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December 28, 2008

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"To which my answer is: no, I expect you to try to figure out what has some prospect of actually making things better."

Questions:

(a.) What if, after considered thought, there is no such thing?
(b.) Well, at least you are not demanding they do so. That could get ugly.
(c.) The geopolitical strategy of "a pox on both your houses" has historically not been very successful, with good reason.
(d.) Assume a long run victory for the Palestinians (humor me here), does this change your moral calculus any?
(d.) Uh, oh. Ends v. Means, Israelis v. Palestinians, a sure fire way generate blog heat.

Duck Hilzoy! Incoming!

I suspect Israel hopes to break or fatally weaken Hamas, so that Fatah can pick up the pieces and control Gaza as well.

i think the criticism of israel is unwarranted

i mean, what can be morally wrong with mass bombing of starving people (mostly refugees) crammed into a tiny strip of blockaded land without access to medical care?

the true outrage here would be if we allowed our political leaders to question anything that israel does to fight the evildoers.

I don't understand how the Gazans and Hamas are a threat to Israel's security. They can't even aim their rockets. They are quite far away from having any kind of weapon that can do any serious damage at all.

Saying Israel and Hamas are both wrong does nothing to clarify the situation.

Publius's (sarcastic and coltish) comment and also this post focus on the immorality of the rocket attacks and the degree of Israel's response only. What about the IMO sickening immorality of Hamas leadership acting in this way, as pure provocateurs? They know full well the plight of their own people. They know full well (and depend on the fact that) Gazans cannot kick them out of power in the state they're in. They know full well they have given a reason (valid or not for you, valid for me) for Israeli retaliation.

To put your own citizenry in this position, independent of the degree of any Israeli response (which Hamas or anyone else cannot know for a certainty beforehand), is the height of irresponsible leadership. It is reckless, endangering, and disgusting. It is the greatest immorality of the current situation.

If the Israelis don't do it I hope someone else removes or eliminates that leadership. Any citizenry deserves better.

I read (it might have been a translation from an Haaretz article) that the Israeli attacks are aimed mainly at the Hamas police forces (not the military arm), i.e. the part of Hamas that might have an influence on when and where rockets are fired or not. The result would likely be uncontrolled and therefore more rocket fire not less.
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I also find it 'remarkable' that the amount of payload the Israelis dropped on the first day was of about the same magnitude as a typical German 'Blitz' raid on Britain in WW2 (about 150 tons per night/city). And the total Gaza strip is smaller than many a city hit then.
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What makes the whole thing so depressing is that everybody involved follows the 'normal' pattern. Each side accuses the other of having started it, the official US is 99.9999% pro-Israel and the tiny rest is more pro forma than of any substance (and often amounts to: this looks bad on TV and might not improve your public image, so can't you find more subtle ways?).
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I am inclined to join those that pray for an asteroid removing the whole problem by hitting Jerusalem and wiping out all the holy places for good.

Between September 1940 and May 1941, the German airforce bombed cities in the UK, causing unprecedented destruction of homes and public buildings and killing over 43 000 civilians.

The effects of these bombings on the British, as Vera Brittain observed in her Peace Letters at the time and in her autobiography Testament of Experience, was not such to encourage governments in future to try to win wars by waging them on civilians. If anything, the popular determination to win the war grew greater with the bombings. Nevertheless, the British Government began bombing cities in Germany with the intent of killing civilians... and so it goes.

Killing of civilians by aerial bombing doesn't help to win a conflict. whether it's in New York or in Afghanistan or in Iraq or in Israel or in the Gaza Strip. (Or Liverpool, or Dresden, or Hiroshima...) But for nearly sixty years governments have been doing it anyway.

I don't suppose for a minute the Israelis think killing a couple of hundred Palestinians all at once is going to win them the war any more than killing a cuuple of hundred a few at a time was winning them the war over the past few months. They want the acquifer under Gaza; they don't want or care about the people living in Gaza: and so for years now the Israelis have been killing them, a handful at a time or now a couple of hundred at a time.

(Vera Brittain was regarded as a traitor to the Allied war effort by the Americans - she was banned from entering the US for the duration of the war. While not going that far, the British government regarded her efforts with suspicion. And the Gestapo had her name on their list of dangerous people to be arrested/killed when they invaded the UK.)

Thank you for realizing, despite the constant drumbeat in the media, not to mention our lovely politicians, that what Israel is doing in Gaza will not achieve peace. And of course, the Hamas potshots will neither.

But why assume that peace is the goal? Any evidence? Or just the completely and obviously false deduction that people want peace and therefore governments must be seeking peace as well?

Israel is a colonial settler society established through ethnic cleansing. The prime directive of its politics is the obliteration of all signs of indigenous presence and political will. The deep goal of the bombing of Gaza is to advance this prime directive.

Hamas is an indigenous resistance movement. It's prime directive is live another day, to display and to maintain the continuation of Palestinian political will by showing that it can survive and continue to resist no matter what Israel does. The potshots are not an attempt to drive Israelis to emigrate. They are a statement of defiance: do your worst, we're here and we won't surrender.

There are, as always, other subsidiary goals, like winning elections and maintaining power. But the fundamental picture isn't changed by them.

Is there moral equivalency? Is everyone just too stupid to understand Ghandi's point, or is it rather you not making the effort to understand what drives the strategies of both sides?

The moral equivalency just doesn’t work here. Or at least my math skills are not up to the task. So someone help me solve for X where X is the appropriate length of time that a country should tolerate indiscriminate rocket attacks on its citizens. Or solve for X where X is the appropriate number of attacks to tolerate. Apparently 3,000 attacks in one year and 200 attacks in one week are both incorrect answers.

An eye for an eye would be indiscriminate bombing, not bombing known security stations.

Even Abbas and frackin’ Egypt blame Hamas for this…

(I now return to my policy of not commenting on IP threads. Yeah, I was stupid to hit post.)

Great post, hilzoy.

"One of the many things that makes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict so utterly dispiriting is that it's impossible to think of anything good coming of any of this. Worse than that, it's hard to imagine that even the people involved think anything good will come of it."

Good luck President-Elect Barack Obama . . . and incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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"I don't understand how the Gazans and Hamas are a threat to Israel's security."

It's called terrorism.

