Gaza Attacks: Two Related Reactions, in Second Life and Twitter


Joshua Fouts, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, says,

Two very interesting things happened today that you might be interested in -- both unfolded/ing rapidly. While the two are not directly linked, they are illustrative of an evolving use of the social networking world in interesting and dynamic ways.

1. Since Saturday people in Second Life have been protesting the attacks in the Gaza strip. About 30 people per day, mostly based in Egypt but using Second Life as their voice. We took some photos: Dozens Gather in Second Life to Protest Gaza Attacks.

2. Now here's what I think is really interesting. Just today the Israeli Consulate in NY launched two Twitter accounts and tomorrow (December 30) they'll be hosting a Twitter press conference to respond to questions people might have about Gaza. Summary here: Israeli Consulate to host Twitter Press Conference on Gaza.

The thing that's interesting to me is that this is such a fantastic risk and so ungovernmentlike that it's fun to watch. We'll be participating for sure.

Related BB post: Global Voices' coverage of Gaza Strip Bombings (and how to keep the coverage alive)

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  1. I tried SecondLife for a while, and I remember there were Scientology protesters there, too.

  2. there is no risk in a Twitter press conference. They will endlessly repeat the same lines they always use and ignore anything that disagrees with them. Just watch.

  3. This is incredibly interesting. Is there any way to know if the Israeli Consulate (and David Saranga) are actually behind it though? Like RL notices of intent etc..

    I’m certainly not calling ‘fake’, I just wonder if it has also been announced through the usual ‘official’ channels.. I didn’t see anything about it in the links, but Joshua Fouts is clearly versed and familiar with the territory – so it’s probably a legitimate effort on the Consulate’s part.

    Related: will this be covered by mainstream media?

    1. @Takuan, yawn, whatever. “Orestes pursued by the Furries?” Now *there’s* a painting I’d like to see. And I bet Second Life is just the place to find it.

  4. The Israeli Consulate confirmed it here, on a blog administered by David Saranga.

    IMO, the 30-person SL protest isn’t really news, and the Twitter “press conference” is barely news. It’s somewhat cool (along the lines of Obama’s YouTube addresses), but it’s foolish to think that it bears anything more than just the patina of open discussion and citizen involvement in government. The greater risk here seems to not try to “2.0” the PR work.

    Reviewing the careful quotes from various nations’ spokesfolks, I was pleasantly surprised at the wording of the response from The Vatican:

    Hamas is a prisoner to a logic of hate; Israel to a logic of faith in force as the best response to hate. One must continue to search for a different way out, even if that may seem impossible.

  5. Wow, entire…dozens…gathered at the paid-for islamonline.com SL “Virtual Haj” site and protested one-sidedly about the war against Hamas? Wow, that’s just, er, underwhelming.

    Boingboing shouldn’t take part in fanning this disgrace uncritically — the venue is the outrageously named “Palestinian Holocaust Center” in SL.

  6. I’m not sure “fun to watch” is the most sensitive way to put it. Interesting, tragic and/or absurd maybe. But fun, no.

    This just in: choco-rations are up to 25 grams.

  7. I don’t have to be a muslim or jew or Palestinian or Israeli to know dropping bombs on children is wrong.

  8. No, but you DO have to be hamas to think firing rockets from a school isn’t wrong. And you DO have to be an israeli politician to be so stupid as to actualy play into hamas’ hands.

    *Sigh* Whoever said democracies don’t go to war against each other?

    I wonder if anyone actualy believes this will make the rocket attacks stop for more than a few months, or bring peace closer?

  9. *Sigh* Whoever said democracies don’t go to war against each other?

    Blair on the Daily Show, for one.

  10. Shooting rockets at children is also wrong.

    Both sides are wrong, and both sides are guilty of trying to spin their side into the role of the wronged. The Palestinians/Gazans/Hamas have the PR advantage right now, because of the visceral nature of the bloody photographs, and the fact that the casualties occurred over a short period of bombings, rather than accrued gradually over years of rocket attacks.

    Israel is extremely tech-savvy, and they are going to use that savvy to spin the situation as best they can.

    Interesting that the SL protesters should employ the term “holocaust”, as Hamas is a notorious holocaust-denier.

    To DIP’s credit, they did indeed post a perspective from the other side: http://firstlife.isfullofcrap.com/2008/12/protests.html .

  11. Israel is also incredibly PR-savvy.

    The two Israeli spokesmen I’ve seen on Australian TV the past two days have spoken fluent Australian and British english. On the other hand, the Hamas spokesman was really quite difficult to understand.

    I was amazed how much more I instinctively trusted a voice that had my own accent.

    (That is, if I ignored the accompanying pictures of bloodied civilians in hospitals with no supplies)

  12. “maybe they should fight the war in second life. No blood spilled.”

    …Hell, SL doesn’t need a combat option. They’ve got people who’ve done coding that’ll send millions of dicks at anyone’s avatar.

    Now, if only Fox had an online presence so millions of big blue glowing dicks could penetrate their online HQ…:-P

  13. @18 – point.

    @14 – democracy? where? oh, right – isn’t that what they were trying to find with the mars rover?

  14. they’ll be hosting a Twitter press conference to respond to questions people might have about Gaza.

    I’m an old fart and don’t even know what twitter is. If someone has a twitter, could they post a question for me and put the answer back here? It is:

    Hamas attacks from Gaza killed 17 Israelis in 2008. How many Palestinian civilians are you willing to kill before you decide the moral cost of your attack is too high?

    It’s funny how I can’t seem to get a number out of anyone. THey all get squeemish and then get all fuzzy on the numbers.

  15. GrgLndn tht qstn s nt tht hrd. Jst Nk t frm rbt, ts th nly wy t b sr. Whl zrl ncldng Gz. n swft mv ndng ll th sffrng.

  16. If food can’t get into Gaza, how are the rockets getting in? Are they already there or is someone else supplying them?

    Anyone know?

  17. How many Afghani civilians are you willing to kill before declaring that ousting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan is too high a moral cost? The 2008 body count in Afghanistan is much higher than in the Palestinian territories, and the civilian casualties to the U.S. in 2008 remain zero.

    Rockets are being smuggled in from Egypt, Ephcee.

  18. Greglondon:

    Obviously seventeen dead Jews isn’t “high enough” a number for you to decide the moral cost is too high to stop it.

    How many Jews should have been killed before Israel responded? One hundred? One thousand? Six million?

    How about when the indiscriminate rockets stop raining down on civilian populations and children no longer have to run for cover from incoming missiles, then you can start talking morality.

  19. @21

    I “tweeted” your question to @davidsaranga on Twitter. If he responds I will let you know.

    If you do check out Twitter (well worth it!) please be in touch: @eurekadejavu.

  20. The idea that it’s symmetric conflict is dangerous. Homemade rockets vs F16s and Drones.

    And only ever taking causality back one step (“we bomb gaza ’cause they shot rockets”) is dangerous. And that one-step-hindsight only seems to happen right after Israel attacks. Never just after Hamas attacks.

    Ignorance and certainty. Credulity is inversely related to certainty.

  21. Markgott: How many Jews should have been killed before Israel responded? One hundred? One thousand? Six million?

    Nice, invoke the holocaust. Now Israel gets to invade Gaze and kill civlians because of the holocaust, right? Is that what you’re saying?

    Come on. Six million dead, right? Hamas killed 17 Israelis in 2008. And you make it out to be six million? Seriously?

    Well, if six million is a valid number then no criticism of Israel can ever be made, really. I mean, as long as Israel doesn’t kill more than six million people, then they had it worse than they’re dishing it out, right? Am I right?

    Until Israel kills six million palestinians, criticism is off limits, right?

    That’s exactly what you’re implying, right?

    How about when the indiscriminate rockets stop raining down on civilian populations and children no longer have to run for cover from incoming missiles, then you can start talking morality.

    Hamas attacks launched from Gaza in 2008 killed a grand total of 17 Israelis. Half of them were IDF. which means at most half of them were children. Six of them were rocket attacks, which means they were random, so, I’ll just assume that maybe 3 of them were children. That’s for the entire year of 2008.

    In the last three days, Israel just killed 20 Palestinian children in Gaza. In response to Hamas rocket attacks launched from Gaza they say. And yet, it was an Israeli missile attack that struck a refugee camp and killed several children yesterday.

    If you invoke “for the sake fo the children” then you have to accept “for the sake of the children”. And by any yardstick, Israel has caused more Palestinian children to run for cover from incoming missiles and bombs than Hamas has, so your high horse just tipped over.

  22. For some reason I’m reminded of the new War of the Worlds movie. Yes I know, it’s crap but hear me out:

    In the face of an overwhelming military occupation, the only sane solution would be one of non-aggression against this force.

    So why the hell do the Hamas think that continuing random violence would lead to anything but a major ass kicking along with the inevitable killing of the people that they claim to be fighting for?

  23. The body count is a powerful figure, and clearly demonstrates that it’s not a symmetric battle. However, the blurring of the line between civilian and soldier (on both sides) is important, as is Israel’s perception of the impact of terror.

    Israel’s position is that the psychological effect of terror on their population justifies deaths on the other side.

    If Israel wants to argue a “for the sake of the children” position, they can say that three rockets over the past few years that have landed “in” or “near” a kindergarten (1, 2, 3), and that a third of the children in Sderot (a town in the rocket attack zone) are reported to suffer from post-tramautic stress disorder. They can show some visceral imagery too, like this drawing from a 7-year old living in Sderot. Of course, PTSD is still a far cry from death.

    Hamas members and activities are so interspersed with the civilian population that it’s both difficult to specifically target them, and easy to spin any Hamas deaths as “civilians” (although, the body count is still very lopsided). Similarly, Hamas points to Israel’s policy of compulsory military service as justification for considering all Israelis as “soldiers”.

    Keep in mind that the overloaded Gaza hospitals are being “secured” by armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes pursuing vigilante justice, like executing people for collaboration with Israel.

  24. executing people for collaboration with Israel.

    That wouldn’t be considered Treason or Sedition, no?
    Just a question, I don’t know either way.

  25. If Israel wants to argue a “for the sake of the children” position, they can say that three rockets over the past few years that have landed “in” or “near” a kindergarten (1, 2, 3), and that a third of the children in Sderot (a town in the rocket attack zone) are reported to suffer from post-tramautic stress disorder. They can show some visceral imagery too, like this drawing from a 7-year old living in Sderot. Of course, PTSD is still a far cry from death.

    You should watch the clip at the top of the other thread. It shows palestinian children looking at the destruction all around them.

    Unless you’re saying that only Israeli children can get PTSD or something, I’m pretty sure that what Israel is doing in Gaza qualifies as turning much of Gaza into the equivalent of a “rocket attack zone”.

    As far as “in” or “near” a kindergarten, again, I’m just comparing numbers of dead. If you want to count numbers of “near” misses that Israelis have had of Palestinian spaces, then something tells me that a war in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, I coupld probably find a few “in” or “near” situations.

    if you want to play that game.

    But for all the “in” or “near” Hamas attacks, I’m going of a number from the Israeli Foreign Ministry office that said in 2008, Hamas attacks launched from Gaze killed 17 Israelis. 6 of these were rocket attacks.

    If you want to compare apples to apples, then its 17 dead compared to 60 dead palestinian civilians, 20 children.

    But if you want to invoke “in” or “near” misses, I could start digging. I’m sure it wont’t take long.

    If you want to talk about PTSD numbers, I’d probably have to do some digging for that too, but I am operating under the strange assumption that yes, indeed, palestinian children are actually human, and can suffer from PTSD from an Israeli attack just as easily as an Israeli child can suffer PTSD from a Hamas attack.

    Are those the numbers you’d rather compare? Cause teh problem of course, is that the UN lies, you know. So, if I try getting numbers on death tolls, that is fairly common and corroborated. But PTSD numbers, that might be a bit harder to find and make sure eveyrone is making the diagnosis on teh same tests.

  26. Greg — I think the discrepancy in our positions is due to the fact that I don’t perceive the attacks as comparable. I see one as prolonged psychological warfare that has a profound effect on day-to-day life (a few rockets landing randomly every day for years), and the other as a concentrated, defined, finite attack.

    For sure, the death toll on Israel is lower than on the Palestinians, but Israel’s position is that the terror toll is higher on the Israelis. It’s somewhat of a justification, but I don’t know how it translates into life and death.

  27. I’m in favor of political and economic pressure on both sides to get them back to the cease-fire negotiating table. Bush is bad at that. Until Obama takes office, I will let the “Palestinian Holocaust” moniker slide, because it’s offensive but effective at making people realize that there is a vast imbalance of military might at play, which might tend to pressure toward peace.

  28. I don’t perceive the attacks as comparable. I see one as prolonged psychological warfare that has a profound effect on day-to-day life (a few rockets landing randomly every day for years), and the other as a concentrated, defined, finite attack.

