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425 responses to “Eyeless in Gaza”

  1. Dave Bath

    Love the Huxley reference!

    As to “the power of balance in the Middle East” : Is that a typo? To me, balance there has hardly ever existed, and is therefore powerless.

  2. Mark

    Balance of power – you’re right in a way, but there’s no doubt that various states and actors’ perceptions of how power should be balanced is a big factor. The link under that phrase is worth following.

  3. Peterc

    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. When will this carnage stop? It makes me very sad, despairing even.

  4. Katz

    Hamas’ actions make it more likely that Netanyahu (a notorious extremist) will be elected PM of Israel.

    Is this what Hamas wants?

    Perhaps, because Netanyahu is likely to radicalise West Bank voters, resulting in a repeat of Hamas’ electoral success.

    Hamas did score a stunning electoral victory in both Gaza and the West Bank in January 2006. The Bush Administration armed and funded a coup by Fatah against the parliamentary majority of Hamas in June 2006.

    Hamas continues to offer recognition of Israel in return for withdrawal to 1967 borders and the right of return.

    Perhaps a demonstration of Hamas’ popularity in the West Bank may persuade Obama to put more pressure on Israel to accept the Hamas offer.

    Perhaps all this is a pipe dream. Nevertheless, it is possible to construct a rationale for Hamas’ actions.

    On the other side, the anti-Netanyahu Israeli forces need to show that they can be as tough as Netanyahu and thus it is not necessary for Israelis to take the risk of making him PM again.

    Killing a couple of hundred Gazans may well be a price that Israel’s anti-Netanyahu forces are willing to pay to stymie Netanyahu’s re-election.

  5. Peter Wood

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a pretty nasty Nash equilibrium.

  6. Lefty E

    Call me a cynic, but I always have this sneaking suspicion Israel likes to periodically fan Palestinian extremism to justify the state-auspiced, accretive dispossession of the West Bank.

    200 dead, another 200 recruits are born. But yes – let’s hope Netanyahu is kept out of office.

  7. Leon

    including but not limited to internal Israeli politics and the decomposition of its party system, the legacy of past atrocities, an effective economic blockade of Palestine, the power balance in the Middle East and the hypocritical and empty promises of the Bush administration.

    Plus continued terror attacks from Palestinian extremist groups, plus the fact that one of these controls the Gaza strip.

  8. Geoff Honnor

    “Hamas continues to offer recognition of Israel in return for withdrawal to 1967 borders and the right of return.”

    My understanding is that Hamas has offered a 10 year truce – not recognition of Israel – providing Israel returns to the 1967 borders and agrees to the right of return.

  9. Rob

    “Hamas continues to offer recognition of Israel in return for withdrawal to 1967 borders and the right of return.”

    I missed that, Katz. Are you sure you’ve got that right?

    See the Hamas Charter here.

  10. Mark

    @7 – that’s obvious from the post. Might I just observe – and I think this is in the spirit of Hilzoy’s post – that the lamentable habit of those of us in countries like this one deciding one side is “ours” enables and facilitates a failure to grasp the complexity of the conflict and the way it transcends good and evil by virtue of being an entire cluster of causes and a continuing dynamic of violence – much of it, in the end, without point in terms of any resolution (and that begs the other question of whether violence is a mode of conflict resolution)…

  11. Mark

    Elsewhere: An interesting book review post from SocProf on violence around the world, and how it’s viewed according to essentially domestic priorities:

    Virgil Hawkins’s Stealth Conflicts – How The World’s Worst Violence is Ignored is a necessary book that dispels quite a few myths regarding the current world’s conflicts.

    While the world is currently focused on the collective punishment Israel is inflicting on the Gaza strip, and as 2008 draws to an end, there is not much mention that we are entering the 11th year of the conflict in the DRC, a conflict, that ,as of January 2008, had caused the death of 5.4 million people, mostly of disease and starvation. This is currently the deadliest conflict in the world, and there is not much of a fuss about it, not about many African conflicts either (with the exception of Sudan, and that came eight years into the conflict).

    Read on here.

  12. Rob

    “What, exactly, do the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Sderot think they will accomplish? ”

    Well, there are a number of things. They can, if they get lucky, kill and maim Israeli citizens and/or destroy their property. If they don’t manage that, they can keep the population in a constant state of fear. The missiles are unguided, so when the inhabitants of Sderot get their four or five seconds warning of the launches, they have no idea where they are going to land. The Palestinians can heighten that sense of fear by timing the launches to coincide with the beginning and end of the school day (as they do) to sharpen parents’ fear that their children will be exposed. And finally, they can achieve their publicly declared objective of forcing the southern Israeli towns to evacuate their citizens north, leaving the border areas clear. This they have also done: a few months ago half the population of Sderot was evacuated to Tel Aviv and accommodated in a tent city.

    It has been a very effective strategy.

  13. Katz

    From Wiki:

    On 13 February 2006, in an interview in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Mashal declared that Hamas would stop armed struggle against Israel if it recognized the 1967 borders, withdrew itself from all Palestinian occupied territories (including the West Bank and East Jerusalem) and recognized Palestinian rights that would include the “right of return”. He reaffirmed this stance in a 5 March 2008 interview with Al Jazeera English, citing Hamas’s signing of the 2005 Cairo Declaration and the National Reconciliation Document, and denied any rejectionist stance.

    You can make up your own minds about how trustworthy Mashal is, or whether he can take his Hamas brethren with him.

  14. Rob

    That’s still not recognition of Israel, though. In anyh event, Hamas knows those terms are not acceptable to Israel – that’s why they offer them. The Israelis regard the 1967 borders as militarily indefensible. And the right of return means bringing 5 million Palestinians into Israel to switch the current Jewish majority into an Arab one, and thus, the end of the Jewish state. So of course Hamas offers it. And of course the Israelis reject it.

  15. Katz

    I agree.

    I brought this up in the context of Hamas using this juncture to apply some wedges between Israel and the US.

    To quote Hamas or its leadership is not to endorse the truth value of those statements.

    I believe that both sides are being quite cynical in their practice of realpolitik.

  16. Rob

    “Any form of peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Palestine and Israel has been blocked for a long time by a range of factors – including but not limited to internal Israeli politics and the decomposition of its party system, the legacy of past atrocities, an effective economic blockade of Palestine, the power balance in the Middle East and the hypocritical and empty promises of the Bush administration.”

    I think Arab aggression might possibly have had something to do with it as well, Mark.

  17. Mark

    Rob, please read the thread. I’ve already answered a more or less identical point @ 10.

    And I agree with Katz at 15:

    I believe that both sides are being quite cynical in their practice of realpolitik.

  18. Mervyn Langford

    “Eyeless on Gaza” – a well thought through piece followed by reasoned comment – what a relief from the usual hysterical levels debate on Palestine-Israeli conflict usually starts of at. None of it helped by the stranglehold of dubious comment in the standard media. A relief to read LP.

  19. Rob

    Sorry, Mark. I’m not back into the habit properly yet.

  20. Marlon

    “It has been a very effective strategy.”

    Umm very effective, 300 dead and rising.

    It will get more effective over the next few days of course,the Israeli tanks will see to that, very effective indeed..

  21. Mark

    No problem, Rob.

    I think what I’m getting at is that the situation has reached its ultimate logic – violence coming close to being effectively for its own sake. The strategies of the actors may be rational within the terms of the dynamic that has evolved, but cannot lead to any resolution. I’m interested in whether anyone thinks Obama might make a difference. As the link in the post demonstrates, the Saudi plan is fraught as well.

    I’d also observe – and here picking up or riffing off SocProf’s post – that it’s interesting that this sort of situation doesn’t attract discussion within the frame of “humanitarian” disaster. Katz is right to call it realpolitik, but realpolitik surely pushed to its limits and thus having become insane and senseless.

  22. Liam

    As a Cold War nerd it’s interesting to see the total negation of deterrence-logic. Each side knows exactly the limit to which it’s able to exact violent retribution and gleefully goes right up to but not beyond it, quite the reverse of the nuclear stalemate which enforced inaction.
    Of course it’s far less interesting to read about the slaughter that should be prevented by rational mutual deterrence.
    Rob @19: you wish. Good to see you back on the horse.

  23. Mark

    Elsewhere: Jeff Sparrow at Overland. I think this post is a useful corrective to “official narratives” of what’s occurring, but still needs insertion into a broader analysis of the entire dynamic, of the sort I’ve been arguing we need.

  24. Katz

    Obama is the key.

    The question is whether and how he is willing to put pressure on Israel.

    The US has the potential of genuine leverage over Israel by virtue of the fact that Israel is underwritten by US taxpayers’ subsidy.

    However, the Israel lobby is so strong in the US that it would constitute a major revolution in public affairs were Obama to weaken traditional US commitments to Israel.

    Even though US public finances are in a notoriously dire state, underwriting Israel is close to the top of US priorities. (After all, Israel isn’t South Vietnam.)

    Moreover, there is no important constituency in the US which opposes aid to Israel.

    Even though Obama has the potential to reframe the relationship between the US and Israel, it is highly unlikely that he will.

    Hamas, however, may regain control in the West Bank. Then Obama will have to decide whether to repeat Bush’s policy of giving military aid to Fatah. If he does this, then it would be true to say that Obama is incapable of achieving a settlement in Palestine.

    In that case, Obama begins to look like just another POTUS rather than a messiah.

  25. Mark

    And that’s what I suspect will happen, Katz. Obama made some noises about Palestine being the key to the Middle East, but in particular as I said, the appointment of Clinton (given her statements in the Senate and on the campaign trail) doesn’t give one much hope for an approach that departs from what has become American foreign policy orthodoxy. I suppose the alternative hypothesis would be that she has an incentive to “finish Bill’s work” and/or that Obama is yet to reveal his hand and that his foreing policy team is there to implement rather than formulate policy.

  26. Rob

    Liam – thanks.

    Katz – agree.

    One point to make is that the US does not have nearly the leverage over Israel that many believe. Israel is determined not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon two years ago. And its defence capability is now in the hands of an able soldier (Barak), not a Peace Now activist (Peretz). Rice tried to build a new alliance with against Iran in the wake of the Israeli failure to destroy Iran’s proxy in the Levant, Hizbollah. They looked to the Saudis, figuring they feared a nuclear-armed Persian Shi’ite regime more than they hated Israel. Thanks to the leak of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which disarmed the US and took force off the table, that endeavour failed.

    Israel learned from that. It knows it has to act in its own interests, not those of the US. Yes, it’s realpolitik. The timing of the Gaza op was sweet. There’s nothing Bush can do now that can make any difference. None of the major parties in Israel look bad ahead of the election. As for Obama – well, as Katz remarks, he’s not the messiah; he doesn’t even know which way is up yet.

  27. Lefty E

    I’m just sick of the doublespeak and nonsense Israel peddles, and the increasingly bankrupt “common sense” positions of western political elites.

    Here’s some facts to place aside the spin from chillingly smooth media creeps like Regev:

    The Israeli air force is a frequent murderer of innocent children.
    Casualty rates are 300:1 in this latest assault. Some ‘war’.
    Collective punishment of this sort a crime against humanity. A criminal act.
    Those “Hamas tunnels” to Egypt are key lines for smuggling food and medicines to the Palestinian people, who are starving under an Israeli blockade.
    You don’t get to declare ‘war’ on a state that isn’t recognised. The Gaza strip is a semi-autonomous concentration camp at best.

    As such, the character is more one of brutal civil policing by a ethnically separate standing army in one of Israel’s Bantustans – not a “war”.

    Give them independence and call it war, responding to aggression. Or send armed police against them for their criminal acts. You cant have this both ways.

  28. Labor Outsider

    Amidst the discussion of the likely shape of Obama’s middle eastern policy, I’m suprised that nobody has mentioned his COS Rahm Emanuel. I’d have thought that he will have more influence over Obama’s policy than Clinton…

  29. Rob

    Some correctives to Lefty E.:

    The Israeli air force is a frequent murderer of innocent children.

    No, it’s not. The Palestinians site their rocket launchers and arms caches in civilian neighbourhoods. They fire rockets from hospitals and schools, in violation of the rules of war. They send children out to retrieve rocket launchers after the firing crews have moved away to escape return fire directed by Israel’s guided shell-tracking radars, or their reconnaissance drones. If children die in retaliatory strikes the responsibility lies with Hamas or PIJ or the PRC.

    Casualty rates are 300:1 in this latest assault. Some ‘war’.

    That simply means the IDF are accurate and efficient – necessary things in a successful war.

    Collective punishment of this sort a crime against humanity. A criminal act.

    Rocket barrages against Sderot and the southern settlements are war crimes. They constitute collective punishment. The rockets are unguided (a war crime); though unguided, are designed to kill, maim and terrorise civilians (a war crime); are fired from civilian neighbourhoods (a war crime); are protected from retaliation by human shields (a war crime)

    Those “Hamas tunnels” to Egypt are key lines for smuggling food and medicines to the Palestinian people, who are starving under an Israeli blockade.

    They are used to smuggle weapons and munitions into Gaza. They are also used to smuggle food, which are taxed by Hamas to 20% of their value – a good source of revenue. Note that the smuggling tunnels are into Egypt. Israel is not responsible for Gaza’s border with Egypt. If Egypt wanted to open the border, it could do so at any time.

    You don’t get to declare ‘war’ on a state that isn’t recognised. The Gaza strip is a semi-autonomous concentration camp at best.

    The border with Israel is an internationally recognised one. That’s why acts of aggression across it are properly regarded as acts of war.

  30. Lefty E

    If I wanted a list of Regev talking points Rob, I’d turn on the telly.

  31. Liam

    Yes, you can do better than that, Rob. In fact so can I.
    Were I to replace the regular expression “Palestinians” with “Northern Irish”, “Sderot” with “Falls Road”, “children” with “Irish children” and “Gaza” with “Armagh”, I’d have a bunch of hell raining rightly down on me. The British, unlike others, treat their cross-border terrorism rationally, and as *actual* crimes.

  32. Rob

    Well,what have I actually got wrong, Liam?

  33. Mark

    Labor Outsider @ 28 – the official story, anyway, is that Emmanuel is there as a policy enforcer. Of course, his appointment may also have some foreign policy significance.

  34. Mark

    According to the Guardian, Obama’s mob are echoing Bush’s line:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/29/barack-obama-israel-gaza

  35. Rob

    The Guardinistas sound palpably disappointed, don’t they?

  36. Rob

    Is it worth pointing out that more Palestinians were killed during the Hamas-Fatah internecine fighting last year than the Israelis have killed so far during Operation ‘Cast Lead’, the vast majority of the latter being – on Hamas’ own admission – Hamas operatives?

  37. Mark

    I’d have thought that pointing out someone has killed some more people than someone else (while ignoring why that might be) is exactly what I was talking about when I said that the blockage to any path to a peaceful resolution to all this is justifying violence on the grounds of events which occur because of a situation in which more violence promises nothing but more violence. “Israel is good and Hamas is bad” or whatever is a judgement that is internal to the current mess and entirely fails to shed any light on a path out of it.

  38. Mark

    Phyllis Bennis in Red Pepper:

    The escalation in Gaza will make it virtually impossible for any serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at ending the occupation. It remains uncertain whether sponsorship of an immediate new round of bilateral negotiations was on Barack Obama’s initial post-inauguration agenda anyway. But the current crisis means that any negotiations, whether ostensibly Israeli-Palestinian alone or officially involving the US-controlled so-called ‘Quartet’, will be able to go beyond a return to the pre-airstrike crisis period.

    That earlier political crisis, still far from solved, was characterized by expanding settlements, the apartheid Wall and checkpoints crippling movement, commerce and ordinary life across the West Bank, and a virtually impenetrable siege of Gaza that even before the current military assault, had created a humanitarian catastrophe.

    http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Meaning-of-Israel-s-attack-on-Gaza

  39. Lefty E

    “Well,what have I actually got wrong, Liam?”

    Let me help you there.

    1. What Hamas does casts no light on whether the IDF kills children – a fact not disputed by the IDF. You didnt address the point at all Rob.
    2. The number of civilians killed surely demonstrates it is neither accurate nor “efficient” – unless the intent is to kill civilians as well as militants. 300:1 also demonstrates the response is disproportionate to the threat posed. Its what happens when a modern army attacks a civilian population.
    3. Since you dont address the point of IDF war crimes, and instead talk about the other party, I take it you concede this charge.
    4. Hamas tunnels – seems we agree they carry food to civilians.
    5. Its not recognised as an international border by Israel. They dont recognise an independent Palestinian state, as you well know.

    In sum, your garbled, illogical apology for Israel amply demonstrates how weak and difficult to justify their actions are.

  40. Mark

    Worth pointing out that not all Israelis by any means agree with this – some citations via Firedoglake from Ha’aretz:

    While sorting through Gaza news last night, I ran across three essays worth reading. Two were published today in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, the last one, by Nir Rosen, appeared in the Guardian.

    In the first, Amira Hass explains that the Gaza strike is not against Hamas, it’s against all Palestinians:

    At 12 A.M. on Sunday, a phone call roused S. “I wasn’t sleeping anyway,” he said. “I picked up the receiver and heard a recorded announcement in Arabic: ‘This is to warn you that we will bomb the house of anyone who has arms or ammunition at home.'”

    Then Tom Segev shows why trying to “teach Hamas a lesson” is fundamentally wrong:

    As a corollary, Israel has also always believed that causing suffering to Palestinian civilians would make them rebel against their national leaders. This assumption has proven wrong over and over.

    http://firedoglake.com/2008/12/29/overnight-update-on-gaza/

  41. Mark

    Update: The latest news via Firedoglake:

    Overnight, the BBC is reporting that Israel has declared the region around Gaza “a closed military zone” which is seen as sign that a ground invasion is about to begin (no link available yet). The Gaza death toll (at 1:25 PST) is 307, there are unconfirmed reports that kidnapped Israeli soldier Shalit was amongst those wounded by the Israeli attack on Gaza, and the Israeli Navy has now joined the attack.

  42. Michael

    There won’t be any resolution to this as long as Gaza is viewed as a discreet problem. This is certainly the line that Israel has been taking – a strike against Hamas for the rockets. But Gaza is just a symptom of the on-going failure to resolve the basic issues of the conflict. Israel can kill 3000 people in Gaza and tomorrow the situation will be essentially unchanged.

    Comments were made earlier about realpolitik and the limits of what we can expect from either Israel or Hamas. But this correctly points to a vital truth about Hamas – it is a political organisation, and there is scope to make progress through dialogue. (interesting interview with the Hamas leader here – http://www.palestine-studies.org/journals.aspx?id=9980&jid=1&href=fulltext)

    Though I can’t see any scope for optimism from the incoming US Admin. What’s needed are not new faces in the White House, but a new approach. If there is a re-thinking of US grand strategy, then maybe there is hope for a resolution, if not, we’ll see hopes raised and then dashed in quick succession.

  43. Chris (a different one)

    Great post Mark. I’d be interested to hear exactly what you think the US should be doing. I know there is a desire to pressure Israel into accepting some sort of compromise, but unless there is the ability for the Palestinian side to police minority groups who want to attack Israel regardless, I think we’re going to end up in the same place we are now every few years.

    The hatred on both sides seems so deep the only way I see a cease fire being effective is to have a neutral third party occupy and enforce the peace. But I don’t think there is any country or group of countries both capable and willing (since there will be many casualties and associated bad press) to do this.

    Also can anyone explain why Egypt cooperates with Israel’s blockade of Gaza? Can’t they let in humanitarian aid through their border if they wanted to?

  44. Michael

    Chris, Egypt’s regime is not a fan of Islamist groups. It has it’s own to worry about (Muslim Brotherhood) and the last thing it wants to see is a democratically elected Islamist Govt in neighbouring Palestine. Egyptian and Israel perspectives coincide on this one.

  45. Katz

    but unless there is the ability for the Palestinian side to police minority groups who want to attack Israel regardless

    In what sense is Hamas a “minority group” seeing as it won a parliamentary majority in the only free and open general elections ever held in Palestine?

    This parliamentary majority was terminated by a US inspired and funded Fatah coup in the West Bank.

    My guess is that Israel’s bombardment and possible invasion of Gaza are paving the road for Hamas’ return to power in the West Bank.

    Further, Israel probably regards this encouragement of Hamas as a means to dissuade the incoming Obama administration from pressing Israel too hard for a settlement.

    To spell it out: Obama would find it to be a hard sell to press any Palestinian claims that came from Hamas mouthpieces.

    Thus, ironically, both Israel and Hamas are fighting to achieve Hamas’ success.

  46. murph the surf.

    “Also can anyone explain why Egypt cooperates with Israel’s blockade of Gaza? Can’t they let in humanitarian aid through their border if they wanted to?”
    .
    From the link to Open Democracy in Mark’s opening -“Moreover, Egypt’s stance is governed by its national-security concerns, particularly regarding the situation in Gaza and the possibility of any spill-over of violence across the border to Egypt. Cairo sees a Gaza ruled by Hamas – a sister organisation to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood – in effect as a nightmare that it wants to end.”

  47. Peter Kemp

    “Well,what have I actually got wrong, Liam?”

    A quote of mine from LP 2006:

    I think there must be an Israeli internet trojan/bot around that comes to life whenever “terrorist” and “Israel” is mentioned. Must be that new version “Robot”

    Hi Rob, good to see you back 🙂

    Again the obscenity of wanton killing and no sides ever, smelling of roses. The legacy of the Brits “twice promised” land and religion.

    Whatever people think of Fisk, this comment (Independent UK) is a good description of “cynical realpolitic”:

    Yes, let’s remember Hamas’s cynicism, the cynicism of all armed Islamist groups. Their need for Muslim martyrs is as crucial to them as Israel’s need to create them. The lesson Israel thinks it is teaching – come to heel or we will crush you – is not the lesson Hamas is learning. Hamas needs violence to emphasise the oppression of the Palestinians – and relies on Israel to provide it. A few rockets into Israel and Israel obliges.

    I don’t think US foreign policy will change much under Barack Obama, the Israel lobby is so entrenched although one wonders if the US’s economic decline will affect the billions in military aid-probably not in the near future at least.

    Something not considered yet is Russia becoming a “broker”, not that I’m saying they will, but if they did, they have a lot of levers over Israel: supply of anti-aircraft ground based missiles to Iran a specific example–otherwise, support of Iran in general. Ditto Syria. Exercising those levers in turn, is a lever against the US, who just might in response decide to get off their butts and become a halfway honest broker. Russia has a great ability to be a spoiler in so many arenas affecting western security and I don’t think their influence can be written out of the Palestine equation yet. (How that pans out, being a spoiler or not, as against a “broker” will depend largely on how the Ukrainian issue [A bridge too far?]re Nato is headed.)

    Of course wait for the screams of rage and indignation from Likudniks and epigones if Russia put its oar in, and Putin would have to be one of the greatest cynical operators ever in cynical realpolitic, but who knows, it could be beneficial, we’ve tried everything else haven’t we?

  48. Peterc

    On ABC radio this morning one commentator said that Israel’s actions are “about politics – political positioning by the Government for the next election – so they can say they are doing something ‘tough’ in an effort to neutralise Netanyahu’s likely pitch to take ‘tough action’ against Hamas.

    So this pseudo war (crime actually) that is killing hundreds is really about politics and an upcoming election. This is a disgrace.

  49. Michael

    It’s worth a brief reminder of the Hamas-Israel history at this point, given that Israels aim is to destroy Hamas.

    It was only just over 20 years ago that Israel has extending a helping hand to the Palestinian Islamists as a counter to the secular nationalist PLO. And it was just at the start of this decade that we witnessed the previous Israeli war on Hamas when it was busy ‘cutting the head from the serpent’ with high profile assasinations (Yassin, Rantisi etc). So effective where they that just a few years later Hamas would go on to win the Palestinian elections.

    It was a very similar story with Hizballah. Spawned by the Israel invasion of Lebanon, with assasinations of the the groups leaders eventually leading to a young unknown taking over the leadership, a certain Hussein Nasrallah. Then Israel launched another invasion of South Lebanon to destroy Hizballah, which has in the end, signifcantly contributed to Hizballah becoming part,a vital part, of the Lebanese Govt.

    Makes you wonder what unexpected developments this attack on Hamas will generate.

  50. Paul Burns

    I know other LP-ers have said this and its stating the obvious: no matter how one analyses the minutae of the causes for this conflict – an analysis that is being provided here, and, if one follows the various links, elsewhere, and an analysis that is sorely needed, if only to bring some rationality tro the debate,it all boils down to one thing: What the Israeli Government is doing in response to about 18 deaths over four years, and have been doing, is collective punishment, and collective punishment is an internationally recognised crime against humanity.

  51. steve at the pub

    Civilian casualties would be minimised if the Hamas “girly-men” didn’t hide themselves & their warlike activities amongst groups of civilians.

  52. Rob

    Some have argued on this thread that Israel should negotiate with Hamas rather than going to war with it, and somewhere down the negotiating pathway lies peace. There is a problem with that, however. Hamas does not want peace. It wants to destroy Israel. This objective is the reason for the existence of Hamas, clearly expressed in its charter, and proclaimed throughout the Arab world. When Hamas speaks of ‘resisting’ the ‘occupation’, it refers not to the occupation of the West Bank or Gaza (from which Israel withdrew three years ago), it means the occupation the land now known as Israel. It wants the Jews out, the land back, and a theocratic Islamic state constituted in place of the existing democratic Jewish state. These objectives are permanent and unalterable, according to Hamas itself.

    Not a lot for Israel to negotiate with, really.

  53. Shaun

    There is no solution:

    He blamed both Hamas and Fatah, the two parties that control the Palestinian territories.

    “We need a party that can control the situation in Gaza,” he said. But he also called for revenge against Israel.

    “I am asking the Palestinian factions to kill their civilians as they are killing ours,” he said.

    It is an endless cycle of revenge. The Palestinians caught between the internal politics of Israel and their need for collective punishment (under the guise of punishing Hamas) and Hamas’ desire for martyrs (regardless of whether you volunteer).

  54. Lefty E

    Does not Israel wish to destroy Palestine, Rob? Illegal settlements in the West bank suggest yes. And this is the core of Israel’s problem: they cant recognise Palestine, as they wish to dispossess them. They could deal with Hamas rocket brigades by armed policing of them like a proper democratic state would. But that would involve some bravery, and open acknowledging their Bantustan status.

    The withdrawal from Gaza only highlighted those ongoing intentions in the west bank, and the impossibility of selling the ‘neither state nor Israeli province’ approach in the long run.

    They would rather pretend its a war, and just bomb the whole area with the army. Which is not only utter cowardice, its a crime against humanity. The state of Israel now commits such crimes routinely.

    And you’re really falling back on the constitutional rhetoric of Hamas to divine how Palestinian nationalists would negotiate, you really arent getting real about this issue at all. See the original 1916 IRA rhetoric on independence- and compare with with their acceptance of 6 county British province in the north 5 years later. Everyone in Israel knows 1967 borders would do it.

    Then yes, like Ireland, a few hardliners will split , yelling “no sell out” and they’ll be defeated by the pro-treaty Palestinian forces about one year later. There’ ll be nowhere to hide, no tunnel safe enough once their own people come for them.

  55. Katz

    Negotiation will occur when one side or the other perceives that it has no choice but to negotiate.

    What would cause Palestinian representatives to negotiate?

    Nothing short of a revolution in the expectations and desires of the mass of the Palestinian people. I believe that it would be very unlikely for Palestinians to relinquish their claim for the right of return to enjoy their private real estate, or their claims to part of Jerusalem as their capital city.

    What would cause Israeli representatives to negotiate?

    Perhaps a major electoral victory of Peaceniks. Such a victory appears quite unlikely.

    Perhaps a major crisis in meeting the cost of funding the huge Israeli security state. A large part of this funding is provided by the US. At the moment it seems unlikely that the US would change radically its level of support for Israel’s security state. But of all the major elements of Israel/Palestine equation that might change, the US element would appear to be the most changeable one.

  56. Rob

    “Does not Israel wish to destroy Palestine, Rob?”

    By the logic or Hamas and Hizbollah, yes – or rather, it has already done so, by replacing Palestine with Israel. The oft-quoted motto ‘Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea’ sums it up very neatly. Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean lies the inconvenient state of Israel.

    As for dispossession, it is worth remembering that under the Oslo Accords, both the West Bank and Gaza were returned to the administrative authority of the PA. The PA was a deeply corrupt kleptocracy, but it exercised Palestinian authority within the territories, held elections, and so on. Israel maintained a security presence in both territories to protect its settlements.

    When Israel evicted its settlers from Gaza and removed its security forces, the Strip descended almost overnight into anarchy. Even before the Hamas coup, Gaza was a lawless swamp and a terrorists’ kitchen. It is difficult to believe that, if Israel were to evacuate the West Bank, a similar process would eventuate there. Indeed, courageous Palestinian journalists have written that the only reason the West Bank has not gone the way of Gaza is because of the continuing presence of the Israeli security forces.

    Establishing the settlements in the territories was Israel’s historic mistake. However, they were always negotiable. Begin forcibly evicted the settlers from Sinai in return for a peace deal with Egypt (for which President Sadat paid with his life, assassinated by Hamas’ parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood). Sharon, another noted hawk, removed the settlements from Gaza. The West Bank will be more difficult, since there are now some 400,000 settlers residing there.

    But even there a solution should be possible. One option would be to give the settlers a choice: remain where you are, and become Palestinian Jews, or return to Israel proper, and become Israeli Jews. But such an option will not even be on the table for at least a generation.

    I don’t see a parallel with the IRA. Did the IRA constitute itself in order to destroy Great Britain?

  57. Rob

    Correction: ‘….a similar process would not eventuate there.’

  58. Liam

    Did the IRA constitute itself in order to destroy Great Britain?

    No, but they certainly constituted themselves on the basis of driving the Ulstermen into the sea. When the IRA and PIRA committed outrages, the British Army largely refrained from collective punishment. And when they criminally bombed the UK mainland, the British Government refrained from using the RAF and British Army to level the Catholic areas of Belfast.
    Rob, all anyone wants is for the IDF not to bomb this particular slum. Is that so difficult?
    As to Hezbollah’s goals and any organisations’ stated aims, remember that Kevin Rudd’s Government is nominally socialist, standing officially for the nationalisation of production, distribution, and exchange. What’s printed on membership tickets doesn’t always get negotiated.

  59. Rob

    Liam, I could re-phrase your sentence to read: All Israel wants is for Hamas not to continue its rocket and mortar barrage, cease tunnelling under the Gaza-Israel border to kidnap more Israeli soldiers, and stop sending suicide attackers into Israel to kill its civilians. Is that so hard?

    As for the IRA, I take your point, but the IRA’s terror was not an instrument of war wielded against the British state by a hostile government.

  60. Mark
  61. Katz

    In fact, Sinn Fein, the political movement that controlled the IRA, continues to have as its ultimate ambition the dismantlement of the UK to the extent that sovereignty of Ulster would pass from the UK to another entity.

    While Sinn Fein’s ambition may not represent an existential crisis for the UK, successive governments in the UK behaved as if it did.

    Sinn Fein believes that Irish nationalists in Ulster will eventually win the Battle of the Prams. This expectation underlies the present detente in Ulster.

    It is not impossible that Arabs living in present-day Israel may win the same battle.

  62. Mark

    Chris @ 43 – Thanks.

    I wouldn’t want to get too specific about what might solve the morass, because I think it needs rethinking and we need to do more than recycle old plans. Having said that, I think it’s been clear in the past that “the right of return” isn’t the fundamental obstacle that has been claimed. I think it’s also clear that the integration of Palestinian workers and businesses into the Israeli economy is key. As Liam has emphasised, any dangers that poses need to be treated as problems of crime and order. But a settlement would also reduce such dangers.

    I’d note in passing that the current support for the RPR in the UN by the US is seriously undermined by condoning collective punishment and a failure to distinguish between civilians and combatants, of which there’s a huge amount of evidence. I’d also note that the hardline Iranians and Hizbollah must be licking their lips at all this in terms of the support it will create for their cause.

  63. Mark

    Daniel Levy on how it got to this and how to move forward:

    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/12/youre-an-idea-m.html

  64. Mark

    Global Voices on citizen journalism coverage on both sides of the conflict:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/29/global-voices-covera.html

  65. Michael

    This is a political problem, and as such is very solvable.

    There is no use in pointing to musty old papers as an insurmountable problem. Hamas may wish to have an Islamic Caliphate (which they don’t, by the way) extending to the moon. The real issue is what they will settle for. Israel likewise – its extremists dream of all ‘Judea and Samaria’, but when it comes to the crunch, most settlers in the West Bank are economic settlers and would happily move back to Israel proper with the right incentives.

  66. Rob

    “I think it’s also clear that the integration of Palestinian workers and businesses into the Israeli economy is key.”