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"So someone help me solve for X where X is the appropriate length of time that a country should tolerate indiscriminate rocket attacks on its citizens. Or solve for X where X is the appropriate number of attacks to tolerate."

Hard to argue -- or solve -- OCSteve's rhetorical flourish.

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"Collective punishment is collective punishment and is morally wrong no matter the relative intensity by which both sides pursue it or what has gone before in the way of provocation. Wrong (Strength 2) + Wrong (Strength 5) cannot ever = Right (Strength 7)."

That logic, unfortunately, states things too simply, and it just isn't that easy of a moral dilemma -- or these conflicts would not be so damn hard to solve.


When "tensions" in the ME rise, the price of oil rises as well. Funny, that.

OCSteve: So someone help me solve for X where X is the appropriate length of time that a country should tolerate indiscriminate rocket attacks on its citizens.

Well, since you apparently feel that for the Palestinians it's at least eight years, can you explain to me why you feel that the Israelis should have the right of reply, but the Palestianians shouldn't?

You were aware, I take it, that 386 Palestinians have so far been killed when Israel launched "targeted killings" at the Occupied Territories, to assassinate Palestinians? 233 were targets: the remainder were just "collateral damage". Just as dead, though.

Besides this, and not counting the victims of "targeted killings", over 2200 Palestinians who were not taking part in hostilities have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli security forces over the past 8 years (those are BTSelem figures up to 30th January). 634 Palestinian kids have been killed in the Gaza Strip over the past 8 years (952 if we include in the West Bank)

The total number of Israeli civilians killed over the past 8 years, both in Israel and in the Occupied Territories is 727 - that includes 123 Israeli kids. So pay attention, Steve - more Palestinian kids have been killed by Israeli security forces than the total number of Israeli civilians of any age.

So if the Palestinians should have tolerated these indiscriminate attacks on civilians for more than 8 years without retaliating, in your view, for how long should Israel have tolerated these much less damaging attacks on their civilians?

Or were you just not thinking about the Palestinian casualties at all?

Correction - BTSelem figures up till 30th November.

I'd go along with Hartmut's asteroid, but it occurs to me that the human race would gather the bits and shards of the thing and begin scraping and bowing and muttering over them in various ways, and build new holy places to house the asteroid bits.

Then they would differ on the meaning of each shard and bit and start butchering each other over said differences.

We need a bigger fucking asteroid.

Uh, how about a little more analysis, a little less handwringing?

This is Ehud Barak's big chance to prove he's a tough guy before the elections. Plus, since Obama isn't in office yet, they have a completely free hand (likely they will still after Obama is in office, but that's not completely certain).

Obviously the cost of Barak's little stunt will be high, but he won't be the one paying the price, so why should he worry?

Is it rude to point out that the decision to end the cease-fire and resume rocket attacks from Gaza was taken by Hamas leaders . . . in Damascus? So no only are the bombing attacks unlikely to accomplish anything useful, they don't even have the (perhaps dubious) virtue of striking back at those actually responsible for the rocket attacks in the first place.

Granted, air raids on Hamas buildings in Damascus would probably restart hostilities with Syria. And just when there appear to be some prospects for actually getting peace reestablished on that border. But surely something a little more focused could be managed.

Hilzoy:

I am profoundly disappointed in your post.

The moral basis of "an eye for an eye" is retributive justice - that the proper remedy for a criminal act is to inflict equal consequences upon the perpetrator. As Ghandi points out, it's a model that is rarely effective, either as a matter of deterrence, or as a matter of achieving meaningful resolution.

That, however, is not what is happening at present in the Middle East. The doctrine of retributive justice would dictate that when Hamas and allied groups lob rockets or mortar shells into Israel, with minimal ability to target them, but generally timing them to maximize civilian casualties, Israel should randomly lob an equal number of shells toward the Gaza Strip. The collective punishment that Hamas seeks to inflict on Israelis would thus be offset by the collective punishment that Israel inflicts on the Palestinians. Or, if you prefer, that every time Hamas kills or wounds random civilians, Israeli snipers should shoot an equal number of civilians. That would be proportionate, yes? (And you don't need me to explain why this would be a horrible, morally repugnant model of response.)

Israel is not lashing out in sheer frustration. It is not inflicting 'collective punishment' upon Gazans, much less on Palestinians. (Anyone writing that this constitutes 'collective punishment for Palestinians' should contemplate why Israel is not presently bombing the West Bank, where even more Palestinians can be found.) It has launched an offensive with a clear strategic aim - to replace the recent calming of the conflict, during which attacks on Israel persisted, with an actual ceasefire, during which Israeli towns and cities will no longer be targeted by mortars and rockets. To that end, it is targeting the infrastructure of Hamas, both its physical resources and its manpower.

Is there overlap between that infrastructure, and what might be considered civilian targets? Certainly, there is. Take, for example, the police force - in most parts of the world, considered civilian. In Gaza, the police force has become the instrument through which Hamas represses its rivals, rooting out, torturing and killing supporters of groups such as Fatah, and particularly powerful clans that have been resistant to the displacement of traditional authority. Hamas uses the police, rather than its highly-trained and skilled militant wing (Iz Adin Al-Qassam) for these internal tasks, because they are deeply unpopular. It wishes to shield its 'freedom fighters' from the popular backlash caused by closing clubs, torturing rivals, and enforcing Islamic strictures against, among others, homosexuals and liberated women. So are the police civilian? Or the university. Or metalworking shops. The essence of Hamas' approach in Gaza is to seamlessly blend its civilian and militant activities, using its charitable endeavors to muster support for its militancy. The same shops are used to repair cars and prepare rockets. Disentangling this becomes a mess.

Despite this, civilian casualties have been shockingly low. With the death toll around 300, most reports put civilian casualties around two dozen. That's substantially better than, say, the United States fared in its 'shock and awe' campaign in Iraq - despite the fact that the attacks are being launched in a much more densely populated area. That has to do with stricter targeting guidelines, as well as far-greater familiarity with the targeted areas than the US enjoyed. The present campaign in Gaza is, for better or worse, about as clean as any aerial assault is likely to be.