    So, how many dead palestinians are worth a hundred scared Israelis?

    That’s the calculus you just explained. Since Israelis are afraid longer, we can kill more palestinians as long as we do it quickly. ANd it will all work out to be morally acceptable.

    17 dead israelis + 1 million frightened israeli hours

    equals

    60 dead palestinian civilians.

    or some scalar conversion like that.

    The question still comes down to a military plan with a predicted death toll and a yes/no answer from you.

    The only difference is you’ve got 17 dead israelis and some number of man-hours of frightened Israelis to counterbalance against whatever number of dead palestinians you decide is acceptable.

    Also, you have to acknowledge that once you equate some number of frightened Israeli man hours legitimizes the death of one innocent palestinian civilian, that the reverse is also true. That a similar number of Palsetinian man hours living in fear translates into a legitimate death of one innocent Israeli civilian that can be inflicted without repurcussions.

    That seems to be what you’re saying, at least from the israeli side. it’s just that it has to work both ways to be moral.

    But it sounds pretty whacked, so maybe I’m misunderstanding it.

    Some number of frightened israeli man hours justifies the death of a palestinian civilian???

    Is that what you just said?

  29. Great. protests where no-one will notice. Protesting the massacre of palestinians in Gaza is about as useful as praying for it to stop.

    If you want to protest, do something useful. Get those 40 people to write some placards and go protest in front of your nearest israeli embassy. Burning tyres optional.

  30. Greglondon:

    No, what I was implying, if you had actually taken a moment to read what I wrote, is that it seems to be okay with you for “only” seventeen Israelis to be killed. How about it’s not okay for any Israelis to be killed? How’s zero for a number? How about zero rockets, not “only” 6,500 since 2005.

    Fact: The Palestinians elected into power an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. This isn’t rhetoric, this is in their charter.

    Fact: That organization brutally evicted political rivals from Gaza and established a thugocracy, just as predicted.

    Fact: 6,500+ rockets have been indiscriminately fired into Israel from Gaza over three *years*, killing, maiming, destroying property, closing businesses, and causing PTSD among Israeli children in Sderot and the Western Negev.

    Fact: Unlike Hamas, whose rockets are random and have landed on synagogues, in playgrounds and on homes, Israel has the capability to pinpoint exactly where it wants to strike, as was shown in Lebanon in 2006 and here:http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/News/the_Front/08/12/2901.htm .

    Try to broaden the scope of where you get your facts. Israel hasn’t and doesn’t target refugee camps. It targets terrorist cowards who hide among civilians.

    Let me ask you something: what happened to all the peace that was supposed to happen after the Disengagement? We were promised that there would be peace if we ended the “Occupation.” We got out. So where’s the quiet? Where’s the peace?

    “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.”

    No problem, Mr. President-elect, we’ll get right on that.

    They had it coming for a long time. As far as how many people Israel kills, the answer is: as many as it takes until we can live in peace. We didn’t ask for this fight.

  31. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if I say that the roots of all that shit plunge deep into the purest madness ever. One simple example which seems to always have escaped everyone good sense, the use of the term ‘Holocaust’.

    A holocaust, literally, is a burnt sacrifice which odors pleases God. When a people psyche is based on the idea that the torture and deaths of their own by the millions was a just price to pay to what, appease God? To ‘see the light’ of God??…

    On the other side the roots of madness are the same, except that they believe that six millions isn’t quite enough.

  32. @Greglondon “We didn’t ask for this fight.”

    What about the 6 day war? Just because it was 40 years ago doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Israel are occupying land illegaly and Palestinians are trying to get it back.

  33. I have to laugh when the Zionist PR machine trots out the line about firing rockets from Mosques and schools. Open up googlearth…look at how small an area Gaza is. The people are literally crammed in there like sardines. Where else are they supposed to fire from!?!? Homemade rockets versus F-16’s and drones…..yep, sounds like a fair fight to me.

  34. @51 Mojave “Where else are they supposed to fire from!?!?”

    You write as if there’s some human right to fire rockets indiscriminately into civilian towns.

  35. If you had trouble seeing firing these things at Jews, killing a few of them, and PTSDing entire towns of them as a crime against humanity, maybe Palestinian human blood will mean something to you. The Hamas attacks are designed to indiscriminately kill civilians on both sides, and they accomplish that. Begin by acknowledging this crime, and then explain how you would stop it without incurring any casualties among Hamas’ human shields.

  36. I’m really tired of the constant blame game about who (re)started the violence. The violence is only part of the issue. Each time the violence erupts it distracts from the actual conflict: the argument about who can live where, who owns the land.

    Even when nobody is shooting the conflict is there – though Israel is the main aggressor then. The Israeli blockade of the Palestine areas, the building of the wall, the destruction of Palestine farms and houses, the road blocks, etc. All these things make life impossible for the Palestine people. Intended destruction of Palestine society.

    It is this type of “soft violence” – ignored by most western press – that incites hatred. This is as intended by Israeli policy makers as it ensures the rocket attacks will continue. The rocket attacks in turn give the west an excuse to avoid dealing with Hamas. So Israel can continue its acquisition of land without criticism.

    I believe at this point the only solution is to have Israel and Palestine merge to become one nation. Most people will find this hard to imagine. It worked in South Africa though which had a very similar situation with Apartheid…

  37. @ANARKI, Funny that you mentioned occupied territory as an excuse to deliberately target Israeli civilians.

    At the time we (Israelis) thought that if we withdrew from the Gaza strip, that would be seen as a sign of good will and pave the road to peace.

    In return, Palestinians saw this as a sign of our weakness and use our absence from the Gaza strip to manufacture and launch missiles, rockets and mortars into our cities from there.

    So I guess you expect us to withdraw from the west bank when this is what we have to look forward to? Think again.

  38. So they can now Twitter about how no civilians have been killed? Great! And their lapdogs in the US media will probably run the Twitters on CNN.

    Its really (*&$#(*)^ disgusting, dead children all around, bombing markets and medical centers, and the USA calls on Hamas to stop shooting their ineffective toy rockets that have, last I read, killed 1 Israeli. I guess it goes to show that a million Palestinians really aren’t worth a Jewish fingernail.

  39. @GregLondon Thank you for keeping score. You’re very good at arithmetic. Too bad your data is based on biased sources. B’Tzelem is well known for subjectively representing the Palestinian side of things

    But this isn’t about numbers. This is about taking defensive action. Israel has been under artillery attack from Gaza for over 8 years now.

    We’ve tried reconciling the Palestinian people by withdrawing from the Gaza strip entirely, tearing down established towns and communities at a considerabe price to our society. In return, the Palestinians attack us relentlessly, aiming at civilians on purpose.

    The military operation against Gaza is aimed at one thing and one thing only – Stopping these criminal attacks now that all other means have failed.

    Yes, the numbers show more dead on the Palestinian side. That’s what you get when you foolishly and repeatedly attack a stronger military power.

    Yes, we are more powerful than the Palestinians. Does this mean we should let them go on killing us while the world (people like you) stands aside turning a blind eye? Most certainly not.

  40. @Greglondon:

    So, in your estimation, what *is* Israel supposed to do about Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel? Even if they’ve “only” killed 17 Israelis by your count.

    (I’m taking your count on faith for now, since I don’t have the time to look up the numbers at the moment. It sounds a little low, but I may be wrong.)

  41. Palestine children don’t get PTSD because there is no “post”. They live in a military occupation where actions (will I be killed, arrested, hassled, allowed to get to school. etc.) are completely arbitrary.

  42. It is interesting to observe the ‘intellectual’ arguments for and against each opinion or stance. It is exactly this sort of bandying back and forth upon which wars and conflict are based.

    How about everyone agreeing to disagree and doing something positive about stopping BOTH ‘sides’ from killing people… regardless of their guilt or innocence… with no recriminations, no judgments, and no punishments. Now that would be “fun to watch”.

  43. the leadership of Israel clearly states they see the leaders of Hamas as insane, murderous fanatics.

    The leadership of Israel then says it will kill as many Palestinians as it takes to convince them to change their leaders. Apparently a number up to and including “all”.

    If the leadership of Hamas is indeed insane, they WANT Palestinians dead en masse to provoke them against Israel.

    What then, is the leadership of Israel really doing?

    The wealthiest, most heavily armed nation on the planet had two elections stolen by murderous fanatics. Almost three. What was the fate of many of those citizens who opposed the corrupt government? Suppose that government had had the option of dragging opponents into the street and executing them as “traitors”?

    I think the evidence is clear that the government of Israel wishes all Palestinians dead. Who by doesn’t matter.

  44. I am very curious to see how all this will affect reconciliation between America and Iran after Obama takes over.

  45. “Last I checked self-defense was/is a human right.”

    Tell me who issues these “human rights” and I’ll go pick up some for the new year.

    Last I checked there were no human rights — only what you can wrest from the world.

  46. So, in your estimation, what *is* Israel supposed to do about Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel? Even if they’ve “only” killed 17 Israelis by your count.

    1.) Stop blockading Gaza from food and fuel. Gaza is ostensibly a giant prison camp in the current situation. Not surprisingly, they act out like prisoners.

    2.) Stop supporting Israeli settlers in Palestinian territory and move all Israeli occupational forces behind the Green Line.

    The not-so-hidden agenda of Israel is a land grab for entire territory originally the British Mandate of Palestine aka “Greater Israel”. Israel is heavily subsidized by the USA, with the military and international political power to occupy and legitimize annexation of that territory slowly but surely in the long game.

    Just as the not-so-hidden agenda of American Empire is expansion of permanent military bases abroad, for rapid global deployment of military force as a “superpower”.

    Land is one of those fundamental resources such as water and oil.
    “They’re not making any more of it.” is the common aphorism.

  47. “Land is one of those fundamental resources such as water and oil.”

    Shouldn’t it be that land yields those fundamental resources? Nobody fights over worthless land.

    I repeat myself: “…wars are manifestations of the more basic goals of energy, protection, and security.”

    Water, oil, and arable land are sources of “free” energy, the largesse of the sun.

    All religions should worship the sun.

    Ikhnaton was right.

  48. Shouldn’t it be that land yields those fundamental resources? Nobody fights over worthless land.

    But who knows what’s worthless today could be priceless tomorrow.

    That’s the lesson in Once Upon a Time in the West over who owns the land of Sweetwater. It’s worthless until the railroad needs to come through.

  49. ..Israel has the capability to pinpoint exactly where it wants to strike..

    Oh! And since civilians are killed all the time, they must choose not to use this pinpoint accuracy, now I understand.

    Israel hasn’t and doesn’t target refugee camps. It targets terrorist cowards who hide among civilians.

    Do you see what you’ve said there? That Israel will shoot through a human shield. And they will, but it’s quite shocking to hear you acknowledge it so matter-of-factly.

  50. #59 THANK YOU for posting that story from the Guardian about the Israeli’s ramming the aid boat in international waters. Incredible they weren’t blown out of the water ala the USS Liberty!!….and Cynthia McKinney was on board. Anyone seen the video they shot of this incident?

  51. Might makes right.

    That’s why America is right, that’s why Israel (with America) is right, and that’s why Gitmo still exists.

    End of story.

  52. “Last I checked there were no human rights — only what you can wrest from the world.”

    I agree with you.

    However there were American ideals. Many damaged by Americans recently.

    One American ideal comes the from Declaration of Independence.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    @ Santa’s Knee: You’re right. But Arkizzle, thank you for saying that.

    ,>)

    Palestinians are a creation of man and governments. Just like the Israelis.

    Unless you believe they have some supernatural ‘devine right’ to keep grabbing land and expanding their borders.

    To anyone claiming a moral superiority for either side:

    Step back and take another look.

    I’ve been watching this for 35 years.

    Both sides are murderous and indifferent of human life.

  53. marcgott@47:No, what I was implying, if you had actually taken a moment to read what I wrote, is that it seems to be okay with you for “only” seventeen Israelis to be killed. How about it’s not okay for any Israelis to be killed?

    I said it in some other post. Hamas is responsible for the Israelis it killed. Israel is responsible for the Palestinian civilians it killed. End of story.

    Your list of facts is irrelevant to who is responsible for the deaths that Israel’s actions cause.

    You don’t want that though. You want to roll in hot and bomb any target you want, and you want to invoke some handwavium to say they are to blame for any deaths you cause.

    Do not for an instant think this is limited to Israeli thinking. I’ve spent the last several years listening to this exact line of crap from Americans who, after 9/11 were justifying waterboarding literally anyone because of 9/11. There are people this very day who refuse to acknowledge that Maher Arar had anything wrong done to him by the US government.

    Not because the US government did or did not do anything wrong, but because they take their anger and their fear about 9/11 and they turn it into something tribal. Anyone not in our tribe is fair game. Our tribe can’t do anything wrong. Anything our tribe does that someone might suggest is wrong is actually the fault of those who attacked us on 9/11. They made us do this.

