28.14 at 4:01 pm

Please: Publicly demand from the White House and Downing Street a U.S. and U.K. embargo on military aid to Israel until a truce is achieved that ends the blockade of Gaza. Do it now.

56

Donald Johnson 07.28.14 at 4:08 pm

“This is an excellent question to challenge the abundance of people who defend US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan but criticize Israeli action in Gaza. Crooked Timber is the ideal place to issue to issue the challenge, because the regulars are so hawkish when the topic is American use of military power.”

Sarcasm exactly on target. I’ve seen a lot of Israel supporters online use that line, which makes almost no freaking political sense whatsoever–generally speaking Western lefties who criticize Israel’s actions are also critical of US militarism. It might make sense if Netanyahu has a heated argument with Kerry and mentions drone strikes, but that’s an argument they both deserve to lose.

57

geo 07.28.14 at 4:41 pm

PS to #54: Just noticed this by John Judis on the New Republic’s website: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118846/israel-palestine-history-behind-their-new-war.
It’s a remarkably fair-minded piece. Credit to the magazine for publishing it.

58

Lee A. Arnold 07.28.14 at 4:56 pm

Geo #54 — I think you are right, that is the key move. As I argued above, it is also possible to show that Israel is not pursuing a less-destructive counterinsurgency-type military policy which would stop the rockets and — the following point is important — allow parts of the Palestinian population to divorce themselves from the rocketeers. The only possible conclusion is that Israel’s civilian leadership finds it necessary to make the entire Palestinian population complicit. But by the same logic, that makes all the citizens of Israel complicit with their own land-grabbers. I imagine that any good military strategist would think that formulating this general psychology is completely irresponsible, because it will perpetuate the emotional, logical situation of permanent war. Yuval Diskin, no shrinking violet, and others have already said so. And the strategist would also observe that the wider region is heading into a military situation which even the US military will be incapable of controlling. So quite aside from the fact that all war is bad, this policy is inept. Not only is The New Republic intellectually dishonest, it is idiotically short-sighted.

59

TM 07.28.14 at 5:26 pm

47: Is the New Republic saying that Israel needs to slaughter children in order to defend civilization? Where have we heard that before!? It’s just incredibly sickening.

60

LFC 07.28.14 at 5:29 pm

Nell @55
Please: Publicly demand from the White House and Downing Street a U.S. and U.K. embargo on military aid to Israel until a truce is achieved that ends the blockade of Gaza. Do it now.

You’d better include the Elysée Palace too, unless I’m much mistaken.

61

J Thomas 07.28.14 at 5:51 pm

How would you sanction Israel in an effective way ? Start with goods produced in the occupied territories and then start to renegotiate preferential trade agreements ?

You must start by noticing that they think they are right and that you are wrong. If they though they were wrong then a little push might be enough to get them out of the inertia of static friction and on the way to fixing things.

Since they think they are right, they will have no compunction about relabeling goods produced in the occupied territories. They will cheat any way they can to evade your sanctions, because they believe they are right and you are wrong.

Each time you tighten the sanctions a little harder, they will harden their positions.

We can expect that from a BDS movement. As it gradually takes hold, Israelis will feel more isolated, more desperate, and more fanatical. Because they think they are right, and will feel persecuted. Even when 70% of Americans participate in boycotts, Israelis will feel that it is antisemitism at work and they must struggle harder. They will be ready to do desperate exploits to turn public opinion back the right way, and more ready to threaten extremes like nuclear action.

Presumably a movement will arise in Israel that opposes the Israeli government. They will be hysterically branded as traitors, and some of them will be made so uncomfortable that they will leave Israel. Some will be killed by mobs.

The central problem is that zionist Israelis are sure they are right, but they have no way to win. They must fight forever or lose. As the USA loses faith in them they can only get more desperate, since they believe if they lose they will lose everything.

So a successful mostly-nonmilitary response would need to be firm, and sudden. If suddenly Israel has no oil imports and no food imports, and the entire world is united against them but will not tolerate genocide against them, they have a strong incentive to back down even though they believe they are right.

The only possible stable state is Israel as a nondenominational nation with officially no second-class citizens. Kind of like South Africa. Jewish Israelis would be privileged citizens but equal under the law. Zionists might be right that this cannot work either, but it is the only possibility. In case they are right, there needs to be a place that Israelis can go to if Israel becomes unsafe for them.

Probably the USA should allow any Israeli citizen to come here, who wants to. We cannot accept the possibility that Israelis might be badly treated in Israel, but the US Army cannot stop that either, and if the Israeli Army stops it then nothing has changed. We must make sure that Zionists know that surrender does not mean extermination or even personal results worse than having to live in the USA.

Not only is this morally necessary, but if they believe they have no choice but victory or death and they can’t have victory, there’s no telling who they’ll nuke.

62

LFC 07.28.14 at 5:59 pm

I agree with geo @54.

To put the same point geo made a little bit differently, the problem w the New Rep. quote @47 is that it ignores the context of the I/P conflict and the whole history of it. If that context were different, one might judge the quote differently. That is, people who “try to fight morally” (assuming that’s what the IDF is trying, however unsuccessfully, to do) forfeit their right to moral standing if their underlying cause is not just. Of course, the Israelis frame their cause here as “defending ourselves from terrorism,” but that framing is not really persuasive (or is less than fully persuasive) if the war is considered in the context of the history of the conflict.

63

Barry 07.28.14 at 9:43 pm

TM 07.28.14 at 5:26 pm
“47: Is the New Republic saying that Israel needs to slaughter children in order to defend civilization? Where have we heard that before!? It’s just incredibly sickening.”

And it’s a pretty slick translation from the original German, with no clumsiness.