So if it's not retributive justice, how should we think of it? Well, it is a disproportionate response. That's pretty much the entire point. It's not 'an eye for an eye' at all. The notion is not to exchange lives in some grim calculus of death, but to create new incentives. If Hamas wishes to be able to continue to operate as an above-ground organization, as a de facto government for Gaza, it needs to maintain a visible infrastructure of governance. It needs police stations, prisons, office complexes, and more. Israel has just destroyed that infrastructure, presenting Hamas with a difficult choice. It can reign in attacks to levels Israel is willing to tolerate, and, the implicit bargain goes, Israel will refrain from leveling its nominally civilian infrastructure, and allow it to govern. Or it can continue or escalate attacks, and return to its days as a largely underground organization.

That's the logic of disproportion - to raise the costs to a specific group of actors (Hamas members, loyalists, and employees) to a point that changes their incentives. It's not as simple as Hamas throwing up its hands and abandoning conflict. Its political power is predicated upon sustaining conflict; it's certainly not going to make peace. But, like Hezbollah, it may decide that rallies, training, and the occasional dramatic assault are sufficient to maintain its political power - while a constant low intensity conflict would achieve its ideological aims but threaten its ability to maintain its requisite infrastructure. No one would be happy with that outcome, which is why it might actually work. Israelis in the south could live with reporting to shelters once or twice a year during flare-ups; Gazans could set about building a state without constant retaliatory raids.

The status quo ante was not maintainable for Israel - no government can survive with its civilian population under constant bombardment. It's not the death toll; it's the constant threat, the randomness. It has rolled the dice in an effort to change the incentives. We'll see what comes of it.

This is only tangentially related, but there's really a lot more to Mahatma Gandhi than Ben Kingsley's platitudes.

observer -- when in history has this strategy ever worked? when has a people become MORE moderate in response to being bombed. morality aside, i don't see the case for its practical effectiveness

I'm assuming that if stopping the rockets from Gaza were all that important to the Israelis they'd just do what the U.S. does in Iraq: counterbattery fire to the launch sites. As far as large numbers of airstrikes on universities and police stations, I think publius is right, it doesn't work that way. Moreover, I have a lot of respect for the adage, what goes around comes around.

Publius, in my reading of Observer's words he wasn't discussing the effectiveness of the actions, but instead the strategic goals. The effectiveness is beside the point.

Fights continue until the loser decides it is over. Otherwise, they continue fighting in one forum or another. I don't believe that Hamas, or adherents, would stop lobbing rockets as Israel even if Israel fully pulled out of West Bank and Gaza strip (magically) tomorrow. The violence has gone beyond the real slights, and become a vicious self-perpetuating circle.

Hamas cannot defeat Israel. It doesn't have the economic or military might to do so. However, unless Israel takes actions, which in my opinion would be far too ugly to engage in, it cannot defeat Hamas. It cannot strike hard enough to make Hamas feel defeated, not just set-back, but actually defeated.

what does defeat look like? i'm not trying to smartass, i'm genuinely unsure what a defeat means. something other than a political agreement?

Observer - For what it's worth, as of this morning, you are wrong about your claim of 2 dozen civilian deaths. According to front page articles from the NY Times and BBC, the civilian death toll is above 50.

It's good that a fair number of liberal bloggers are willing to blame both sides--three cheers for "moral equivalence", if by that one means condemning senseless violence no matter who commits it.

Now if we could only get liberal American politicians to see it the same way.

Observer---I understand the difficulty in disentangling civilian targets from military targets. I imagine it's the same difficulty that led Marwan Barghouti to conclude that Israeli settlers on the West Bank were fair game, while magnanimously concluding that civilians inside Israel proper (pre-67, presumably), are not. But he went to jail, didn't he?

I have no clue. I can make wild-ass-guesses.

Defeat would be for one side to understand that it could no longer do violence against the other. Hamas lacks the ability to inflict losses capability, and IMO Israel lacks the will to pay the social and societal costs to do so (once again, thankfully).

So obviously neither side can "lose" nor "win", and a compromise situation needs to be found. However, that requires someone other than the ruling parties, who have their honor and face fully engaged in the conflict, to make compromises and try to find a collaborative solution. But I'm not sure there are enough people with enough political capital on either side who can move to that. You'd need a strong central executive, IMO, and neither side seems to have one oriented towards a peaceful compromise. This is especially true when the Palestine-powers-that-be are so fragmented that it would be very difficult to enforce a peace treaty - and it doesn't really matter to the Israeli public, in my observation of news articles, whether it is Group A, Group B, or Group C shooting rockets at them.

Observer: The status quo ante was not maintainable for [the Palestinians] - no government can survive with its civilian population under constant bombardment. It's not the death toll; it's the constant threat, the randomness. [Hamas] has rolled the dice in an effort to change the incentives. We'll see what comes of it.

That's not a "fixed that for you". I'm just pointing out that your statement applies equally to the Palestinians any time the past 8 years, as it does to the Israelis. The constant threat, the randomness, and for Palestinians the rising death tolls and the economic sanctions.

We've seen what comes of it. We see what comes of it. We'll see what comes of it. Restricting yourself to the future tense is too limiting.

When has Israel --qua 'state'-- not been intent on ethnically cleansing Palestine?

Israel has appropriated virtually ALL the available water flowing in historical watercourses through both Israeli & Arab lands.

But why assume that peace is the goal? Any evidence? Or just the completely and obviously false deduction that people want peace and therefore governments must be seeking peace as well?

Israel is a colonial settler society established through ethnic cleansing. The prime directive of its politics is the obliteration of all signs of indigenous presence and political will. The deep goal of the bombing of Gaza is to advance this prime directive.

I suspect that this is the true motivation of the right-wingers. All this talk about 'peaceful coexistence' and a separate 'Palestinian State' is just so much - irony of ironies - like the Nazi's claiming they wanted peace mere days before invading a country.

Iow, the right-wing in Israel is doing nothing more than stalling, hoping that if they can shrink the numbers of Palestinians and the size of the areas they live in, the whole question of a separate state becomes meaningless; by then the effective question will be whether or not the Palestinian reservation will be allowed self-rule. Not only that, but access to various resources on what was formerly Palestinian territories will be controlled by the Israeli government. Remind anyone of certain historical facts that pertain to an ally of Israel's? About how and why they treated certain indigenous people in a certain way?