    That blind rage is exactly what lead the US into Iraq without questioning just how cooked the intelligence was.

    Now that the US has some distance between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq and has lost some of the infatuation with combat, people are more able to look back at that and say, yeah, we didn’t have anything to connect Iraq to 9/11, we didn’t have anything to say Iraq had WMD’s.

    And who is responsible for that? The US. Not the people who attacked on 9/11. The United States. We fucked up.

    You and your list of “facts” is nothing more than a bit of smoke and mirrors, a bit of magic act, to try and distract people while you transfer the responsibility of Israel’s actions onto Hamas.

    Nothing more.

    You can list all the facts you want about what Hamas has done. Israel is still responsible for whatever actions it takes. End of story.

    And there are several people on this thread doing that exact same handjob, trying to throw out facts and figures and tragedies and you name it, all in an effort to do one and exactly one thing:

    To be able to say that the blood spilled by Israeli troops is on the hands of Hamas, not Israelis.

    And I say that is the biggest load of horseshit that any human being can cart into public. It isn’t specific to Israel. It’s a human quality. I’ve heard plenty of Americans thump their chests and talk about killing towelheads because of 9/11. I’ve heard Americans defend waterboarding because of what happened on 9/11. I’ve heard Americans defend indiscriminate use of force because of what happened on 9/11. These very same people will inundate me with “facts” about what happened on 9/11, what happened leading up to 9/11, and what has happened since 9/11.

    And you know what? They are wrong.

    The facts may be accurate, but they’re not all the facts. And the facts do not change who is responsible for America’s actions. America is. Not Iraq because we thought they might be behind 9/11. Not Maher Arar because we thought he might be a terrorist. Not anyone but ourselves.

    And once again I hear those exact same arguments. This idea that some country is not responsible for its actions because of what someone else did to them. This transfer of blood spilled to someone else’s hands. I’ve seen it all before. And it’s nothing but blind rage. And it’s nothing but the sort of thinking that would have almost the entire United States of America thumping their chests to invade Iraq because we are certain that Iraq was behind 9/11. We are certain in our righteousness. We are certain in how much we have earned and rightly deserve our vengeance.

    You can keep spewing your facts, but I’ve seen exactly where that line of thinking goes.

    You don’t want responsibility for your actions. You point and accuse and want to blame them for whatever terrible things you’re about to do, for whatever Palestinian blood you’re about to spill.

    And I refuse to buy into the blind rage. I refuse to buy into the transfer of responsibility that comes from this blind rage.

    Hamas killed 17 Israelis in 2008 and no one is responsible for that but Hamas.

    In the last few days, Israel has killed at least 60 palestinian civilians, about 20 palestinian children. And no one is responsible for that but Israel.

  54. “people are more able to look back at that and say, yeah, we didn’t have anything to connect Iraq to 9/11”

    Right before the 2004 election over 70% of Americans incorrectly believed that Sadam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11.

    I wonder how many still believe it?

  55. Urig@56: @GregLondon Thank you for keeping score. You’re very good at arithmetic. Too bad your data is based on biased sources. B’Tzelem is well known for subjectively representing the Palestinian side of things

    The number of Israelis killed by Hamas attacks launched from Gaza for all of 2008 was reported by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to be 17.

    The numbers of Palestinians killed by Israelis in the last few days is fairly consistent among the various news agencies.

    You remind me of the Americans who when confronted with the civilian death toll in Iraq attack the numbers and say it’s all a lie, we couldn’t have killed that many Iraqi civilians, it must have all been iraqi fighting iraqi. US troops couldn’t have done that.

    When you don’t like the news, the first line of denial is to attack the source of the news.

    But this isn’t about numbers.

    Says who?

    A week ago, some Israeli generals had a military plan on some Israeli politician’s desk. It had troop commitments, schedules, and predicted casualties.

    And some israeli politician saw those numbers and gave teh green light.

    It is most certainly about the numbers. ANyone who says it isn’t, is someone who doesn’t want to face the numbers.

    Someone who says it isn’t about the numbers was some Americans I talked with before we invaded Iraq. I’d show them the plans from generals that would say it would take a couple hundred thousand troops and take several years of occupation and may still not win.

    They attacked the source, they said the general who made those plans was a liar. When more generals came out with those exact same numbers, these same deniers said it wasn’t about hte numbers, it was about “freedom”, and “spreading democracy”, and “getting rid of a dictator”.

    In short, they were full of shit.

    Now, several years later, it is exactly about the numbers. But will those chicken shit bastards who wouldn’t look at the numbers admit they were wrong?

    Hell no. Now it’s about bad planning on Bush’s part. We could have been in and out in 6 weeks, but Bush screwed it up. The generals who launched the invasion didn’t armor their humvees, it’s everyone else’s fault, but the asshole with the USA tshirt thumping his chest back in March 2003 demanding that we invade Iraq.

    This is about taking defensive action. Israel has been under artillery attack from Gaza for over 8 years now.

    We’ve tried reconciling the Palestinian people by withdrawing from the Gaza strip entirely, tearing down established towns and communities at a considerabe price to our society. In return, the Palestinians attack us relentlessly, aiming at civilians on purpose.

    So, you rolled into Iraq, thinking you’d be welcomed as liberators, and these ungrateful Iraqis start an insurgency because you invaded and occupied their land? The ungrateful bastards.

    Yeah, I’ve heard that exact line of thinking before from Americans, only its about Iraq, not palestinian territories.

    The military operation against Gaza is aimed at one thing and one thing only – Stopping these criminal attacks now that all other means have failed.

    Oh really??

    It wouldn’t have anything at all to do with the fact that Israel has elections coming up in a few weeks and the incumbent is seen as “weak on terror” compared to the hawk in the race?

    It wouldnt have anything at all to do with the fact that the US is a lame duck president right now?

    It’s just the biggest coincidence of coincidences?

    Yes, the numbers show more dead on the Palestinian side. That’s what you get when you foolishly and repeatedly attack a stronger military power.

    That’s what you get when Israelis kill more Palestinian children and civlians than Hamas killed Israeli children and civilians.

    You just did the handwave thing to try to put the blood of dead palestinians on the hands of Hamas.

    But you can’t just come out and say “The blood of palestinians killed by Israelis is on the hands of Hamas, not Israel” because that would be too obvious and many people would flat out reject it for what it is: shifting your responsibility to someone else.

    So, you have to talk about it in round about terms.

    Believe me, the last several years, I’ve heard every possible variation of blame shifting you could possibly imagine. None of it is valid.

    Yes, we are more powerful than the Palestinians. Does this mean we should let them go on killing us while the world (people like you) stands aside turning a blind eye? Most certainly not.

    logical fallacy: bifurcation.

    we can either attack exactly the way we did or do nothing.

    ANd therefore since you can’t just do nothing, you must do something, and this is something, so this must be done. The blood of dead palestinians, therefore, is on the hands of hamas.

    You’re just saying the same thing over and over again but trying to give it a different spin.

    Just come out and say “Israel can kill as many palestinian civilians in Israel’s quest to wipe out Hamas” and be done with it already.

    It’s what you’re saying without coming out and saying it directly. Instead you keep dancing around the issues with “democracy” and “freedom” and “toppling dictators” and all this other crap.

    And I’m telling you I’ve heard it from Americans for the last 7 years or so, and it’s what got us into this stupidity called Iraq. So, my tolerance for that kind of bullshit is pretty low.

  56. ari@60: So, in your estimation, what *is* Israel supposed to do about Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel? Even if they’ve “only” killed 17 Israelis by your count.

    Do you think invading Iraq helped weaken al queda?

    Do you subscribe to Bush’s notion that we had to “bring the fight there so we wouldn’t fight it here”?

    Or can you acknowledge the notion that some uses of force actually make a situation worse?

    Because your question is packed with teh implicit challenge: “Well, we’ve got to do something.” Where “something” is usually something violent. And if we’re not doing something violent, then we’re not doing enough.

    That is the implicit message in your challenge.

    And if you’re not aware of what’s packed in your narrative, then you can’t see any alternatives. and I’d be wasting my time trying to describe one.

    The basic rule would be that Israel maintain a proportional response to whatever it is responding to. If Hamas killed 17 israelis over a year, then killing 300 palestinians in response is a disproportionate response.

    That is the basic premise behind my original question.

    If the plan said 60 palestinian civilians, 20 children, would probably die, would you green light the attack?

    If yes, at what point would you say “no”?

    If there is no point at which you say “no”, then you’re not thinking in terms of a proportionate response. You’re thinking in terms of “something must be done, this is something, this must be done”. You’re thinking in terms of “The blood I spill is on their hands”. You’re thinking in terms of “Vengeance!”.

    The whole point of the question is to show who is thinking in terms of a proportionate response and who is thinking in terms of “kill them all, we are the righteous ones here, we are the victims here, they did this to us.” and so on.

    Several people on this thread have already made abundantly clear that they are in that “righteous” camp, because they cannot think of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops as being the responsibility of Israel. And so, there is no limit to palestinian dead, and there is no point at which the Israeli response is no longer “proportional” in their minds. It’s not about being “proportional” or “not proportional” to them. It’s about being righteous. We deserve to launch this attack for what they’ve done to us.

    Rudi Gulliani got slammed when he was running for president that all his sentences boiled down to:

    a noun. a verb. and “9/11”.

    All you have to do is look at the people on this thread who are reporting all these “facts” about what hamas did here or hamas did there or whatever. And suddenly you start seeing that their sentence structures are all in the form of

    a noun. a verb. and “hamas”.

    There is no such thing as a proportional response from that mindset. There is only a righteous vengeance.

    And so, your question “what *is* Israel supposed to do about Hamas rockets?” basically comes down to starting by figuring out whether you’re looking for a proportional response, or whether you’re looking for a noun, a verb, and Hamas, in order to justify not being responsible for some violence you’d like to commit.

    If you want a proportional response, then it requires that Israel is responsible for the deaths it causes. And that means the response has to be in some proportion to 17 dead israelis, whatever that is.

    But if you’re not looking for proportional and you’re looking for a way to not be responsible for violence, then no answer I give you will satisfy you.

  57. Wow. Greg, your last few posts have been fantastic.

    I returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank (we weren’t able to enter Gaza) last month and found the situation to be depressing, with no easy solution.

    To us as tourists and visitors, the entire situation over there looks like a long term land acquisition process where the eventual goal is to expand Israel’s borders “from the river to the sea”, and to remove the current non-Jewish residents over the next 30-60 years “by any means necessary”, short of outright extermination. The relentless expansion of settlements, the prevention of movement within the occupied territories though hundreds of checkpoints, the overt expression of “Arab inferiority” and promotion of fear amongst the Israeli citizenry are all parts of this movement.

    To my eyes anyway, this “retaliation” toward Gazan residents looks like it has been planned for months and is fully consistent with Israeli policy for the past 20 years or more.

  58. Israel’s actions against the Palestinians are horrible, of course. But the situation exceeds judgement by body count. Israel exacts its power by military might. They focus on killing militants, but kill innocent civilians in the process. Hamas blatantly and overtly targets innocent civilians.

    It’s difficult to understand what it means to live in a constant state of day-to-day terror, until you do. It’s not security theater. It’s real, and it effects every single action you take — where you sit in a bus, the time you spend in a cafe, the path you take when walking through a supermarket. It doesn’t matter that, overall, your casualty rates are low. Your terror rate is much higher. I don’t know how terror (or “fear”) equates into dead bodies. I do know that you can’t shoot thousands of rockets at a nation, over years, and because you only got a handful of casualties, then that’s how many casualties you rightly deserve in return, over the course of a weeks-long military strike. The value of life can’t be measured only in the cost of death.

  59. gee….do suppose it occurs to the average Israeli that after so many years of fear that there might be a different way?

  60. Santa’s Knee,
    You’re right, Kyle laid a trap and I marched on in. I should have just ‘eyeballed’ it for what it was. Intentional flame bait.

    Kyle,
    That comment was unhelpful, ignorant and incorrect (on whatever technicality you like, the Palestinian Arabs are recognised as such). You should be ashamed of dropping it into already heated circumstances – it was either a serious lack of tact or wilfully stirring up the flames.

    I don’t take back my words (Teresa might, but so be it), you should be very careful who you say that to – and when you say it – in the future.

  61. Jonathan, good points, but do you think the Palestinians don’t live in fear? You talk Like they have a pleasant, peaceful life, while Israel cowers in it’s boots. Just not true.

  62. Thanks Arkizzle — I agree, the Palestinians/Gazans certainly live in fear. Random terrorism intentionally targeted at innocent civilians is a different kind of fear though, and I’m guessing that distinction is at the root of my perception.

