Corey arrested

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2014

Our co-blogger and comrade Corey Robin has been arrested at the Israeli mission to the UN, 800 Second Avenue (at 42nd Street), for committing civil disobedience in protest at the Israeli actions in Gaza. Respect to Corey for his courage and we hope he is released and home before too long.

{ 397 comments }

1

Lynne 07.29.14 at 9:25 pm

Good for him for having the courage of his convictions. Please keep us posted. I’ll be thinking of him. Do you know what his action was?

2

Bruce Baugh 07.29.14 at 9:27 pm

Very good for him! Best wishes to him and his.

In before someone insists that this only proves how much he’s a dilettante.

3

Chris Bertram 07.29.14 at 9:28 pm

I think they were sitting down in the street.

4

LFC 07.29.14 at 9:35 pm

Echoing comments 1 and 2.

5

Sasha Clarkson 07.29.14 at 9:45 pm

Well done Corey!

There will be no solution in “Palestine” without equal rights and dignity for ALL people living there.

6

godoggo 07.29.14 at 9:49 pm

Good for Corey.

7

bianca steele 07.29.14 at 9:51 pm

Good for him.

8

geo 07.29.14 at 9:52 pm

Damn, Corey, now you can never be President! Deeply disappointed …

9

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 10:00 pm

Good for him. Way more than I’ve ever done.

10

Anderson 07.29.14 at 10:01 pm

Huh, I used to live over there (Tudor City). Best wishes to Prof. Robin.

11

James 07.29.14 at 10:09 pm

Lots of respect to Corey’s courage and conviction. I hope he gets out soon.

12

Consumatopia 07.29.14 at 10:11 pm

Good for him and his co-demonstrators. Hoping for their safe release.

13

gianni 07.29.14 at 10:22 pm

14

Matt 07.29.14 at 10:33 pm

Thanks, Corey, for speaking out and acting out.

I don’t know if it is my perceptions changing or a genuine shift, but the current Gaza horror seems to be drawing more criticism within the US than Operation Cast Lead or the 2006 Lebanon war, even though the narrative is still mostly pro-Israel. One can hope for a day when everyone condemns mass killing without first checking to see if the killers are on an exempted list.

15

John McGowan 07.29.14 at 10:42 pm

Best wishes to Corey–and my admiration for his integrity and commitments.

16

John Quiggin 07.29.14 at 10:53 pm

Best wishes, and hopes for quick release

17

John Holbo 07.29.14 at 10:53 pm

Best wishes, Corey.

18

Robert Schwartz 07.29.14 at 10:54 pm

Thank you. Does anyone know how many others were also arrested, and whether there was also a large contingent in support?

19

bob mcmanus 07.29.14 at 10:58 pm

Video from Louis Proyect, if this is it

20

Colin Danby 07.29.14 at 11:06 pm

Thanks and best wishes to all involved.

21

Plume 07.29.14 at 11:11 pm

Like they said.

Best wishes, and proud of ya, Corey.

22

David 07.29.14 at 11:11 pm

Admiration!

23

Peter Glavodevedhzhe 07.29.14 at 11:15 pm

Good wishes for Corey Robin, and hope the trip to jail is uneventful.

24

Anarcissie 07.29.14 at 11:21 pm

Spreading the word….

25

Phil 07.29.14 at 11:30 pm

Release Robin!

26

Nick Steffen 07.29.14 at 11:32 pm

Good on Corey. Glad he’s making his voice heard.

27

engels 07.29.14 at 11:32 pm

Relieved they didn’t put him in a chokehold. Respect to Corey, and hope it inspires others to take their convictions offline and out into the real world.

28

Tony Lynch 07.29.14 at 11:33 pm

A good and brave man.

29

engels 07.29.14 at 11:33 pm

@24 lol

30

Anarcissie 07.29.14 at 11:39 pm

So far the only news about this showing up on news.google.com is from Breitbart. Interesting.

31

b9n10nt 07.29.14 at 11:50 pm

thank you, Mr. Robin.

may you be released quickly.

32

Malaclypse 07.30.14 at 12:04 am

Best wishes for a speedy and safe release.

33

SC 07.30.14 at 12:13 am

There’s been a little bit of coverage beyond Breitbart, though less than I expected.

It was a peaceful, direct, and dignified political action. (Even the NYPD, for once, was reasonably well behaved.) Norman suggested the action–marching across 43rd St. to stop traffic–and the crowd voted orally to march. Norman lead the way, marching across Second Ave. like Moses crossing the Red sea!

Michelle Goldberg, The Nation
“. . . Among those who were taken into custody today was Corey Robin, a Jewish professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Robin is a longtime critic of Israel, but he’d never before been arrested over it. “I finally felt like I had to do something,” he said a few moments before lying down in the street. “This is my first time doing this for Palestine. If it’s my first time, it’s going to be somebody else’s first time, if not now, then another time.””

http://www.thenation.com/blog/180808/why-it-matters-norman-finkelstein-just-got-arrested-outside-israeli-consulate

Batya Ungar-Sargon, Tablet
24 Arrested in Protest Against Israel’s Gaza Campaign
Norman Finkelstein, Benjamin Kunkel, Corey Robin among those arrested
http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/180812/24-arrested-in-protest-against-israels-gaza-campaign

Zachary Roberts, Village Voice
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2014/07/26_people_arrested_outside_israeli_consulate.php

34

Gabriel 07.30.14 at 12:23 am

Thanks to Corey and all of the other protesters. Brave and timely.

35

Bob Savage 07.30.14 at 12:37 am

Thank you Professor for your insight and convictions.
Its a good thing you were not dressed as a Marvel Comics character. I understand the NYPD has great animus towards costumed heroes.

36

Ronan(rf) 07.30.14 at 12:39 am

Best wishes to Corey.

37

Sancho 07.30.14 at 12:41 am

Old school! Great show from Corey and co.

Maybe carry guns next time. The tea party has demonstrated that police are a lot more tolerant of protests when the participants are armed.

38

SC 07.30.14 at 12:52 am

Any word on how the arrests went? Are those who were arrested out of jail yet?

39

Colin Danby 07.30.14 at 12:54 am

If I was gonna joke, Sancho, I might joke about something else beside guns.

40

Joshua W. Burton 07.30.14 at 1:15 am

Academia . . . non oblita est filiorum suorum qui diversis sub signis pro patria spiritum reddiderunt.

41

Sancho 07.30.14 at 2:07 am

Is it really a joke, Colin? Maybe not the place for a discussion about arming the Left, though.

42

Craig 07.30.14 at 2:08 am

Bless you Corey.

43

William Timberman 07.30.14 at 2:37 am

Walks it the way he talks it. Respect.

44

Corey Robin 07.30.14 at 3:30 am

Thanks everyone for the kind words. I’m out of jail and home. Very grateful for the warmth and support of the CT community.

45

John Holbo 07.30.14 at 3:34 am

Glad to hear it!

46

MPAVictoria 07.30.14 at 3:36 am

Glad you are home safe.

47

Alan White 07.30.14 at 4:26 am

Sometimes conscience is everything. Good for you, better for us all as example.

48

David J. Littleboy 07.30.14 at 6:36 am

“Good for him. Way more than I’ve ever done.”

Ditto here. Much respect.

49

roy belmont 07.30.14 at 7:14 am

At first Corey Robin, I though Joshua Burton was offering to pay your bail, and in Latin no less, but I see now that is likely not the case, but more rather one of the oddest uses of Latin quotation I have ever encountered anywhere.
But just so, if this act of conscience brings with it a financial burden – I mean I’d like to think well-known academics earn something like the salaries of well-known sports figures, making a fine purely symbolic, but reason tells me, no. If this is a burden, as I say, then a passing of the hat would be well-received all round, and generously filled, I’m sure. Yours to say.

Cheers, and good on ya, sahr!

50

psb 07.30.14 at 8:26 am

De-lurking to echo support and respect.

51

Marc Mulholland 07.30.14 at 10:09 am

Best wishes, Corey..

52

chris y 07.30.14 at 10:25 am

Many congratulations, and best wishes!

But I have to ask, as one who has been arrested on a demonstration in my time, surely he’s not still in pokey? How long does it take to bail a professor who’s been nicked for sitting down outside an embassy? (IME about half an hour should be par.) Have New York’s special bodies of armed men with prisons etc. got nothing better to do?

53

Chris Burns 07.30.14 at 10:37 am

Thank you Corey

54

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 07.30.14 at 1:19 pm

Good luck, Corey.

Glad that the NYPD didn’t use their Occupy tactics (brutality) on you.
~

55

Layman 07.30.14 at 1:23 pm

Thank you, Corey!

56

Sasha Clarkson 07.30.14 at 1:48 pm

Corey: echoing Roy @49, I’d be quite happy to chip in a fiver to a Palestine/Civil Rights organisation of your choice – a drop in the ocean perhaps, but the integral of dx might hopefully equal something worth contributing?

57

Harold 07.30.14 at 1:49 pm

Good for Corey Robin.

58

James Welcher 07.30.14 at 1:55 pm

Hang tough!

59

stevenjohnson 07.30.14 at 2:47 pm

Although I can’t believe that Prof. Robin’s efforts at moral suasion of the Zionist state can lead to its redemption, I am always glad for reminders that Jews may not be Zionists. I am sorry he will pay a price for his efforts to practice a moral Judaism.

60

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 5:03 pm

Technically, one is not arrested for committing “civil disobedience”, one is arrested for committing some illegal act, and has done it as an act of civil disobedience.

Personally, I find the sort of civil disobedience where the law you violate is exactly what you’re protesting much more sympathetic and reasonable, than the sort where you violate some perfectly reasonable content neutral law as a protest against something largely unrelated. The former draws attention to a law you want to argue against, the latter may draw attention to a cause, but not favorable attention if it is a reasonable law you are violating.

He’s not, I assume, protesting people being able to use the sidewalk in front of the embassy. Why should the people who want to use that sidewalk pay the price of his effort to get publicity for his cause?

61

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 5:07 pm

To clarify, Ghandi committed civil disobedience by drying a pan of sea water, to protest an asinine law against making your own salt. The law he broke was the law he protested, and it worked because it drew attention to the injustice of the law.

Others protested segregated facilities by using the bathroom or whatever they were barred from. Again, drawing attention to the injustice of the very law they would be arrested for violating.

But, who thinks it is unjust that people aren’t permitted to block a sidewalk? The connection between the law broken, and the cause, is a bit indirect here, no?

62

godoggo 07.30.14 at 5:13 pm

Do you think it’s counterproductive? I don’t.
Do you have a better suggestion?

63

godoggo 07.30.14 at 5:16 pm

Just my immediate response. It is a reasonable point, though.

64

carbon dated 07.30.14 at 5:19 pm

This is why tenure is important. It’s not only for academic freedom–it’s for freedom freedom.

Following the many commenters on Corey’s FB page and elsewhere, it sounds like many more would have joined the group of civil disobeyers but for fear of losing their jobs.

65

MPAVictoria 07.30.14 at 5:27 pm

Very helpful Brett.

66

geo 07.30.14 at 5:28 pm

Brett @59: Why should the people who want to use that sidewalk pay the price of his effort to get publicity for his cause?

By “pay the price” I assume you mean cross the street?

67

jonnybutter 07.30.14 at 5:40 pm

Brett’s comment is not about alternatives, since there really isn’t one that fits his criteria. Not paying your taxes (which support the Israeli government) doesn’t work because it isn’t the concept of levying taxes itself that Corey et. al. were protesting. Let’s see…nope, I can’t think of any alternative in Brett’s approved mold. Therefore, no (or ‘much less’) sympathy. Forget about the slaughtered civilians, what about the wasted 90 seconds of pedestrians in Manhattan?! Why should *they* pay?

68

Cian 07.30.14 at 5:46 pm

Will no one think of the Pedestrians?

69

Anarcissie 07.30.14 at 5:50 pm

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 5:07 pm — Like others here, I am really curious as to what alternative modes of protest you envision.

carbon dated 07.30.14 at 5:19 pm — Some may fear physical violence. I just read an account of someone who went to protest the pro-Israel demonstration the day before, and there received death threats, etc. As the political and moral position of Israel continues to deteriorate, its supporters are likely to become more desperate and erratic in their public behavior.

70

Joshua W. Burton 07.30.14 at 5:54 pm

Let’s see…nope, I can’t think of any alternative in Brett’s approved mold.

Block a sidewalk somewhere else?

71

godoggo 07.30.14 at 6:05 pm

fwiw I saw something the other day about how the Polish resistance used to execute collaborators, which obviously proves that… gosh, this is fun.

72

Joshua W. Burton 07.30.14 at 6:22 pm

@70: Never mind all that. On the narrow question raised, one can protest the dangerous situation of civilians on the streets of Gaza (or in Rabin Square, for that matter), while meeting Brett’s criterion of taking the same risk being protested . . . by sitting, where? In what world do “can’t think” @66, “curious” @68 not deserve the straight answer?

73

jonnybutter 07.30.14 at 6:43 pm

Brett’s criterion of taking the same risk being protested

Not that it matters, but that’s clearly not his criterion. He’s saying he has sympathy only with civil disobedience vis a vis a law, and which takes the form of breaking that law. Certainly narrows the field of action for people who want to do civil disobedience, which I believe is the point.

74

Joshua W. Burton 07.30.14 at 6:53 pm

If it’s a law being protested, then yes, the Thoreau/Gandhi criterion is as you say. If it’s anything else, from private action (don’t sit at my counter) to executive fiat (don’t attend the nearest school) to para-military (don’t break this curfew) or military (don’t be in Shuja’iyya this week) force, the imaginative extension of the principle is pretty simple.

75

Anarcissie 07.30.14 at 6:56 pm

I doubt if anti-war protesters from the US will be permitted to enter Israeli propaganda.

76

Joshua W. Burton 07.30.14 at 7:05 pm

@74: I regret not being able to contradict you with rhetorical force adequate to the facts; this is near and dear. Eight Americans from my Chicago synagogue were at the Rabin Square protest referenced above. Forty percent of our adult members, and eighty percent of our teenagers, are in Israel right now; three of them spent this week under security lockdown at Kibbutz Sa’ad, less than 2000 meters from the Gaza fence. Planes are still flying; people are taking vacation time. (We couldn’t even make a minyan this morning.)

77

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 7:09 pm

I guess if you want the crime to fit the protest, you might possibly go to Textron, the owner of a manufacturer of cluster bombs and get arrested for asking them to stop selling to Israel.

Textron owns Textron Systems which owns Textron Defense Systems. They make cluster bombs that have special arrangements to try to prevent the bombs from going off years later. Like, they have an arrangement that is supposed to get the bomblets which did not explode when they should have, to all go off at once later.

It would not make sense to ask Textron Defense Systems, headquarter in Wilmington MA to stop selling to Israel. They aren’t the parent company and probably can’t make that decision.

It probably would not make sense to ask Textron Systems to do that, headquarter in Providence, RI. They aren’t the parent company either.

But if you ask Textron (also headquarter in Providence) and they arrest you for trespassing, that would be appropriate. It’s of course inconvenient to get arrested out of state.

If the USA stopped selling (giving away) cluster bombs to Israel it would not actually hurt Israel much since they now make their own and sell them to any non-islamic buyer who will pay their price.

78

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 8:05 pm

“Block a sidewalk somewhere else?”

Exactly. Not as convenient as protesting something on the other side of the planet from where you happen to be, or as safe, but scarcely impossible.

I’m simply contrasting the civil disobedience model of disobeying the evil you are protesting, as opposed as disobeying something unrelated and maybe not evil, just to draw attention to your cause.

The former works because people of conscience see you punished for something clearly not meriting punishment. The latter is closer to a form of extortion, IMO.

79

Ronan(rf) 07.30.14 at 8:20 pm

Does anyone remember that clip from the Simpsons when the old bearded fella says (something along the lines of) “get off the pavement son, the sidewalks for walking” ? I can only remember it vaguely, but it’s popped into my head.

80

Layman 07.30.14 at 8:24 pm

Brett Bellmore, what of the Selma marchers? They protested Jim Crow laws by walking from Selma to Montgomery. As near as I can tell, there was no law against walking from one place to the other. I suppose it’s possible they broke traffic laws, but surely they weren’t protesting traffic laws. Legitimate civil disobedience, or extortion?

81

MPAVictoria 07.30.14 at 8:24 pm

“Does anyone remember that clip from the Simpsons when the old bearded fella says (something along the lines of) “get off the pavement son, the sidewalks for walking” ? I can only remember it vaguely, but it’s popped into my head.”

Yes it is in the 2nd part of the Who Shot Mr. Burns double episode.

/Why yes I love the Simpsons. Why do you ask?

82

LFC 07.30.14 at 8:27 pm

I think B. Bellmore is wrong here. In NYC, sitting down in front of, or blocking the street or sidewalk in front of, the Israeli mission to the UN as a way of protesting Israeli/IDF actions makes sense. Protesting in front of embassies and UN missions is a time-honored practice. It’s not as if this is some brand-new tactic. Yes, a few people who want to use the street are inconvenienced, but I’d be surprised if the actual obstruction to traffic lasted more than ~10 minutes.

83

LFC 07.30.14 at 8:28 pm

p.s. In fact I think Bellmore’s position borders on the absurd.

84

LFC 07.30.14 at 8:31 pm

In D.C., there were regular protests at the South African embassy during the anti-apartheid mvt. Sometimes they resulted in arrests. No one claimed the protesters shd have gone to Johannesburg and violated the pass laws instead. It’s not feasible for most people, for one thing.

85

Anderson 07.30.14 at 8:35 pm

“In fact I think Bellmore’s position borders on the absurd.”

Strange, isn’t it, that CT hasn’t come up with some shorthand for this proposition.

86

Ronan(rf) 07.30.14 at 8:36 pm

MPA – nice memory dude

87

LFC 07.30.14 at 8:47 pm

Strange, isn’t it, that CT hasn’t come up with some shorthand for this proposition.

Word. Definitely. etc.

88

Lynne 07.30.14 at 8:49 pm

LFC, thank you. Exactly that (all three of your comments!) BB is just doing some parallel thing to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s so easy to quibble, to find fault with what other people are doing about a problem, and so impossible, apparently, to suggest something better, or—gasp!—do something better oneself.

89

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 9:35 pm

I’m simply pointing out that Ghandian civil disobedience derives it’s force from compelling the oppressor to publicly oppress you, in an obviously unjustified manner. The link between what you’re protesting and the violent response you prompt is direct.

It works because it draws a society’s attention to instances where it’s government is not embodying that society’s values.

Arresting people for blocking a sidewalk or street? Just doesn’t peg the old “unjustified oppression” meter.

90

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 9:38 pm

Lynne, I’m not going to do something myself in this instance, for a couple of reasons. First, because I have a family to support, so I can’t just run off and play human shield.

Second, because with Iron Dome, the side I’d be inclined to play human shield for doesn’t need any.

But, I urge you, if you’re free of obligations, and so inclined, go play human shield in front of Hamas soldiers who are launching rockets into civilian areas from the shelter of an elementary school. If that rocks your boat.

91

Lynne 07.30.14 at 9:51 pm

Gandhian.

What Gandhi did was very brave. But so what? This is not that, but it can still be a powerful statement of dissent.

What would you recommend instead?

92

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 9:52 pm

Sometimes Brett Bellmore has interesting ideas that are worth a second thought.

This is not one of those times.

93

Lynne 07.30.14 at 9:52 pm

We cross-posted.

94

roy belmont 07.30.14 at 10:04 pm

Bellmore’s position borders on the absurd.
Yeah you know if it wasn’t for all the body parts and broken lives, it’d be amusing.
Ever think it might be his function?
To draw the heat of the discussion to the absurd.

95

Brett Bellmore 07.30.14 at 10:08 pm

You think it’s absurd? I’m just pointing out that your favorite form of “civil disobedience” doesn’t work, and why. I’m not saying you can’t go on doing it, and getting arrested for it. Just don’t expect it to win to your side any converts.

You didn’t have to be a civil rights marcher to be outraged at Rosa Parks being forced to stand at the back of the bus, or police blocking children from entering a school. That’s civil disobedience that works, because it causes the oppressor to offend the public conscience in public.

It doesn’t offend the public conscience to arrest somebody for blocking a sidewalk.

96

Joshua W. Burton 07.30.14 at 10:20 pm

It doesn’t offend the public conscience to arrest somebody for blocking a sidewalk.

And yet, skim down through all the good feelings it inspires, right here. Win-win, don’t be a jerk.

97

Colin Danby 07.30.14 at 10:48 pm

Possibly there’s more than one way that a given action can have an effect.

For those of us who vaguely remember the mid-1980s, the embassy protests organized by Randall Robinson and Transafrica (which I assume this is modeled on) were widely regarded as successful.

98

Colin Danby 07.30.14 at 10:49 pm

Look, here’s a discussion of those protests, noting the participation of Ms. Parks among others: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/us-activists-and-politicians-campaign-south-african-embassy-end-apartheid-1984-1985

99

engels 07.30.14 at 10:54 pm

Brett, why do you think your ignorance of the concept and history of civil disobedience is of interest to anyone other than yourself?

100

mor 07.30.14 at 11:34 pm

Corey was putting the Israeli embassy under siege to mirror the illegal act of the Israelis in putting Gaza under siege and to show the readiness to act against a trivial offence is not matched by a like readiness to act against state terror. Well done.

101

roy belmont 07.30.14 at 11:54 pm

Bellmore, Brett-
My favorite form of civil disobedience isn’t on the table here, yet.
What you missed is the rejection of ‘absurd’.

Talking about Ghandi and Rosa Parks while the carnage in Gaza exponentiates isn’t absurd, it’s grotesque.
As if MLK left Montgomery on fire, with bodies hanging from the lampposts, and children’s heads on pikes all along the bridge.
Grotesque, not absurd.

102

George de Verges 07.30.14 at 11:59 pm

Having read this item and scrolled through the comments, I just want to say that I am most pleased to hear that Mr. Robin has been released on bail and is OK. On a practical level submitting yourself to arrest is dangerous; it sounds so easy when described in print but it is terrifying to face armed men intent on arresting you. I suggest everyone who comments on this should have in mind the real risks of injury and death any protest participant faces. Once that flesh and blood reality is acknowledged we can discuss the meaning of the protest on a more concrete and real basis.

103

LFC 07.31.14 at 12:26 am

Colin Danby:
For those of us who vaguely remember the mid-1980s, the embassy protests organized by Randall Robinson and Transafrica … were widely regarded as successful.

I remember the mid-1980s, and yes the Transafrica protests were regarded as successful: they got media coverage, they heightened awareness of the issue. Contrary to Brett, there doesn’t have to be a police reaction that “offends the public conscience.” The pt of the protest is to raise awareness of the issue, which can be done in various ways. This is not just some random sidewalk or street: it’s a street in front of the Israeli UN mission. Protests are in part about symbolism. Brett doesn’t seem to have much notion of what political protest or civil disobedience is about. He shd look into the history of the Vietnam-era protests, for ex.– I mean the non-violent ones, which also tended to be the most effective. When that guy set himself on fire outside the Pentagon (well, Brett may be too young to have heard of it), it wasn’t a question of drawing a police action that would “offend the public conscience.” There was nothing for the police to do in that case but clean up the remains. But it was still effective.

104

Matt 07.31.14 at 12:55 am

Bellmore’s position borders on the absurd.

You know, I don’t even know what Brett’s position is here (in detail, anyway, I can guess in the abstract) and yet, the only doubt I have about this claim is the “borders” part. (I’ll admit that this isn’t the only blog I know Brett from.)

105

roger nowosielski 07.31.14 at 12:59 am

A powerful statement by a bona fide member of the academia. It’s actions of this kind which are most needed and which make a CT community a relevant one. And I was just about to give it up.

106

LFC 07.31.14 at 1:01 am

Matt:
You know, I don’t even know what Brett’s position is here (in detail, anyway)

Yes, well if I’m not mistaken you’re a law professor and a philosopher, so the word “position” means something particular to you — but anyway, I agree w your basic pt, obviously. (I think this *is* the only blog I know Brett from, or at least the main place I know him from.)

107

Matt 07.31.14 at 1:09 am

I think this *is* the only blog I know Brett from

Let me tell you- you are not missing anything. I say that because what you’d get from Brett on the other blogs would be exactly the same.

if I’m not mistaken you’re a law professor and a philosopher
Only in a tenuous and occasional sort of way, but I’ll take it as a compliment, whether meant or not.

108

roger nowosielski 07.31.14 at 1:23 am

Sounds like a mutual admiration society.

Just sayin’

109

Barry Freed 07.31.14 at 2:00 am

Best wishes to Corey.

110

cambridgemac 07.31.14 at 2:35 am

Thank you, Corey!

111

unhelpful 07.31.14 at 3:02 am

Wondering whether it’s common or preferable for democratic political theorists to whom the Law of Return is applicable to exhaust democratic means of changing policy by first acquiring Israeli citizenship and voting in Israeli elections before committing civil disobedience?

112

jonnybutter 07.31.14 at 3:07 am

Gosh, that *is* unhelpful!

113

LFC 07.31.14 at 3:31 am

unhelpful @110:
not preferable, and presumably not common either

114

Colin Danby 07.31.14 at 4:11 am

Good grief. Nationalism really does boggle up people’s minds.

Still, given the level of weirdness this thread could have developed, this is all pretty mild.

115

GiT 07.31.14 at 5:28 am

“I’m simply pointing out that Ghandian civil disobedience derives it’s force from compelling the oppressor to publicly oppress you, in an obviously unjustified manner”

No, you aren’t ‘pointing it out,’ you’re baldly asserting it.

Let me point something out – your armchair ruminations about from what all varieties of civil disobedience do or don’t derive their force are bullshit.

The speculation that effective civil disobedience has only derived its force from some symmetry between the act and the object of protest is conveniently made up nonsense.

116

Brett Bellmore 07.31.14 at 10:16 am

Ok, ok, the mutual admiration society can go on thinking getting arrested in front of an embassy in America will effectively protest another country half a world away engaging in what a rather large fraction of this country’s population regard as a fully justified war against terrorists.

It’s all an exercise in feel good, anyway, and on that level it’s doubtless effective. That it’s a joke on any other level doesn’t matter.