    Yes – and that was precisely the situation which obtained prior to the second intifada (ignited by Arafat), when over a million Palestinians were employed in Israel. During the intifada the Palestinians were replaced by immigrants (often illegal) from places as far afield as Romania and the Philippines. Very few, if any, got their jobs back after the intifada fizzled out, unsurprisingly.

  67. Mark

    that was precisely the situation

    No, that precisely wasn’t the situation, Rob, because I added the caveat that this would be a quite different scenario if there were a settlement.

    What’s your road map to peace, btw? Do you have anything to offer other than 100% support for what the Israeli state is doing?

    And what Michael said.

  68. Mark

    Jeff Sparrow:

    One doesn’t have to admire Hamas’ political philosophy or strategic orientation to recognize that it’s not an amorphous expression of innate evil, firing missiles at Israel just for the hell of it. Given that the blockade of Gaza is illegal and has been condemned by just about every reputable human rights organisation in the world, Hamas’ insistence on the opening of the border seems entirely reasonable.

    http://web.overland.org.au/?p=722

  69. Rob

    Michael, I think it will be harder than that. Israel has not yet rehoused and re-employed the 8000 or so settlers evicted from Gaza. Accommodating the 400,000 from the West Bank will be infinitely more difficult.

    As for Hamas, it is not its own master, just as Hizbollah is not. Both take their orders (and arms) from Tehran, which sees them as the executive instrument of its own desire to eliminate Israel.

  70. Mark

    Gosh, Rob, that sounds like Cold War thinking – Vietnam is the client of Moscow, etc. There are obviously separate interests between Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran. For a start, let’s not forget that Hamas has to have regard to support among the Palestinian people. In any case, it’s not difficult to envisage a regional settlement which would defang Tehran if anyone actually tried for one, rather than insane sabre-rattling and bellicose rhetoric.

  71. Rob

    My roadmap would be:

    From Israel –

    (a) the return of the West Bank (Gaza has already been returned)
    (b) a secure land bridge between the two components of the new state of Palestine
    (c) some limited form compensation for Palestinians dispossessed in 1948 and subsequent to 1967
    (d) a negotiated settlement to the status of Jerusalem

    From the Palestinians:

    (a) An end to terror
    (b) Guarantees to protect the lives and property of Jewish settlers who remained in Palestine

    From the Arab world:

    (a) Recognition and acceptance of, and peace with, Israel.

    I think that’s about what Ehud Barak offered at Camp David in 2000, and Arafat rejected it without even attempting to negotiate, and walked away to ignite the second intifada.

  72. Katz

    Teheran’s connections with Hamas/Hezbollah are important only if Palestinians/Lebanese think they are.

    The interesting feature of Palestinians is that they are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims. The anger and desperation of Palestinians is underlined by the fact that they are prepared to accept leadership of agents of the world’s only Shiite theocratic state (if you don’t count the government of Iraq!)

  73. Rob

    Hizbollah are Shia, though, Katz. Hamas is presumably prepared to overlook doctrinal differences in return for unlimited money, arms and military training, all of which, like Hizbollah, they receive from Iran.

  74. Katz

    True, but you seem to share the general amnesia about the fact that Hamas were easily the most popular party in the Feb 2006 general election.

    This represents an enormous revolution in Palestinian sentiment.

    It is impossible to understand what is going on in the Middle East in general and in Palestine in particular unless you understand the significance of this sentimental revolution.

  75. Mark

    On which, see the link I posted @ 63 to Daniel Levy’s thoughts.

  76. albi

    Lenin is probably a little hard left for me at times, but here’s his take on the situation to add to the mix.

  77. Patrick B

    I think that in the long run, if there is a significant change of position by the US, Israel as it is today will be replaced by an interim administrative authority that oversees the creation of an integrated representative body. At present I’d say that the government of Israel is so heavily influenced by the Jewish faith that I’d question its status as a secular state. That being the case there is a significant probability that it will act irrationally as dogma and “tradition” will have far to much influence on decision making. Therefore dismantle it and replace it with something that better reflects the situation on the ground, both historically and presently.
    I think the elephant in the room here is the uncomfortable feeling amongst many of the players that the post war arrangements were made hastily and need some serious revision.

  78. Mark

    Patrick B, Israel doesn’t claim to be a “secular state”. It’s a “Jewish state” – which isn’t – or isn’t supposed to be – quite the same thing as being a religious state either.

    I suspect that there was an opening for a single state solution in the 90s. Even then, it was a bit utopian. Now I think it’s off the list of realistic goals.

    Worth commenting here too that “the postwar arrangements” were made more by armed violence and dispossession than international disposition. Hence the “right of return” issue.

  79. Rob

    Katz @ 74 – if I recall correctly, the consensus at the time was that Hamas won, not because of its terrorist objectives (so Gazans did not vote for terror), but because of the corruption, nepotism and sheer incompetence of Fatah.

    It’s interesting to speculate what ordinary Gazans really think. Even before the Hamas coup, some were captured on British TV pleading for the Israelis to return, and MEMRI published a translation of a article by a Gazan journalist who said that if an honest poll were held in Gaza, 75 per cent would vote for a return of the occupation. Seems unbelievable, but there it is.

  80. Katz

    if I recall correctly, the consensus at the time was that Hamas won, not because of its terrorist objectives (so Gazans did not vote for terror), but because of the corruption, nepotism and sheer incompetence of Fatah.

    Terrorism is a method, not an objective.

    Hamas won for a multitude of reasons. But you seem to wish to ignore the fact that the Hamas victory is as extraordinary as if the (Australian) DLP won a majority in Ulster.

    Whatever, Hamas was most famous for its paramilitary organisation. Palestinians voted for a more confrontational approach to Israel, including terror, if deemed advisable.

  81. Patrick B

    “It’s a “Jewish state” – which isn’t – or isn’t supposed to be – quite the same thing as being a religious state either.”

    Yes well obviously this is illustrates what I’m getting at, if it’s not a secular state, well what other kinds are there? Religious states, but its not one of those either. Kind of starts to look like there’s a certain amount of discomfort with the fact that the government is dominated by people who all adhere, many quite strongly, to the same religious faith and that the foundation myths of their state are based on that religion’s own stories and those stories continue to provide a raison detre for the state.

    As to to the establishment of the state, I think that there was typically post colonial flight by the powers that be, characterised by a lot of rhetoric about the sharing of power and the rights of the existing inhabitants followed quickly by civil strife and partition. Look how well that has worked on the subcontinent.

  82. Mark

    Kind of starts to look like there’s a certain amount of discomfort with the fact that the government is dominated by people who all adhere, many quite strongly, to the same religious faith and that the foundation myths of their state are based on that religion’s own stories and those stories continue to provide a raison detre for the state.

    Up to a point, Patrick B, but that’s to ignore the historical importance of secular Zionism (though it is mixed up a tad with a latterly invented religious tradition). The Israeli Labour Party was certainly basically a secular party – and its relative decline is a sign of the times. But the bigger question goes to the issue of what constitutes “Jewish” – ie is it a religious or a cultural identity? This is one of the big fracture points in Israeli politics and policy.

    Having said all that, there are a large number of people and groups on the Israeli left who are concerned to counter the maximalist narratives of the hardline religious parties, and to some degree outside the left.

  83. Rob

    ‘…“the postwar arrangements” were made more by armed violence and dispossession than international disposition.’

    Let’s get a little perspective on this, though. (I presume you are referring to the war of 1948.) In November 1947 the UN passed a resolution partitioning Palestine into two states, one for Jews, one for Palestinian Arabs. This was unanimously rejected by both the Arab world, and by the Palestinian leadership. The Zionists accepted it. Over the ensuing months, a de facto state of civil war existed between Arabs and Jews. The British, eager to escape the Mandate they never wanted in the first place, and overwhelmingly pro-Arab in their sympathies, largely stood back and allowed the situation to deteriorate. The Palestinian leadership fled to Beirut or Cairo, leaving their people leaderless. In May 1948 the Mandate expired and the British departed, leaving no security force, no transitional administration. The UN did not deploy peace-keepers, although it was discussed.

    No formal boundaries had been declared, but the Zionists, anticipating invasion by the Arab states (who made no secret of their intent), prepared to defend the territory assigned to it by the UN. On May 14th Israel declared its independence. On the same day five Arab armies launched what they avowed was a war of annihilation the like of which the world had not seen for centuries.

    In the course of the war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled.In some cases they were expelled, although according to Benny Morris, Israeli revisionist historian extraordinaire, this occurred in only a very few cases, and only where military exigencies necessitated it.

    At the war’s end, these refugees were not permitted by the Arab states to settle in their territories, nor were they allowed to return to Israel, although Israel offered to take back 150,000 in the aftermath of the war. The Arab leaders insisted they would only return in the wake of victorious Arab armies.

    A UN agency, UNWRA, was set up specifically to house, feed and shelter the refugees in refugee camps. At a time of huge population transfers in various parts of the world (e.g. following the partition of the sub-continent in to India and Pakistan, which saw 7 million fleeing in either direction), only the Palestinians have been nurtured in squalor as perpetual refugees. Even today, Palestinians are not permitted citizenship or other rights in Arab states other than Jordan. Hence, as Mark says, ‘the right of return issue’.

    Meanwhile, an equal or greater number of Jews were expelled or fled from Arab lands after the 1948 war. The vast majority fled to Israel, where they were accommodated, taught Hebrew, given an education and became Israeli citizens.

    Sorry about the length of this digression. If too off topic, please delete.

  84. Rob

    Correction: Israel offered to take back 100,000 refugees, according to dovish historian Martin Gilbert.

  85. Peterc

    unlimited money, arms and military training, all of which, like Hizbollah, they receive from Iran.

    Ditto for US support for Israel. Without their support how would Israel fare? As previous posters have noted, Obama is unlikely to change this situation given the lobbying powers at work.

    The roadmap to a solution would surely require negotation between all stakeholders. Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, Fatah, the US and Iran for starters. Perhaps under the auspices of the UN.

    Bombing hundreds of civilians to death is a recipe for enduring conflict and violence – these are the actions of a rogue state.

  86. Paul Burns

    SATP,
    As I understand it Gaza is so small in size and so overpopulated that if the Israelis chucked a shoe into Gaza City they’d hit someone.

  87. Rob

    Israel’s doing its best to avoid civilian casualties by warning residents to get out of the way – thereby warning the targets and sacrificing the advantage of surprise – and employing precision targeting of the kind on view here.

  88. Mark

    Even if one accepted that Israel is “doing its best”, the inescapable truth is that:

    (a) civilian casualties are unavoidable;

    (b) this illegal violence is unnecessary and probably counterproductive.

    @73, Rob, thank you for answering my question. However, any “road map” you may offer seems to jar with your (as far as I can see) complete and uncritical support for what is now occurring, which is a massive impediment to the realisation of any of the goals you say you would like to see realised.

  89. Patrick B

    “the historical importance of secular Zionism (though it is mixed up a tad with a latterly invented religious tradition).”

    I reckon you’re trying to unscramble the eggs here. Israel may have had great pretensions to secularism but the fact remains it is religious homogeneous and fundamentalist, and those significant numbers on the left are more than out gunned by the hard line religious zealots who don’t think their current government goes far enough in recovering the biblical legacy. This is the base than Netanyahoo(sic) is looking to enliven and widen. Even his opponent is trying hard to look hawkish but she doesn’t have the thuggish bearing to carry it off. Who do we expect to be Israel’s next PM?

  90. Rob

    Mark, the situation at international law seems well-described here – on Al-Jazeera, no less.

    As for the current operation by Israel, it will be a set-back to any eventual solution, there’s no doubt of that. But at least to me, there’s also no doubt where the responsibility lies. It is the irreducible obligation of a democratically-elected government to protect its people and territory from armed attack. Israel had no choice. The truce (more properly the hudna) had failed; Hamas had resumed its three year long barrage (not that it ever really stopped it; the missiles kept coming during the calm, but in fewer numbers).

    When the dust settles from this latest episode, the quest for peace, at least on the part of some of the parties, will go on. Hamas may have learned something, or it may not. The goals set out @73 are all impossible of accomplishment in the short term. I doubt there will be any chance of resolution within a generation, absent some extraordinary circuit-breaker, maybe in the form of a deus ex machina.

  91. Katz

    As I’ve suggested before, there are some grounds to doubt whether the hawkish governing classes of Israel will prove to be the most intransigent parties in this contest.

    (Or if they do remain intransigent whether they will remain forever the hawkish governing classes of Israel.)

  92. Peterc

    irreducible obligation of a democratically-elected government to protect its people and territory from armed attack. Israel had no choice.

    I disagree. Killing hundreds of innocent civilians is inexcusable. And Israel chose to do this. In the long term, I think this will lead to more rockets and attacks on Israel. They are trying to put out the fire with gasoline.

  93. Dylwah

    Paul, you beat me to it, but for satp and number lovers, Gaza is aprox 360 km2, this makes it roughly 4 1/2 % the size of Melbourne and less than 3% the size of Sydney, with roughly 40% of the population of either. it is a bit squashed in.

    Oh and Rob while you are offering perspective, perhaps you might provide a little info on those Zionist terrorists, the Stern Gang, their exploits, relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and the fate of the members after the establishment of the state of Israel.

  94. Adrien

    …internal Israeli politics and the decomposition of its party system, the legacy of past atrocities, an effective economic blockade of Palestine, the power balance in the Middle East and the hypocritical and empty promises of the Bush administration.

    You may or may not want to add that the Palestinian political system such as it is is subsidized by Iran for reasons that have nothing to do with Palestinian welfare. That there are forces all round determined to sabotage peace at any cost. That there’s an entrenched chauvinism in the ME which refuses to accept Israel. And that the Bush administration is the latest in a long line of American administrations who just don;t understand that this is not a country the way they understand it.

    Why do they keep belting each other? Well he hit me so I hit him so he hit me so I hit him… it’s the way they dance there.

  95. Rob

    Peterc: Hamas itself has admitted that most of those killed in the Israeli strikes were Hamas operatives. There seems to be dispute about the exact numbers of civilians also killed, not least because it’s rather difficult to define what constitutes a civilian in this case (someone not in uniform is not necessarily non-Hamas). By no count or estimate that I have seen can the IDF possibly be said to be ‘Killing hundreds of innocent civilians’.

    Dylwah: Yes, the Stern Gang and the Irgun were terrorists: no-one has ever disputed it. They never operated under the authority of the Jewish Agency – the Zionist national authority prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The Haganah was the pre-Israel Jewish defence force. Subsequent to the creation of Israel, they were integrated into the IDF, basically at the point of a gun, because Ben-Gurion would not accept the existence of non-state rogue militia.

  96. Mark

    The truce (more properly the hudna) had failed; Hamas had resumed its three year long barrage (not that it ever really stopped it; the missiles kept coming during the calm, but in fewer numbers).

    You seem to be overlooking the offer to renew the truce – for a much longer period – if the humanitarian situation were addressed, Rob.

    I think you’re taking a very partial view of all this, and defending the Israeli position at all costs. I think any objective view on it would suggest that their actions are hardly defensible – unnecessary and destructive, and the narrative about their necessity is arguable only at the cost of a misleading and one-sided story.

    Come on – 57% of Israelis believe it’s an election stunt. At enormous cost.

  97. Peterc

    Rob, have a look at:

    Bombings a ‘crime against humanity’, The Age
    300 casualties. If 10 of these are civilians, this is 10 too many.

    World leaders demand end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza, The Age
    The rest of the world is regarding Israel’s actions as that of a rogue state. I don’t think you have provided any reasonable justification for them, other than to fight fire with fire and accept civilian deaths as “collateral damage”.

  98. Lefty E

    Yeah, and if a majority of Israelis don’t buy it, no one else will. Its a dead horse Rob! You’re reminding me of those hardliners who ‘stayed true’ to to the USSR after the Prague Spring.

  99. Peterc

    And then there is this rhetoric:

    ISRAELI Defence Minister Ehud Barak says Israel is in an “all-out war against Hamas

    Israel in ‘all-out’ war on Hamas

    Shades of “shock and awe” for the “war against terror” . . . as Mark says, for an election stunt.

  100. Rob

    Check out the figures here, Mark. Note the escalation after the 19th December, when Hamas announced the hudna was over. It was over. Barak said at the beginning of the hudna that Israel would hold its hand until it was ended, and then assess what do do based on Hamas’ behaviour. And at the end of it, the Egyptians warned Hamas to stop firing the rockets or Israel would hit back hard. In other words, Egypt blames Hamas for the current little war – which earned it a sharp rebuke from Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

    December 16th
    At least six Qassam rockets and a mortar shell hit Israel hours after Israeli troops killed an Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank. One of the rockets fired landed in the soccer field of Sderot’s Sapir College. Several people were treated for shock. Following the attack, Israel defense Force troops hit a Qassam launcher in northern Gaza.[62]

    December 17th
    A Qassam rocket struck the parking lot of a shopping center in Sderot, injuring three israeli. At least 24 rockets were fired this day on southern Israel, 48 hours before the truce between Israel and the Hamas expire. [63]

    December 21st
    At least 50 rockets and mortars to strike southern Israel since a cease-fire with Hamas ended on December 19th. Rockets landed in Ashkelon’s industrial zone, near an elementary school, a youth cultural center in the western Negev and a home in Sderot. A foreign worker was injured. In response, Israeli forces struck at least two rocket launchers in Gaza. [64]

    December 22nd
    Three Qassam rockets were fired at Israel on Monday afternoon and evening while Hamas has mostly stopped launching rockets at Israel for 24 hours at the request of Egypt.[65]

    December 23rd
    At least five Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck the western Negev.[66]

    December 24th
    More than 60 Qassam rockets and dozens of mortar shells struck homes, factories and a playground in southern Israel. Two long-range Grad-type missiles struck a public area in northern Ashkelon. Homes in Kibbutz Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev suffered serious damage from direct hits. A rocket also struck next to a playground in Netivot. One factory in the western Negev was hit twice. Several people in those areas were treated for shock.
    Two Palestinians were hurt when a rocket that did not clear the security fence at the border landed on a home in a northern Gaza town. [67]

  101. Rob

    Lefty @ 98, 94 per cent of Israelis support the current operations against Hamas.

  102. Rob

    Peterc, you are citing someone who is a notorious anti-Israel bigot and a 9/11 truther to boot. Some authority.

  103. Peterc

    Rob, you play the man and not the ball, and choose to ignore the other points. That’s a bit too cute.

    You obviously won’t change your agenda, which seems to be unconditional support for Israeli atrocities, based on any discussion here.

  104. Katz

    Hamas’ tactics may be having desired effects in the West Bank and in Israel proper.

    In the rundown slum of Shuafat, about 100 masked youths lobbed rocks at Israeli troops, their little brothers smashing paving stones into projectiles for their slingshots.

    “Yes, we want a third intifada,” one scrawny 13-year-old enthused. “We’ll fill their bodies with our bullets.” Asked whether they preferred the Islamist movement Hamas, with its doctrine of endless resistance and little offer of hope, or Fatah, which has been conducting fruitless peace talks with Israel for almost two decades, most of the group of would-be fighters squealed: “Hamas, Hamas.”

    “Hamas is the only one attacking Israel. They are the only ones who will put bombs in buses,” one said.

    More worrying for Israel, a group calling itself the “Imad Mughniyeh Squads of the Brigades of the Liberators of Galilee”, allegedly made up of Israeli Arabs, threatened to carry out attacks inside Israel.

  105. Rob

    Confirmed by this article, I think, Katz.

    Despite the heavy casualties and the demolition of most of its government installations, Hamas appears to be as popular as ever among many Palestinians, especially those living in the Gaza Strip. Ironically, the current IDF operation has earned Hamas much sympathy not only on the streets of Gaza City and Ramallah, but also in many Arab capitals.

    These days even those Arabs and Muslims who disagree with Hamas have been turned into Hamas sympathizers. In the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims, Hamas is a being targeted as part of a “conspiracy” aimed at bringing about regime change in the Gaza Strip.

    What’s worrying about this concept is the widespread belief on the Arab street that “moderate” Arab parties such as Abbas’s PA and President Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt are assisting Israel and the US in their efforts to remove Hamas from power.

  106. Bukra fe al mishmish

    Rob,

    I don’t know where you get the patience to rationally and tirelessly bat down the various gross misconceptions, assumptions and conspiracies that have been aired here. It’s a shame that your factual analysis gets you accused of being an apologist for Israel (rather than a realist). It’s clear that those responses are a lame attempt to discredit the person in the face of an inability to debate the facts.

    As an Arabic speaker and someone who has lived in the middle east and counts good friends on both sides of this issue (though mostly on the Arabic side in Jenin and elsewhere, I admit), it is clear that you are taking a factual, measured approach to matters in the face of the usual anti-Israeli rhetoric.

    Thanks for your efforts. If it wasn’t for you this thread would be one endless dog whistle and the baying of the hounds.

    AC

  107. Katz

    For those who may be curious aabout the identity of Imad Mughniyeh:

    [Imad Mughniyeh] was a senior member of the Hezbollah organization. He was alternatively described as the head of its security section, a senior intelligence official and as a founder of the organization. Mugniyah has been associated with the Beirut barracks and United States Embassy bombings in 1983, which killed over 350, as well as the kidnapping of dozens of foreigners in Lebanon in the 1980s. He was indicted in Argentina for his alleged role in the 1992 Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires. The most high profile attacks for which it is claimed he is responsible took place in the early 1980s, shortly after the founding of Hezbollah. He is thought to have killed more Americans than any other militant before the 9/11 attacks, and the bombings and kidnappings he is alleged to have organized are credited with all but eliminating American presence in Lebanon in the 1980s.

    Again, more stunning evidence of the inroads made by Shiite Islam, Teheran, and anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

    These Israeli Brigades have clearly thought carefully when they chose their name.

  108. Rob

    Thanks, AC, I really appreciate that.

  109. Mark

    That’s lovely and touching, but I’d prefer people to stick to the topic of what’s occurring in Gaza, its ramifications and causes, rather than stray into discussion of personalities. Thanks.

  110. Roald Dalek

    “Terrorism is a method, not an objective.”

    Yeah but, like old Fred Nietzsche used to say: abyss, gaze, eventually, yadda yadda yadda.

  111. Katz

    Nietzsche made many unsubstantiable assertions, both before and after he went mad.

  112. steve at the pub

    Israel has complied with one Palestinian demand. Joe Blow in Israel will be very aware that the payoff for Israel has been: Rockets launched into Israel, every calendar day since the gaza pullout.

    I’m prepared to hold my hand up & take sides. I’m with the enlightened side, the side that does NOT kill in the street men suspected of being gay, the side where the penalty for a woman who has an extra-marital affair is a messy divorce NOT a messy hanging from a power pylon.

  113. Paul Burns

    Rob @ 100,
    I’m not being at all flippant when I say being treated for shock is a lot better than being dead. And the Gazans are being killed and wounded in massive numbers.
    I repeat, no matter who commits it, collective punishment is a crime against humanity. That’s my objection to the present conflict.

  114. Rob

    Paul, as I said at @ 12, every rocket fired by Hamas is intended to kill, maim and destroy. That’s why they do it. Every such firing is an act of war, and every such firing is a war crime on at least two counts. And these acts are carried out not by some rag-tag-and-bobtail rogue militia, but by the government of the Gaza Strip. Israel had every right – indeed, obligation – to respond militarily to protect its people and its territory from these attacks. And yet it absorbed thousands of rockets with only sporadic response, for the three years that have passed since the evacuation from Gaza. The inhabitants of the southern towns complained bitterly, as well they might, that their own government had abandoned them.

    Now the Olmert government has demonstrated it will no longer ask the people of Sderot and Ashkelon to soak up the punishment indefinitely, and has acted to put a stop to the barrage by the only means possible: force majeure. Hamas had its chance, which cost the people of Sderot dearly. Whether Israel will succeed in its objective is not yet evident. But one thing seems clear at this point: Israel is not going to leave the matter in limbo as it did two years ago in Lebanon, whatever the international media might demand of it.

  115. Peter Kemp

    Rob re:

    Whether Israel will succeed in its objective is not yet evident. But one thing seems clear at this point: Israel is not going to leave the matter in limbo as it did two years ago in Lebanon, whatever the international media might demand of it.

    General knowledge:
    (1) Forced to leave the Lebanon matter in limbo having been given a whipping by Hezbollah.

    (2) Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    Shorter Maccabeean Government: 300 eyes for an eye. (Teeth are exempt, given the limited number of food trucks we let through.)

    Rob, if you think what Israel is doing now is going to settle the matter once and for all, then you must be near the Strocchiverse.

  116. Mark

    the only means possible: force majeure.

    That’s quite untrue, as has been pointed out numerous times on this thread. As usual, Rob, you don’t respond to any fact that undermines your narrative (which again from the SBS news appears identical to Mark Regev’s) – for instance the offer from Hamas to renew the ceasefire apparently never happened in your world. This partiality undermines everything you say.

    And the Gazans are being killed and wounded in massive numbers.

    I’m also disturbed by the fact that you stick strictly to numbers of deaths and ignore or at best gloss over the enormous injury toll. It’s this cold calculus of death which I find disturbing.

    And I reject totally the claim that bombing mosques or universities or “collateral damage” in tightly settled neigbourhoods is the fault of Hamas.

    Israel is not going to leave the matter in limbo as it did two years ago in Lebanon, whatever the international media might demand of it.

    The ethical emptiness of this argument rests on the fact that the Israeli state has political options, and as usual (as with Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006) is unable to articulate its political goals coherently – we’re seeing a pure impulse to war, which will do nothing other than escalate the cycle of violence. A political solution is possible with the right will and intention.

    If anyone’s interested, donations to the International Committee of the Red Cross can be made here:

    http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList2/Help_the_ICRC?OpenDocument

    Select select “Israel/Occupied Territories/Autonmous Territories” under Programmes.

  117. Fine

    How will this help, or change anything in the ME? More Palestinians will become radicalised. The killing will continue. Both sides are stuffed and peace won’t be any closer. It’s one of those things that brings despair on.

  118. kingsley

    Lefty E – just how exactly in practical terms do you suppose the Israelis do this

    “They could deal with Hamas rocket brigades by armed policing of them like a proper democratic state would.”?

    They might as well donate Hamas a dozen hostages a day.

  119. Rob

    “..for instance the offer from Hamas to renew the ceasefire apparently never happened in your world.”

    True, I didn’t address that. I relied on Wiki’s rocket stats to demonstrate that when Hamas said the hudna was over they really meant it. You did not address that response either. On your point, do you have a helpful link to give me some context?

  120. Lefty E

    Well then Kingsley, the alternative it recognising Palestinian statehood – then they wont have to worry about policing it.. and can declare their pathetic electoral gutless little wars against stone throwers, old ladies and kids all day long.

    As I say, they cant have it both ways. Perhaps you could explain why Palestine’s good enough a state to declare “war” on, but is not otherwise to be recognised by Israel.

  121. Mark

    Rob @ 119, yes, Hamas resumed missile attacks when Israel refused to renew the ceasefire. I already posted the requested “helpful link” @ 38, but here it is again:

    The Israeli decision to launch attacks on Gaza was a political, not security, decision. Just a day or two before the air strikes, it was Israel that rejected Hamas’s diplomatic initiative aimed at extending the six-month long ceasefire that had frayed but largely stayed together since June, and that expired 26 December.

    Hamas officials, working through Egyptian mediators, had urged Israel to lift the siege of Gaza as the basis for continuing an extended ceasefire. Israel, including Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livni, of the ‘centrist’ (in the Israeli context) Kadima Party, rejected the proposal. Livni, who went to Egypt but refused to seriously consider the Hamas offer, is running in a tight race for prime minister; her top opponent is the further-right Benyamin Netanyahu, of the officially hawkish Likud party, who has campaigned against Livni and the Kadima government for their alleged ‘soft’ approach to the Palestinians. With elections looming in February, no candidate can afford to appear anything but super-militaristic.

    http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Meaning-of-Israel-s-attack-on-Gaza

  122. Michael

    I think ti was Rob earlier who was displaying the utiliy of labels – most of the dead were “Hamas operatives”, otherwise known as police. One group killed were traffic police. I guess that means no more parking tickets of mass destruction.

    I don’t think that there is much doubt over the wrongness of random rocket fire, but it is interesting to consider the options. The Israeli line, which we’ve been hearing regulary, is that if the rocket fire stops, all will be well. A quick look at the West Bank over the past 6 months will tell you a very different story, one that highlights the dilemma faced by Palestinians – strike out in defiant impotence and invite a 10 fold response, or do nothing and be ignored.

    While rockets have rained down from Gaza, that is not so in the WB. So, how has the WB fared? Roadblocks and checkpoints that strangle the Palestinian economy and prevent fredom of movement by Palstinians within their own lands are as numerous as ever. The social and economic destruction of Hebron, Nablus and Qalqiliya (particularly) continue. Undercover IDF teams roam the WB killing ‘militants’ and ‘wanted men’ at will. Palestinian land and propety continue to be confiscated fraudulently, both by individual Israelis and the Israli Gvot, for the exlusive use of Israelis. Settlement expansion continues without even a pause for breath, illegal outposts spring up faster than their very occasional and noisy removal (often undone the next day) and settlers rampage around the WB (ala Hebron) assualting and shooting Palestinians, burning their houses down, destroying their property while the IDF look on with, mostly, complete indifference, because they are there to protect the settlers not the Palestinains.

    The rocket fire is counterproductive and immoral, but part of me understands it.

  123. Michael

    “Israel has complied with one Palestinian demand. Joe Blow in Israel will be very aware that the payoff for Israel has been: Rockets launched into Israel, every calendar day since the gaza pullout.” – SATP

    Not even close to being true Steve.

    In fact, the Palestinians announced, in recognition of the Gaza pullout, a complete ceasefire for one month. This was observed fully. The demand was that Israeli also lift the blockade. Israels response was to intensify the Gaza blockade -the rockets resumed.

  124. Rob

    Mark, that just looks like an activist site to me. I’m not inclined to give it much credence. Do you have any actual news links? I’ll have a hunt around as well.

  125. Rob

    “In fact, the Palestinians announced, in recognition of the Gaza pullout, a complete ceasefire for one month. This was observed fully. The demand was that Israeli also lift the blockade. Israels response was to intensify the Gaza blockade -the rockets resumed.”

    That’s not correct, Michael. Rockets were fired even before the withdrawal, and intensified from the day (or the day after)the Israelis pulled out. At the same time, the Gazans went on a rampage, destroying a third of the greenhouses the Israelis left intact for them (which had earned USD 100 million export industry and the source of employment of thousands of Palestinian families) and torching the synogogues.

  126. Lefty E

    Well said Michael. ‘Comply’ with Israel and all you get is more dispossession, misery, roadblocks, destroyed farms and olive groves, brutality and racism.

    What is truly amazing is that so few Palestinians joint active military units.

    I wish I could honestly say the state of Israel deserves peace. But As much as I sympathize with Israeli citizens, I can no longer say that in good conscience.

    No justice, no peace. Simple as that.

  127. Michael

    Yes Rob, rockets were fired before the pulout- that’s why there could be a ceasefire. But your memory is playing tricks on you – there was a one month ceasefire post-pullout. It might even have gone on for 6 weeks in the end, I can’t quite remember.

    Both you and SATP are confusing reality with hasbara with your ‘daily rocket fire’ mantra.

  128. Rob

    Michael, here are the stats from Wiki and other sources:

    September 12, 2005: The Israeli flag is lowered in Gaza and disengagement is over.
    September 12: Rocket attack on Sderot.
    September 12: Rocket attack on Yad Mordechai.
    9/23: Islamic Jihad attacks Kfar Aza
    9/24: Hamas attacks Sderot, 11 injured
    9/25, 26, 27, 30 – At least six separate rocket attacks – followed by more…
    October 2005: At least 7 rocket attacks
    November 2005: At least 11 rocket attacks
    December 2005: At least 34 separate rocket attacks, causing numerous injuries and much damage
    January 2005: At least 27 separate attacks (most with multiple rockets)

  129. Mark

    Mark, that just looks like an activist site to me. I’m not inclined to give it much credence. Do you have any actual news links?

    Rob, the author of that piece is a Fellow at a respected conflict resolution thinktank based in the Netherlands. I’d give her a lot more credence than “news links” from the English speaking mainstream media, which are horrendously partial and slanted. I doubt, for instance, that The Australian, which had a graphic on its front page earlier today with the slogan “Smash Hamas”, even bothered to report what was occurring when the ceasefire expired, let alone the negotiations auspiced by Egypt.

    If it has to be a newspaper, check Ha’aretz.

  130. Rob

    Google was not my friend on this occasion, Mark, though I did not check the ‘deep’ web. I could only find references to the story Katz referred to way back (which dated from April/June this year). I’ll check Ha’aretz, though. They would hardly have failed to mention it.

    Sorry if I appear casuistic.

  131. Peterc

    On the ABC TV news tonight – 5 sisters ranging from 4 to 17 all killed together by Israeli aggression. This cannot be called defence. Its a war crime.


