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July 13, 2006

Comments

That said, I thought that the Israeli response was disproportionate

That's an understatement. An argument could be made that Lebanon is complicit in the Hizbollah kidnapping, but in the case of Gaza - this is textbook collective punishment.

"...that the one tool this administration does like to use -- military force -- is off the table for now."

That is not an assumption I am anywhere near willing to make. I can barely even think it, for the US to say or imply or hint in any way that we have no military options available no matter the provocation or circumstance...no way.

Besides it isn't true. Some of our tools are diminished;many are busy or in use. I think we have quite a few tools left, like an Air Force, a Navy, ICBM's. We might even be able to come up with a couple thousand marines.

I have to agree with bob, there's no reason we couldn't launch dozens, if not hundreds, of cruise missles and air strikes if that's what the President wanted to do.

But yes, bad, very bad.

Hilzoy: Israelis tend to have, to their great credit, a fierce loyalty towards their soldiers, and to regard each soldier as though he or she were their own child. They recognize that soldiers are killed in wartime, but the idea of abandoning them to captivity is hard for them to bear.

No, this is exactly right (not that I ever lived there, but a very close friend lived there for five years). When I heard about the soldier being kidnapped, I was almost surprised it hadn't been done before: it's a diabolically effective action to get Israel to attack the Palestinians.

Refusing to acknowledge Hamas when they became the elected government of the Occupied Territories was the wrong thing to do in so many ways: not least because it made no distinction between the moderates and the extremists.

I look forward to reading your posts on this topic, Hilzoy, because I am afraid I have been unable to read too much about this in the news: I keep trying and my eyes slide away and go read something else, anything else, something less horrifying. It's cowardly: I just cannot bear it.

"I think we have quite a few tools left, like an Air Force, a Navy, ICBM's. We might even be able to come up with a couple thousand marines."

All of these tools, it's got to be said, are next to useless without a use. Precision strike weapons are useless without a target, and soldiers are useless (not to mention needlessly endangered) without a specific mission and command. I'd guess Israel is much, much better at military operations in this part of the world than we are, and I'd also guess that we'd give them a hand if asked.

Maybe. Then again, that might be just the thing to ignite the Arab world.

On the other hand, if the comment I was responding to was made in jest, disregard.

Umm, on the other hand:

I think the Americans in Iraq are fairly well protected. But I am not sure, if for instance, the various bases are protected with air defense systems.

If an actual shooting war started with Syria and Iran, they would lose a lot of assets very quickly, but I imagine they would be able to get something into Iraq. And if, in that circumstance, the Iraqi people and forces or Sistani (or some part of the above)turned on the Americans...it could get unspeakable.

Which is kinda my question. Syria has lost wars before, more than once. Iran has shown a willingness to sacrifice. What if those two nations decided to start the war? Both would lose a ton, but we are not exactly in a position to occupy them. And America could lose it's army (or just a division), and America's leadership and people take losses badly.

As far as I am concerned, bin Laden has not yet been proven wrong about America. Iraq has not refuted Beirut and Somalia.

"All of these tools, it's got to be said, are next to useless without a use."

Force-protection is a use.

"We are stuck in a quagmire in Iraq...(and the rest of that paragraph)" ...hilzoy

...is what I was responding to.

"That said, I thought that the Israeli response was disproportionate"

I have become increasingly disenchanted with discussions of proportionate response. I'm not willing to give up on the idea entirely (would it have been right for Carter to nuke Iran off the face of the Earth over the hostage situation if the USSR had promised not to care? Clearly no.) But my idea of proportionality is a much less fine instrument than the way quite a few people seem to think of it. Kidnapping one soldier doesn't just allow one other soldier's capture as an allowable response. It was an act of war, and responses of war are appropriate. Secondary and tertiary civilian effects (such as inconvenience caused by bombing the tranformers of a power plant--note that Israel left the plant itself intact) isn't enough to invoke 'proportionality' for me.

"Hamas and Fatah were about to make some limited progress,"

It's necessary to point out that the proposed agreement was hardly fully positive from the POV of Israel, or many outside observers; while it required Hamas to commit to certain positive, if vague and limited, steps, it also committed Abbas and Fatah and the PA to certain not-quite-as-vague negative and retrograde steps.

The included recommitted Fatah and the PA to committing and coordinating acts of terror against Israelis in the West Bank, something that Fatah and the PA had previously theoretically renounced in agreements with Israel.

That's, you know, not a good thing. Abbas would no longer be criticizing such attacks unless they took place within the '67 borders. Instead, he'd be committed to aiding them.

And thus Israel would be committed to not just not dealing with Hamas, but with Abbas.

Not a step forward.

Yesterday, July 12, was the deadline we set for Iran to respond to our (and our European allies) offer of incentives for Iran to curb its nuclear program or otherwise we would move forward in the UNSC. On that date Hizbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers and kills 8 others.

Two further bits of information to chew on.

2 rockets hit Haifa today, this used to be thought of as outside Hezbollah's range.

There are reports that Hezbollah was attempting to fly the captured soldiers to Iran. Unless Iran immediately turned over the soldiers, this would be an act of war of Iran against Israel.

"When I heard about the soldier being kidnapped, I was almost surprised it hadn't been done before...."

Of course, it has been done before. This is a prized technique of Hezbollah's, which is why it was interesting to see Hamas pick up on it. It's the past deals made that has led to this.

For instance:

• In 2004, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a deal with the terrorist group Hezbollah to free 430 prisoners, including two Lebanese guerrilla leaders, in exchange for a kidnapped Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers.

• In 1985, Israel released 1,150 prisoners in exchange for three Israeli soldiers captured in Lebanon in 1982. Some of the freed prisoners helped organize a Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s.

• In 1983, Israel freed 4,765 Palestinian prisoners to get back six soldiers held by Palestinians.

You'll notice the proportions, of course. Israel will do almost anything to get back hostages; even corpses; this also has made Israel unbelievably vulnerable to such attacks.

And thus when people now condemn Israel for engaging in a "disproportionate" response: well, proportionate responses haven't worked out so well. I'm not saying that necessarily justifies disproportionate; I'm just saying that the frustration and looking for other approaches don't come out of nowhere.

grrr, typepad ate my comment. summary version:

1. Following the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions is the US's interest.

2. Israel can reasonably believe that following the laws of war is not in her interest.

3. Collective punishment and proportionality are two concepts that seem to be most often honored in the breach, even by victors.

4. Striking the Gaza power plant seems to me to be perfectly legitimate. Hamas is the most powerful elected political body in Gaza. Destroying the power plant is a strike against the voters who put Hamas in power.

5. Why is proportionality a requirement of counterstrikes? Why isn't it anything goes 'til the other guy says uncle?

6. It seems that Israel's current borders are unsustainable. Why not swap the occupants of Gaza with the West Bank settlers?

2 rockets hit Haifa today, this used to be thought of as outside Hezbollah's range.

Moe Lane reports:

There are unconfirmed reports that the missile fired at Haifa was launched by Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed in south Lebanon.

And then opines:

If true, then this means war.

Not sure where he got the "unconfirmed reports."