117

roger nowosielski 07.31.14 at 12:07 pm

@116

If my comment was in bad form, I apologize, for I certainly didn’t mean to detract from the gravity of the substantive issues or from Mr. Corey’s courageous action.

There was a larger point, however — namely, the rather lukewarm stance of the academia in today’s corporate climate. Compared to the faculty’s involvement and active participation during the sixties in the burning issues of the day, its virtual lack of support for the recent Occupy Movement speaks louder than words. Which is precisely why Corey’s act of civil disobedience stands in such a sharp relief. Again, during the sixties, such acts were a rule; today, they’re unfortunately exceptions.

118

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 12:22 pm

Brett Bellmore is weird.

119

Nine 07.31.14 at 12:51 pm

Gandhi engaged in dozens of acts of civil disobedience – non-cooperation against the Rowlatt act, for instance – which not only broke numerous laws other than the ones he was protesting but also inconvenienced masses of people. I imagine Brett Bellmore used the Salt Satyagraha because it’s the thing he remembers from the movie. I can’t believe no one else has pointed all this out yet.

120

Anarcissie 07.31.14 at 2:16 pm

@116 — I think support for Israel among non-elites is presently governed by the forces mentioned in the ‘Higher Sociopathy’ discussion by b9n10nt (07.30.14 at 2:52 am (#141)): ‘Israel is bootstraps, rugged individualism, white. The Arab antagonists are victim-mentality, collectivism, lazy and corrupt, dark. Hypothesis: Everything that white privileged Americans tell themselves about their own worthiness in relationship to black Americans and other oppressed minorities gets projected onto Israelis in relationship to Arabs.’ This is going to work among people whose mental processes, governed by image, emotion, and instinct, support belief in angels, UFOs, astrology, Creationism, and so on, as well as race, as long as the beliefs appear to be relatively cost-free. Race politics is unpredictable, however. Since its referents are largely imaginary, it can change its sign or direction very suddenly. The American Civil Rights movement succeeded in part because it managed to drive a wedge between Southern White racists and Northern White racists, depriving the former of their political and economic support system, because the N.W. racists began to perceive the S.W. racists as comparatively lower-class, violent, and criminal, and costly to carry. Analogy with the campaign against Apartheid should be obvious. Demonstrations and other forms of activism, while seldom decisive, contribute to the process, as does the inevitable moral decay of the oppressor under their pressure.

121

anon 07.31.14 at 3:10 pm

Has he uttered even a single word about the war crimes committed by HAMAS?

About HAMAS killing hundreds of Palestinian children while they build the terror tunnels? About HAMAS killing scores of Palestinians for the supposed ‘crime’ of ‘collaboration’ with the Israelis? About HAMAS war crimes in launching thousands of missiles against innocent civilians?

122

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 3:21 pm

Has he uttered even a single word about the war crimes committed by HAMAS?

Anon, if the topic ever comes up about the USA cutting off military assistance to Hamas, or whether to veto UN resolutions against Hamas, we will need to carefully consider Hamas war crimes.

At that point it might also make sense to demonstrate outside the Hamas embassy.

In the meantime arguing that Hamas is even worse than Israel is a stupid way to justify Israeli astrocities.

123

Joshua W. Burton 07.31.14 at 3:32 pm

Israeli astrocities/i>

“You’re going to need a bigger rocket.”

124

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 3:35 pm

Ah yes, the old strawman. ‘Do you remounce HAMAS and all it’s crimes.’ Is that not explictly acknowledged by the fact that Hamas has literally *no* support outside of Palestine and the IRG ?

125

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 3:41 pm

I mean it’s pretty easy to denounce 70% of Hamas activities; from war crimes (civilian targetted suicide bombings and missiles) deeply engrained institutional anti semitism, religious dogma that should be objected to by anyone with any liberal perspective, it’s authoritarian leanings, the bloody minded insanity of its militant wing. But what the hell is the point of stating the obvious ? And the inability to recognise(and work with) the parts of Hamas that don’t fit this caricature is reckless childishness IN MY OPINION.

126

Joshua W. Burton 07.31.14 at 3:47 pm

literally *no* support outside of Palestine

Well, yes, but the protesters executed in broad daylight yesterday were not killed by that Hamas; they were killed by a wing of the Palestinian unity government (recognized by over 130 nations) that goes by the same name.

127

Colin Danby 07.31.14 at 3:57 pm

Aha! Brett is actually supporting Corey, by cleverly showing how the argument against this kind of protest disintegrates. Re 116, this was not far from the problem the anti-apartheid movement faced in the early 1980s. With the issue framed as a constitutional government versus communist terrorists, the white republic had considerable popular support in the US and open backing by the Reagan administration and Republican controlled Senate. The embassy protests were about shifting the terms of debate, and they worked.

128

Wonks Anonymous 07.31.14 at 3:59 pm

I don’t think Thoreau was objecting to all taxation when he refused to pay taxes, he was objecting to the use of his taxes to wage war on Mexico. So one could refuse to pay taxes now because those go to some supremely objectionable things, and thereby fulfill Bellmore’s criteria. My understanding is that in the 80s there were anti-nuke protestors who went that route.

129

Brett Bellmore 07.31.14 at 4:14 pm

“But what the hell is the point of stating the obvious ? “

When people are taking positions that seem to be based on ignoring the obvious, stating the obvious can be helpful. The Israelis are not fighting some alternate universe, victim Hamas, that is reasonable, and would cease fighting if left alone. They’re fighting the real world, aspiring to genocide Hamas, for which any relaxation of sanctions is just an opportunity to prepare for more attempts to kill Jews.

Let’s recall that this present war was sparked by the discovery of invasion tunnels dug by Hamas, (Using humanitarian aid and child slave labor.) and those tunnels did not terminate under Israeli military basis, but instead in civilian areas. The current war was sparked by the discovery that Hamas was preparing for, and scarily close to carrying out, mass murder and kidnappings.

The Israelis are not saints, except in the context of the Middle East, where they come off remarkably well. I think some want them to be saints, because then they’d be conveniently dead, instead of inconveniently alive and defending themselves.

130

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 4:24 pm

@126
Well look, I don’t agree with the extrajudicial murder of ‘collaboraters'(whether real or imagined) or even support the death penalty(except in, perhaps, very very rare occasions – such as genuine threats to the state) So what do you want me to say ?
I do recognise that in certain contexts(times of war, of semi lawlessness, areas with weak institutional checks on paramilitary groups etc) that these things do happen. That doesn’t mean it’s justifiable or excusable, but that the best policy is *to try and correct the reasons it happens* and try to prevent it happening in the future, or try and not create the context it happens under.

@129

Look, I don’t know your history. You might(and I mean this genuinely) have very good reasons for holding such a dogmatic position on this situation and in general opposition to Hamas. But I also(personally) don’t think rehashing the evil nature of both sides is either interesting or productive, so I really couldn’t be bothered going down this rabbit hole.

131

bianca steele 07.31.14 at 4:27 pm

@129
While deliberate attacks on civilians are hard to defend, this about the tunnels seems analogous to complaining that spies and paratroopers aren’t crossing the border at manned and armed checkpoints.

132

LFC 07.31.14 at 4:31 pm

G. de Verges @102:
A long time ago I was arrested at a protest when I didn’t intend to be. It was over a local issue. The police cleared a sidewalk and everyone standing on it. For various reasons, it was an unpleasant experience (though no actual violence occurred on either side). That’s my only personal experience with being arrested, and I would not be eager to repeat it. So: yes, it’s not a fun thing to be arrested, even if ‘peacefully’.

133

Layman 07.31.14 at 4:33 pm

“Well, yes, but the protesters executed in broad daylight yesterday were not killed by that Hamas; they were killed by a wing of the Palestinian unity government (recognized by over 130 nations) that goes by the same name.”

Joshua Burton’s peace plan:

1) Hamas is bad, so
2) Kill Palestinian children, and
3) ??
4) Peace!

134

Layman 07.31.14 at 4:38 pm

“Let’s recall that this present war was sparked by the discovery of invasion tunnels dug by Hamas, (Using humanitarian aid and child slave labor.) and those tunnels did not terminate under Israeli military basis, but instead in civilian areas.”

This brings to mind what Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellman.

135

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 4:50 pm

The Israelis are not saints, except in the context of the Middle East, where they come off remarkably well.

Well no, they don’t.

I think some want them to be saints, because then they’d be conveniently dead, instead of inconveniently alive and defending themselves.

My interest is first what’s good for the USA, and second what’s good for the rest of the world.

I don’t see that it’s good for the USA or for the rest of the world for Israel to be in a war that will last forever or until Israel is destroyed. So I want to find a way for that to stop.

You believe that Israel can never have peace because any time they victimize Gaza less, the Gazans will use the opportunity to attack them. So you advocate that Israel continue the status quo since there can never be peace while there are live Israelis.

I cannot support continuing the status quo, but I don’t want all the Israelis to be killed either. How about this — let’s invite all the Israelis to come to the USA. In the USA they won’t have Hamas to deal with, they won’t have Hezbollah to deal with, they won’t have Syria and Iran to deal with, etc. They would be better off here in every way except that it wouldn’t be Israel and they wouldn’t have their own government just for them.

But of course, they don’t want that. Israel is the only nation that’s just for Jews, and if they came to the USA they would give that up.

OK, maybe we can do better. Let’s give Alabama to Israel to have their own nation in. We would have to move out about 5 million Americans, but we could move them someplace else in the USA cheaper than what Israel will cost us. Alabama is considerably bigger than Israel, and green. It has a whole lot more rainfall. A decent port, and the Tenn-Tom canal gives access to the Mississippi and the whole US heartland. Coal, some iron ore, a little gold, forested mountains and fertile plains. Better than Israel in every way except it isn’t Israel.

We can do better than that. Hire a whole lot of archeologists to take apart Jerusalem stone by stone, number the stones, and make copies of each one. Send half the original stones and half the copies to Alabama and reconstruct a new Jerusalem there and a new Jerusalem where Jerusalem used to be. I can’t think of a fairer offer.

Maybe the USA would not make this offer. Probably some Alabamians would oppose it. But when I suggest it, a lot of people tell me not to waste my time because the Israelis would never accept. And I have never yet met a zionist who says he would accept.

So it looks to me like Israelis are not facing the prospect of eternal war versus getting genocided. They choose eternal war, because that’s who they are.

I don’t see that it is good for the USA or for the world, for anybody else to support them in this. So I think that in case someday it becomes dangerous to be an Israeli in Israel, we should invite any Israelis who want to, to come live with us where it’s relatively safe.

136

Sasha Clarkson 07.31.14 at 4:57 pm

Why do people expect Hamas to be nice reasonable democrats? Hamas was created by by decades of Israeli brutality, and de-facto definition of Palestinians as human beings with less rights than Israelis.

Israel was created by armed asylum seekers, brutalised by persecution, who thought that they had more right to live in Palestine than those already there. They turned from the oppressed to the oppressors.

Of course, like today’s Palestinians, they had their (relative) “moderates” and “extremists” – like Avraham Stern

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avraham_Stern
(In 1978, an Israeli postage stamp was issued in his honour.)

It may occasionally happen, but one should not expect more moral behaviour from the oppressed than from the oppressors.

To quote Frank Herbert: “Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself — a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.”

137

engels 07.31.14 at 5:06 pm

Israeli astrocities

Odd that Brett never considered this, given his general preference for hi-tech fixes to the world’s problems.

138

engels 07.31.14 at 5:12 pm

(…and his dislike of actually getting on with most minorities)

139

Joshua W. Burton 07.31.14 at 5:20 pm

Layman @133: 1) Hamas is bad, so
2) Kill Palestinian children

I sent my (only) son to spend a week this month with Palestinian children, teaching science and talking peace in a village I first visited in 1985. We’re having dinner this Friday with friends whose kids, peace camp voters all, live on a kibbutz with two tunnels (so far discovered) in its fields. If you’d like to take this offline, I’m happy to compare tax returns, passport stamps and old postcards, to see who’s done more for Palestinian children in the last thirty years.

Or, you know, I might just be some anonymous coward striking a pose.

140

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 5:28 pm

“About HAMAS killing hundreds of Palestinian children while they build the terror tunnels? “

Link?

For anyone interested in the human rights situation in Gaza, you could visit the website of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which is based in Gaza. Yes, that’s right. And here’s a paragraph of their summary report for 2013 that gives you a flavor of it–
—————————————————
“The security services of both the Ramallah and Gaza governments HAVE continued to subject Palestinian civilians to illegal arrests, torture, and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in 2013. The use of torture can be attributed to the ongoing political division, criminal behaviour, and disputes arising between detainees and security officers.
In the Gaza Strip, dozens of Fatah movement activists, including a number of women, were subjected to frequent summonses to refer to the security services in different areas of the Gaza Strip. A number of these activists were arrested from time to time, including some who were sentenced. The past two months have witnessed significant increase in the number of summonses and arrests of dozens of civilians on the grounds of the call related to “Tamarrud” movement. Most of these activists were subject to inhuman and cruel treatment as they were held in cells or small rooms, were forced to stand for long hours and repeatedly referred to the Interior Security Services after releasing them. Some of them were also subject to torture during investigations”
——————————————————

So they don’t seem too cowed by where they happen to be. You can google them. Their front page right now is dominated by what Israel is doing, but that’s not the case in more “normal” times, when they generally have some reports on Israelis violations and some on the PA and some on Hamas.

Human Rights Watch also has reports one can examine. Some of their information comes from another Palestinian human rights group, the ICHR. Here’s a quote from HRW’s 2014 summary for the previous year–

“Hamas took no apparent steps to arrest or prosecute gunmen who killed seven men for allegedly collaborating with Israel in 2012. At least six of the men had been sentenced to death but were appealing their sentences when the gunmen took them from detention centers and killed them. The faces of some of the gunmen were visible in photographs widely published in the media. Hamas’s armed wing claimed responsibility for the killings.

The internal security agency and Hamas police tortured or ill-treated 180 people as of October 31, according to complaints received by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), a Palestinian rights body.

Hamas security forces arbitrarily summoned and detained civil society activists, university professors, and members of the rival Fatah political faction.

On July 25, the prosecutor general ordered the closure of the Gaza offices of the regional broadcaster al-Arabiya and the Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian outlet, for news stories suggesting that Hamas supported Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. In November, Hamas allowed Ma’an to re-open and pledged to allow al-Arabiya to do so.”

141

Niall McAuley 07.31.14 at 5:32 pm

BrettBellm Orbital?

142

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 5:38 pm

Below is a link to the website for the Independent Commission for Human Rights, which is based in Ramallah. The front page is currently focused on Israel for some reason, but if you glance at their annual report for 2013 you’ll see that they have some harsh things to say about the PA and Hamas as well. This is all better than getting one’s information from some pro-Israeli commenter. Less orientalist, for one thing.

link

143

Layman 07.31.14 at 5:42 pm

“Or, you know, I might just be some anonymous coward striking a pose.”

I doubt that sincerely. Good for you, and for your son, and I hope you and he are safe. I’d ask, though, that you consider lending some of your effort and your voice to calling out the inequities on the Israeli side of the conflict. If peace is what you’re after, you need a better plan than we’ve seen so far.

144

Brett Bellmore 07.31.14 at 5:57 pm

Back in Michigan, I had neighbors who were Christian refugees from Jordan. Not recent, either, they’d been in the US for many years, victims of the relentless war of Islam against all other religions.

Mosul is now entirely free of both Christians and Jews. Successful genocide of cultures that have lived there for thousands of years. Except for Israel, the wide expanse of the Middle East is almost entirely Muslim now. All archeological evidence that Christianity or Judaism ever thrived there is now being erased. Were Jeruselem not now in Jewish hands, it would be cleansed of all holy places of other religions.

Is this because it has always been that way, with Christians and Jews mere interlopers into Muslim territory? No, of course not. The Middle East is the birthplace of three world religions, and Islam is scarcely the oldest of the three.

No, it is because, of these three religions, one has decided that the other two have no right to exist, and has set out on a genocidal crusade to erase the other two from the face of the Earth, starting with the Middle East.

But scarcely stopping there.

Israel is a nation founded mostly by Jews who had fled genocidal persecution in other places, including around the Middle East, only to face it, and successfully oppose it, in Israel, too. Part of their cultural inheritance is the knowledge that, if you flee from your problems, your problems will follow you.

You propose that they guarantee peace by running away from a place they have every bit as much right to be, as the people who are attacking them. They’re not going to do that, nor should they, because Hamas would pursue them wherever they go. Hamas does not object to Jews in Israel. Hamas objects to Jews, period.

Hamas objects to YOU. Think about that some time. Because they will get around to you eventually, if they get the chance.

145

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 6:23 pm

You propose that they guarantee peace by running away from a place they have every bit as much right to be, as the people who are attacking them.

If I knew a collection of Dutch people who believed they had every bit as much right to live in New York’s Harlem as the people who are there at the moment, and they collected weapons to move in and push the others out, I would suggest they not do that. Maybe they have the right, but well, better not.

If they chose to do it anyway, because they have the right, I would not go to Harlem to fight them but I also would not support them.

That’s pretty much how I feel about Israel. If they want to live there and fight forever, they can do it on their own dime. I don’t want any US subsidies for them to do that. No US tax-deductible contributions. No most favored nation status. No US military secrets. No encouragement for them to make spare parts for US weapons and sell them to people the USA wants to embargo spare parts for. No special acceptance for them having nukes, nerve gas, or bioweapons particularly smallpox. No US guarantee for their oil supply. No US vetoes for them unless there’s something in it for us.

It isn’t our fight. It’s a fight they choose, a dirty war they choose to dirty themselves in. We don’t have to choose to help them fight that fight.

They’re not going to do that, nor should they, because Hamas would pursue them wherever they go.

If Hamas fights them in the USA I will object to Hamas doing that. I will support the security apparatus of the US and state governments to stop them. Given an opportunity to personally intervene when the official forces are not likely to consider me an illegal combatant, I will fight.

If Israelis in the USA attack arabs they think are Hamas, I will object to that and will support the police etc to stop them, etc.

People who bring their foreign battles into the USA are domestic criminals.

146

godoggo 07.31.14 at 6:26 pm

Did I mention unbelievably bizarre? Why yes, I did.

147

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 6:27 pm

Mixing up ISIS with Hamas or all of Islam is a common mistake with Islamophobes. There is an Orthodox Church in Gaza where Muslim Palestinians have been allowed to take refuge–I think that was in the NYT. Jewish reporters and Jewish pro-Palestinian activists visit Gaza–sometimes I’ve read that people in Israel say “won’t you be killed?” as though any Jew would be killed on sight. The Hamas charter is disgusting and evil, but Hamas, while guilty of numerous war crimes and terrorism and human rights violations, doesn’t seem to abide by it and Meshaal recently said to Charlie Rose that Hamas is willing to coexist with Christians and Jews. No doubt in his ideal the Muslims would be on top.

I don’t trust Hamas and their human rights record is lousy, but lumping all Muslims or even all Islamists into one undifferentiated mass and then justifying Israeli war crimes as a result is a great way to strengthen the hardliners. But then you hardliners are all unconscious allies of each other.

148

Nell 07.31.14 at 6:28 pm

Thanks for the protest, Corey.

I’m sure most of those here who express support for this demo to write the White House, demanding that the administration stop arming Israel until the blockade of Gaza is ended. Paper letters are excellent, but the quickest way is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

149

Ze Kraggash 07.31.14 at 6:30 pm

Whatever Hamas is or isn’t, one thing is perfectly clear: Hamas is a reaction to the Zionist colonization of Palestine. That’s the context; without it Hamas wouldn’t exist.

A top Pentagon intelligence official warned on Saturday that the destruction of Hamas would only lead to something more dangerous taking its place, as he offered a grim portrait of a period of enduring regional conflict. [...] “A worse threat that would come into the sort of ecosystem there … something like ISIS,” he added

http://news.yahoo.com/destroy-hamas-something-worse-pentagon-intel-chief-023718713.html

150

Nell 07.31.14 at 6:31 pm

sorry – accidentally blitzed part of my comment #147:
meant to read as:

I’m sure most of those here who express support for this demo want to do something themselves to support the people of Gaza. Something you can do right now is to write the White House…

151

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 6:36 pm

Here is the NYT article with a paragraph about the Orthodox Church–

link

The relevant quote–

——————————–

As the war continues, most Gazans are just struggling for a safe place to sleep.

About 400 people, all Muslims, have crowded into the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrius, where Archbishop Alexios has four rules: “Be quiet, be clean, no problems and no weapons.”

The displaced sleep in offices and meeting halls and string their laundry across the courtyard. When it is too dangerous to walk to the mosque, they lay out rugs and pray in the church.
———————————————

Apparently Hamas doesn’t know it is on a holy jihad to wipe out all traces of Christianity.

152

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 6:42 pm

@143 ” If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!”

153

Chatham 07.31.14 at 7:03 pm

Has he uttered even a single word about the war crimes committed by HAMAS?

The abolitionists spend all this time talk about how bad slavery is, but have they ever uttered a word in condemnation of Nat Turner?

154

MPAVictoria 07.31.14 at 7:18 pm

“If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!””

Troy McClure from the Lisa Becomes a Vegetarian episode.

/ “Yes, I am going to marry a Carrot…”

155

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 7:29 pm

#138 Joshua Burton

I sent my (only) son to spend a week this month with Palestinian children, teaching science and talking peace in a village I first visited in 1985.

OK! So, what do you think should be done for peace and who should do it?

Much of what I’ve seen from you looked to me like apologetics for the Israeli government. They can’t do other than they do, because Hamas.

I have trouble seeing governments being involved in a volutary solution. Palestinians have no credible leaders. PA leaders look mostly corrupt and spineless, because those are the ones that Israel tolerates. Anyone who demonstrates real leadership in any direction gets taken out by Israel one way or another. Hamas leaders are unacceptable to Israel and USA, and might not be willing to give up enough concessions for a deal anyway.

Meanwhile the current Israeli government strongly prefers no real negotiation and they certainly have the power to prevent it.

Oh well. The recent peace offer by Hamas looks like the best deal Israel could reasonably get from any palestinian government, but there’s no way to tell whether they’re sincere other than take them up on it. The offer might be just Hamas hasbara.

From my own perspective it looks like the chance for peace is slim, and the best response would be to get out of the area. You told me you are not Israeli but an American living in the USA, have you gotten out? Good job if so.

And I have to respect your friends and relatives for putting themselves into personal danger trying to find a solution for their friends. What approaches do you think have a chance of success, and who should do them?

156

LFC 07.31.14 at 7:44 pm

Donald Johnson @146 is completely right. B. Bellmore’s assertion that “the religion of Islam” (singular and monolithic) wants to eradicate all other religions is false, because among other things there is no such thing as the religion of Islam. As with Judaism and Christianity, there are different groups, factions, and interpretations.

Bellmore needs to point to a pronouncement from an authoritative mainstream Islamic source (non-Salafist) to the effect that Islam wants to or must “eradicate” all other religions. And don’t give me an out-of-context verse from the Koran. I doubt he can do that, not without twisting the definitions of “mainstream” and “authoritative.” (Even GW Bush FFS said ‘the adversary’ was not Islam but those who had skewed its basic message.)

157

LFC 07.31.14 at 7:50 pm

p.s. And don’t quote Sayyid Qutb, bin Laden, A. al-Zawahiri, or Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, or any Hamas or Hezbollah or ISIS figure, or Ahmadenijad. They are pretty much all on one extreme (though I’m sure Hamas and ISIS have some divergent views within them).

158

Joshua W. Burton 07.31.14 at 8:39 pm

This is pretty sensible, and only moderately depressing. No solutions from me, sorry — not this month and certainly not here. (The 2001 maps are dusty, but still legible.) My hope is for peace with Palestine first, and then maybe peace with you peacemakers someday. Im tirtzu, eyn zo agada.

159

Layman 07.31.14 at 8:59 pm

@ 157

This piece is simultaneously full of insight & bias. The analysis of Hamas’ failure to understand the nature of the Israeli state, and their foolish belief that Israelis can be made to ‘go home’, is spot on. But the sugar-coating of the history of Israel’s double-dealing in the ‘peace process’ is pretty hard to stomach. Objective analysis this is not.

160

pseudalicious 07.31.14 at 9:37 pm

Glad you’re home and safe, Corey.

161

Plume 07.31.14 at 9:48 pm

Brett @143,

No, it is because, of these three religions, one has decided that the other two have no right to exist, and has set out on a genocidal crusade to erase the other two from the face of the Earth, starting with the Middle East.

Actually, only one of the three has as one of its central tenets an End Times that calls for the annihilation of all human beings who do not accept Jesus as lord. Only one of the three calls for the mass extinction of all human beings who do not embrace one particular faith, Christianity. And it’s not just your garden variety genocide. As if the slaughter of at least 5 billion people isn’t enough, Christianity also calls for their eternal torment in the Christian hell.

Of course, Judaism isn’t any ride in the park, either, as the god of the Old Testament is given to genocide whenever he gets up on the wrong side of the cloud.

Glass houses, etc.

162

Brett Bellmore 07.31.14 at 9:53 pm

“p.s. And don’t quote Sayyid Qutb, bin Laden, A. al-Zawahiri, or Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, or any Hamas or Hezbollah or ISIS figure, or Ahmadenijad. “

IOW, only quote sources that agree with you?

Sure, Bush said that. He didn’t want the warfare between the West and Islam to become open, he preferred, quite properly, a cold war, while one could be had.

I know that all Muslims don’t act this way, all the time, but Israel isn’t dealing with Muslims living in a country where they are a small minority. They’re dealing with the sort of Muslims who end up in control where Muslims are a majority.

163

Plume 07.31.14 at 9:57 pm

Sure, Bush said that. He didn’t want the warfare between the West and Islam to become open, he preferred, quite properly, a cold war, while one could be had.

Are you saying that Bush was right to go to war against Islam — cold or hot?

Sheeesh. If so, what a monstrous view of things.

164

Layman 07.31.14 at 10:01 pm

“I know that all Muslims don’t act this way, all the time, but Israel isn’t dealing with Muslims living in a country where they are a small minority. They’re dealing with the sort of Muslims who end up in control where Muslims are a majority.”