    Gaza attacks: Five sisters killed in their sleep

    The five Palestinian sisters were fast asleep when a night-time Israeli airstrike hit the next-door mosque in Gaza. One of the walls collapsed on to their small asbestos-roofed home and they were all killed in their beds. The eldest sister, Tahrir, was 17 years old, the youngest, Jawaher, just four.

    The dog’s are not whistling, but the wolves are murdering.

    Force majeure = shock and awe. Look what a success that has been in the Lebanon and Iraq. Here is the sickening politic rationale for this via Bloomberg:

    “I will not hesitate to use Israel’s strength to strike against Hamas,” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with the Al-Arabiya news channel today, according to a transcript on his Web site. “Hamas must be stopped.”

    In Egypt, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the situation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza must be changed. “Enough is enough,” she said after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    About 100 mortar shells and Qassam rockets have been fired at Israel in the past 36 hours, and the Israeli air force carried out two strikes against launchers in Gaza, an army spokesman said, speaking anonymously by regulation. One Hamas gunman was killed.

    This is not the time for talk, the situation that has been created is not one we can tolerate,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his Labor party faction this morning. “Anyone who hurts Israeli civilians or soldiers will pay the price.”

    100 mortar shells and one confirmed dead Hamas gunman. And now more missiles hitting Israel, including coastal towns never before targeted.

    Those five sisters didn’t hurt any Israeli civilians or soldiers.

    322 Palestians killed. At least 50 of them civilians (conservative estimate). 1400 injured. [link].

    Nothing good will result from this, and certainly not peace.

  132. Rob

    Can’t find anything in Ha’aretz or Egypt’s al-Ahram. But that could simply reflect my poor search engine skills.

  133. Mark

    Rob, here’s something from the International Herald Tribune:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2008/12/25/africa/OUKWD-UK-PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL-EGYPT.php

    The negotiations were proceeding on December 25.

    If you do a google news search for the string “livni egypt hamas gaza truce” you’ll be able to access hundreds of stories.

    Here’s the coverage from Ha’aretz:

    http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&q=+site:www.haaretz.com+livni+egypt+hamas+gaza+truce+ha%27aretz

  134. Rob

    Look, I’m sorry, Mark, and I know I’m being pedantic. But where in those links does it say what you claimed – that Hamas proposed to extend the ceasefire, and that Israel refused? That’s what I couldn’t find.

    I found this reference:

    “Palestinian sources said that if Israel does open the crossing, Hamas will cooperate with Egypt’s efforts to broker a new cease-fire. However, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan denied that the organization is currently discussing the matter with Cairo.”

    And:

    “And even Meshal, while declaring in a television interview to mark the 21st anniversary of Hamas’ founding that “there will be no renewal of the calm after it expires,” added that the organization would monitor events in Israel before resuming full-scale hostilities.”

  135. Katz

    I believe that the rights and wrongs of this confrontation are less interesting than the possibility of success of the antagonists, by reference either to their own ambitions or by reference to outcomes that one or both of them cannot perceive at this time.

    The claim and counterclaim of Jew and Arab have been well rehearsed in 10,000 forums.

    But now we have the novel element of an unfamiliar religious element injected into the Palestinian story. Early indications suggest that the dynamic of the Israel/Palestine struggle are changing rapidly. We may be witnessing the next stage in the rise of Shiite Islamism.

  136. Mark

    Rob, that’s the problem with relying on single news stories which don’t always give all the context. As my previous link suggested, the overtures from Hamas were from a renewal of the truce if the blockade was ended. By the time Livni got to Egypt, she’d already effectively kyboshed this and was just going through the motions while upping the bellicose ante rhetorically. So that provides the context for the stories you’re looking at. I’m sure Fellows of conflict resolution think tanks were following all this as it transpired, and so I’m happy to trust the longer view of events given in the link I posted rather than spending further time delving through a mass of contemporary news stories.

  137. Rob

    Maybe we’re arguing about angels and the heads of pins here, but my Google search of the report author, Phyllis Bennis, revealed her to be (to my jaundiced eye, anyway) a clearly pro-Palestinian academic and activist (she writes for AlterNet, for Pete’s sake), so I wanted some independent confirmation of what she claimed. It’s important if Hamas offered to extend the pause and that Israel refused that that be reliably established. It’s obviously a very important issue.

    Please don’t think I was in any way doubting you personally. I was seeking clarification, that’s all.

  138. Mark

    Rob, I don’t know how much significance is to be ascribed to the fact that “she writes for Alternet”. That doesn’t mean that she’s not speaking the truth.

    @135

    Early indications suggest that the dynamic of the Israel/Palestine struggle are changing rapidly. We may be witnessing the next stage in the rise of Shiite Islamism.

    What’s meant by that, Katz? Care to expand?

  139. Rob

    Katz @ 135 – yes, that’s the dynamic to watch.

    See this story:

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Friday to keep supporting the Palestinian militant group Hamas until the “collapse of Israel.”

    The Iranian news agency Khabar quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh that Iran views the support of the Palestinian people as part of its religious and national duty and that Iran will stand behind the Palestinian nation “until the big victory feast which is the collapse of the Zionist regime.”

  140. Katz

    It seems that Shiism is gaining adherents among the Palestinian Muslim population. Traditionally, Palestinians have been overwhelmingly Sunni.

    If this impulse were to continue it would have huge cultural and geopolitical consequences.

    Shiism has proven itself to be a far more effective organising principle for political action than Sunni Islam.

    However, sectarian conflict becomes almost inevitable when many folks covert from one sect to another.

  141. Mark

    It seems that Shiism is gaining adherents among the Palestinian Muslim population. Traditionally, Palestinians have been overwhelmingly Sunni.

    Well, to be sure, those of them who are Muslims. A not insignificant minority are Christians. What’s the source for that, Katz? I can certainly see the influence of the political influence of the Iranian theocrats on Hamas (and I think it’s important to distinguish Shi’a from the Iranian regime – the two are not self-identical) and indeed the increased prestige of Iran (which has an awful lot to do with the US invasion of Iraq) but I haven’t seen anything about a shift away from a Sunni religious allegiance.

  142. Rob

    “A not insignificant minority are Christians”.

    They were, but not many remain. Only 2,000-3,000 amidst 1.5 million.

    And subject to pressure and persecution, it seems, from regime which has just introduced Sharia law.

  143. Lefty E

    A significant level of popular conversion between the two branches of Islam is most improbable. That is not to say that Hezbollah’s political and organizational ideas wont find increasing appeal among Sunnis.

    And of course, thanks to US interventions- the Shia now have the upper hand in regional staatspolitik.

  144. Mark

    not many remain

    Ahem, Rob, they’re still Palestinians. And if you’re trying to insinuate that the reason for many leaving is the evils of teh Islam, that’s wrong.

  145. Mark

    In any case, I have no idea where your numbers come from. The Catholic Church, which I dare say has a good idea, has this info:

    Today, the Holy Land has a global population of about eleven million people. The inhabitants of Israel are 7.250.000, of whom 1.500.000 of Arab descent. The Palestinian Territories have a combined population of 3.850.000 people. The Christians are about 200.000, 135.000 in Israel and 65.000 in the Palestinian Territories. These numbers do not keep in account the number of Christians coming from Eastern Europe whose status is kept secret or not recognized officially. A learned guess-estimate puts their number to 300.000 people. Anglicans and various Protestant Churches have a small following of about 7.000 people.
    Christians in the Holy Land are about 2% of the population. At the beginning of the XIX century they used to be around 10% of the population. Many Christians have left the region because of the political uncertainty and the discrimination to which they were subjected. The majority of Christians live in Galilee and around Jerusalem. Taybeh is the only village entirely inhabited by Christians. In Jordan, the villages of Semakìeh, Fuhèis e Shàtana are also entirely inhabited by Christians.

    http://www.catcc.net/en/breve-storia/brief-history-of-the-holy-land.html

    The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, incidentally, maintains seven parishes in Gaza:

    http://www.lpj.org/newsite2006/parishes/palestine/index_palestineparishes.html

    Oh, and by the way, the website of the Catholic Church in Taybeh attributes emigration to economic impacts of the political situation:

    http://www.taybeh.info/en/soutien.php

  146. Rob

    Is it?

    Christians living in Gaza City on Monday appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Muslim extremists. Many Christians said they were prepared to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.

    The appeal came following a series of attacks on a Christian school and church in Gaza City over the past few days.

    Not teh Islam, but teh Hamas.

  147. Mark

    I wasn’t suggesting that there was some wonderful spirit of harmony abroad, Rob. Nor have I been defending Hamas on this thread. I think it’s you who’ve been taking one side, with respect.

  148. Mark

    The latest on civilian casualties and injuries from Ha’aretz:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1051216.html

  149. Rob

    Almost everyone on this thread has been anti-Israel. Logic, common-sense, historical sequence and (as far as I understand it) international law are against them. It surely did no harm, and certainly changed no minds, to redress the balance just a little.

  150. Mark

    “Anti-Israel” itself is a loaded term. I’m not. I’m totally opposed to the current actions of the Israeli state, and there’s a difference, Rob.

    And as far as I can tell, a lot of the thread has been you and me! 😉

  151. Rob

    Like old times 🙂

    But I think, if you’ll allow me to say this, that if you step back and think hard, you’ll see that you can’t get out of it that easily.

    And that’s it from me.

  152. Chris (a different one)

    Katz @ 45 – I wasn’t implying that Hamas is a minority. But for any peace agreement to hold it will require that whoever is governing the Gaza area is able to stop any further attacks on Israel from occurring, otherwise it is highly likely there will be retaliation of some kind which will lead us back to where we are now. Do you believe that Hamas (or any other potential group there) are capable of enforcing a cease-fire on not only their direct supporters but all the other armed groups as well?

    Mark @ 62 – so are people overestimating the number of people who would have the right to return and so Jewish people would not become a minority in Israel? I imagine after such a long time it would be a bit of a nightmare to just check who really does have an authentic right to return.

  153. Peter Kemp

    (she writes for AlterNet, for Pete’s sake), so I wanted some independent confirmation of what she claimed.

    Yes Rob, it’s confirmed.
    🙂

  154. Peterc

    Israel mulls brief truce but warns assault could last weeks, and refuses European attempt to restart negotiations. Russia and the US (Rice) have called for fighting to stop. [Link]

    What we want is not a ceasefire but a stop to terrorism,” said President Shimon Peres.

    Israel’s actions will boost terrorism, not stop it. I am not anti-Israel but I am also totally opposed to Israel’s current actions in Gaza, as I have said previously in this thread, with my reasons explained.

  155. Paul Burns

    Rob,
    I’m not anti the Israeli people. I know a few people who’ve lived there. But I am against the kind of warfare that breaches human rights. Now, I might be wrong, but it seems to me that’s one of the points people are making over and over again on this thread.
    Hamas, whether we like it or not (and I don’t particularly because I despise religious fanatacism) Hamas is a democratically elected government in gree and fair elections, the choiceof the Palestinian people in their last election. Or is support for democracy only rstricted to regimes whose ideology/religion we approve of?

  156. Katz

    A not insignificant minority are Christians. What’s the source for that, Katz? I can certainly see the influence of the political influence of the Iranian theocrats on Hamas (and I think it’s important to distinguish Shi’a from the Iranian regime – the two are not self-identical) and indeed the increased prestige of Iran (which has an awful lot to do with the US invasion of Iraq) but I haven’t seen anything about a shift away from a Sunni religious allegiance.

    Does the existence of a Christian minority preclude the rise of Palestinian Shiism?

    At the time of writing there still are virtually no Palestinian Shiites. Still, Saudi religious authorities have begun to complain about the possibility of Palestinians being contaminated by Shiite heresy.

    Moreover, the Imad Mughniyeh Squads of the Brigades of the Liberators of Galilee, mentioned above, is named after a leading figure of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite organisation.

    These are very early indications that may come to nothing. Nevertheless, they do indicate some very novel dynamics in Palestinian culture, which has been strongly secularist.

    Certainly, there is no identity between the Iranian regime and Shiite religiosity. Nevertheless, it would be naive to assert that Iranian aid to Hamas would come with absolutely no doctrinal strings attached. Hezbollah’s Nasrallah is quoted as denying that Iran is seeking a Shiite domination of the Mediterranean crescent. He was clearly answering complaints to the contrary. It the very least, the rise of Shiism is in the minds of civic minded folk in the Mediterranean crescent.

    All this may come to absolutely nothing, but I think that it is worth watching.

  157. Michael

    The question that springs to mind now is – what’s next? Does Israel have a plan besides ‘searing the consciousness’ of the Palestinians. You would assume so, but Lebanon is a reminder that this is not necessarily the case.

    I seen it suggested that Israeli hopes are that increased pressure will lead to a flight of Palestinians into Egypt. Personally, I can’t see Egypt wanting to pick up a few hundred thousand refugees.

    Most likely is a few more blood drenched days and then a return to things are they were.

    The only real solution to the rockets is a final settlement.

  158. Rob

    Paul, it would be interesting to know what kind of war you think Israel could have conducted against Hamas that did not ‘breach human rights’. Nations have the right to defend themselves when attacked and to use military force to prevent further attacks. Further up the thread it was claimed – rightly – that civilian casualties in war are inevitable, and it was implied that Israel’s current operation was therefore wrong and/or illegal. But if that were the case, no nation could ever go to war to defend itself.

    As for choice, yes, Hamas was the government of choice of the Gazans. It was a matter of choice, too, that Gazans tunnelled under the border to abduct an Israeli soldier, whom they still hold captive. It was their choice to fire thousands of rockets into Israel. It was their choice to send suicide bombers into Israel to kill its citizens (note that, despite the likes of AP saying no suicide attacks have been carried out since 2005, the attempts still continue – they are detected and the would-be bombers arrested or killed). No-one and nothing compelled them to do any of these things. The Israelis were long gone.

    Choices have consequences. THe Gazans are suffering from them now.

  159. Michael

    Interesting Katz, but I suspect the link is only one of convenience. Iran is seeking to maximise its influence by seeking leverage in whatever regional cracks it can find. The I/P conflict is the most prominent one and Hamas are the means to achieve this.

    It’s far more geo-political than religious.

  160. Michael

    As for choice, yes, Hamas was the government of choice of the Gazans………Choices have consequences. THe Gazans are suffering from them now” – Rob

    Yeah Rob, like those approx. 700,000 children in Gaza who voted for Hamas.
    I’m sure their suffering will be a good learning experience.

  161. Rob

    I hope this will not seem like a cheap shot, but one such child is under no illusion as to who is responsible for the carnage.

  162. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    As for choice, yes, Hamas was the government of choice of the Gazans.

    Not all Gazans, Rob. From this map of the 2006 elections, I see that many voted for Fatah or Independents. Is it okay to bomb them as well? I say no.

    Collective punishment is a crime – whether done by the IDF or Hamas.

  163. zorronsky

    It will be interesting to see if the final act of bombing will include the same filthy cluster bombs used in the last bombings in Lebanon. Not against civilians though.

  164. Rob

    Israel’s obligation, both under international law and the principles of a just war, is to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the risk of civilian casualties is minimised. (In this case, it is probably better to speak of non-combatants rather than civilians, as not all Hamas operatives wear uniforms). The IDF is clearly abiding by these requirements. The videos it has been posting on YouTube (sosme of which have been deleted by YouTube) reveal strikes of extraordinary accuracy and precision. This is to minimise the risk to non-combatants. So, despite what so many people on this thread have been saying, Israel is demonstrably meeting its legal and moral obligations.

    However, in this particular little war, it is much more difficult to avoid non-combatant casualties because, as I have pointed out before, Hamas sites its launch sites and rocket caches in civilian areas, using the civilian population and infrastructure as shields. Often rockets are cached in private houses. This is a war crime; furthermore, it is a war crime against the people of Gaza, because Hamas deliberately puts Gazans at a much higher risk of being killed or injured by retaliatory military action.

  165. steve at the pub

    Anytime Gaza doesn’t want Israel to get stuck into them, all they have to do is stop rocketing Israel.

    Simple.

  166. Rob

    SATP @ 165. And stop sending terrorists across the border.

    Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN said it years ago: all this could stop overnight – the air strikes, the checkpoints, the searches, the restrictions on movement of people and supplies. Not one more Israeli or Gazan needs die – if terror stops.

  167. Imperial Trade

    What is most disappointing about this thread is the soft racism and quite open anti-semitism displayed by a number of the leftist commentators. Fortunately, other leftist commentators have argued with reason and dignity.

    The thread also displays the highly selective outrage of the non-dignified left. For to maintain anti-semitic views, much bloodshed has to be glossed over.

    The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that in one single even day period (7-14 June 07) terrorist-on-terrorist fighting between Fatah and Hamas resulted in the death of 161 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and 11 women. [Source A]

    And this has most certainly not ceased. In June of 2008, human rights groups reported that both Fatah and Hamas were engaged in kidnapping and torturing each other’s personnel and supporters. This is what happens when terrorist organisation run a polity. This month, the Jerusalem Post quoted the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat as reporting:
    “the Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam … such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging. The bill reserves death sentences to people who negotiate with a foreign government “against Palestinian interests” and engage in any activity that can “hurt Palestinian morale.” According to the report, any Palestinian caught drinking or selling wine would suffer 40 lashes at the whipping post if the bill passes. Thieves caught red-handed would lose their right hand.”

    As Glick notes: “That’s why Israel alone and never Hamas will be guilty of crimes against the Palestinian people. We’ve tuned out the cries of the victims of terror; tuned them out because it’s for a good cause.”

    And this is extolled as the left’s ‘realistic’ view. In fact, it is the thinnest cover for a slew of unlovely beliefs, ranging from rank anti-semitism through arrogance to the soft racism of low expectations. And each of these builds up real dangers, as Glick notes at the end of her article. [Source B]

    Source A (http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2007/news/54-2007.html)
    Source B (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1230111707087&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull)

    Imperial Trade

    PS: Rob, very well done indeed. This is one of the extremely few left-oriented sites where calm presentation of facts and rational discussion such as you have been providing do not result in blanket hysteria. LP is the exception that proves the rule, methinks.

  168. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    “Reasonable steps” and killing children are mutually exclusive, aren’t they?

  169. pablo

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, and a foreign policy heavy for the Democrats, in his book Second Chance – Beyond 2008 warns of the consequences of ‘Israeli-Palestinian stalemate’.

    “Only those in a state of self-serving denial can argue that the persistent Israeli – Palestinian conflict has not been instrumental in igniting widespread Arab hostility toward America. The destabilising effect of that hostility, intensified by the war in Iraq, poses the long range risk of America’s eventual expulsion from the region. Neither the region’s ruling elites nor the Chinese are ignoring the prospect. The vulnerable Middle Eastern elites need a foreign protector and China needs stable access to the oil those elites control. Each side has thus something to offer the other. That an arrangement inimical to US interests might be looming should not be lightly dismissed”.

    My guess is that Zigi has Obama’s ear on this and that the latest Israeli – Gaza/Hamas stalemate will need some decisive US action on its client state or else it will not look good for their particular ruling elite long term.

  170. Mark

    Does the existence of a Christian minority preclude the rise of Palestinian Shiism?

    Katz – my comment about Christians was in response to Rob.

  171. Mark

    Mark @ 62 – so are people overestimating the number of people who would have the right to return and so Jewish people would not become a minority in Israel?

    Chris – sort of. One thing that has been influencing Israeli politics is the increasing number (and the much higher birth rate) of Arab Israelis. But I think the right to return is something of a paper tiger. In reality, a lot of the Palestinians (for instance in Jordan) wouldn’t. The PA in negotiations in the past has shown a willingness to trade it down to some sort of symbolic acknowledgement. What Hamas’ attitude is, I don’t know, but then you don’t find out actors’ real positions until you begin to actually negotiate. Which incidentally has always been an option for Israel, as has renewing the ceasefire, which vitiates all Rob’s recent claims of necessity and self defence. That’s been pointed out earlier on the thread, but apparently without any effect.

  172. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    BTW, Rob – I want to remark on your own comment @69:

    As for Hamas, it is not its own master, just as Hizbollah is not. Both take their orders (and arms) from Tehran, which sees them as the executive instrument of its own desire to eliminate Israel.

    You know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of old fashioned anti-Catholicism – a form of bigotry not unknown in Australia, although more common in the States. For example, how many people voted against JFK because “He’ll take his orders from the Vatican”? Quite a few, I reckon.

    Hamas and Hezbollah may be indiscriminate in their funding sources, but they know what sides they are on – their own.

  173. Rob

    Mark, I think you are overlooking the fact that the recent hudna was the result of negotiations between (even if indirectly, and brokered by Egypt)Israel and Hamas. Hamas never ceased its rocket fire, though the firings were fewer in number. It was Hamas which announced it would not renew the hudna, and stepped up the launches by orders of magnitude. And I’m not convinced, because I have not seen direct evidence of it, that Hamas offered to renew the hudna and that Israel rejected it.

  174. Peter Kemp

    What is most disappointing about this thread is the soft racism and quite open anti-semitism displayed by a number of the leftist commentators.

    And where exactly is that Imperial Tirade? And you’ll need to elaborate, (but don’t bother) since Palestinian Arabs are Semites as well.

    The thread also displays the highly selective outrage of the non-dignified left. For to maintain anti-semitic views, much bloodshed has to be glossed over.

    The glossing over includes yourself, by the sound of it.

  175. Mark

    Rob, we’ve covered this. You don’t accept a link I provided, and I lack the time and patience to trawl through hundreds of “news links”.

    Elsewhere, Jane Hamsher looks at the relationship in polling between Israel’s actions and increasing support for Hamas, and the impact on geo-politics:

    The disproportionate and heavy-handed Israeli attacks on Gaza have been a bonanza for Hamas. The movement has renewed its standing in the Arab world, secured international favor further afield and succeeded in scuttling indirect Israeli-Syrian talks and direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It has also greatly embarrassed Israel’s strongest Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.

    While it is not apparent how this violent confrontation will end, it is abundantly clear that the Islamic Hamas movement has been brought back from near political defeat while moderate Arab leaders have been forced to back away from their support for any reconciliation with Israel.

    If one were to accept that Israel is acting in self-defence etc., it’s hard to see how this sort of action actually works.

    http://firedoglake.com/2008/12/30/those-who-dont-learn-from-george-bushs-mistakes-are-destined-to-repeat-them/

  176. Rob

    Sai Gon @ 172 – Your comment surprises me. There has never been any question that Hizbollah takes its orders and religious inspiration from Tehran. Hizbollah from its inception based its theological positin on the teachings of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Its current leader, Nasrallah, regularly travels to Tehran to receive spiritual guidance and, of course, further supplies of funds and armaments.

    The Tehran-Hamas link seems to have been of more recent origin, arising from Hamas’ desire to model itself on Hizbollah – that is, to fortify Gaza as Hizbollah had fortified Southern Lebanon, and similarly transform itself from a terrorist organisation into a terrorist army. For this, it needed Iran’s support and supply lines. In reply to Katz above, I linked to a story which demonstrates just how successful it has been.

  177. Mark

    Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don’t take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security services Shin Bet, “told the Israeli cabinet [on the 23rd] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms.” Diskin explained Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election-fever, and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.

    The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas – like much of the Israeli right – dreams of driving their opponents away, “they have recognized this ideological goal is not attainable, and will not be in the foreseeable future.” Instead, “they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” They are aware this means they “will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals” – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise. The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh to Bibi Netanyahu – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace – but it is the Israeli government who refused to choose it. Halevy explains: “Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-true-story-behind-thi_b_153825.html

  178. Mark

    Why it is dishonest to say that all criticism of the Israeli state is anti-semitic:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-loathsome-smearing-of-israels-critics-822751.html

    Liberal Jews – the majority – are now setting up rivals to the hard-right organisations they work with, because they believe this campaign of demonisation is damaging us all. It damages the Palestinians, because it prevents honest discussion of their plight. It damages the Israelis, because it pushes them further down an aggressive and futile path. And it damages diaspora Jews, because it makes real anti-Semitism harder to deal with.

  179. Mark

    From Ha’aretz – Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin briefing the Israeli Cabinet on the state of the negotiations with Hamas on 23/12/08 and the Hamas offer made through Egypt:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=986910&contrassID=1&subContrassID=7

  180. John Humphreys

    Excellent comments by Rob. I am against war, and consequently I am totally against the Hamas war on Israel. It is reasonable for one side would fight back if attacked, it is NOT reasonable for one side (Hamas) to initiate the attack.

    It is not reasonable to expect one side to stop fighting while the other side continues fighting. Both sides are offering peace terms. The Israeli peace terms are “stop trying to kill us” and the Hamas peace terms are “stop existing”. Clearly the Israeli peace terms are more reasonable. Hamas (the aggressor) should accept the peace terms.

    Mark doesn’t want people taking sides, but that is an unreasonable request. Clearly we should take sides against any group that starts a war. Hamas has just started a war, and they should be condemned and lobbied to stop the war.

  181. Mark

    The Israeli peace terms are “stop trying to kill us” and the Hamas peace terms are “stop existing”. Clearly the Israeli peace terms are more reasonable. Hamas (the aggressor) should accept the peace terms.

    No, John, those are not the Hamas peace terms. The point has been made way up the thread that it’s unwise to look at hyperbolic founding documents as a real negotiating position. The Ha’aretz article I’ve just linked to lists specific conditions Hamas (and Israel) wanted in the round of negotiations through Egyptian mediation last week. The fact that Israel chose not to negotiate but to escalate is a choice, but it’s not predestined. There was clearly scope for a renewal of the truce and there’s clearly scope for a broader political solution if the will is there (or if outside parties – eg the US – can create that will). To continue to argue in the facile terms of “Israel good, Hamas bad” is just to condone bellicose violence and the destruction and maiming of innocent lives – and the continued immiseration of the Palestinians.

    I’d also suggest looking at the Hari link I posted which discusses the overwhelming majority of Palestinians being prepared to live with a two-state solution and explains how this public sentiment is actually taken into account by the various actors on that side.

  182. Rob

    Mark @ 177, thanks – I managed to find the source.

    Dec 21, 2008 10:05 | Updated Dec 22, 2008 5:20
    ‘Hamas wants better terms for truce’
    By JPOST.COM STAFF, YAAKOV KATZ AND AP

    Hamas is interested in renewing the relative calm with Israel but is prepared for military conflict and wants to improve the cease-fire conditions, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet Sunday, as the western Negev was being pelted by Kassam rockets.

    Rocket fire rains down on western Negev

    Diskin listed Hamas’s conditions as cancelling the blockade of the Gaza Strip, obtaining a commitment that Israel won’t attack, and expanding the cease-fire to the West Bank.

    That was not a continuation of the hudna. The additional requirement for extension of the pause to the West Bank was obviously not acceptable to Israel. In any event, it was not a position that Hamas ever took publicly, as early links have made clear.

    Furthermore, it appears this discussion took place on Sunday 21 December, two days after Hamas formally announced the end of the hudna. That day 50 rockets were fired into Israel.

    December 21st
    At least 50 rockets and mortars to strike southern Israel since a cease-fire with Hamas ended on December 19th. Rockets landed in Ashkelon’s industrial zone, near an elementary school, a youth cultural center in the western Negev and a home in Sderot. A foreign worker was injured. In response, Israeli forces struck at least two rocket launchers in Gaza. [64]

    I don’t find it surprising that the Israeli government was disinclined to pursue the matter.

  183. Mark

    Rob, no doubt the firing of rockets took place in the context of those negotiations. I’ll repeat what I said earlier that I’m not trying to suggest Hamas is some innocent party in all this. I don’t find it surprising either, but to say that Israel was “disinclined” to negotiate further and chose a path of violence instead is one thing we evidently agree on. But insofar as your argument is founded on a claim that there was no choice, clearly you don’t have the basis for one.

    In any event, it was not a position that Hamas ever took publicly, as early links have made clear.

    I’m not sure why that’s relevant. If anything it suggests good faith on the part of the negotiators, as a willingness to compromise is fostered by being prepared to retreat from previously articulated public positions.

  184. Rob

    Mark, Hari is regularly ridiculed even on left-wing sites like Harry’s Place and Normblog for his bias and immoderation.

    The Ha’aretz article you cite adds more detail, but not much of substance to the JPost report. The terms were clearly not acceptable to Israel.

  185. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Its current leader, Nasrallah, regularly travels to Tehran to receive spiritual guidance and, of course, further supplies of funds and armaments.

    And so? At the moment, Iran and Hezbollah’s views and aims coincide – happily for both parties. But is Iran micro-managing what Hezbollah does? No – Hezbollah seem to be happily supplying infrastructure and social services to Lebanon, and have put Sharia law on the backburner.

    Is Hezbollah a puppet of Iran (as East Germany was for the USSR)? Does it permit the stationing of Iranian troops? Does it give diplomatic immunity to Iranian mercenaries (as Iraq does for Blackwater)? No, no, and no. I think Hassan Nasrallah will continue to accept guidance from Iran, as long as the Iranians don’t try to make him do things he really doesn’t want to do. Or can you think of a counter-example?

  186. Mark

    As to Hari, I don’t see how the opinion poll figures he cites could be shaped by any “bias” and “immoderation”. You don’t need to place the same interpretation on them as he does, but I think it’s clear that Hamas doesn’t operate in a vacuum outside Palestinian public opinion – which incidentally also erodes the “puppet of Tehran” thesis.

  187. Paul Burns

    Went down town late this morning with a couple of my Socialist Alliance mates with placards and handed out leaflets against the bombing of Gaza. Incredibly some Palestinians from Nablus saw us and came over and thanked us with tears in their eyes. Now, that makes it all real for me. Condemning this collective punishment is not just pissing in the wind.

  188. Rob

    I think by 21 December it was really too late. The hudna was formally ended by Hamas, and the rockets were falling in scores. To the Israelis, this would have looked like a transparent play for time (quite apart from its acceptability or otherwise).

  189. Jarrah

    JohnH says Hamas has “started a war”, but that’s up for debate. One of the key problems of the Middle East is that the conflict goes back a looooong way. To say at this stage that any particular action by one of the various sides is the “start” of anything isn’t accurate, or meaningful.

    It’s for that reason that comparisons with a hypothetical scenario, like NZ lobbing missiles at NSW, aren’t applicable. You can’t ignore context.

  190. Rob

    Jarrah’s right – the conflict goes back over a hundred years, marked by a series of wars both big and little.

    It might be remembered that in 1920 at the San Remo Conference the League of Nations agreed to a Mandate for Palestine, recently liberated from the Turks, which specifically included a provision for the establishment of a Jewish National Homeland in Palestine, based on the Balfour Declaration. Under the terms of that Mandate, hundreds of thousands of Jews immigrated legally to Palestine.

    Throughout the period of the Mandate, the Arabs were violently and unalterably opposed to Jewish emigration and land purchase. You can argue that Palestine was not the League’s to give away, but history cannot be turned back on itself.

    This is the basis for 100 years of conflict.

  191. Peter Kemp

    There’s some Zbignews in a video today that might be useful in discussing the US’s past and future role.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/30/zbigniew-brzezinski-calls_n_154211.html

    You know, [to Joe Scarborough] you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it’s almost embarrassing to listen to you.

    John H re:

    Hamas has just started a war, and they should be condemned and lobbied to stop the war.

    Only state actors start and/or participate in wars. Does that mean you recognise a Palestinian state? Who do you lobby and how–assuming the leaders are not all dead?

    Non-state actors that lob inaccurate rockets which kill civilians is a criminal act, it is not an act of war for which a civilian population can legitimately be called collateral damage when bombed by the IAF.

    What is it with some Israeli partisan opinion and not understanding the words “proportional response”?

    (For those not taking sides but who condemn both parties for their respective misdeeds, I especially recommend Zbigman’s take in that link above, re the US. FFS let’s have some foreign policy realism at last from the US instead of knee jerk Likudnik policy, if Zbigman is advising Obama.)

  192. Rob

    I’m getting confused about dates. Mark, that Ha’aretz article says: Last update – 00:00 26/05/2008

    It looks similar to the JPost one (in terms of content) but are they talking about tbe same thing?

  193. Mark

    Rob, the updated thing refers to the last “related story” added – in the search engine it’s clear the article refers to events on the 23rd December.

    The other thing about the truce negotiations is the impact of the blockade on Gaza. Harvard academic Sara Roy has a piece in the LRB on this, which is worth reading in full.

    Some excerpts:

    Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.

    On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all. According to Oxfam only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza in November. This means that an average of 4.6 trucks per day entered the strip compared to an average of 123 in October this year and 564 in December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so. Between 5 November and 30 November, only 23 trucks arrived, around 6 per cent of the total needed; during the week of 30 November it received 12 trucks, or 11 per cent of what was required. There were three days in November when UNRWA ran out of food, with the result that on each of these days 20,000 people were unable to receive their scheduled supply. According to John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. On 18 December UNRWA suspended all food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes because of the blockade.

    She goes on with the timeline in some detail. It appears to be an attempt to starve Gaza into submission. To what end? Who knows?