    Agreed with Takuan that there might (even “must”) be a different way, and I think it’s why I’m so drawn to that semi-cheesy Vatican quote from my first post. Especially this part:

    One must continue to search for a different way out, even if that may seem impossible.

  63. Jonathan@85: It’s difficult to understand what it means to live in a constant state of day-to-day terror, until you do. It’s not security theater. It’s real, and it effects every single action you take — where you sit in a bus, the time you spend in a cafe, the path you take when walking through a supermarket.

    I could take what you just said, word for word, and put it into the mouth of some knuckle dragging, chest thumping, American back in 2002 who would be talking about 9/11, and trying to justify why he thinks the US should invade Iraq, trying to justify why the US should be allowed to hold people indefinitely in gitmo, why the US should be allowed to torture suspected terrorists.

    I know you think your situation is unique.

    But God as my witness, you’re doing nothing that hasn’t been done before.

    I don’t know how terror (or “fear”) equates into dead bodies.

    Well, lets put it into a form that doesn’t involve Israel but involves the exact same logic of fear.

    How many people does the US get to waterboard for every 1 million Americans who are afraid?

    How many sovereign nations does the US get to invade for every 1 million Americans who are afraid?

    How many people does the US get to deny Geneva Convention rules and Human Right rules for every 1 million Americans who are afraid?

    THe answer for all of them is “zero”.

    How many dead palestinians equates to afraid Israelis?

    Different question, but the exact same form, and the exact same answer: zero.

  64. are you ever truly a civilian bystander if it is legally mandated that you serve in your country’s military?

  65. Jonathan, I agree, in normal circumstances they would be different kinds of fears. But when the IDF hunts individuals with missiles, in civilian areas (besides refugee camps), you would be forgiven for thinking the strike was “random terrorism intentionally targeted at innocent civilians”.

    Israel’s attacks are not carried out under pomp and ceremony, they are raids and strikes in residential and commercial districts, and random stop-&-searchs at road blocks and barrier-gates. This is also a life of fear.

  66. At the risk of being accused of being a troll, aren’t nations in some ways like people? That is to say, the abused (the Jewish people) often become the abuser (Israel) unless, through grace and humility, they choose another course? This being the case, isn’t Gaza simply a large Israeli-made ghetto (Princeton definition: “a poor densely populated city district occupied by a minority ethnic group linked together by economic hardship and social restrictions”)? And can’t grace and humility be encouraged by talking (therapy)? So how do we get Hamas and Israel to talk?
    And no, numbers don’t do it – one dead on one side, a hundred on the other: it doesn’t matter. No dead is the target. And no, HAMAS are not guilt free. But a line has to be drawn – keep going back to history and you keep repeating history.

  67. 1. The next goddamn comment built around spurious moral absolutism is going to get disemvowelled, and so’s the next one after that, and the one after that. I’m debating right now whether I should work backward through this thread and zap all the offenders. What they’re doing isn’t conversation; it’s sloganeering and cheap moral glow.

    2. Urig, MarcGott, you want to do something to help Israel? Join the other side in online arguments. I don’t think you guys have any idea how adept you are at alienating your readers’ sympathies. Furthermore, you’re not the only ones in this thread to whom I could say that.

    Those of you to whom neither of the foregoing criticisms apply: Very good. Pray continue. Try not to get so wrapped up in this thread that you miss all the other conversations going on.

  68. “Moral absolutism is the meta-ethical view that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong, devoid of the context of the act. Thus lying, for instance, might be considered to be always immoral, even if done to promote some other good (e.g., saving a life). Moral absolutism stands in contrast to categories of ethical theories such as consequentialism and situational ethics, which holds that the morality of an act depends on the consequences or the context of the act.

    Ethical theories which place strong emphasis on rights, such as the deontological ethics of Immanuel Kant, are often forms of moral absolutism, as are many religious moral codes, particularly those of the Abrahamic religions.”

    “spu·ri·ous (spyr-s)
    adj.
    1. Lacking authenticity or validity in essence or origin; not genuine; false.
    2. Of illegitimate birth.
    3. Botany Similar in appearance but unlike in structure or function. Used of plant parts.
    [From Late Latin spurius, from Latin, illegitimate, probably of Etruscan origin.]”

    short version: “yours”

    (Am I right? Am I right? take your time between slaps)

  69. In response to Greg London’s assertion that Israel bears sole responsibility for the civilians that it kills in the process of waging war against Hamas, I’d like to propose a framework for discussion.

    0) Tom shoots an arrow at Jerry (who is also carrying a bow) and misses, then notches another arrow. Jerry fires back and kills Tom. Hopefully, we can stipulate to the proposition that the primary responsibility for Tom’s death rests with Tom in this case. I believe that this is so even if Tom’s aim is not 100% accurate, as long as he presents a credible threat on Jerry’s life.

    1) Same as (0), but just as Jerry looses his arrow, Tom, without warning, grabs bystander Mickey and pulls him into the path of the arrow. Mickey is hit and killed.

    2) Same as (1), except that Tom has a known history of pulling bystanders in front of him at the last second in such fights.

    3) Same as (2), except that Tom is firing from behind cover, and Jerry can’t see if there are any bystanders available for Tom to grab. Say that the probability that there is a bystander that Tom can grab is P3.

    4) Same as (2), except that Tom grabs Mickey before shooting his first arrow. Jerry is a good enough shot that he can hit Tom without hitting Mickey with probability P4.

    5) Same as (4), except that Tom has positioned Mickey so well that Jerry’s chances of hitting Tom without hitting Mickey are essentially zero.

    6) Same as (4), except that instead of grabbing Mickey, Tom merely chooses to stand next to Mickey, who either can’t or doesn’t move away, but is not forced to remain by Tom. P4 applies.

    7) Same as (5), except that instead of grabbing Mickey, Tom merely chooses to stand right behind and completely covered by Mickey, who either can’t or doesn’t move away, but again, is not forced to remain by Tom. As in (5), Jerry can’t hit Tom without also hitting Mickey.

    In each of the cases 1 – 7, who bears primary responsibility for Mickey’s death? Does the other party share some of the responsibility? Do the values of P3 and P4 matter?

    As you might guess, I’m assuming that Hamas, Israel, and Palestinian civilians play roughly morally equivalent roles in this conflict to those of Tom, Jerry, and Mickey, respectively, in one or more of these cases. Do you agree with me? If so, which case[s] do you believe most fairly characterize the current conflict?

  70. Isaac: Yes. Israel, as a state, is responsible for every civilian it kills. Israelis, as individuals, are responsible for every civilian they kill. Hamas and the Palestinians are likewise responsible for every civilian they kill. The same goes for every person, organization, and government on the planet.

    Do you really want to be arguing that some governments have the right to kill some civilians?

  71. Urig, MarcGott, you want to do something to help Israel? Join the other side in online arguments.

    At the risk of sounding snarky, comments here can never help or hinder either Israel or Hamas. It’s just a blog. I think both sides of this shouting match have reason to feel embarrassed, but it’s not as if it actually affects what’s going on in the Middle East right now.

  72. Joe in Australia, that’s a very reasonable question you’re asking, but in fact the level of general U.S. public support for Israel can have quite a lot of effect on the situation in the Middle East.

    For that matter, it can have quite a lot of effect on the situation here.

  73. @106 Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator:
    Are you arguing
    a) that the analogies I suggested are irrelevant,
    b) that in all cases 1 – 7, Jerry bears sole responsibility for the death of Mickey, or
    c) that there are specific cases among the 7 that are particularly analogous to the current conflict, and that in those cases, Jerry bears sole responsibility?

    I’m sincerely interested in your (and others’) answer, because that could help us all understand each others’ factual and moral positions with a little more clarity.

    It is a matter of international law that governments have a right and responsibility to defend their people from attack, with violent force if necessary, and that they are required to avoid harming civilians in the process, but not necessarily to the point of guaranteeing zero civilian casualties. See, for example, the IVth Geneva Convention, Part I, Article 28:
    The presence of a protected person [i.e. civilian -I] may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

    If what you mean is that no government has the right to target civilians, I think international law probably agrees with you. If what you mean is that no government has the right to ever take an action that may end up killing civilians, then I believe that at least as far as international law goes, you are in error. Perhaps you believe that international law falls morally short. If so, I reiterate my request for your moral analysis of the analogies I proposed.

  74. “collateral damage” is legal is it then? Oh good! Shall we put “Legal” certificates around the neck of each small corpse? That fixes everything!

  75. I heard this Palestinian in Gaza on the BBC this morning. The interviewer was trying to ask him what was happening on the ground, but all he would do was yell “They’re targeting civilians!” over and over.

    What a lot of crap.

    Israel isn’t “targeting civilians.” (They’re perhaps immorally indifferent to civilian casualties, but argue that with someone else, I’m not interested. Subtle matter of degree, in a war.) HAMAS is targeting civilians.

    No, I’m not talking about their ceaseless rocket attacks, though those are clearly intended to target civilians. I mean they’ve painted their own civilians as targets by launching their rockets from civilian areas, for propaganda purposes. It’s no coincidence that they phrase it just that way every time. They’re taking their military disadvantage and turning it to a propaganda advantage, and they apparently have no qualms about spending their own people’s blood to do it.

    And back about those rockets…there are people with the moral standing to complain about “targeting civilians,” but from Hamas that’s pure hypocrisy. They consider every Israeli, in or out of uniform and regardless of age, a legitimate target. That makes them terrorists in my book.

    Don’t think I’m a big Israel supporter. I hate the idea of a society where you have to be of a particular religion (or ethnicity, the Jews being a unique mix of those concepts) to be a full citizen. OTOH I really hate the idea of a society where members of a particular religion/ethnicity are systematically excluded from full citizenship, which is the history of the treatment of Jews in much of the world prior to the foundation of Israel. I think they totally suck for preventing marriages between people of different religions (without going to far as to blatantly outlaw them, as Kahana and his band of Judeo-Fascists wanted to; nonetheless, it’s virtually impossible).

    I do think that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has been reprehensible. But as for Gaza: what did the Palestinians expect when they elected a party whose charter is for no peace with Israel, ever? And who think suicide bombing is perfectly legitimate? On the other hand, what were the Palestinians supposed to do, when given the choice between crazy terrorists who feed them and provide medical care (Hamas), and greedy aristocrats who steal all the international aid money and squirrel it away in numbered Swiss accounts, and who pay lip service to peace (Fatah)? Who would you vote for, if your kids were hungry?

    I think the argument for Israel being where it is is ludicrous crap, too, btw. The United States isn’t about to give the Cherokee Nation back its land, and that was a much more recent outright theft than the driving-out of the Jews from Palestine. Maybe I’ll go to Spain and claim some land in Galicia, because my ancestors took it by force thousands of years ago (I’m of Irish descent). And even the story in the Bible doesn’t exactly make the Israelites look like they have a legitimate claim on that land, not to me anyway; they took it by force and committed genocide on all the people who lived there before, even to their livestock in some cases.

    On the other hand, if not there, where? I know plenty of people would just as soon the Jewish People would evaporate, but they won’t (and I definitely don’t think that would be a good outcome!). As long as anti-Semitism is rampant in the world (and it still is), there exist good arguments for a Jewish homeland (though perhaps not a Jewish state, but again that’s an argument for another day).

    So let’s look at the facts on the ground: 1. A Jewish state (Israel) exists. 2. Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. 3. Hamas is committed to the complete destruction of Israel.

    There is no hope for peace in that region while those three facts remain true. It’s a miracle when there is NO violence, not a shock when there is. It’s all very well to point fingers and say “you’re bad” at one side or the other (or both, or all of them…the quote “A plague a’ both your houses” keeps coming to mind when I consider this problem), but the resolution will involve a change in one of those.

    Hamas will be satisfied only with a change in 1, which is abhorrent and I can’t see it happening. Changing 3 seems unlikely too, though it would be devoutly to be hoped for. I think the most likely solution is a change in 2; I confess I don’t know when, if ever, the Palestinians will have elections again.

    It would certainly behoove Israel to create a space where new elections can happen, but I don’t think they have that power now (and they’re in the grip of their own political turmoil, which is part of what brought this issue to a head).

    This won’t lie down and be simple. It’s complicated, it’s very bad, the human cost is terrible, and there are no good solutions. I think I’ll go to bed now (my privileged, almost-guaranteed-to-be-bomb-and-rocket-free bed).

    1. As long as anti-Semitism is rampant in the world (and it still is), there exist good arguments for a Jewish homeland

      I’m still waiting to hear why the Jews didn’t get Germany at the end of WWII. That would have been fair. At least if there were a homeland for Gypsies and one for queers carved out of the territory.

      Also, homelands purportedly based on religion haven’t really worked out that well. Look at India and Pakistan. How about democratic, secular states for everybody, everywhere? That’s the real problem. Most countries in the Middle East are theocracies run by the craziest elements in society, and that includes Israel. Separation of church and state (as well as ethnicity and state) really is one of the best ideas that anyone anywhere ever had.