Another bit of speculation I saw or heard today (sorry, can't remember where) is that Hezbollah's action -- which clearly required a lot of planning and therefore could not have been entirely opportunistic -- was basically a power-play designed as much to increase the standing of Hezbollah specifically, within Lebanon and within the larger Arab/Islamic world, as to provoke a strong Israeli response and thereby inflame the conflict, to the advantage of hard-liners generally, of whom Hezbollah is one.

Certainly one of the effects of George's Excellent Iraq Adventure has been to inflame hostility against Israel, who often is seen in parts of the Arab/Islamic world as little more than an extension of the US. I'm frankly surprised that we haven't seen a great deal more of this type of provocation and -- if this speculation is correct -- jockeying for power among hardliners at Israel's expense.

(Somewhat aside, one wonders whether the PNAC and IWG geniuses got to this point in all their judicious and careful planning.)

I'm not saying that necessarily justifies disproportionate; I'm just saying that the frustration and looking for other approaches don't come out of nowhere.

And I'm not saying deliberately causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza might not ultimately get Israel's soldiers back, but my concerns don't come out of nowhere either.

This was Hezbollah's fault, pure and simple.

Thank you for saying that – but, you could have left off the but…

At the time, Hamas and Fatah were about to agree on a plan implicitly recognizing Israel

I would say it needs to be more explicit than implicit. Implicit kind of means, “OK, we aren’t going to push you into the sea this year…”.

I’m sorry – I don’t see any grey here. Any government would be remiss in not responding strongly to these provocations. Iran and Syria are into this up to their necks.

I appreciate your personal perspective, but Israel has been bending over backwards, taking unilateral actions to resolve it. This has been going on for 60 years – it is well past time to settle it.

Finally, we currently have an administration that simply does not know how to do diplomacy.

Agreed – but the time for that is long past. Do you seriously think these people respect diplomacy in any fashion? If Israel went to the bargaining table tomorrow and gave them 90% of what they want (they have before) they would still pull this same crap. They will never recognize Israel’s right to exist. Never.

This is very, very bad.

Agreed – hold on to your hat though, it has the potential to get much, much worse. Frankly, it is an opportunity (yes, I said that) to clean up this snake infested armpit of the world once and for all. We should immediately join with them and take care of this once and for all. Enough. 60 years is enough. Israel gave them a state in Gaza – what did they do? Trash the place and use it as a staging area for their attacks.

FWIW – I am not Jewish nor do I have any reason to give a crap about Israel at all. I just read history and admire this outpost of democracy in a desert of despots.

Finish it.

5. Why is proportionality a requirement of counterstrikes? Why isn't it anything goes 'til the other guy says uncle?

Because it generally backfires. To choose an example sufficiently ancient and removed so as not to inflame opinions here, the case of Robert Damiens points to the fact that extravagant punishment usually leads (eventually) to the opposite result.

Not sure where he got the "unconfirmed reports."

LGF says it comes from CNN, but I couldn't find it on CNN's website.

Um, Gary, I hope you aren't moralizing here. Poor little Israel--so concerned for its soldiers that it will release all sorts of dangerous people. I agree that previous releases of Arab prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldiers might encourage more hostage-taking. Where I disagree is in the notion that all of those Arab prisoners necessarily belonged behind bars. Israel isn't exactly squeaky-clean on the issue of justice for Arab prisoners. They were running a torture center at Khiam with its Lebanese Christian allies as recently as the 90's. I wouldn't assume that just because Israel holds or held thousands of Arab prisoners that all of them are or were guilty of something.

But I agree that Israel shouldn't be releasing terrorists. Rather than releasing Arabs who might actually be guilty of terrorism, Israel should increase its prison population by arresting and convicting its own war criminals and torturers. The same for the PA. And then they can chip in together and buy me a pony.

And thus when people now condemn Israel for engaging in a "disproportionate" response: well, proportionate responses haven't worked out so well.

At the risk of repeating common knowledge, one problem with the current situation is that I think all of the main politicians involved are simply that, politicians. Because they did not come out of the armed forces (like Sharon for example), they are more vulnerable to pressure to 'act tough', I believe.

OCSteve: If Israel went to the bargaining table tomorrow and gave them 90% of what they want (they have before) they would still pull this same crap.

Depends how you define "90%", as always. If you define the 10% Israel was not willing to bring to the bargaining table - Palestine as a distinct and separate state with political independence: right of return for the Palestinians who were born inside what is now Israel and forcibly exiled from it to create a majority-Jewish state: removal of all illegal settlements from the Occupied Territories: Israel may choose to define all of that as only "10%" but I think at the least, it's a key ten percent - especially the political independence/removal of military occupation.

No grey here, OC Steve? Well, that's been the problem on both sides of the conflict from the very beginning--there are too darn many people who agree with you.

"Striking the Gaza power plant seems to me to be perfectly legitimate."

Certainly the U.S. has regarded striking power plants as a legitimate target in war since WWII and through Serbia and Iraq. Britain, too.

Whether it's the best idea at a given moment is another question. But it's certainly more humane than carpet bombing cities. At the time of the power plant strike, and until a few agos, Israel hadn't killed a soul. They've been trying to put on pressure in as non-lethal a way as possible; since then they've been ratcheting up, and things are now getting worse. This is terrible, but, of course, it's also stoppable at any time as soon as Hamas surrenders Gilad Shalit.

Cite about the Hamas/Fatah/"prisoners' document" agreement, incidentally. Another.

OCSteve: I just read history and admire this outpost of democracy in a desert of despots.

"Outpost of democracy"? They refused to accept the results of this election. In response to January's election, Israel stopped transfering Palestinian taxes/custom duties to the new Palestinian government. You cannot admire them for being an "outpost of democracy" when they fail the first democratic test: accept the results of an election, even if you don't like the party that won it.

"right of return for the Palestinians who were born inside what is now Israel and forcibly exiled from it to create a majority-Jewish state"

This isn't a historically-supported viewpoint - see Morris's work. And as you know, there will of course be compensation for the Palestinians who were forced out or otherwise fled, but Israel can't be reasonably expected to negotiate away its existence.

"Palestine as a distinct and separate state with political independence"

No, you mean "Palestine as a distinct and separate state with political independence including the 67-borders Israel". Well, that would make more sense, since according to the usual frameworks under negotiation Palestine will be a distinct and separate state with political independence except for being demilitarized and accepting an international peacekeeping/monitoring presence.

OC Steve -- what exactly does your injunction to "finish it" mean?

India hasn’t begun killing hundreds of innocent Pakistanis, although it certainly seems the attacks originated in Pakistan.

The United States knows that the mastermind of 9-11 and most of the Taliban are hiding in Pakistan. However the American military hasn’t been killing swaths of innocent Pakistanis, in order to smoke them out.

Nuclear weapons seem to deter collective punishment.

"And I'm not saying deliberately causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza might not ultimately get Israel's soldiers back, but my concerns don't come out of nowhere either."

Of course not. No one sane thinks Palestinians, or Israelis, suffering, or a humanitarian crisis, or increased hardship for anyone, is a good thing.

"when they fail the first democratic test"

Hello, not their country, election won by terrorists who refuse to negotiate or accept their existence.

There are plenty of reasonable grounds to criticize Israel's actions - why aren't you interested in them?