    How can keeping food and medicine from the people of Gaza protect the people of Israel? How can the impoverishment and suffering of Gaza’s children – more than 50 per cent of the population – benefit anyone? International law as well as human decency demands their protection. If Gaza falls, the West Bank will be next.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n01/roy_01_.html

    Anyway, I’m outta here now.

  194. Rob

    All the talkbacks for the article are dated 26/5/08. If that’s right, these negotiations were pre-hudna. Totally confused now.

  195. Mark

    Sorry, Rob, I think you’re right. Ha’aretz has a very confusing website. Here’s another story relating to the briefing to the Israeli cabinet last week:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1048576.html

    It’s mentioned all over the place, and this story also refers to the negotiations via Egypt. Obviously things were in a similar impasse back in May!

    Ok, that’s enough from me, I think.

  196. Adrien

    Katz – The claim and counterclaim of Jew and Arab have been well rehearsed in 10,000 forums.
    .
    Yeah. They’re both right. That’s the problem. If only they’d established the Jewish homeland in Bavaria this’d never happened. The Germans couldn’t say they didn’t have it coming.
    _
    SATP – Anytime Gaza doesn’t want Israel to get stuck into them, all they have to do is stop rocketing Israel.
    .
    It’s not that simple. It’s easy to say that when you’re outside of it. You can think rationally. When you’re family’s been splattered on the other hand. And consider that the Jews have fought to reacquire land they lost in the first century CE, two thousand years ago. Why would the Palestinians be any less stubborn? Read Josephus. You’ll get a very similar picture including the batshit religion.
    _
    Imperial Trade – What is most disappointing about this thread is the soft racism and quite open anti-semitism displayed by a number of the leftist commentators.
    .
    No doubt that kind of discourse does exist and in polite circles these days (unfortunately) but criticizing Israel is not the same as anti-Semitism and I haven’t seen a single solitary skerick of racism soft or otherwise here. The use of the anti-semitic sledgehammer to silence criticism of Israel is tedious and, it seems to me, helps create anti-Semitism. I think it’s unhelpful to label arguments anti-Semitic unless they actually are.
    _
    John H – The Israeli peace terms are “stop trying to kill us” and the Hamas peace terms are “stop existing”.
    .
    Yeah and vice verse. You should not forget that ordinary Palestinians are stuck in this political game. All they want is to live a reasonable life. So they want Israel to stop killing them. There are also Israelis who want to wipe them out and use their own version of religious fanaticism to justify this. They want the Arabs to stop existing.

  197. Adrien

    Down and Out – Is Hezbollah a puppet of Iran (as East Germany was for the USSR)? Does it permit the stationing of Iranian troops? Does it give diplomatic immunity to Iranian mercenaries (as Iraq does for Blackwater)? No, no, and no
    .
    Alright but Iran funds Hezbollah. Without Iranian cash they couldn’t operate. This is endemic of Jihadist undergrounds all over the place. For example the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt provides services one would expect from the government. This means unsurprisingly that a lot of people tend to support them and unfortunately their more batshit propositions which include the notion that Mossad puts aphrodisiacs in bubble gum to corrupt Muslim youth. Of course if the governments of the Middle East were functional modern states instead of kleptocratic autocracies we wouldn’t have this problem.
    .
    In Palestine Hezbollah is one of the few employment opportunities. For this situation Israel shares the blame

  198. Katz

    It is unlikely that either side in this conflict will be dissuaded by any ill-opinion of them expressed on Larvatus Prodeo.

    Moreover, these events are unlikely to play any role in local public affairs.

    The major source of interest, therefore, is to view how the various protagonists evolve their objectives and how they go about attempting to achieve their objectives.

    I believe that the consensus is that Hamas has made a serious error in its selection of objectives and methods.

    I am somewhat cautious about rushing to that judgement. The strategic ambitions of Hamas are much less clear-cut than those of Hezbollah, which achieved a stunning success over Israel when that nation foolishly sent their armed forces into Lebanon.

    Nevertheless, the Hezbollah strategy was a simple one and they had vastly more military resources than Hamas.

    On the other hand, Hamas is clearly militarily completely outgunned. They can claim no military victory over Israel in Gaza. Hamas’ only substantial claim to victory can be if their reputation is enhanced in the eyes of Palestinians as successful leaders of resistance to Israel.

    If that enhanced reputation enables Hamas to enhance its power base in the West Bank and to begin to pose a genuine threat to Israeli interests in the West Bank, then Hamas’ provocation of Israel in Gaza might be said to have brought about some positive results.

  199. Rob

    Mark @ 195 – thanks again.

    Odd that Ha’aretz doesn’t confirm the JPost reference to renewal of the hudna,though it does say:

    Ayman Taha, a Hamas representative in Gaza, told Haaretz that under the current conditions, no cease-fire is in effect whatsoever. “Rocket fire is in the hands of the military wing. It will decide how to react,” he said. “Resistance must continue in every way and by every means, as long as the occupation continues.”

    And:

    The is no effective mediator between Israel and the Palestinian side, he said [the Shin Bet chief]. The Egyptians are sitting on the fence, and there’s a lack of trust between Hamas and Egypt, he continued, adding that were Hamas to find itself in a situation in which it needed Egyptian mediation, the Egyptians will again be players.

    I apologise for dog-at-a-boning about this, but as you said somewhere above, if there were a genuine hudna offer and Israel rejected it, that obviously impacts my own arguments on this thread.

  200. Adrien

    I believe that the consensus is that Hamas has made a serious error in its selection of objectives and methods.
    .
    Assuming that their objective is peace. I suspect it isn’t.
    .
    Is it worth adding, in response to those who assert the offers of cease-fire that cease-fires have been traditionally used in the region to regroup and re-arm?
    .
    It’s not as if Israel isn’t worthy of criticism but I’m disinclined to pronounce condemnation on people whose neighbours have been consistently hostile to them since forever. If I were in their position I couldn’t say I’d act any differently.

  201. Rob

    “And consider that the Jews have fought to reacquire land they lost in the first century CE, two thousand years ago.”

    If by ‘fought’ you mean using violence, that’s not historically accurate, Adrien. Mass immigration to Palestine took place lawfully throughout the period of the Mandate (1920-1948). The land they acquired in Palestine was purchased by the Jewish agency with funds raised by the Zionist movement throughout the world. It was not seized by force, nor stolen. The Palestinian Arabsm resisted both immigration and land purchases with outbreaks of violence, culminating in the Arab Revolt of 1936.

  202. Adrien

    True Rob. But violence preceded and succeeded this event. It’s also worth mentioning that the ‘legality’ of the Mandate took place in the context of the British Empire betraying the Palestinian Arabs who’d supported them against the Turks at great risk. I don’t blame the Arabs for refusing to recognize this legality anymore than I’d blame Australian Aborigines for hostility to Australian settlement.
    .
    That said I don;t take sides. Israel’s got a right to exist cause it’s there and it ain’t going anywhere. Its rights to exists are based on the same premise as other states. They have the ability to enforce and defend their borders by force.

  203. Mark

    I apologise for dog-at-a-boning about this, but as you said somewhere above, if there were a genuine hudna offer and Israel rejected it, that obviously impacts my own arguments on this thread.

    Rob, I think the crux of it is that Israel also now effectively rejects Egypt as a mediator. No doubt the Egyptian suspicion that one of Israel’s objectives is to make Gaza its problem is also a factor. However, there’s other evidence that this whole operation had been planned for a long time, which I think also goes to the lack of any real desire on the part of the Israeli cabinet to renew the truce. I saw an article suggesting that earlier today, but in all the linkmania, I can’t find it now. And a 36 degree day makes me disinclined to look!

  204. Mark

    The latest on the casualties and humanitarian situation, and the debate about a cessation of bombing:

    http://firedoglake.com/2008/12/30/gaza-update-talking-peace-or-not/

    According to the latest count, 375 Gazans have died and 1720 are wounded – of whom at least 200 are critical. AFP reports that 39 of those killed were children and multiple sources say the number of women and children amongst the wounded is very high – more of them were impacted by building collapses and shrapnel rather than direct hits that would kill them outright. Four Israelis have been killed by rocket attacks and about 24 wounded.

    Meanwhile, there’s lots of talk about Israel accepting a possible 48 hour truce — Hamas has already signalled that it would be open to a cease fire according to Reuters. The Israeli cabinet met but did not agree tonight – and will “reconvene” tomorrow to consider it. They did however agree on calling up another 2,500 reservists:

    In discussions with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak recommended seeking an exit from the fighting within the next few days, using one of the various international initiatives currently being worked on…

    But when Olmert visited IDF Southern Command headquarters in Be’er Sheva Tuesday, most of the senior officers with whom he met urged him to authorize a ground operation. People at the meeting said their impression was that Olmert agreed.

    And while the cabinet ministers are talking, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai is as well. You may remember Mr Vilnai – last February “speaking on Israel Army Radio, Mr Vilnai said if Palestinians increased rocket fire, they would bring upon themselves a “shoah”.

    Today according to Ha’aretz breaking news at 1:13 he said that “Gaza funerals are biggest achievements of operation”

    So much for the search for peace.

  205. Adrien

    Mr Vilnai said if Palestinians increased rocket fire, they would bring upon themselves a “shoah
    .
    And the obvious solution is… obvious but wrong. The people bombing Israel are not the same people getting bombed by Israel.

  206. Rob

    “It’s also worth mentioning that the ‘legality’ of the Mandate took place in the context of the British Empire betraying the Palestinian Arabs who’d supported them against the Turks at great risk.”

    Again, that is not accurate. It’s true that that is what the Arabs believe. During the discussions in 1915 between McMahon, the British Ambassador in Cairo, and the Sharif of Mecca, the UK sought Arab support in its war against the Turks. In return for which, the British promised to return to the Arabs all Arab lands occupied by the Turks since the 16th Century. However, McMahon specifically stated that the Eastern Mediterranean littoral would have to be excluded from any Arab state.

    It’s true that the McMahon correspondence (as it’s called) was in parts ambiguous – probably deliberately so. Hence the part of the Arabs’ anger at the creation of the Mandate. But the points above are not, I believe, in real dispute.

    This was, of course, before the Balfour Declaration, but reflected the British support at that time for the immigration of Jews into Southern Palestine to provide a more reliable ally than the Turks and Egyptians in their decades-long fixation with keeping the Suez Canal open.

  207. Rob

    Mark @ 204 – I think this is the link you are looking for.

    I don’t find anything sinister about these preparations. The Winograd Commission specifically criticised the Olmert government for its lack of preparedness and its hasty response to the attacks from Lebanon in 2006. Israel didn’t want to make the same mistake again. They calculated, accurately as it turned out, that the end of the hudna would result in an escalation of violence – and its non-renewal by Hamas – and they were determined to be ready this time if they needed to go to war again.

    And all the time, the southern communities had been screaming at them for abandoning them to Hamas. That public pressure no doubt added to their ‘disinclination’ to follow up the Shin Bet chief’s allusions which we have discussed before.

  208. Mark

    Rob – I think we’re at a bit of an impasse – we’ve agreed on what’s occurred more or less and the evidence for it, but your interpretation is one I can’t accept because I think it’s too prone to exculpating Israel. I’d suggest you rethink your position from the point of view – at least – of civilians in the Gaza strip and from the point of view of assessing the proportionality of the Israeli action. But I’m not sure we have a lot more to discuss in the absence of that, to be honest.

  209. Adrien

    Rob -My lack of accuracy is due to my reluctance to get into the Byzantine labyrinth of Middle-East politics. The legality of Israeli settlement depends on what jurisdiction, amongst the so many, that you recognize as legitimate.

    At the end of the day Israel’s rights to exist are based on the same as other nations. The relative peace during the British Mandate doesn’t eliminate the illegality of early Zionist settlement during the Ottoman era or the blah blah blah….
    .
    You can go on forever. Thing is I’ve read Palestinian and Zionist histories of the region which sound utterly convincing and are almost completely different. 🙂 .
    .
    What really matter is:
    .
    You and your people have just been subjected to a concerted effort on the part of an advanced industrial economy and the psychopaths who lead it to torture you en masse slowly to death. Afterwards you find your homes and possessions will not be returned. You return to your ancestral homeland determined never to let it happen again and damn anyone who gets in the way – right or wrong?
    .
    Your lands, the lands your family have been living on and working for generations are usurped by invaders from another continent who claim the right on the basis of something terrible that has happened to them. But you had nothing to do with it. Still they push you away and destroy your homes. You fight. Right or wrong.
    .
    They’re both right. That’s the trouble.
    .
    Te other trouble is that everyone else takes sides and gets hysterical. Their minds are all so divided that they can’t even see the same film.

  210. Rob

    I’m still not inclined to accept the proposition that Hamas offered to extend the hudna and that Israel rejected the offer. The JPost story, which is unlikely to be based on anything concrete like minutes of the Cabinet meeting in question, simply contains vague allusions attributed to the head of Shin Bet. The earlier, pre-hudna discussions previously linked to refer to Hamas demands – such as the inclusion of the West Bank, total end of the blockade, etc. – which clearly were not accepted by Israel as part of the hudna later brokered by Egypt. It would appear that the Shin Bet chief was simply reciting the old Hamas wish list.

    As for the stories you linked to, Hari is a notorious spin-doctor – a leader of the rabid anti-Israel wing of the UK media – and your Dutch academic is a pro-Palestinian academic and activist.

    So I am not able to agree on the evidence so far that your case – that an extension was offered but refused – has been made out. Indeed, all the indications are to the contrary.

  211. Rob

    OK, Adrien. It’s all peripheral anyway. But I don’t agree with a single word of your second paragraph.

  212. Adrien

    I don’t agree with a single word of your second paragraph.
    .
    So you’re saying that the Ottomans approved of the early Zionist settlement and that Israel’s right to exist as a nation is somehow different from those of other nations?
    .
    Okay.

  213. Rob

    On the first point, I believe – though my memory may be playing tricks here – that the Turks raised no objections to Jewish immigration into what was a dusty, neglected outpost of their empire, whose only purpose, from their point of view, was to provide a land bridge to Egypt.

    On the other, I think the establishment of a Jewish homeland was absolutely unique, in that a people established a nation through a process of drawing in scattered exiles from all over the world, the re-invention of an ancient language, and the development of the administrative mechanisms of a quasi-state where (a) no state had existed before and (b) in the face of ferocious opposition from the land’s indigenous inhabitants (the period of the Mandate was not peaceful).

  214. John Ryan

    The British and the French sold out the Arabs who with Lawrence and others were fighting the Turks,the arabs were promised the land but the French wanted Lebanon back also I have read the the Zionists lent gave the Brits money as well to help fund WW 1.
    Reading some of the posters here the Israelis never did a wrong thing in there entire time in Palestine,some of you should work for the propaganda Dept of the Israel,its ok for the IDF to kill Arabs, not a problem, so some on here say.
    But then I suppose if it was wrong for the Germans to shoot civilians in France during WW2 for assisting the resistance,or just shooting them out of hard for killing German solders,it Ok for the IDF to inflict mass punishment on the concentration camp called Gaza because they had the gall to elect a Govt who stands up against a bully.

  215. skepticlawyer

    I rarely comment on this topic (having been through its ins and outs and go-rounds once already, and having no desire to go through that again), but Adrien’s essay on Munich (link above in 209) sums it up pretty well.

    So here it is: this problem is insoluble. We’ve got a better chance of getting Zimbabwe well and wealthy again than we have stopping the Israel Palestine never-ending shindig. Sure, some things that both sides do/are obviously wrong. The nutjob Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The nutjobs who run Gaza (I’m sorry, Hamas are off the planet, mad as cut snakes). But dig behind that and you get… two stories that are both pretty fair, complicated by British Imperial incompetence (it wasn’t malfeasance, despite what some people may think).

    The sociologist Mark quotes who notes that we’re busily leaving large chunks of Africa to rot has a point too. Now those problems are difficult but not impossible to solve — look at recent improvements in Uganda. Stuff can be done, and as he says, the main African conflicts have killed millions. Compared to the DRC, Gaza is chickenfeed.

    Focus on what you can fix, on what would do the most good, and leave the Israel/Palestine thing to stew.

    /over and out.

  216. Adrien

    Rob – Your first point is according to Alan Dowty excellent history Israel/Palestine mistaken. There was objection to the Zionist settlement but the Ottoman Empire was too ineffective to prevent it.
    .
    On your second I think there are things that make Israel unique and you’ve described some quite well. I wouldn’t want to take that away from them at all.
    .
    But, at least according to my thinking on the subject a nation’s right to exist is pretty much the result of that nation being able to secure its borders. When people ask me if I think Israel has a right to exist I always say: “Yeah, it’s there isn’t it?”

  217. Rob

    Insoluble for a generation, perhaps, sl, as I’ve said somewhere above – but not insoluble. Allow us that modest hope!

    Adrien – thanks. Fair points.

  218. silkworm

    Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt.

    A third goal is to kill as many Palestinians as possible in order to appeal to right-wing voters in the upcoming Israeli elections.

    A fourth, more long term goal is to commit genocide, invade Gaza and claim the land for the glory of Greater Israel.

  219. Mark

    No, I don’t see that at all, Rob. It seems clear, at a minimum interpretation that:

    (a) There were inconclusive negotations going on between Israel and Palestine mediated by Egypt as recently as last week – Livni visited Egypt as well.

    (b) There is evidence that a large majority of Palestinians – from the most thorough opinion polling available – would accept a two state solution.

    The conclusions I draw from this are:

    (a) Israel has had the chance to negotiate and refused to, the sticking point being the blockade. Therefore there are alternatives to the current debacle.

    (b) Hamas is not purely a puppet of Tehran and has to be responsive to Palestinian opinion. The likelihood of such opinion supporting a peaceful resolution, and for that matter the likelihood of Fatah and the PA having legitimacy as bargaining powers, has been substantially lessened by the current attacks, which can result in nothing positive.

    As to your criticism of Hari and Bennis, I think that’s worthless. Anyone who criticises the policy of the Israeli state is routinely dismissed as “biased”. It’s risible, and characteristic of the same Cold War mindset that sees things in black and white and sees puppets pulling strings rather than attempts to appreciate a situation in its entirety and complexity and consider how it looks from both sides.

    I doubt that we can usefully take this any further, so I’ll bow out now and enjoy my new year’s eve. But I want to place on record my rejection of your arguments, which seem to me to be characterised by a search only for such information as would support an uncritical acceptance of the Israeli case. There is no defence for Israel in inflicting wanton and purposeless suffering, and it’s particularly reprehensible insofar as it’s a play in domestic electoral politics. This violence should cease, and both sides should reassess their position and enter a genuine negotiating stance for a lasting peace. Which would involve, among other things, talking directly to each other.

    Nothing in all of what I said should be taken as exculpating Hamas, however.

  220. Adrien

    Skpetic – I’m sorry, Hamas are off the planet, mad as cut snakes
    .
    No you are lying. Is fault of Mossad. They put LSD in the Pepsi. 🙂

  221. Rob

    Further to sl’s comment, can I offer this quote:

    So far as the Arabs are concerned, I hope they will remember that it is we who have established an independent Arab sovereignty in the Hedjaz. I hope that they remember that it is we who desire in Mesopotamia to prepare the way for the future of a self-governing , autonomous Arab state, and I hope that, remembering all that, that they will not grudge that small notch – for it is no more than that, geographically, whatever it may be historically – that small notch in what are now Arab territories being given to the people who for all these hundreds of years have been separated from it.

    Lord Balfour, 1920.

    When the Arabs learn not to begrudge it, there will be peace.

  222. Rob

    Enjoy your New Year, Mark. Sorry if I ruined your thread.

  223. skepticlawyer

    I will make one final point, but it’s meta to the actual topic of Mark’s post (apologies Mark). No doubt someone will dig it up in the future and use it to prevent me from being promoted to Professor or CFO or some such, but that’s life.

    In my go-round on this topic and matters tangential to it in the mid-90s, I formed the view that many proponents on both sides of this issue struggle with ‘reasonable disagreement’ in the Habermasian/Hayekian/Rawlsian sense. And I don’t just mean the odd bit of intimidation on picket lines or dogs on the docks (to paraphrase at least one flashpoint in recent Australian political history). I’m talking complete inability to recognise one’s opponent as human, let alone the possibility that one’s opponent may have a point.

    When I appeared to be on one particular side of the debate, I got a liberal lot of fawning correspondence from that lot and death threats from the other. When I wrote a piece that endorsed some but not all of the points people from the side who’d once berated me had made, the volte face was both immediate and discombobulating in its intensity.

    This is evidence, as far as I’m concerned, of a signal failure to do democracy properly (or at all). At one point, I was offered police protection, which I rejected with the words ‘no-one in Australia would be that mad’. Now, however, when I watch the ritual reenactment carried out roughly annually on this issue, with identical ritual observances and identical explosions into what can only be described as the ‘x Minutes Hate’ (I forget how long the sessions used to run for in 1984), I have my doubts.

  224. Mark

    @222, no need whatsoever to apologise, Rob. You’ve been a civil sparring partner, and there may indeed be some value in putting the Israeli case if only to clarify and sharpen the case for seeing it all in a less one sided context! A very hearty happy new year to you as well! 🙂

  225. pablo

    At the risk of being the last word and as a way of showing we have somehow come full circle geopolitically speaking, I recall when Nasser ruled Egypt the Gaza strip as it was called was likened to a pistol pointing to the heart of Israel.
    Now the rise of the Iranian Shi-ite Hizbollah/Hamas suggests the pistol has been turned to point at the Sunni Egyptian leadership if current events in the Arab League are to be believed.

    My thanks to Peter Kemp @ 191 for the Brzezinski offering. Happy NY to all else.

  226. Michael
  227. Michael

    My last word (for now) – there will be no resolution to this without external pressure.

  228. pablo

    Yes Michael @226 a depressing and fair assessment, You wonder if the incident Fisk mentions of two little Palestinian girls being killed by a Hamas rocket misfiring could not have been ‘used’ by moderates on both sides to forestall the impending carnage. Israel’s massive retaliatory response gave no opportunity for a bit of spin doctoring or milking of the situation surrounding their deaths. No disrespect intended but it is precisely these sorts of incidents that can shake foundations.
    Northern Ireland is an example.

  229. Lefty E

    Yes, there’ll be no solution until the US accepts they’ve be backing an apartheid state, which warrants international pariah status – and shift course accordingly.

    Its time for the West to accept Israel that has been fetishised. It is not a victim, it is a bully.

  230. Marks

    The rather depressing conclusion for me in all this is that sooner or later these guys will nuke each other – I don’t see any of the actors now being rational enough to avoid it at some point.

    I look through this forum for example, and see plenty of blame and defense of the various sides. However, that is far and away from actually solving the problem. Or even being a first step toward solving the problem.

    The tragic thing is though, that the actors in this world tragedy taken together have so much money it is unbelievable. The amount of money spent on weaponry, and the amount of human capital blown against the wall ought to have been able to solve this many times over.

    As an atheist I guess it won’t worry me all that much to see Jerusalem, Baghdad and Mecca nuked. But as a human being, the waste and suffering that appears inevitable must rank amongst the greatest of crimes that our species will commit.

  231. Shaun

    As an atheist I guess it won’t worry me all that much to see Jerusalem, Baghdad and Mecca nuked.

    What a remarkably cruel thing for an atheist to say.

  232. Michael

    A touch of hope.

    The following is the list of the most frequently submitted foreign policy questions to Barack Obama’s new office(Thanks Lawrence of Cyberia),

    http://lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/.a/6a00d834522bcd69e20105369c2ca7970b-pi

  233. Paul Burns

    I’m an atheist, but I don’t want to see anyone nuked. Though I think all religion is a form of mass insanity, as a democratic socialist I believe absolutely in freedom of religion, including freedom to practice religions I think are little more than power-tripping bull-shit. Just so long as they don’t interfer with my right to believe in nothing,or other religions’ right to believe and practise their particular belief, I couldn’t care less what they do.
    Though I’d be happier if there was no prosletysing.

  234. Peter Kemp

    Zbigniew Brzezinski:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-gardels/brzezinski-obama-must-pre_b_154530.html

    There will never be a deal unless there is on the table a comprehensive outline of a solution that is attractive to the majority of the Israelis and Palestinians, particularly if such proposed solutions stand in clear contrast to the consequences of the failure of either side to accept such an agreement — in other words, the relentless cycle of violence we are witnessing yet again today in Gaza.

    By now it should be quite evident that the two parties to the conflict will never reach an agreement on their own. The Palestinians are divided, which complicates their ability to negotiate effectively. The Israelis are reluctant to move forward with a compromise deal because some feel comfortable with the status quo while others aRE quietly using the stalemate to expand settlements in the West Bank.

    The only way, therefore, to move forward is for the international community, led by the United States, to put on the table the framework of an eventual agreement. This agreement should be based on four fundamental points:

    — No right of return for the Palestinian refugees. This is a very bitter pill for the Palestinians to swallow, though it can be sweetened by an international acknowledgment of their suffering.

    — Jerusalem has to be equitably shared as the capital of two states, Israeli and Palestinian. Admittedly, this is a bitter pill for the Israelis. But the fact of the matter is that no peace will be viewed as equitable without this.

    — An equitable territorial arrangement based on the 1967 lines, with some changes permitting the incorporation into Israel of some heavily urbanized communities beyond the 67 lines. In return, the Palestinians would be compensated with other territory, perhaps in Galilee and the Negev.

    — A demilitarized Palestinian state with the deployment of American troops along the Jordan River, thereby insuring Israeli security XXX by providing “strategic depth.”

    Such an agreement would, in my view, be supported by the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, and would isolate the extremists on both sides, both THE settlers and the right wing of Likud in Israel as well as Hamas.

    Hopefully this is the guy Obama listens to and sets policy accordingly. (Nothing quite like having adults/FP realists in the White House.)

  235. Rob

    That’s a pretty good proposal, at first blush, Peter. Brzezinski doesn’t mention the settlement blocs on the West Bank, though. I guess he sees them being accommodated within the ‘territorial arrangenemnts’.

  236. Katz

    Such an agreement would, in my view, be supported by the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, and would isolate the extremists on both sides, both THE settlers and the right wing of Likud in Israel as well as Hamas.

    Tosh.

    Any group that claimed to represent the Palestinian people that signed to these proposals would be instantly overthrown by popular insurrection.

    Fatah runs the West Bank only because it received military and financial aid from the the Bush Administration. Their credibility is negligible.

    What other Palestinian group would dare put its name to such a set of proposals?

  237. Rob

    Aye, that’s the rub. It’s certainly not possible in the short term.

  238. Jack M. Strocchi

    Mark says:

    Any form of peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Palestine and Israel has been blocked for a long time by a range of factors – including but not limited to internal Israeli politics and the decomposition of its party system, the legacy of past atrocities, an effective economic blockade of Palestine, the power balance in the Middle East and the hypocritical and empty promises of the Bush administration. If there is a “peace process”, its outlines were frozen in time long ago.

    Mark’s pessimistic conclusion is right, but for the wrong reasons. Demography is destiny. Intifadas will get more bloody as the Arab birthrate outpaces the Jewish one.

    The problem in the ME is the people, not the policies. Policies may change but people dont change all that easily.

    The ME people are congenitally ornery and tend not to learn from their mistakes – a characteristic of fanatics. Any reader of the Bible or Tacitus or Josephus is struck by the recurrence of themes – squabbles over land, disputes over doctrine, interventions by imperial powers – that continue to bedevil the region.

    ME’ers – Muslims, Christians Jews Persians – are especially diverse in their ideologies and institutions. A quality which they are strangely unwilling to celebrate.

    The Azkhenazi Jews and Arabs stand, anthropologically speaking, at either ends of the Caucasian racial apectrum. It is the combination of Semitic racial unity and Abrahamic cultural diversity that makes the conflict so bitter and long-lasting.

    Throughout the sprawling Caucasian race the Jews stand out as the smartest and most cohesive. Whilst the Arabs are the dumbest and most divisive.

    Putting them together in contest over land is bound to end in perpetual tears. It is not likely that there will be progress towards peace in a “peace process” b/w people of shared blood who have so little in common.

    The best hope for peace is for one or either of the contending peoples to cease to be who they used to be ie lose their identity. Either the Jews lose their clannishness and allow Israel to be an non-Jewish state. Or the Arabs to lose their mannishness and allow “Arabia” to be an emasculated state.

    I dont see much evidence of Israeli Jews following the post-modern trend. My suggestion is that the USAF and IDF should switch to bombing Arab lands with ipods, webporn and party drugs. That combination tends to pacify militant youths.

  239. AC

    Mark @224: and there may indeed be some value in putting the Israeli case if only to clarify and sharpen the case for seeing it all in a less one sided context!

    “May indeed”? Isn’t considering both sides always the best way to analyse and assess any situation? Otherwise a discussion becomes a sycophantic airing of biases and received wisdoms. I’m happy to see some balance with Rob’s rigorously factual points balanced against your own but there are others who confuse his provision of them with some sort of Zionist agenda. Someone in here actually dismissed his observations as Regev’s talking points. That’s a pretty lame attempt to dismiss the person because you can’t address the points being argued. The internet equivalent of putting yor fingers in your ears and saying, “Can’t hear you. La-la-la-la!” (My apologies if the Regev dismissal was merely an attempt at humour).

    Paul Burns @233: As a fellow atheist, you sum up my own position exactly. The comments aired @230 speak more about the poster’s poverty of empathy than the perceived shabby consequences of atheism.

    Anyway. Happy New Year and thanks for an engaging thread.

  240. Peter Kemp

    Katz re:

    Any group that claimed to represent the Palestinian people that signed to these proposals would be instantly overthrown by popular insurrection.

    I guess that success of such a proposal will depend on two factors: whether or not in the near future the Palestinian leadership can be re-united in some significant way and secondly, assuming real world support for such a US initiative, whether or not the average person (as against the pollies) on both sides are ready for a permanent viable solution. I may well be wrong but I think they are, and it requires the US with strong EU support to be seen to be honest brokers, as Carter was with Sadat and Begin.

    I think it’s also a question of soft persuasive power and proponents of a plan exerting pressure at multiple levels including simultaneously going over the heads of politicians to “sell” it to the people. Implementing such a plan would conceivably have many milestones with many many thorny issues to be untangled one by one.

    What other Palestinian group would dare put its name to such a set of proposals?

    At the moment I’d agree that the fractured leadership of the Palestinians is not conducive to acceptance of a permanent settlement in the very near future. But that may change. It has to be acknowledged that there is a lot of bad blood between Fatah and Hamas, and while the Israeli government has certainly taken advantage of this in divide and conquer tactics, it really is in Israel’s longer term interests for the Palestinians to unite their leadership, which is the only way that a deal could ever be hammered out ie there must be a united Palestinian representation at that table, and if not, there’s no hope of a settlement IMO.

  241. Quod Mente Proposui

    ends of Caucasian racial apectrum= Jack flogging a dead Arabian horse.

  242. Katz

    Palestinians have a vibrant political culture. All sorts of political viewpoints receive at least modest electoral support. See here.

    Any “going over the heads of politicians” involves going over a Melbourne Cup field of very experienced political operators.

    Perhaps a person like Obama, who may prove to be a radical departure from normal US politics, may find a way to achieve this feat.

    But there is so much residual distrust of the US, any gesture that Obama makes to Palestinians would have to be extravagant. Perforce, this gesture would have to infuriate the Israeli Right Wing.

    Do early indications suggest that Obama is going to dump a large amount of US foreign policy baggage? Perhaps it’s too early to tell.

  243. Mark

    AC @ 239:

    “May indeed”? Isn’t considering both sides always the best way to analyse and assess any situation?

    Sure, and that’s what I’ve been suggesting we should be doing. My point, though, is that one doesn’t have to be a protagonist for one side or other (as I think Rob has been doing) but can attempt to be somewhat dispassionate and take both sides into account in commentary. Admittedly, that’s not easy with this sort of issue and these sorts of events.

    Also, the emoticon might have suggested to you that I was making a light hearted comment!

  244. Peter Kemp

    But there is so much residual distrust of the US, any gesture that Obama makes to Palestinians would have to be extravagant.

    Perhaps it could be “deal breaking” acceptable rather than extravagant when as Brzezinski suggests, the peace (and ongoing security for Israel) is guaranteed initially by US troops (say under a UN flag).

    Obama has the capacity to pull such a thing off, and if he’s really clever (which I think he is) he could wedge the US’s Likudniks should that be necessary. As you say, it’s perhaps too early to tell how soon and how much of the FP baggage is dumped.

  245. Mark

    For anyone to believe that this time everything will be different, they would have to be incredibly optimistic or foolish. The most likely script will be a variation on previous wars. Israel will “punish” the Arabs in Gaza as they have never been hurt before. Hamas will find ways to attack Israelis, either through rockets or through attacks inside Israel. If there is a ground war, many more civilians will die.