  76. Just a bit of reality in the midst of all this high flying philosophical and political debate.

    My friend from Jaffa just sent me some photos he’s taken at the flea market Here is part of our exchange:

    “> When one think of the total madness and the hair raising violence
    > that are so common place in the Mid East… I’ve known Lebanon
    > pre-Civil War and it was nothing short of a paradise.
    >
    > Not too many smiling faces; a great document Dov.
    >
    > Jean

    I think the non smiling is more due to the economic crisis which affects the flea market a lot. We live a normal happy life, and things look different from far off than when you come. For instance our kids go around with no fear at all hours, we don’t always lock up at night etc.
    Thanks for your comments

    I can assure you that I am not friend with a sadist or a heartless person. He is just a man trying to live a life, raise his children, control what he can control, what’s in his reach.

    It is how we live when the tragedy becomes too immense.

    Try to guess if he is Jewish or Arab.

    I will only tell you that he could be either.

  77. Looking at images from the NYTimes, I was struck by the flag burning and the fact that it was not noted that the flags being burned were American and Israelie.

    Listening to the radio, I was surprised to hear the claim that Israelies (not Hamas) had launched rockets into Israel to create cause for the attacks.

    I’m not concerned with truth of the image or of the claim; what surprised me in both cases was the invisible complicity implied with US politics and policies.

    Or to be more exact: America is seen and heard as the moral-political equal of Israel worldwide. This fact means that Israel, directly or indirectly responsible for the attacks, already bears the responsibility for the attacks on Gaza as a Bush-doctrine ally or active practitioner.

  78. I’m still waiting to hear why the Jews didn’t get Germany at the end of WWII. That would have been fair.

    Heh. That’s kind of how WWII started: part of the reason Germany was aggrieved was because it lost territory in the post-WWI peace accords (the Treaty of Versailles). Anyway, the point of dividing then-Palestine was that lots of Jews lived there already and the division wasn’t unreasonable, given that nobody had the patience for a permanent police force separating the inhabitants.

    Also, homelands purportedly based on religion haven’t really worked out that well. Look at India and Pakistan.

    I agree, but it was the logic of the time. It’s not just religion and not just India and Pakistan: the modern African states were largely divided on ethnic lines, and you could argue that the Irish Republic was originally either an ethnic or a religious state. What do you do when you have two groups that don’t get on? At least if you formalise it you have the chance for normal relations at a future date. If you leave it in chaos you end up with another Cyprus.

  79. reality does not preclude compassion

    That’s the hard part. Until compassion exists for all at all times independent of actions, we can not but pretend and there will never be any hope for peace.

    If it was left to love
    There would be no question

    The world has taken a right

    Then I get pissed off and frustrated and want to nuke the whole god damned place.

  80. Antinous 111: Also, homelands purportedly based on religion haven’t really worked out that well. Look at India and Pakistan. How about democratic, secular states for everybody, everywhere? That’s the real problem. Most countries in the Middle East are theocracies run by the craziest elements in society, and that includes Israel. Separation of church and state (as well as ethnicity and state) really is one of the best ideas that anyone anywhere ever had.

    I entirely agree, but what can you do? Raul Hilberg was right. People kept throwing out the Jews or forcing them to convert, until someone finally decided to kill them all. It would be nice to live in a world where Jews (and all other people) can live free of persecution, but we don’t—yet—live in that world.

    Arkizzle 112: Xopher, you left out:
    4) Israel seems intent on expansion

    There are lots of facts that make it harder, and Israel actually goes back and forth on that depending on who’s in office. I was going for the three things that together make peace impossible even if everything else were corrected; Israeli expansionism doesn’t make peace impossible, just a lot harder.

    Also, people might well argue that point depending on what they think about Israel’s intentions, buffer zones, etc. My three points are undisputed facts.

  81. War isn’t right.

    Hamas is, however, definitely wrong. Their long-time platform called for the destruction of Israel, taking back of the land, and (at the least) kicking the Jews out.

    They practice a politics of physical intimidation, terror, and killing, and have vowed that there will be no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.

    The most they will ever do is have a temporary ceasefire. They are committed to Jihad bis-Sayf, which is “armed struggle” – and intend to never stop attacking Israel. There will never be peace so long as there is popular support for, or toleration of, Hamas.

  82. Isaac@108: @106 Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator: Are you arguing a) that the analogies I suggested are irrelevant

    They are irrelevant.

    What you are arguing for is an equivalence between nations and individuals that is not unlike the moral equivalent of arguing that corporations have human rights.

    Say Tom aims a gun at Jerry. Jerry could probably at that point kill Tom and get off on self defense.

    But say Tom aims a gun at Jerry. And Tom is Canadian, and Jerry is American. Can the American military start killing Canadian civilians?

    The problem with the analogy is that it collapses individual into nation and the two become inseparable. If Jerry as an individual can act in self defense to kill Tom as an individual, then Jerry as a nation can act in self defense to kill Tom as a nation.

    And then you’ve got the American military carpet bombing Canadian cities into rubble because Canadian Tom shot an arrow at American Jerry.

    The analogies are irrelevant because they start with a fundamental flaw collapsing individual and nation, so whatever conclusions drawn from the analogies are flawed as well.

    You must start with the bare facts and stay with the bare facts. If you wish to go back through history and get a list of grievances, you must do the same for both sides for the same period of time.

    Hamas attacks from Gaza killed 17 Israelis in 2008.

    Is it moral for Israel to respond in such a way that it kills a hundred innocent palestinians civilians?

    If you want to go back farther than that, then you have to bring in the fact that Israel has had Gaza under a crippling blockade since Hamas won a lot of seats in the Gaza elections in 2006.

    There’s nothing wrong with digging up old grievances, but any history must be told in context of what both sides have done.

    The thing about bringing in history is you have to look at the history people are bringing in and first ask a very simple question: Are they trying to shift responsibility for their own actions?

    Is the history being brought in to say “They started it, all my responses since are therefore righteous.”? Is the history being brought in to find a way to shift the responsibility of one sides actions and put the responsibility on the other side? “The blood of the people I kill is on the hands of my enemies. They made me do this.”

    If so, then the “history” being presented is nothing but a smoke screen. War handwavium. An attempt to use language to bullshit everyone into thinking someone isn’t responsible for their own actions.

    And if that’s what it is, then it must be called what it is. Bullshit.

  83. snippets from an article dated November 18, 2008.

    Israel’s blockade of Gaza started back in 2006 when Hamas won many seats in the Gaza elections.

    Not because Hamas had fired a bunch of rockets at Israel, but because Hamas had won the elections.

    With embarrassing timing, the Israeli media revealed over the weekend that one of the first acts of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister elected in 2006, was to send a message to the Bush White House offering a long-term truce in return for an end to Israeli occupation. His offer was not even acknowledged.

    Israeli policymakers have sought to reinforce the impression that “it would be pointless for Israel to topple Hamas because the population [of Gaza] is Hamas.” On this thinking, collective punishment is warranted because there are no true civilians in Gaza. Israel is at war with every single man, woman, and child.

    In an indication of how widely this view is shared, the cabinet discussed last week a new strategy to obliterate Gazan villages in an attempt to stop the rocket launches, in an echo of discredited Israeli tactics used in south Lebanon in its war of 2006. The inhabitants would be given warning before indiscriminate shelling began.

    Increasingly strident talk from officials, culminating in February in the deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai’s infamous remark about creating a “shoah,” or Holocaust, in Gaza, has been matched by Israeli measures. The military bombed Gaza’s electricity plant in June 2006 and has been incrementally cutting fuel supplies ever since. In January, Vilnai argued that Israel should cut off “all responsibility” for Gaza

    Cabinet ministers have been queuing up to express such sentiments. Ehud Olmert, for example, has declared that Gazans should not be allowed to “live normal lives”; Avi Dichter believes punishment should be inflicted “irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians”; Meir Sheetrit has urged that Israel should “decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it” – the policy discussed by ministers last week.

    Eyal Sarraj, the head of Gaza’s Community Mental Health Program, said this year that Israel’s long-term goal was to force Egypt to end the controls along its short border with the Strip. Once the border was open, he warned, “Wait for the exodus.”

    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/cook.php?articleid=13780

    Again, who is responsible for Israel’s actions but Israel?

  84. Greg London,

    Now you’re the one waving your hands. You’re conflating two kinds of nation/individual collapse.

    1) Does Israel the nation have a right and responsibility to stop people from attacking Israel the nation? I believe so. Do you dispute this (assuming, for the moment, that their method of doing so will only harm the individual attackers themselves)? If so, then you’re advocating for an every dog for itself world, in which every individual had better carry his own bow and arrow, because it’s immoral for government to defend him. If not, then I think that it’s useful to collapse, for the purpose of analogy, all of Israel into one Jerry.

    2) Of course, it is necessary to distinguish between Palestinian combatants and Palestinian civilians. That is what we’re discussing, and that’s why I distinguished, quite clearly, between the characters of Tom (the agressor) and Mickey (the bystander). I think it’s useful to collapse all of Hamas into Tom and all Palestinian civilians that end up getting killed by Israel into Mickey. If you think that this characterization is not useful, please explain why.

    So, despite your obfuscations, I believe that my analogies are quite relevant, and would be interested in your and others’ moral analysis thereof. You will note that in each case, the death of Mickey results from a different combination of actions on the parts of Tom and Jerry. It seems to me that the current deaths of Palestinian civilians result, similarly, from a combination of actions taken by Hamas and Israel. Your attempts to simplify the situation into Israel’s actions leading to Israel’s sole responsibility constitute more obfuscation that leads to the opposite of the moral clarity that you pretend to.

  85. Now you’re the one waving your hands. You’re conflating two kinds of nation/individual collapse.

    The only one who would want to force a discussion into one of analogies is someone who doesn’t want to talk about the facts of what is actually happening.

  86. Greg, the unfortunate truth is your morality stops at their borders. Both sides in this 60 year war obviously feel they have a moral right to do whatever it takes to reach their opposing goals. Morality is flexible.

    The truth is that once the decision was made to create the state of israel and it became obvious that the PLO was not going to go along peacefully with having their constituents homes bulldozed and their occupants moved onto reservations then something heinous should have been done immediately.

    As I have said before, I hate war, Israel, the PLO, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Hell, I could hate every muderous bastard in the M.E.

    Also, as I said before I believe in a concept of annihilation, all or nothing. I prefer peace, I want nothing more then for everyone to shut the fuck up and leave each other alone. If everyone would shut up and sit under a tree for a few years this would all be revealed as mindless. Until then don’t start anything, without killing everything.

    People who believe in violence as a solution rarely understand once that door is opened it is all or nothing. Failure to understand this allows people to start wars. Armies cannot operate as police. Armies are good for only one thing the complete and total destruction of the enemies will to continue. You get what you pay for.

    Israel is paying the cost of an illegal state on the installment plan, which is always more expensive than cash on the table. War is immoral. Leaving people on reservations for 150 years is immoral. Either man-up to your decision and kill ’em all or learn to live together peacefully.

    Please stop whining about right and wrong, this versus that, comparable numbers, or the value of a life. These things are meaningless in a war, and should be for obvious reasons. Rules for war are one of the silliest notions we have ever thought up. War is a horrifying barbarous activity, let’s not pretend it is anything else. Once the number killed reaches one it is too many. I’ve never understood why the numbers matter to anyone other than the victims.

  87. I’m not sure what we are seeing is a war. It looks more like a pogrom. A war suggests uncertain outcome.

  88. The only one who would want to force a discussion into one of analogies is someone who doesn’t want to talk about the facts of what is actually happening.

    That’s funny; it seems to me that a couple of posts ago, you were writing something about the US firebombing Canada, and some posts back, you were taking up vertical yards of this thread with analogies to 9/11 and Iraq. I’m just trying to start a discussion about moral principles, stripped temporarily of the emotional/political baggage that we all carry into this discussion.

    I’m trying to pick apart your (and the Moderator’s) absolutist claim that whoever pulls the trigger bears full responsibility for the death of whoever takes the bullet, in all cases. Either you claim this as a general moral principle, in which case it should withstand investigation outside of the current context, or you claim it as a moral principle that only holds in the context of the current conflict, in which case it would be futile to discuss morality in the current conflict with you.

  89. And Greg, please remember what Hamas means by “an end to Israeli occupation.” They believe that the entire land of Israel is rightfully Palestine and that any Israeli presence on it constitutes occupation. They were “offering a truce” in exchange for getting everything they want, including the complete destruction of Israel. I hate to defend the Bush administration, but ignoring it was the most diplomatic response.

    It’s typical, also, of Hamas to demand everything they could possibly get by negotiating as a precondition for meeting. This is just a way of refusing to meet, much as they attempt to claim otherwise.