?"right of return for the Palestinians who were born inside what is now Israel and forcibly exiled from it to create a majority-Jewish state"

This isn't a historically-supported viewpoint

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "not a historically-supported viewpoint". It's not a preferred viewpoint, certainly, but it is what actually happened. Israel is a majority-Jewish state because a large majority of the original inhabitants who are not Jewish, were forced to leave and are not permitted to return. Israel's majority-Jewish population is artificially and bloodily created and maintained. That Jewish Israelis do not wish to give up this artificial majority is understandable: but they cannot maintain it in perpetuity.

Correcting something I wrote to Gary--I meant to say that Israel shouldn't release Arab prisoners when they've been found guilty of terrorism in a court of law. But I don't think Israel has always been real careful about who it imprisons or how the prisoners are treated.

Hilzoy's and Jonathan Edelstein's take on the current situation make sense to me. I'm about to get involved in an argument with OC Steve about Who Is Ultimately Responsible for the I/P conflict and have decided to stop before I get started. I've got Christian Zionist friends I can go to if I want to rant on that subject.

"They refused to accept the results of this election. In response to January's election, Israel stopped transfering Palestinian taxes/custom duties to the new Palestinian government."

Hmm, they stopped making payments that were negotiated in a move towards peace to the Hamas government which has as its organizing principle the complete destruction of Israel? How horrible.

Seems to me that they are witholding payments because the negotiated peace had been violated. If you agreed with me to make 50 payments in exchange for a hostage, and I kill the hostage, does justice require that you continue making the payments?

OCSteve: "We should immediately join with them and take care of this once and for all."

Are you serious? You know you're talking about millions of people, most with real grievances and many with no interest in violence? There's no acceptable final solution here except to work painfully and slowly towards a just but otherwise barely satisfactory peace.

Rilke: Hello, not their country

Oh, good. So the whole "occupation" thing is just a bad dream?

election won by terrorists who refuse to negotiate or accept their existence.

The first election run inside the state of Israel was won by terrorists who refused to negotiate with Palestinians or even accept the existence of Palestine. Trying to argue that terrorists shouldn't be allowed to form governments if they turn to the ballot box and win elections means you are arguing that the original government of Israel shouldn't have been allowed to exist.

Still: better to have terrorists forming a political party, winning an election, and having a country to run, than to have terrorists cut off from all political process who see no alternative than criminal attacks to get their way.

Hamas won the election. Were Israel an outpost of democracy for real, they'd have accepted that result and worked with it instead of against it.

"but it is what actually happened"

Reread your previous comment. Morris writes that there was no plan behind the attacks on Palestinian villages. Bad stuff happens when people attack a (UN-established) country - one can acknowledge that without making up villanous motives.

Rilke: There's no acceptable final solution here except to work painfully and slowly towards a just but otherwise barely satisfactory peace.

Agreed. Like I said: Israel needed to have accepted the result of the January elections. It would have been as painful for them as it would have been for the Hamas government, but it would have been one step in the right direction.

Sebastian, you've spoken in praise in the past of making terrorist attacks on a population which voted for a government with which you do not agree. It surprises me not at all that this is a principle you support at all costs.

OCSteve: "They will never recognize Israel’s right to exist. Never."

That "they" glosses a crucial point. Palestinians aren't a unitary or homogenous group mind; most Palestinians are willing, under various circumstances, to grudgingly recognize Israel and to make peace; even a large number of Hamas voters feel that way; and, of course, what one favors at a given moment changes with circumstances.

There will always be some die-hards, but that's besides the point; it's creating circumstances in which their numbers will be relatively small that's the key. And that's theoretically, ultimately, doable, in a variety of circumstances.

If we can ever get there. It's obviously not on the immediate horizon; but it's not crazy-thinking, either.

DJ: "Israel isn't exactly squeaky-clean on the issue of justice for Arab prisoners."

That's certainly true; but they're not particularly worse than most governments; a variety of Palestinians and Palestinians sued in Israeli courts, and got up to the Israeli Supreme Court, and won their cases, and torture was banned in 1999. Israeli practices for some years now have been far more restrictive than plenty of countries sitting on the U.N. Security Council. Not perfect (and obviously articles making complaints since 1999, some with more justification, some with less, are easy to find), but not exactly, say, Jordan or Egypt -- or the U.S. -- either. And prisoners get to organize themselves, watch tv, have political discussions and negotiations, and plenty of other freedoms.

And Israel has indeed tried and convicted soldiers guilty of crimes against Palestinians. Again, not perfectly, but not particularly worse than most countries.

Incidentally: "Poor little Israel" -- these sorts of formulations are possibly not helpful to reasonable discussion.

"Trying to argue that terrorists shouldn't be allowed to form governments if they turn to the ballot box and win elections means you are arguing that the original government of Israel shouldn't have been allowed to exist."

You wish - right?

Again - there are plenty of reasonable grounds to criticize Israel's actions - why aren't you interested in them?

Rilkefan: one can acknowledge that without making up villanous motives.

You think that the intention by Jewish Palestinians and other non-Palestinian Jews to create a Jewish-majority state in Palestine was "villainous"? Not a word I would have used - certainly not in the 1930s/40s, when I find it perfectly understandable that they had that intention. But I assure you, whatever Benny Morris says, I did not "make it up".

For the record, this is the "prisoner's document," with revisions, and commentary, that was put forth to Hamas and Fatah to ratify, by the way.

Rilke: Again - there are plenty of reasonable grounds to criticize Israel's actions - why aren't you interested in them?

Because I don't consider Israel's refusal to accept the result of the January elections reasonable: I considered it stupid, likely to lead to horrible trouble, and viciously anti-democratic.

You wish - right?

I would wish you to be consistent in thought and deed, yes, rather than inconsistently supporting terrorism by one group and condemning it from another group. I would also wish for a pony.

You're right, Gary. Sorry about the "poor little Israel" comment.

Rilkefan, you may be relying on the late 80's version of Benny Morris's work. His more recent work says that Israel deliberately drove out many of the Palestinians. He says that in the early phases of the war there was no design behind this, but in its later phases the expulsions became a deliberate if informal policy. And the refugees were prevented from returning after the war--a few thousand were shot in the following years when they tried to sneak back. Some came back with weapons and terrorist intent and were justifiably shot, but most were unarmed, according to Morris.

Morris also says the ethnic cleansing was morally justifiable, just as the white treatment of Native Americans was morally justifiable, because superior cultures have the right to do this to their inferiors. You can find him saying this online if you look. He does regret the accompanying rapes and massacres.

"Trying to argue that terrorists shouldn't be allowed to form governments if they turn to the ballot box and win elections means you are arguing that the original government of Israel shouldn't have been allowed to exist."

I'm sorry. You use my name but you seem to be arguing with someone else. I didn't argue that terrorists shouldn't be allowed to form governments. I argued that it isn't a principle of justice for that terrorist governement's stated victims to continue making payments to the terrorist government.


"But I assure you, whatever Benny Morris says, I did not 'make it up'."

My god. Morris is a prominent critic of Israel policies towards the Palestinians. If you don't care what he writes, you don't care about the facts. Since you don't care about the facts, it's a waste of time discussing these matters with you. Sorry if that sounds like this (via lj) but life's too short, and I'm not as patient as Gary in presenting the data over and over again.