    Once some days have passed and each side takes stock, they will begin looking for an exit strategy. If the Bush administration follows past protocol, it will encourage Israel to prolong the war in the hopes of achieving a “knock-out” blow.

    At the end, a shaky return to the status quo will take place, each side will declare victory, and everyone will have lost. Israel will still have a Hamas-run Gaza Strip as its neighbour, and a more angry one to boot, Palestinians will have hundreds – if not thousands – of new graves, and hatred of the US throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds will have received a fresh boost.

    Ahmjad Atallah and Daniel Levy.

    They go on to discuss how the script could be changed.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2008/dec/31/us-obama-gaza-ceasefire

  246. Katz

    Perhaps it could be “deal breaking” acceptable rather than extravagant when as Brzezinski suggests, the peace (and ongoing security for Israel) is guaranteed initially by US troops (say under a UN flag).

    If Obama could get US troops under a UN flag…

    That would drive Wingnuts into a rabid frenzy — you could sell tickets to that performance!

    But let’s assume that Obama does decide to follow Brzezinski’s advice.

    That would be an incredibly dangerous venture. Remember when Reagan sent troops to Beirut? The US would be seen as adding its muscle to the final denial of the Right of Return. This is the most inflammatory issue of all. Obama would have to calculate how many deaths and what length of commitment Americans would be prepared to accept in this cause. My guess would be that American nerve and resolve are pretty frayed right now. A politically acceptable exit strategy is also difficult to construct.

    I have an alternative: a modern-day Peace Corps, funded by the US and any other acceptable Western democracy, consisting of young volunteers from all over. Their first mission could be in the West Bank, highlighting the Jewish settlements, and seeking Gandhian means to persuade settlers to leave. This gesture might establish the bona fides of the US in the eyes of Palestinians. And it would place Obama firmly in the mould of Kennedyesque idealism.

    A 2009 “Freedom Summer” in the West Bank would really stir things up a bit.

    Is Obama brave enough?

  247. AC

    Mark @ 243: Sure, and that’s what I’ve been suggesting we should be doing. My point, though, is that one doesn’t have to be a protagonist for one side or other (as I think Rob has been doing) but can attempt to be somewhat dispassionate and take both sides into account in commentary.

    And I guess one of my points is that the only side I see Rob taking is the side of rational consideration of events based on facts as they can be determined. And in doing so he is dismissed as pro-Israeli in some comments here. Judging from his laying out of events and principles of international law I would instead see him as “Pro logic” and “Pro a balanced application of international law and standards of decency”.

    As an aside, the comment made here that you don’t need to accept Hamas’ constitutional clauses on the basis that they are merely aspirational rhetoric is pretty amusing. Having drunk tea and smoked cheap cigarettes in the homes of Hamas supporters I can tell you that it isn’t rhetoric – it’s their fervent desire. They want to provoke conflict because they have unrealistic expectations about the outcomes (fueled by but in my experience pre-dating the bloody nose Israel received from Hezbollah) and if they die trying, well their rewards are guaranteed. The result is the same and, in their religion-addled minds, inevitable – whether they are alive to see it or not.

    Hate to have to use a Jewish wisdom, lest it produce “Regev talking point” type responses, but the saying that arose after the holocaust is apt: “When someone says he wants to kill you: believe him”.

    Also, the emoticon might have suggested to you that I was making a light hearted comment!

    I don’t think you meant it as an ironic joke, but I agree it was lighthearted, in the spirit of New Year’s greetings. But I don’t want to stir you up. The comment’s irony was unintentional, I believe, and it just struck a chord with me.

    Your own engagement on the issue here has been measured and very reasonable, in contrast to some of the knee-jerk reaction to Rob’s attempts at an even-handed discussion of the history of provocation and reaction (legitimate and otherwise) from both sides of the conflict.

  248. furious balancing

    regarding the Zbigniew Brzezinski: proposal that was posted earlier, why would anyone think that the exclusion of the right of return for Palestinian refugees is fair? That is fundamental to the injustice at the centre of this crisis, it cements an ethnically biased policy, how can anyone claim that to be a reasonable outcome?

    I am Australian born, I hold deeply anti-zionist views, those views are inter-generational, I inherited them from my father…what I also inherited from my father is an ancestry that means, in fact, that I have ‘right of return’ to Israel. I enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle in Australia and I have a choice to become an Israeli citizen with full rights……but the people of Gaza, who actually have a direct link to that geography, who may indeed have some real desire to contribute to the future of that region; these people who currently live in slums, with no hope, who’s lives are bargained with, and squabbled about on a daily basis do not have that right. {???!!}

    Sorry if this seems incredibly naive and simplistic..but can someone explain to me why we, who enjoy great freedom, should accept that situation, much less think it is a reasonable thing to ask the Palestinians to accept?

  249. Adrien

    Skeptic – I’m talking complete inability to recognise one’s opponent as human, let alone the possibility that one’s opponent may have a point.
    .
    I can’t remember the author’s name but it was a seasoned war correspondent who’d been in Northern Ireland, Rwanda and the Balkans. He was discussing the tendency of people in war zones to dehumanize the enemy and remarked that he’d never seen it as entrenched and bitter as it is in Israel/Palestine.
    .
    That’s why it’s so difficult to solve. The solution is well known. It’s been known for 60 years but it doesn’t matter. They just hate each others’ guts too much and the hate is compounded by hatred accumulated from other incidents such as the Holocaust.
    .
    In my view the only things that will solve it will either be exhaustion after a total war or a meeting of great leaders like a Reagan/Gorbachev, Mandella/de Clerk thing. Good luck. If the Palestinians get a Gorbachev or Ghandi like figure someone’ll top ’em. Good chance in Israel as well.

  250. Adrien

    Is Obama brave enough?
    .
    Is he wise enough?
    .
    Wise enough to know that the US can’t solve the problem. There’s no way that the US military will submit to UN hegemony. Brzezinski is the Paul Keating of geopolitics he should just retire and grow figs or something. He might think he’s hot because, under Carter, Egypt made peace with Israel but that was Sadat’s doing not Carter’s and guess what happened to him?
    .
    Obama wants to shift the energy economy away from petrochemical dependence that will do more good than any diplomacy viz the Middle East. Or at the very least it’ll stop the ME being a global problem. Take oil away from the equation and the various imperial interests won’t be interested anymore. Then half the region’ll turn Jihadist and go to war with the other half and eventually it’ll solve itself.
    .
    Americans should learn from history. Communism basically failed because it was a big fat drag. Theocracy is pretty much the same: No fun!

  251. Michael

    The ZB plan is interesting, but I’d agree with Katz that it would be a hard sell, especially to the Palestinians.

    While it might look reasonable from a US perspective, that’s only because the US perspective has been so heavily tilted to Israel for so long. It suffers from the usual serious flaw – Palestinians rights are waived in favour of Israeli wants. Take the 2 ‘bitter pills’ metioned. One is the lawful right of return for refugees, that Palestinians have to concede. The other is West J, where Israel has to recognise that is has no lawful right to it. Israeli ‘facts on the ground’ created to pre-empt a settlement, will be accepted in the WB.

    My hope, perhaps a forlorn one, is that receding US power will see a ‘peace process’ that doesn’t have US interests stamped all over it.

  252. Mark

    AC @ 247:

    As an aside, the comment made here that you don’t need to accept Hamas’ constitutional clauses on the basis that they are merely aspirational rhetoric is pretty amusing. Having drunk tea and smoked cheap cigarettes in the homes of Hamas supporters I can tell you that it isn’t rhetoric – it’s their fervent desire. They want to provoke conflict because they have unrealistic expectations about the outcomes (fueled by but in my experience pre-dating the bloody nose Israel received from Hezbollah) and if they die trying, well their rewards are guaranteed. The result is the same and, in their religion-addled minds, inevitable – whether they are alive to see it or not.

    I doubt, with respect, that applies to all Hamas supporters, let alone Palestinians. But – and here I think we’re back to where I began – bellicosity and immoderation on both sides are in large part a product of the situation – where the peace process has been “frozen” for a long time and where aspirations for a peaceful and sustainable life are hard to hold. It’s not rocket science to suggest that there must be enormous anger in the whole zone, and the tragedy is that politicians are playing to this – on both sides. That, I think, is exacerbated worldwide by a tendency to see the conflict and the issues as a zero sum game, and that’s what I think we need to transcend – that’s what’s motivating me, at any rate.

    Wrt constitutional goals, two points have already been made on this thread:

    (a) Hamas’ position in negotiations is different from its public position, as Rob commented;

    (b) If there were genuine impetus behind a peace process, positions shift.

    I’d commend again the link from Atjallah and Levy I posted @ 245, which I think demonstrates how we get from where we are now to something akin to progress. Or at least one way. With respect to Rob, I find it difficult to see how his support for a quite reasonable basis of settlement (in answer to one of my questions up thread) tallies with support for what’s going on now. It’s very difficult indeed to see any sort of trajectory between the current violence and a negotiated settlement, if the former is allowed to continue (and perhaps to escalate).

  253. Rob

    AC @ 247 – thanks again. I have posted some consolidated thoughts on the war in Gaza at BPOV.

  254. Michael

    Another insightful look at Gaza, with some context a little different from the standard fare (thanks again LoC),

    http://lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/news/2008/12/yes-virginia-there-is-a-context.html

  255. Adrien
  256. Peter Kemp

    furious balancing, re:

    …explain to me why we, who enjoy great freedom, should accept that situation, much less think it is a reasonable thing to ask the Palestinians to accept?

    A right of return would fundamentally alter the Arab Muslim/Jewish demographic, so for political reasons alone it’s a no brainer. Morally it’s different, of course but right of return after 60 years is problematic at best. As in any negotiated settlement there has to be trade-offs. An agreement for a fixed number of returnees could be, for example, a lesser but acceptable outcome. Compensation is another avenue that could be pursued.

    I certainly don’t have the answers, but Brzezinski’s approach has to be better than the Bushovic/Dalek “Exterminate” narrative.

  257. Adrien

    And another much angrier voice:

    The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, sovereign Palestinian state on its borders. It had no intention of allowing it in 1948 when it grabbed 24% more land than what it was allotted legally, if unfairly, by UN Resolution 181. It had no intention of allowing it throughout the massacres and ploys of the 1950s. It had no intention of allowing two states when it conquered the remaining 22% of historic Palestine in 1967 and reinterpreted UN Security Council Resolution 248 to its own liking despite the overwhelming international consensus stating that Israel would receive full international recognition within secure and recognized borders if it withdrew from the lands it had only recently occupied.

  258. Rob

    Mark @ 252 – the path to any sort of peace was never going to be a smooth, unimpeded and uninterrupted trajectory. This is an interruption – a major one. It doesn’t mean the trajectory can’t be resumed once the interruption has been dealt with.

    I don’t know what you mean by your point (a).

  259. furious balancing

    Right, so the political balance is paramount here, not what we know to be morally right? The expediency of that pretty much legitimises the basis of all of the ethnically motivated violence in Africa. The ‘exterminate narrative’ has the same moral basis after all, we wouldn’t have got to where we are without it. Oh, and there I am again stating the bleeding obvious. It disgusts me that Jews could act like this.

  260. Rob

    Peter @ 256 – I’m pleased and surprised to find we are so much in agreement – on this point at least.

  261. Peter Kemp

    Rob, there’s no way any state, even one of “saints” is going to allow a right of return, open slather. That of course doesn’t mean that other options are closed ie compensation/limited number of returnees as I said above. To say that point of view is “immoral” as FB alludes, ignores realpolitic even though many, including myself, have sympathy for their cause. Even if it was iron clad crystal clear morality, it doesn’t often trump political realities.

    (What might be more significant “seeds” of change, long term, in both a literal and metaphorical sense is that Israeli Arabs are outbreeding any other Israeli demographic, so I’ve read somewhere.)

    Egypt’s position of crocodile tears and self imposed impotence is reprehensible, as Fisk points out:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-rotten-state-of-egypt-is-too-powerless-and-corrupt-to-act-1220048.html

    And the disproportionate response of Israel is likewise reprehensible: something that’s not going away, in fact it may be exacerbated if, as it looks, a land invasion is imminent.

    Another thing we can all agree on is that its probably going to take a significant outside influence to facilitate the two parties to agree to a final settlement, and neither party will get all they want. That has to be a given.

    Israel has a sorry record of breaching UNSC resolutions in the past,(protected more lately by the US where resolutions have been increasingly vetoed), especially in the land grabs past the 1967 borders. That to my mind, is the biggest and thorniest issue that needs addressing, and outweighs by far the right of return issue of a two state solution.

  262. Rob

    Yes, I think compensation and some limited right of return – based around family reunion, perhaps, and subject to security considerations.

  263. furious balancing

    Sounding like emotionless Vulcans might give the you the sense that you are dispassionate and reasoned, but the long term ‘realpolitik’ is that even if Israel finds an acceptable solution to it’s external problems they will eventually need to address the internal ones, and their ethnically based immigration policy creates many, not least being the inevitablity that the Jews with real power will never choose to actually reside in Israel. If the external conflict were to ever be resolved, should the ‘common enemy’ be dealt with…Isrealis will realise that the ratio of Israelis and Arabs never really mattered, because democracy in Israel is a charade.

  264. Adrien

    To say that point of view is “immoral” as FB alludes, ignores realpolitic
    .
    Realpolitik is immoral, or rather, amoral. The moral standards that one expects of citizens intrastate have never applied to relations interstate. Just the way it is.
    .
    (No cynical comments about the UN) 🙂

  265. John Ryan

    What would happen if the US withdrew all aid to Israel,both money and arms just stopped it cold,do you think they might close the concentration camps that are Gaza and the West Bank and remove the land thieves and murderers called settlers?
    Perhaps go back to the 67 borders and see what happens,I am also amused to see people quoting the PLO leader Abbas,a finer bunch of crooks thieves ans collaborators it would be hard to find.
    The Israeli Govt created Hamas,so they got what they wanted,why are they so surprised,

  266. AC

    Furious @263: Sounding like emotionless Vulcans might give the you the sense that you are dispassionate and reasoned,

    Well that’s a gratuitous and weighted characterisation of reasoned debate. I suppose the alternative you offer is over-invested and ugly emotion? It’s one thing to feel passionately about an issue but to dismiss others for attempting a rational analysis is contemptible.

    Furious @263: but the long term ‘realpolitik’ is that even if Israel finds an acceptable solution to it’s external problems they will eventually need to address the internal ones, and their ethnically based immigration policy creates many, not least being the inevitablity that the Jews with real power will never choose to actually reside in Israel.

    That would be the Elders of Zion, I suppose?

    But addressing your observation as if it were a rational statement, let’s draw attention to the situation over Israel’s Eastern border. Let’s contrast Israel with the reality of the Palestinians living in Jordan, shall we? Nearly 70% of the population and yet discriminated against in terms of citizenship and employment rights (particularly in public service and university areas), the younger Palestinians Jordanians (sic) I know in universities in Jordan absolutely despise Jordan and the regime. Children of Palestinian fathers do not receive Jordanian citizenship if born in Jordan to Jordanian mothers, and their fathers cannot hold positions in academia, even though I know of a few who sail under the radar – thanks to the “idiosyncrasies” of Arabic administration practices – and a few who have been discovered and dismissed. The latter have been hounded out of all except humiliatingly menial employment in Jordan and forced to work in Palestine while their wives and children remain in Jordan. Of course, all of this is done by Jordan for the same reason Israel vets who can and cannot receive full rights of citizenship – but one is characterised as sinister while the other is never mentioned. How convenient!

    Furious @263: If the external conflict were to ever be resolved, should the ‘common enemy’ be dealt with…Isrealis will realise that the ratio of Israelis and Arabs never really mattered, because democracy in Israel is a charade.

    You know, I’m partial to the view Christopher Hitchens expressed on US TV about this effortless and possibly unselfconscious bias that exists on the intellectual Left and the Christian Right:

    Jewish prejudice is an unfailing sign of a sick and disordered person… Anti-semitism like that is a horrible, conspiratorial, pseudo-intellectual, mean-spirited, eventually lethal piece of bigotry.

    I have enjoyed the reasoned debate in this thread, but your comment, Furious, has more to do with personal prejudices than reasoned comment.

  267. Marlon

    “Isrealis will realise that the ratio of Israelis and Arabs never really mattered, because democracy in Israel is a charade.”

    And always has been.

    That people on this blog are condoning murder on women and children,and having the moral equivalence of a few fire crackers being shot over the border, should be ashamed of them selves.

    I notice as per usual our pathetic media, another charade in the west, is pouring on the pro Israeli bullshit, and treating us like fucking imbeciles.

  268. furious balancing

    AC – my personal prejudices were acknowledged earlier, you don’t need to call me on them, if you know of any people, Jewish or otherwise, that don’t have any I’d be surprised…ignore my contributions if you like, I’ve acknowledged my heart is on my sleeve, I also have not the intellect to interact in the way you deem to be appropriate. I am not attacking people for being emotionless, I’m addressing the fact that in my opinion their supposedly dispassionate position is near-sighted, and that it is my fear that it will lead to a more dangerous outcome for Jews everywhere.

  269. silkworm

    Israel violated the cease-fire from the start. According to the UN, Israeli soldiers on numerous occasions fired upon Gaza farmers trying to work their land near the border. An 82 year old man was injured in one such incident on June 27. In another shooting incident, a Palestinian woman was wounded.

    The Israeli Defense Force openly announced that it would fire upon any Palestinian entering into what it declared was a “special security zone” within Gaza; essentially a declaration of the intention to continually violate the cease-fire with impunity by firing at farmers and other Palestinians attempting to reach their own land.

    http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/19473

  270. furious balancing

    Also AC: the practice you describe in Jordan is very similar to what my father’s family endured as Jews in Libya, thank you for highlighting why I might stoop to such ‘ugly emotion’, to wish Jews be held to a somewhat higher benchmark, than others in this thread.

    but of course in your mind reasoned debate = inferring that anyone with the least amount of sympathy with the people of Gaza are therefore Arab sympathisers who need to be lectured about the inequality and corruption of Arab countries. reasoned debate = throwing in a reference to the ‘elders of zion’..of course your not trying to inflame the discussion one little bit, right?

  271. Chav

    Less talk, more action…

    Rally for GAZA

    Stop the massacre!
    End the siege now!
    No to Israel’s war crimes!

    Rally Sunday Jan 4 2pm

    State Library of Victoria, cnr Swanston St and La Trobe St, Melbourne

  272. AC

    thank you for highlighting why I might stoop to such ‘ugly emotion’, to wish Jews be held to a somewhat higher benchmark, than others in this thread.

    Which suggests my understanding of the post that I found so provocative is incorrect. In which case, my apologies. I thought you were in fact engaging in a tired anti-Semitic cliche designed to deligitimise Israeli’s protection of its interests. I think any blunt reading of your paranoid-sounding comment about powerful Jews would have reached the same conclusion, so thanks for the added context. If it is the case that you were engaging in some Antony Loewenstein-esque anti-Semitism, then my apology is of course withdrawn.

    My point is I want some balance, rather than furious balancing. Something to counteract stuff like this @267:

    That people on this blog are condoning murder on women and children,and having the moral equivalence of a few fire crackers being shot over the border, should be ashamed of them selves

    How can anyone think that sort of sophistry moves the discussion forward? Enjoy the Katyushas on the Sydney Harbour Bridge last night, Marlon?

  273. AC

    Mark @252I doubt, with respect, that applies to all Hamas supporters, let alone Palestinians.

    Which indicates to me that you probably don’t speak Arabic and probably haven’t spent much time in the Levant in homes where many of the sons are active members of or at least sympathetic to Hamas. Of course most Palestinians don’t want to kick off a conflagration and see it to its bloody end. But many in Hamas dream about it. If you don’t know that there is a cultish devotion to martyrdom amongst these people then it is only because you don’t have your eyes and ears open. But perhaps I am taking the rhetoric, like that in the constitution, too seriously?

    Look I don’t want to get stuck in the briar patch. There’s no fun in it and no end in sight – and my beef isn’t with you anyway

    My friends in the Middle East are almost all Sunni Arabs from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. I am well aware of their legitimate grievances, real and imagined suffering and so on. I have heard it at length and am happy to hear it again because a lot of it is legitimate. I certainly don’t have any personal or particular interest in Israel. I am merely tired of the lack of balance and resent it when the only way people have of rebutting any contrary (and hopefully) balanced opinion is to accuse the person of being an apologist for Israel. It’s just intellectually lazy bullshit.

    (I am not accusing you of doing this, just discussing the technique du jour).

    Anyway, look at the invitation to the rally in Melbourne. It’s a classic example where only one side matters.

  274. Chav

    I thought you were in fact engaging in a tired anti-Semitic cliche designed to deligitimise Israeli’s protection of its interests.

    I hope your not suggesting its anti-semitic to describe Israel’s interests as including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the land and militarily dominating the region in conjunction with US interests?

    Speaking of moving the discussion, a read of this article that appeared in Haaretz might help AC.

    This isn’t the time to speak of ethics, but of precise intelligence. Whoever gave the instructions to send 100 of our planes, piloted by the best of our boys, to bomb and strafe enemy targets in Gaza is familiar with the many schools adjacent to those targets – especially police stations.He also knew that at exactly 11:30 A.M. on Saturday, during the surprise assault on the enemy, all the children of the Strip would be in the streets – half just having finished the morning shift at school, the others en route to the afternoon shift.

  275. furious balancing

    AC – I don’t know what you’re talking about with the Antony Lowenstein-esque anti-semitism but I’m really just basing my comments on my family history and family discussions, I’m not a scholar, I’m sure that’s apparent. The Jewish experience is very diverse, my own families trials and tribulations are as much a part of that evolution as any persons who is fiercely pro-Zionist – I feel that voice is less frequently heard, so I raised mine.

    My point about power in and outside of Israel, is simply that Israel is a most attractive destination to people that were originally someplace worse, they are often disempowered and desperate. There are many people outside of Israel who hold more power, with there votes in their own countries and the confidence that comes from safety and success gives them a strong voice, that’s their right, of course..there’s no denying that, but the suspicion it creates makes me fearful.

  276. Mark

    I’d ask people to refrain from personalities and claims about “anti-Semitism” unless it has specific reference to something particular said on this thread – as a general characterisation, it’s extremely unhelpful. I’m occupied elsewhere tonight, so I don’t have time to watch the thread carefully, but if it degenerates, it will be closed. So please take that into account, and please continue arguing the issues.

  277. Marlon

    “How can anyone think that sort of sophistry moves the discussion forward? Enjoy the Katyushas on the Sydney Harbour Bridge last night, Marlon?”

    Spare me your wit, more people were injured on Guy Fawkes night in Australia at its height, than in Israel from Katyusha rockets.

    The end result sooner or later will be, the Palestinians will have back what is theirs, it is only a matter of time.

    You can discuss the right and wrongs of this conflict until the cows come home, it changes nothing.Palestine belongs to the Palestinians,end of story.

    The anti I

  278. Rob

    And more Israelis are killed in road accidents than terrorist attacks, so why should they care?

  279. Marlon

    “And more Israelis are killed in road accidents than terrorist attacks, so why should they care?”

    They don’t.Why should Israel be any different to Australia? We have drunk drivers killing people all the time, and what do we do? We give them a fine and a license suspension. If I had my way I would make it a mandatory 3 months gaol for the first offense.

    What is your point? If you are comparing the deaths of 400 souls in Gaza killed in retaliatory strikes, because that’s what they are, to what, 4 deaths from an advanced firework?

    As I said, they will have their land back, and it is their land,and the more dead women and children they pull out of the rubble, and the more CNN Fox and the BBC try to hide it, the quicker they will get it. At the end of the day if it takes a hundred years,in the scheme of things, a short time indeed.

    So put in all the links to other opinions, and sprinkle your comments with as much esoteric bullshit as you like, it changes nothing.

  280. Nabakov

    I have never commented on the apparently eternal and always bloody and stoney conundrum of who gets planning rights/rites/riots over a patch of land where the ultimate landlords are claimed to be invisible superheroes from outer space. (In fact it’s basically the same bloody superhero. But which sidekick??

    And I’m not going to start now.

  281. THR

    Israel is set upon a course of ethnic cleansing and colonial expansion. When Palestinians do so much as breed, it’s considered ‘demographic warfare’. One side is brutalising the other, and it has nothing to do with terrorism. Gaza may have no settlements, but it is effectively the world’s largest open-air prison. IDF arrive at will and kill people. ‘Extra-judicial’ – this should be a word that libertards study.

    In this ‘war’, there is clearly one oppressor exterminating people along ethnic-religious lines. Get a grip, people. If it were any other country, there would be calls for sanctions etc.

  282. AC

    Chav @274: I hope your not suggesting its anti-semitic to describe Israel’s interests as including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the land

    If you mean by “ethnic cleansing” the displacement of Palestinians from their homes then perhaps you should use the more accurate phrase “displacement of Palestinians from their homes”. (It would be helpful, of course, if you balanced your statement against the fact of the return of Gaza to the Palestinians, but I’m not holding my breath).

    If on the other hand you mean by “ethnic cleansing” the accepted definition as coined in regard to the genocide in the former Yugoslavia, then how can anyone take any of your comments here seriously ever again?

  283. AC

    @281 In this ‘war’, there is clearly one oppressor exterminating people along ethnic-religious lines.

    So much for reasoned discussion of the facts!

  284. Peter Kemp

    We have drunk drivers killing people all the time, and what do we do? We give them a fine and a license suspension.

    Neg driving causing death in NSW: Max penalties, $3300 fine and/or 18 months jail; minimum disqualification 12 months.

    It’s also a question of intent Marlon, ie this is manslaughter–no intent. Somewhat different to terrorism.

  285. Mark

    Israeli Human Rights groups report:

    http://oxdown.firedoglake.com/diary/2758

  286. Marlon

    “It’s also a question of intent Marlon, ie this is manslaughter–no intent. Somewhat different to terrorism.”

    Spare me your lecture on what punishment is for drunk driving, you are some what confused, it is I who is making the point it has no point.

    I know what intent is, and it has been stated here by other contributors to the debate, the Israels intent is, committing more ethnic cleansing, and this is not the first time they have massacred innocent women and children, events like the Sabre/Chatila are well documented.Of course they did what they are blaming the Iranians for doing,in the Israeli case, they got the Phalange to do the killing for them.

    So one more time,Palestine belongs to the Palestinians always has, always will, I can’t make it any simpler for you.

  287. Marlon

    “In this ‘war’, there is clearly one oppressor exterminating people along ethnic-religious lines. Get a grip, people. If it were any other country, there would be calls for sanctions etc.”

    The awful bloody truth.

  288. Rob

    furious balancing further up the thread @ 263 does have a point about emotion, though perhaps not the one he trying to make. Emotion swamps reason,and makes you disinclined to think. Most people will have seen that famous poster from WW1 of a leering German soldier reaching out towards a prostrate nun, obviously with the intention of rape. It was supposed to depict the situation in Belgium. As far as I know, no such incident ever took place. But the emotional force of the image was such as to send young men down to the recruiting centres in droves. If someone had said, ‘Hang on, how do we know it actually happened, where are the witnesses’, etc. they too would probably have been called emotionless Vulcans, too. That’s the way propaganda works, and that’s why it’s so successful. What triggers the response is the image.

    There have been similar posts on this thread. Attempts at reason along the lines of my nun-rape sceptic are met with heated verbal images of dead women and children, deliberate slaughter of innocents, and so forth. Emotion is trying to overwrite reason, and all too often it is successful.

    None of us is immune. I remember when I watched the recovery of children’s bodies at Kfar Qana in the Second Lebanon War, my own reaction was shock and horror. I was on Israel’s side in that conflict, but still I thought, ‘F*uck you, Israel, how could you do this? Children, for God’s sake. You bastards.’ Emotion overwrote reason.

    Reason, which gradually returned, went like this: civilians are killed in wars; sometimes the civilians will be children; that if Hizbollah launches rockets from Qana (which it did), the Israelis will strike back, and if Hizbollah by accident or design does not remove children from the area, they are likely to be killed…..

    But when you see those images, it’s very hard to attend to the voice of reason, or even hear it at all.

    Hamas and Hizbollah are both adept at the manipulation of images for just that purpose, and they too very often succeed (as at Qana). Expect to see many more distressing images from Gaza.

  289. Lefty E

    In the west bank, the “security” wall has unilaterally seized some 10% of Palestinian territory. Palestinian towns are isolated from one another, and travel permit systems means no Palestinaian con travel more than 20km from where they live. Whereas Israels illegal settlments are accessed by freeeways forbidden to the locals.

    The inpsecapbale conclusion is that the wall is designed to prevent the emergence of a functional, contiguous Palestianian state in full possession of it own territory.

    That ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’ is an irrelevant assertion. What Israel *in fact* seeks to claim is the right to defend itself while constantly provoking their neighbours. Which is more tricky assertion all round.

    If I wwere Palestinian, Id resist. Who among us wouldnt? I doubt even Rob would, if he were being honest.

  290. Adrien

    Furious Balancing – I’m addressing the fact that in my opinion their supposedly dispassionate position is near-sighted, and that it is my fear that it will lead to a more dangerous outcome for Jews everywhere.
    .
    I’m not entirely certain what you mean by ‘supposedly dispassionate position’ but if I may take you literally for a minute I’m curious as to how this leads to a dangerous outcome for Jews everywhere.
    .
    It seems to me there’s a certain discourse in which any criticism of Israel’s actions or the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces is labeled either anti-Semitic or fellow traveling to same. This is less than useful. There are a plethora of extremely irrational pro-Israeli types out there that compliment Jihadists who maintain Protocol type nonsense and these people are likewise part of the problem – the Rachel Corrie had it coming types like this.
    .
    This issue has a habit of turning reasonable people into hysterical frothy-mouthed hyenas that provide a discursive simulacra for the endless I hit you and you hit me and I hit you scenario that characterizes Palestine/Israel relations for 60 years. I really don’t see how the automatic labeling of critics of Israel as anti-Semitic helps just as I don’t see the blindness to the irrational violence of Jihadism is reasonably sustainable.
    .
    It seems to me that dispassion is what is required. And that the demarcation of dispassionate attitudes to this problem as something that threatens all Jews everywhere is probably more potentially harmful to Jewish people than anything else. Despite theological doctrine Jewish people are people like everyone else. They are not exceptional.

  291. AC

    @290: The inpsecapbale conclusion is that the wall is designed to prevent the emergence of a functional, contiguous Palestianian state in full possession of it own territory.

    How is that “inescapable”? Have you considered any other possible explanations? What reason did the Israelis give for raising the wall? Are there any facts that might lend substance to their stated reasons? Are you willing to consider them? Or are you only interested in weighing up and assessing evidence that supports what you believe?

    That ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’ is an irrelevant assertion.

    Because you think it should be irrelevant?

    What Israel *in fact* seeks to claim is the right to defend itself while constantly provoking their neighbours.

    A fact because you say it’s a fact? Your assertion is “in fact” ironic, considering it was Hamas provocation that kicked off the current situation. But you could only appreciate the irony if you were willing to consider all of the facts. Doubly ironic. Indeed, a Moebius strip of unintentional irony.

    @286: So one more time,Palestine belongs to the Palestinians always has, always will, I can’t make it any simpler for you.

    Some of us aren’t interested in simplistic assertions of belief.

  292. Marlon

    “Attempts at reason along the lines of my nun-rape sceptic are met with heated verbal images of dead women and children, deliberate slaughter of innocents, and so forth. Emotion is trying to overwrite reason, and all too often it is successful.”

    A pity L.P. doesn’t do sound you could have put a drum roll in front of that gem.

    Shorter Rob. I will decide what is reason, what is murder,rape,who is right and wrong, every one else can’t make up their own minds about the conflict, because their judgement is clouded by images of dead women and children.

    I guess all the judges at the Nuremburg trials watching the pictures of the concentration camps were probably overcome with emotion? Maybe they should have let the Nazi fuckers off with a good behaviour bond.

  293. Marlon

    “Some of us aren’t interested in simplistic assertions of belief.”

    Yes I know I’m one of them. You see the truth, is always simple.

  294. Rob

    I don’t accept your analogy, Marlon (it was an analogy?), but if I did, I’d say that the pictures – whatever their emotional impact – would have to be verified, their truth testified to by witnesses, the guards interrogated, exterminatory policies investigated and confirmed, etc. Which they were. No-one was hanged on the basis of the pictures alone. I think you may be inadvertently making my point for me.

    The rest of your comment I did not understand.

  295. Rob

    Further to AC @ 291, it is worth pointing out that the Israeli Supreme Court has twice directed that the siting of the security barrier be altered to respect the ownership and farming rights of the local Arab inhabitants (on the latter’s petition). In other words, the rule of law applies, territorial expansion. It is quite reasonable for the Israeli military to seek to site the wall as bests suits the security requirements of the state, reasonable for the Arabs to object, and reasonable for the court to rule in their favour.

    The wall is, of course, designed to prevent the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel. In this it has been remarkably successful. Note that it did not exist and was not considered before the outbreak of the second intifada, which used suicide bombers as its most effective weapon against Israel.