It isn’t necessary to be ignorant, you know. You could, well, *learn* something before shooting off your mouth about it. Start with understanding why Israel objected so strongly to proposed rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah, and what that tells you about reality when it comes to ‘the sort of Muslims who end up in control where Muslims are a majority’.

165

godoggo 07.31.14 at 10:02 pm

OK, the hate is getting a bit more balanced, now, but I feel that this table needs an anti-Buddhist leg.
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenBookReviews/ZenAtWar_Vlad.htm
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22356306

Go!

166

godoggo 07.31.14 at 10:08 pm

Also, just for anyone who happens to be ignorant of the dude.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar

167

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 10:43 pm

#157 Joshua Burton

No solutions from me, sorry — not this month and certainly not here. (The 2001 maps are dusty, but still legible.)

Ah. So what I hear from you is justifications for the Israeli government to do what it does, although there is no reason to hope that will have any good result, and also you are for peace in theory.

Maybe I have this wrong, but it sounds like the difference between you and other zionist apologists is that you know people who are impotently doing things to demonstrate that they want peace, though you have no idea what anybody can do to actually help that, and you say you want peace too.

Unfortunate.

168

Joshua W. Burton 07.31.14 at 10:57 pm

zionist apologists

I hope I was clear to more thoughtful readers that this isn’t what I was apologizing for.

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Suzanne 08.01.14 at 12:49 am

@14: I have that impression as well. The scale of the carnage is also making an impression on some of American media types, so the coverage is ever-so-slightly less bigoted against the Palestinians than usual. Baby steps.

All respect to Corey for walking the walk, etc., and glad to know that he is back home.

“I know that all Muslims don’t act this way, all the time, but Israel isn’t dealing with Muslims living in a country where they are a small minority. They’re dealing with the sort of Muslims who end up in control where Muslims are a majority.”

I know that all Jews don’t act this way, all the time, but Gaza isn’t dealing with Jews living in a country where they are a small minority. They’re dealing with the sort of Jews who end up in control where Jews are a majority.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

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roger nowosielski 08.01.14 at 1:13 am

@120

Interesting analysis, Anarcissie, I suppose the general point being that politics, of racism or otherwise, makes for strange bedfellows.

Have a question, though. If memory serves, the Southern Democrats, as opposed to their Northern counterpart, were people of honor and their racism was institutional racism, not one which was based on rank prejudice and simple-minded bigotry. And LBJ, being one of them, was able to tap onto this and push through the Civil Rights legislation, to overcome the Northern opposition.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

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Anarcissie 08.01.14 at 3:02 am

roger nowosielski 08.01.14 at 1:13 am @ 170 — My guess is that Johnson was reflecting the general view of the ruling class, North, South, and neither, of the time, which preferred that the U.S. not be Balkanized, as might have happened had the oppressed turned from non-violence to race war. However, this was not sufficient in itself to overcome the tremendous inertia of established segregation and discrimination among the proles of all U.S. regions. That needed to arise among non-elite Whites, and it was effected, as I said, by driving a wedge between Northern and Southern non-elite racists. (In the 1950s, in my experience, many non-Southerners considered Southerners to be a kind of lower race or caste, halfway between Whites and Negroes, so some of the work had already been done.) Had it not been for the Civil Rights movement, things could have drifted along for many years without the r.c. doing much of anything — until something really bad happened. And so today ‘we’ might be incinerating things closer to home than has been ‘our’ most recent habit.

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Ze Kraggash 08.01.14 at 6:32 am

The Civil Rights reform, I believe, had a seldom mentioned but significant (and relevant in this case) international component, in the context of the Cold War. Segregation had become an embarrassment in the ideological struggle between the “free world” and “communist tyranny”. And so the elite had to deal with the issue, which allowed them to “regain the moral stature”, and then, a decade later, to roll out their “human rights” propaganda assault against the reds.

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Colonel Blmp 08.01.14 at 9:31 am

The Dixiecrats were a party of their own basically, and racism was their raison d’etre.
See Strom Thurmond’s run for the presidency in 1948. He won 40 electoral votes.

LBJ was the consummate opportunist who wanted in on a national ticket, which by 1956 was impossible for a Dixiecrat. Hence the long road in which he completely turned on his former comrades.

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William Timberman 08.01.14 at 12:56 pm

Joshua W. Burton @ 168

Thoughtful readers — the closer you get to the horror, the harder it is to be thoughtful. This is natural, don’t you think? The resident of Kibbutz Sa’ad can still be a little thoughtful — not easily, but it is still possible, maybe even helpful, even with the Gaza fence 2000 meters away, even with the Hamas tunnels under the fields. For the residents of Gaza trapped in the circumstances of the last 20 years, and since 2009 especially, there’s little possibility of being thoughtful, and even less benefit in it. This too is natural. And if being thoughtful so close to the butchery is impossible, those further removed from it have to help as best they can to make thoughtfulness the standard. Historical demonology, I should add, is not the best approach to thoughtfulness in such situations. People with skin in the game may believe they have no choice, but the rest of us — I mean here U.S. citizens with no ties of consanguinity, real or imagined, with the citizens of Israel — should, at very least, resist being dragged into it.

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Micheal Lunny 08.01.14 at 1:02 pm

@Suzanne, 169

For many a year I have used this test to determine whether a statement is hate speech, bigotry or ignorance. Just exchange the ethnicity/religion in a statement with “Jew”, “Jewish” or “Judaism” and see if it sets your teeth on edge. More often that not it does.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.01.14 at 3:30 pm

William Timberman @174: People with skin in the game may believe they have no choice, but the rest of us — I mean here U.S. citizens with no ties of consanguinity, real or imagined, with the citizens of Israel — should, at very least, resist being dragged into it.

Absolutely agree. Wait, what was this thread about?

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LFC 08.01.14 at 3:43 pm

Ze Kraggash 172
The Civil Rights reform, I believe, had a seldom mentioned but significant (and relevant in this case) international component, in the context of the Cold War. Segregation had become an embarrassment in the ideological struggle between the “free world” and “communist tyranny”.

Don’t know exactly what you mean by “seldom mentioned,” but this whole subject (the civ rts mvt in Cold War context) has been the subject of quite extensive research and writing by historians — several long bks on it exist.

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LFC 08.01.14 at 3:49 pm

r nowolsielski
If memory serves, the Southern Democrats, as opposed to their Northern counterpart, were people of honor and their racism was institutional racism, not one which was based on rank prejudice and simple-minded bigotry. And LBJ, being one of them, was able to tap onto this and push through the Civil Rights legislation, to overcome the Northern opposition.

No. Very wrong. Southern Dems fought LBJ’s civil rts legislation tooth and nail. It was passed w Northern/Midwestern Dem and some Repub (cf Everett Dirkson) support.

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William Timberman 08.01.14 at 4:54 pm

Joshua W. Burton @ 176

What this thread has been about is the responsibility of those at some distance from the conflict to be thoughtful, and to turn that thoughtfulness into action. We must be helpful where we can, and it seems to me — and not only to me — that the only way to do this, in the case of a U.S. in thrall to Israeli propaganda, is to find some way to respond that refuses to refill Israel’s bomb hopper without comment, or to acquiesce to the kind of obscene portrayal of the conflict that Bob Schieffer recently indulged himself in on national TV.

Corey Robin’s sidewalk civil disobedience may be called — as no doubt it will be called by some — one-sided, ineffective, the act of a self-hating Jew, etc., but such characterizations, in my view, beg the question. If it achieves nothing else, what he and his fellow protestors have done may help convince the smug that it isn’t only the Palestinians who refuse to accept the label that the majority of U.S. opinion has assigned to them.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.01.14 at 5:15 pm

Corey Robin’s sidewalk civil disobedience may be called — as no doubt it will be called by some — one-sided, ineffective, the act of a self-hating Jew, etc. . . .

For the record, not by me. My respect, expressed so beautifully in the Mem Church inscription I gratefully quoted @40, for those who fall under other standards is most sincere. The undertone of snarky incongruity in that reference, if any, was about the relative smallness of Corey’s sacrifice to the size of this plaque. But we all do what we can, and our friends blog about it. It’s not Corey who moved me to post beyond that gentle half-cheer.

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William Timberman 08.01.14 at 5:50 pm

Joshua W. Burton @ 180

Yes, I got it, snark included — and also the reasoning behind your comments thereafter. If we who aren’t likely to become morituri want to reason intelligently about those who are, we have to imagine more deeply what both parties to the conflict have faced, and are facing — who they believe they are, and what they believe gives them the right to what they’re demanding of others. This isn’t as easy as it seems….

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Joshua W. Burton 08.01.14 at 5:58 pm

That inscription, and the pointed lack of a comparable one in Mem Hall, sets an important, and to my mind admirable and relevant, delimiting principle. Harvard’s German sons, of both wars, attended a 20c world university as Germans, and read “Leave, to better serve thy country and thy kind” on the way out in its intended spirit. Harvard’s Confederate dead, who attended a 19c abolitionist college as Americans and then shot at the American flag, must be content to have their names carved in something less durable than New England marble.

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Seth Gordon 08.01.14 at 7:18 pm

The resident of Kibbutz Sa’ad can still be a little thoughtful — not easily, but it is still possible, maybe even helpful, even with the Gaza fence 2000 meters away, even with the Hamas tunnels under the fields. For the residents of Gaza trapped in the circumstances of the last 20 years, and since 2009 especially, there’s little possibility of being thoughtful, and even less benefit in it. This too is natural.

I am trying to keep myself from using such patronizing language. I invite you to join me in this discipline.

Neither Kibbutz Sa’ad nor Gaza is populated by dogs who are guaranteed to bite strangers if their owners keep beating them. Rather, they are both populated by human beings with rational thought and moral agency. They choose to pursue certain goals and to exercise certain tactics in order to achieve them. If you disagree with some of those goals and tactics—fine, condemn them, or provide incentives (e.g., demonstrations in front of an embassy) for them to change their behavior. But don’t presume that being apart from the fray makes you gifted with some higher mental powers.

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William Timberman 08.01.14 at 7:48 pm

Seth Gordon @ 183

But don’t presume that being apart from the fray makes you gifted with some higher mental powers.

Neither do I. In their position I very much doubt I’d do any better, and might do a lot worse. In fact, they’re in a cul-de-sac, one not entirely of their own making, to be sure, as though at this point precisely how and by whom it was made is somehow determinative of anything worth pursuing. The proof that they don’t know how to get out of it lies in the pillars of fire on the other side of the border. This doesn’t take any special mental powers to see, nor is seeing it in any way patronizing.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.01.14 at 9:11 pm

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Joshua W. Burton 08.01.14 at 9:16 pm

Sorry, that parenthetical wasn’t meant to link to anything. Clumsy editing karma; my bad for calling out a name.

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Layman 08.01.14 at 9:18 pm

I’m struggling to reconcile this:

“I am trying to keep myself from using such patronizing language.”

With this:

“But don’t presume that being apart from the fray makes you gifted with some higher mental powers.”

Unless the answer is ‘failed attempt’.

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J Thomas 08.01.14 at 9:24 pm

#183 Seth Gordon

Neither Kibbutz Sa’ad nor Gaza is populated by dogs who are guaranteed to bite strangers if their owners keep beating them. Rather, they are both populated by human beings with rational thought and moral agency. They choose to pursue certain goals and to exercise certain tactics in order to achieve them.

That’s a pretty big assumption you’re making there.

Consider the possibility that one or more sides in this have been driven insane by the horrible things that have happened and that they think about.

After 9/11 a lot of Americans went crazy. They did not use rational thought and moral agency to decide the best course of action. They did not choose to pursue certain goals and exercise certain tactics to achieve them. My evidence is that when you look at what we actually did, things like the wars and the way we set up Homeland Security etc, and the mostly-predictable results, it’s absurd to think that these were the results we wanted. We were not thinking straight.

That was mostly from one event, 9/11. Do you imagine that 70 years of war for Israel/Palestine would cause less trauma? On top of the Holocaust and the Nakhba?

It is not implausible that these people are not in fact rational actors, that they are not carefully planning workable tactics to achieve their goals.

Or maybe they are. Maybe they have monstrous goals. I can imagine that Israel is doing this because Likud thinks it will improve their political standing, just as Olmert invaded Lebanon in 2006 thinking it would improve Kadima’s political standing, and then when it didn’t they invaded Gaza for a second try at the same goal. But the Israeli voters who approve such things — do you suppose they are more rational than the Americans who approved the Iraq invasion?

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Seth Gordon 08.01.14 at 10:50 pm

After 9/11 the US government did a lot of stupid and immoral things, but that doesn’t mean it was run by irrational people. It wasn’t run by Vulcans, but no government ever is.

If the belligerents in Israel/Gaza are truly beyond reason, then they are insane. If there is ever an international war-crimes tribunal for this conflict, should combatants or leaders on either side be declared not guilty by reason of insanity? By analogy with insane people being forcibly committed to an asylum, should some third party occupy the area and take responsibility for the inhabitants’ welfare, until they prove themselves capable of self-government? I don’t see anyone rushing to volunteer for that job. (There are those on the Israeli right who want Israel to re-occupy Gaza, but saving Gazans from their own government is not the hawks’ foremost priority.)

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Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 10:58 pm

There’s a difference between saying that people are behaving irrationally and saying they are insane.

Besides, I thought it was a truism that people in wartime are often irrational and can see the crimes of the other side quite clearly, and not that of their own side. This can also apply to distant ideologues, as Orwell wrote about in “Notes on Nationalism”.

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Seth Gordon 08.01.14 at 11:09 pm

True, but the reason we have “laws of civilized warfare”, to the extent that such a thing is possible, is that even when people are at war—even when people believe they are on the losing side of a war—we hold them to certain moral standards. If we just shrug and say regarding certain belligerents, well, they were beat up real bad and now they want to retaliate, it’s understandable that they cross the line into a bit of attempted genocide, then what’s the point of having these standards at all?

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LFC 08.01.14 at 11:34 pm

Seth Gordon:
It wasn’t run by Vulcans, but no government ever is.

You’re using Vulcans in the Spock sense, but James Mann was presumably using it in a different way when he called his book on GWBush’s foreign-policy team Rise of the Vulcans. I haven’t read it.

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Donald Johnson 08.02.14 at 12:08 am

Attempted genocide? The Palestinians? I’m not crazy about the use of that word in this context, except to describe things like the Hamas Charter or the ravings of a prominent rabbi in NYC the other day, but it seems a huge stretch to say this about the rockets. Maybe I’m misunderstanding.

And yeah, what is the point? They never seem to be applied to Western war criminals except sometimes low ranking ones, so I think the point is to have a system which can be useful in jailing dictators that are no longer useful to us, or who never were useful.

Anyway, the I/P conflict seems like a classic one where the two sides are pretty indifferent to what they do to the other. I think Israel can justify killing Palestinians to itself and its supporters as long as they claim they’re trying not to do so, and on the Palestinian side and some corners of the left, whatever they do is “resistance”. Though personally I think results factor in here–the suicide bombings were much more shocking than these rockets and so is Israel’s bombing. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some shooting of civilians was going on–there are claims of that in this war. James Fallows has a post up linking back to a 2004 article by James Bennet (a NYT reporter) James Fallows. Anyway, the point was that Palestinian children had taken sniper rounds right through the head back in the second intifada and Bennet saw two bodies for himself with bullet holes, backing up the Palestinian story and refuting the Israeli story that shrapnel from a Palestinian bomb had done it.

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Ronan(rf) 08.02.14 at 12:21 am

“And I wouldn’t be surprised if some shooting of civilians was going on–there are claims of that in this war”

Yeah, there are reports

http://www.imemc.org/article/68658

(useful being somewhat sceptical, but the IDF do have form)

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Gabriel 08.02.14 at 1:26 am

196

roy belmont 08.02.14 at 3:01 am

Baby steps.
Because they will get around to you eventually, if they get the chance.
OK, the hate is getting a bit more balanced, now
(Using humanitarian aid and child slave labor.)
The Israelis are not saints, except in the context of the Middle East
the mutual admiration society can go on thinking getting arrested in front of an embassy in America will effectively protest another country half a world away engaging in what a rather large fraction of this country’s population regard as a fully justified war against terrorists.
About HAMAS killing hundreds of Palestinian children while they build the terror tunnels?

Planet Of The Fucking Apes

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Sancho 08.02.14 at 9:25 am

Baby steps indeed.

Actually examine the issue more closely, and you may see that the effect of being arrested half a world away is to remind people much closer that, hey, a whole lot of people reckon we’re being misled by our leaders and media when it comes to Israel, and they’re angry enough to risk themselves in highlighting it.

A further step would be to look up the term “false dichotomy”, and consider that it’s possible to hold Hamas in contempt, and simultaneously be contemptuous of people demanding we support Israel’s actions unconditionally, largely on the grounds of arcane Protestant theology.

tl;dr: violence is unacceptable. So is pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.

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LFC 08.02.14 at 12:53 pm

@Sancho:
everything in Belmont’s 196 is a quotation from upthread, except for “Planet of the Fucking Apes” which is his own. Belmont is just too fucking lazy to put quote marks or italics around his quotes.

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Brett Bellmore 08.02.14 at 1:49 pm

I don’t support Israel’s actions unconditionally. They could get pretty awful, and still be better than Hamas, but if they revive the Roman practice of “decimation”, I’d find that beyond the pale.

Right now they’re not doing anything which isn’t standard military practice when your neighbor is lobbing missiles into your territory, and is caught preparing for an invasion.

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J Thomas 08.02.14 at 2:43 pm

#199 Brett Bellmore

Right now they’re not doing anything which isn’t standard military practice when your neighbor is lobbing missiles into your territory, and is caught preparing for an invasion.

I see your mistake! What you say is reasonable given your assumptions.

You’re right as far as you go. If Switzerland lobbed missiles into France, even if the missiles didn’t actually do much damage, of course France would do extensive airstrikes and invade, killing 0.1% of the Swiss. And if the French thought the Swiss put military supplies etc in hospitals, churches, schools, and UN refugee camps of course France would be forced to bomb hospitals, churches, schools, and UN refugee camps. That’s just standard practice. Everybody does it.

But Gaza is not just a neighboring nation. Israel maintains a blockade around Gaza, they regularly send in assassination teams to kill Gaza politicians and government employees, they do airstrikes whenever they feel like it, etc. Israel strictly limits the amount of concrete Gaza can have because they claim Gaza ought to use all the concrete for civilian air raid shelters but instead Gaza uses some of it to protect government officials etc, and that is unacceptable to Israel. They figure it is Hamas’ fault when Gaza civilians die because Hamas could have used all the concrete for civilian shelters, and if there was none left for Hamas then there would not be as much bombing.

Israel is at war with Gaza and they have been at war with Gaza from the day their occupation troops retreated. It isn’t like France and Switzerland.

I don’t support Israel’s actions unconditionally. They could get pretty awful, and still be better than Hamas, but if they revive the Roman practice of “decimation”, I’d find that beyond the pale.

I see. You support it when it is 0.1%. Probably you would support it at 1%. But when it reaches 10% you will figure they are going too far.

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Sancho 08.02.14 at 2:59 pm

Just think: if Jesus Christ had been born in, say, Tonga, the English-speaking world wouldn’t give a solitary shit about the Middle East beyond its capacity for oil production.

Obscure conflicts between “Arabs” and “Jews” would have as much relevance as feuding cultural groups of China do now.

Divest from Tujia businesses! The Buyei have a moral right to their land! Shut up, anti-Huist!

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Layman 08.02.14 at 3:10 pm

“Right now they’re not doing anything which isn’t standard military practice when your neighbor is lobbing missiles into your territory, and is caught preparing for an invasion.”

Mary McCarthy? Lillian Hellman? Just sayin’.

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Brett Bellmore 08.02.14 at 3:53 pm

“Israel is at war with Gaza and they have been at war with Gaza from the day their occupation troops retreated. It isn’t like France and Switzerland.”

Quite right. What you omit is that Israel is at war with Gaza because Gaza is at war with Israel. But, yes, they ARE in a state of war with each other, and have been for the longest time.

I have no beef with Israel treating Gaza like any country normally does an aggressor nation attacking it.

“I see. You support it when it is 0.1%. Probably you would support it at 1%. But when it reaches 10% you will figure they are going too far.”

I think maybe you don’t understand the difference between war casualties at any percentage, and the Roman practice of decimation. The Israelis are not choosing random people to execute. They are waging a war, and that war has casualties. But they’re not random casualties.

If the civilian, and even the ‘civilian’ casualties in Gaza offend you, perhaps you could prevail upon Hamas to put all it’s soldiers in uniform, and stop using civilians as shields. That would certainly cut down on the civilian casualties.

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LFC 08.02.14 at 3:59 pm

if Jesus Christ had been born in, say, Tonga, the English-speaking world wouldn’t give a solitary shit about the Middle East beyond its capacity for oil production.

I don’t think so. There are reasons “the English-speaking world” cares about the Middle East beyond oil and the fact that Christ was born there. The history of the region since 1918 shd furnish a couple of pointers in that regard; even if oil was a main impetus, the fact of Western, not just ‘English-speaking’, involvement over the last century alone in the region creates its own set of ties and interests (perceived and/or actual).

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Brett Bellmore 08.02.14 at 4:13 pm

Even without the oil, the world would care about the Middle East. Without the oil, the world would have a lot less motive to make excuses for the barbarity of the Arabs, but without the oil, they’d have a lot less money to be barbaric with.

Probably be better all around if the oil had been someplace more civilized, or less populated. The Middle East is basically going to be a hellhole until the oil runs out, or some other energy source makes it uneconomic to extract.

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Plume 08.02.14 at 4:31 pm

Brett,

I know it’s futile arguing this with you. But it’s clear to every objective person in the world that Israel is the aggressor in this case, not the woefully outmatched Hamas fighters, who never would have tried to fight back against Israel if not for the Israeli occupation. And if we take it back further, there is no Arab response against the modern state of Israel if that modern state had not been created out of stolen Arab lands and ethnic cleansing.

It’s very similar in that way to the colonials, and then the young nation’s theft of Native American lands, and their fighting back against that theft. Though, in the case of the USA, other great powers did not decide, behind closed doors, to simply award other people’s land to the USA. The colonials, and then the American people, did it the old fashioned way: they stole it themselves, without the help of great powers.

In both cases, the “barbarians” were and are the Americans and the Israelis, not the Native Americans and the Arabs.

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J Thomas 08.02.14 at 4:36 pm

#204 LFC

“if Jesus Christ had been born in, say, Tonga, the English-speaking world wouldn’t give a solitary shit about the Middle East beyond its capacity for oil production.”

I don’t think so. There are reasons “the English-speaking world” cares about the Middle East beyond oil and the fact that Christ was born there.

It’s the obvious land route between europe and africa. That’s a second reason. And if Christianity had started in Tonga and still spread the way it did, that would make routes to africa more important. On the other hand, if you have a sea route like the Suez, then a land route is not that important.

The trouble with alternate history outside science fiction, though, is that it’s really really hard to tell what would happen and there’s no possible way to verify any claims. Would Judaism have spread without Christianty and Islam to promote it? I don’t know how to tell. Maybe Judaism would be a third reason for the English-speaking part of the world to care about the middle east.

Would Islam have developed the way it did with an african Christianity? If Christianity was not a “religion of the book” that would be a difference, but how important would it be? If we still had Islam that might be a fourth reason to pay attention to the middle east.

But apart from the weird cultural accidents that left english-speaking people focused on middle-east religions, the geography gives us oil, and a land route to africa.

208

Donald Johnson 08.02.14 at 4:55 pm

People are wasting time arguing with Brett. He’s got all the standard pro Israel talking points memorized–actual examples of families being blown up and hospitals shelled and children killed on the beach aren’t going to matter with him if Israel claims there was a tunnel under the building or a rocket was fired nearby. He even just “clarified” his decimation argument. If 10 percent of Gaza’s population is killed and Gaza is leveled, that’s okay with him so long as Israelis aren’t seen to pick people out at random and shoot them. (The key word there, by the way, is “seen”). I don’t use the Warsaw Ghetto comparison because the numbers aren’t anywhere close to that, but if they did get close Brett wouldn’t change his mind. And he wouldn’t use the argument that soldiers fighting in their own country should get out in the open against overwhelming firepower and be killed if it were a mighty Palestinian army somehow moving into Tel Aviv. Then it would be the heroic resistance fighting street to street, with Brett defending their tactics and asking “What do you expect them to do? Stand out in the open and die?” Now Brett will respond to this by saying that Israel wasn’t firing rockets into the WB or Gaza. Of course Israel was shooting at civilians in both places, on a regular basis. It held all Gazans in a vast open air prison. The fact that it supplied just enough food and electricity to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe is supposed to show nobility on Israel’s part, because they could have not done this, in which case Gaza would have not been a prison camp, but a different sort of camp. And here I’m just anticipating some of the other standard arguments. You’d get there eventually.

You see someone like Brett, register what he thinks and move on.

209

Ronan(rf) 08.02.14 at 5:16 pm

Oh, Brett Brett Brett. Brett Brett Brett Brett Brett.

210

Ronan(rf) 08.02.14 at 5:16 pm

Jesus Brett.

211

Brett Bellmore 08.02.14 at 5:20 pm

I think you’re delusional about who is the aggressor here, and polls indicate I’m not alone, the plurality in America agree with me.

Must be painful believing something that “every objective person” knows is true, and then realizing the most people aren’t, by your definition, objective.

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Plume 08.02.14 at 5:21 pm

J Thomas,

If Constantine had not embraced Christianity, it likely would have died out as just another Jewish sect. The massive size of the Roman empire, and its subjugation of most of Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, etc . . . along with its extended trading partners, brought people into contact with the two Levantine monotheisms and spread them. Take Rome out of the picture, and it might just have been Mithraism instead. That was the religion of choice for most of the Roman soldiers of the day.

In reality, Christianity and Judaism were and still are a bad fit for most of the world. Their sharp, ascetic elbows don’t match up with the natural cultural leanings of temperate regions, which tended toward Nature worship, immanence, the spiritualism of Nature, rather than transcendence. And they pretty much all were polytheistic. Deities were everywhere. Which means, ironically, they saw the Christian and Jewish belief systems — at least at first — as “atheism.” Which makes sense. Seeing divinity in all things is being drenched in theism, in a sense, whereas belief in only one, and a transcendent being at that, is just one step removed from atheism.