However you slice it 'Manifest Destiny', 'Lebensraum', or the current ugly doctrine being practiced by the Israeli hardliners, they're all the same, and all partake of what I do not lightly call evil.

Of course, the proof is in prediction. I don't know historically the size of the areas controlled by the Palestinians, or their actual numbers, but I'm guessing that both have shrunk over the years. Anybody know if this is true?

Publius:

I don't expect the Israeli offensive to bolster the forces of moderation - quite the contrary. Nor do I expect Israel to 'defeat' Hamas. I share your skepticism that an aerial bombardment, no matter how effective or precisely targeted, can achieve that end.

What it can do, however, is change the equation of costs and benefits. Hamas is a rational actor. It wishes to consolidate its control within Gaza, to build its military capabilities, to bolster its standing within the Arab and Islamic worlds, and ultimately, to destroy the Jewish state and reclaim the land it occupies. It is not shy about sharing these objectives. And it clearly believed that a constant rain of rockets and mortars on Israel advanced these goals. In that, I think, it was correct. Since the erection of security barriers and the withdrawal from Gaza, the militant factions have struggled to carry out effective attacks. Suicide bombings have been fairly rare, and largely ineffectual. Hamas (and to a lesser extent, Islamic Jihad) have bolstered their standing through their continuing ability to kill Israeli civilians and to send them scurrying for cover. The launch sites are often deliberately selected so that counterbattery fire will produce civilian casualties, enraging local residents, and further bolstering Hamas' position. In other words, since the withdrawal, each rocket attack has been a double victory for Hamas - once when they land in Israel, and once when Israeli shells or bombs land in Gaza. That's the logic of proportional response, to which Israel has largely adhered over the past couple of years. Hamas today is more popular, better equipped, larger, and more capable than it was two years ago. The status quo has been a gradual erosion of Israeli security, and an enhancement of Hamas.

So that's why Israel is changing the equation. Instead of targeting launch sites, it's attacking storage facilities. Instead of launching missiles at cars en route to launch sites, it's attacking headquarters buildings and police stations. It's disproportionate. And it's been incredibly costly, at least in the short term, for Hamas. It's losing highly trained personnel, stockpiles of arms, infrastructure, and credibility. It has yet to strike back with any efficacy, and that erodes its standing.

What happens next is crucial. In its incursion into Lebanon, Israel stayed too long, and tried for too much. When it didn't achieve all of its overly ambitious goals, and withdrew, a tactical victory became a strategic defeat, and a costly one at that. But it appears to have learned those lessons. No Israeli official has said that the present offensive is aimed at achieving the release of Gilad Shalit. Most have been wise enough not to talk of destroying Hamas. The stated aim is achieving a new ceasefire and hurting Hamas, and both of those seem like likely outcomes. If the offensive is relatively short-lived, and international intervention opportunely timed, Israel may well change the playing field.

So I can't tell you what defeat would look like. It's not a simple problem, and it didn't spring up over night. I won't be solved in a single offensive, either. But I think Israel is aiming for a new status quo. One in which Hamas considers the cost of its attacks. One in which violence occasionally boils over, but isn't a constant facet of daily life. It's not an attractive scenario, either, but there are no attractive resolutions, at least in the short term - and probably over the long term, either. It's just what there is.

Brian: "Publius's (sarcastic and coltish) comment and also this post focus on the immorality of the rocket attacks and the degree of Israel's response only."

What part of "For both sides" was unclear?

OCSteve: "So someone help me solve for X where X is the appropriate length of time that a country should tolerate indiscriminate rocket attacks on its citizens."

I think the answer is zero. My problem isn't with Israel responding; it's with Israel doing something which seems deeply unlikely to actually help the situation -- which means unlikely to get the bombing to stop. (This is also my problem with the Palestinians' launching rockets, or one of my problems. I don't mean to suggest that launching rockets indiscriminately would be OK if it was plausibly connected to some actual goal.)

Look: this was the same problem I had with Bill Ayers. I agree that the Vietnam war was awful, and that people needed to try to stop it. It's the move from that to "so I'll do something that there's no reason to think will stop it, and which could kill people" that bothers me. Same here.

TJ: "I'm assuming that if stopping the rockets from Gaza were all that important to the Israelis they'd just do what the U.S. does in Iraq: counterbattery fire to the launch sites."

Unfortunately, Qassam rockets, being very primitive, don't need dedicated launch sites. You can fire them from anywhere. Back when Israel was fighting Lebanon, I argued that the nature of Katyushas (and of Lebanon's borders) made it impossible to think that Israel could just wipe them out. This is even more true of Qassams.

General note: if we could manage not to compare Israel to the Nazis, I'd prefer that we do so.

What it can do, however, is change the equation of costs and benefits. Hamas is a rational actor.

Why should we believe that? I don't think any government engaged in military conflict is a military actor, so why should I assume that Hamas is? Is there any reason beyond blind faith?

Even if we assume that Hamas is a rational actor, I don't think we can make predictions about its behavior with as much certainty as you do. Rational actors make decisions based on subjective assessments but it can be very hard for parties in conflict to agree on those assessments. For example, Saddam Hussein might have been a rational actor, but the American government could not understand his actions because they did not assess his security situation the way he did. He was convinced the biggest threat to his regime came from Iran or from internal enemies, not from American military forces. If you agree with that assessment, then you can argue that he acted rationally. But the American government couldn't even conceive of this mindset, so their assumption that he was a rational actor led them to believe all sorts of ridiculous things about him. This talk of Hamas a rational actor seems to assume we all agree on a great number of factual questions when we do not.

It wishes to consolidate its control within Gaza,

Getting bombed by Israel seems to advance that goal. External attacks tend to bolster popular support for the incumbent government as we've seen over and over and over again. They also provide cover for even greater attacks against internal enemies.

...to build its military capabilities

When do you think it is easier to acquire funding for weapons from wealthy donors: when nothing is happening or when satellite TV networks are full of videos of deadly attacks on Palestinians?

to bolster its standing within the Arab and Islamic worlds

Being attacks by Israel helps accomplish that goal quite nicely I should think.


And it's been incredibly costly, at least in the short term, for Hamas. It's losing highly trained personnel, stockpiles of arms, infrastructure, and credibility. It has yet to strike back with any efficacy, and that erodes its standing.