  296. AC

    “Some of us aren’t interested in simplistic assertions of belief.”

    Yes I know I’m one of them.

    You say that, but then you post comments that appear to be nothing more than strongly held, unassailable beliefs… Or are you joking? Humour is difficult to convey online.

    You see the truth, is always simple.

    Indeed, but it can be made no simpler than it actually is or else it completely breaks down into nonsense and disappears up its own backside.

  297. Marlon

    “You say that, but then you post comments that appear to be nothing more than strongly held, unassailable beliefs… Or are you joking? Humour is difficult to convey online.”

    Oh I don’t know you seem to do a fairly good job of it.

    AC please give me a break.So what do you want me to post, links to other peoples opinions? Do you want me to trawl the net find and post all the U.N. resolutions relating to this conflict? which resolutions incidentally Israel doesn’t adhere to.

    What about a few conspiracy theories of the protocols of Zion?

    Maybe I’ll ask Robert Fisk for an opinion,I mean what would he know?

    Mark has posted enough links that show the Israelis are prosecuting murder in my opinion on the Palestinians.

    Your opinion on this conflict is the same as mine, an opinion. Like most people I read all the information I can find, crunch the information add a sprinkling of my own and others direct experiences, and you know what? “Voila ” an opinion.

    The only difference is, I follow and believe in the cause of the Palestinian people, based on my own research.

    Hey just like you do, but you take the other side.

    Umm how unique two sides to a debate.

    History will be the only judge of who is right, and the final analysis will come long after you and I are gone.

  298. AC

    Marlon, you make some assumptions about where I stand on the issue. My only dog in this fight is a plea for balance.

    Your idea of a fact is stating “@286: So one more time,Palestine belongs to the Palestinians always has, always will, I can’t make it any simpler for you.” That’s about as stupid as saying: “So one more time,Palestine belongs to the Jews always has, always will, I can’t make it any simpler for you.” Both statements will do nothing to resolve this issue.

    As I said, you make an assumption about where I stand on the issue of Israel/Palestine. You do so, as is usual in this emotive subject, because I merely ask for facts to be considered rationally and logically.

    I am no apologist for the hardline Jewish settlers in Palestine. But I have lived in the Middle East and seen hardline views up close on both sides. I have seen stupid orthodox students (to their shame) sing offensive songs designed to flaunt their control of Jerusalem as they marched through the Arab quarter – in the face of some older Arabs with whom I was chatting. I don’t speak Hebrew but I do speak Arabic and I know those men found the experience utterly humiliating: and a daily fact of life. On the other hand, I have heard the most outrageous conspiracy theories and hateful views on the Jews and the claims of the “fabrication” of the Holocaust from Arabs who, despite their congenital blinkered hatred, continue to be good friends of mine. And of course I have seen the Hamas provocation that is considered “fireworks” by people who obviously couldn’t lie straight in bed.

    Don’t presume to know where I stand on the issue, merely because I have the temerity to ask that the debate is rational.

    What is needed is for both sides to acknowledge that certain objectives on each side are reasonable and attainable and others are not and never will be. I’m not holding my breath, thanks to the extremist Jewish settlers and the extremist Hamas thugs – thorns in the side of moderate Israel and moderate Palestine, respectively.

  299. furious balancing

    adrien – “I’m not entirely certain what you mean by ’supposedly dispassionate position’ but if I may take you literally for a minute I’m curious as to how this leads to a dangerous outcome for Jews everywhere.”

    What I’m referring to is that placing the politically expedient above what we know to be morally right is what created the problem in the first place.

    How does it create a dangerous outcome for Jews everywhere? In my opinion it was politically expedient decisions, first by the British and later by the UN, creating an ethically biased policy in Israel, that legitimises the actions of any despot, dictator, or elected representative who wants to mandate that a country has a right to protect an ethnic majority, through murder, deportation, systematic oppression or anything else. Gudafi was not the first to try to oppress the Jews in Libya, but he was the first to succeed, there were 20,000 Jews when my father was born there and now there are none. Maybe I’m wrong to think that the recent history of Israel compounded the difficulties for Jews there? Furthermore, when the world endorses a ‘solution’ that says Israel can behave like no other democracy can behave, we create an ugly double standard sets up Jewish people as the exception and also diminishes our idea of democracy. That combined with the fact that the second biggest Jewish population in the world is in the most powerful country in the world, and it has an extremely confident voice, well, it is more than enough to fuel anti-Jewish rhetoric. We do see the rise of neo-nazism in Europe even in times of relative affluence, and now we are seeing an economic downturn the likes of which we have not seen since the horror that led to the earlier round of politically expedient decision making.

  300. Rob

    Three hundred.

  301. Marlon

    AC you are now being condescending, It is obvious from the tenor of your comments where you stand on the issue. I to have been to the M.E. and am old enough to have seen British troops on the ground in Egypt, I have felt the tension and seen the body language of what they think of us infidels who have brought so much misery to their part of the world..

    When women and children are dug out of the rubble of this conflict either in the Gaza strip or Tel Aviv with their faces blown off, and with no arms and legs, it does make the debate a tad bit emotional.But you see it is mostly happening to the Palestinians, and to deny this fact, is to border on being barking mad.But you can always go to the Gaza and put your rational debate theory to the Palestinians on the ground being murdered.

    As to my comment Palestine is and always will belong to the Palestinians, I stand by it totally and so would most Palestinians, but I guess in your world of logic they are probably silly as well.

    I to want to see a fair and just outcome to this fiasco, but I am not going to cop any argument that makes a moral comparison of the death toll, and the murderous way this retribution,because that’s what is is, is being prosecuted.

    You cannot run with the hare and the hounds, I have chosen a side,and until some thing to the contrary changes my mind,end of.

  302. Rob

    ‘As to my comment Palestine is and always will belong to the Palestinians, I stand by it totally and so would most Palestinians, but I guess in your world of logic they are probably silly as well.’

    What do you actually mean by Palestine, Marlon? Gaza and the West Bank; the same plus the land now known as Israel; the entire territory of the British Mandate….what?

  303. Marlon

    “What do you actually mean by Palestine,”

    The land that was alloted to them by the British mandate and U.N. resolution 181 1948 no more no less.After all, the European Jews after WW2 had to go some where, the British certainly didn’t want them.

    Of course at the end of the day, the consensus even among the most gullible, is starting to become crystal clear, the Israelis have not or ever have had any intention to let a viable “Palestinian State” exist next door to them.

    All else is a side show.

  304. Rob

    Here’s the problem with your argument, Marlon. No specific land in Palestine was ever allocated to the Arabs under the Mandate. Nor was it to the Jews. The Mandatory territory extended from the Med in the west to the border of Iraq in the east. In 1923, Britain established the land of Transjordan in the territories east of the Jordan to the border with Iraq, and gifted it to the Hashemite dynasty of the Sharif of Mecca, consistent with the McMahon correspondence I’ve referred to earlier. All Jewish settlement was immediately prohibited in Transjordan, which was now ruled by King Abdullah.

    The area of the Mandatory known as Palestine was therefore delimited by the Jordan River to the East, and the Med to the west. Within it, somehow, the Jews were to establish a Jewish National Home and the Arabs were to do – well, no-one quite knew what, but they weren’t going to get a nation state in Palestine as long as it also had to accommodate a JNH.

    The position of the Zionists was that since that Palestinian Arabs had already received more than three quarters of the Mandatory territory, in the form of Transjordan, the Jews were entitled to the rest. The British did not agree (I think rightly, given the property and farming rights of the indigenous Arab population). Following the eruption of the Arab Revolt in 1935, the British proposed a partition based around population centres: where the Jews were the dominant population, they got the land, where the Arabs were, they got it. These were the recommendations of the Peel Royal Commission, set up to investigate the causes of the Arab Revolt. Peel also recommended the assisted transfer of populations from Jewish to Arab lands and vice versa. Today this would probably be referred to as ‘ethnic cleanisng’, but to the Commission it was a perfectly acceptable way of avoiding generations of inter-ethnic strife of the kind seen between Greece and Turkey in the previous decades.

    The Zionists accepted this proposal (reluctantly), but the Arabs rejected it. It remained the basis of the 1947 resolution on partition that was adopted in the UN after the Brits handed back the Mandate and said, essentially, ‘This was the best we could come up with. Now you have a go’. The UN essentially confirmed the British finding, but with altered borders less generous to the Arabs.

    It is, of course, a matter of history that neither the Arab Palestinians, nor the Arab states, accepted partition on the terms determined by the UN. For the Palestinians to go back to the partition lines of 1948 has never been an issue on the table, to my knowledge. Usually it is the 1967 lines that people talk about,and even that is pretty iffy for the Israelis.

  305. Rob

    Apologies for the last, long post. And probably OT as well.

  306. Chav

    “If on the other hand you mean by “ethnic cleansing” the accepted definition as coined in regard to the genocide in the former Yugoslavia, then how can anyone take any of your comments here seriously ever again?”

    Apologies, I obviously needed to put a date stamp on my claim of ethnic cleansing.

    How’s 1948?

    And in regards to the former Yugoslavia, I assume you also accept Serbia’s claim to Kosovo as the nation’s spiritual birthplace..and its reintegration into ‘Greater Serbia’?

    No?

    Why so shy, AC?

  307. skepticlawyer

    Still going…

  308. AC

    @306: Why so shy, AC?

    I don’t understand that comment.

    Addressing your observations, as Cicero wrote: “Before one discusses any subject whatsoever, one must first agree on terms.”

    If you go back and review my earlier response to you, you’ll see that we clearly have a different understanding of the concept of “ethnic cleansing”. There’s no point (for me, anyway) in discussing anything with you until you learn what the concept actually means.

    @307 – yes, but not for long. I think the thread’s run out of puff.

  309. yeti

    “The Zionists accepted this proposal (reluctantly), but the Arabs rejected it.”

    To be fair, the rightwing Zionists, such as the Irgun, totally rejected the proposal (despite the fact that it gave 55% of the land to the Jews, who were only one third of the population). The Irgun and Stern Gang were terrorizing Arab communities within the land designated for the Palestinian state before the surrounding Arab nations declared war. In the subsequent Nakba/War of Independence, Israel expanded from its designated 55% of the land to 77% of the land. Yet even that was not enough, and from 67 it has remained an occupying power in the West Bank, running a colonial military occupation based on racial apartheid, rejecting repeated peace proposals from the Palestinians the neighboring Arab countries, and the rest of the international community that involve a return to the 1967 borders. These are simple facts that should be remembered at the start of any discussion of the current crisis.

  310. Michael

    Interesting post on Hamas from Helena Cobban,

    http://justworldnews.org/archives/003299.html

  311. Lefty E

    AC @219: Cripes, that was unnecessarily long winded way of saying nothing.

    Incidentally, Israeli-Arabs in Israel face prison sentences for even declaring they’re ‘Palestinian’. The IDF send they’re Israeli-Arab recruits in as ‘trackers’ – Native Police style, So they’re always at the front of milatary actions that dont involve aerial bombing. Like their Palestinian brothers and sisters, Israel considers them expendable untermensch.

    Incidentally, most of Hamas leadership went underground and are untouchable in the bobmbings – and the IDF knows this. Hope that clarfies the nature of these latest bombings for all.

  312. AC

    LeftyE @319″ “Cripes, that was unnecessarily long winded way of saying nothing”

    Sorry, mate – I can’t make sense of that comment. I didn’t post @219 and if you’re referring to @291 then I can’t determine whether you’re obtuse or merely pretending to be.

  313. Adrien

    Furious Balancing – What I’m referring to is that placing the politically expedient above what we know to be morally right is what created the problem in the first place.
    .
    Well that’s realpolitik. Politics is rarely about what is right unfortunately. This is partially due to the ‘iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men’ but it’s also partially due to the fact that what is right for one person or group is wrong for another. To wit:
    .
    How does it create a dangerous outcome for Jews everywhere? In my opinion it was politically expedient decisions, first by the British and later by the UN, creating an ethically biased policy in Israel
    .
    It seems to me that the Palestinian Arabs would make a similar complaint from the other side. What can you do? Anyway could you expand on this I’m not as familiar with Israeli complaints viz the UN arrangements as I might be.
    .
    Gudafi was not the first to try to oppress the Jews in Libya, but he was the first to succeed, there were 20,000 Jews when my father was born there and now there are none. Maybe I’m wrong to think that the recent history of Israel compounded the difficulties for Jews there?
    .
    The estbalihsment of Israel compounded the difficulty of Jews in the whole region. Of course one of the logical observations of the expulsion of Jews from Arab/North African countries in the second half of the 20th century ended up displacing roughly the same number of people as were displaced by Israel’s establishment. Sometimes I wonder if good manners, reasoned discussion and consideration might’ve been usefully deployed we wouldn’t have a problem.
    .
    Furthermore, when the world endorses a ’solution’ that says Israel can behave like no other democracy can behave, we create an ugly double standard sets up Jewish people as the exception and also diminishes our idea of democracy.
    .
    That’s interesting. The frequent assertions that Israel disregards international law come to mind. On one side the perception that Israel is unfairly treated on the other the perception that Israel itself asserts a double standard.
    .
    That combined with the fact that the second biggest Jewish population in the world is in the most powerful country in the world, and it has an extremely confident voice, well, it is more than enough to fuel anti-Jewish rhetoric.
    .
    Yes one of the root causes of anti-Semitism is the fact that Jewish people are, well, extraoridinarily gifted. People resent it.
    .
    We do see the rise of neo-nazism in Europe even in times of relative affluence, and now we are seeing an economic downturn the likes of which we have not seen since the horror that led to the earlier round of politically expedient decision making.
    .
    Yeah. 🙁

  314. Rob

    Hey, did this thread break Godwin’s Law? Three hundred plus and no mention of H.?

  315. Paul Burns

    Rob @ 314,
    my initial urge was to make my characteristic flippant comment, and break Godwin’s Law but then I recalled the terrified faces of children in Gaza I’ve seen on the TV news and on Al-Jezeera clips on YouTube, so I’ve restrained myself.

  316. AC

    @315: and in explaining your decision not to act according to Godwin’s Law, you prove Godwin’s Law.

  317. Mark

    Since mention of Godwin’s Law might also be the Law of Thread Decay, I’d suggest people leave this topic alone.

  318. Katz

    Bombing the crap out of Gaza might have had some utility if it served to drive a wedge between Hamas and a large section of the Palestinian people.

    Is anyone surprised that the opposite happened?

    One of the criteria of a just war is that the belligerent must have a reasonable prospect of success.

    By that criterion, Israel isn’t fighting a just war.

  319. Peter Kemp

    Looks like a ground invasion has started:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052299.html

    “The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations,” said Israel Defense Forces Major Avital Leibovitch, a military spokeswoman, confirming that incursions were under way. “We are going to take some of the launch areas used by Hamas.”

    The IDF Spokesperson’s office issued a statement, emphasizing that this stage of the operation will further the goals of the eight-day offensive as voiced by the IDF until now: To strike a direct and hard blow against the Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the IDF, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel over the long term.

    Some of the launch areas. Increasing the deterrent strength. Sounds to me like the policy in southern Lebanon 2006, and risking a lot of lives for negative gain, against what may well be a hornets nest of a very angry, well motivated enemy whose capability is likely to be much more advanced than in the past.(ie if Hamas has acquired some anti-tank weaponry?)

    (All this politically to out-Bibi Bibi’s bibliography, prior to elections?)

  320. Katz

    Shorter Avital Leibovitch: Israel has evolved war aims we cannot fail to achieve. See, we’ve won already!

  321. Peter Kemp

    Winning hearts and minds, undoubtedly:
    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/090104/world/mideast_conflict_gaza

    Hours before the invasion, in one of the deadliest strikes of the campaign, an Israeli jet hit the Ibrahim al-Maqdana mosque in Jabaliya, killing at least 16 people among more than 200 people at prayer, medics and witnesses said.

    It would seem the US is getting cold feet; Condi may have learnt something since the Lebanon disaster in 2006:

    The United States also warned Israel in a statement that while it blamed Hamas for the tension, it had grown “deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation” in Gaza as the tanks rolled in. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack added: “We have expressed our concerns to the Israeli government that any military action needs to be mindful of the potential consequences to civilians … It is obvious a ceasefire should take place.

  322. Rob

    It may be different now that the ground incursion has begun, but at any time during the first seven days of the conflict, a ceasefire could have been effected had Hamas said these simple words: ‘We will stop firing rockets into Israel – and we really mean it’.

    Hamas prefers these words, from the mouth of Niza Rayyan, Islamic scholar and architect of the Hamas coup against Fatah, killed yesterday, who said:

    “The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don’t need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel.” There is no chance, he said, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

  323. Mark

    I think this quote from Aniel Barenboim sums up the whole debacle:

    Palestinian violence torments Israelis and does not serve the Palestinian cause; Israeli retaliation is inhuman, immoral and does not guarantee security. The destinies of the two peoples are inextricably linked, obliging them to live side by side. They have to decide if they want to make of this a blessing or a curse.

    http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2009/01/israel-escalate.php

    Also of interest is a parallel with Iraq and Afghanistan:

    However strong the support is within Israel for the military operation in Gaza, the chances of it working are remote. Unless Israel re-occupies the whole of the Gaza strip and maintains rigid control over a deeply antagonistic population of nearly 1.5 million Palestinians, the rocket attacks will almost certainly continue. What has to be appreciated is that there is now widespread knowledge of how to construct crude but deadly devices from quite basic materials using equally basic machinery. Moreover, the very intensity of the Israeli military action demonstrates how effective these rockets can be in their political impact.

    What has evolved with the development of these rockets in Gaza over the past two years is actually far more significant than most people realise. It is at least as important as the rapid evolution of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, with all the effects that they have had and continue to have. Those crude Gaza rockets have either to be countered or Israel will see its security deteriorate still further. Many Israelis see this, but their fundamental mistake is to believe this is a problem with a military answer.

    Some time in the coming years there will be the realisation among astute Israelis that there is no alternative to a negotiated and fair settlement with the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza. It is just possible that the disaster that is now unfolding, for Israelis as well as Palestinians, will actually hasten that realisation.

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/gaza-hope-after-attack

  324. Mark

    Rob @ 322 – see the quote I’ve just posted.

  325. Rob

    Mark @ 324 – see the quote I’ve just posted. How do you negotiate this someone like Rayyan? He wasn’t some maverick spouting some ‘mere rhetoric’. His was the genuine voice of Hamas articulating its core beliefs.

  326. Mark

    How would you negotiate with some of the lunatics in the Israeli government who’ve been celebrating this carnival of destruction, Rob? The answer is obvious – it goes back to the non-recognition of Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian elections, and all the consequences that flow from that.

    Sara Roy on the political evolution of Hamas:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/what-is-hamas

  327. Katz

    What has to be appreciated is that there is now widespread knowledge of how to construct crude but deadly devices from quite basic materials using equally basic machinery. Moreover, the very intensity of the Israeli military action demonstrates how effective these rockets can be in their political impact.

    It’s only a matter of time before they are fired from the West Bank.

    There are many more juicy targets vulnerable from, and in, the West Bank than from Gaza.

    What will the Israeli response be to that eventuality?

    And it looks like Abbas is caving to Hamas</a.

  328. Rob

    Well, Mark, if you won’t listen to me (understandable), and you won’t listen to Rayyan (incomprehensible), maybe you’ll listen to this guy:

    We Arabs must be the ones to stop Hamas and Hizbullah, rather than support their demonic and twisted logic of resisting development, enlightenment, and progress of the region. Even when development and enlightenment stare them in the face, their instinct is to destroy them pretending to safeguard their honor, the mechanics of which supersede all else including a happy life of fulfillment and accomplishments.

  329. Katz

    I notice that Farid Ghadry lives in the US.

    He does not appear to have won any elections in Gaza.

  330. Mark

    Rob, I don’t see any value whatsoever in considering the opinion of someone who ascribes “an instinct to destroy” to an entire group. The whole situation has political causes and discussing it in terms of some cultural or racial essentialism is hardly helpful to anyone, and in fact a big part of the problem – ie objectification and demonisation of enemies. This kind of statement is the mirror image of “Israel is evil”, frankly.

  331. Rob

    The instinct to destroy that Ghadry talks about relates to Hamas/Hizbollah’s response to “development and enlightenment”. He doesn’t ascribe it to the Arabs – quite the reverse, in fact. He sees the terrorists as representing the reverse of Arab values.

  332. Peter Kemp

    Rob’s guru Farid Ghadry:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Farid_N._Ghadry

    Described as a “discredited businessman from Virginia” who is “Syria’s version of Ahmad Chalabi” by Robert Dreyfuss April 17, 2006, in The American Prospect, Ghadry is “a secular, pro-democracy Sunni from a majority-Sunni country….

    Ghadry is a member of AIPAC. [5] On May 15, 2003, Eli J. Lake wrote in The National Review: “His organization is only now getting off the ground,” and “a Syrian who belongs to one of Israel’s main lobbying groups is not exactly a strong political candidate in a country that remains one of the most rabidly anti-Israel in the region. As Ghadry himself admits, ‘The Syrians are not ready for someone who wants to make peace with Israel.'”

    AIPAC=American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

    FFS Rob, why don’t you do a 2 minute google before you post this AIPAC stuff purporting to be the gospel of the Arabs???

    Do you just have an internet Bot that searches “Dirty Rotten Scoundrel Arabs” and then post the results without finding out more about said authors found?

  333. Rob

    “Ghadry is “a secular, pro-democracy Sunni from a majority-Sunni country….”

    What’s the matter with that? Sounds like a recommendation to me.

  334. Peter Kemp

    Shorter Rob:

    We Israeli apologists Arabs must be the ones to stop Hamas and Hizbullah…

  335. Rob

    Is there anything specific in the article that you take issue with, Peter?

  336. Peter Kemp

    What’s the matter with that?

    He’s almost certainly an American citizen and a member of AIPAC, and you put him up there in your comment @328, telling Mark to “listen to this guy” without saying anything about his background: in essence a false representation of ‘Arab’ thought.

    More accurately, what’s the matter with you? Your blind allegiance to one side of this issue is plain for all to see all the way through this thread, it lacks even a modicum of balance, and therefore in a discussion of the issues, why should anyone listen to you, except one sided Israeli supporters; or debate with you?

    Have a second look at my gravy: you are somewhat like Howard and Ruddock with an incredible ability to hold up a dead rat and say it smells of roses.

  337. Rob

    Yes, well, thanks for that, Peter. You might have missed the attribution to YNet at the bottom of the article, which indicates, quite beyond doubt (even notwithstanding the AIPAC connection) that this is the work of teh Zionist Lobby.

    So you don’t actually have anything to contest in the article itself, as opposed to its author.

  338. Peter Kemp

    Is there anything specific in the article that you take issue with, Peter?

    More a question of omissions, Rob. Did you mention he was a member of AIPAC? If not, why not. And why not @ 328?

    If I wanted a balanced view (which I do), it wouldn’t be available from AIPAC members now, would it?

  339. AC

    @336: Your blind allegiance to one side of this issue is plain for all to see all the way through this thread, it lacks even a modicum of balance, and therefore in a discussion of the issues, why should anyone listen to you

    Actually, that accurately sums up many of the posters here, and is a point I have made numerous times.

    What really offends you is Rob’s tireless, repeated and unemotional assertion of the facts. He just won’t tow the line! Unfortunately for your agenda, those facts don’t show Hamas coming out smelling of roses.

    Your call for a modicum of balance is frankly one of the more ironic posts I have read in this thread.

  340. Mark

    Rob, you were blithely dismissing some links I posted earlier on the grounds of what you assumed about the authors’ politics, without even engaging with what they wrote. If you’re going to accuse others of playing the same game, you might look first to the mote in your own eye.

  341. Rob

    But you and Peter are doing exactly the same with ‘my guy’, Mark. You’re not engaging with his arguments because they are inconvenient.

  342. Peter Kemp

    those facts don’t show Hamas coming out smelling of roses.

    Indeed AC, there’s another dead rat, Hamas, albeit somewhat lesser in smelliness when it comes to proportionality of responses, but nonetheless equally as stupid as the Israeli government.

    But Hamas’ mind numbing stupidity does not excuse Israel’s lack of proportionality.

  343. Rob

    Besides, I did engage with your Johann Hari citation. I dismissed his assertions as distorted after examining his source.

  344. Mark

    I have engaged with what he said, Rob – @330 – he doesn’t appear to me to be adding anything particularly helpful or factual but articulating a predetermined ideological perspective, which I’ve been consistently arguing is a huge part of the problem.

    And AC – please eschew the meta-commentary. Since you say that you’d like to see the debate progress rationally, I’d suggest deconstructing others’ putative motives is actually counterproductive. Please contribute substantially to the topic in future. Thanks.

  345. Rob

    “Proportionality” has been argued all over the blogosphere, Peter.

    I think Michael J Totten’s take is right:

    The Law of Armed Conflict “arises from a desire among civilized nations to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction while not impeding the effective waging of war. A part of public international law, LOAC regulates the conduct of armed hostilities. It also aims to protect civilians, prisoners of war, the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked.”

    Proportionality, in short and according to the law, “prohibits the use of any kind or degree of force that exceeds that needed to accomplish the military objective.”

    In other words, if a surgical strike is all that is needed to take out a Grad rocket launcher, carpet bombing the entire city or even the neighborhood isn’t allowed.

    Hamas is still firing rockets; therefore, the IDF is not using more force than necessary to disrupt the firing of rockets. Israel, arguably, is using less force than necessary. And the IDF, unlike Hamas, does what it can to minimize injury to civilians. “Militants often operate against Israel from civilian areas,” the Associated Press reported last week. “Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.” Israeli commanders are even warning individual Hamas leaders that their homes are on the target list so they can vacate the premises in advance.

    It’s also worth looking at the doctrine of distinction, which Israel follows while Hamas does not.

    Distinction, according to the Law of Armed Conflict, “means discriminating between lawful combatant targets and noncombatant targets such as civilians, civilian property, POWs, and wounded personnel who are out of combat. The central idea of distinction is to only engage valid military targets. An indiscriminate attack is one that strikes military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. Distinction requires defenders to separate military objects from civilian objects to the maximum extent feasible. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to locate a hospital or POW camp next to an ammunition factory.”

    Hamas violates this doctrine in two ways at once. Its fighters launch Qassam, Katyusha, and Grad rockets into Israeli civilian areas, and they fire those rockets from inside Palestinian civilian areas. Both are prohibited by the Law of Armed Conflict.

    The law does not, however, prohibit Israel from striking legitimate military targets in civilian areas. “Although civilians may not be made the object of a direct attack, the LOAC recognizes that a military target need not be spared because its destruction may cause collateral damage that results in the unintended death or injury to civilians or damage to their property.”

    Hamas, then, is legally to blame for all, or nearly all, injuries and deaths of both Israelis and Palestinians.

  346. yeti

    It may be different now that the ground incursion has begun, but at any time during the first seven days of the conflict, a ceasefire could have been effected had Hamas said these simple words: ‘We will stop firing rockets into Israel – and we really mean it’.

    And at any time during the last twenty years, a lasting peace could have been effected had Israel said these simple words: “We will withdraw to the 1967 borders – and we really mean it”.

    The simple fact that Israel is an occupying power in Palestine seems to be entirely forgotten by some (and Gaza is part of Palestine, in case you forgot).

    If Israel has the right to self-defence from armed attack, that would seem to imply that it has the right to self-defence from a racist, colonial military occupation. And what’s good enough for them is good enough for all.

  347. Rob

    “And at any time during the last twenty years, a lasting peace could have been effected had Israel said these simple words: “We will withdraw to the 1967 borders – and we really mean it”.”

    Yes, yeti – and they did say that. Almost immediately after the 1967 war, Israel offered to return the captured territories to the Arab states in return for peace. The Arab reply, as articulated in the Isalmic League’s Khartoum declaration, was: “No peace with Israel, no negotiation with Israel, no reocgnition of Israel”.

    The offer stayed open until at least 1977, when the Likud was elected to government for the first time. But even Begin dismantled the settlements in the Sinai (by force) and returned the territory to Egypt in return for a peace deal.

  348. Rob

    And in case you had forgotten, yeti, Israel withdrew every last settler, soldier, goat and donkey from Gaza more than three years ago. So how is it still occupied?

  349. Peter Kemp

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_J._Totten

    Michael J. Totten is a blogger who writes on politics in the Middle East, regularly reporting first-hand in mainstream publications, Web sites, and his blog, Michael J. Totten’s Middle East Journal. He describes himself as a “weird combination of liberal, libertarian, and neocon.

    Excelled yourself again Rob.

    (Legal opinions on this issue BTW are much more likely to be valid when they come from independent specialist practitioners in International law–if I have the energy I may find one on an equivalent ie Lebanon 2006, if you insist.)

  350. Rob

    Peter, what on earth is the point of that comment? Do you agree with Totten’s assessment or not? You’re a lawyer.

  351. John Ryan

    Well tell me what you and the other Israeli members of the propaganda Dept will say Rob when the IDF has wiped out the Palestinians in Gaza,all 1.5 million of them, because i think that is the only way they will stop the people in the Israeli created concentration camp from voting HAMAS back again.
    Then I suppose you can all turn to the West Bank and the Settlers there to wipe out the rest,mind you they are trying now thieving land, killing farmers ect,instituting Apartheid, and you will have Israel from sea to shining sea,will that make you all happy.
    Seeing as how according to you and some of your friends the Israelis can do no wrong,and the Palestinians should not be there so lets kill em all.

  352. murph the surf.

    I am curious about the statement that Gaza is part of Palestine.
    Wasn’t it captured from Egypt in 1967?
    Under international law once an occupied territory is vacated ( and I’m not excusing the embargos and border harrassment by Israel ) what is the obligation of the former government in this case Egypt?

  353. Rob

    Murph, yes it was. Egypt occupied the Strip from 1948 until 1967, and Jordan occupied the West Bank during that same period. There was never any suggestion then that either the West Bank or Gaza were part of ‘Palestine’, and no attempt to establish them as same.

    John, you say:

    Well tell me what you and the other Israeli members of the propaganda Dept will say Rob when the IDF has wiped out the Palestinians in Gaza,all 1.5 million of them, because i think that is the only way they will stop the people in the Israeli created concentration camp from voting HAMAS back again.

    It’s palpably obvious that Israel has no intention of wiping out the population of the Gaza Strip. If it did, it would be carpet bombing a la WWII, instead of using munitions with pinpoint precision. And it doesn’t much care if Gazans vote for Hamas (although no doubt it would rather they didn’t). What it wants is for terrorism and, more particularly, the rocket barrage to end. That’s the whole purpose of Operation Cast Lead.

  354. yeti

    “And at any time during the last twenty years, a lasting peace could have been effected had Israel said these simple words: “We will withdraw to the 1967 borders – and we really mean it”.”

    Yes, yeti – and they did say that. Almost immediately after the 1967 war, Israel offered to return the captured territories to the Arab states in return for peace. The Arab reply, as articulated in the Isalmic League’s Khartoum declaration, was: “No peace with Israel, no negotiation with Israel, no reocgnition of Israel”.

    The offer stayed open until at least 1977, when the Likud was elected to government for the first time. But even Begin dismantled the settlements in the Sinai (by force) and returned the territory to Egypt in return for a peace deal.

    I don’t know the sources for your facts, but I do know that in 1971 Israel rejected a peace proposal from Egypt that did not even mention the creation of a Palestinian state:

    Offered through U.N. mediator Gunnar Jarring, the text of the 1971 plan accepted by Sadat included “respect for and acknowledgment of . . . [Israel’s] sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence,” and Israelis’ “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries”; there was no mention of a Palestinian state. The Israeli government welcomed the plan as a genuine offer of “a peace agreement,” but stated that “Israel will not withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines” — thus rejecting it, and effectively terminating
    the initiative.

    On Sadat’s 1971 offer and its rejection, see for example, John Norton Moore,ed., The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974, Vol. 3, pp.
    1106-1125, especially pp. 1107, 1110 (reproducing the documents).
    http://www.understandingpower.com/chap4.htm

    And Rob, Gaza is part of Palestine, in case you didn’t know that. And even if they have withdrawn from that fraction of Palestine (simply in order to consolidate and expand their occupation in the West Bank – which is the same country, the same nationality), they still control Gaza’s airspace, borders, waters, everything and everyone that goes in and comes out, food, fuel, water, medicine and electricity, they fire rockets into it with impunity, and hold thousands of its people without trial. So do you think Israel would accept those conditions? Of course you don’t.

  355. Peter Kemp

    Do you agree with Totten’s assessment or not? You’re a lawyer.

    I certainly never make it a practice to read a non-lawyer’s legal opinion Rob, especially from a neocon.(Even the neocon lawyers can’t be trusted, ask US ex-AG Gonzales why he regards himself a victim of the war on terror?) So I couldn’t be bothered to read it, except of course his obviously biassed conclusion, which I knew in advance as soon as I found out he was a self confessed neocon.