  90. It isn’t necessary for all non-Arabs to leave Palestine, or for all Israelis to die, in order for the modern state of Israel to cease to exist.

    Israel, today, is by definition a state that gives special preference to a particular race and/or religion. If a state that guaranteed equal “right of return” to displaced Palestinians and equal legal and educational rights for all citizens of every race and religion were to be created where Israel stands today, then Israel would have been destroyed.

    Would that be wrong?

  91. Point taken, though they were once one and the same except for a brief period, which ended when WWII began. The civilized wars of rank and file lines, squares, cavalry charges, and glory.

  92. If a state that guaranteed equal “right of return” to displaced Palestinians

    Equal to what? Equal to the “right of return” that Arabic and Persian Jews have to their grandparents’ confiscated properties throughout the Middle East?

    In what other conflict in the world have the children and grandchildren of war refugees (and voluntary evacuees) been granted a “right of return” to the territory that their forbears left? … while the original state of war remains in effect?

    and equal legal and educational rights for all citizens of every race and religion

    Israel grants equal legal and educational rights for all citizens of every race and religion. Your dreams have come true.

    1. Israel grants equal legal and educational rights for all citizens of every race and religion.

      I don’t know if you failed to do your research or you’re just astroturfing, but Israel practices apartheid. Jews and Palestinians have separate IDs, separate legal codes, separate travel rights, etc. Apartheid.

  93. Dear Isaac: If the majority public opinion in the USA is ever actually expressed in the actions of the American government, Israel will soon find herself on her own. Do you believe this is a tenable position?

    It is not in Israel’s long term interests to prosecute a genocide. America will soon be so embroiled in her own internal problems that unquestioning support for Israel WILL go away. Israel had better be making a workable, local peace for when that day arrives.

    To this end, does any apologia for the insupporably immoral really help?

    Judgment comes.

  94. I wanted to address the “17” figure for Israeli dead that’s been repeated. I doubt we can confirm that it’s exactly 17, but from the various reports, I think it’s fair to very roughly estimate it at 1 to 2 dozen.

    However, that figure only accounts for rocket attacks fired into Israel from Gaza. It doesn’t include all of the various suicide attacks carried out inside Israel, most of which were explicitly, intentionally, willfully carried out against civilians, including children. Some of these Hamas took credit for, some were “attributed” to Hamas, and some were credited/attributed to various groups that may (or may not) have some sort of ties to Hamas.

    Wikipedia has a page on it here, sourced mostly from the BBC.

    Still, yes, of course, the numbers are lopsided. Just not so much. I’ll repeat my position too: both sides are more or less equally wrong, but in different ways.

  95. Isaac, the way the world works is not a secret.

    If you maintain an economic blockade on Gaza, stiff them on water rights, blow up their power plants, keep basic supplies from getting to them, bomb them, leave an entire generation to grow up in refugee camps, and refuse to deal with their leaders, you empower the hardliners. You want to look at history? This process has played itself out repeatedly all over the world.

    If you want people to live quietly, let them have jobs, homes, families, schools, and houses of worship. If on the other hand you explicitly set out to make it impossible for them to have normal lives, they’ll find other things to do.

    If the article Greg London quotes @124 is at all accurate, why should the Palestinians doubt that those Israeli politicians mean what they say? And if they do believe it, what reason do they have to go peaceably? I’m sure they know what Shoah means.

    You keep phrasing the question as whether Israel has a right to defend itself. Do the Palestinians? If some larger power were doing to Israel what Israel is doing to the Gaza Strip, Israel would rightly take it as an attack.

    Israel refused to acknowledge the results of Palestinian elections because too many Hamas candidates got elected. However, they’ve also visited collective punishment upon the Palestinians for things Hamas has done. You could make an argument for one or the other of those things. It’s difficult to make an argument for both.

    Your other big problem here is that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is looking less and less like self-defense.

    Here’s one recipe: identify an ethnic/religious population. Gradually strip them of their legal and political rights. Take away their livelihoods. Close down many of their schools. Restrict their movement. Force them into tighter and tighter spaces. Deprive those areas of basic services. Put many of the people in camps. Then, in response to some not terribly effectual attempts at retaliation, conduct indiscriminate mass reprisals against the civilian population.

    Earlier in the thread, a pro-Israeli commenter blandly asserted that the Palestinians are at fault because they keep trying to resist a power that’s far too big for them to beat. That gave me chills. No one should ever say that.

  96. Thank you for the word, Antonius. This is my understanding as well, related to me by persons who have been to Israel whom I trust. Ethnic Palestinians recieve a separate and unequal education from Israeli Jews, and tax monies are spent to accomodate Jewish fundamentalist religious prohibitions (such as special roads that allow certain religious castes to avoid traveling through graveyards). Negro Jews are also said to endure considerable social discrimination.

  97. Jonathan@135: Wikipedia has a page on it here, sourced mostly from the BBC.

    OK, then, according to your source, there were an additional 9 Israelis killed in 2008. Add that to the 17 figure, and you get 26.

    In three days, Israel just killed about 20 palestinian children and another 40 or 50 palestinian civilians. There have been a couple hundred more killed but they’re either militants or unconfirmed so I’m leavign them out.

    26 dead innocent Israelis killed by Hamas. 70 dead innocent palestinian civilians killed by Israel.

    Did you read those quotes I posted? They were all from Israeli government officials of one sort or another. They suggested flattening an entire Gaza village. They suggested that Gaza civilians have no right to a normal life. They suggested they should wage war “irrespective of the cost” to Palestinian civilians.

    The only difference between these Israelis and you is that you can’t bring yourself to speak so honestly of how you view palestinian civilians.

    They’ve made clear their “solution” to the palestinian problem. Level the villages. Starve the entire population. The number of palestininan dead is irrelevant to them.

    And what are we seeing in the news but this militant attitude being implemented?

    How many dead palestinians before it’s no longer an acceptable loss, Jonathan?

    If you don’t have a number, if any number of palestinians can die and you’ll still support this mission, then you’re no different than these Israeli politicians calling for palestinian genocide. The only difference is you’re not willing to come out and say it like they were.

    Is there some number of palestinian deaths at which point you will withdraw your support or not?

    If no, then quit beating around the bush and call for the complete extermination of all palestinians.

    If yes, then what in hell is the number? What will it take before you’ll stop defending this war? Will a thousand dead palestinian children finally cause you to criticize Israel? Or will it take twice that? ten thousand?

    Do you have a number, a limit, or not?

  98. Greg…you know I love you, right? You’re in one-sentence-per-paragraph mode a lot of the time (this is annoying whether I agree with you or not, because it makes you harder to follow (paragraphing is defeated), and because it makes the thread harder to scroll through). I’m not taking any position on your content, just pointing out this formatting thing.

  99. Greg — I respect your perspective. I disagree that the situation can be so wholly assessed by the numbers of dead civilians/innocents. I understand and appreciate your passion for this situation, and, more importantly, your basic human compassion for innocent people who are being unjustly killed.

    I understand your question as to whether I have a numeric limit as to how many deaths I will tolerate before my opinion is altered. I’m not going to answer it, at least not how its being posed. It feels borderline combative to me (perhaps unintentionally?), and I don’t think that answering it will push us further towards shared understanding, or mutual acceptance of each others’ perspectives.

    I think that we can find common ground. And if we can’t, then we should continue to search for a different way out…

    …even if that may seem impossible.

  100. I understand and appreciate your passion for this situation, and, more importantly, your basic human compassion for innocent people who are being unjustly killed.

    The great fallacy that makes it all possible. No one is justly killed in a war.

    Jonathan and everyone else, come on answer the god damn question. Gutless wonders abound, if you believe then believe in annihilation! @##^! %$&*! &^%$! @^%$!

  101. I perceive the question as heavily loaded, unfairly biased, and over-aggressively posed. I imagine others do as well. I also think that, at this point, it’s unproductive to make such an overt reference to gutlessness, fallaciousness, or a belief in annihilation — even if that’s how you truly feel.

    Maybe we can try posing the question differently? How about something like this:

    ———-
    My belief is that the death of innocents trumps just about everything else. I can’t help but think that all of these civilian deaths are being glossed over, and it doesn’t seem right to me. What could be worse than killing an innocent person, especially a child! How do you feel about the issue of greater civilian/innocent casualties on the Palestinian/Gazan side? Do you feel that the numbers are being conveyed inaccurately? Do you feel that the numbers are more or less accurate, but that casualty numbers alone don’t tell the whole story? Is there a specific (or general) casualty number (or proportion) at which your opinion would sway? Is there something else you can tell me that might help me understand your position, even if I don’t support it? At very least, I’m frustrated by everyone’s lack of a direct answer, and I can’t help but notice that it’s making me increasingly skeptical of the validity of your position.
    ———-

    Respect for beliefs that are diametrically opposed to yours is the first step to peace, whether that peace is in a war, or in a discussion.

  102. The great fallacy that makes it all possible. No one is justly killed in a war.

    I agree: there are such things as deaths due to the commission of war crimes, but that doesn’t mean that other deaths in war are just. Most people killed in a war die because they had the bad luck to be in the vicinity of an exploding shell or got in the way of a bullet. The person firing the shell or bullet wasn’t exacting justice: there is rarely any calculation about the guilt or innocence of the person killed.

    If you look at the roots of the Western justice systems, perhaps all justice systems, you can see that they were an attempt to replace tiny wars – revenge killings, raids, kidnap-and-ransom and so forth. Justice exists instead of war, not as part of it.

  103. This crap is really starting to piss me off. Just days ago Xeni posted a link to a link to link about some murderous bastards and everyone was rightfully horrified and shocked. And let’s not forget those who were pissed off at Xeni for bringing it into their little cloistered world in the first place.

    Now there is a blog entry about a murderous paragraph in a 60 year old blood bath, and the supporters of this caged hunt can’t answer a simple question. And yes, emphatically yes, the two have everything in common.

    MURDER

    War is murder. War is horror. War is always wrong.

    Israel should never have been created, but everyone hates the Jews, so their they are. Now Israel wants to exist, many here support that decision. Pay the price for that conviction. Taste the fruit of an illegal state. Kill every child, wipe the streets clean. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t blame the victims for making you face the real consequences of your choice. Kill them. Show them the respect they deserve. Walk your ass in there, look them in the eye, feel their last breath on your face, and cut their throats. Then build a pyre every person in the M.E. can see from their living rooms.

    “I’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right… to do that… but you have no right to judge me.

    It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.

    I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying; he couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget.

    And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God… the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.”

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=AGosYIlXdmU

  104. FoetusNail, I can’t think of a single modern society that’s had the courage to look straight at their murders, or to call the act by its name. They always locate the killings somewhere else, so they don’t have to watch, much less look their victims in the eye; and if they refer to the act at all, they use euphemisms. The way they organize the overall effort distributes agency and responsibility, so that no specific individual need be identifiable as the sole agent of another individual’s death. And while I’m not going to pass judgement on the accuracy of any single claim, pretty much all of them have claimed they were doing it in self-defense.

  105. My last post on this matter was a bit, well, poorly executed. I’ve reflected and, before this thread disappears into the ether, I wanted to say the following (note that there is a demostration outside the Israeli embassy in London today):
    1. A nation has a collective identity and behaves on the international stage not unlike an individual.
    2. The Jewish people have, throughout their history, been unimaginably badly treated and abused.
    3. Abused children often go on to become abusing adults, unless they develop insight. It is not possible to develop insight if one lives in constant fear and anxiety. Israel, being surrounded by relatively hostile countries, lives in a fair degree of fear and anxiety, though she is strong. She has therefore not developed insight, she is too busy being strong.
    4. In an attempt to master her collective feelings after years of abuse, Israel has become the abuser and is treating the Palestinian people in the same way the Jewish people have been treated through much of history. Most notably, Israel has created and is maintaining a ghetto for the Palestinians called Gaza.
    5. In order to allow Israel the space to develop an alternative response to the provocations of Hamas, she needs good parenting (someone offering her protection but allowing her independence – America does the former but doesn’t like her children having the latter, something her satellites appreciate and acknowledge from time to time but are powerless to change). In the absence of good parenting, she needs therapy. Therapy is talking. In this context, it would be called diplomacy. But Israel can’t begin therapy while she is consumed with being strong.
    6. I wasn’t going to go to the demonstration at the Israeli embassy today but was then asked what I would have done for the Jews facing persecution in the past. I said I would like to think I would have done something to prevent the persecution. What then, I was asked, is the logical conclusion of my argument that the Jews are are at the beginning of the process of doing to the Palestinians what was done to them? The answer is, of course, that I have to protest.

    And please, let no one read the above as an apologia for the disgusting Hamas rocketeers. Israel needs to treat them as they would an unruly child and prevent them from doing what they are doing through rational discourse and taking their toys away. Unfortunately, this being the big wide world of grown ups, the toys are deadly weapons and must therefore be dealt with with the aforementioned strength. But let the strength stop short of retribution, for retribution is not the sign of an adult with mature control of her feelings.