I like how Palestinian and Hezbollah provocations are kidnappings and killings, but Israeli provocations are some guy walking around where he has a right to be. Yeah, that's even-steven.

I argued that it isn't a principle of justice for that terrorist governement's stated victims to continue making payments to the terrorist government.

Possibly, or possibly not. But the effective response was a strong message to the Palestinians and others that democracy wasn't that important, and that they would be punished for making the wrong democratic choice, even if Hamas was likely elected on the strength of its ability to provide effective and relatively corruption-free governance.

The end result is what we see today, and what we will see tomorrow. And, among other many other important things, much higher oil prices in the foreseeable future.

I'm still wondering what OCSteve's "finish it" means.

A. Being married to a Jew clouds my judgment.

B. Through most of history, nations could legitimately adjust boundaries by right of conquest.

C. Given the conduct of its neighbors since the day it claimed independence, Israel has a better claim than most to adjust its boundaries as a result of military success.

D. However, taking territory by conquest also means treating its occupants as citizens. Here, in recent years, is where the problem lies. The Occupied Territories are neither part of Israel nor an independent state. The moral high ground Israel had after the '67 war has, for me, eroded away by the settlement issue. Either the settled land is Israel and all the people in it Israelis or the land is Palestine and the settlers are foreign nationals. This neither-fish-nor-fowl treatment of the Territories is just irrational.

Benny Morris as the arbiter of historic truth - in all fairness rilkefan, that's a bit rich.

DJ: "Rilkefan, you may be relying on the late 80's version of Benny Morris's work."

Ack, you're right - his more recent work did place blame on the Israeli govt. I remembered him saying recently that the actions were justified - but that doesn't work out to the formulation I gave above. Apologies to Jes on this (still not simply black/white) issue.

Man, talk about an apropos title all around...

francis: "This neither-fish-nor-fowl treatment of the Territories is just irrational."

Happily, the Israeli govt's policy has been to give up the Territories - Gaza and 90% of the WB with or without a partner, more of the WB under negotiated plans. If Olmert had gotten the opportunity to follow through on the 90% and had found a negotiating partner to argue over the rest, don't you think it would have regained that "better claim"?


novakant"Benny Morris as the arbiter of historic truth - in all fairness rilkefan, that's a bit rich."

Having embarrassingly misdescribed his current stance, I should probably shut up - but the point was not to claim him as the Arbiter but to require the discussion be informed by his arguments as a prominent voice on the history in question. If one wants to say he's wrong one needs to know how and why.

There's a reason I didn't want to get into the 'whose fault is it?' game. Not that I don't have views on it, but, as I said, I think it's a lot less pressing than 'what should we do?'

For what it's worth, though: first, I did not say that I thought that the agreement between Fatah and Hamas was in any way adequate to Israel's concerns. In fact, the point of saying: "There are all sorts of questions about how seriously to take a merely 'implicit' recognition, and if I were considering how Israel should respond to this, I'd ask them" was to acknowledge those concerns, and dismiss them as not germane to the point I was making, which concerned the fact that it was a big enough step for Hamas (Gaza/WB) to be alarming to Hamas (external), and/or its masters.

Second, Gaijin Biker: "I like how Palestinian and Hezbollah provocations are kidnappings and killings, but Israeli provocations are some guy walking around where he has a right to be. Yeah, that's even-steven." -- I never said it was even. Again, I tried to indicate that that was not at all what I was saying, but apparently I was not successful. The point I was trying to make was that it is easy enough to provoke actions from either side that will inflame the situation and torpedo chances for peace that the peace process is hostage to the worst elements on both sides.

rilkefan: last time I checked, there were forced expulsions. Iirc, Rabin described one of them, which he participated in, in his memoirs. There were also a lot of people who fled their homes during the 48 war and were then declared absentee, and their homes forfeit, despite the fact that some of them returned as soon as hostilities were over, giving rise to the delightful category of 'present absentee'. What I think is clearly false is that everyone who left was either expelled or merely fled in the face of an actual battle. But that doesn't make it true that everyone who left did so voluntarily. As usual, it was a little of everything.

"You cannot admire them for being an 'outpost of democracy' when they fail the first democratic test: accept the results of an election, even if you don't like the party that won it."

You're arguing that Israel should accept as legitimate a government that is made up of a terrorist organization sworn to Israel's distruction, that doesn't recognize the existence of Israel, and don't notice any possible flaw in that argument?

Which isn't to say that I don't believe there isn't room (triple negative! Yay!) in the future for a Palestinian government -- preferably one that actually is in control of Palestinian territory and forces, and that isn't just an irrelevant chatfest -- including or led by Hamas to possibly truly recognize Israel and make peace, or to at least as an intermediate step accept dealing with Israel and engaging in a "hundred-years hudna," since as I've written many times, I believe that may -- may, it's not a sure thing -- someday be possible.

But castigating Israel for having problems with this "government" and not noticing any possible remote problem with the Hamas side: not precisely a balanced view.

It's not entirely unlike looking at two next-door neighbors, one of whom says to the other "you must die! I will kill you!" -- and then complaining that the other neighbor is being rude by not inviting the first neighbor to the party she's throwing. Yeah, it's turning the other cheek, to be sure.

In any case, whether a country is democratic or not has nothing whatever to do with their diplomatic recognition of another country, of course. Britain has at various times not recognized the governments of Syria, North Korea, Argentinia, and other countries; that doesn't make the UK undemocratic.

"That Jewish Israelis do not wish to give up this artificial majority is understandable: but they cannot maintain it in perpetuity."

Nothing lasts in perpetuity. I take it you oppose the existence of the Jewish State, then; if I misunderstand, please do correct me.

"I'm about to get involved in an argument with OC Steve about Who Is Ultimately Responsible for the I/P conflict and have decided to stop before I get started."

Probably a very good idea; there's plenty of legitimate grievance to go round, but none of it is going to be undone.

"The first election run inside the state of Israel was won by terrorists who refused to negotiate with Palestinians or even accept the existence of Palestine."

Unsurprising, since Palestinians didn't claim to be Palestinians as a people, and neither did any Arab states claim there were Palestinians as a people. No one claimed to be Palestinians in any national sense. The concept of a Palestinian people wasn't conceived of until the beginning of the 1960s. I believe that makes them no less legitimate than any other formulation of national consciousness, but let's not engage in absurdity, please.

There are Palestinians now, and there have been for a good forty-odd years, but in 1948, no one, including the Arab residents of Palestine, recognized "Palestinians" as a national identity. No more than, say, people today recognize "Sinaians," or "Samarians" or "Aqabans" as a national identity or claims the rights of Walthamstowians to have a national identity.

In 1948, the people we now recognize as Palestinians had gone from being members of the Ottomon Empire to living under the British Mandate, and then came under the rule of Jordan.

I'm tempted to point out that people from Britain might be the last people on the planet with rights to complain about the history of Israel/Palestine, and the treatment of people there, but that would be rude. Britain didn't win a lot of fans of any persuasion for the fine job they did under the Mandate, though. But let's not further dig up old wounds.

Although this thread is apt to melt down fairly rapidly, if history is any judge, I'm afraid.

Ah, I cross-posted with rilkefan's last, which makes my last point superfluous.

hilzoy: "As usual, it was a little of everything."