Why should we believe that it has been incredibly costly for Hamas? I mean, does anyone here think that Hamas won't be capable of continuing rocket fire in a few days or weeks? Hamas' rocket attacks require very little in terms of weaponry and institutional capabilities. We're not talking about running a space program here; we're talking about weaponry that is one step removed from small arms. Hamas can't strike back with any efficacy because it has far less military capability than Israel. That was true before this attack and will be true after. I just don't see why you think that these attacks changed any equation.

Is there a reason that Israel does not occupy and annex Gaza? Would it have to give citizenship to the occupants, including voting rights? Would Gazans accept Israeli citizenship or would many of them self-deport to the West Bank?

If the basic strategy of peace was to give up enough land to create an economically viable Palestinian state, isn't it time to review the basic strategy as it concerns Gaza?

Look: this was the same problem I had with Bill Ayers. I agree that the Vietnam war was awful, and that people needed to try to stop it. It's the move from that to "so I'll do something that there's no reason to think will stop it, and which could kill people" that bothers me. Same here.

That's odd; the impression I got was that your problem with Bill Ayers was that he was still alive and felt that, after months of the Republicans making use of his existence to attack Obama, he felt he had the right of reply. Since at the time you wrote your attack screed on Ayers, the Vietnam war was long over and your attack was not based on anything he'd done in the past thirty-plus years but be a victim of Republican attacks and write an op-ed.

And that is the problem with Israel and Palestine. It's not that both sides aren't justified in hating and fearing each other. Or that both sides haven't committed unforgiveable atrocities on each other. You can go back to 1948 or 1967 or 2000 or indeed almost any year in that tiny patch of land, and someone on one side will have done something unforgiveable to someone on the other. And sixty, forty, eight years on, long past fixing this, people will still be talking about it.

Telling people to go away isn't the solution. Trying to silence people with a recent grievance because you don't care for something they did forty years ago isn't any kind of solution.

What is needed, at basic, is for people on both sides to be willing to sit down and negotiate terms with each other. Even though that means negotiating with terrorists and murderers, on both sides of the table. At the moment what I believe is the preferred solution of the Palestinians - one country, from Gaza Strip to the West Bank, with full citizenship for all - is anathema to the Israelis, whose most peaceful solution is a two-state divide. And the failure of Israelis to live up to any agreement made about creating a Palestinian state is a big barrier in the way of setting that up.

But I think anyone sane would agree; neither the Hamas attacks nor the Israeli attacks are going to do anything but move both sides further away from a solution; and that, whatever their publicly-claimed motivation, is, I believe, what this is all about.

Shrug. If that was directed at me, it was misdirected. If I say that, like Nazi's, Jews are warm-blooded chordates, this is in no way a comparison.

No, what I am saying is a historical reality: prevaricating noises are made by leaders about sharing common, noble goals, while in reality, they're doing everything they can to undermine those goals for purely secular reasons. When do we make the determination that all these leaders are doing is stalling? What would be considered convincing evidence?

Me, I think the evidence is pretty convincing right now. You might have a different evidentiary standard, in which case, I am wondering what it is.

Is there a reason that Israel does not occupy and annex Gaza?

Doing so would allow people in Gaza to demand rights as citizens. After all, what exactly would they be otherwise? Slaves? We're talking about a subject population that would have no legal rights. Palestinians would be able to legitimately claim that their situation was just like that of black South Africans and you know how that story ended.

Would it have to give citizenship to the occupants, including voting rights?

Israel doesn't have to do anything. That's what it means to be a powerful actor. If it annexed Gaza however, that would place it under more external pressure to make Gaza residents citizens with full rights. There might be talk of economic sanctions.

Would Gazans accept Israeli citizenship or would many of them self-deport to the West Bank?

Some would and there would be more than enough to create a public relations nightmare for Israel. We are talking about desperately impoverished people who want a life for their children. Many of them will see Israeli citizenship as the only feasible way to improve their lot after an annexation.

ScentOfViolets: Comparing any government to the Nazis is likely to generate more heat that light, and should therefore be done only carefully, thoughtfully, and specifically. This is true for any government; but comparing the Israeli government to the Nazis is true by a factor of ten. Therefore, not a sensible thing to do in a blogthread.

jews must die so that the rest of the world can experience catharsis. this is the lot that god has assigned his chosen people. thus has it ever been.

israelis need to understand and embrace this simple truth. the israelis that must die are practically speaking already dead.

the rest of us should pity the jews.

Pretty low quality sarcasm, bena gyerek. It only works at all if you don't consider Palestinians as humans, since they have been dying too.

Turbulence: but would annexation "make things better" as Hilzoy requested we consider?

Would the State of Israel be "better off" with some percentage of the current occupants of Gaza having the right to vote? Or would Israel feel the need, for reasons of national identity, to forcibly transfer a substantial portion of the population to the West Bank?

I guess where I'm going with this is that for the fifteen years I've been looking at this issue as the husband of a Jew, I've thought that the only long-term solution for Gaza was annexation coupled with deportation of a substantial percentage of the young male population to the West Bank. But I suspect that I'm terribly naive, and that there are good reasons why such a solution is impossible.

I'm curious just as to what you think constitutes a comparison. Are comparisons transitive? Could I compare the policies of Israel with respect to the Palestinians and the policies of the U.S. with regards to how the handled the 'native problem'[1]?

Or are you just saying that the words 'Nazi' and 'Israel' are not allowed to appear in the same post, let alone the same paragraph?

Saying that two things have similar characteristics is in no way a 'comparison' except in the most abstract sense. And saying that both Nazi's and Jews are warm-blooded animals in no way jumps this barrier.

[1]Make no mistake - Israel is treating the Palestinians exactly the same way as 19th century Indians were treated by the U.S.

but would annexation "make things better" as Hilzoy requested we consider?

She did? I didn't see hilzoy write anything like that, so would you mind quoting the bit that you have in mind?

I don't think annexation would improve matters unless Israel was willing to give residents of Gaza full rights as citizens. But I can't imagine them doing that either.

Would the State of Israel be "better off" with some percentage of the current occupants of Gaza having the right to vote?