All in all, except for the great music, art and literature that came from it, the embrace of the three Levantine monotheisms was a tragic, catastrophic mistake, drenched in blood.

213

Plume 08.02.14 at 5:34 pm

Brett,

First of all, a plurality is not “most people.” By definition.

Second, I think our extremely pro-Israel media has a ton to do with the polls. The American people have been washed in AIPAC propaganda for decades now. If our media were even slightly more even-handed, I think you’d see that plurality disappear.

My own trajectory on the issue is the more likely pathway for the majority, in that case. I’m in my late 50s, and once was an ardent supporter of the state of Israel. But the more I opened myself up to alternative views, the more I observed Israeli actions, the more I studied the history, the less I held to earlier beliefs . . . . Until finally, I abandoned my past assumptions entirely. Of course, it also helped my decision-making that Israeli policy has become increasingly militaristic, offensive, aggressive and barbarous, and that it is decades past its underdog status in the region. It is now a nuclear power, with enormous military resources, funding, organizational and logistical advantages . . . fighting against a very weak, rag tag and scattered group, without a fraction of a fraction the firepower or support.

It’s the Israeli school of sharks attacking the Palestinian minnow. IMO, if a person sees what’s actually happening there, and still supports that school of sharks, few words describe them other than sociopath.

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Brett Bellmore 08.02.14 at 5:55 pm

Plume: Given that you haven’t even got a plurality on your side, by definition, most people do not meet your definition of being “objective”.

I’m sorry that you’ve been so radicalized that you can’t recognize who the aggressor is here. Really, I am. But people who hold extreme, minority viewpoints should not fantasize about how they’re obviously right.

215

Donald Johnson 08.02.14 at 5:57 pm

I think that is mostly right, Plume, though I also think there are quite a few Americans who are so deeply embedded (like Brett) in the Israeli narrative that at this point there’s nothing you could have them read or watch that would change their mind. There’s a cultural factor here-the Israelis are US and the Palestinians are the Other. That’s going to matter with a lot of people. But things will change somewhat with the next generation, judging from the polls I’ve seen. Not that this is quick enough for the Palestinians.

I think you are probably romanticizing the polytheistic religions, btw. But I’m no expert.

216

Plume 08.02.14 at 6:42 pm

Donald Johnson,

That generational change is happening in America.

An article on that topic, using a new Pew Poll:

Changing Demographics on Israel

217

LFC 08.02.14 at 6:55 pm

J Thomas:

the geography gives us oil, and a land route to Africa

And the history since 1918 (and before actually — e.g. the British occupied Egypt in the 1880s, Napoleon had an expedition there much earlier in the 19th cent.) gives us the fact that European former-imperial powers, and not just English-speaking ones, have been entangled w the region for some long time. And as we know, these former colonial or quasi-colonial (mandates in the case of the French post-1918) ties, in and of themselves, often make for continuing contemp. interest in the region on the part of the former imperial or mandatory powers. What it all goes back to in terms of geography or oil or hist. of religions is an issue I am neither esp qualified to discuss nor esp interested in discussing, at least not rt now.

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LFC 08.02.14 at 6:56 pm

p.s. and the U.S. has its own history of entanglement w the region, obvs.

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J Thomas 08.02.14 at 6:57 pm

#212

If Constantine had not embraced Christianity, it likely would have died out as just another Jewish sect. The massive size of the Roman empire, and its subjugation of most of Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, etc . . . along with its extended trading partners, brought people into contact with the two Levantine monotheisms and spread them. Take Rome out of the picture, and it might just have been Mithraism instead.

You could easily be right. And yet, Christianity had already spread enough for it to be the default choice for Constantine when he needed a replacement for Mithraism. And Mithraism had secret-society elements which might get in its way as a massive thing. I’ve seen speculations that Christianity’s big advantage was their ladies’ auxiliary and that Mithraism lacked that, although I haven’t really seen any solid evidence that Mithraism lacked that.

Alternate history is hard, though it’s fun to speculate about.

Mithraism might have produced great music, art, and literature. We can’t know without running the control group. I’ve read that the violet was sacred to Mithra so maybe Mithraism might have produced great flowerbeds.

Some people claim that all the religion and ideology etc mask economic concerns. That all the big mass movements and wars etc boil down to economics and the rest is just smoke. If they’re right, maybe that’s an artifact of the particular way our society developed, and if it had been different the economics might have been a constraint that deserved some attention, and not the only thing that really mattered. It could be true without being inevitable.

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LFC 08.02.14 at 6:59 pm

p.p.s. and of course the region was a key Cold War battleground for decades. These things all create their own aftershocks or reverberations, even after the int’l context changes.

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ZhengHe 08.02.14 at 7:19 pm

When I was growing up in the Eighties, there was this dominant theory that Israel/Palestine was the pre-eminent issue of the Middle East, and if only it was solved, all the rest of the problems of the region would be lessened.

It’s obviously been proven wrong in recent years. There are now moderate countries which have more in common with Israel than they do with ISIS or Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is why you see so few demonstrations in the Arab world in support of Hamas in recent weeks. They are obviously isolated, as never before.

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Collin Street 08.02.14 at 7:42 pm

Plume: Given that you haven’t even got a plurality on your side, by definition, most people do not meet your definition of being “objective”.

This is gibberish, Brett. There’s no definitional link between plurality and objectivity.

I just grabbed this at semi-random because it articulates my point best, but pretty much everything you write is the same. Your arguments are word-salad, your judgement worthless. If you’re correct it’s by chance, or because

[you're a weapon, Brett. You've been prepped by some seedy arseholes to make it all about you, to come here and destroy the destroy the conversation like a rhetorical suicide bomber. Because they don't like people saying what we're saying, because they don't want peace and so they don't want the sorts of conversations that lead to peace.

Of course you think you're justified. Everyone, always, thinks their actions justified. "I think I'm justified" is meaningless, what you need to look at is something outside yourself. Which, yes, runs into the same problem above, you aren't guaranteed that those around you are right. But between that and your own judgement -- and a bit of humility -- well... that's all you've got, innit. Have a read-up on cult deprograming techniques: they're useful even for much more minor groupthink-type issues, and most psychological/counselling treatments can be done by the patient themselves.]

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Plume 08.02.14 at 7:52 pm

J Thomas,

I think it’s fair to say that increasing the accumulation of wealth (and the power that comes from wealth), in one form or another, is the dominant driver for all wars. I don’t think that’s a stretch. It also stands to reason that the financial elite of the day is almost always the exclusive (or near exclusive) beneficiary of offensive warfare, with the non-rich generally being fodder. In past ages, one method of bringing that fodder on board was through religious propaganda. Today’s it’s primarily sham promises of democracy covering up for capitalist expansion. Democracy as a substitute for religion, in a sense.

Exceptions here and there.

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Layman 08.02.14 at 8:05 pm

“They are waging a war, and that war has casualties. But they’re not random casualties.”

Since the opposite of ‘random casualties’ would appear to be ‘predicted casualties’, or perhaps even ‘selected casualties’, I’m sure not even the IDF would agree with you…

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Ronan(rf) 08.02.14 at 9:01 pm

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J Thomas 08.02.14 at 11:41 pm

#222 Plume

I think it’s fair to say that increasing the accumulation of wealth (and the power that comes from wealth), in one form or another, is the dominant driver for all wars.

You could be right. I’m no expert on that sort of thing. I read a book by Rappoport, I think the title was The Big Two, that discussed drivers for wars after considering a whole lot of examples.

Their conclusion was that it seemed like lots of people had a veto over whether a war would start, and the more different reasons there were the more likely all the vetoes would be bought off.

Like, usually both militaries think they can survive or one of them will persuade their leader to sue for peace. (But of course these days more than ever before the side that both think will win easily may want to go through the motions of fighting anyway.)

Religious reasons for war help. Nationalist reasons help. It helps if the bad guys are oppressing a third party or their own people, who might welcome a rescuer. It helps if there are strategic resources at stake which can be confiscated, or a strategic military objective (like a warmwater port or the Golan). There was a long list of objectives; many of them didn’t seem to have anything to do with wealthy civilians. Sometimes about preparation for the next war against somebody else.

I think it’s plausible that rich people might often veto a war that would cost them and not give them any benefits. That might happen a lot. And when they think they will benefit by winning a war, that surely is important too. But there could be a lot of other drivers that operate in parallel with that one. Maybe.

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LFC 08.03.14 at 12:14 am

@Plume
When you say silly things like this about the causes of war (i.e., all wars are a result of “capitalist expansion” or “increasing the accumulation of wealth”), you detract from whatever credibility you might have on other subjects (Mondragon, state capitalism, socialism v capitalism etc). I wd suggest you leave the causes of wars alone; it’s not your strong suit.

Oh hey, how about the Six Day War, one of the ur-sources of the current issues being discussed on these threads. What did that have to do w the accumulation of wealth? The question is rhetorical; the answer is “nothing”.

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Anarcissie 08.03.14 at 1:38 am

Well, there’s the Will to Power. One route for it might be through wealth, that is, power over certain kinds of stuff. And then there might be more direct routes. But neither of these would produce war without strong social cohesion among the warriors and their supporters.

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J Thomas 08.03.14 at 2:47 am

Oh hey, how about the Six Day War, one of the ur-sources of the current issues being discussed on these threads. What did that have to do w the accumulation of wealth?

The Israeli economy was in serious trouble before the war. They had four major exports, one of them was oranges and another was cut diamonds after they imported the uncut diamonds. They were sinking. In 1962 the Israeli economy was under $3 billion for more then 2 million Israelis. Luckily, Israel got funding from abroad — US aid and loan guarantees that didn’t have to be paid back, German reparations, lots of private contributions etc that amounted to 25% more than the Israeli GNP. Israel did a whole lot of protectionism which resulted in various inefficient businesses — which however employed large numbers of immigrants who otherwise would have had no jobs. Meanwhile “defense” cost around 25% of GDP.

Israel had all the classic problems of poorly-managed socialist government — subsidized government-run businesses, subsidized private businesses, makework jobs, etc. But at the same time, they could not afford to do otherwise. They could not hope to grow their economy fast enough without heavy central planning, they could not hope to keep unemployment low, and they could not hope to supply their military needs without central direction.

The war changed everything. Israel looked like big winners and got much more aid. Before the war, US private contributions were charity that US Jews owed to the unfortunate. After the war, it was investment in Israel, a nation of winners. The Sinai supplied all their oil needs, and they invested the new aid money in new industries. The USA replaced France (in 1966, before the war) as weapons supplier, and was a far better supplier — we didn’t have to be paid! We officially lent Israel the money to pay for the weapons, and the increasing loans looked bad on Israel’s balance sheet until in 1973 we cancelled the debt.

While the war resulted in a temporary decline in standard of living in Israel, in the medium run it allowed the Israeli economy to come close to break-even for awhile.

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Plume 08.03.14 at 7:10 am

LFC,

Sorry, but it’s far from silly. It’s the truth. And notice I did say there were exceptions. But, basically, all offensive wars are waged to increase the wealth of the powers that be — or the financial elite of that time. And given that we live under capitalist domination now, that means current offensive wars are fought to defend or expand capitalist markets and make the relevant financial elite wealthier. Again, I noted that there are exceptions.

The six day war? Well, a lot of people do get very rich every time wars are fought in the capitalist age. Unlike in previous economic systems, which were far more localized, the market for weapons is international. If you think that both the existence of weapons of war, along with the potential for replacements or expansion of war material has no influence on the launching of first strikes, well, then you are being silly.

There are other reasons for that particular war. But ruling out the resultant increase in wealth for some completely is seriously naive.

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Brett Bellmore 08.03.14 at 12:53 pm

“This is gibberish, Brett. There’s no definitional link between plurality and objectivity.”

He claims his position is objectively true. Only about 20% of the American people accept anything like it. Twice as many accept the opposite viewpoint. This puts the upper limit of “objective” people in the US at 60%, assuming every one of them is objectively ignorant of the subject. But I think we can reasonably assume that the number of “objective” people in the US is closer to the fraction who agree with him, which is to say, about 1 in 5.

The problem here, is that he’s positing a link between objectivity and agreeing with him. Is there ANYTHING we’re allowed to disagree with him about?

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LFC 08.03.14 at 1:26 pm

J Thomas @228
Your comment deals w the economic effects of the war, which is distinct from its causes.

Plume @229
Of the wars currently occupying most people’s or at least the media’s attention, one (Syria plus extensions into Iraq) is basically a civil war that features an org (ISIS) that wants to be a state but isn’t quite (at least not yet); one (Gaza) is betw a state and a non-state org; one (E. Ukraine) is a quasi-secessionist war in which Ukraine and Russia have so far come to only indirect blows. None is a traditional one-country-invading-another war. One of the few recent exs. of the latter, the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, does not seem to have been primarily about increasing the parties’ wealth.

There is a difference betw saying that wars often enrich certain people and saying that “wars are fought to defend or expand capitalist markets and make the relevant financial elite wealthier.” I don’t think the latter statement sheds much light on most wars, not most contemporary ones at any rate. There has been an enormous amt of research on the incidence and causes of diff. kinds of wars. I don’t think much of it supports your argument. Indeed one of the best-supported observations is that ‘developed’ capitalist countries w well-established political systems that are at least formally (if not necessarily substantively) democratic don’t go to war w each other, or at least haven’t since the end of WW1. Their financial elites have managed to enrich themselves w/o their countries going to war w each other.

The mil./ind. complex in the U.S. is a not insignificant part of the economy, to be sure, but its perpetuation depends more on the manufacture of putative threats to justify high spending on ‘defense’ and weapons, rather than on the actual use of those weapons. The U.S. has 14 nuclear submarines and 11 aircraft carriers, and Congress funds them w/o insisting that they be used, or even nec. wanting them to be used, in a war. The F-35 joint strike fighter, not yet finished, has sucked up millions of dollars and the U.S. is planning to spend millions more to enable it to carry tactical nuclear weapons (B-61 gravity bombs), a couple of hundred of which are spread around, pointlessly, in sites in Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands. No one thinks these tactical nuclear weapons are ever going to be used in a war. But as long as the money flows, those companies and contractors that benefit don’t care. They can make money without war.

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LFC 08.03.14 at 1:37 pm

p.s. Plume: On the 6 Day War, the ‘first strike’ to which you refer was a strike in anticipation of being attacked — I’m not talking about whether it was justified or not, but the notion that replacing weapons had anything to do w it I think is far-fetched.

To assert that something is “the truth” (in this case, your view about the causes of “offensive wars”) without being aware of the large amt of research that has been done on the subject seems, to put it charitably, less than helpful to me.

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J Thomas 08.03.14 at 2:30 pm

#231 LFC

Your comment deals w the economic effects of the war, which is distinct from its causes.

True, but when you look for causes. it’s worth considering “qui bono”. That doesn’t always work — sometimes good things happen to people by accident. But it’s worth a look.

Israel had various reasons to want the Sinai. It provided a big buffer against the egyptian army. At any time egypt could block israeli shipping through the Suez canal, but if the canal was permanently blocked Israel would not be any worse off than anybody else. It was land that God specifically gave to Abraham. “To your descendents I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates”. And then there was the oil. At any time the arabs could refuse to sell oil to Israel. Smuggled arab oil was more expensive, and importing oil from elsewhere was almost literally coal to Newcastle, they would not be in a good bargaining position. So there were a lot of motives to attack Egypt and take Sinai.

Israel had sneak-attacked Egypt and taken Sinai before, but Eisenhower made them give it back.

To my way of thinking, wars start when various vetoes are overcome. If the military was not strong enough to win, they would argue against starting a war. (But on the other hand, if they truly believed war was coming and they were too weak to defend, they had to attack.) But Israel had spent a whole lot of money they could hardly afford, building an army and air force that could win.

If the financial experts thought it would cost too much, they would argue against it. But the oil would help, and there were other investments available in Sinai, and they could park settlers there that they didn’t have much other use for.

Did they think out ahead of time to use the war for an international PR blitz? I don’t know.

I once talked with an Iraqi statistician who believed the Israelis were much smarter than anybody else. He thought that they played such a deeper game than anybody else did, that whatever happened was to their benefit. I tend to doubt they’re *that* smart.

Israelis themselves tend to praise their capacity for improvisation, for taking quick advantage of the unexpected.

Israel certainly had planned war against Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon in great detail. The only questions were whether to attack, and when. I don’t think the financial considerations were the only thing to it, but they had to play a part.

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Layman 08.03.14 at 3:07 pm

This ‘human shields’ trope has really dominated the narrative, both among the media and with Western leaders. It’s amazing to me how uncritically it’s accepted. Gaza has the 6th highest population density in the world, nearly 10 times that of Israel. There’s no part of Gaza that isn’t ‘next to’ a civilian facility. There are no official military bases that I know of, presumably because Israel will not suffer them to exist; and if there were, they would necessarily be adjacent to civilian facilities and/or residences, just as Israeli military facilities are sometimes in the middle of densely populated urban areas.

Israeli officials claim Hamas is firing rockets from locations ‘near’ this hospital or that school or those apartment buildings, and then bombs said buildings as if ‘near’ means ‘from’. The world chastises Hamas. But ‘near’ does not mean ‘from’.

Israeli officials decry the tunnels they’ve found, saying they’re ‘terrorist tunnels’ intended to be used to attack Israeli civilians. Yet they have apparently not been so used – every example I’ve seen reported of their use involves attacks on Israeli soldiers. Israeli officials say they know they’re for terror purposes because they emerge near towns, not near Israeli military facilities. This is sheer nonsense; what sort of military strategy involves emerging from holes in the ground in the midst of an armed enemy force?

Israeli says Hamas hides weapons in these tunnels, and command and control facilities. Yet every military force in the world – even Israel – builds command and control bunkers, and stores weapons under concrete.

Israeli officials say Hamas has stored weapons in UN facilities, and the UN agrees this has happened. It’s wrong of Hamas to do this, of course. But my impression is that those cases involved unused / unoccupied facilities. I’m not aware that any of the Israeli strikes on UN facilities were justified by the existence of actual weapons in those actual facilities. In essence, if Hamas one time stores a weapon in an empty school, all schools are now legitimate targets, whether they’re occupied by refugees or not.

The world says Israel must be allowed to kill Palestinian civilians as necessary in pursuit of destroying these tunnels, because the tunnels are a wrongness which demonstrate the perfidy of the Palestinian resistance – that they would stoop to aggression! Yet Gaza exists in a state of war imposed by Israel, in the form of a blockade. It is not a violation of any international standards to defend oneself against another nation, and Gazans surely have the right to resist, to circumvent the blockade, and even to try to end it.

Israel says Hamas fires rockets at targets indiscriminately, by which they mean with the intention of harming civilians. Of course Hamas should not do that. Yet Israel fires weapons at Gaza which cannot avoid harming civilians. They know the harm will result, yet they do it with that clear knowledge. This is the very definition of intent. They argue that they’re shooting at legitimate targets, but the ratio of civilian to military casualties makes it clear either that they have no idea what they’ll hit, or that they don’t care. They can’t even claim exigency – they’re targeting a threat (Hamas rockets) which are militarily irrelevant, and the destruction of those targets can’t possibly provide sufficient ground for willfully killing thousands of innocents.

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LFC 08.03.14 at 3:24 pm

@J Thomas
Nadav Safran, in From War to War: The Arab-Israeli Confrontation, 1948-1967 (1969) writes that “this war, like so many others, was the result of a whole series of miscalculations and misjudgments on the part of all the interested parties,” though he singles out for blame “an elaborate self-deception” by Nasser. (p.267)

Michael Oren’s Six Days of War is apparently now considered the definitive account; I have it on the shelf but have only glanced at it.

Israel might have had reasons to want the Sinai as you observe, but it had managed to do w/o it for some time. Then of course it returned the Sinai to Egypt as part of the ’78 peace treaty.

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Plume 08.03.14 at 4:15 pm

LFC,

You’ve mentioned Israel’s six day war. I will happily grant you that as an exception. Though, again, the fact that Israel had/has the weapons it does, due to capitalist promotion, marketing, lobbying and sales, will make or break the decision to strike. If it did not have that technological superiority, made possible through the selective allocation of resources under the capitalist system (and our support), it never would have attempted war. Unless it wanted national suicide, of course.

Economic factors do not go away.

Perhaps we are both guilty of failing to add enough qualifiers. I can admit that for myself. And I usually do when I talk about the reasons for wars. I generally say “most” or “the vast majority” and “with exceptions.” And, of course, there is a difference between defensive and offensive war. And a difference between attacking another country and fighting internal civil wars, etc. Still, economic factors are always present, to one degree or another.

From my research, I find more than enough evidence to say that most offensive wars — or wars of choice, or wars of aggression — are fought to enrich the powers that be in that particular day and time. And because right now, we live with a capitalist mode of production, they are mostly fought to protect, defend or expand capitalist markets. I really don’t see that statement as controversial.

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mijnheer 08.03.14 at 4:22 pm

@203, Brett Bellmore: “The Israelis are not choosing random people to execute. They are waging a war, and that war has casualties. But they’re not random casualties.”

Quite right: these casualties are not random. Israel is deliberately targeting areas heavily populated with non-combatants, including children, with grossly disproportionate violence. It’s not random. It’s called mass murder and terrorism.

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Plume 08.03.14 at 4:32 pm

mijnheer,

I watched a clip of Hannity discussing this, after he was skewered by a British actor. It’s baffling how blind a person can be to continue to insist that Israel is the victim here, and fighting a supposedly heroic battle against terrorists. Geraldo Rivera, on that same panel, while making cringe-worthy statements about his desire to die for Israel, at least tried to get Hannity to see the massive difference in casualties. At the time of the show, 1300 civilians slaughtered, with perhaps one or two Israeli citizens killed. So if the rationale behind the slaughter of Palestinians is those rockets, and those rockets have pretty much all be successfully blocked, with the civilian losses in the single digits, who is the real “terrorist” here?

Of course, one death is one too many, regardless of the “side.” But when you have 1400 and counting on the Palestinian side, and single digits on the Israeli side, it takes sheer blindness to continue the “terrorist” meme. Blindness or one is just a sociopath.

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Layman 08.03.14 at 4:44 pm

The average Israeli is 7 times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a Hamas rocket or mortar, and 130 times more likely to be killed in traffic. In each of several single attacks over the past week, the IDF have killed more Palestinian civilians than the entire 14-year history of Hamas rockets has killed Israeli civilians.

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Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 4:47 pm

Interesting article on the dynamics of the conflict

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n16/nathan-thrall/hamass-chances

which Bellmore might do well to read, digest(and then undoubtedly ignore.)

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J Thomas 08.03.14 at 5:07 pm

#235 LFC

this war, like so many others, was the result of a whole series of miscalculations and misjudgments on the part of all the interested parties,” though he singles out for blame “an elaborate self-deception” by Nasser

Sure, nobody really knows the whole truth before or after. It’s easy to say Nasser deceived himself because he lost. If Israel had lost it would be others decided to have deceived themselves.

Israel might have had reasons to want the Sinai as you observe, but it had managed to do w/o it for some time. Then of course it returned the Sinai to Egypt as part of the ’78 peace treaty.

Yes, they gave it back in 1957 and did without it for ten years before they took it again. They kept it for 11 years before the USA coerced/bribed them to give it back.

It’s certainly plausible that it was one factor among their reasons to attack.

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Andrew F. 08.03.14 at 6:02 pm

What is the comparison of Israeli and Palestinian casualties intended to demonstrate? Given that Hamas military targets are in Gaza, and that IDF is far more capable of hitting those targets than Hamas is of Israeli targets (though not for lack of trying), one would expect such a disparity.

But this tells us nothing about whether IDF, or Hamas, actions are justified.

Would the conflict somehow be more acceptable if casualties were more evenly distributed?

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Plume 08.03.14 at 6:19 pm

Andrew F,

If the rationale for attacking Gaza is to fight against “terrorists,” and the IDF kills some 1400 civilians instead, that rationale is obviously bogus — and at the very least should be vigorously questioned. And if “terrorism” is the purposeful killing of civilians, and Hamas has killed less than a handful, then it’s obviously absurd to label Hamas, and only Hamas, a “terrorist organization.” The IDF fits that description far, far more than Hamas, at least in this situation.

The same was true when it came to our invasion of Iraq. Bush was the terrorist in that case, not Hussein, though Hussein had his own despicable, disgusting history of killing innocents, etc.

At a minimum, it was never a case of good guy versus bad guy. At best, it was bad guy versus bad guy, with the America bad guy have military superiority to the nth degree, thus making his actions far more unconscionable.

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Layman 08.03.14 at 6:41 pm

‘What is the comparison of Israeli and Palestinian casualties intended to demonstrate?’

That one side is far more guilty of indiscriminately killing civilians than the other; and the claims that Israel’s slaughter of Gazans is justified – by Hamas rockets – are morally bankrupt. Why ever do you ask, Andrew F?

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Plume 08.03.14 at 6:57 pm

I have to update the Palestinian death toll. It’s now more than 1700 and climbing. There have been 67 Israeli deaths, the vast majority of them soldiers.

Israeli just bombed yet another UN shelter, killing 10 more civilians who had tried to escape being blown up elsewhere:

Attack near UN shelter

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Layman 08.03.14 at 7:00 pm

I read this interview with Amos Oz today. Although Oz’s prescription for peace – ending the blockade of Gaza, abandoning (most) West Bank settlements, a two-state solution with economic aid flowing to Palestine – are hard to fault, his way of framing the status quo is frankly execrable. Continuing the ‘human shields’ meme, helikens Hamas to a man with a baby in his lap firing a machine gun into your nursery from the building across the street, and asks what you would do.

As analogies go, you can’t beat it for demonization, but it really doesn’t paint an accurate picture, so let’s improve on it. The man isn’t in an apartment across the street, he’s in a prison across the street. You put him there without trial, and you’re denying him either any chance of reprieve or the basic needs of subsistence. He doesn’t have a machine gun; instead, he has a pile of rocks, and he’s throwing them across the gap. Only he’s blind, see, so on a good day for him he might hit your building. This doesn’t mean the rocks can’t harm if he gets lucky, but in statistical terms they almost never do. And there is a baby, but it is not in his lap, it’s in the room next door. The baby is there because you locked up the whole family, not just the man, so the baby can’t be anywhere else. Your response to this situation is to bomb the building, killing everyone in it.