I wasn't arguing against expulsions - I was arguing about organized motive. I think Morris argues there is little evidence of the "little of everything" explanation here - that most of those who fled did so as a result of attacks or of reports of attacks. Obviously I have to go refresh myself on the issue though, or maybe Gary has the reality-based summary at his fingertips.

Above x-posted. Sheesh, not my day.

Rilke: the west bank line drawing exercises during the Clinton admin were painful, and there is little evidence to suggest that the political leaders could negotiate a settlement that was acceptable to their respective constituents. iirc, the Taba Plan was never submitted to the Israeli electorate.

sometimes there is no communal ground on which a deal can be reached. (that's why we have lawyers and judges. but there is no rule of law for adjudicating this dispute.) both the palestinian and israeli leadership bear a great deal of blame for creating facts on the ground over the last 30 years that have lead us to a point where the bare minimum deal acceptable to 50.1% of Israelis appears to be a gross overreaching to the Palestinians.

And lo!:

"In the late 1970s, when Rabin wrote his memoirs in Hebrew, Pinkas Sherut, he described an episode of the 1948 war that had troubled him ever since, the forced expulsion by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of 50,000 Arab civilians from the towns of Lod-Ramle. A cabinet committee which checks ministerial memoirs for security leaks ordered that the section be removed and indeed, against Rabin's wishes, it was. The story was revealed by the English translator of the book and published in "The New York Times" (see Yitzhak Rabin, Soldier of Peace - p.26)."

Again: I take this to be evidence that there were some expulsions, not that most, let alone all, of the Palestinians who left were expelled. All I mean to oppose are categorical claims, which, in my experience of the region, are almost always wrong. (Thus my use of 'almost'.)

Who Is Ultimately Responsible for the I/P conflict

I suppose I'm the only one who saw this and wondered briefly why Gary was concerned about a computer problem?

"I would wish you to be consistent in thought and deed, yes, rather than inconsistently supporting terrorism by one group and condemning it from another group."

This would be why you insist that Israel must recognize a terrorist organization whose Charteris based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and which is sworn to Israel's destruction, but say not a word about what Hamas must do as regards Israel.

Check.

d-p-u: "But the effective response was a strong message to the Palestinians and others that democracy wasn't that important, and that they would be punished for making the wrong democratic choice...."

How, precisely, Israel should have responded to the Palestinian election is certainly a fair topic for debate.

But nations "punish" each other by cooling or becoming more friendly, or making agreements, or breaking relations, with other nations as a result of the other country's election, or changing policy all the time. There's nothing the least unusual about that, and it's not in the least a sign of being against democracy. It's a sign of being against the policy they object to.

In this case the policy is "kill all the Israelis." Hard to imagine why Israel might frown on that.

Nonetheless, Israel is willing to recognize a Palestinian government that recognizes Israel, and renounces attacking it or supporting blowing up people at pizza parlors. This isn't a terribly radical demand.

"This neither-fish-nor-fowl treatment of the Territories is just irrational."

Which is why Israel withdrew from Gaza and intends to withdraw from most of the West Bank. (And, yeah, I think they should withdraw from most all, perhaps all, of the other settlements, to.)

But when everyone wants Israel to continue such withdrawals, it's not helpful to immediately start launching missile attacks and raids from the areas Israel withdraws from (Gaza). This is not persuasive behavior towards the notion that if Israel withdraws, it will be a step towards peace and justice, or that Palestinians seek peaceful relations side-by-side. (And we even see leftists like Jes apparently opposing the existence of a Jewish state even within the pre-1967 borders -- certainly that's not an uncommon or unpopular point of view.)

"But the effective response was a strong message to the Palestinians and others that democracy wasn't that important, and that they would be punished for making the wrong democratic choice, even if Hamas was likely elected on the strength of its ability to provide effective and relatively corruption-free governance."

Hamas was given plenty of time to change its stance if it wanted to focus on governance instead of Israel-hating. They could have avoided the cut-off of EU funds too if governance was more important than the destruction of Israel. If they had just orally pretended to change their goals they probably could have gotten out of it. But governance wasn't more important.

Oh, the one point I was going to respond to, but forgot to: OCSteve saying that "the time for diplomacy is long past". I don't think so. Diplomacy as a way of resolving the conflict in its entirety is of course not an option just now. But as a way of getting people to climb down from the brink of regional war, diplomacy is exactly what's needed.

An excerpt from an article by historian Gwynne Dyer:

Sixty years ago, when the Jews of British-ruled Palestine were an unrecognized proto-state under foreign military occupation, they had respectable political and military organizations like the Jewish Agency and the Haganah (the militia self-defence force that ultimately became the Israeli Defence Forces). They also had brutal terrorist organizations like Irgun and the Stern Gang, who killed without compunction both British soldiers and the Palestinians who had a rival claim to the land. The legitimate groups did not control the illegitimate ones, but there were constant contacts between them.

The Palestinian Authority’s relations with the current crop of terrorist outfits is very similar. Hamas, the militant Islamic party that won the Palestinian elections last January and subsequently formed a government, has observed a self-imposed cease-fire with Israel for more than a year. Its “military wing”, a largely separate organization, has not, nor have various other radical groups whose main goal is to discredit mainstream Palestinian organizations that want a negotiated settlement with Israel.

Israel’s past offers enough parallels that its government should and probably does understand that it has a choice: to ignore the extremists and talk about some kind of peace deal with the mainstream or to use the extremists as an excuse not to talk to the mainstream either. It has chosen the latter option, and the current, vastly disproportionate Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip are the evidence for it.

"where the bare minimum deal acceptable to 50.1% of Israelis appears to be a gross overreaching to the Palestinians"

I think the Israeli public is (or was before the latest unpleasantness) ready to accept what most of us would consider a reasonable deal. It's pretty clear what that deal is, so anyone not willing to accept it hasn't faced up to reality - and I think that the demographic facts are clear to the Israeli public. (Add to that the mostly positive experience in giving up Gaza and the success of the separation barrier in making "separation" sound good.) Would the govt that gave away East Jerusalem fall? I don't know - but I suspect that if there were someone on the other side of the table willing and able to take the deal, it would be made. Getting a govt planning on handing over 90% of the WB in exchange for nothing tangible was already a big step in my view.

Almost forty years ago Israel tried to give away the occupied territories but found the Palestinians were unable to take them. Are they able now? I sure hope they will be soon. That's what I think we should focus on - what can we do to help them help themselves? Can we do anything to convince them that the reasonable deal (which will be painful for all concerned) is a good option and the best available one and worth an enormous effort to achieve?

"...they had respectable political and military organizations like the Jewish Agency and the Haganah (the militia self-defence force that ultimately became the Israeli Defence Forces). They also had brutal terrorist organizations like Irgun and the Stern Gang, who killed without compunction both British soldiers and the Palestinians who had a rival claim to the land."

One word: Altalena.

"Israel’s past offers enough parallels that its government should and probably does understand that it has a choice: to ignore the extremists and talk about some kind of peace deal with the mainstream or to use the extremists as an excuse not to talk to the mainstream either. It has chosen the latter option, and the current, vastly disproportionate Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip are the evidence for it."