I think so, but I don't think this is a feasible solution. Check out the funding disparities between the schools of Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens. I don't think most Israeli citizens are willing to accept a few hundred thousand additional Arabs as co-citizens for a variety of reasons.

Or would Israel feel the need, for reasons of national identity, to forcibly transfer a substantial portion of the population to the West Bank?

You realize that this forcible transfer you describe is ethnic cleansing, right? I mean, most groups that have engaged in ethnic cleansing have spoken about the "need" of national identity. I guess that makes it easier or something. Suffice it to say, I don't find talk of this "need" to be at all persuasive when it justifies ethnic cleansing.

I've thought that the only long-term solution for Gaza was annexation coupled with deportation of a substantial percentage of the young male population to the West Bank.

Francis, I sincerely enjoy your comments and always look forward to reading them, but this is really creepy. You're talking about ethnic cleansing. What's more, you're doing it seemingly without a lot of thought as to whether the West Bank can absorb such a large population transfer. If it can't, then you're no longer discussing ethnic cleansing but plain old genocide. I mean, you tell me: does the West Bank have access to sufficient clean water for its population to survive while absorbing a large number of people from Gaza? Surely you've thought of that, right?

Francis: I've thought that the only long-term solution for Gaza was annexation coupled with deportation of a substantial percentage of the young male population to the West Bank. But I suspect that I'm terribly naive, and that there are good reasons why such a solution is impossible.

If by annexation you mean "giving everyone who lives in the Gaza Strip full Israeli citizenship" then it would be impossible to deport even a fraction of the "young male population" as they would then be the brothers, sons, and husbands of Israeli citizens.

Further, even if by some legal legerdemain the Israelis could forcibly deport the brothers, sons, and husbands to the West Bank, splitting families like that is a recipe for resentment. If the Israelis intended an apartheid status for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, so that neither they nor their descendents would ever have the power to protest lawfully against what the government has done to their families, then they would turn to unlawful protest.

If the history of Israel has proved anything, it is that no unjust solution will bring about a lasting peace.

ScentofViolets:

You're correct. Israel was established on 78% of Palestine. The last 22% were occupied in 1967, but kept supposedly separate. The Oslo agreement consolidated Israeli rule over more than 50% of that 22%. The "Palestinian state" as conceived by livni and Olmert is going to be 4 separate reservations with a total of 10% of Palestine. There are plenty of maps on the internet. For obvious reasons, this "Palestinian state" cannot be achieved through negotiations.


The point i have to disagree is that this is "the right wing." No. It is the Israeli consensus that includes both the "left-wing" and the right wing. The original patrons of the settlements were Igal Alon and Moshe Dayan, both stalwarts of the labor party. The reservations plan was already designed by Alon in the early seventies, it's got even an official name: The Alon Plan.

And just to correct the disinformation that have been repeated here, consciously or not, here is Zvi Barel, Haaretz Journalist, on the road to escalation:

Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire. Are conditions enabling the return of a ceasefire no longer available? Hamas has clear conditions for its extension: The opening of the border crossings for goods and cessation of IDF attacks in Gaza, as outlined in the original agreement. (Haaretz, Dec. 28, 2008)

who's being sarcastic?

most islamist terrorists are repressed homosexuals.

DNFTT. (By which I mean: bena gyerek.)

the bigger the cage, the more satisfying the rattle.

didn't some jewish reformer say something about turning the other cheek a couple of millennia ago? guess that guy must have been a crank.

FWIW, the concept of Lebensraum actually emerged a couple of decades before the Nazis.

Does anybody know what the population of Gaza lives on? They must have to import everything from rice to aspirin to gasoline. What, besides Qassam rockets, do they export in exchange?

I'm not being snide, only revealing my ignorance. I'd like to learn some basic facts before presuming to offer an opinion. How people manage to feed themselves is a pretty basic fact.

--TP

industries:

"generally small family businesses that produce textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis had established some small-scale modern industries in an industrial center, but operations ceased prior to Israel's evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements"

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gz.html

there used to be an airport and a fledgling tourism industry (hard to imagine) until it was destroyed by the israelis in 2001.

Turb: Ah, my fault. Hilzoy wrote:

"I expect you to try to figure out what has some prospect of actually making things better."

So, better for whom? And how do we measure "better"? My ideas of "better" -- a region at peace in which Israel's existence is recognized -- might not command a majority vote.

Nevertheless, let's assume that "better" means a workable peace. How, then, does the world community and the US get to a place where there's a workable peace? I dunno, but I think that effective partition is an idea worth exploring further. Even though partition has had its problems for India and Pakistan, a rough peace has mostly held.

It appears to me that the existence of Gaza as a component of a Palestinian state is inconsistent with effective partition and a workable peace. There's not enough room for a neutral zone. The population density is too high and too radicalized. There's no functioning economy, and the radicals can in essence force Israel's hand to destroy any attempts to establish economic infrastructure.

I also think that Israel would have to surrender (de-annex) West Bank land of equivalent acreage to that being seized in order to create a homeland for the displaced Gazans. That idea alone probably makes it unacceptable to Israel.

But turning over Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Gazans and relocating the settlers to Gaza at least has the appearance of rough equivalency.

OK, so it's impossible. What advice would you, Turbulence and Jes, give to President Obama on making a grand bargain for peace?

Well, Francis, that longer comment describes a far more realistic plan than your first suggestion.

My ideas of "better" -- a region at peace in which Israel's existence is recognized -- might not command a majority vote.

I think it would - but not if your idea of "better" was your first plan: annexation coupled with deportation of a substantial percentage of the young male population to the West Bank which did not sound so much "naive" as inhuman.

Your second plan - the classic two-state solution - is problematic because of geography and because of religion.

The Palestinians want a coastline. Without that, they have no trade that isn't under the control of Israel or Jordan, since Israel will certainly not be happy with an independent Palestine having an effective air force.

The Israelis don't want their country cut in two, or to have to give up territory within the 1967 borders.

If you take a look at a map of Israel, you see what a problem this creates.

Forced relocation - as Turbulence points out, ethnic cleansing - is not the answer. Not unless Israel was willing to give the Palestinians enough of the 1967 state in exchange for the Gaza Strip that the Palestinians would have a coastline. And I don't think that's likely to happen.