    And, were the boot on the other foot, all of the above could and should be applied to the Palestinians.

    I believe I am indebted to a great Jew, the good Doctor Freud, for the ability to think the thoughts above, and I’d commend him to the Israelis at this horrible point in their country’s history. They could also do worse, IMHO, than read a bit of Alice Miller:

    “The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our lives: with cruelty or with tenderness and protection. We often impose our most agonizing suffering upon ourselves and, later, on our children.”

    And so the pattern goes on through history unless a firebreak – therapy / diplomacy / growth through insight and not just strength – is provided. The international community needs to provide that firebreak before Hamas and the Israeli’s destroy the Palestinian people.

  106. Teresa, thanks as always, you are a beacon of light in a troubled world, keep on shining.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  107. Jonathan@142: I understand your question as to whether I have a numeric limit as to how many deaths I will tolerate before my opinion is altered. I’m not going to answer it, at least not how its being posed. It feels borderline combative to me

    Jonathan, it isn’t combative. It’s simply that you wish to reserve the right to shift responsibility of Israel’s actions without coming out and directly saying it, and I keep pointing it out everytime you try to do that with a different verbal smoke screen.

    17 innocent Israeli deaths in 2008 from Hamas attacks launched from Gaza. 60 innocent palestinian deaths from Israeli’s attacks over the last few days, including 34 children by latest reports.

    You aren’t answering because you want to reserve teh right to push the responsibilty for Israel’s actions onto Hamas. you aren’t answering because you want to maintain some verbal smoke screen between yourself and how many innocent Palestinians you are willing to sacrifice. You aren’t answering because you want Israel to be able to operate with a self righteousness that makes it immune to criticism.

    All you’ve done by not answering the question is make clear that you think Israel is imune to criticism. Israel can kill as many palestinians as it wants, and you will never criticize it.

    You will never criticize Israel. Not without some attempt on your part to find a way to try and criticize Hamas more. It will sound something like this: Sure, Israel may have stepped over a line by wiping out an entire Gazan village with complete disregard to the civilian deaths it caused, but Gaza brought this upon itself by (insert smoke screen excuse here).

    You refuse to give a number because numbers are objective and if a number is exceeded, you’d have to commit to criticizing Israel if it crossed that number. And you will never criticize Israel without finding some subjective way of criticizing Hamas and Gaza more.

    The simple objective numbers though, show just how much twisting and turning you are willing to do to put some subjective spin on this. Hamas militants in Gaza killed 17 innocent Israelis in 2008. 26 if you want to use your other numbers. Israel’s attack in the last few days has killed 60 innocent palestinians, including 34 children, according to latest reports.

    Imagine going to George W. Bush on March 15, 2003, and telling him that all the objective evidence in the world says that Iraq doesn’t have any WMD’s. And he invades Iraq anyway, and says he just feels in his gut that he’s right, that Saddam is a ruthless dictator that has to be taken out, and numerous other totally subjective excuses that end with him invoking “freedom”, “democracy”, and “liberty”.

    Imagine after the invasion of Iraq, and after years of occupation of that country, and after years of scouring the land for the smallest sign of WMD’s, and the American military comes up completely empty, and reports this to Bush. There are no WMD’s in Iraq. There were no WMD’s in Iraq when we invaded. Then imagine that Bush shrugs and says that at the time he felt in his gut that he was doing the right thing, that it was about “freedom”, and “democracy”, and “liberty”.

    And the question is this: When Bush refuses to engage on an objective level with intelligence, is it because his subjective approach is somehow better than objective intelligence? Or is it because he wants to invade no matter what the data says, and he wants to justify it to himself in some way that his path is the righteous path?

    Back in Feb 2003, when the generals were telling Bush that it would take a couple hundred thousand troops and several years to occupy Iraq, and Bush ignored that objective information and refused to engage it and instead kept asking for predictions until he found one that said what he wanted to hear (6 months and 50k troops), was it because the first generals were telling him something in a “combative” tone and he didn’t want to engage someone who was “combative” towards him? Or was it because he didn’t want to hear the numbers, and the objective truth?

    I would say that in every instance, Bush wanted to ignore the objective facts and wanted to justify his actions no matter what his actions were, no matter what the objective facts said about the irresponsibility and folly of those actions.

    And I just want to point out one last thing about Bush’s behaviour for the last 8 years. Never will you hear Bush say “I wanted to avoid the facts to shift responsibility of my actions onto someone else.” Not once did those words come out of his lips. But just about everyone who has watched him, seen his actions in office, and felt the repurcussions of his decisions, would tell you in some form or another that Bush has refused to be responsible for his actions, that Bush has operated as a moral open loop, that Bush has operated with a level of self righteousness that doesn’t require him to judge his own actions because he believes with certainty that he is right.

    17 (or 26 depending on your method of counting), innocent Israelis were killed by Hamas from Gaza in 2008. In the last few days, Israel’s military bombardment of Gaza has killed 60 innocent palestinian civilians, about 34 of which are children.

    My question to you is objective and simple. How many more innocent palestinian civilians will you grant Israel the right to kill before you are willing to question the righteousness you have granted Israel? How many more innocent palestinians will you allow the Israeli military to kill before you are willing to question the morality of this military operation?

    If Israel could kill 1000 innocent palestinians over the next few days, and you would still wave the Israeli flag, still tell me you feel it in your gut that Israel is righteous, then tell me 1000 innocent dead palestinians.

    But do not think that your refusal to answer a simple and objective question means you’ve done anything other than refuse to engage the objective facts. Bush refused to listen to objective intelligence that there were no WMD’s in Iraq. Bush refused to listen to objective military planners who estimated it would take hundreds of thousands of troops and years to occupy Iraq. Your refusal to engage the objective is little different than Bush’s refusal to engage the objective numbers before him.

    He wasn’t doing it for any other reason than to be able to avoid direct responsibility for his actions. he wasn’t doing it for any other reason that to ignore the objective facts and instead continue to listen to the subjective bullshit he told himself and the world about why he was doing something that on any objective level was reprehensible.

    The question isn’t combative. It just refuses to discuss war without looking at the objective damage it causes. If you don’t want to answer it, then you don’t want to discuss the real costs of war.

    26 innocent Israelis in 2008. How many innocent palestinians?

  108. Jonathan, i should add that a thousand dead palestinians isn’t absurd considering what Israeli government officials have been saying. From those quotes I posted above: Avi Dichter believes punishment should be inflicted “irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians“; Meir Sheetrit has urged that Israel should “decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it”

    Do you agree with Avi Dichter? That Israel would be morally justified to wage war against Gaze without considering the number of palestinian civilians it kills?

    Do you agree with Meir Sheetrit? That Israel would be morally justified to find a palestinian village in Gaza and bomb it into rubble?

  109. looks like they assassinated a Hamas leader – along with 12 other people including 4 kids. Would you use a jet to drop a bomb to blow up a whole building to kill one man?

  110. Happy New Year Greg!

    You know his answer, it’s as many as it takes and if Hamas won’t stop, then all of them.

    Jonathan, Hamas is doing the only thing they can do, which is be prepared to die and force Israel t ostart killing until world opinion has had enough. Israel already is short on supporters, others will follow when they start reaching their limits.

    Because the Palestinians are segregated and not a big piece of Israel’s economic puzzle, and they have no vote, they can not adopt the tactics of Ghandi. If they all decided to sit down and starve that would suit Israel just fine. They have no choice, but provoke a reaction and sacrifice their lives and hope the world, the U.S., will finally say enough is enough.

    1. Can I just say one thing to the many people who have invoked the Indian independence struggle?

      It’s Gandhi. G A N D H I. Not Ghandi. Thank you. This has been a public spelling announcement from the moderatorial staff at BB.

  111. Foetusnail: You know his answer, it’s as many as it takes and if Hamas won’t stop, then all of them.

    I know his answer. That isn’t the point. Me knowing his answer doesn’t actually change anything.

    The point is that Jonathan know his answer, to the point that he’s willing to either publically admit it or actually decide it’s too much and change his answer.

    As long as Israel and its apologists are willing to ignore the direct and objective cost they are inflicting, as long as they are willing to put a smoke screen between their actions and their own responsibility for those actions, then nothing will change.

  112. I don’t think we can connect the two. Either way with our strong presence in Iraq, I don’t think Israel is going to do anything without our approval and support.

    Happy New Year, Takuan, Thanks for the links, I’m of to the park.

  113. Happy New Year everyone! :)

    —-
    Greg — I’m sorry you feel that I “will never criticize Israel” (something I think I’ve done repeatedly in this thread). I feel like I would be falling into your trap if I answered your question, on your terms. Your initial spin of the numbers as “17” dead was the lowest possible interpretation. Now, it’s been upped to the number of dead “in 2008”. This makes your position lose credibility to me. You could interpret the figures in a manner that favored the Palestinians much less (and still present a very strong case, as the Israeli death toll would still be lower), but you’re choosing not to. You chose the maximum numerical bias, and then only scaled it down slightly under criticism. That’s what makes the question feel like a trap to me.

    Drawing analogies with George Bush may indeed be fitting, but it unnecessarily convolutes this discussion. Something more helpful might be conveying your first-hand experiences visiting the region, which I suspect are perhaps what contributed to the strength of your position.

    I think you’re over-aggressively strawmanning my position, and trying to bring it into black-and-white terms which don’t apply. This suggests that your goal is to push me into an “objective” biased numerical reality that would allow you to demonstrate an “Ah-ha!” victory over me. It makes me feel that you don’t really care what I think, have no desire to try to understand my position, and are just trying to paint me as some sort of monster.

  114. Your initial spin of the numbers as “17” dead was the lowest possible interpretation. Now, it’s been upped to the number of dead “in 2008”. This makes your position lose credibility to me.

    OK, now you’re just grasping straws. I’ve said from the beginning that it was 17 for 2008 since I started this. You want to find an “Ah-ha!” victory and think I was twisting numbers, then you’re only fooling yourself. I’ve been straight with the numbers from the beginning. And 17 was what was reported by the Israeli Foreign Ministry for 2008. If you think I was trying to “spin” the numbers, then the Israeli Foreign Ministry was trying to “spin” the numbers. So, if anyone is doing a strawman at this point, you are.

    It makes me feel that you don’t really care what I think, have no desire to try to understand my position, and are just trying to paint me as some sort of monster.

    You’re the one who really doesn’t care what you think. All you’ve done is try to avoid talking about what you think in any objective sense and instead try to keep the conversation about vague and subjective feelings. When you do try to list objective facts, they are always one-sided, listing the crimes of Hamas, without listing any misdeeds of Israel.

    No? Don’t think you do that? Think you’re objectively looking at Israel’s past? Then list one specific instance in the last three years where Israel acted immorally towards Gazans.

    If you can’t think of a single action by Israel which was immoral in the last three years, and you’re unwilling to consider that you’re simply an apologist, then you’re the one who doesn’t care about your thinking, Jonathan. You have an answer, and you don’ care how you got there and you’re unwilling to look at it.

    When I ask how many innocent palestinians can die before you’ll withdraw your support of this invasion, am I not looking to find out more about your thinking? Am I not trying to understand how you arrive where you arrive?

    You’re the one who doesn’t want to look inward at your process, Jonathan. You will support Israel no matter what. And you refuse to engage in any discussion that might force you to look at your thought process and sway you from the answer you want. Israel should attack Gaza. End of story. THe body count does not matter. You will not withdraw your support. Ten thousand Gazans could be wiped out, and you would find a way to support Israel.

    I’m trying to understand your thinking Jonathan. I’m trying to find out exactly what you’re thinking, and you don’t want to go there because you don’t want anyone to know, including yourself. You’re the one who used the term “monster”. not me. The one thing you’ve figured out is that there is no number for you, but you can’t face it, so you blame me for asking the question.

    How many innocent palestinians can die before you withdraw your support of Israel’s attack on Gaza?

    Your answer is “infinite”, but you can’t bring yourself to say that. So you say I’m the one who doesn’t want ot look at your thinking.

  115. Greg — Sorry you think/feel that way about my position. I don’t think that the body count doesn’t matter, I don’t support Israel no matter what, and I don’t appreciate you twisting my position, or putting words in my mouth. I have enough experience in online discussions to know a baited trap when I see one, and I have taken the bait enough times to know when not to.

    Agreed w/Iaminnocent, and, if you like, Greg, shoot me an email address, and we can continue the conversation elsewhere.

  116. Maybe there will be bombs set off in virtual second life. That other guy gives interviews in the middle of Haloâ„¢

  117. Consider two ways to react to a great wrong done to an entire people. One is to say, “This must never happen to my people again.” The other is to say, “This must never happen to anyone again.” The first is nothing more than what tens of millions of people have said over the millennia. They come and go like grass, and their names are not remembered. The second is a new thing in the world.