It's also difficult for anyone to simultaneously maintain that Hamas is the legitimate government of the Palestinians and must therefore be dealt with (an argument with some merit, unto itself), and that Hamas is not the mainstream, but merely some extremists that should be ignored in favor of the mainstream, as above.

I'm unaware of Hamas offering to talk with Israel, spartikus; are you aware of such an offer that Israel has refused?

Gary--

My first assumption re Jesurgislac's 'in perpetuity' comment was the issue of relative birthrates* within Israel: ceteris paribus, at some point Israel is either going to have to start stripping citizenship from Arab Israelis (and then, presumably, deporting them) or lose a Jewish majority.

* I freudianslippedly typed birthrights here. Just call me Esau.

"...at some point Israel is either going to have to start stripping citizenship from Arab Israelis (and then, presumably, deporting them) or lose a Jewish majority."

That was suggested before the vast Russian immigration, and other immigrations. Israel is always very hopeful about future waves of immigration, and that may not last forever, but it's worked out a number of times before.

Regardless, it's not a pressing or immediate problem, whereas other issues are. (Not least of which are various domestic problems, including the conflicts between the secular majority and religious minority, the economy, better economic conditions for the Arab Israeli population, and so on.)

that Hamas is not the mainstream, but merely some extremists that should be ignored in favor of the mainstream

I think his point wasto remind that Hamas has a political wing that in order to govern must make practical decisions that would likely include contact with Israel, and a separate and autonomous military wing which most definitely takes a hardline stance.

I'm unaware of Hamas offering to talk with Israel, spartikus; are you aware of such an offer that Israel has refused?

Israel immediately ruled out talks immediately after the election results came in. But, there's this.

Rather than get involved in a debate over the Israeli/Palestinian history (been there, done that, have the t-shirt), I'm just going to deal with the present situation.

To start with, I simply don't believe that the first kidnapping could have been the work of external elements of Hamas without the knowledge of their leaders, unless by "external elements" you include those responsible for the day-to-day governance of Gaza. The tunnel was a kilometer long. That means not just that it took a long time to come to fruition, it also means that they had to dispose of a kilometer's worth of dirt. This isn't Charles Bronson in The Great Escape; you don't dispose of that much dirt without the local authorities noticing.

The other point is that this is no longer just an Israeli/Palestinian problem. Arguing about that misses the point that at least one of Syria and Iran appears to have committed an act of war against Israel. Historical argumets are entertaining. I mean, I earned that t-shirt fair and square. They are, though, irrelevant to the situation now at hand. We face much bigger problems.

I have become increasingly disenchanted with discussions of proportionate response.

I agree with Sebastian in that proportionality as referring to some kind of quantitative equity is unhelpful, but I think it's still sensible to have some concept of minimum sufficient response, and to make a negative (moral) judgement about something that exceeds that.

Secondary and tertiary civilian effects

Just to get this sort of this out of the way, there has been some surprising explicitness from Israeli leaders about this:

"http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1808456,00.html>"Our aim is not to mete out punishment, but to apply pressure so the soldier will be freed. We want to create a new equation - freeing the abducted soldier in return for lessening the pressure on the Palestinians." "

Gen.">http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/world/middleeast/10mideastcnd.html>"Maj.Gen. Yoav Galant, commander of Israel's southern region, said late Saturday that Israel was ready for a long campaign, planning to shift the focus of operations from place to place.
"We are prepared to continue the operation a month, two months and, if need be, even more," he told Channel 2 television. "The Palestinians will do their reckoning. They will count hundreds of dead terrorists, they will count the damaged infrastructure, the destroyed offices, the damaged factories."
"

So, while I hate to be 'that guy,' Spartikus' first reply is right. This is meant to immiserate the civilian population, to put pressure on them in order to affect the political situation in Gaza and undermine an enemy government, in addition to getting the soldier back - a type of strategy which is sometimes (sometimes!) called 'terrorism.'

I'm not saying this is simple, morally or strategically, and I'm not saying I have an answer. And I'm not one of those 'everything is Israel's fault' people, either. But I'm frusrated with how willing some people have been to shrug off these considerations. I've seen it for a variety of reasons - sometimes because people lock themselves into presumptions about things surrounding Israel, but sometimes because people would rather throw up their hands at how complicated it is in order to avoid having to make concrete judgements.

"I'm not saying this is simple, morally or strategically, and I'm not saying I have an answer."

And I wouldn't argue that current Israeli responses are necessarily going to get desired results, or are the best response, and I certainly wouldn't argue that they are morally immaculate.

The problem is that if one asks "what's the better strategy?" and "what's the set of actions Israel should take to get back its soldiers and stop these attacks?," no one seems to have a real answer.

"Diplomacy" and "working for a more peaceful solution" and other generalized phrases aren't an answer, either.

A horrible bottom line seems to be that pretty much every scenario connected to reality sucks.

And it's not particularly admirable or necessarily useful or justifiable if Israel takes, at least for a while, the attitude that if everything is going to suck, it might as well suck for you as well as for us, but it's not entirely surprising, either. No more, at least, perhaps, than Palestinians and Lebanese and other Arabs setting off fireworks and giving out sweets and dancing in the streets in joy and support of the current events and actions.

People are stupid, particularly when they get mad. And they have no useful outlet. No matter what their ethnicity or nationality or religion is.

This isn't Charles Bronson in The Great Escape; you don't dispose of that much dirt without the local authorities noticing.

A lot of discussion seems to center around the tunnel and I am of two minds about it. Some argue that it suggests that Hamas must have known about it (Peretz said "“The data in our hands does not leave any doubt that Hamas is involved in the incident... The Palestinian Authority is infected with terrorism from head to toe, and we must eliminate the terrorism used against us by all means available. ") arguing that a construction of this scale proves that Hamas was bargaining in bad faith. However, if the tunnel construction was so elaborate, it would suggest that it was undertaken before the election (the Great Escape tunnels were a total of 300 yards and it took the prisoners more than a year to make those) Do we know that it was being worked on after the election? Or could it have been restarted when tensions rose?

Unfortunately, I don't think we will get a timeline and a set of approval papers so we really will never know if it was a bad faith exercise or a previously initiated plan that was left in place and returned to.

Is it just me, or is Josh Trevino openly calling for ethnic cleansing?

Tac: "The road to peace runs through an Israeli military frontier on the Litani; and through a Rafah crossing choked with one million three hundred thousand Gazans fleeing to diaspora in the Muslim lands of the Nile. Were Israel the monstrous dispossessor and aggressor of the fantasies of its foes from Damascus to Europe, this would have been long since done. The pity, and the irony, is that it is not."

"Is it just me, or is Josh Trevino openly calling for ethnic cleansing?"

Sort of sounds like it, but "monstrous etc etc" speaks against that. Wonder what in the world he thinks the international response would be, and what would happen when the Inigo Montoyas among those refugees grew up. Wonder if he thinks there will ever be peace. Well, actually, I don't much care.

Is it just me, or is Josh Trevino openly calling for ethnic cleansing?

Right-Wing nationalists always have a "final solution" for everything (and everybody).

"Right-Wing nationalists always have a 'final solution' for everything (and everybody)."