There are some other gems here. Oz says Israel’s attacks are ‘excessive’ but ‘justified’. This is a pretty toothless criticism; how can they be both?

http://www.dw.de/oz-lose-lose-situation-for-israel/a-17822511

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Andrew F. 08.03.14 at 7:49 pm

I see. So the idea is that if most of the Palestinian casualties are civilians, then Israel is either targeting civilians or using force in a manner that violates the principle of proportionality?

If that is the argument, is there any way for us to tell at this point whether most Palestinian casualties are in fact civilians? It seems to me that, at this point, there are no sufficiently reliable sources of information for judgments to be made about the aggregate of IDF strikes (there may be individual strikes about which we have sufficient information to judge civilian:military casualties).

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Plume 08.03.14 at 7:54 pm

Yes. After 1700 civilians deaths in the matter of a few weeks, it’s the inescapable conclusion, Andrew.

Unless you think they can keep getting that wrong for the last month.

“Whoops! We killed another dozen civilians by mistake!” all the way up to 1700.

250

Suzanne 08.03.14 at 7:59 pm

@203: “But they’re not random casualties.”

Very possibly not. The IDF seems to subscribe to the view that “nits make lice.”

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Layman 08.03.14 at 7:59 pm

“If that is the argument, is there any way for us to tell at this point whether most Palestinian casualties are in fact civilians.”

The UN says so, and Israel doesn’t deny it. The media on the ground say so. Since the Israelis are bombing hospitals and refugee shelters, reason says so. There’s photographic evidence of dead & injured children in abundance. It’s not all some conspiracy to annoy Andrew F. Sorry.

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mijnheer 08.03.14 at 8:31 pm

@247, Andrew F.
Here’s what may be going on: Palestinian parents are throwing their children into the paths of incoming bombs just to make Israel look bad. When you think about it, what other reasonable explanation could there be?

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Andrew F. 08.03.14 at 8:34 pm

The UN and the media are relying on sources within Hamas controlled areas. Let me emphasize that the numbers may well be correct. But at this early point, especially given problems in the past concerning this issue, I’m still inclined to view the numbers with uncertainty.

Taking them at face value, OCHA appears to put the civilian:military casualty ratio at about 2:1. See OCHA Situation Report 2 August.

Is that ratio sufficient for us to judge that the IDF is deliberately targeting civilians or using disproportionate force?

Before you answer, consider two additional questions:

1 – what are civilian:combatant casualty ratios in similar operations?

2 – do we need to know whether Hamas exacerbated the number of civilian casualties by their actions in using these numbers to judge the IDF?

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J Thomas 08.03.14 at 8:38 pm

#246 Layman

Oz says Israel’s attacks are ‘excessive’ but ‘justified’. This is a pretty toothless criticism; how can they be both?

He figures they’re right to retaliate, but they hit too hard.

Speaking for myself, if it was me, I might try a more proportionate response. Find a clear spot somewhere that doesn’t have anybody in it. There has to be one. Maybe in the 1000 to 2000 meter stretch of Gaza where anybody gets shot if they go there. And maybe every time somebody in Gaza sends across a rocket that doesn’t do any real damage, respond by putting one little RPG round into that area and announce that you have retaliated.

And then if they make an attack that actually kills somebody, then you send one single rocket or bomb into Gaza in a more-or-less-random spot that kills 20 or 30 or 100 palestinians. And again you announce that you have retaliated and you quit.

The objective after all is to make Palestinians feel like nothing they do makes any real difference, you want them to feel like they are utterly defeated and powerless. When Israelis get all upset about insignificant attacks it sends entirely the wrong message. It makes Palestinians feel important.

So ignore them. And when they make an insignificant attack then make an insignificant retalation, as a sort of offhand sneering insult, and go back to ignoring them.

And when they make an attack that actually does some damage, then hit back hard enough to keep them from feeling like it’s won them anything, and then go back to ignoring them.

The Israelis used to know this. When did they unlearn it? Maybe it’s reached the point they in fact don’t care any more how Palestinians feel about things, but only care what their own voters and western foreigners think.

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Robert Schwartz 08.03.14 at 8:41 pm

Andrew F.

IDF puts the figure at 47% militants as casualties. Which leads us to believe that even they acknowledge that the majority are noncombatants.

It is also not a matter of doubt that ambulances, hospitals and press facilities, as well as the UNRWA facilities have been targeted.

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Layman 08.03.14 at 8:47 pm

“Taking them at face value, OCHA appears to put the civilian:military casualty ratio at about 2:1. See OCHA Situation Report 2 August.”

Oddly enough, that’s precisely the ratio of civilian:military casualties inflicted by Hamas in their 14 years of rocket and mortar attacks. So the IDF & Israeli government must also be terrorist organizations. And, given the massive difference in the number of casualties, and the much higher casualty rate of their attacks (at least two orders of magnitude!), they’re much more active and prolific terrorists. Of course, they’re better armed and funded, so that helps, right?

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Andrew F. 08.03.14 at 9:54 pm

@Robert Schwartz: Thanks for the 47% number. I’m inclined to view it with some uncertainty as well, for similar reasons. A 1:1 civilian casualty ratio would be – very much only in a sense relative to other conflicts of this type – better than I would have expected.

@Layman: It’s not Hamas’s civilian casualty ratio that makes them a terrorist organization.

@J Thomas: So essentially you would advocate a tit for tat strategy?

258

Seth Gordon 08.03.14 at 9:57 pm

9/11 was an attack on US soil by a less-technologically-sophisticated opponent that killed 3,000 civilians, and the response by the US to that attack was billed as a war of self-defense. So it seems apposite to use it as a point of reference.

According to the Iraq Body Count project, there have been about 111,000 civilian deaths due to both coalition and insurgent activity, and about 62,000 combatant deaths. In Afghanistan, there have been slightly over 2,000 US military deaths, between 20,000 and 35,000 Taliban deaths, and between 18,000 to 20,000 Afghan civilian casualties.

So it seems to me that if one’s definition of “proportional” response is either “don’t kill too many of them in response to each casualty of your own” or “don’t kill too many of their civilians for each one of their combatants”, then Israel is meeting the standard set by the United States.

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Layman 08.03.14 at 10:03 pm

” A 1:1 civilian casualty ratio would be – very much only in a sense relative to other conflicts of this type – better than I would have expected.”

You think the UN-reported 2:1 ratio overstates civilian casualties, while the IDF-reported rate of 1:1 understates them. At least we’ve determined what you’re prepared to believe.

“It’s not Hamas’s civilian casualty ratio that makes them a terrorist organization.”

Oh, good, so we’ll be spared more self-righteous nonsense about how they target civilians while Israel doesn’t.

Glad we cleared up both those points.

260

godoggo 08.03.14 at 10:04 pm

261

Layman 08.03.14 at 10:06 pm

“then Israel is meeting the standard set by the United States.”

No. In order to meet *that* standard, it would have been necessary for Israel to invade Tonga.

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J Thomas 08.03.14 at 10:13 pm

So it seems to me that if one’s definition of “proportional” response is either “don’t kill too many of them in response to each casualty of your own” or “don’t kill too many of their civilians for each one of their combatants”, then Israel is meeting the standard set by the United States.

No, the USA met the standard set by Israel.

That’s partly because we got expert Israeli advice about how to pacify occupied populations.

Also about how to do interrogations.

263

Plume 08.03.14 at 10:17 pm

Seth Gordon,

Our “standard” is horrifically bad, and not one to emulate. America has a long history of wiping out hundreds or thousands of times more people than it loses.

Korea, for instance. 2-4 million civilian deaths to our roughly 36,000.
Vietnam: 3 million civilians to our roughly 58,000.
Gulf War: Roughly 100,000 to our 294
The Iraq War: Still to be determined, but well over 100,000 — some say as many as a million — to our 4480.

It’s not a good defense for Israel to say they’re like us.

264

Andrew F. 08.03.14 at 10:25 pm

@Layman: I’ve not seen persuasive evidence that IDF, as a matter of policy, acts without discriminating between combatants and non-combatants, much less targets non-combatants. It’s beyond doubt that Hamas does both.

But that doesn’t answer the question of whether the IDF actions are proportionate, which imho is the only live question here. Personally, I’d wager that they are, though I still think it will be only after the dust settles that a reliable assessment can be made.

265

Seth Gordon 08.03.14 at 10:29 pm

The thing that makes Hamas a terrorist organization is not who they hit, but who they aim at. They weren’t firing missiles at Israeli army bases, missing, and hitting the town next door; they were firing missiles at the nearest civilian population centers. Every one of those missiles is a war crime, even the ones that don’t hit anything.

And they make no secret of their intent. I see a lot of accusations that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinians, but Hamas’s intent is clear in its charter and its propaganda. They do not describe themselves as opposed to the Israeli state or even Zionists, but Jews.

J Thomas above spins a model of what Israel could have done; let me provide my own regarding what Hamas could have done. The Mavi Marmara incident proved that nonviolent action could embarrass Israel into loosening its blockade; as a result of that incident, Israel let more “dual-use” materials into Gaza. Among these materials was concrete. Hamas could have used its imports to develop the Gaza civilian economy, and perhaps even staged more nonviolent actions to goad Israel into further concessions. It could have used the concrete to build bomb shelters for Palestinian civilians. Instead it chose to build out its tunnel network for the sake of attacking Israel—i.e., doing the kind of thing that the stricter blockade was intended to prevent.

In response to the “human shields” talking point, a common counterpoint seems to be “well, Gaza is so densely populated that of course any place they attack from is going to have civilians”. But Hamas chooses where to attack from. They could have announced at the start of the conflict “we have no weapon emplacements, combatants, or other military targets in neighborhoods A, B, or C; these are safe havens for Palestinian civilians to flee into”. Had they done so, and had Israel dropped bombs on any of these neighborhoods without evidence that Hamas had broken its word, then Israel would have clearly been in the wrong.

266

Plume 08.03.14 at 10:31 pm

Andrew F,

Hamas is obviously targeting Israeli soldiers, not civilians. The casualty ratio is roughly 99% soldiers. Last time I checked, only two Israeli civilians had been killed.

OTOH, the IDF has killed more than 1700 Palestinian civilians.

It’s not close.

267

engels 08.03.14 at 10:41 pm

most people aren’t, by your definition, objective

And this is supposed to be the slam-dunk?

268

Andrew F. 08.03.14 at 10:43 pm

@Seth: Well put

@Plume: Yes, Hamas seems to be much more proficient at getting Palestinians killed than it is at killing Israelis. Nonetheless, as a matter of policy they fail to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants, and have deliberately targeted non-combatants. Neither inept Hamas attacks nor skillful IDF defenses alters that point. You do see that, right?

Again, this doesn’t establish that the IDF is acting proportionately, but the ludicrous attempts to establish equivalency between the IDF and Hamas only undermine any reasonable points you might make.

269

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 10:50 pm

#256 Andrew F.

J Thomas: So essentially you would advocate a tit for tat strategy?

No, not really. Tit for Tat is good when you want to maintain flexible stability. You don’t let the other guy think he’s winning, and you leave room for negotiation in case he’s willing to do that, etc.

But the Israeli goal is to get their enemies to give up utterly, to accept that Israel can do anything Israel wants and there is nothing they can do about it, to surrender abjectly.

So when a Palestinian attack fails, laugh at them and sneer at them and make sure they understand that they failed again and they will always fail — but don’t do it so emphaticly that it looks like you really care. They aren’t important enough to pay much attention to.

But if they actually do accomplish something you can’t just pretend nothing happened. So then you want to be utterly ferocious. Hit them a hundred times harder than they hit you. Hit innocent people as well as (if possible) the ones who did the attack. Make sure they know that if they hurt you they are hurting dozens or even hundreds of their own innocents. Make sure they understand that by hurting you they did not actually win anything, that it hurt themselves a whole lot worse than it hurt you.

Recently Israel failed at that. Palestinians captured an Israeli soldier. The right thing to do was to kill a bunch of Palestinians and then treat him as dead. But Israeli politics did not allow that. They actually negotiated and gave up Palestinian prisoners in exchange for him.

That was objectively no big deal. Israel can pick up as many Palestinians as they want from the West Bank or Gaza whenever they want them. They’ve already recaptured some of the ones they had last time. But it looked like a victory to Palestinians. Israelis actually negotiated with them and made a deal and kept it. So they’ve been trying to capture another Israeli soldier ever since. This is the only way they’ve found to get Israelis to negotiate, so they’ll repeat it as much as they can. Israeli strategy should have given them no way at all to get Israelis to negotiate about anything.

Begin had been a terrorist himself. He knew what it was like. It’s hard to stay hopeful when you’re weak and you don’t have much to be hopeful about. He knew to never let a palestinian ever have the smallest victory. Hit them, smash them, humiliate them, but do it in an offhand way, not like they’re important. You’re just mowing the grass, spraying the cockroaches. They don’t matter. Just a few insignificant people who need to die and who will die when they get in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not important to aim at carefully at fighters. Killing a bunch of innocents near them is good enough.

That prisoner exchange was a bad move. It happened because really, *truthfully*, Israel didn’t care what palestinians thought nearly as much as they cared what their own soft voters thought. But it gave palestinians hope and that will cause Israel trouble for months or years.

270

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 11:16 pm

“but the ludicrous attempts to establish equivalency between the IDF and Hamas only undermine any reasonable points you might make.”

All Israel has to do is assert that it is not trying to kill civilians and then go ahead and use indiscriminate firepower and its Western apologists will fall into line. Rather the way they do on, say, America’s behavior in Operation Speedy Express in Vietnam.

271

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 11:31 pm

“They do not describe themselves as opposed to the Israeli state or even Zionists, but Jews.”

In the charter, but that’s not what Khaled Meshaal told Charlie Rose in the recent interview. He said Hamas was willing to live with Christians and Jews and of course Jews do visit Gaza. Meshaal would not say he would live with Israel as a Jewish state, but only that if there was an independent state of Palestine the Palestinians could make that decision.

As for Hamas’s intent with respect to the rockets, they know as well as anyone how ineffective they are. If the rocket bombardment had killed hundreds, Gaza would be a pile of rubble from one end to the other. Hamas is ruthless and hides its weapons in civilian areas much like any guerilla group, including the Zionist militias in the 30’s and 40’s.

And the idea that Israel is simply making mistakes in its killing doesn’t pass the smell test. They blow up homes with families inside and they shot those kids on the beach and they keep hitting schools and hospitals. Has anyone mentioned the Dahiya doctrine?

272

godoggo 08.03.14 at 11:37 pm

Dear Roy. I apologize for calling you a piece of shit. That was bad and wrong.

Beyond that, Donald’s covered it.

J Thomas, I get what your doing. N Korea is also popular for this purpose if you ever need fresh material.

273

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 11:40 pm

You might be in the wrong thread, godoggo. The one that turned into an analysis of Roy’s output is the sociopathy one.

274

godoggo 08.03.14 at 11:40 pm

sorry, “you’re”

275

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 11:43 pm

The “Angry Arab” had this post up about some fanatical group that hid weapons in houses of worship–

link

276

godoggo 08.03.14 at 11:43 pm

OK, but it’s the right thread for the bit for J Thomas.

277

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 11:43 pm

Link didn’t work. Try again.

link to Angry Arab post, I hope

278

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 11:49 pm

#271 godoggo

J Thomas, I get what your doing. N Korea is also popular for this purpose if you ever need fresh material.

No thanks, Godoggo. Israel provides me with all the fresh material I could possibly need.

279

Collin Street 08.03.14 at 11:51 pm

They blow up homes with families inside and they shot those kids on the beach and they keep hitting schools and hospitals.

They telephone hospitals to tell them they’re going to be bombed.
+ hard to argue that they didn’t know it was a hospital
+ hard to argue pressing military necessity if you’re giving the terrorists time to evacuate.

Ergo, violation of third and fourth geneva convention. Even if we accept everything the zionists tell us at face value, that there are huge stockpiles of missiles and what-have-you.

The problem for us here — also the problem for the gazans — is that you can drag up marginalised people from any population. Give ‘em a gun or a keyboard [or a suicide belt] and tell them they’re heroes and send them off to die.

We have to structure our society to give marginalised people the tools to recognise when they’re being exploited in this way. I don’t know how.

280

ZM 08.04.14 at 12:19 am

Re: the causes of the six day war

“Then came the Six-Day War of 1967. Though the conflict had many causes, water was prominent among them. “In reality,” Ariel Sharon later recalled, “the Six-Day War started two and a half years earlier on the day Israel decided to act against the diversion of the Jordan. . . . [T]he matter of water diversion was a stark issue of life and death.” Israeli troops occupied Jerusalem, the Sinai, Gaza—and of far greater hydrological importance—the West Bank and the Golan Heights. With the West Bank, Israel won the Jordan itself and the three massive groundwater basins—Western, Eastern, and Northeastern—collectively known as the Mountain Aquifer. With the Golan Heights, it gained control over Lake Tiberias and the Jordan’s headwaters. Palestinians were immediately forbidden access to the river. Two months later, Israel issued a military order granting the army authority over all “water issues” in the West Bank. Another order three months later prohibited the construction of any new “water installation” without a permit issued by the Israel Defense Forces. For the next forty-four years, not a single new Palestinian well would be dug in the Western Aquifer, 85 percent of which lies within the boundaries of the West Bank.”
From Drip, Jordan: Israel’s water war with Palestine
http://harpers.org/archive/2011/12/drip-jordan/

281

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 1:13 am

They telephone hospitals to tell them they’re going to be bombed.
+ hard to argue that they didn’t know it was a hospital
+ hard to argue pressing military necessity if you’re giving the terrorists time to evacuate.

Ergo, violation of third and fourth geneva convention. Even if we accept everything the zionists tell us at face value, that there are huge stockpiles of missiles and what-have-you.

Actually, fulfillment of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 19: “The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit, and after such warning has remained unheeded.” See also Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention, 57(2)(c): “With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken:… effective advance warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.”

282

Layman 08.04.14 at 1:19 am

@ Andrew F

“I’ve not seen persuasive evidence that IDF, as a matter of policy, acts without discriminating between combatants and non-combatants, much less targets non-combatants. It’s beyond doubt that Hamas does both.”

This is a function of your bias, not the evidence. You aren’t convinced, because you can’t be convinced. Israel undoubtably uses weapons and targeting protocols which result in the unnecessary death of innocents. That Israel does so is Israel’s fault, not the fault of Hamas.

To be clear, my point is not that Hamas is right. They are certainly not. Rather, my point is that Israel is no longer right – that their response to the wrongs of their enemies has been to become like their enemies. Their only possible redemption is to abandon the West Bank & Gaza, recognize the Palestinian state in being there, and figure out how to make it politically and economically viable rather than a breeding ground for extremism.

283

Layman 08.04.14 at 1:21 am

“Actually, fulfillment of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 19: “The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. “

There’s no evidence that this has occurred. If you think it has, produce the evidence.

284

Andrew F. 08.04.14 at 1:35 am

@Donald: As for Hamas’s intent with respect to the rockets, they know as well as anyone how ineffective they are.

The purpose of the rockets is to terrorize the civilian population, and Hamas has stated as much. While the rockets are ineffective against military targets, that is not their primary purpose.

Hamas is ruthless and hides its weapons in civilian areas much like any guerilla group, including the Zionist militias in the 30′s and 40′s.

It also uses hospitals as command and control facilities, schools as weapons depots, mosques and hospitals as cover and concealment from which to fire weapons.

In doing so it commits war crimes and deprives those locations of protected status. It exposes the sick and the wounded, and the medical and religious personnel caring for them, to military action in such cases.

None of this means that IDF has acted proportionately, but let’s keep a modicum of reality in these discussions while considering that question.

@Collin: They telephone hospitals to tell them they’re going to be bombed.
+ hard to argue that they didn’t know it was a hospital
+ hard to argue pressing military necessity if you’re giving the terrorists time to evacuate.

I’ll let you guess what the Geneva Convention requires a Party to do, if possible, when it determines that a hospital has lost protected status.

That’s right – give notice of the fact to the hospital.

285

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 1:37 am

“Hamas transformed Wafa Hospital, a civilian building in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza City, into a command center, rocket-launching site, observation point, sniper’s post, weapons storage facility, cover for tunnel infrastructure, and a general base for attacks against Israel and IDF forces. Hamas repeatedly opened fire from hospital windows and used anti-tank missiles from the premises. Hamas deliberately and cynically turned the hospital into a legitimate military target.”

http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/28/hamas-uses-hospitals-ambulances-military-purposes/

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Andrew F. 08.04.14 at 1:40 am

@Seth: Beat me to it.

@Layman: Ample evidence, documented by video and by journalists of different and well-respected outlets. Check out William Booth’s reporting on the use of the Shifa Hospital in The Washington Post, for example.

287

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 1:41 am

(I might as well post the link to the contrary story regarding Wafa Hospital: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/israel-used-fabricated-images-justify-bombing-al-wafa-hospital)

288

LFC 08.04.14 at 1:47 am

The latest IDF attack on a UN school (in Rafah), which killed 10 people incl. a child, is a clear violation of proportionality: acc to the WaPo report quoting witnesses, the missile struck a motorcycle then crashed into the road, resulting in shrapnel flying everywhere. (The intended target was three people on the motorcycle driving by the school.) Ban Ki Moon’s statement that this missile firing was “a moral outrage and criminal act” seems right. If the plane was close enough to hit the motorcycle w a missile, it was presumably close enough to see, either w the naked eye or via the onboard technology that top-of-the-line jet fighters have, what the motorcycle was driving past (i.e., a group of people lining up to buy food, etc.). This puts some burden on the people flying the jet and firing the missile, but that’s what’s required in this case to avoid a criminal act.

289

LFC 08.04.14 at 1:50 am

290

Donald Johnson 08.04.14 at 1:59 am

“The purpose of the rockets is to terrorize the civilian population, and Hamas has stated as much.”

The civilian death toll is 3. And the thing Hamas still hasn’t learned is the Western way of hypocrisy. They could still terrorize the Israeli population and claim they are aiming at military targets. I’m told (no link) that the Israeli equivalent to the Pentagon is in Tel Aviv. Fire away then and claim one is aiming at military targets as best one can.

Terrorizing the population of Gaza is much much easier for the Israelis, and they can also claim they aren’t intending to do it. Much smarter PR tactic.

I will check out the Washington Post story and the evidence for it. IDF claims are about as plausible as those of Hamas–actually less so, since Hamas is open about some of its war crimes. And in the worst case scenario, if it is true, destroying a hospital because it is a Hamas “command and control” center is wildly disproportionate. What’s the Israeli civilian death toll again? And one of those was a Bedouin, killed because Hamas does shoot those rockets at random and also because Israel didn’t built bomb shelters for them.

I assume the homes with families killed and all the hospitals were command and control centers too. Probably that shack on the beach when the children were killed as well.

And is everyone simply supposed to forget the Dahiya doctrine, which was about Hezbollah but would logically apply here as well? The idea is that any village from which a rocket is fired is destroyed–Israel won’t recognize it as a civilian area. One of the interesting features about both the US and Israel is that sometimes some official will let the cat out of the bag and admit that some policy is meant to hurt or “punish” the civilian population. The only people in the US who ever refer to such moments are the war critics–the apologists for the US or Israeli action always seem to avoid it, or, like Isabel Kershner in the NYT a couple of days ago, strip out the explicit references to punishing civilians. Here is the link to an Israeli paper link

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Donald Johnson 08.04.14 at 2:00 am

And here’s an extended quote from that link I just printed above–
———————————————————-
What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on,” said Gadi Eisenkot, head of the army’s northern division.

Dahiya was a Hizbullah stronghold that Israel flattened in sustained air raids during a 34-day war with the Shiite group two years ago.

“We will apply disproportionate force on it (village) and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases,” Eisenkot told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

“This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved,” Eisenkot added.
———————————————-

I’m sure Israel would deny that it is doing this in Gaza, but it sure looks like what it is doing in Gaza.

292

Anarcissie 08.04.14 at 2:06 am

Seth Gordon 08.03.14 at 10:29 pm:
‘The thing that makes Hamas a terrorist organization is not who they hit, but who they aim at….’

I don’t agree with this definition of terrorism, but anyway, I gather from the results that the missiles Hamas is firing are pathetically inferior and probably cannot be aimed in a serious, mature, telegenic manner. If they could aim the missiles accurately, perhaps they could graduate from terrorism to some higher standard, like guerrilla warfare, and help balance the body counts. The solution to the problem seems obvious: Hamas must be supplied with better missiles.

293

Donald Johnson 08.04.14 at 2:08 am

Well, this is fascinating–

link

So according to that link, one reason Israel is sure that the hospital is being used as a command and control center by Hamas is because the Israelis built the damn bunker under the hospital. Doesn’t excuse Hamas, of course. But why’d they do that, hmm?

And given the fact that the Hamas rocket bombardment death toll is 3 (i.e., fewer than the number of Gazan civilians killed by Israel in the spring of 2014), it does seem a little disproportionate to blow up a hospital.

And as I said earlier, the Israeli guerilla groups in the 30s and 40s did the same things–hid weapons in synagogues and other civilian places. Which is what you’d expect from guerilla groups–if they were powerful armies with military bases able to fight on equal terms with their enemies they wouldn’t be guerilla groups.

294

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 2:22 am

“A television reporter from the Finnish Helsingin Sanomat confirmed Friday that Hamas has been firing rockets out of the Al-Shifa Hospital. The reporter, who was not named in the television segment shot on-site at Gaza City’s main hospital, said a rocket was launched “right in the back the parking lot” of the hospital at 2 a.m. on Friday morning. ‘Really, it happened right in the area, the sound of it was really loud,’ she said,…”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/finnish-tv-rockets-fired-from-gaza-hospital/

295

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 3:04 am

I tried to track that to the original source, but for awhile everything I found directly from Helsingin Sanomat was in finnish.

I did find this:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4553643,00.html

296

Peter T 08.04.14 at 3:11 am

There’s a lot of “Hamas wants this” or “Hamas wants that”. Why is Hamas an ideological monolith? I am sure it has its internal arguments. If the whole group is worthy of obliteration because of the opinions of some of its members, well, members of the Knesset have called for the complete dispossession of all Palestinians, Israeli academics have called for the indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian villages to drive them over the border to Jordan, Israeli parties represented in the Knesset have advocated a Greater Israel stretching from the Euphrates to Suez (“all the lands of Solomon”) and so on. A hard-line Palestinian is a reason to shoot at any Palestinian. A hard-line Israeli with a record of effective violent aggression is just, you know, an aberration.