And then there's the problem of who gets Jerusalem. Which I personally think ought to be made into a citystate like the Vatican and handed over to the Dalai Lama, but no one ever listens to me...

So, better for whom? And how do we measure "better"? My ideas of "better" -- a region at peace in which Israel's existence is recognized -- might not command a majority vote.

I don't really care for this metric. For one thing, simply exterminating most Palestinians would qualify as better so long as the few survivors were sufficiently terrified to make the rhetorical acknowledgments you seem to require.

My preferred metric would focus on reduced violence, the development of a functioning economy in areas where Palestinians live, and some practical measure of political control of their own lives. That control could arise from Palestinians becoming Israeli citizens and exercising their civil rights unhindered or it could come about by their participating in a government of their own that has sufficient power. For example, a world in which Palestinians can vote but their government retains no rights over their air space, port, or water rights does not qualify.

The notion that all violence can be eliminated is insane. There is no perfect safety.

What advice would you, Turbulence and Jes, give to President Obama on making a grand bargain for peace?

You want the Turbulent peace plan? OK. I think the President should define the end state of a peace plan without necessarily specifying details. The broad outlines are pretty clear: some shared sovereignty of Jerusalem, some land swaps, some combination of a limited right of return and appropriate compensation, the elimination of illegal settlements, termination of violent extremist groups killing the other side, etc.

After describing the end state, I think Obama should require some part of the executive branch to publish monthly reports scoring the sides on their progress towards the end goals. He should then announce a set of carrots and sticks that will be extended based on the scoring reports. If Israel is unwilling to dismantle settlements, then no more cash for Israel. If Hamas is unwilling to reduce rocket attacks to the ceasefire level (i.e., eliminate most of them without ensuring that every single lunatic not under their control stops), then the US does its best to keep Hamas isolated and apart from aid money.

I think the President should announce this during a prime time televised speech. I think he should clearly explain why he's doing it and he should publicly explain the counterarguments that people will hear in the media.

Now, I think both sides in this dispute have done awful things, but I also think the US clearly favors the Israeli side, so I expect a fair assessment will involve us treating the Palestinians exactly like we've done so far while at the same time drastically cutting back on aid to Israel. The point is, we cannot create peace and we should not get too involved in the details. But our support for either party must be directly related to how hard they're working towards a peaceful settlement. We cannot create peace, but we can structure incentives.

israel's best hope for peace was ariel sharon - aka israel's charles de gaulle. no one else has the credibility or the balls to take on the settlers. too bad.

And then there's the problem of who gets Jerusalem. Which I personally think ought to be made into a citystate like the Vatican and handed over to the Dalai Lama, but no one ever listens to me...

Heh. Can we get any more religions involved in this unholy mess?

--TP

"Is everyone just too stupid to understand Ghandi's point"

Probably. If you can't spell the name of whom you're talking about, you lose points for claiming familiarity with their philosophy.

i mean, what can be morally wrong with mass bombing of starving people (mostly refugees) crammed into a tiny strip of blockaded land without access to medical care?

the true outrage here would be if we allowed our political leaders to question anything that israel does to fight the evildoers.

This isn't insightful.

It's worthy of any fifth-grader. You can do better. Given your platform, I suggest you owe a better quality of commentary than "one side is good, the other is bad."It doesn't help.

"And then there's the problem of who gets Jerusalem. Which I personally think ought to be made into a citystate like the Vatican and handed over to the Dalai Lama, but no one ever listens to me..."

Plans for the division of authority over Jerusalem are longstanding part of recent negotiations.

"Philosophy" isn't a noun. It isn't something you "have". It's a process, a field, a search for truth.

Just to answer Violets: the Palestinian population has increased even as the land available to support that population has shrunk. In fact, within the next few decades, Israel will face two serious demographic issues, one of which mainstream Israeli opinion recognises, and one it does not.

The demographic problem Israel recognises, the increase in the Palestinian population until Palestinian Arabs outnumber Jewish people in the aggregate area of Israel and the territories, means that for the radical Palestinians, at some point fairly soon, Jewish Israelis will have to deal with the status of a ruling minority. So Hamas has a limited imperative to make peace; as long as they keep the pressure on, keep Israeli actions visible to public opinion, they can win.

The other demographic change, the numbers of highly religious Jewish Israelis, means that a diminishing proportion of more secular Israelis will have to take on the burden of defending the Israeli state. At some point, if current trends continue and Israeli politicians do not make peace, the government of Israel will find itself in an economically, militarily, and politically untenable situation. If the leaders of Hamas have calculated that they have only to wait and accept a few deaths, their logic seems persuasive. For this reason if no other, friends of Israel should consider the long-term survival of the Jewish state before cheering Israeli military actions.

If you can't spell the name of whom you're talking about, you lose points for claiming familiarity with their philosophy.

I was not aware anyone here was scoring comments for points. You are welcome to assess comments using whatever methodology you prefer, but for myself, I find methodologies that focus on spelling to be a remarkable waste of time. If you want to object to the substance of the comment, that might be useful. But I for one am not interested in watching you denigrate commenters simply because they failed to correctly spell a name.

Since I've known professors who were consistently unable to correctly spell the names of other scholars in their field (whose work they were extensively familiar with), I don't find arguments that those unable to spell one particular name are ignorant or unfamiliar with the name's holder's work to be compelling.

john spragge,

thank you for a thought-provoking post.

two questions:
- is it that the absolute number of conscriptable secular 18-year-olds is in decline or simply that the haredim like large families?
- how do the haredim vote?

It should be pretty obvious by now that both sides think they're going to win if they make life miserable enough for the other. Both sides are not only wrong, but stupidly wrong.

Nothing the Israelis do will make the Palestinians emigrate en mass.

Nothing the Palestinians do will make the Israelis leave, either.

Nothing I've seen in the last 40 years leads me to believe that the Israelis will give the Palestinians a true, contiguous state, or even two contiguous states connected via some neutral territory.

So, my prediction: there will be a single state in Israel/Palestine some day. There is a single state there *now*, for that matter, various parts of which are controlled by different groups: the Israeli government, Fatah and Hamas.

This mess ends well only if the vast majority of both the Israelis and the Palestinians try to create a single country that is a good place for both today's Israelis and today's Palestinians to live. And that means live together as citizens of the same country.