I don't care what Trevino says, and I certainly regard suggestions of expulsion with nothing but horror and revulsion, but it really really really devalues the Shoah to compare it to expulsion. The German Final Solution wasn't to push the Jews outside their territory.

That's why it was final.

It always starts in camps, (call them concentration or refugee) and a promised "final solution" to all our problems is proposed, “war” “pressure” “suck” what ever it takes to “get rid of a persistent problem.”

The leaders of Hamas talk a lot about the existences of Israel, but that is the rub…Israel exists and exists well, while Palestine does not exist, the Israelis made sure of this and the Israelis make sure Palestinians do not exist well.

Would you have blamed a child of the Warsaw Ghetto cutting the throat of a German soldier? How about an Aryan woman? A Christian child? Forcing people into horrible living conditions forces folks to act in ways they usually wouldn't, or haven't you read about the camps? Or are only the descendants of European Jews capable of suffering?

The German Final Solution wasn't to push the Jews outside their territory.

Here I go, unable to resist the hole where the tooth used to be (Sartre, I think, had a long passage in Being and Nothingness about the attraction of spaces and how that relates to our psychological makeup, but I digress)

None of this should be construed in any way as taking SOD's side against Gary, as I think that the effort to get off a glib one liner may have overpowered some other, more thoughtful considerations (and to try and create more analogies is really not helpful here), but the initial aspects of Germany's dealing with the Jews were to try and expel them, leading to thigns like the SS St Louis Affair. One could argue that Germany didn't really want to expel them, because of the increasingly onerous conditions put upon Jews, but a functionalist approach to the Holocaust (as presented by Rubenstein and Raul Hilberg) suggests that this is exactly what happened. In recent years, there has been a fusion of Functionalist and Intentionalist schools, which ends up with a notion of 'culmulative radicalization'. Unfortunately, with Godwin as an ever present reminder, it is not very fruitful to discuss these points as the antecedents are so toxic, so I'd ask that you just drop it.

At any rate, Gary has much more pressing problems. Sorry if jumping in here added to them.

"Or are only the descendants of European Jews capable of suffering?"

Yes, that's exactly it. Obviously you've discerned what I really meant.

Oh, and thanks for saying that Israelis are like Nazis. Well-played.

"Would you have blamed a child of the Warsaw Ghetto cutting the throat of [...] an Aryan woman? A Christian child?"

Yes. Absolutely. That would be, absent specific context indicating otherwise, what we call "murder."

"...or haven't you read about the camps?"

Palestinian refugee camps? You might want to look into who runs them, and who doesn't let the residents move elsewhere.

And, again: Israelis are Nazis. Good to know where you stand.

"Unfortunately, with Godwin as an ever present reminder, it is not very fruitful to discuss these points as the antecedents are so toxic, so I'd ask that you just drop it."

Ask who to drop what?

And Godwin says that as discussions grow to a certain length, the odds of someone making a comparison to Nazis grows towards one. It certainly has nothing to do with actually discussing Nazis.

In any case, I'm not, myself, interested in discussion of the functionalists vs. intentionalists.

I'd suggest, however, that Israel=Nazi Germany claims aren't helpful. Speaking of disproportionate responses.

"Sorry if jumping in here added to them."

Meh. I can use distraction. Thanks for noticing, though.

Sorry, that 2nd person was unclear. Should have used the impersonal passive 'it be dropped'. Wasn't trying to call anyone out on anything.

So I sent a little something to Gary, and he ain't even nice to me. Hang in there, Gar.

On Milt Rosenberg's show tonite , the Lebanese guy (from consulate) more or less agreed with Israeli (ambassador?) that Hizballah has no right to start a war with Israel - that is up to the govt of Lebanon. And somebody claimed that damage to the airport and roads could be fixed in less than a week - that the purpose of those bombings was an attempt to seal off exits from the country so that the captured Israelis could not be taken elsewhere.

Anyway, rockets falling on Haifa is not a good thing. Apparently all the Israeli army reservists are being called up (per Yoni on Hugh Hewitt) which does not bode well.

"So I sent a little something to Gary, and he ain't even nice to me."

Oh, that was you? Gosh, another True Name collected.

Well, I said something nice back.

Anyway, aside from your propensity for making up stuff about what Democrats here and elsewhere say, I like you, as I said, DaveC. If you'd quit that terribly annoying habit, I'd quit yelling at you. At least as much as I don't yell at everyone, for whatever that's worth, precisely.

"...that the purpose of those bombings was an attempt to seal off exits from the country so that the captured Israelis could not be taken elsewhere."

Well, yeah, that's in all the news reports. "Elsewhere" reportedly being Iran, according to Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev and some other Israeli government sources, for whatever that's worth. (How real is that danger? I have no idea; it wouldn't surprise me if Iran was dumb/aggressive enough to be interested/willing, and it wouldn't surprise me if they were smart/passive-aggressive enough to not take those two hot potatoes.)

"Anyway, rockets falling on Haifa is not a good thing."

There were over 120 Israeli civilian casualties from missiles from Lebanon reported this afternoon, but not so much mention of this in, say, BBC coverage, or a variety of other news sources that tend to overlook such minor matters.

"...somebody claimed that damage to the airport and roads could be fixed in less than a week"

Reportedly they hit the runways and fuel tanks, not the terminals or other infrastructure. Of course, early reports on such things are often, if not always, unreliable.

"Apparently all the Israeli army reservists are being called up"

As I just got through saying, this is news to every Israeli news source I've seen so far. I'll believe when I read it in a reliable news source, which I don't consider someone chatting with Hugh Hewitt (who is "Yoni"?) to be. Especially when it's in contradiction to all the Israeli newspapers and radio.

This post, which Jonathan E. linked to, should be of interest.

WaPo on the Hizbollah-counterreaction-in-Lebanon front.

As I just mentioned on Unfogged: And with simply splendid timing, Khaled Meshal announces he's in charge of Palestinians.

Glad that's settled.

Rilke - apology accepted. (In fairness to you, I have not myself read anything by Benny Morris in at least four years, could not remember offhand if he'd ever admitted he was wrong about the expulsions, and my "whatever Benny Morris says" was meant as a rather dumb acknowledgement of that.)

The friend I knew who lived in Israel told me once about going for a picnic with his partner on the site of what had been a Palestinian village: and discovering from there that there were equivalent sites all over the country. He said it was the first nudge that made him acknowledge that the version of events he had learned and argued with me over - the idea that the exiled Palestinians weren't really exiles, were newcomers, nomads, whatever - was not true.

When it comes to understanding history, incoherent stones in the ground beat out a politically coherent narrative that contradicts the stones. Or so I found, arguing with my friend.

Gary wrote:

Oh, and thanks for saying that Israelis are like Nazis. Well-played.

Not all German nationalists were NAZI's, but they certainly allowed the minority of NAZIs to dictate the conditions of the "facts on the ground."

As a matter of fact, most right-wing German nationalists were not NAZI's....but they sure gave the NAZIs a wide space to operate from.

"... we have no solution, that you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave -- and we will see where this process leads? In five years we may have 200,000 less people -- and that is a matter of enorous importance."
-- Moshe Dayan encouraging the transfer of Gaza strip refugees to Jordan (from Noam Chomsky's Deterring Democracy, 1992, p.434, quoted in Nur Masalha's A Land Without A People, 1997 p.92).