297

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 3:13 am

Perhaps the Israelis built a bunker under Shifiya Hospital because, back when they controlled Gaza, and were expecting to control it for the forseeable future, they wanted to protect patients and medical staff from being bombed by an enemy that had no compunction about targeting hospitals. What enemy might they have been thinking of, hmm?

As for the Dahiyya Doctrine, if Israel was working by that doctrine in 2006 and an army spokesman was willing to say so in public in 2006, and they’re working by the same doctrine today, why aren’t they making a similar announcement today? Are they using cluster bombs today, as they used them in 2006?

298

Plume 08.04.14 at 3:32 am

Andrew F @267,

That’s interesting. Apparently, for you, when the IDF murders 1700 Palestinian civilians, it’s Hamas’s fault. And when Hamas attacks and kills Israeli soldiers, it’s Hamas’s fault. The latter, of course, makes sense. The former? You’re in deep denial.

Also, a lot of people on the pro-Israel side are saying, “This is war. Death is expected.” Okay. Hamas has targeted and killed virtually no one but Israeli combatants, soldiers from a military vastly superior to any in the middle east. The Palestinian people don’t have a military — no army, no navy, no air force. The Israelis have the best in the middle east, by far, along with a nuclear arsenal.

But it’s Hamas that is supposedly indiscriminately killing Israeli non-combatants, and the IDF is supposedly not killing Palestinian non-combatants, even though both assertions are absolutely countered by the evidence. It’s not close. The IDF is obviously the terrorist group in this scenario, ordered to do this by the hard-right Israeli government.

299

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 3:49 am

Hamas has targeted civilian populations. It only became more successful at killing Israeli soldiers because those soldiers actually came into Gaza as ground troops.

Yes, Israel is militarily superior to Gaza. So what? That doesn’t automatically make Israel wrong, any more than Israel defeating numerically superior opponents in other wars automatically makes it right. And the doctrine of proportionality does not mean that if your enemy brings five tanks to a battle and you bring ten, you are somehow cheating. A war is not a duel.

300

Plume 08.04.14 at 4:08 am

Seth,

This makes my point for me:

Hamas has targeted civilian populations. It only became more successful at killing Israeli soldiers because those soldiers actually came into Gaza as ground troops.

Hamas has supposedly fired thousands of rockets, 99.9% of which fell harmlessly to the ground due to the missile shied system. Israel’s response should have been negotiations, not slaughter. It lost one civilian and three soldiers and decided to bomb all of Gaza into the stone age because of that, instead of seeking out the killers themselves, and only those killers, or trying to resolve the situation via diplomacy.

Israel actually has a military — again, the most powerful by far in the middle east. Gaza is a prison camp, OTOH, thanks to Israel, with no chance of going toe to toe with that military. None. It is no threat from afar.

So in this scenario, Israel is like an 800 pound gorilla beating the shit out of a little kitten and it’s despicable. The relative power of the two is so monstrously unequal, I honestly can’t believe how anyone could possibly support Israel in this. I really find it appalling. Not as appalling, obviously, as the murder of those 1700 civilians. But it’s still appalling.

301

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 4:19 am

Plume, you seem to be arguing that the missiles coming out of Gaza do not cause significant damage to Israel, because hardly anyone is actually being killed by them.

Would you also say that Israel’s blockade of Gaza does not cause significant damage to Gaza, because hardly anyone is killed trying to run the blockade?

302

Plume 08.04.14 at 4:28 am

Seth,

The blockade of Gaza causes immense suffering via loss of food and medical supplies, etc. as well as crushing its already impoverished economy.

The rocket attacks on Israel do none of that. Israel has all of its supply lines intact. Its economy is unaffected.

And this is not just about proportionality. This is about the monstrous idea that if a few people in one place commit a certain act, then that entire place must be leveled/destroyed, and the loss of life is simply a part of that leveling.

It’s similar to our invasion of Iraq for something 19 people committed, mostly from Saudi Arabia. Bush decided to bomb Iraq into the stone age — the second time a Bush did so — for something they had nothing to do with. 99.9% of the people of Gaza had nothing to do with the kidnappings that were the ostensible reason for the IDF attacks.

It’s unforgivable and indefensible to butcher Gazans for the acts of a few. Just a few. And that’s if we ignore the fact that the Israeli occupation itself is the actual “first act” in this ongoing war.

303

engels 08.04.14 at 4:57 am

you seem to be arguing that the missiles coming out of Gaza do not cause significant damage to Israel, because hardly anyone is actually being killed by them

Yes, let’s not forget about this:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/owl-hurt-by-hamas-fire-recovering/

304

Peter T 08.04.14 at 6:51 am

BBC reports: Every year, hundreds of people, including many civilians, die along the Line of Contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan as the result of skirmishes and sniper fire

Clearly only the complete destruction of Yerevan/Baku (your pick) can atone for this dastardly state of affairs, for no country can be expected to put up with such a situation.

Also: Indians killed in Kashmir by Pakistani militants. Nuclear strike on Islamabad the only responsible course, says Delhi.

305

Brett Bellmore 08.04.14 at 10:43 am

“So in this scenario, Israel is like an 800 pound gorilla beating the shit out of a little kitten and it’s despicable. “

So, the 800 lb gorilla is supposed to just let psycho-kitty keep attacking it, until the psycho-kitty gets hold of some cobra venom, or something like that, and actually kills the gorilla?

Because, you know, it’s not like Hamas is actually becoming more sophisticated in it’s efforts to kill Israelis as time goes by. Or Israel is spending a good part of it’s GDP defending itself against the attacks.

No, the gorilla has to wear armor all the time, and sleep with one eye open, instead of stepping on psycho-kitty. Because in addition to being psycho, the kitty is small, and that automatically excuses the psycho part.

306

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 11:30 am

The blockade of Gaza causes immense suffering via loss of food and medical supplies, etc. as well as crushing its already impoverished economy.

The rocket attacks on Israel do none of that. Israel has all of its supply lines intact. Its economy is unaffected.

Having air-raid sirens go off on practically a weekly basis, over a period of years—including during nominal cease-fires—has not left the economy of southern Israel “unaffected”.

And this is not just about proportionality. This is about the monstrous idea that if a few people in one place commit a certain act, then that entire place must be leveled/destroyed, and the loss of life is simply a part of that leveling.

If by “the entire place” you mean Gaza in general, then I agree that it would be monstrous. But I am also opposed to the contrary idea, namely, that Israel is responsible for the death of every single civilian that was used as a human shield for a legitimate military target. Israel is responsible for minimizing civilian deaths in the course of its military operations, but not for calling off every single attack that might incidentally kill any civilians, nor for inventing a magic death ray that will always kill combatants and leave civilians intact.

307

ZM 08.04.14 at 11:35 am

this is the closest true story I know about a gorilla and a kitten

308

Barry 08.04.14 at 12:05 pm

I love that term ‘human shield’. It takes ‘collateral damage’, and makes it OK!

309

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 12:21 pm

#300 Seth Gordon

Plume, you seem to be arguing that the missiles coming out of Gaza do not cause significant damage to Israel, because hardly anyone is actually being killed by them.

Would you also say that Israel’s blockade of Gaza does not cause significant damage to Gaza, because hardly anyone is killed trying to run the blockade?

As usual, the discussion has degenerated into an argument about who is justified in doing what they do.

This is a dead end. There is no cheese at the end of this tunnel. There is nothing to be gained by this, unless you want the status quo.

If we decide that Israel is justified and Hamas is not justified, we get the status quo which is disgusting and bad.

If we decide that Israel is justified and Hamas is justified too, we get the status quo again.

If we decide that Hamas is justified and Israel is not justified, then we get to impotently watch while evil prevails, and we can complain about it, and nothing will happen in the short or medium run. We can talk about BDS and begin to get some traction.

If we decide that neither Israel nor Hamas are justified then we again get to watch impotently while evil prevails and the USA supports one bad side against an insignificant other bad side.

It is a dead end. It is an attempt to justify evil. It does not matter who is “right” any more than it matters whether your furnace or your thermostat is right in their endless war to raise and lower your temperature.

It is not right to continue this cycle. If you decide that one side is right to do their part to continue the destructive useless expensive (for the USA) cycle, you are doing evil.

310

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 12:33 pm

There are two kinds of “justified” here.

“Is Israel a legitimate state acting out of self-defense, or is Hamas engaged in a legitimate war of national liberation?” is a jus ad bellum question. That’s a zero-sum kind of question—it’s an overstatement to say that only one side can be right, but generally speaking if one side is “more right” then the other is “less right”.

“Is Israel/Hamas following international humanitarian law when it pursues its war aims?” is a jus in bello question. For this, both sides can be right (cf. the Falklands war) or both sides can be wrong (cf. the Sri Lanka civil war).

One can be “right” in a jus ad bellum sense but wrong in a jus in bello sense, and vice versa.

311

LFC 08.04.14 at 12:43 pm

After posting #287, I expected someone to give a long lecture/explanation about jet-fighter technology, which is what would prob have happened at LGM. (On balance it may be just as well that no one did.)

312

Collin Street 08.04.14 at 12:57 pm

It is a dead end. It is an attempt to justify evil. It does not matter who is “right” any more than it matters whether your furnace or your thermostat is right in their endless war to raise and lower your temperature.

This isn’t an accident, of course: hasbara isn’t about making israel look good, it’s about making negative discussion of israel impossible. Different end, different tactics: most hasbara is essentially chaff.

Same as all the other right-wing projects, fwiw: you see the same thing in climate-change denial and the forced-birth movement and what-have-you. If discussion is impossible then change becomes inconceivable, and that’s pretty much what they want.

313

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 1:15 pm

Seth, I don’t much care about either kind of “justified”.

Do you want the status quo, or do you want a better alternative?

Israelis want a better alternative where Palestinians have nothing and stop complaining about that. After all Palestinians are not their problem. They should just go away, and if they need anything other arabs should give it to them. Israelis feel no particular obligation to them but they keep getting attention.

Many Palestinians want Israelis to go away and leave all of Israel/Palestine to them. In the short and medium runs that will not happen either.

So working toward either of those is really supporting the status quo.

If anybody’s going to make changes, it pretty much has to be the USA or Israel. The USA is the only world superpower, and the USA unconditionally backs Israel. So no other foreigners can do much until the USA changes or the USA loses superpower status.

Say that Palestinians try to do something different. It’s hard for them to agree, particularly when Israel keeps degrading their communications and arresting or killing anybody who looks like a real leader even when he works for nonviolence and peace. But say they agree. So, like, 10,000 Palestinians have a peace march or something, and one of them throws a rock. That’s enough for Israel to classify it as a riot. Or the Israelis can say somebody threw a rock….

So change depends on the USA and Israel.

Can Israel make peace? Until fairly recently, they could not. Israel depended on foreign contributions. $3 billion in US military aid, $12 billion/year in loans that eventually are always forgiven instead of repaid, an unknown amount of money from US Jewish sympathizers, etc. If Israel became an ordinary nation that was mostly at peace, most of that money would dry up.

But now the Israeli economy is doing so well that they don’t really need those subsidies, so they can afford peace.

No, maybe they can’t. A lot of their foreign exchange is military stuff, where they take hi-tech US designs and modify them a little and sell them to the world undercutting US prices. Would the USA still give them our military secret designs if they weren’t at war?

A lot of their economy is international corporations that put branches in Israel to express solidarity with Israel. What Israel has to offer is adequate electricity, good internet, the warm glow of being in Israel, and beaches. (Oh, and educated techie Israelis, but a business that needs those can hire them to come live where it wants them.) If Israel was perceived as not needing help, a lot of that would go away. And Israel would start looking like a slum — a place that needed help but that businessmen wouldn’t want to help.

On the other hand, a peaceful Israel could trade with the whole middle east. They could make products that arabs could afford, and…. In the long run as Israel and the USA could allow arab economies to develop, there could be considerable trade there. Not much in the short run.

I don’t know. Israel might have advanced to the point they don’t need to be thought of as embattled little Israel, surrounded by enemies, needs your assistance to survive! Maybe they’ll reach that point soon if they haven’t already.

The USA could do something toward peace, but until Israel agrees we’d have to break with Israel to do it. We aren’t ready yet.

So, status quo. But still people who try to say the status quo is right and proper are doing evil.

314

Layman 08.04.14 at 1:26 pm

“A television reporter from the Finnish Helsingin Sanomat confirmed Friday that Hamas has been firing rockets out of the Al-Shifa Hospital. The reporter, who was not named in the television segment shot on-site at Gaza City’s main hospital, said a rocket was launched “right in the back the parking lot” of the hospital at 2 a.m. on Friday morning. ‘Really, it happened right in the area, the sound of it was really loud,’ she said,…”

The problem with this, Seth, is that while the headline is ‘Hamas has been firing rockets out of the hospital’, the actual details reveal that the rockets were fired from somewhere *near* the hospital. This turns out nearly always to be the case – Israel flattens a building, claims there was firing from the building, then produces evidence of firing not from the building. I don’t say there isn’t some evidence of this sort of violation by Hamas – I don’t know – but this example isn’t it.

315

Layman 08.04.14 at 1:34 pm

“But I am also opposed to the contrary idea, namely, that Israel is responsible for the death of every single civilian that was used as a human shield for a legitimate military target.”

Then, frankly, you’re a fool. If people fire weapons, they are responsible, morally, for what those weapons do. They may feel they have no choice in the matter, but they do. Presented with the chance to kill two bad men on a motorbike, with the risk that you’ll kill refugees in the school yard they’re riding by, you can decide to hold fire, on the moral grounds that two bad men more or less aren’t worth the life of one child. If you do fire, the resulting dead refugees are your fault, and they were not ‘used as human shields.’

316

Layman 08.04.14 at 1:44 pm

@Andrew

“Ample evidence, documented by video and by journalists of different and well-respected outlets. Check out William Booth’s reporting on the use of the Shifa Hospital in The Washington Post, for example.”

I’ve heard of such evidence, but it invariably falls flat. Videos of firing ‘from’ X turn out to be videos of firing from *near* X.

Booth does make the claim that leaders of Hamas use Shifa Hospital as a command post, but he offers no evidence, and I wonder how he can know what they do there. I doubt they invite him to their meetings.

317

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 1:56 pm

Oh, yeah, regarding those refugees allegedly killed at the school: http://www.thomaswictor.com/two-pallywood-duds/

318

MPAVictoria 08.04.14 at 2:06 pm

“A lot of their economy is international corporations that put branches in Israel to express solidarity with Israel. “

Ah yes, international corporations are well known for doing things out of the goodness of their hearts….

319

Anarcissie 08.04.14 at 2:12 pm

MPAVictoria 08.04.14 at 2:06 pm @ 317 — Nothing was said about the goodness of anyone’s heart.

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Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 2:17 pm

Then, frankly, you’re a fool. If people fire weapons, they are responsible, morally, for what those weapons do. They may feel they have no choice in the matter, but they do. Presented with the chance to kill two bad men on a motorbike, with the risk that you’ll kill refugees in the school yard they’re riding by, you can decide to hold fire, on the moral grounds that two bad men more or less aren’t worth the life of one child. If you do fire, the resulting dead refugees are your fault, and they were not ‘used as human shields.’

If I am a fool, then the diplomats who negotiated the Geneva Conventions were equally foolish. They very clearly recognized the “human shield” phenomenon and laid down a rule that strikes a balance between “if there is even one civilian in the area you must hold your fire no matter what” and “if there is even one combatant in the village you are free to carpet-bomb it”. See here for some details.

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J Thomas 08.04.14 at 2:17 pm

Ah yes, international corporations are well known for doing things out of the goodness of their hearts….

Zionists in management might do that sometimes. There’s also the tax breaks the Israeli government offers, and then later retracts like every other place does.

But OK, let’s leave out that motive.

“What Israel has to offer is adequate electricity, good internet, the warm glow of being in Israel, and beaches.

Those reasons would remain if Israel was just another peaceful nation. So maybe Israel can afford peace now.

322

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 2:19 pm

Is there any small country, other than perhaps Burma, that doesn’t have international corporations opening up branch offices?

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Layman 08.04.14 at 2:27 pm

Seth @ 316

Even ignoring the racist bias of your source, I find it damned funny that you’re now arguing that rockets fired from locations next to X were fired ‘from X’, while missiles fired at targets next to X are not fired ‘at X’. Make up your mind, please!

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Layman 08.04.14 at 2:37 pm

Seth @ 319

‘They very clearly recognized the “human shield” phenomenon and laid down a rule that strikes a balance between “if there is even one civilian in the area you must hold your fire no matter what” and “if there is even one combatant in the village you are free to carpet-bomb it”. See here for some details.,

Odd that the passage you linked to doesn’t mention the words ‘human shields’, or in any other way refer to the phenomenon. Hardly ‘clear’ at all, wouldn’t you say?

But you talk about balance. Describe what you mean by ‘balance’, please. Give an example where Israel achieved this balance, and one where they didn’t. Or do you claim that Israel has never – not once in a long history of conflict – failed to observe that balance?

325

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 2:39 pm

You guys are still arguing about who’s morally right to continue the status quo.

But the status quo is bad. Everybody who can, is responsible for changing it to something better.

Suppose that we reach an international consensus that Israel is right and Hamas is wrong. Then Israel will keep killing Hamas members and innocent civilians until Israelis believe they have taught Palestinians not to hit back.

Do you think they will have taught Palestinians not to hit back? This accomplishes nothing worthwhile.

Suppose we reach an international consensus that Israel is wrong. Then Israel may possibly bow to international opinion and reluctantly stop the attacks. Then after a short interval Israel will start up small-scale attacks on Gaza again, and nothing will have changed. Eventually Gazans will hit back. Rinse and repeat. That doesn’t accomplish much either.

Arguing about whose fault it is is a mug’s game. If you play that game, the people who like the current status quo win. That is, Zionists win, because for them the current status quo is the best outcome, so this is their ESS.

326

Layman 08.04.14 at 2:49 pm

“Suppose we reach an international consensus that Israel is wrong.”

Such an unlikely outcome would be a refreshing, perhaps even pivotal, change. It would make it increasingly hard for countries to continue to arm Israel. It could lead to UN-organized sanctions. It could compel Israel to actually comply with the terms of any deal for a 2SS. It is not an outcome to be derided, no matter that it is wildly unlikely.

Also, it is not a question of which is right. Both are wrong, but only one party has his hands around the throat of the other, squeezing the life from him. The bad acts of the oppressed, while not forgivable, are certainly more understandable given the differences in their situations.

327

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 2:53 pm

Even ignoring the racist bias of your source, I find it damned funny that you’re now arguing that rockets fired from locations next to X were fired ‘from X’, while missiles fired at targets next to X are not fired ‘at X’. Make up your mind, please!

You’re the one claiming that Hamas is merely operating near hospitals, not me.

The link I posted regarding al-Wafa hospital included the allegation that the hospital itself, not merely a building next to it, was used for military purposes. A British journalist reporting for RT had described it as “the hospital with human shields”.

The link I posted regarding Al-Shifa hospital has someone describing missiles being launched from “right in the back the parking lot” of the hospital—is that in the back of the parking lot, or in the back near the parking lot? Furthermore, the IDF claimed that at least one of the explosions in Al-Shifa was actually caused by a Hamas rocket falling short. A journalist described in Libération about how he was summoned to meet Hamas security personnel in Al-Shifa Hospital, in an office a few meters away from the emergency room.

328

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 2:55 pm

Or do you claim that Israel has never – not once in a long history of conflict – failed to observe that balance?

Nope, that is not my claim.

329

LFC 08.04.14 at 2:57 pm

J Thomas @324
Arguing about whose fault it is is a mug’s game. If you play that game, the people who like the current status quo win.

Obviously the status quo is bad, but I don’t agree that discussion about the laws of armed conflict and whether and how they are being observed or violated reinforces the status quo. “Is Israel/Hamas following international humanitarian law [i.e. the law of war] when it pursues its war aims?”, to quote Seth Gordon above, seems an important question. I don’t see how discussing it supports the status quo. It’s also important to discuss poss. solutions to the conflict, but the two issues are not mutually exclusive and talking about one doesn’t mean one has to ignore the other.

330

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 2:59 pm

Odd that the passage you linked to doesn’t mention the words ‘human shields’, or in any other way refer to the phenomenon. Hardly ‘clear’ at all, wouldn’t you say?

Article 57 of Protocol I describes the responsibility of the attacker in an area where there are civilians near a military objective (whether the defender is deliberately using them as “human shields” or not). The defender’s responsibility not to employ “human shields” is covered by Article 51, paragraph 7: “The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.”

331

Layman 08.04.14 at 3:03 pm

@ Seth Gordon

Really, this is ridiculous. One of your links points to claims that rockets are being launched not from civilian locations, but from near (200 meters) civilian locations. If true, how does this violate the laws of war, and how does it justify bombing the civilian location from which the rockets were not launched?

Your other link claims Israel did not bomb a site, when before you were arguing that Israel was justified in bombing that site. In other words, Israel did not do it, and if they did do it, they should have done it. Hard to make both defenses work together.

332

Layman 08.04.14 at 3:07 pm

“Nope, that is not my claim.”

And your examples? If you claim to be able to judge whether Israel is striking the necessary balance, it is reasonable to ask for examples which illustrate your judgment.

333

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 3:09 pm

To amplify what LFC said above: I wish there were a political settlement leading to a two-state solution, or at least a truce along the PRC/Taiwan model, but the next best thing to that would be a “clean” war in which both parties have an incentive to behave responsibly. Since most of the tactics forbidden by international humanitarian law don’t actually give one a military advantage (that’s why diplomats from so many countries felt safe promising to follow them!), this is a not-inconceivable goal.

In its 2006 Lebanon incursion, Israel used cluster bombs in civilian areas. They were criticized even by the US for doing so, in part because this kind of bombing does not adequately discriminate between combatants and civilians (e.g., the civilian who stumbles across an unexploded bomblet the week after the war is over). I haven’t heard of Israel using cluster bombs in Gaza, so it seems that this pressure had a positive effect.

334

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 3:13 pm

One of your links points to claims that rockets are being launched not from civilian locations, but from near (200 meters) civilian locations. If true, how does this violate the laws of war, and how does it justify bombing the civilian location from which the rockets were not launched?

I assume you are referring to this paragraph from the Jerusalem Post article:

On Wednesday, Peter Stefanovic of Australia’s Channel Nine News tweeted: “Hamas rockets just launched over our hotel from a site about two hundred metres away. So a missile launch site is basically next door.”

Did Israel follow up by bombing the hotel?

335

Anarcissie 08.04.14 at 3:16 pm

LFC 08.04.14 at 2:57 pm @ 328:
‘J Thomas @324
“Arguing about whose fault it is is a mug’s game. If you play that game, the people who like the current status quo win.”

Obviously the status quo is bad, but I don’t agree that discussion about the laws of armed conflict and whether and how they are being observed or violated reinforces the status quo. ‘

Once you get inside the framework, you have consented to the framework. If almost everybody is inside the framework, nothing will change.

336

details matter 08.04.14 at 3:19 pm

This morning, NPR had a segment on jewish arab life
and part of that was how, before the intifadas, arabs and jews mixed on a human level, and israel had issued 100,000+ work permits to palestinians

after the intifadah, israel decided to build walls, and put detailed restrictions on palestinian movements within the west bank and gaza

I guess the point is that the intifadah may have made young men feel more manly, but it was an economic and political disaster for the palestinians

didn’t someone describe yasir arafat as a man who never missed a chance to turn down a good offer ?

If you want to know why jews are paranoid, consider that arab and iranian commentors regularly note that matzoh are made with the blood of christian or arab children…some one said that about you, you’d be a little paranoid to

337

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 3:20 pm

As for examples of Israeli malfeasance, there is the use of cluster bombs that I mentioned above. I would also agree with the position that putting Jewish civilian settlements in the West Bank—treating an area as under military occupation for the purpose of its Arab residents, but as a civilian territory for Jews moving in—is a Fourth Geneva Convention violation. If you go further back in time, there are things like the Kafr Qasim massacre.

338

Layman 08.04.14 at 3:51 pm

“I assume you are referring to this paragraph from the Jerusalem Post article:”

I am, and I’m trying to understand why you offer it as evidence that Hamas uses human shields. It contains no evidence to that effect, hyperbole notwithstanding. One journalist says Hamas launched rockets from a location 200 meter from a hotel. Another says Hamas used a launch site ‘near’ (not ‘in’) a hospital. Another says a Hamas official gave media interviews from a hospital. Which of these did you mean?

339

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 3:56 pm

Obviously the status quo is bad, but I don’t agree that discussion about the laws of armed conflict and whether and how they are being observed or violated reinforces the status quo.

Because Zionists like Seth Gordon start out believing that Israel is right, and they interpret any evidence from the point of view that Israel is right, they deny evidence that Israel is wrong, they accuse people who argue with them of antisemitism, they lie, they try to blur the issues. They believe they are right and therefore it’s right for them to do whatever it takes to look right.

Consider for example the Rachel Corrie thing, where what happened was that Israel was (as their common practice) bulldozing Palestinian houses (and incidentally bulldozing any palestinians who refused to leave quickly enough, ensuring compliance), and they killed an American protester — which did a lot to reduce the number of US protesters travelling to Israel. And Joshua Burton argued that maybe it was an accident, accidents happen everywhere, very likely the bulldozer operator didn’t really mean it. He had no evidence one way or another, he only wanted to establish a reasonable doubt.
http://crookedtimber.org/2014/07/13/bullshitting-about-gaza/

And now Seth Gordon is arguing that maybe sometimes it’s OK for Israel to bomb hospitals. He has some sort of evidence that maybe makes it OK. And he will argue with you for as long as you want to argue, unless you say something that doesn’t sound sensible to him and then he will argue about how Roy Belmont you are instead.

There is no light at the end of that tunnel. There is no cheese at the end of that tunnel. I’m not sure that tunnel has any end.