  356. yeti

    So Rob, many this is the source of your “facts”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War#Conclusion_of_conflict_and_post-war_situation

    According to Chaim Herzog:

    On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government [of Israel] voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. The Golans would have to be demilitarized and special arrangement would be negotiated for the Straits of Tiran. The government also resolved to open negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan regarding the Eastern border.[124]

    The Israeli decision was to be conveyed to the Arab nations by the United States. The US was informed of the decision, but not that it was to transmit it. There is no evidence of receipt from Egypt or Syria, and some historians claim that they may have never received the offer.[125]

    Later, the Khartoum Arab Summit resolved that there would be “no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel.” However, as Avraham Sela notes, the Khartoum conference effectively marked a shift in the perception of the conflict by the Arab states away from one centered on the question of Israel’s legitimacy toward one focusing on territories and boundaries and this was underpinned on November 22 when Egypt and Jordan accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.[126]

    The June 19 Israeli cabinet decision did not include the Gaza Strip, and left open the possibility of Israel permanently acquiring parts of the West Bank. On June 25-27, Israel incorporated East Jerusalem together with areas of the West Bank to the north and south into Jerusalem’s new municipal boundaries.

    So it looks like this:

    Almost immediately after the 1967 war, Israel offered to return the captured territories to the Arab states in return for peace.

    is way off.

  357. yeti

    murph the smurf, Egypt and Jordan have relinquished their claim on the territories. Israel has not claimed the territories officially, because it doesn’t want to grant Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians living there.

  358. yeti

    It’s palpably obvious that Israel has no intention of wiping out the population of the Gaza Strip. If it did, it would be carpet bombing a la WWII, instead of using munitions with pinpoint precision. And it doesn’t much care if Gazans vote for Hamas (although no doubt it would rather they didn’t). What it wants is for terrorism and, more particularly, the rocket barrage to end. That’s the whole purpose of Operation Cast Lead.

    Israel’s rocket barrages don’t kill people. They just collaterally damage them, with pinpoint precision.

  359. Peter Kemp

    I’d start with this one Rob, from The American Society of International Law:
    http://www.asil.org/insigh133.cfm

    Proportionality

    The last key issue regarding Israel’s policy is whether it violates the basic international law principle of proportionality. Proportionality holds that any given action by a state must be substantially proportional to the given threat or wrong. This principle also finds support in the Hague Regulations of 1907 which prohibit the use of arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.[like cluster bombs??? PK]

    Israel’s policy of targeted killing has resulted in the deaths of multiple civilians. Were those deaths avoidable if different tactics were utilized? Proportionality analysis depends upon the circumstances and the situation. Many have suggested that Israel had a less violent option at its disposal: an arrest. As the occupying power, Israel could potentially deploy troops or police to arrest these individuals.

    Proportionality is an important rule that could distinguish Israel’s policy from the American attack on terrorists in Yemen last year via a predator drone. An arrest may be infeasible in the middle of a lawless dessert in Yemen. Civilians are also unlikely to be wounded in such an attack; thus the attack is likely to be proportional under the circumstances.

    Whether Israel’s policy is proportional is not an open and shut case. Deploying soldiers or police to apprehend suspects in hostile urban areas is a dangerous affair. Whether more lives are put at danger through an attempted arrest or a helicopter strike is debatable; hence the proportionality of Israel’s policy is unclear.

    Has to be a bit more “balanced” and authoritative than your neocon n’est pas?

  360. Rob

    yeti @ 356.

    From Martin Gilbert’s Israel: A History:

    Hardly had the war concluded when, on 16 June 1967, the Israeli government conveyed far-reaching peace proposals to Egypt and Syria, throuygh the good oiffices of the United States. These proposals included a readiness to withdraw from most of the West Bank, with only minor adjustments to the border. But when the Arab answer came, from the Khartoum Arab Summit on September 1, it was a resounding negative, three negatives in fact: “No peace. No negotiation. No recognition.” [p. 402]

    Not sure why Gilbert did not mention Gaza.

  361. Rob

    Peter, your citation (or the portion you quote) does not appear to be about the current attacks on Gaza, which is what we are discussing here.

  362. Rob

    So in sum, yeti, your citations and mine combine as follows: Israel offered to return the Golan Heights, Sinai, the West Bank (with minor border adjustments) to the Arab states in return for a peace settlement. The answer was No.

    Thank you for making my point for me.

  363. Peter Kemp

    Rob if you won’t accept the principles eloquently made in that citation, (targeted assassinations 2004, the same as now, allegedly) it’s your problem but here are some more principles. Enjoy.
    (From the same link I provided above.)
    Self-Defense

    A key determinant in assessing Israeli policy is whether it is for the purpose of self-defense or whether it is a reprisal. Armed reprisals are illegal under international law, which prohibits the use of armed force for the purpose of revenge.

    The concept of self-defense in international law has two primary sources. First, there is an explicit reference to self-defense in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which states:

    Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    Those who argue in favor of Israel’s right to self-defense in this situation hold that Hamas’s numerous suicide bombings against Israel constitute an armed attack, much as the United States has argued that the use of civilian airliners to destroy the World Trade Center constituted an armed attack. Furthermore, they note that Hamas has openly declared its intention to strike Israel again. Israel faces an ongoing threat and the Security Council has not yet acted. Consequently, they argue that Article 51 provides Israel with a right to employ military force against Hamas’s leaders.

    Those who dispute Article 51’s applicability generally do not dispute that the number of Israeli casualties is substantial. However, the issue for them is that an armed attack within the meaning of Article 51 is an armed attack from a state. Hamas is not a state. It cannot even be argued to constitute a de-facto state. Although other states provide aid and support to Hamas, it is not accepted that Hamas is the organ of a state or under the direct control of another state. According to this view, Hamas’s attacks are more akin to the acts of a violent gang, which must be dealt with as a law enforcement problem. Consequently, Article 51 would be inapplicable and the targeted killings would be unlawful reprisals or extrajudicial acts of homicide.

  364. yeti

    Peace proposals that Egypt and Syria possibly never even received, because Israel didn’t ask the US to pass them on. And these proposals involved returning the Sinai and the Golan Heights, not the Palestinian territories. There was never any proposal to withdraw to the West Bank border with ‘minor adjustments’, a proposal to open negotiations with Jordan on the subject was all.

    November 22 after the Khartoum Summit, Egypt and Jordan accept UN Resolution 242 – Israel has NEVER accepted UN Resolution 242 – it clearly is not interested in returning to the 1967 borders. Immediately after the war it annexed East Jerusalem. If it wanted to withdraw for peace, Resolution 242 has been sitting there waiting for forty years.

    Egypt offered a peace treaty to Israel in 1971 proposal full diplomatic recognition in return for a withdrawal to the 67 borders – Israel rejected it precisely because it involved returning to the 67 borders. Israel has rejected any and every peace proposal involving a withdrawal to its internationally recognized borders – up to the Geneva proposals of 2002, backed by the entire Arab world. Obviously the continuation of its racist, colonial settlement program is non-negotiable. And it has the gall to call its actions defensive!

  365. Peter Kemp

    Counter principles in that “self-defence” part, Rob. Food for thought that all is not black and white, as you consistently assert. It’s called balance, in a legal opinion of ASIL, and balance should also include the whole morass.

  366. yeti

    By the way Rob, the book you’re relying on isn’t the most accurate on the subject on the 1967 War. Maybe that’s why Gilbert didn’t mention Gaza.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009564.html

    Sir Martin’s coffee-table book

    On page 38 we come to the Six-Day War. The chapter begins with: “On June 6, 1967, only three weeks after Israel celebrated the 19th anniversary of its statehood, it was attacked by three Arab states: Egypt, Syria and Jordan.”

    The Six-Day War began, of course, on the morning of June 5; on that day Egypt did not attack Israel, but rather Israel attacked Egypt.

  367. Rob

    Yeti @ 364, I’m happy to rely on Gilbert as an authority. You appear not to have read the citation. On what basis do you contend that the offers were not passed on by the US? What would be the point of making them, if not for the purpose of conveying them to Syria and Egypt?

  368. Rob

    Once again, Peter, your citations are not relevant to the current operations against Hamas in Gaza.

  369. yeti

    Not a very well sourced history either:

    The bibliography lists only 10 books and five were written by Israeli politicians. The book is dedicated to Shimon Peres, the president of Israel.

    How about you make yourself a cup of coffee, sit down and prepare to learn some of the basics:

    An Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

  370. Katz

    “The Israelis claim they are attacking Gaza to weaken Hamas, but in fact they are strengthening Hamas,” said Mustafa Barghouti, an independent member of the Palestinian parliament who led Friday’s march in Ramallah. “Mr. Abbas is perceived now as incapable of protecting all the Palestinian people.”

    http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=18512

  371. Rob

    Oh my gosh.

    Gilbert on p. 383:

    After the Cabinet broke up, Dayan saw Eshkol alone. The time he proposed to launch an Israeli attack was, Dayan said, 7.45 the next morning, Monday June 5. Eshkol agreed. Israel would take the military initiative against those who were threatening her annihilation.

    Emphasis added.

  372. Rob

    Spare my days, yeti @ 369. I have the book in front of me. The bibliography runs to ten pages in what looks like 6-point font. Hundreds of references.

  373. Peter Kemp

    Shorter Rob: I’ll stick with the legal opinions of neocon non-lawyers; ignore some principles of International Law as not relevant when I don’t agree with them; accept any pro-Israeli Arab opinion as valid particularly when it comes from members of AIPAC and promote any pro-Israeli argument, whatever the cost.

    Shorter shorter Rob: I specialise in deodorising dead rats.

  374. Rob

    yeti says: The book is dedicated to Shimon Peres, the president of Israel.

    Need it be said that this is wrong, too?

    Here is the dedication:

    Dedicated to my friends in Israel, who have introduced me, during thirty-five years, to so many aspects of their history; and to Shoshana Poznansky, who is embarking on her own Israeli journey.

  375. Charlie Brown

    It used to be said of the New York Times that, “while it’s true the Times hasn’t got a funnies page, at least it has got Abe Rosenthal.” In the same spirit, LP is notably lacking for comic strips, but it does have Peter Kemp.

    PK: “…especially from a neocon. (Even the neocon lawyers can’t be trusted…”)
    Res ipsa loquitur, as they say, but I’ll loquitur a little extra for those of you who have no knack for da Latin. Judge Kemp (as well as Jury Kemp and Hangman Kemp), it would appear, has his own personal ideological litmus test which must be passed before a legal argument may be admitted to his august presence. I should have thought this would be the very antithesis of an impartial, philosophical legal approach, but then I of course I lack the grave qualifications of Judge K.

    Katz refers again and again to something called “just war theory”. I’d be grateful if Katz would articulate exactly whose “theory” it is, and the provenance of the principles upon which it rests.

    I suggest to all and sundry that you find out what exactly a “hudna” is, and how it differs from a “peace treaty” in the Western sense.

    Also, a look into the age-breakdown demographics of Gaza might enlighten the minority here who are able to think clearly.

    May I suggest that a thread Part II or a new thread may ease convenience for what looks to be a continuing discussion.

    — j_p_z, on his tenth bag of popcorn

  376. yeti

    Oh, ok it’s a different book by the same author, who seems to be confused about the facts, since he’s written two books that say different things. When he puts his name to a book that gets the date of the 67 war wrong, as well as who started it, you might want to consider some other authorities. Start with the introduction I linked to. Then when you’re done, tell me why Israel won’t accept Resolution 242 when every other country does.

  377. yeti

    In case that introduction isn’t enough for you, here’s some books for if you really want to become an informed person.

    Tanya Reinhart
    Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, 2nd ed. (Open Media)
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tanya+reinhart&sprefix=tanya+rein

    Noam Chommsky
    Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (Updated Edition) (South End Press Classics Series) (Paperback)
    http://www.amazon.com/Fateful-Triangle-Palestinians-Updated-Classics/dp/0896086011

    Norman Finkelstein
    Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, New and Revised Edition (Paperback)
    http://www.amazon.com/Image-Reality-Israel-Palestine-Conflict-Revised/dp/1859844421/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231060863&sr=1-3

    Norman Finkelstein
    Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History
    http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Chutzpah-Misuse-Anti-Semitism-History/dp/0520249895/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231060863&sr=1-1

    Benny Morris
    Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 (Paperback)
    http://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Victims-Zionist-Arab-Conflict-1881-2001/dp/0679744754/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231060992&sr=1-2

  378. Rob

    yeti, please explain to me how the terms of Resolution 242, which include:

    1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

    (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

    (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

    – is consistent with the Khartoum declaration of the Arab League, and the points you have yourself advanced above.

    More from wiki (not that I regard it as an infallible source)

    Initially, most of the Arab world rejected Resolution 242. Today, the general Arab position is that the Resolution calls for Israel to withdraw from all the territory it occupied during the Six-Day War as a precondition to the start of peace negotiations.

    Remind me again what it was that Israel offered in the immediate aftermath of the Six-day War?

  379. yeti

    There is no evidence that either Egypt or Syria received Israel’s offer in 1967 (Israel never asked America to deliver it), and in any case Israel, certainly didn’t offer to withdraw to the ’67 borders. They NEVER have and apparently never well, which you think is fine. If they had been willing to withdraw to the borders, they would have accepted 242 by the time Egypt and Jordan did (which was the November 22 after Khartoum). Instead they rejected every single peace proposal, which makes it seem like their offer (which was made to America, not to the Arabs) was never in good faith, and was never acted upon as America never demanded it.

    So, you’re saying that the reason that Israel has opposed 242 for the last forty years is because the Arab governments opposed it for a few months forty years ago (despite supporting it for decades since then)? Even you ought to admit that that is a pretty weak reason. Where do you stand on racial apartheid?

  380. yeti

    I wonder why you put that text out of 242 in bold. Maybe it’s because that’s exactly what every Arab state and the Palestinian Authority have been offering for decades, and exactly what Israel is denying to the Palestinians with its racist, violent, illegal colonial project.

  381. epicene

    I’m more than a little pissed at the ABC’s odd choice of vocabulary since this started. On Friday,2nd January the air assault(unilateral, there being no Gazan Air Force)as described as “..the violence in Gaza”.
    Saturday we had the new concept of “..armed Paliestinians.” (not, unfortunately, in contererpoint to ‘innocent civilians’), which would seem to be further extending language abuse, below even the US’s “unlawful combatants”.
    Sunday we’ve had “armed incursion”.
    Is there no end to the reluctance to call it what it is/ Or have we now forgotten how to call a spade “a beaten or shaped metal instrument for the manual removal of shit”?

  382. Peter Kemp

    Oh j_p_z, that explains it.

    Res ipsa loquitur:the principle that the occurrence of an accident implies negligence.

    The accident of your new moniker, and Peanuts being in loco parentis of your blog contributions?

  383. Rob

    yeti @ 378:

    Israel’s Abba Eban to the UN on May 1, 1968: “My government has indicated its acceptance of the Security Council resolution for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace. I am also authorized to reaffirm that we are willing to seek agreement with each Arab State on all matters included in that resolution.”

    yeti @ 379: laughs, couldn’t help; it couldn’t do much else.

  384. Rob

    Apologies. Should have read: yeti @ 379: laughs, couldn’t help it; couldn’t do much else.

  385. yeti

    Clearly Abba Eban shares the same warped interpretation of Resolution 242 as does the Jewish Virtual Library. “from territories” rather than “from the territories.”

    Since how on Earth is the construction of thousands of settlements and the rejection of every single peace treaty involving a withdrawal to the 67 borders consistent with the acceptance of the 242 Resolution?

    The fact is that Israel never intended to withdraw:

    The basic parameters of Israeli policy regarding Palestinian territory were set out in the late 1960s in the proposal of Yigal Allon, a senior Labor Party official and Cabinet member. The “Allon Plan” called for Israel’s annexation of up to half the West Bank, while Palestinians would be confined to the other half in two unconnected cantons to the north and south.

    242 proposed a negotiated settlement of the conflict based on the 67 borders. The first comprehensive peace proposal was from Sadat, delivered to Israel in 1971 by Jarring:

    the text of the 1971 plan accepted by Sadat included “respect for and acknowledgment of . . . [Israel’s] sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence,” and Israelis’ “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries”; there was no mention of a Palestinian state. The Israeli government welcomed the plan as a genuine offer of “a peace agreement,” but stated that “Israel will not withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines” — thus rejecting it, and effectively terminating the initiative.

    Israel has never accepted the principle of returning to the 1967 borders.

    The United States initially supported the consensus interpretation of Resolution 242, making allowance for only “minor” and “mutual” adjustments on the irregular border between Israel and the Jordanian-controlled West Bank. (30) In heated private exchanges with Israel during the UN-sponsored mediation efforts of Gunnar Jarring in 1968, (31) American officials stood firm that “the words `recognized and secure’ meant `security arrangements’ and `recognition’ of new lines as international boundaries,” and “never meant that Israel could extend its territory to [the] West Bank or Suez if this was what it felt its security required”; and that “there will never be peace if Israel tries to hold onto large chunks of territory.” Referring to it explicitly by name, the US deplored even the minimalist version of the Allon Plan as “a non-starter” and “unacceptable in principle.” (32)

    In a crucial shift beginning under the Nixon-Kissinger administration, however, American policy was realigned with Israel’s. (33) Except for Israel and the United States (and occasionally a US client state), the international community has consistently supported, for the past quarter-century, the “two-state” settlement: that is, the full Israeli withdrawal/full Arab recognition formula as well as the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The United States cast the lone veto of Security Council resolutions in January 1976 and April 1980 affirming the two-state settlement that were endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and neighboring Arab states. A December 1989 General Assembly resolution along similar lines passed 151-3 (no abstentions), the three negative votes cast by Israel, the United States, and Dominica. (34) Given this record of contempt for world opinion, it’s unsurprising that Israel set as a crucial precondition for negotiations that Palestinians “must drop their traditional demand” for “international arbitration” or a “Security Council mechanism.” (35) The main obstacle to Israel’s annexation of occupied Palestinian territory was the PLO. Having endorsed the two-state settlement in the mid-1970s, it could no longer be dismissed as simply a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction. Indeed, pressures mounted on Israel to reach an agreement with the PLO’s “compromising approach.” Consequently in June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, where Palestinian leaders were headquartered, to head off what Israeli strategic analyst Avner Yaniv dubbed the PLO’s “peace offensive.” (36)

    Since I know damn well that you’re not going to click on a link that might present you with a few facts you don’t like, I hope Mark doesn’t mind me pasting a few paragraphs at length – which makes clear how absolutely ludicrous it is to suggest that Israel has accepted Resolution 242.

    Israel’s settlement policy in the Occupied Territories the past decade points up the real content of the “peace process” set in motion at Oslo. The details are spelled out in an exhaustive study by B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) entitled Land Grab. (40) Due primarily to massive Israeli government subsidies, the Jewish settler population increased from 250,000 to 380,000 during the Oslo years, with settler activity proceeding at a brisker pace under the tenure of Labor’s Ehud Barak than Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Illegal under international law and built on land illegally seized from Palestinians, these settlements now incorporate nearly half the land surface of the West Bank. For all practical purposes they have been annexed to Israel (Israeli law extends not only to Israeli but also non-Israeli Jews residing in the settlements) and are off-limits to Palestinians without special authorization. Fragmenting the West Bank into disconnected and unviable enclaves, they have impeded meaningful Palestinian development. In parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem the only available land for building lies in areas under Israeli jurisdiction, while the water consumption of the 5,000 Jewish settlers in the Jordan Valley is equivalent to 75% of the water consumption of the entire two million Palestinians inhabitants of the West Bank. Not even one Jewish settlement was dismantled during the Oslo years, while the number of new housing units in the settlements increased by more than 50 percent (excluding East Jerusalem); again, the biggest spurt of new housing starts occurred not under Netanyahu’s tenure but rather under Barak’s, in the year 2000 – exactly when Barak claims to have “left no stone unturned” in his quest for peace.

    “Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two different systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality,” the B’Tselem study concludes. “This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the Apartheid regime in South Africa.”

    During the first 18 months of Sharon’s term of office, fully 44 new settlements – rebuked by the UN Commission Human Rights as “incendiary and provocative” – were established. (41) As settlements multiply, Israel is corralling West Bank Palestinians into eight fragments of territory each surrounded by barbed wire with a permit required to move or trade between them (trucks must load and unload on the borders “back-to-back”), thereby further devastating an economy in which unemployment already stands above 70 percent in some areas, half the population lives below the poverty line of $2 per day, and one-fifth of children under five suffer from malnutrition largely caused – according to a USAID report – by transport blockages. “What is truly appalling,” a Haaretz writer lamented, “is the blasé way in which the story has been received and handled by the mass media….Where is the public outcry against this attempt to divide the territories and enforce internal passports … [and] humiliate and inconvenience a population that can scarcely earn a living or live a life as it is?” (42)

    After seven years of on-again, off-again negotiations and a succession of new interim agreements that managed to rob the Palestinians of the few crumbs thrown from the master’s table at Oslo, (43) the moment of truth arrived at Camp David in July 2000. President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak delivered Arafat the ultimatum of formally acquiescing in a Bantustan or bearing full responsibility for the collapse of the “peace process.” Arafat refused, however, to budge from the international consensus for resolving the conflict. According to Robert Malley, a key American negotiator at Camp David, Arafat continued to hold out for a “Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967 borders, living alongside Israel,” yet also “accepted the notion of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory to accommodate settlements, though [he] insisted on a one for one swap of land of ‘equal size and value'” – that is, the “minor” and “mutual” border adjustments of the original US position on Resolution 242. Malley’s rendering of the Palestinian proposal at Camp David – an offer that was widely dismissed but rarely reported – deserves full quotation: “a state of Israel incorporating some land captured in 1967 and including a very large majority of its settlers, the largest Jewish Jerusalem in the city’s history, preservation of Israel’s demographic balance between Jews and Arabs; security guaranteed by a US-led international presence.” On the other hand, contrary to the myth spun by Barak-Clinton as well as a compliant media, “Barak offered the trappings of Palestinian sovereignty,” a special adviser at the British Foreign Office observed, “while perpetuating the subjugation of the Palestinians.” Although accounts of the Barak proposal significantly differ, all knowledgeable observers concur that it “would have meant that territory annexed by Israel would encroach deep inside the Palestinian state” (Malley), dividing the West Bank into multiple, disconnected enclaves, and offering land swaps that were of neither equal size nor equal value. (44)

    Consider in this regard Israel’s reaction to the March 2002 Saudi peace plan. Crown Prince Abdullah proposed, and all 21 other members of the Arab League approved, a plan making concessions that actually went beyond the international consensus. In exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal, it offered not only full recognition but “normal relations with Israel,” and called not for the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees but rather only a “just solution” to the refugee problem. A Haaretz commentator noted that the Saudi plan was “surprisingly similar to what Barak claims to have proposed two years ago” at Camp David. Were Israel truly committed to a comprehensive withdrawal in exchange for normalization with the Arab world, the Saudi plan and its unanimous endorsement by the Arab League summit ought to have been met with euphoria. In fact, after an ephemeral interlude of evasion and silence, it was quickly deposited in Orwell’s memory hole. (45) Nonetheless, Barak’s – and Clinton’s – fraud that Palestinians at Camp David rejected a maximally generous Israeli offer provided crucial moral cover for the horrors that ensued.

    It’s a simple matter. There is an occupation – there is a reaction to the occupation.

  386. Rob

    I’m really not sure what point you’re trying to make, yeti. I certainly agree that the settlements were a mistake, if not a crime, if that’s your point.

    But trying to get back to the point of the post (and I’m as much to blame if it’s wandered OT) can I contrast one of you quoted points –

    ….that is, the full Israeli withdrawal/full Arab recognition formula as well as the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

    – with this, posted earlier:

    This is what he said when I asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (or cease-fire) with Israel: “The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don’t need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel.” There is no chance, he said, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

    No recognition there, not even remotedly.

    Finkelstein and Chomsky are not good guides through the ME labyrinth. They will lead you thoroughly astray. May I suggest you look for others.

  387. Nabakov

    Oh, kill all their gods and then let ’em sort it out.

  388. Katz

    Katz refers again and again to something called “just war theory”. I’d be grateful if Katz would articulate exactly whose “theory” it is, and the provenance of the principles upon which it rests.

    Happy to oblige Japerz.

    Wiki serves as a jumping off point for a mountain of literature.

    Doubtless there are many objections to all of the criteria cited. But this theory is the most highly elaborated theory I know of in relation to armed conflict.

    No serious moral philosopher ignores this theory even while trying to redefine some of its boundaries.

    The particular criterion I referred to is phrased thus:

    Probability of success: Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success;

    Israel may have breached some other criteria as well.

  389. GregM

    Peter Kemp says of the ASIL article he has linked to:

    Counter principles in that “self-defence” part, Rob. Food for thought that all is not black and white, as you consistently assert. It’s called balance, in a legal opinion of ASIL, and balance should also include the whole morass.

    The opinion he links to is not a legal opinion of ASIL but an opinion of a junior lawyer which ASIL has published but not endorsed. ASIL solicits such articles in order to promote discussion of matters of international law, as is to be expected as it is a group dedicated to promoting the study and discussion of international law. That does not make such articles “a legal opinion of ASIL”. ASIL is not a law firm so does not do legal opinions as a cursory examination of its website shows.

    The article says of the author:

    About the Author:
    Mayur Patel will be joining the law firm of Dewey Ballantine LLP this fall.

    The article states:

    The purpose of ASIL Insights is to provide concise and informed background for developments of interest to the international community. The American Society of International Law does not take positions on substantive issues, including the ones discussed in this Insight.

    It is a sound practice that when you rely on articles to advance your argument you should read them in their entirety first. That way you won’t fall into the error of inadvertent misrepresentation of the standing of those articles.

  390. Rob

    Katz, that’s arguable. When does one determine a cause is futile? I’d have said that of Iraq three years ago, but not now. People said it in large numbers after Dunkirk. They turned out to be wrong, too. It’s too early to say in the present case.

  391. GregM

    No serious moral philosopher ignores this theory even while trying to redefine some of its boundaries.

    Would it be too hard for you to provide your list of serious moral philosophers so we can check who they are, according to you as arbiter of who are serious as distinct from the silly ones, and see if there are any moral philosophers who have been too frivolous or pre-occupied with other matters (moral philosophy being a very broad field and by no means just dedicated to the study of just war theory) to make your list?

  392. Katz

    Katz, that’s arguable. When does one determine a cause is futile? I’d have said that of Iraq three years ago, but not now.

    The Bush clique tore up its original objectives. In return for allowing the Shiites to wreak genocide on Sunni, the Bush clique conspired with the Shiite ascendency to concoct a counterfeit of “success”.

  393. yeti

    If you’re not sure what point I’m trying to make, it’s in the final line. There is an occupation, and there is a reaction to the occupation. That’s what this is all about.

    “I certainly agree that the settlements were a mistake, if not a crime”

    WERE a mistake? Why the past tense? The settlement project is continuing at accelerated pace. And building a massive system of racially exclusive, militarized colonies on stolen land is hardly something that anyone can do by mistake. Yes, it is not just a crime, it is one of the most despicable and outrageous crimes of the modern world.

    I don’t know who your quote is from. I presume it is from a Hamas member. Would it make a difference if I quoted some IDF member proposing the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? Hamas (which Israel funded as a religious counterweight to the secular PLO) was not one of the parties that proposed to offer full recognition to Israel. The fact that the PLO, after giving Israel virtually everything that it asked for, got absolutely nothing in return except for more settlements, more oppression, more violence and racism, led many Palestinians to view Fatah as Israeli collaborators, and support Hamas instead. Israel has only itself to blame. Yet although Hamas does not accept the existence of a racially supremacist Jewish state in historical Palestine, Jimmy Carter did reach an agreement that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state within the 67 borders if ratified in a Palestinian election. They have been holding the ceasefire as well as good be expected given Israel’s actions, you seem to believe that Israel has a right to occupy, colonize and oppress and never expect any consequences.

    Once again I am resorting to a big pasting job since I know you won’t follow a link to educate yourself.

    It is crucial that one has her/his facts straight about Israel’s war on Gaza. What events brought about this dreadful situation? What needs to be done to make it stop? These questions will be answered in the content of this article, using concrete facts from a variety of news sources.

    Let’s first investigate the recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The cease-fire began in June 2008. The terms were as follows:

    1. Israel would drastically reduce its military blockade of Gaza.
    2. Israel would halt all military incursions into Gaza.
    3. Hamas would halt all rocket attacks into Israel.

    From the outset of the cease-fire, Israel did little to ease its military blockade. As a result, Gazans continued to suffer from a lack of food, fuel, financial aid, electricity, clean water, medical supplies, and more. This has been, inarguably, an attack on innocent Palestinian civilians.

    * Gaza faces a humanitarian “catastrophe” if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday … Israel had restricted goods into Gaza despite the truce, which calls on militants to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel easing its embargo on the territory … Israel also held up deliveries of European Union-funded fuel for the power plant, which generates about a third of the electricity consumed by Gazans… Ailments associated with insufficient food were surfacing among the impoverished coastal strip’s 1.5 million population, including growing malnutrition.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 21, 2008 [1]
    * A former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has told the BBC she was taken aback by the “terrible” conditions in Gaza on a recent visit. Mrs Robinson said it was “almost unbelievable” that the world did not care about what she called “a shocking violation of so many human rights” … Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control there in 2007 … “Their whole civilisation has been destroyed, I’m not exaggerating,” said Mrs Robinson …Israel says the blockade, under which it has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid into Gaza, is needed to isolate the militant group and stop it and other militants from firing rockets into Israel. Israel came to a truce with Palestinian groups in June this year, but Mrs Robinson said this had had little effect on people’s lives and “just brought a bitter taste in the mouth”.
    –BBC News, Nov. 4, 2008 [2]
    * The UN in the Gaza Strip says it will run out of food aid in two days unle Israel’s blockade – which it describes as “shameful and unacceptable” – eases. The UN refugee agency UNWRA, which distributes food to half of Gaza’s 1.5m people, called the blockade “a physical as well as a mental punishment”. Israel is now allowing a limited amount of fuel acro the border, but it is still blocking food deliveries … In a statement, UNWRA spokesman Christopher Gunne said food distribution operations would end on Thursday unle Israeli authorities allowed deliveries of wheat, luncheon meat, powdered milk and cooking oil without delay. “This is both a physical as well as a mental punishment of the population – of mothers and parents trying to feed their children – who are being forced to live hand to mouth,” he said … “It is a further illustration of the barbarity of this inhuman blockade.” … “It is also shameful and unacceptable that the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza is being forced into yet another cycle of crisis management,” Mr Gunne added.
    –BBC News, Nov. 11, 2008 [3]
    * International aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said virtually no medical supplies were reaching Gaza. –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 9, 2008 [14]
    * The UN has no more food to distribute in the Gaza Strip, the head of relief efforts in the area has warned. John Ging said handouts for 750,000 Gazans would have to be suspended until Saturday at the earliest, and called Gaza’s economic situation “a disaster”. Israel earlier denied entry to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies… The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) distributes emergency aid to about half of Gaza’s 1.5m population. “We have run out [of food aid] this evening,” said Mr Ging, UNRWA’s senior official in Gaza. “Unle the crossing points open… we won’t be able to get that food into Gaza,” he told Reuters news agency … Also on Thursday, Israel refused permission for a group of senior European diplomats to visit the coastal enclave. It has also prevented journalists, including those from the BBC, from entering the territory.
    –BBC News, Nov. 13, 2008 [4]
    * Since June 2007, Israel has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip. Many there hoped that policy would change, five months ago, when Hamas and Israel agreed to a truce. But while there were some increases in the amount of aid allowed in, Israel’s strict restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza largely remained… Serious fuel shortages have led to widespread power cuts acro Gaza City. That, in turn, has caused problems in pumping water to homes, and sewage to treatment plants. Israel is preventing many aid workers, and all journalists from entering Gaza too … “I never thought we would see days like this,” says Monther Shublak, head of Gaza’s water authority. “The water system was severely stretched even before this crisis, but now, things are much worse. For the last four days, around 40% of people in Gaza City have had no acce to running water in their homes at all.” … “But we are putting all of our resources into sewage pumping. The health consequences of that system totally failing are too worrying to think about, but it could happen unle things change.”
    –BBC News, Nov. 20, 2008 [5]
    * Israel has refused to allow cash to enter Gaza in recent weeks to ratchet up pressure on the ruling Hamas militant group. With the supply of currency dwindling, banks have limited withdrawals over the past two weeks, and some have posted signs telling customers they cannot take out any more money … The United Nations halted cash handouts to 98,000 of Gaza’s poorest residents last week, and economists and bank officials warn that tens of thousands of civil servants won’t be able to cash their paychecks next month … “No society can operate without money, but that’s the situation we are reaching in Gaza,” said Gaza economist Omar Shaban … Israel and Egypt have restricted movement through Gaza’s border crossings since the Islamic militants of Hamas violently seized control of the coastal territory in June 2007. Since then, closures have been eased or tightened, depending on the security situation. But even in quiet times, when Gaza militants refrained from firing rockets at Israeli border towns, only limited shipments of food, medicine and commercial goods were allowed in… Shlomo Dror, an Israel Defense Ministry spokesman, questioned the seriousne of the currency shortage. “We are used to the Palestinians inventing things and we are looking into their claim,” he said.
    –Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2008 [6]

    Despite the intense blockade against Gazan civilians, the cease-fire held until November 4, 2008. On that date, the Israeli military made an incursion into Gaza and killed six Palestinians. The Israeli government sought to justify these actions, saying that they suspected these Palestinians of plotting to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Palestinian fighters responded to the attack by launching rockets into Israel. Thus began the unraveling of the cease-fire.