(yes, it’s a Godwin, but when TNR publishes sh*t like that……………)

64

Barry 07.28.14 at 9:44 pm

J Thomas @ 61 – you’re right.

Does anybody here remember the failed ‘divestment’ campaign against apartheid?
Too bad that didn’t work.

65

Nell 07.28.14 at 11:53 pm

@60:
Oh, absolutely, demand that every government stop arming Israel, whether they directly supply arms and military aid, or allow their arms producers to sell to the Israeli government. I just focused on US & UK as covering both the majority of the arming and the majority of CT readers. Australians, Canadians, and French people of conscience are especially needed for this call.

66

tony lynch 07.29.14 at 4:09 am

Novakant #3 – not “strange logic” (whatever that means). Just a description of those on the mountain top cheering as missiles drop and bombs explode on those beneath them.

67

Brett the Brit 07.30.14 at 6:42 pm

For #7 can you point me to a publication in Gaza where 50 people living there have willingly published their names in an article opposing the actions of Hamas?

68

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 7:46 pm

#67 Brett the Brit

For #7 can you point me to a publication in Gaza where 50 people living there have willingly published their names in an article opposing the actions of Hamas?

I don’t see why that is relevant.

I don’t see anybody suggesting that we should give Hamas the sort of support that we give Israel.

The question is not whether we should give Hamas a whole lot of help to kill Israelis, the question is whether we should give Israel a whole lot of help to kill Palestinians.

69

Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 8:26 pm

I don’t know about 50 people, but there is an organization called the Palestinian Center for Human Rights based in Gaza City which regularly puts out reports that are harshly critical of Israel, the PA, and Hamas. Right now if you go to their webpage it’s entirely concerned with Israeli war crimes, but if you went there some months back, during normal periods, you’d find reports on Israel shooting at Gazan fishermen, something about the PA suppressing protests maybe, and some articles about Hamas violations as well. They don’t like either faction and they say so. Now in fairness I don’t think I’ve seen them criticize Hamas rocket fire–their criticism is of how Israel, the PA, and Hamas violate Palestinian human rights.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights

70

roy belmont 07.30.14 at 8:40 pm

‘normal periods’
‘disgraceful’

God this is taking a long time.

71

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 2:50 pm

#70

God this is taking a long time.

Yes indeed. It started before I was born and I can hope it won’t end in nukes before I die.

Although in a way I can’t think of a better candidate. Say that Lebanon gets nukes, and then Israel and Lebanon nuke each other. That might be enough to get worldwide nuclear disarmament.

It would be worth it, considering the alternatives in the long run.

72

Layman 08.02.14 at 3:06 pm

“Say that Lebanon gets nukes”

Why stop there? What if Spartacus had had a Piper Cub?

73

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 5:11 pm

#72 Layman

It isn’t as implausible as you think.

We have a bunch of “conservatives” who say we can fix the energy crisis with nuclear power. We might actually try that.

But enriched uranium fuel is today relatively cheap *because* we don’t use it much. Actually try to make a lot of electricity with it, and it gets expensive fast. And it can only be recycled once because it develops highly radioactive waste products which are too hard to deal with.

But. When we go to the fallback position and make breeder reactors to give us lots of plutonium, then the equation is different. There’s *lots* of depleted uranium to turn into plutonium, and it has much less of the nasty uranium isotopes that cause so much trouble. It turns cheap again. Right now we oppose that because it makes nuclear proliferation ridiculously easy. Once we give up on that, it’s reasonably cheap for Lebanon to get the bomb if they want it. Unless we admit that plutonium reactors are the workable way to get nuclear power, but we refuse them to a whole lot of nations because we don’t trust them. As the USA gets weaker I doubt we will be able to enforce that, though maybe China would enforce it on the nations they don’t trust .

We would have to rely on the clear thinking and good sense of other nations to prevent nuclear war.

But often one graphic example is far more effective than clear thinking and good sense. If one nation threatens another with nukes, and then they both get nuked, that’s the kind of example that tends to work.

If we actually need a graphic example and must sacrifice two nations for it, I can’t think of a better pair than Israel and Lebanon. They are both tiny nations with more than their share of problems. Who would be better? Iceland and Greenland? We’d lose fewer people — Greenland has only 57,000 — but I somehow can’t see them doing it. Haiti and the Dominican Republic? Probably not.

I wouldn’t participate in a conspiracy to start a nuclear war between any two countries, but if it were to happen I can’t think of a better pair.

74

Jim Buck 08.02.14 at 5:24 pm

The Muslim world would be miffed to see Al Aqsa go; and US fundies would thrill to the prospect of the messiah’s imminent return. May I suggest England and Scotland as more suitable candidates?

75

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 12:27 am

Jim Buck, that might work out.

However, England has a population of 53 million and Scotland another 5 million. Israel and Lebanon are only 8 million (plus another 4.5 million palestinians who would surely get clobbered) and 4.4 million for Lebanon. So it’s fewer people and considerably less real estate to lose.

England is much more important to the world economy than Israel and Lebanon.

I’m not sure how likely a nuclear war would be between England and Scotland. They’ve both been surprisingly civilized about their disagreements so far.

But then it might turn out that Israel and Lebanon would reach negotiated agreements rather than nuke each other. If they can do it, that would be a strong indication that nuclear war would be unlikely even with lots of proliferation. It seems like if *anybody in the world* is stupid enough to get into a nuclear war it would be Israel and one of Israel’s neighbors. So if they don’t do it, probably nobody will do it.

76

Jim Buck 08.03.14 at 9:32 am

A messy divorce could easily set Scotland and England at each other’s throat. A brief nuclear exchange might both clear the air and boost the London housing market. Where there is greed need must follow.

77

Jim Buck 08.03.14 at 9:54 am

Clear the air and clear the Highlands.

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