    ===

    Innocent, all tidy discussions include some measure of metadiscussion. It’s the information exchanged about what the information exchange is doing.

    I’ll grant that if the metadiscussion becomes the sole topic, the conversation has broken. However, we don’t know yet whether that’s the case.

    ===

    Jonathan, a logical crux and a baited trap are both bad places to be, but they’re not the same place. Test all positions for their validity. It’s one of the main things logic and rhetoric are for.

    ===

    Happy new year, everyone. Let’s make this a better year than the last one.

  118. your discussion has become about your discussion

    From the beginning, for me at least, it has been a discussion of justifications used to hide responsibility. Israel is hiding its responsibility and is trying blame hamas for those that Israel kills. Jonathan is doign nothing but the same thing on a smaller scale.

    Jonathan: I don’t think that the body count doesn’t matter, I don’t support Israel no matter what,

    You might as well say the passive sentence equivalent of “mistakes were made”. You never say by whom. You never say what the mistake would be. And you never say at what point it would be made.

    All you’ve done is reserve the right to avoid being forced to anything objective, so that down the road you can retain your subjective defense of israel. if body count matters, at what count does it matter? If you won’t support Israel no matter what, what would be the point at which you would no longer support it?

    If you have no definite answers to those questions, then your statements are as meaningless as “mistakes have been made” and are attempting to avoid responsibility just like “mistakes have been made” attempts to avoid assigning responsibility to who is the one responsible for the mistakes.

  119. Discussions about the Middle East are always a reflection of the real conflict: they become self feeding and self satisfied, no one is looking for a solution because the conflict itself is considered the solution.

    With no offense whatsoever intended for Isaac or Jonathan, Israel would never have been created if the Holocaust hadn’t happened. A state which foundations are persecution, torture and death can’t also survive unless the said persecution is ‘proved’ to still exist and the lot of martyrs is refreshed from time to time… albeit in a controlled fashion.

    A peaceful solution could have been reached a long time ago if anyone had really wanted one but it would mean the end of Israel as it is: there is no way to deny to the Palestinian a right to return, which would mean that the Jews would become a minority, and there would be no more way for Jerusalem not to return to its international status.

    I am not making an effort look balanced here, but Israel has found the ideal partners in Hamas and other incarnations of Fatah this and that, Hezbollah who also couldn’t exist without perpetual conflict.

    We define such a conflict as ‘guerre larvée’ in French, a low intensity warfare which profound causes are never expunged: as long as these causes are not brought to the light all discussions will remain peripheral, ineffective meta-discussions forever.

  120. Void for vagueness.

    In the US, vague laws can be ruled unconstitutional if they allow arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. The US has a history of trying to implement various poll taxes and tests as a way of preventing African Americans from voting in government elections.

  121. Greg, I like your points, but body count shouldn’t matter here because there’s nothing to compare it against. If anything can justify killing, it’s not damage done but damage prevented.

    Hamas killed xxx people. Anyone even passively familiar with the conflict can tell you that in doing so, they are not helping anyone on either side. At that point, it should be impossible to justify (regardless of what xxx is).

    Israel’s military killed xxx people. Anyone even passively familiar with the conflict can tell you that in doing so, they are not helping anyone on either side. At that point, it should be impossible to justify (regardless of what xxx is).

    In other words hiding responsibility isn’t simply ignoring the costs, but also benefits. That happens every time people insist on talking about the past instead of the future.

  122. War isn’t necessarily murder. There are distinguishing features which is why we have two words. Self-defense isn’t murder either.

    I once knew an old man who fought for Nazi Germany (I still know his daughters). Old Lazlo fought in the war, but he was no murderer. As a teenager he was given the choice of being shot and having his family starve, or becoming part of a forced labor brigade of untermenschen. Later he was similarly offered the “option” of taking up arms in an SS unit, so that his family would continue to receive bread. After the war it turned out that his family had perished anyway while he was serving the Reich, so he applied for permission to emigrate. The Allies agreed that his unit was forced to fight and did not prevent him from emigrating to the US, where he started a new family. My grandparents’ neighbors were part of a church-sponsored project to help people in such straits, and they helped him get a job and a fresh start.

    See, real life is messy, and philosophy and religion don’t seem very important when you’re 18 and your wife gets raped and killed and your village gets burned down by partisans because they consider you a chetnik. Do you think Palestinian teenagers blow themselves up because they have a super great life? People blow themselves up because they don’t see any better option.

    The insurgents don’t “hide behind women and children” as people here claim.. they simply haven’t any other place to be. They live in concentration camps, after all, camps where refugees are concentrated so that food, water, and social services can be provided to them efficiently. They are prevented from engaging their enemies in a fair fight – if a Palestinian steps out and says “come and get me copper” the Israelis won’t jump out of their Merkavas and engage in a battle of unarmed heroes, they’ll fire a lahat or a 120 round and level the neighborhood. Israel, and the Arab states, have set the terms of the combat as much or more than the Palestinians have. The Palestinians are primarily victims of Israeli and Arab callousness towards their fate, just as the Slavs were victims of the Nazis and Russians.

    Did’ja ever realize, the Zionists are the descendants of the people who were so fanatical about their religion that they were willing to give up their land rather than give up Judaism? The Romans said, acknowledge the Emperor as your God or be deported. The Judeans who were dispersed are the people who said, it’s just dirt- the true Israel is in the heart! I will have no god but the Lord Y-H–H of Moses! The Palestinians are the Judeans who said, OK, we love the land more than G-D and his Cohens, so we will drink the vin deus imperator and be Jews no more.

    When Islam arose, the formerly Jewish Palestinians said, OK, we love the land more than Mithras or Ahura Mazda, we’ll be Muslims now so we can stay on this dirt. The Palestinians are the original Semitic people of the area, whereas the Zionists are European invaders with a tiny trace of semitic ancestry.

    It’s true, which is why the state of Israel spends billions to convince you that they are the original Israelites. They aren’t. The Palestinians are genetic descendants of the original Israelites. The Zionists are, genetically, primarily Eastern European. They are people who got tired of being kicked around for being Jewish, and decided to be kickers instead of kicked. Israel is their flag of convenience, and Judaism is their excuse, for seizing a land where they can be the bullies instead of the bullied. If those were the only two choices, I wouldn’t blame them.

  123. With no offense whatsoever intended for Isaac or Jonathan, Israel would never have been created if the Holocaust hadn’t happened.

    I don’t believe that’s the case. The first half of the 1900s was a great time for drawing new lines on maps. In fact, that’s when all of Israel’s neighbours were created (as modern countries). I’d say that the creation of Israel was inevitable and was actually delayed by the Holocaust.

    At the close of the First World War it was pretty well established that then-Palestine would be under a British Mandate, and that it would become (at least mostly) a Jewish state. By 1936 it seems clear that the British Government was backpedaling furiously and by 1939 the original plan was clearly dead. Arab nationalism had clearly been rising for the last couple of decades: why were the British concerned about it now and choking off Jewish immigration at the time when compassion would have demanded otherwise?

    I believe that it was merely callous realpolitik: Britain judged that it could not afford to encourage Arab approaches to the Axis powers. Arab leadership was already attracted to Nazi and Fascist doctrine, much of which meshed well with their ideology (strong leaders, nationalist revolutions, limited citizenship). Britain didn’t want to commit more troops to containing Arab revolutions, and it certainly didn’t want an open Arab revolt in league with the Axis. The Jews, on the other hand, had no other options – they could hardly take the side of Nazi Germany in retaliation for Britain’s faithlessness. So it made sense for the British to temporise with Arab nationalism and move from “a Jewish state in Palestine” to “a Jewish state in part of Palestine” to “well, let the Jews and Arabs sort it out themselves, and in the meantime don’t let any more Jews in.”

    After the Second World War the creation of Israel had nearly universal support. Arab nationalism had clearly not fallen, so what made the difference? Once again, realpolitik. The Arabs were no longer useful – at least, not the ones without oil. There was certainly sympathy for the Jews, but the Partition Plan of 1947 was actually a reversal to the pre-War policies and not a new idea. And as I think I said earlier: the logic of the time favored separating disgruntled ethnic groups from each other. The same policy was implemented all over the world, so it’s a fallacy to say that it was due to sympathy in the case of Palestine alone. I think that separation is simply the sort of thing which was and continues to be seen as a way of solving intractable ethnic problems.

  124. The industrial powers had to create nation states in the M.E. to get the oil. By creating countries out of nothing, but ethnic and cultural divides, they legitimized leaderships, which could sign over the production rights to the oil and enforce the agreements. They needed someone to pay off, someone they could control, and who would control the rest of the population.

    As far as a creation of a Jewish state, everyone hated Jews. I keep mentioning this, but people either can’t understand what it was like to be a Jew or don’t want to admit the truth. In most places a Jew with a college degree couldn’t find a job without working for other Jews. When they did, it was often beneath their abilities and without any hope of advancement. Anti-semitism was deeply ingrained in the U.S. and most European countries.

    The Nazi’s did not round-up six million Jews and another six million undesirables without a lot of help. Apologists for the holocaust like to ask, why didn’t they leave Germany when Hitler told them to leave? Please understand the tip of the iceberg that The Voyage of the Damned exposes to history. Jews without connections or skillz like Einstein, were turned away. Not forgetting the fact the Nazi’s made it very difficult and expensive to leave.

    This is why I say, the Nazis are not alone in guilt, they just had the stomach to do what the world had always wanted. The majority of the world’s people turned their collective back on the Jews. Even after the war and the pictures from the camps, how much has truly changed?

  125. Sorry, but I don’t apporve of compartmentalizing killing. I prefer a simpler more honest use of language. In my way of thinking, which is obviously at odds with legal terminology and other meaningless rules and conventions, everything is murder. Yes, murder is defined legally as an unlawful killing; I don’t think there should be such a thing as a lawful killing.

    All murders are wrong. Some murders are unavoidable, like me murdering your ass for coming into my house uninvited. While it is a socially acceptable killing, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t murder.

    Which, then brings us to war. War is a series of socially acceptable murders. The only way to stop war is to stop murdering people whether socially acceptable or not. As to whether or not someone was forced to engage in these murders is unimportant. War is constructed to coerce everyone into killing, whether the threat comes from the attacker, like my dead home invader, or the government or a third party. In a war everyone is killing in self-defense.

    Until we have the courage to die instead of kill, then there will always be wars. The problem is this is damn hard to do when your children are going to be victims as well. This is why I don’t believe in conventions. War should be so barbaric and costly that it becomes unthinkable. We are slowly becoming a less violent world, rules of war allow us to continue fighting with modern sensibilities.

  126. anon@169: body count shouldn’t matter

    You are about to get your wish for a massive death toll. Israel launched a ground operation, starting with artillery shelling and tank operations in the most densely populated area on the planet. There is no way they can not kill civilians at this point.

    Depending on how long this lasts and whether the world continues to twiddle its thumbs indefinitely, expect the death toll to double or triple. That’s a couple hundred dead innocent Palestinians including 50 to 100 palestinian children.

    In response to 17 Israelis killed.

    Anyone saying this is a proportional response in any sense of the word is a liar at this point.

    There are 10,000 to 15,000 dedicated Hamas militants in Gaza. There is no way Israel can inflict any significant damage on those numbers wihtout massive innocent blood getting spilled by Israeli guns and bombs and missiles.

    Israel has innocent blood on its hands and no amount of bullshit spin will change that.

  127. Israel launched a ground operation, starting with artillery shelling and tank operations in the most densely populated area on the planet.

    I’ve heard the “most densely populated” bit a few times, so I decided to check it. Wikipedia actually has a list of countries sorted by population density but that didn’t separate out Gaza as a separate area, so I worked it out myself.

    Wikipedia (fount of all knowledge) tells me that the Gaza Strip’s population density is 4,118, making it the sixth most densely populated place in the world (after Macau, Monaco, Hong Kong, Singapore and Gibraltar).

    Anyway, it’s not really important – the Gaza Strip is obviously a very densely populated area – but I thought I should step in and correct someone being wrong on the internet.

  128. @ Greg 175

    I’m not wishing for a large body count. My point is the opposite – even a small body count is unacceptable if it doesn’t even help anyone. Right now, my maximum is zero until somebody comes up with a point.


  129. I’d say that the creation of Israel was inevitable and was actually delayed by the Holocaust.

    Could you tell me where you see that ‘delay’? It seems to me that, between 1946, when the reality of the Shoah (I don’t like ‘Holocaust’, as I said) became indubitable and Q3 1947, date of the final design for a partition of Palestine there is not much of a delay.

  130. Thanks Sammich. For some reason my RSS feed gets updated very late here. I’ll try a real reader instead of Firefox.

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