    * At least six Hamas militants have been killed after Israel’s first incursion into the Gaza Strip since June’s truce. Israel said its troops had uncovered a tunnel along central Gaza’s frontier which had been dug by militants intending to abduct Israeli soldiers. Clashes ensued when troops were sent to thwart the threat, Israel said. One militant died, Palestinian reports say. A subsequent Israeli air strike on Hamas positions in southern Gaza killed at least five fighters, medics said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the air strike targeted militants who had fired mortars at Israeli forces… Tuesday evening’s fighting broke out after Israeli tanks and a bulldozer moved 250m into the central part of the coastal enclave, backed by military aircraft, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Ramallah. Residents of central Gaza’s el-Bureij refugee camp said a missile fired from an unmanned Israeli drone flying over the area injured another three Hamas gunmen. A truce between the two sides had held since it was declared on 19 June. Israel said the raid was not a violation of the ceasefire, but rather a legitimate step to remove an immediate threat.
    –BBC News, Nov. 5, 2008 [7]
    * An Israel Air Force air strike in the southern Gaza Strip killed at least five militants and wounded several others on Tuesday, Palestinians said. Earlier, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed a Hamas gunman and wounded two others on Tuesday in the first armed clash in the Gaza Strip since a ceasefire was declared in the territory in June, Palestinian medics said … An Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip was signed earlier this year, and went into effect on June 19. The IDF argued that the raid did not constitute a violation of the cease fire, but instead was a legitimate step to remove an immediate threat to Israel from Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 5, 2008 [8]
    * Two weeks ago, an already fragile humanitarian situation resulting from the mounting effects of months of shortages, saw a dramatic downturn. The fighting resumed, with an Israeli army incursion into Gaza and a retaliatory barrage of militant rocket fire.
    –BBC News, Nov. 20, 2008 [5]

    As the cease-fire began to crumble, the violence from both sides intensified. Efforts to redeem the cease-fire ultimately failed.

    * Palestinian armed groups in Gaza remain committed to a truce with Israel if Jerusalem reciprocates, Hamas’s Gaza leader said on Friday, even as militants launched more attacks from the coastal territory … “I have met with armed factions over the past two days and they stated their position clearly: they are committed to calm as long as (Israel) abides by it,” said Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s most senior representative in Gaza. –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 21, 2008 [9]
    * Hamas announced on Sunday that militant groups in Gaza have agreed to cease cross-border attacks if Israel opens crossings into the coastal territory, Ma’an news reported.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 24, 2008 [10]
    * After expressing contradictory positions on Sunday, Hamas’ leadership on Monday adopted a united stance: The cease-fire with Israel, which expires this Friday, will not be extended … Hamas’ spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Ayman Taha, said the movement had concluded that there was no point in extending the truce “as long as Israel isn’t abiding by its terms” – though he added that talks on continuing the cease-fire were still taking place. Specifically, Taha said, Israel was supposed to have expanded the truce to the West Bank – something Hamas demanded but Israel in fact never promised – and opened the Gaza border crossings, and “this hasn’t happened.”
    –Haaretz Israel News, Dec. 16, 2008 [11]

    Following the end of the cease-fire, Israel moved closer to an invasion of the territory. The Israeli government claimed that this was the only remaining option to eliminate rocket attacks from Gaza. However, as cited in the sources above, this was clearly not the case. Israel had failed to abide by the terms of the cease-fire. For the overwhelming majority of the six-month truce, Israel had refused to ease its military blockade of Gaza to any significant degree. In addition, it was the initial violator of the cease-fire when it sent tanks and aircraft into Gaza and killed six Palestinians on November 4, 2008. In fact, there is evidence that Israel was planning to strike Gaza even while the cease-fire was still in effect.

    * Barak told the assembled lawmakers that the defense establishment spent months preparing for the Gaza operation.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Dec. 29, 2008 [16]

    In the interest of peace, Hamas, and especially Fatah, have firmly established that they are willing to participate in negotiations that are based on internationally recognized borders and rights.

    * On June 6, 2006, Haniyeh met Dr. Jerome Segal of the University of Maryland in the Gaza Strip … At the end of the meeting, Haniyeh dictated a short message he asked Segal to transmit to President Bush … In the second paragraph, Haniyeh laid out the political platform he maintains to this day. “We are so concerned about stability and security in the area that we don’t mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and offering a truce for many years,” he wrote … Haniyeh called on Bush to launch a dialogue with the Hamas government. “We are not warmongers, we are peace makers and we call on the American government to have direct negotiations with the elected government,” he wrote … In his own letter, Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas’ de facto recognition of Israel. He noted that in a separate meeting, Youssuf suggested that the Palestinian Authority and Israel might exchange ambassadors during that truce period. This was not the only covert message from Hamas to senior Bush administration officials. However, Washington did not reply to these messages and maintained its boycott of the Hamas government.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 14, 2008 [12]
    * The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Saturday his government was willing to accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel within the 1967 borders … Haniyeh told his guests Israel rejected his initiative … He said the Hamas government had agreed to accept a Palestinian state that followed the 1967 borders and to offer Israel a long-term hudna, or truce, if Israel recognized the Palestinians’ national rights… In response to a question about the international community’s impression that there are two Palestinian states, Haniyeh said: “We don’t have a state, neither in Gaza nor in the West Bank. Gaza is under siege and the West Bank is occupied. What we have in the Gaza Strip is not a state, but rather a regime of an elected government. A Palestinian state will not be created at this time except in the territories of 1967.” … “Our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation,” Haniyeh said.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 9, 2008 [14]
    * The Palestinian Authority has placed a full-page advert in Israel’s Hebrew newspapers to promote an Arab peace plan first proposed in 2002. The Saudi-backed initiative offers Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for an end to Israel’s occupation of land captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It also proposes what it calls a just solution for Palestinian refugees. The Israeli government has noted “positive aspects” in the plan but has not formally accepted it … Peace Now, and Israeli campaign group, welcomed the publication of the adverts. “On behalf of a majority of Israeli citizens who support peace with the Palestinian people on the basis of a two state solution – we embrace the Arab Peace Initiative and urge both governments to endorse it and negotiate the final status agreement in its spirit,” a statement from the group said … The text reads: “Fifty-seven Arab and Muslim countries will establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for a full peace accord and the end of the occupation.”
    –BBC News, Nov. 20, 2008 [13]
    * U.S. President-elect Barack Obama proclaimed himself “very impressed” with the Arab League’s peace plan when he discussed it with President Shimon Peres during a brief visit to Israel four months ago, Peres said Tuesday … The plan, originally proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002 and later adopted by the Arab League, states that Israel would receive full relations with the entire Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from all the territory it captured in 1967, including East Jerusalem, plus a solution to the refugee problem. The Bush Administration has said it views the plan positively, but its own road map peace plan and the understandings reached at last year’s Annapolis summit have served as the basis of its diplomatic program.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 19, 2008 [15]

    Since Israel began its strike on Gaza, 4 Israelis and 391 Palestinians have been killed [18]. The White House said that Israel will cease its attack when Hamas has agreed to a truce. Hamas said they are open to any cease-fire propositions. A cease-fire has been proposed, but Israel rejected this offer.

    * “In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
    –BBC News, Dec. 29, 2008 [17]
    * Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has rejected international calls for a 48-hour truce in the Gaza Strip to allow in more humanitarian aid… The 48-hour ceasefire plan to allow more aid into Gaza, was proposed by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told AFP news agency that his group was open to any ceasefire propositions as long as they meant an end to the air strikes and a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
    –BBC News, Dec. 31, 2008 [18]

    The international community must continue to demand that a cease-fire be implemented. In order to be successful, any agreement must call for 1) an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, 2) an end to the Israeli invasion of Gaza, and 3) an end to all rocket attacks into Israel.

    As for Chomsky and Finkelstein, they are actually two of the world’s most outstanding scholars and leading authorities on the subject. If they have published any errors as large as Gilbert’s on the 67 war, please point them out.

  394. Katz

    Perhaps GregM can point to a single moral philosopher whom he regards as “serious” who has written extensively about the ethics of war who does not address JWT.

    And after he has failed to do that, then perhaps he could bone up on the fallacy of negative proof. It may be educational for him.

  395. Rob

    Sorry, yeti – yes, the quote was from Nizar Rayyan, Hamas military leader, theologian and architect of the coup against Fatah. He was killed in an IAF strike yesterday.

    As to your bottom line – “There is an occupation, and there is a reaction to the occupation” – I say to you again: what occupation? Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza three years ago,

  396. Rob

    “If they have published any errors as large as Gilbert’s on the 67 war, please point them out.”

    But, yeti, you haven’t established that Gilbert has made mistakes. All you’ve estalblihed is that you’ve made mistakes about Gilbert’s alleged mistakes.

  397. Rob

    Sorry for the bolding errors.

    But, yeti, you haven’t established that Gilbert has made mistakes. All you’ve established is that you’ve made mistakes about Gilbert’s alleged mistakes.

  398. GregM

    And after he has failed to do that, then perhaps he could bone up on the fallacy of negative proof. It may be educational for him.

    No Katz I’ll wait for you to deliver on your big statement about all serious moral philosophers having a view on JWT. Then I’ll canvass the scope of your errors of logic including your complete misuderstanding of the fallacy of negative proof..

  399. Katz

    GregM adds an inability to read with comprehension to his penchant for nonsense.

    I didn’t sat this:

    No Katz I’ll wait for you to deliver on your big statement about all serious moral philosophers having a view on JWT.

    I said this:

    No serious moral philosopher ignores this theory even while trying to redefine some of its boundaries.

    As a sensible reading of my plain words indicates, I was not talking about all moral philosophers. I was talking about those moral philosophers who concern themselves with the ethics of war.

  400. yeti

    Firstly Gaza is part of Palestine – do you acknowledge that? Or is it a separate country now?

    Secondly, did you read my post @393 about the siege of Gaza? Stupid question – I know you didn’t, you couldn’t care less about the people of Gaza, obviously. There’s clearly nothing you think they shouldn’t endure without retaliating. Israel has withdrawn its troops and settlers and turned it into the largest open-air prison on Earth, with some of the most wretched conditions on Earth, denied food, medicine, fuel, electricity, its people held in Israeli jails without trial in their thousands, cut off from the international media, and pummled with rockets month after month

    A former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has told the BBC she was taken aback by the “terrible” conditions in Gaza on a recent visit. Mrs Robinson said it was “almost unbelievable” that the world did not care about what she called “a shocking violation of so many human rights”

    As for Gilbert’s mistakes – they come out of his book “The Story of Israel”, not your book. I’d take Chomsky and Finkelstien over his work any day. So should you.

  401. yeti

    Since you didn’t read post 393, I will post some of it again for you:

    * Gaza faces a humanitarian “catastrophe” if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday … Israel had restricted goods into Gaza despite the truce, which calls on militants to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel easing its embargo on the territory … Israel also held up deliveries of European Union-funded fuel for the power plant, which generates about a third of the electricity consumed by Gazans… Ailments associated with insufficient food were surfacing among the impoverished coastal strip’s 1.5 million population, including growing malnutrition.
    –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 21, 2008 [1]

    *The UN in the Gaza Strip says it will run out of food aid in two days unless Israel’s blockade – which it describes as “shameful and unacceptable” – eases. The UN refugee agency UNWRA, which distributes food to half of Gaza’s 1.5m people, called the blockade “a physical as well as a mental punishment”. Israel is now allowing a limited amount of fuel acro the border, but it is still blocking food deliveries … In a statement, UNWRA spokesman Christopher Gunne said food distribution operations would end on Thursday unle Israeli authorities allowed deliveries of wheat, luncheon meat, powdered milk and cooking oil without delay. “This is both a physical as well as a mental punishment of the population – of mothers and parents trying to feed their children – who are being forced to live hand to mouth,” he said … “It is a further illustration of the barbarity of this inhuman blockade.” … “It is also shameful and unacceptable that the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza is being forced into yet another cycle of crisis management,” Mr Gunne added.
    –BBC News, Nov. 11, 2008 [3]

    * International aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said virtually no medical supplies were reaching Gaza. –Haaretz Israel News, Nov. 9, 2008 [14]

    * The UN has no more food to distribute in the Gaza Strip, the head of relief efforts in the area has warned. John Ging said handouts for 750,000 Gazans would have to be suspended until Saturday at the earliest, and called Gaza’s economic situation “a disaster”. Israel earlier denied entry to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies… The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) distributes emergency aid to about half of Gaza’s 1.5m population. “We have run out [of food aid] this evening,” said Mr Ging, UNRWA’s senior official in Gaza. “Unle the crossing points open… we won’t be able to get that food into Gaza,” he told Reuters news agency … Also on Thursday, Israel refused permission for a group of senior European diplomats to visit the coastal enclave. It has also prevented journalists, including those from the BBC, from entering the territory.
    –BBC News, Nov. 13, 2008 [4]

    * Since June 2007, Israel has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip. Many there hoped that policy would change, five months ago, when Hamas and Israel agreed to a truce. But while there were some increases in the amount of aid allowed in, Israel’s strict restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza largely remained… Serious fuel shortages have led to widespread power cuts acro Gaza City. That, in turn, has caused problems in pumping water to homes, and sewage to treatment plants. Israel is preventing many aid workers, and all journalists from entering Gaza too … “I never thought we would see days like this,” says Monther Shublak, head of Gaza’s water authority. “The water system was severely stretched even before this crisis, but now, things are much worse. For the last four days, around 40% of people in Gaza City have had no access to running water in their homes at all.” … “But we are putting all of our resources into sewage pumping. The health consequences of that system totally failing are too worrying to think about, but it could happen unless things change.”
    –BBC News, Nov. 20, 2008 [5]

    * Israel has refused to allow cash to enter Gaza in recent weeks to ratchet up pressure on the ruling Hamas militant group. With the supply of currency dwindling, banks have limited withdrawals over the past two weeks, and some have posted signs telling customers they cannot take out any more money … The United Nations halted cash handouts to 98,000 of Gaza’s poorest residents last week, and economists and bank officials warn that tens of thousands of civil servants won’t be able to cash their paychecks next month … “No society can operate without money, but that’s the situation we are reaching in Gaza,” said Gaza economist Omar Shaban … Israel and Egypt have restricted movement through Gaza’s border crossings since the Islamic militants of Hamas violently seized control of the coastal territory in June 2007. Since then, closures have been eased or tightened, depending on the security situation. But even in quiet times, when Gaza militants refrained from firing rockets at Israeli border towns, only limited shipments of food, medicine and commercial goods were allowed in… Shlomo Dror, an Israel Defense Ministry spokesman, questioned the seriousne of the currency shortage. “We are used to the Palestinians inventing things and we are looking into their claim,” he said.
    –Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2008 [6]

    It doesn’t matter if the Palestinians fight back or not, Israel will not lift this brutal siege, and under such circumstances, I put it to you that if you were a Gazan with a rocket, you’d bloody well want to fire it too.

  402. yeti

    400!! Maybe we should start a new thread?

  403. Rob

    Are you actually going to answer my question at some stage, yeti?

  404. Katz

    As to your bottom line – “There is an occupation, and there is a reaction to the occupation” – I say to you again: what occupation? Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza three years ago,

    But Rob, Gaza is only one part of a larger entity — the lands administered by the Palestinian Authority. An ever-increasing area of the West Bank — the majority of Palestinian land — is occupied by Israel.

    Thus the answer to your question “what occupation” is “Palestinian land”.

  405. Peterc

    From: Sydney, Melb protesters march against Gaza attacks

    Australian Palestinian community members described the Israeli bombing campaign as a Holocaust

    This is evidence of the inevitable escalation of feeling and rhetoric that results from violence and military action that kills civilians.

    Rob, you say you now consider the Iraq war as a success (and presumably shock and awe too). I have to disgree with you about this. Tens of thousands of Iraquis have died, many of them civilians. I can understand why you think Israel’s similar recent actions in Gaza are (or will be) a success too – but I think you are totally wrong for similar reasons.

    A negotiated solution is the only way to resolve this. So why rule out negotiations?

  406. yeti

    actually rob, my comment seems to be awaiting moderation. but katz makes the basic point.

    Here’s an interesting article (not the whole thing).

    Why Israel went to war in Gaza

    01.04.2009 | The Observer
    By Chris McGreal

    ‘Are you a target if you voted for Hamas?’ Last night Israel sent its ground forces across the border into Gaza as it escalated its brutal assault on Hamas. As a large-scale invasion of the Palestinian territory appears to be getting under way, Chris McGreal reports from Jerusalem on Israel’s hidden strategy to persuade the world of the justice of its cause in its battle with a bitter ideological foe

    It is a war on two fronts. Months ago, as Israel prepared to unleash its latest wave of desolation against Gaza, it recognised that blasting Hamas and “the infrastructure of terror”, which includes police stations, homes and mosques, was a straightforward task.

    Israel also understood that a parallel operation would be required to persuade the rest of the world of the justice of its cause, even as the bodies of Palestinian women and children filled the mortuaries, and to ensure that its war was seen not in terms of occupation but of the west’s struggle against terror and confrontation with Iran.

    After the debacle of its 2006 invasion of Lebanon – not only a military disaster for Israel, but also a political and diplomatic one – the government in Tel Aviv spent months laying the groundwork at home and abroad for the assault on Gaza with quiet but energetic lobbying of foreign administrations and diplomats, particularly in Europe and parts of the Arab world.

    A new information directorate was established to influence the media, with some success. And when the attack began just over a week ago, a tide of diplomats, lobby groups, bloggers and other supporters of Israel were unleashed to hammer home a handful of carefully crafted core messages intended to ensure that Israel was seen as the victim, even as its bombardment killed more than 430 Palestinians over the past week, at least a third of them civilians or policemen.

    The unrelenting attack on Gaza, with an air strike every 20 minutes on average, has not stopped Hamas firing rockets that have killed four Israelis since the assault began, reaching deeper into the Jewish state than ever before and sending tens of thousands of people fleeing. Last night Israel escalated its action further, as its troops poured across Gaza’s border, part of what appeared to be a significant ground invasion. And a diplomatic operation is already in full swing to justify the further cost in innocent lives that would almost certainly result.

    Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the UN until a few months ago, was brought in by the Foreign Ministry to help lead the diplomatic and PR campaign. He said that the diplomatic and political groundwork has been under way for months.

    “This was something that was planned long ahead,” he said. “I was recruited by the foreign minister to coordinate Israel’s efforts and I have never seen all parts of a very complex machinery – whether it is the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the prime minister’s office, the police or the army – work in such co-ordination, being effective in sending out the message.”

    In briefings in Jerusalem and London, Brussels and New York, the same core messages were repeated: that Israel had no choice but to attack in response to the barrage of Hamas rockets; that the coming attack would be on “the infrastructure of terror” in Gaza and the targets principally Hamas fighters; that civilians would die, but it was because Hamas hides its fighters and weapons factories among ordinary people.

    Hand in hand went a strategy to remove the issue of occupation from discussion. Gaza was freed in 2005 when the Jewish settlers and army were pulled out, the Israelis said. It could have flourished as the basis of a Palestinian state, but its inhabitants chose conflict.

    Israel portrayed Hamas as part of an axis of Islamist fundamentalist evil with Iran and Hezbollah. Its actions, the Israelis said, are nothing to do with continued occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza or the Israeli military’s continued killing of large numbers of Palestinians since the pullout. “Israel is part of the free world and fights extremism and terrorism. Hamas is not,” the foreign minister and Kadima party leader, Tzipi Livni, said on arriving in France as part of the diplomatic offensive last week.

    And when the killing started, Israel claimed that the overwhelming majority of the 400-plus killed were Hamas fighters and the buildings destroyed part of the infrastructure of terror. But about a third of the dead were policemen. Although the police force in Gaza is run by Hamas, Buttu said Israel is misrepresenting it as a terrorist organisation.

    “The police force is largely used for internal law and order, traffic, the drug trade. They weren’t fighters. They hit them at a graduation ceremony. Israel wants to kill anyone associated with Hamas, but where does it stop? Are you a legitimate target if you work in the civil service? Are you a legitimate target if you voted for Hamas?” she said.

    Similarly, while Israel accuses Hamas of risking civilian lives by hiding the infrastructure of terror in ordinary neighbourhoods, many of the Israeli missile targets are police stations and other public buildings that are unlikely to be built anywhere else.

    Israel argues that Hamas abandoned the June ceasefire that Tel Aviv was prepared to continue. “Israel is the first one who wants the violence to end. We were not looking for this. There was no other option. The truce was violated by Hamas,” said Livni.

    However, others say that the truce was thrown into jeopardy in November when the Israeli military killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid on Gaza. The Palestinians noted that it was election day in the US, so most of the rest of the world did not notice what happened. Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into Israel. Six more Palestinians died in two other Israeli attacks in the following week.

    “They were assaulting Gaza militarily, by sea and by air, all through the ceasefire,” said Buttu. Neither did the killing of Palestinians stop. In the nearly three years since Hamas came to power, and before the latest assault on Gaza, Israel forces had killed about 1,300 people in Gaza and the West Bank. While a significant number of them were Hamas activists – and while hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by other Palestinians in fighting between Hamas and Fatah – there has been a disturbing number of civilian deaths.

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says that one in four of the victims is aged under 18. Between June 2007 and June 2008, Israeli attacks killed 68 Palestinian children and young people in Gaza. Another dozen were killed in the West Bank.

    In February, an Israeli missile killed four boys, aged eight to 14, playing football in the street in Jabalia. In April, Meyasar Abu-Me’tiq and her four children, aged one to five years old, were killed when an Israeli missile hit their house as they were having breakfast. Even during the ceasefire, Israel killed 22 people in Gaza, including two children and a woman.

    Perhaps crucial to the ceasefire’s collapse were the differing views of what it was supposed to achieve. Israel regarded the truce as calm in return for calm. Hamas expected Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza that the latter said was a security response to the firing of Qassam rockets.

    But Israel did not end the siege that was wrecking the economy and causing desperate shortages of food, fuel and medicine. Gazans concluded that the blockade was not so much about rocket attacks as punishment for voting for Hamas.

    Central to the Israeli message has been that, when it pulled out its military and Jewish settlers three years ago, Gaza was offered the opportunity to prosper. “In order to create a vision of hope, we took out our forces and settlements, but instead of Gaza being the beginning of a Palestinian state, Hamas established an extreme Islamic rule,” said Livni. Israeli officials argue that Hamas, and by extension the people who elected it, was more interested in hating and killing Jews than building a country.

    Palestinians see it differently. Buttu says that from the day the Israelis withdrew from Gaza, they set about ensuring that it would fail economically. “When the Israelis pulled out, we expected that the Palestinians in Gaza would at least be able to lead some sort of free life. We expected that the crossing points would be open. We didn’t expect that we would have to beg to allow food in,” she said.

    Buttu notes that even before Hamas was elected three years ago, the Israelis were already blockading Gaza. The Palestinians had to appeal to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and James Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank, to pressure Israel to allow even a few score of trucks into Gaza each day. Israel agreed, then reneged. “This was before Hamas won the election. The whole Israeli claim is one big myth. If there wasn’t already a closure policy, why did we need Rice and Wolfensohn to try to broker an agreement?” asked Buttu.

    Yossi Alpher, a former official in the Mossad intelligence service and an ex-adviser on peace negotiations to the then prime minister, Ehud Barak, said the blockade of Gaza is a failed strategy that might have strengthened Hamas. “I don’t think anyone can produce clear evidence that the blockade has been counterproductive, but it certainly hasn’t been productive. It’s very possible it’s been counterproductive. It’s collective punishment, humanitarian suffering. It has not caused Palestinians in Gaza to behave the way we want them to, so why do it?” he said. “I think people really believed that, if you starved Gazans, they will get Hamas to stop the attacks. It’s repeating a failed policy, mindlessly.”

  407. Lefty E

    Israel has force and certain selective ‘rights’ on its side, but nothing approaching justice.

    I wonder at how that will corrode a people’s spirit over time. I salute the refuseniks, and the brave Israelis who oppose their state’s actions.

    They know David has become Goliath.

  408. Rob

    “But Rob, Gaza is only one part of a larger entity — the lands administered by the Palestinian Authority. An ever-increasing area of the West Bank — the majority of Palestinian land — is occupied by Israel.

    Thus the answer to your question “what occupation” is “Palestinian land”.”

    But what is ‘Palestinian land’, Katz? To me it’s clear that for Hamas, it refers to the territory now occupied by Israel. Gaza is not occupied. The only territory which Hamas can claim to represent is Gaza – which is not/not occupied. The West Bank is administered by Fatah, its other enemy. ‘Occupation’ refers to the land now described as Israel. Hamas has said it over and over and over again. How many times do they have to say it? Are we not to believe Nizar Rayyam?

    I’m worn out after a week on this bloody thread, but I’d still defy anyone to produce a persuasive statement from Hamas to the contrary.

  409. Rob

    Correction – I’m not worn out, I’m just going to bed.

  410. Rob

    “A negotiated solution is the only way to resolve this. So why rule out negotiations?”

    Peterc: What do you think Israel was trying to do in agreeing to the hudna? D’you think that wasn’t negotiating?

    Who broke the hudna? Who could have (a) averted the war; (b) terminated it after the first strikes; (c) prevented the land incursion – and just by agreeing to stop sending the rockets over?

    Oh yes – Israel. I should’ve guesssed.

  411. Katz

    The only territory which Hamas can claim to represent is Gaza – which is not/not occupied. The West Bank is administered by Fatah, its other enemy.

    That argument is unsustainable. Neither Fatah nor Hamas claim that the legal status of the two parts of the PA has been altered by the conflict between them. Neither area has declared independence nor has either area seceded from the other.

    Hamas claims to represent all of the PA. Hamas had a majority of seats in the LC of the PA until Fatah expelled Hamas mambers, jailing several of them.

    Hamas has an excellent claim to represent all of the PA in just the same way as Charles de Gaulle had an excellent claim to represent occupied France during WWII, or that Abraham Lincoln had an excellent claim to be recognised as president of the seceding states of the US during the American Civil War.

    But I do agree with you that Hamas claims much more than is presently encompassed by the PA. Hamas wants to eradicate the Zionist entity.

    Would success in that endeavour involve ethnic cleansing of Jews? I fear it would.

  412. Rob

    That’s the whole idea, Katz. How many times do they have to say it?

  413. Katz

    But I’ve never disputed it.

    The question is how does Israel avert this threat?

    My comments on this thread have been about ways and means, not rights and wrongs.

    My big theme has been that Israel has damaged its own interests by its methods in Gaza.

  414. Peterc

    Who could have (a) averted the war; (b) terminated it after the first strikes; (c) prevented the land incursion

    (a). Israel, by continuing negotiations to lift the blockade and stop the rockets. Instead, as discussed previously, the have gone for a “shock and awe” military approach, for political reasons at great human cost.

    Since the start of “Operation Cast Lead” more than 485 Palestinians have been killed, including 80 children, and more than 2,500 wounded in Gaza, according to Gaza medics.

    (b). Israel, as per above, and by not continuing to rule out negotiations.

    (c). Israel, ditto.

  415. AC

    @413: My big theme has been that Israel has damaged its own interests by its methods in Gaza.

    I don’t see any sign that any attempts at concessions (i.e., handing back Gaza) have won them any points with Hamas or the media. Equally, any decisive military response to provocations produces hysterical shrieking.

    Nothing but the destruction of Israel will satisfy Hamas and elements of the media, and any accessions are just incremental gains in that objective, viwed as signs of weakness, and reaffirmation for Hamas that their objectives are righteous and align with Allah. How do you negotiate with that?

    Israel is like the country dog in the city. If she stands still they try to screw her and if she runs they bite her on the arse.

    A non-military negotiated solution might work if the Israelis were negotiating with people in this thread, but they’re not, are they?

  416. Katz

    Nothing but the destruction of Israel will satisfy Hamas and elements of the media, and any accessions are just incremental gains in that objective, viwed as signs of weakness, and reaffirmation for Hamas that their objectives are righteous and align with Allah. How do you negotiate with that?

    This is a textbook case of the perils of living in the eternal present.

    The influence of Islamism on the population of Palestine is very recent. Until the arrival of Hamas all major parties and factions in Palestine were secularist.

    Hamas arose from the ashes of the failure of the PLO.

    What caused that failure?

    1. The kleptocratic leadership of the PLO which used the great cause of combatting Israel as a blind for their own corruption. Israel is not to blame for this.

    2. Israeli humiliation of the secularist leadership of the Palestinian Authority. In the light of that humiliation, Hamas appeared to many Palestinians, and not only those living in the Gaza Strip, as the only way forward. Israeli arrogance helped to create this situation.

    Israel can negotiate with that by giving respect to Palestinian enemies of Hamas. Instead of humiliating them and making them enablers of genocide, allow Fatah to claim some genuine achievement of the just demands of Palestinians. And the most immediate of those is illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

    Of course, it can be argued that the governing classes of Israel want and need Hamas to exist as a credible threat in order to discipline their own population in Israel. Thus, as I suggested way upthread, Hamas and the Israeli Right are in a toxic co-dependency relationship.

  417. yeti

    Hamas has shown at least as much willingness to allow Israel to exist within its internationally recognized border as the Israeli government (of any party) has shown to allow Palestine to exist within its internationally recognized borders. Let’s stop with the double standards. If the Israelis were enduring what the Palestinians are enduring they’d be fighting back just as hard, and then some. And we’d all be supporting them wholeheartedly.

  418. yeti

    It’s not even about Hamas (which Israel helped establish), since the blockade was in force before Hamas was elected, and the election of Hamas has not in any way changed Israeli policy regarding anything to do with Palestine!! If they fight back, if they don’t fight back, it doesn’t matter. Eretz Israel will take what it wants, and the Palestinians will live like caged rats.

  419. Rob

    Katz – I pretty much agree with what you say @ 416. The West Bank settlements are a major obstacle. The settlers are a pretty noxious lot (or many of them are) and they are deeply unpopular with mainstream Israelis. I think Olmert did the right thing a couple of months ago by telling them they had to psychologically prepare for the fact that one day they will have to return to Israel (although I think they should have the option of remaining in any new Palestine as Jewish citizens of the Palestinian state).

  420. yeti
  421. Paul Burns

    I don’t agree with Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians. (Israel can kill as many Hamas militants as it likes, and Hamas can kill as many Israeli soldiers as it likes – that’s what happens to soldiers, and let’s face it, on both sides, whatever else they are, they’re varietries of a defence/offence force.)
    What gets to me is the indiscriminate bombing of women and children, of mosques, (you’re not supposed to bomb places of worship – I know people don’t take much notice of it in modern warfare, but among other things places of worship are places of sanctuary for civilians as well as places of prayer.)
    Its all very cliched, but the end result of all this is going to be that neither side wins, and we’re going to have a lot of traumatized kids, in whom the mutual hate will just live on.
    There’s little point for me in debating the rights and wrongs of this – both sides are wrong, the Israelis infinitely more so because of their use of disproportionate force, and, at the risk of sounding really boring,their use of collective punishment on the Gazans as a whole.
    Somehow the whole damn thing just has to stop for good.
    I know the above is very simplistic, and probably doesn’t take account of the infinite permutations of Israeli and Palestinian politics, but really, surely that is what has to happen.

  422. Rob

    John Lyons in this morning’s Oz re-floats the idea of Gaza being returned to Egypt.

  423. Katz

    From the John Lyons article referred to by Rob:

    Gaza being forced to become part of Egypt – to abandon its weapons and link with the Egyptian economy – is perhaps the only sustainable hope for this tiny, tragic strip of land.

    Three questions:

    1. “Forced” by whom?

    2. What would be the nature of this magical force?

    3. Why on earth would Egypt want Gaza?

  424. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Question 4 (to add to Katz’s) – why would the Gazans want to be part of Egypt?

  425. Mark

    I made the point above that this is actually what the Israelis want – so the suggestion doesn’t originate with The Australian.

    Anyway, since there have been a few requests, I’ll close this thread and start a new one.

    Update: The new thread is here:

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2009/01/05/eyeless-in-gaza-ii/