It plain is not useful. Israelis do war crimes because they believe they are surrounded by an implacable enemy that wants to kill them, and there’s nobody in the world they can really trust to help them, and they must do whatever it takes to survive. If you tell them they are wrong, they think you have joined the enemy who wants them dead. If you persuade the EU or whoever that Israel is wrong, then they will think the EU or whoever has allied with their enemies and wants them dead.

That probably does not head toward a solution.

Although it might.

340

Layman 08.04.14 at 3:59 pm

“In its 2006 Lebanon incursion, Israel used cluster bombs in civilian areas. They were criticized even by the US for doing so, in part because this kind of bombing does not adequately discriminate between combatants and civilians (e.g., the civilian who stumbles across an unexploded bomblet the week after the war is over.)”

What should be done about these war crimes? Or is criticism sufficient?

“I haven’t heard of Israel using cluster bombs in Gaza, so it seems that this pressure had a positive effect.”

Yet Israel are using DIME munitions, and firing flèchette rounds from tanks. Both attack targets indiscriminately, killing and wounding bystanders. Not a violation, in your view?

341

Plume 08.04.14 at 4:07 pm

J Thomas,

In a sense, Israel’s insistence on the never-ending nature of its existential threat is actually an argument for them to leave that region. That is really the only logical conclusion to draw from that assertion. If even the rag tag, imprisoned, crushed, impoverished Palestinians, who have no army, no navy, no air force, no military of any kind whatsoever, are an existential threat to the most powerful military force in the middle east, then what is the point? Why stay?

In reality, there is no place safer for Jewish people than in the United States, where roughly 40% of the total world population exists. I wish the dream of Zion would recognize that.

342

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 4:20 pm

Plume, I agree.

But Zionists do not agree, not at all.

Some of them believe that God promised them Israel and not the USA. By conquering and holding Israel they obey God’s command.

Others believe they deserve their own nation, and Israel is where it is.

I think almost everybody would agree that life would be easier for pretty much everybody if Israel moved en masse to the USA. But Zionists do not agree that making life easier for everybody is their responsibility.

Instead it is our responsibility to support them in their goals, because if they fail they expect to be genocided and it would be our fault if we let that happen.

343

Ze Kraggash 08.04.14 at 4:36 pm

“In its 2006 Lebanon incursion, Israel used cluster bombs in civilian areas. They were criticized … I haven’t heard of Israel using cluster bombs in Gaza”

In Lebanon they dropped cluster bombs at the end of hostilities: their invasion failed, they retreated, and then they dropped millions of those cluster munitions all over southern Lebanon:

Human Rights Watch “found that the IDF’s use of cluster munitions was both indiscriminate and disproportionate, in violation of IHL, and in some locations possibly a war crime” because “the vast majority [were dropped] over the final three days when Israel knew a settlement was imminent.”

In this case, they are still in invasion mode, and so cluster munitions might be dangerous to the most humane army in the world. It’s not over yet.

344

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 4:40 pm

Layman: In one of those links, I referred to the paragraph at the bottom of the JPost article where a reporter stated that Al-Wafa was “the hospital with human shields”. In the other, the reporter was not describing a Hamas official “giving media interviews” at Al-Shifa hospital; he was describing being summoned to Al-Shifa hospital and being interrogated there. Here’s another article in which a journalist describes Al-Shifa as “a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices”.

And now Seth Gordon is arguing that maybe sometimes it’s OK for Israel to bomb hospitals.

One advantage of referring to treaties on the laws of war, even if those treaties have little direct effect on people who violate them (the offenders of Kafr Qasim seemed to fare no worse than the offenders of My Lai), is that they describe rules that countries all over the world, anticipating the possibility that they might go to war with one another, all consider to be fair constraints, binding everyone equally. The conditions under which hospitals can become legitimate military targets are among those rules; it’s not something that I pulled out of thin air in order to make you feel sorry for Israel. If the IDF had been launching missiles at Gaza from a civilian hospital in Sderot, Hamas would have been justified in targeting that hospital.

345

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 4:49 pm

There are many wars in which life would be easier for everybody if one side did exactly what the other side wanted.

346

Plume 08.04.14 at 5:04 pm

J Thomas,

I get the part about religion. Which is yet one more reason for us to evolve away from myths and legends. They, especially those from the Levant, have all too often triggered mass tragedies, again and again and again.

People dying over myths. There are all kinds of tragic reasons for tragic ends. But that? Dying because of a rather selective and idiosyncratic reading of ancient texts?

347

Bruce Wilder 08.04.14 at 5:07 pm

All meaning is myth, Plume — just stories we tell each other and ourselves.

348

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 5:10 pm

I should add that “life would be easier for pretty much everybody if Israel moved en masse to the USA” has its corresponding talking point on the Israeli right: life would be easier for pretty much everybody if Arab countries gave citizenship to Palestinian refugees and integrated them into their societies. But the leaders of Arab countries do not agree that making life easier for everybody is their responsibility.

349

Bruce Wilder 08.04.14 at 5:11 pm

Plume: In a sense, Israel’s insistence on the never-ending nature of its existential threat is actually an argument for them to leave that region.

The Arab-Palestinian strategy of making the existential threat is an argument that the Israelis should leave the region.

350

Plume 08.04.14 at 5:21 pm

Bruce,

No. The Palestinians have no ability to pose an existential threat to Israel, obviously, and Israel crushed the combined forces of much of the Arab world previously.

OTOH, Israel does pose an existential threat to the Palestinian people. Again, obviously.

The consensus among Arab and Palestinian leaders is to work toward a two-state solution. They have long since abandoned the idea of trying to drive Israel out of that region. It’s too bad that the hard-right Israeli government and all too many of its defenders ignores this and seems stuck in the past. This seems to be in the DNA of the right. Extreme, permanent belatedness.

351

Earwig 08.04.14 at 5:52 pm

Why should Palestinians peacefully negotiate with an Israel whose dominant party has written into its platform that everything from river to sea is Israel and that no so-called Palestinian state will ever be allowed to exist there?

No existential threat to the Palestinian people there: They simply don’t exist, and they will never be permitted to exist, that’s all!

But the answer is that there are obviously very good reasons to negotiate: one is that Israel is not monolithic, and that those words are just words on paper.

Though it’s virtually never mentioned in the press this little problem does, however, seem parallel to another “words on paper” problem that’s in contrast somehow never without mention….

So “both sides” have irrelevant documents which deny the other’s existence, while one side literally erases the other on a continuous basis through “settlement” and on an intermittent basis through conscience-shocking warfare.

What would it take to call this slow-motion genocide by its real name?

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Layman 08.04.14 at 6:12 pm

‘Layman: In one of those links, I referred to the paragraph at the bottom of the JPost article where a reporter stated that Al-Wafa was “the hospital with human shields”. In the other, the reporter was not describing a Hamas official “giving media interviews” at Al-Shifa hospital; he was describing being summoned to Al-Shifa hospital and being interrogated there. Here’s another article in which a journalist describes Al-Shifa as “a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices”.’

Seth, I can find no reference to the interrogation claim in the links you provided. I do find the others – one journalist indeed refers to ‘the hospital with the human shields’, and another does make the claim about ‘de facto headquarters’. Neither offers any evidence in support of their claims. Is it your view that a claim from a journalist gives one sufficient grounds to deny protected status?

I can produce a story, and even pictures, of Israeli officials including Netenyahu in an Israeli field hospital, just last week. Government officials in a hospital!? Are the injured in that hospital being used as human shields?

“If the IDF had been launching missiles at Gaza from a civilian hospital in Sderot, Hamas would have been justified in targeting that hospital.”

You’ve still produced no evidence of any rockets launched from any hospital. ‘Near’ is not from.

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J Thomas 08.04.14 at 6:14 pm

… life would be easier for pretty much everybody if Arab countries gave citizenship to Palestinian refugees and integrated them into their societies.

Sure, and let’s look at what is available for us to accomplish.

The USA could guarantee arab nations lots of foreign aid if they accepted Palestinians as citizens and took them away from Palestine. That might be enough for those nations — which generally suffer low standard-of-living and high unemployment already — to do it. But can they trust us to keep our word? Various people we have promised aid to — Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc — did not get it for one reason or another. I’m not at all sure that they would trust us. And I’m not at all sure how much would be enough.

The USA could guarantee Israelis a place here, though. They are our kind of people and would probably do well here. We owe them the chance not to get genocided but I don’t see that we owe them the horror they have now.

But the problem then is that zionists don’t want to come here. They want to stay where they are and be forced to bomb arabs.

The situations are not quite parallel. Palestinians have no place in arab societies that are poor and overpopulated, they can’t go. Israelis could have a place in the USA but they don’t want it.

Regardless, the USA should make the standing offer. It’s a positive contribution we can make that hurts no one and potentially helps the situation.

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Barry 08.04.14 at 6:19 pm

“I can produce a story, and even pictures, of Israeli officials including Netenyahu in an Israeli field hospital, just last week. Government officials in a hospital!? Are the injured in that hospital being used as human shields? “

By the standards being used, what in Israel is *not* a military target, protected by ‘human shields’?

There’s a mention of some university offering a year’s free tuition to any IDF soldier participating in the attacks. If the tables were turned, that university – correction, ‘university’ – would be a legitimate target and terrorist organization. That place probably also trains Israelis who work on weapons systems.

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J Thomas 08.04.14 at 6:20 pm

#349 Earwig

What would it take to call this slow-motion genocide by its real name?

So far is it not genocide at all.

So far Gaza has taken less than 2000 casualties. Say that by the end of the year it comes out to 3000. That is much lower than Gaza’s birthrate.

The way they’re going now, Gaza will *never* be genocided. Israel could kill 5 times as many of them every year and never genocide them.

So far, Israel’s attacks have not come close to genocide. Israelis talk about it sometimes but so far they have not begun to carry it out.

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Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 6:29 pm

Sorry, my bad: I referred to an article and then forgot to add the link.

After four blocked attempts to leave Gaza without explanation over weeks, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the security services of Hamas on Sunday. “I received a call from a private number. They summoned me to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza City center,” explains Radjaa. He carried with him his two phones, his press card and a small camera.

A few meters from the emergency room where the injured from bombings are constantly flowing, in the outpatient department, he was received in “a small section of the hospital used as administration” by a band of young fighters. They were all well dressed, which surprised Radjaa, “in civilian clothing with a gun under one’s shirt and some had walkie-talkies” . He was ordered to empty his pockets, removing his shoes and his belt then was taken to a hospital room “which served that day as the command office of three people.”

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Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 6:29 pm

(that blockquote was supposed to cover two paragraphs, not one)

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J Thomas 08.04.14 at 7:50 pm

#347 Bruce Wilder

“Plume: In a sense, Israel’s insistence on the never-ending nature of its existential threat is actually an argument for them to leave that region.”

Yes, it is.

The Arab-Palestinian strategy of making the existential threat is an argument that the Israelis should leave the region.

Yes, that too.

It’s currently an entirely empty threat. One that Arabs/Palestinians are utterly and completely unable to carry out. They’ve mostly stopped even making the threat, but a lot of Zionists are sure they really still think it.

And what if things change someday? If US opinion starts to swing against Israel, they can’t hope to maintain their military edge. They might not even be able to import enough oil. If it turns out that arab missiles start landing in Israeli city streets, the foreign businesses will pull out. That isn’t what they signed up for. When they leave Israel in the lurch the Israeli economy tanks. Lots of well-educated people who can get good jobs elsewhere leave. If that sort of thing went on too long Israel could actually lose a war, though they would still have their nukes and bioweapons etc.

Sure it’s paranoid but things could change. Israel could actually someday be in real danger.

It makes sense to leave now and avoid the rush.

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Collin Street 08.04.14 at 9:33 pm

You’re the one claiming that Hamas is merely operating near hospitals, not me.

I mean, seriously, what is the fucking point of debating with people who make basic burden-of-proof fuckups like that? You wouldn’t play soccer with people who thought they scored a every time they kicked the ball over the sidelines, would you?

[they aren't selected for debate skills, remember. The ideal hasbaracist is placid, even-tempered, and as dumb as a bag of rocks, because the point of hasbara isn't to make israel look good, it's to make an example of people who criticise israel. The stupider and more self-righteous you are, the better you can do that: every second we spend explaining basic fucking logic to these poor unfortunates is a second we can't do anything useful with our lives.]

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Collin Street 08.04.14 at 9:46 pm

> So far, Israel’s attacks have not come close to genocide.

Just as a pointer, but genocide is about destruction of populations as social entities, not killing as such. You can commit genocide without killing a single person [cf "stolen generation" &c].

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 12:06 am

#358

Here’s wikipedia’s definition:

Genocide is the systematic destruction of all or part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group via the (a) Killing of members of the group; (b) Causing of serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberate inflicting on the group’s conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;(d) Imposing of measures intended to prevent births within the group; or (e) Forcible transferring of children of the group to another group.

They don’t specify percentages, but surely it would have to be a pretty large percent or we’d be having genocide lots of places.

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js. 08.05.14 at 12:39 am

Corey, heartfelt thanks and admiration.

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ZM 08.05.14 at 1:11 am

There are about 50million refugees in the world now. They are not being given permanent settlement sufficiently and temporary settlement does not have very good conditions sometimes or provide for education and employment. Poor countries in the Middle East do better in giving temporary shelter and settlement than wealthy countries like US, Australia, or Japan etc

It seems to me to be highly unlikely that the US will take nearly 8million refugees from Israel any time soon unless the general attitude to refugees changes (and I have never heard of a widespread feeling in Israel that they ought leave the land – if it happened that way it would be a bit like the end of The Tempest – but I guess we had better all join in if that is the case and also leave our own lands if we came to be here/there by colonialism -I am not sure how the countries of origin would go getting such an influx of returnees and then we might get the same sort of problem all over again in a different guise).

There is a lot of trouble in the Middle East and I don’t think Middle Eastern countries will resettle 5million Palestinian refugees soon either (also the refugees might prefer to wait until they can go home to their land, they do seem very attached to it). Also generally this segregation of settlement – Israelis here, Palestinians there – doesn’t seem a very profitable idea to me.

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Collin Street 08.05.14 at 1:24 am

Well, yes. Current israeli policy on gaza does not currently amount to genocide, as-such. It’s reasonably clear that it’s in part motivated by a desire from some israeli actors to commit genocide — I mean, there’s quotes and all — but punching a man you want to kill isn’t murder.

I’m not happy with the definition you’ve given, though, because I’m reasonably sure that most people would agree that — for example — taking all the jews of the world and scattering them one family per village would be genocidal, even though it doesn’t fit under that definition.

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Collin Street 08.05.14 at 1:25 am

362 is at J Thomas, btw. Sorry.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 1:54 am

#361

It seems to me to be highly unlikely that the US will take nearly 8million refugees from Israel any time soon unless the general attitude to refugees changes

I tried to find how many people living in Israel have dual Israeli/US citizenship. I did not find that, but I will estimate it as at least 1 million. We will certainly welcome those home under any circumstances. They have as much right to be here as you do, assuming you are American.

Of the 8 million people in Israel, only 6 million of them are Jewish and the others ought to be reasonably safe. So the number of refugees in question is something less than 5 million.

And we wouldn’t think of Israelis as refugees, this is Israel we’re talking about. They’re special.

We aren’t talking about refugees who would go into refugee camps. The large majority of Israelis know english and could find jobs in the USA immediately. Some of the Russians have atrocious accents, though.

And the American Jewish community would do a lot to take care of Israelis who were not as fortunate as ourselves. Not least to make sure that they get proper care from the government.

It needn’t be like “refugees” at all. It would start with Israelis who are not US citizens and just want to live here for awhile and need work permits. Then if things got actively dangerous we would of course accept noncombatants, like we did from Britain in WWII. And if things went badly we would of course do whatever we could to get everybody remaining out.

If it turned out that a lot of Haredi insisted they would stay in Israel no matter what I would prefer that we not force them out at gunpoint to come to the USA. Opinions could vary on that.

In the short run it makes sense to establish the open invitation. I heard that a lot of Russian jews wanted to come to the USA but the US agreed to shunt a whole lot of them into Israel because Israel wanted them to beef up their population. Some of them might still want to at least visit here for awhile and see if they like it.

Also generally this segregation of settlement – Israelis here, Palestinians there – doesn’t seem a very profitable idea to me.

If they instead choose to create a single secular nation and all live together in peace, that would be even better!

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ZM 08.05.14 at 2:29 am

“And we wouldn’t think of Israelis as refugees, this is Israel we’re talking about. They’re special.”

But I think one of the main reasons they go to live in the land of Israel-Palestine is because they do not feel special and welcomed everywhere else and also the history/currency of anti-Jewish sentiments.

And you haven’t noted anywhere where the US recently said they want/are willing to take 5+ million refugees ASAP?

In WW2 when things got ‘actively dangerous ‘ lots of countries turned Jewish refugees back, sometimes if they were lucky not to be turned back they were then unlucky to be imprisoned in camps, and they may not have been able to work afterwards at their level of qualifications/knowledge. This is an example of the latter from a renowned part-Jewish refugee scholar in Australia:

“Leonhard Adam (1891-1960), anthropologist and lawyer, was born on 16 December 1891 in Berlin, son of Meinhardt Michael Adam and his wife Katharina Clare Rosa, née Schmidt. Part Jewish in extraction….

Adam had already studied and published extensively in primitive law; his first field-work was among prisoners of war in Rumanian camps. … In 1931-33 he lectured in ethnological jurisprudence and primitive law at the Institute of Foreign Laws and was a member of the board of experts of the Ethnographical Museum, Berlin.

The Nazis’ anti-Semitic laws stripped Adam of all official positions in 1933. Five years later he sought refuge in England where he taught at the University of London and published Primitive Art (1940). His academic haven was shattered when he was interned on 16 May 1940 as an `enemy alien’ and dispatched to Australia.

Among the most eminent of the gifted collectivity of scholars who arrived aboard the Dunera in September, he became pro-rector of `Collegium Taturense’ in the internment camp at Tatura, Victoria, and gave lessons on primitive religion and ethnology.

Letters from Bronislaw Malinowski alerted Margaret Holmes, of the Australian Student Christian Movement, and Lady Masson to Adam’s fate. On 29 May 1942 he was released on parole to the National Museum of Victoria, given residence at Queen’s College, University of Melbourne, and placed under the supervision of Professor Max Crawford to embark upon a research project on the Aborigines’ use of stone. …

As research scholar (1943-47), lecturer (1947-56) and part-time curator (1958-60) of the ethnological collection, Adam was always on the edge of the university’s establishment. Mystified at the politics of an institution which had refused to introduce anthropology for sixty years, he poured out proposals which never came to pass. Then he made a fait accompli of an ethnological museum by exchange of artefacts on a picayune budget through an Australian and worldwide network. …

Naturalized on 21 February 1956, he travelled to Germany in 1957 to receive a doctorate from the University of Bonn and to have a volume of the journal he had edited dedicated to him….Survived by his wife and daughter, he died suddenly of heart disease on 9 September 1960 in Bonn.”
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/adam-leonhard-9962

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 3:00 am

“And we wouldn’t think of Israelis as refugees, this is Israel we’re talking about. They’re special.”

But I think one of the main reasons they go to live in the land of Israel-Palestine is because they do not feel special and welcomed everywhere else and also the history/currency of anti-Jewish sentiments.

What, you figure Americans think Israelis are special enough to give them unconditional support while they’re in Israel but not let them come here?

And you haven’t noted anywhere where the US recently said they want/are willing to take 5+ million refugees ASAP?

No, but the topic has hardly come up. I’m the only one I know advocating it, and I think that’s partly because Zionists don’t like it. They don’t want Israelis to come here except for American Israelis who don’t renounce their US citizenship. They want Israelis to live in Israel.

In WW2 when things got ‘actively dangerous ‘ lots of countries turned Jewish refugees back

Yes, but the USA accepted some English refugees and we didn’t even treat them like refugees or think of them that way. England was our good ally. Now Israel is an even closer ally.

[story about a refugee that the british government thought of as German or Rumanian, both enemy nations, rather than as a Jewish victim.]

In WWII lots of nations did not give Jews special treatment as refugees, or gave them special negative treatment as refugees. That says nothing about the USA today.

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ZM 08.05.14 at 3:37 am

Well, the high up defense-ish people in the US are I think less likely to support a Jewish state in the land of Israel-Palestine because they are especially fond of and warm hearted towards Jewish people and hoping to be able to show even more support and increase their warm hearted feelings if 5+ million Jewish people moved to the United States in the next year, and more likely to support a Jewish state because it accords with their wider Middle Eastern strategy and wanting to secure resources in the area /prevent certain sorts of nationalism etc. The welcome emigration of 5+ million Jewish refugees from the Middle East to the USA does not fit with the US Middle Eastern strategy or ‘border control’ policy in any way I can think of?

The US has less anti-Jewish feeling than some countries according to this survey – but Laos has the lowest anti-Jewish feeling of all, so that would be the best place to move to on that basis, but Laotian might be a difficult language to learn for Jewish people . They are renowned as a very kindly and good mannered people though generally, but I think there are still some effects from the wars, like land mines.
http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Poll-One-quarter-of-adults-worldwide-deeply-infected-with-anti-Semitism-352154

The majority on the Dunera were Jewish people, this is unlikely to be an accidental anomaly
“in July 1940, HMT Dunera set sail from Liverpool to Sydney, carrying 2 542 male ‘enemy aliens.’ Although the group included some 250 German Nazis and 200 Italian Fascists, the vast majority of the deportees were strongly anti-Fascist and two-thirds of them were Jews.”
http://guides.naa.gov.au/safe-haven/chapter5/dunera-affair.aspx

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Donald Johnson 08.05.14 at 3:53 am

Seth I will concede my argument about Israel building a bunker under the hospital was a bad one. But this–

“As for the Dahiyya Doctrine, if Israel was working by that doctrine in 2006 and an army spokesman was willing to say so in public in 2006, and they’re working by the same doctrine today, why aren’t they making a similar announcement today? Are they using cluster bombs today, as they used them in 2006?”

Give me a break. No, they’re not using cluster bombs. They are killing more civilians and destroying more buildings with other weapons. Even the NYT finally got around today to pointing out that the heavy artillery they are using is inherently inaccurate and can’t be used in urban settings unless you don’t care about civilian casualties. The Israelis know that perfectly well. If they use such weapons and also claim they are taking every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, they are lying. They are having it both ways. The Gazans know perfectly well what the Israelis are doing to them, and they feel the “punishment”. But the Israelis never admitted to targeting civilians in Lebanon or at any other time during a war–it would have made it a lot easier for the human rights organizations if they had. No painstaking gathering of information about the circumstances surrounding incidents in which civilians died–they could just point to the Israeli statement “Yeah, we’re punishing civilians”. The Israelis usually try to maintain a reputation as the civilized ones who don’t do that sort of thing. All they have to do is deny bad intent and their Western supporters cling to that claim like bulldogs. They got away with Nakba denial for decades, with a story so transparently propagandistic and self-serving I was suspicious of it even when I was a Zionist.

That phenomenon of a Western official letting out the truth happens now and then, but it usually is ignored by everyone except the sort of obsessive (waves hand) who argues about such things on websites. I used to cite an old Barton Gellman Washington Post piece back in June 1991 about how some Pentagon planners admitted that we targeted Iraqi civilian infrastructure to hurt the population –the sanctions would prevent repairs and this could be used as leverage against Saddam. But in the following decade that was scrupulously ignored by official Washington and most of the mainstream press. The suffering in Iraq was all Saddam’s fault. In Vietnam with the free fire zones, Neil Sheehan got Westmoreland to say that the generation of refugees deprived the enemy guerillas of the population. But usually the officials would have denied any ill intent. Truth pops out of official mouths on rare occasions, and is to be treasured when it happens.

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Donald Johnson 08.05.14 at 4:00 am

I meant to add that it probably wasn’t a mistake that the Dahiya doctrine was announced publicly. It was meant to deter Hezbollah from launching any rockets from southern Lebanon. But since Israel is actually fighting a war in Gaza and public relations matter, they have to deny what they are doing there.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 4:08 am

#367

Well, the high up defense-ish people in the US are I think [...] more likely to support a Jewish state because it accords with their wider Middle Eastern strategy and wanting to secure resources in the area /prevent certain sorts of nationalism etc.

I don’t understand that. Israel is a giant handicap to US middle east strategy. They are our worst possible ally — having them for an ally makes it hard for us to have other allies in the area. For the Gulf War we had to beg them not to fight because it would cause too much trouble with our other allies. They were no help to us in the Iraq invasion. When Reagan sent troops into Lebanon because Israel aimed guns at our diplomats, the Israelis shelled US troops. (Though it was arab suicide bombers who caused most of the casualties.)

The main use I see for Israel is that we can use them to threaten Saudi Arabia. “Do what we say or we will let Israel invade and conquer you.” But would we be better off if Israel controlled the Saudi oilfields? No. Anyway we had Iraq to threaten the Saudis with until we got rid of Saddam, and now we can threaten them with Iran.

Israel is like an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the middle east, but it is not our carrier, we cannot steer it and its planes do not obey our orders.

If Israel did not exist we most definitely would not have to invent it for our wider middle-east strategy.

I think the more plausible explanation for Israel’s place in US middle-east strategy is that many of our strategists are Zionists.

If we could find a way to solve the Israel/Palestine problem it would help our middle-east situation a whole lot. Allowing Jewish Israelis to move here would not do that, unfortunately, because a whole lot of them would not move here until their prospects there were mostly hopeless. But it would still be a good thing.

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ZM 08.05.14 at 4:08 am

Collin Street,

This discussion paper gives a good overview of the discussion of the genocide of indigenous peoples in Australia

http://www.kooriweb.org/gst/genocide/tatz.html

“Australians understand only the stereotypical or traditional scenes of historical or present-day slaughter. For them, genocide connotes either the bulldozed corpses at Belsen or the serried rows of Cambodian skulls, the panga-wielding Hutu in pursuit of Tutsi victims or the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. As Australians see it, patently we cannot be connected to, or with, the stereotypes of Swastika-wearing SS psychopaths, or crazed black tribal Africans. Apart from Australia’s physical killing era, there are doubtless differences between what these perpetrators did and what we did in assimilating people and removing their children. But, as we will see, we are connected – by virtue of what Raimond Gaita calls “the inexpungable moral dimension” inherent in genocide, whatever its forms or actions [1].”