Well Britain and the league of nations
were wrong to assist in creating a middle east version of South African apartied.

Just like the west thought nothing wrong with So. African aparteid, american indian Reservations and slavery. But to still be arguing that European Jews have the "right " to establish a racist segregationist theocracy
is about 40 years behind the rest of the class in thinking and civilization skills.

Now I'm not saying it will be easy to climb the mountain but it is easy to point in the right direction. Both sides quit using every attack by the other side as an excuse to act like deranged serial killers, as if their killing your mom somehow excuses your killing their little sister?!! take a deep breath, calm down, and grow up.

That tunnel could have been there forever, so its use WAS opportunistic. And renegade psychos from either side could have used it, how could Israel not know there was such a tunnel- not likely - what with satellite ground probing sensors and all. Either way who ever did it are extremists who know full well they can get a knee jerk reaction out of national leaders anytime they want.

Isreali moms and Palestinian moms both want their kids to walk home from school safely. The basics of civilization and cooperation and rationality are not some big fricking mystery or cultural or religious barrier, we all have more in common than not, it just a relatively few loud, greedy, hotheads punks who are causing half the problems, the other half of the problem is that the rest of us let them get away with peeing all over the neighbors lawn and then wonder why they look at us all crazy-like.

share the land , the votes, the water. Make reason the national religion and kind humor the national anthem. Combine forces to pin down the hotheads.

All the hotheads are emulating one another : “I gonna get you”, “not if I get you first”.
and if it weren’t for all the blood it would look just like a bunch of snotty playground brats who desperately need an adult to peel 'em apart, make them sit down, help them see the issues clearly and then solve the problem fairly.
Give 'em a hot meal and it would be suddenly over. Figuretively speaking.

And Bush wants to hit Iran because he's scared they might get a bike thats half as shiny as his and everyone will like them and he'll have to actually talk to them...its preschool level politics out there on the global stage. pathetic.

I know one of you hotheads are gonna say: “but, but, but, this isn’t a game… and he hit me first…and everybody else is jumpin off the bridge so why cant I?”….Because we ain’t everyone else THAT’S why, now wipe your nose and dry your eyes and lets go get something to eat…both of you.

Correction: With the Iraq war, Iran has *two* fewer threatening enemies, with the US converting Afghanistan from the Taliban theocracy into a warlord-run no-mans-land.

I'm sorry but I believe many of you are confused about this.

The article reads, "According to the Egyptian leader, Israel promised to release numerous Palestinian prisoners, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had both been told. However, the agreement was not implemented due to pressure on Hamas."

If that is the case then Israel had "numberous Palestinian prisoners" in the beginning before the Israeli prisoner so how can this NOT be Israel's fault?

The situation in Iraq is NOT going well for America so why in the world would we want to enter into this? This is a problem of Israel's making and Israel needs to get the heck back. The article states that parts of living for Palestinians are quite unbearable for them. Are you all trying to say the lives of Israelis are more important than the lives of the Palestinians? I have no bias toward any of them and no agenda here but from what I read in this article it looks to me that you all need to read this article over and come to a sensible reply. Plus the United States is almost bankrupt right now. Katrina should have shown all of you how bad conditions are for the poor in America and how America's perogitives are certainly in the wrong area. They are needed at home. We are not Israel and we do not owe Israel anything that I know of. People in that area need to grow up and get along before we are all killed. This is my honest opinion.

"One or both countries more or less had to be the power that blocked the deal that Mubarak brokered to end the Hamas crisis"

Why? You have offered no evidence at all for this. There are a half dozen factions within Palestine itself that could have "pressured" Hamas, the least of which is whatever group that actually holds the prisoner. Syria would have been crazy to involve itself at all.

This is a mostly amateurish and uninformed article that asks more questions and introduces more vaguaries than it attempts to clear up.

The one thing I can agree on is that this is indeed very, very bad, for everyone, especially the poor Lebanese and Palestinians, and particularly us in the US.

First a compliment to those who've already posted ... it's great to read knowledgeable discussion rather than a lot of angry hand waving about this topic.

Going back to hilzoy original statement:

This is very very bad ...

I agree but there may be some good to come out of this crisis for the US and the larger world. I think there are really two main threads of issues going on here that have already been discussed thoroughly:

1) Israel and Palestinians working out their disputes.

2) Iran/Syria geopolitical aspirations.

The Israeli/Palestinian dispute is very sad but not particularly dangerous in the geo-political sense. Israel’s existence is not threatened by the Palestinians and Israel has already committed to creating a Palestinian state. The current crisis is simply another step in a very bloody and torturous ‘negotiated’ settlement process. Ultimately, neither Israel nor Hamas can settle this issue militarily and unfortunately Hamas is learning the same lesson we all learned as kids on the playground that picking a fight with the biggest kid on the playground is not a good ideal. Hamas will learn and at some point in the future there will be two separate countries Israel and Palestine because it will simply be in both peoples best interest to make it happen.

However, the Iran/Syria geopolitical issue is very different which is why I believe Israel has reacted so strongly as there is lots of evidence that Iran/Syria is behind Hezbollah’s attack. Both Iran and Syria have been threatened by the Bush administration and an argument could be made that Iran/Syria simply took an opportunity to increase their prestige at Israel’s expense through the kidnapping. Iran of course is already under a lot of international scrutiny and has the additional motivation to divert attention from itself.

I think this was a horrible miscalculation by Iran/Syria at Lebanon’s expense.

This has the potential to create a backlash against Iran/Syria and the Hezbollah.

Militarily; again I don’t think there is a real issue here. If Israel could fight off a sneak attack by Egypt, Syria in 1973 and militarily crush these countries despite Iraqi, Jordanian and Soviet assistance … well, I don’t see how Iran/Syria/Hezbollah can possibly succeed militarily.

The issue then is really one of politics and how the Arabs and the larger world view the conflict because anything other than a decisive political defeat for Israel has the potential of creating a political problem for Iran/Syria. As of today, I believe both Iran and Syria are loosing on that front as well. Right now the Sunni Arab nations (Saudi’s, Jordan, Egypt) have been politically condemning Iran and Syria for the Lebanon mess (probably due to fear’s of growing Iranian power). Also, moderate Arab news media have been having fierce debates regarding the just nature of Hezbollah’s actions. Hopefully the inept Bush administration won’t fumble this situation.

I agree that things are very bad right now but it’s always darkest before the dawn.

It was only 65 years ago that millions of people died in Europe in the second world war and now Germany and France are leading the way to creating the European Union … who would have though …


"There are a half dozen factions within Palestine itself that could have 'pressured' Hamas, the least of which is whatever group that actually holds the prisoner."

I've been avoiding responding to many comments on this thread, and others, because they're just too dopey, what with Ocean Spray, and Sharon, and so on, to bother engaging with, but here's a hint in response to the above: Palestinian factions are not, it turns out, "outside pressure" to the Palestinians and Hamas.

And if you don't know that Mubarak was referring to either Iran or Syria, well, you don't have sufficient background, and aren't paying enough attention, to usefully converse on the topic. But, then, "Syria would have been crazy to involve itself at all" is itself indicative of that.

But probably I should just continue to try to ignore this sort of nonsense.

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