“There are two ways of approaching the issue. One is to use the yardstick of the only extant international legal definition of genocide, namely Article II (a) to (e) of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948:…”

“There are many more, and better, definitions of genocide than Arendt’s [5]. Social science definitions assist us in analysis of causes and in conceptualising events. But if we venture into this realm of improved definitions, we will have no universally accepted yardstick – certainly no justiciable basis for trials of genocidal practice or for civil suits of restitution by victims. Some theorists will seek to narrow the definition and others will expand the genocidal universe to the point of meaninglessness. Chalk and Jonassohn take the narrow view that “genocide is a form of one-sided mass killing” by the state or some other authority. Charny’s much broader view sees genocide, in the generic sense, as the “mass killing of substantial numbers of human beings, when not in the course of military action …under conditions of the essential defencelessness and helplessness of the victims. [6]“… The broadest view comes from the reputable scholar Henry Huttenbach: he defines genocide as “any act that puts the very existence of a group in jeopardy””

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ZM 08.05.14 at 4:33 am

J Thomas,

I think you are forgetting about the high level of intrigue-ing and dishonesty engaged in by such defense-ish people.

Eg. ( Assuming this is a genuine source from the NSA [it is hard to confirm the accuracy of secret government documents - this is why the government should not be able to classify documents and should require proper minutes being taken at all meetings])

“The former NSA and CIA agent Edward Snowden revealed that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was trained in Israel, various Iranien sources reported.

Snowden added that the American CIA and the British Intelligence collaborated with the Israeli Mossad to create a terrorist organization that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”.

The “Hornet’s nest’’ strategy aims to bring all the major threats to one place in order to track them, and mostly to shake the stability of the Arab countries. The NSA agent revealed that the ISIS “Calif”, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi went trough intense military training in the Israeli intelligence “Mossad”.”

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 4:49 am

ZM, I find it plausible that Israelis might train arab terrorists for their own purposes.

I also find it plausible that Iranian intelligence people might try to discredit somebody they don’t like by telling lies about him.

I don’t see quite what this has to do with our previous discussion. Are you suggesting that Israel is useful to the USA because Mossad provides us with secrets we couldn’t find otherwise?

It’s hard to tell what Mossad has done for us because it’s mostly secret. But I think two public examples are by far the most important, big enough to overshadow everything else.

When Israel revealed the details of the plot to do 9/11 so we could prevent it, they were responsible for stopping the single biggest terrorist incident the USA has ever had. They prevented thousands of deaths and many billions of dollars of destruction. We owe them for that.

And second, when we were thinking about invading Iraq and Israeli intelligence showed us that Iraq no longer had a nuclear program, that saved us an invasion that would have cost something like $2 trillion and thousands of US military and contractor lives, that could have dramatically destabilized the whole middle east. That one piece of information was worth a big fraction of all the dollars we’ve spent on Israel over the years.

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ZM 08.05.14 at 5:12 am

:/

Well , US middle eastern policy and actions are a great tangled mess to be sure, it is possible according to this that US defensish actors go about doing things according to their own views on strategies (which is quite irregular) , so at least this Roosevelt fellow agrees with your strategic version (but he appears to be somewhat of an odd man out)

“Other bungled plots included trying to turn the nationalist Nasser into a U.S. asset. But even more fascinating than foreign cloak-and-dagger exploits is Wilford’s examination of clandestine CIA attempts to weaken domestic U.S. support for the new state of Israel.

Kim Roosevelt was deeply involved in this anti-Zionist activity. Like other CIA and State Department Arabists, his motivation wasn’t vulgar anti-Semitism, but rather a sincere belief that backing the Jewish state was inimical to U.S. strategic interests. These efforts foundered, too.”
http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2013/12/americas_great_game_recounts_t.html

On the other hand we had our Defense Minister Brendan O’Connor admit the war in Iraq was about oil and the economy etc

“Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said today oil was a factor in Australia’s contribution to the unpopular war, as “energy security” and stability in the Middle East would be crucial to the nation’s future.

Speaking ahead of a key foreign policy speech today by Prime Minister John Howard, Dr Nelson said defence was about protecting the economy as well as physical security, and it was important to support the “prestige” of the US and UK.”
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/oil-behind-iraq-war-nelson/2007/07/05/1183351331164.html

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 1:45 pm

ZM, the arabists got rooted out of the CIA, right? In general, anybody who says Israel is more of a liability than an asset can expect not to have much of a career in the US government.

So *of course* Israel’s interests are put first in our middle-east foreign policy. It doesn’t have to make sense, but everybody knows it has to be that way and there’s no point in any individual or group in CIA or State Department etc trying to challenge it.

Israel is utterly useless to us militarily, as the Gulf War showed. We couldn’t have Israel in the coalition because that would have alienated important allies. Saddam fired little useless missiles at Israel hoping to break up our coalition because nobody but us likes Israel, and if Israel had hit back as they wanted to, it would have hurt us. We had to bribe them not to.

Israeli intelligence is not very useful to us. They may occasionally have information about arab nations that we don’t care about much. They may not tell us what we need to know because if we knew we wouldn’t do what they wanted. They almost certainly sold our secrets to the USSR, and likely to China.

There is very little that the Israeli economy provides to us, that we wouldn’t have better if the same people were doing the same work in the USA.

If what Israel does for us with respect to arab nations or arab public opinion is good for us, we are living in an utterly insane world. Nobody has ever made anything like a plausible argument for that.

Well , US middle eastern policy and actions are a great tangled mess to be sure

I think that’s about as close as you can come to an argument that Israel is good for the USA.

But of course, we don’t support Israel out of self-interest. We do it because we think it is the right thing to do. We must defend them against the threat of extermination by far larger numbers of arabs who want to destroy Israel. It’s wrong of them to want that, and as long as they want that the USA will go to any expense and do whatever it takes to make sure that Israel is completely safe.

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ZM 08.05.14 at 2:23 pm

The high up defensish people do not seem to care very much about the morally right thing to do in many cases at all, I doubt they care about that in the case of Israel either. US State Policy and actions in the Middle East are a tangled mess because they classify things, destroy records, don’t follow laws, lie, and don’t keep proper minutes for all meetings.

“the major change in relationships took place in 1967. Just take a look at USA aid to Israel. You can tell that right off. And in many other respects, it’s true, too. Similarly, the attitude towards Israel on the part of the intellectual community — you know, media, commentary, journals, and so on — that changed very sharply in 1967, from either lack of interest or sometimes even disdain, to almost passionate support. So what happened in 1967?

Well, in 1967, Israel destroyed the source of secular Arab nationalism — Nasser’s Egypt — which was considered a major threat and enemy by the West. It is worth remembering that there was a serious conflict at that time between the forces of radical Islamic fundamentalism, centered in Saudi Arabia — where all the oil is — and secular Arab nationalism, centered in Nasser’s Egypt; in fact, the two countries were at war. They were fighting a kind of a proxy war in Yemen at that time. The United States and Britain were supporting the radical Islamic fundamentalism; in fact, they’ve rather consistently done that – supporting Saudi Arabia. And Nasserite secular nationalism was considered a serious threat, because it was recognized that it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States and its allies. So that was a major issue.

Well, Israel effectively destroyed Nasserite secular nationalism and the whole Arab nationalist movement that was centered in it. That was considered a major contribution to U.S. geopolitical strategy and also to its Saudi Arabian ally. And, in fact, that’s when attitudes toward Israel changed sharply and the U.S. support for Israel — material, diplomatic, and other — also increased sharply. In 1970, there was another turning point. In 1970, the Jordanian army (Jordan was a strong, close U.S. ally) – the Jordanian dictatorship was essentially massacring Palestinians during what’s the month that’s called Black September.

And the U.S. was in favor of that; it supported that. It looked as though Syria might intervene to support the Palestinians against the attack by the Hashemite dictatorship. The U.S. didn’t want that to happen. It regarded it as a threat to its Jordanian ally and also a broader threat, ultimately, to Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown.

While the U.S. was mired in Southeast Asia at the time — it was right at the time, a little after the Cambodia invasion and everything was blowing up — the U.S. couldn’t do a thing about it. So, it asked Israel to mobilize its very substantial military forces and threaten Syria so that Syria would withdraw. Well, Israel did it. Syria withdrew. That was another gift to U.S. power and, in fact, U.S. aid to Israel shot up very sharply — maybe quadrupled or something like that — right at that time. Now at that time, that was the time when the so-called Nixon Doctrine was formulated.

A part of the Nixon Doctrine was that the U.S., of course, has to control Middle-East oil resources — that goes much farther back — but it will do so through local, regional allies, what were called “cops on the beat” by Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense. So there will be local cops on the beat, which will protect the Arab dictatorships from their own populations or any external threat. And then, of course, “police headquarters” is in Washington. Well, the local cops on the beat at the time were Iran, then under the Shah, a U.S. ally; Turkey; to an extent, Pakistan; and Israel was added to that group. It was another cop on the beat. It was one of the local gendarmes that was sometimes called the periphery strategy: non-Arab states protecting the Arab dictatorships from any threat, primarily the threat of what was called radical nationalism — independent nationalism — meaning taking over the armed resources for their own purposes.
Well, that structure remained through the 1970s. In 1979, Iran was lost because of the overthrow of the Shah and pretty soon the Khomeini dictatorship — clerical dictatorship — and the U.S. once tried to overthrow that and supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran, and so on. But, anyway, that “cop” [Iran] was lost and Israel’s position became even stronger in the structure that remained. Furthermore, by that time, Israel was performing secondary services to the United States elsewhere in the world. It’s worth recalling that especially through the ’80s Congress, under public pressure, was imposing constraints on Reagan’s support for vicious and brutal dictatorships. The governments around the world — say Guatemala — the U.S. could not provide direct aid to Guatemala, because — which was massacring people in some areas in a genocidal fashion up in the highlands — Congress blocked it. Congress was also passing sanctions against aid to South-Africa, which the Reagan administration was strongly supporting South Africa and continued to do so right through the 1980s.
This was under the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared. The African National Congress — Mandela’s ANC — was designated as one of the more notorious terrorist groups in the world as late as 1988. [So] that it [could] support South-African apartheid and the Guatemalan murderous dictatorship and other murderous regimes, Reagan needed a kind of network of terrorist states to help out, to evade the congressional and other limitations, and he turned to, at that time, Taiwan, but, in particular, Israel. Britain helped out. And that was another major service. And so it continued.”

http://www.alternet.org/story/147865/noam_chomsky%3A_the_real_reasons_the_u.s._enables_israeli_crimes_and_atrocities?page=0%2C1

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Ronan(rf) 08.05.14 at 3:01 pm

I think the claim that Israel is a ‘strategic liability’ is kind of weak, and even Mearsheimer and Walt (afaicr) accepted that during the Cold War it probably wasn’t. The main problem(imo) is to assume that the US has a choice between Israel or ‘the Arabs’, which has been shown by history not to be the case.
The United States role diplomatically in the Arab/Israeli conflict, and perception of US ‘influence’ over Israeli behaviour, has probably been an asset to the US (peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan, nearly with Syria iirc)That has probably changed since the breakdown of the peace process, and the relative goodwill that brought the US at times, but you can see that change in US policy now, which is becoming more adapatable and less dogmatically attached to specific alliances.
The Israeli counterweight to Iran and Iranian proxies has also been seen positively by the US and its main regional allies, and the biggest mistake the US has made regionally(Iraq) was not due to the Iraeli relationship.(except, arguably, in a very roundabout way) The US role in mediating the Arab/israeli conflict(and US aid) has also *helped* prevent a war post 73 between Israel and its neighbours.
The question then is,what are the alternatives ?An explicit alliance with Iran isn’t only going to viewed poorly in Israel but in the regimes of all the US’ regional Arab allies. A more critical stance towards Israel, or a more forceful role in resolving the Palestinian situation, would probably be a good idea, but that also relies on the US maintaining somewhat good relations with Israel so as to exert that influence.
The mistake, I think, is to see Israel as the biggest threat to the US’ Arab allies(whereas Iran is) or to think that the relationship with Israel creates a significant backlash to US interests(it’s certainly unpopular domestically within Arab societies, but arguably less so within the ruling cliques) So I don’t see where the positives for ending that relationship (whatever that would mean) are.
A US posture less attached to specific alliances, more neutral towards regional politics and so adaptable to changing circumstances might be the right move, but it still doesnt mean ending the relationship with Israel. (which probably wont happen anyway)

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Ronan(rf) 08.05.14 at 3:16 pm

I know it’s more complicated than that, but that would be *the case for* (I guess)

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 4:36 pm

Ronan, thank you! That was exceptionally clear.

I agree with you about the dates. You present a compelling picture of the reasoning, but doesn’t that reasoning seem stupid to you?

There’s a simpler reasoning for people who don’t care about the complexities. When the USA gave Israel so much aid after 1967, arab nations we didn’t want had no choice but to accept aid from the USSR along with the strings that came attached. Egypt, Syria, Iraq etc. Then we could justify implacable opposition to them because they were on the Russians’ side, and support for Israel because they were anti-communist and opposed to the russian proxies. That was probably enough for simple-minded anticommunists.

So you figure we needed the Saudi monarchy. (Why didn’t the Saudi monarchy need us more? If they needed a superpower at all, they had to choose us over the USSR which had no sympathy for monarchy.) The monarchy did not want secular nationalist governments in other nations that might spread bad ideas to SA. So they wanted us to get rid of the Egyptian and Syrian governments which were secular-nationalist.

In 1967 Israel won a war against Egypt and Syria which we thought destroyed secular nationalism, so the Saudis were grateful to us. Is that the reasoning? But it did not destroy secular nationalism. It is not at all clear that the Saudis would show any gratitude to us for what the Israelis did. The reasoning is squirrelly.

Maybe in 1970 we rewarded Israel for helping the Saudis, because Palestinians were about to overthrow Jordan and the Saudis didn’t want that. So Israel mobilized, and Syria withdrew its tanks from Jordan after it lost more than half of them. Israel did not do that for us, they wanted a Palestinian nation in Jordan even less than the Saudis did. Maybe we asked them to, though, and promised them big rewards for doing it. And why were there palestinians in Jordan trying to take over the government? Only because of Israel. The idea that Israel was actually useful to us was nutty.

And then in 1973 our good friend the king of arabia and our good friend the Shah of Iran got together and organized OPEC into something that could actually make an oil shock on us. Over Israel.

The whole reasoning falls apart if you give it a second look.

For today, we have the Saudi monarchy our good friends, and what do they do for us? I guess they sell us oil cheap, about 16% of our total imports. That’s good I guess. They sell three times as much to the far east.

So to be nice to the Saudis we have helped get raging Islam in the various nations that would otherwise be doing secular nationalism. This does not look like a win to me. But it is a win for Israel because it makes it look like Israel is our only possible friend in the middle east.

And the national governments we like tend to be monarchies and dictators, the sort of thing that the Arab Spring tried to overthrow. We talked like it was a good thing at first, we like democracies, but then when it turned out to be muslim democracies we were against it after all and we’re trying to set up secular dictators again. But those have had a decreasing halflife recently, even the ones we don’t support.

Something about all this smells to me. It smells like we’re on the wrong side of history.

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Sasha Clarkson 08.05.14 at 5:20 pm

A very interesting view from inside Israel was published in Spiegel recently. The title: “The Real Danger to Israel Comes from Within” “Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz tells SPIEGEL that her country is gripped by fear and is becoming increasingly suspicious of democracy.”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-sociologist-eva-illouz-about-gaza-and-israeli-society-a-984536.html

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Ze Kraggash 08.05.14 at 5:24 pm

379 “This does not look like a win to me.”

You might be over-thinking it. Certainly, to sow discord and fish in muddied waters is a win. Or even THE win, if that’s the main strategy, which I think it might be. In this sense, pan-Arabism is a threat, and Islamism is a win, simply because there are many flavors that are easy to pit against each other. Divide and rule.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 7:08 pm

Certainly, to sow discord and fish in muddied waters is a win. Or even THE win, if that’s the main strategy, which I think it might be.

What fish do we hope to catch? I see that it’s good for Israel when arabs fight each other. How is it good for the USA?

If our main goal is to keep our friendly Saudi monarch on his throne, I don’t see that having lots of flavors of fanatical militant islam is helpful to that.

On the other hand maybe we don’t want the Saudi throne to be too stable, we want them to be wobbly enough they depend on us.

But on the third hand, if they’re unstable and scared they’re likely to go under anyway and all the US horses and all the US men can’t put them back together again.

When the Saudis get overthrown by some fanatical Islamic bunch, and then the fanatics fight in Saudi Arabia with other fanatical Islamic groups, how is that good for us? The Israelis might be able to send in their tanks and take over Saudi Arabia, but I have some doubts about them keeping it a long time. And what happens to the oil production in the meantime, is that good for us?

1. Get all the arabs to hate us.
2. Spread chaos, get arabs fighting other arabs whenever possible.
3 ….
4. Profit!

It looks to me like somebody else is underthinking it.

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Ronan(rf) 08.05.14 at 7:37 pm

@J Thomas – I (genuinely) don’t know the details of the history well enough, just the broad outlines, to really judge whether each alliance was neccesary, measure its pros and cons or decide what other options were available. I can understand the logic behind the security guarantees to the Saudis, and the role various US admins saw it as playing in the Gulf(and in guaranteeing access to oil at steady prices)

I can also see the logic behind the Israeli relationship, or at least how it developed. I’m not sure what the region(or peace process) looks like without that relationship, or at least without one as strong. I think US policy was often reactive with very few good choices, but it also(inexusably) helped reinforce authoritarian regimes and militarise the region. I don’t really know how to view it as a whole, or imagine different options or think of better alternatives now.

I know that’s pretty unresponsive, but I that’ all I have!

Perhaps there’s a solution here somewhere that could somewhat resolve the problems in the region; move towards a solution on the Palestinian issue, begin to dampen down the security issues(with security guarantees, and diplomatic engagement or what have you) stop selling arms in such quantities, push for political reform and economic development etc
I don’t see it coming any time soon though, and I dont know how feasible any solution is even in best case scenario.
I don’t think the Israeli relationship (as a whole) is that problematic though, I dont see a counterfactual situation where the US breaks off all engagement with Israel and something better emerges, or even how that could occur given the pro Israeli cottage industry that has emerged in US FP circles (a more even policy would be good though, or one that uses aid and weapons sales, and potentially sanctions, to influence Israeli behaviour. Although also not politically feasible at the minute)
But I think trying to figure out whether a relationship ‘secures vital national interests’ or is ‘strategically sensible’ is difficult, often futile, and leads to a way of percieving foreign policy that can be ‘problematic.’

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Ze Kraggash 08.05.14 at 7:52 pm

“What fish do we hope to catch?”

The world. You hope to control the world. It helps when countries and regions (especially resource-rich, potentially powerful regions) become unstable, weaken.

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Brett Bellmore 08.05.14 at 8:53 pm

I think the most likely scenario in the Middle East, assuming none of the Arab nations manage to get nuclear weapons, and suicidally start a nuclear war there, is that a few decades down the road the oil runs out/becomes irrelevant. At which point Israel has the only remaining strong economy in the area, (Because they’ve never been dependent on the oil), and the rest of the world loses its motivation for excusing Arab barbarism.

At that point things settle down, because the Arabs can’t afford to continue using the Palestinians to wage proxy war against Israel.

The best way to achieve this earlier is to push energy independence.

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Layman 08.05.14 at 9:57 pm

“I think the most likely scenario in the Middle East, assuming none of the Arab nations manage to get nuclear weapons, and suicidally start a nuclear war there, is that a few decades down the road the oil runs out/becomes irrelevant.”

Given that the reserves of Arab & other Muslim nations (e.g. Iran, Nigeria, Kazakhstan) are thought to have the longest remaining lifetimes of any country, the rest of the world will run out before they do. It’s possible oil will be irrelevant before then, and I certainly hope so, but it is a faint hope. Since Israel’s oil doesn’t come from the Middle East, they’ll run out before their neighbors do – perhaps long before, if other nations begin to hoard their reserves – and I imagine this will wreak havoc on Israel’s economy before it does that of their neighbors, who can be expected to benefit from having the largest supplies of a vanishing commodity. It seems far more likely to me that the decline of oil reserves will diminish Israel’s security, rather than enhance it; or that Israel will aggressively pursue strategies to take their neighbors’ oil.

But all this presupposes another 50-100 years of the status quo for Israel, which is quite hard to credit. Something will give long before that. Israel will change, and they can take control of that change to try and shape it, or they can just let it happen by denying that it’s coming. They’ve opted for the latter, so far, but it seems to be wearing thin.

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LFC 08.05.14 at 10:33 pm

J Thomas 379
So to be nice to the Saudis we have helped get raging Islam in the various nations that would otherwise be doing secular nationalism.

What evidence is there that “secular nationalism” wd be triumphant absent the machinations of the US? This strikes me as overemphasizing the US role in the rise of political and/or militant Islam.

I read that long quote from alternet that ZM put up. It doesn’t show IMO that secular nationalism wd be triumphant if only the US and Britain hadn’t backed S.A. vs Nasser’s Egypt. Secular nationalism failed in part, after all, b/c of Nasser’s own shortcomings. Yes, it’s more complicated, but my impression is that that was certainly one factor. The US role has been bad enough in some ways w/o saddling it w primary responsibility for the rise of political Islam. It contributed in various ways, but primary responsibility — no, I doubt it.

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godoggo 08.05.14 at 10:39 pm

Not following the thread, beyond occasionally looking at whatever happens to be last, but I don’t think the U.S. deliberately helped Islamists in Iran.

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J Thomas 08.06.14 at 12:20 am

#387 LFC

What evidence is there that “secular nationalism” wd be triumphant absent the machinations of the US? This strikes me as overemphasizing the US role in the rise of political and/or militant Islam.

Somebody else appeared to claim that this was an important US goal. It looks like a stupid goal to me.

I don’t exactly see it. Like, we supported a mostly secular nationalist dictator in Egypt after Sadat was killed, and we didn’t mind him suppressing muslims. When he got overthrown (partly by secular nationalists who wanted democracy), we supported the army clamping down and setting up something that looks like another secular nationalist dictator.

We supported the Shah, who was very much a secular nationalist dictator though not arab. He got overthrown partly by secular nationalists who wanted a democracy. Then when things went bad millions of them left because they could. People with skills that are demand in the west, don’t have to stay and fight fanatical muslims.

Saddam in Iraq was a secular nationalist dictator, and we tried to make friends with him for awhile but then we double-crossed him. After we took over we said we wanted a secular nationalist democracy but in all cases we stressed the sunni/shia/kurd trichotomy, we defined everybody by that and treated them different because of that, and if they might have been able to set that aside at first we firmed it up quite thoroughly over the years.

Assad in Syria was a secular nationalist dictator and we mostly ignored him for decades, until we decided he had to be overthrown but there was nobody to do it but religious fanatics.

Lebanon was a secular nationalist democracy which at one time shared power equally between Christians and Muslims. But the Muslims had a higher birthrate and the Christians wanted to keep half the control. For awhile they papered it over, like for example they agreed not to have a census. Then Israel made a deal with some suicidal Christian private armies, and Lebanon fell apart.

Turkey is a secular nationalist democracy where the army has a lot of say — kind of like Israel that way — and we repeatedly try to use the army to override the democratic government. They get annoyed at us but they want to stay in NATO.

I don’t see much of a pattern. Of course we want to avoid a pan-arab regional government, since we’d have a hard time controlling it. The majority of the middle-east governments we have supported or opposed were secular dictators and not kings. We of course have wanted weak governments that did not have the support of their people. But this has the side effect that the governments we support tend to occasionally be so weak they fall down. And we aren’t that good at hiding the relationship — every arab government we prop up gets stronger when they can show their people they defied us, and weaker when they knuckle under to us. That’s even true for Israel!

What we are doing just does not make sense to me in terms of us wanting fanatical muslims versus secular nationalists.

It looks to me like we could get along with secular nationalist democracies. They might not do what we want in all cases, but we could actually get along. We can coerce secular nationalist dictators, give them carrots and sticks, and that works for awhile but their people tend to hate us afterward. We tend to get very bad relationships with fundamentalist Islamic regimes.

It looks to me short-sighted to prop up dictatorships hoping we can control them. But that’s what we’ve done in latin america and south america too.

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ZM 08.06.14 at 1:20 am

“What fish do we hope to catch? I see that it’s good for Israel when arabs fight each other. How is it good for the USA?”

I think you are trying to catch the fishes of Resources and Domination with the lures of Violent Might and Money, and those that return from going out to do your fishing tell tall tales of the exploits of the expedition to the folks who stayed home. When people like Chelsea Manning depart from the tall tale narratives of the trips many of the fishers and the folks who stayed home do not like to hear of it.

“”What did I tell you?” he says when I hang up. He starts to eat again. Then throws his napkin on his plate. He says, “Goddamn it, why can’t people mind their own business? Tell me what I did wrong and I’ll listen! I wasn’t the only man there. We talked it over and we all decided. We couldn’t just turn around. We were five miles from the car. I won’t have you passing judgment. Do you hear?””

” but I don’t think the U.S. deliberately helped Islamists in Iran.”
But the intentions for an act do not necessarily lead to the act having the outcomes desired by the actor due to all sorts of various reasons.

““Thou hast loosed an Act upon the world, and as a stone thrown into a pool so spread the consequences thou canst not tell how far.”

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godoggo 08.06.14 at 2:08 am

Huh. Rudyard Kipling, apparently. I figured it something was from the Bible.

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godoggo 08.06.14 at 2:11 am

Oh, yeah, that’s how people talk in that book. I remember.

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Wallace Stevens 08.06.14 at 3:12 am

Can someone please put this thread out of its misery?

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Anarcissie 08.06.14 at 1:16 pm

You could stop reading it.

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J Thomas 08.06.14 at 1:53 pm

“What fish do we hope to catch? I see that it’s good for Israel when arabs fight each other. How is it good for the USA?”

I think you are trying to catch the fishes of Resources and Domination with the lures of Violent Might and Money, and those that return from going out to do your fishing tell tall tales of the exploits of the expedition to the folks who stayed home.

Can somebody please shoot these people and put them out of their misery?

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