Are they even making progress in that direction?

1948.

The State of Israel declared by fiat.

Never forget who started this.

"At the moment what I believe is the preferred solution of the Palestinians - one country, from Gaza Strip to the West Bank, with full citizenship for all - is anathema to the Israelis, whose most peaceful solution is a two-state divide."

This is a very fair way to the wiping out of the Jewish State. I suggest that as examples, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia, India, China, and Pakistan, first dissolve themselves as states in favor if a joint unitary European Union so as to lead the way towards such ideals.

If it's a good idea, it's a good idea. You go first.

Turbulence:

I respectfully disagree. IIRC (and I frequently don't), Oslo was about creating a process, with the substantive outcome to be decided by further negotiation. At some point, however, a commitment to 'process' can simply mean indefinite delay. At some point, and I think that point has arrived, it's time for the US to participate in final status negotiations.

It should be pretty obvious by now that both sides think they're going to win if they make life miserable enough for the other.

That's not obvious to me. At all. I imagine that Hamas' leadership may be viewing this more as a question of survival. They may have concluded that Israel never had any intention of negotiating in good faith because it has never done anything significant to remove illegal settlements, so that in the absence of armed resistance, Israel will simply kill lots more Palestinians. Maybe they believe this, maybe not, but it is not a completely implausible view for Hamas' leadership to hold. If they do hold this view then "winning" isn't really their concern unless you define "winning" as survival.

I don't think the Israeli polity as a whole has reached any consensus on many policy questions regarding the occupation, so I don't think your analysis makes sense for them either.


This is a very fair way to the wiping out of the Jewish State.

Can you remind me again why we're supposed to care that a Jewish state per se exists? I mean, I understand why it is important that a state exist roughly where Israel is that offers full citizenship rights to Jews, but why exactly does it have to be a majority Jewish state? Also, exactly how important is it that a Jewish state exist? I mean, would you countenance a genocide if that was the only way to assure the continued survival of the majority Jewish state?

In a world where nuclear weapons exist, collecting a large fraction of the world's Jews into one tiny place seems like a remarkably dumb way to ensure the long term survival of the Jewish people, but perhaps I've missed something obvious.

I suggest that as examples, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia, India, China, and Pakistan, first dissolve themselves as states in favor if a joint unitary European Union so as to lead the way towards such ideals.

Why should they? They don't occupy territories and Israel ignored their example in that regard, so why should we expect that further examples are needed? I mean, Germany and France and the UK have well defined borders and Israel hasn't followed their example in that regard either.

I really don't understand what point you're trying to make here. Germany does not define itself as a Christian nation in any serious way. Lots of Germans are Christian, but one's ability to immigrate and a resident's legal rights do not depend on their religion. Ditto for ethnicity.

I respectfully disagree.

About what? I don't know what you're referring to here.

IIRC (and I frequently don't), Oslo was about creating a process, with the substantive outcome to be decided by further negotiation. At some point, however, a commitment to 'process' can simply mean indefinite delay. At some point, and I think that point has arrived, it's time for the US to participate in final status negotiations.

I really don't know what to make of this. The US cannot participate in final status negotiations until the parties are willing to participate in final status negotiations. The parties are not willing.

If you're suggesting that the US should "encourage" the parties to begin final status negotiations and should participate in the negotiations when they occur, I think that might be a good idea, depending on the details. If the "encouragement" takes the form of quietly asking Israel to participate while threatening various Palestinian actors with an indefinite siege, than I do not agree since the process would be unjust.

If it's a good idea, it's a good idea. You go first.

Well, that's actually what we've been doing over here in Europe for the last couple of decades. It's a rocky road, takes ages and won't lead to states being wiped out. But the notion of a state based on ethnicity and religion is pretty much toast.

the prospect of eu membership would be one way of effectively structuring all parties' incentives. but it won't happen for 30 years minimum.

Perfect time to have set up the new ObWi Twitter account:

In what may be a first for any government the world over, the Consulate General of Israel in New York will be holding a public press conference about the war in Gaza via Twitter. On Tuesday, December 30 during the hours of 1-3 p.m. EST, David Saranga, Consul of Media and Public Affairs in New York, will answer questions written in by users of the popular Internet social messaging Web site.

To participate, create an account at Twitter.com and compose a message to user israelconsulate, including the keyword #AskIsrael in your tweets. For example: "@israelconsulate How many troops are now on the ground in #Gaza? #AskIsrael."

Did anyone notice that the Egyptians also fired on the Gazans? The Gazans broke through the border into Egypt and the Egyptians fired on them to keep them in Gaza.

I wonder how things would've worked out if Herzl and Weizman had accepted Uganda or Kenya from the British as a jewish homeland instead of holding out for Palestine?

"I wonder how things would've worked out if Herzl and Weizman had accepted Uganda or Kenya from the British as a jewish homeland instead of holding out for Palestine?"

Not well at all, probably. I'm all in favor of thinking about alternative histories and trying to implement them just as soon as I get my time machine working, but the alternative has to have a plausible chance of working or I'm just wasting a timeline.

Turbulence: I was respectfully disagreeing with your grand peace plan. I thought that there was too much process and not enough commitment to substance. Certainly with regard to the issue of settlements, the US is going to need to provide the Israeli government with cover by being the bully that insists that the settlements be turned over.

"Did anyone notice that the Egyptians also fired on the Gazans? The Gazans broke through the border into Egypt and the Egyptians fired on them to keep them in Gaza."

I gather the Egyptian government (as opposed to most Egyptians) are not exactly friendly towards either Hamas or the Gazans in general.

LINK

I thought that there was too much process and not enough commitment to substance.

I don't understand what you mean by "commitment to substance". Can you clarify?

I mean, right now, the parties are unwilling to enter final status negotiations. If you think my approach focuses too much on process, what exactly do you propose? Do you think the US should threaten to attack the parties unless they begin final status negotiations?

I mean, I understand how process can be used to delay indefinitely, but that doesn't mean that you can simply discard process. Negotiations require trust. You cannot impose trust by force.

// Hamas is a rational actor. It wishes to consolidate its control within Gaza, to build its military capabilities, to bolster its standing within the Arab and Islamic worlds, and ultimately, to destroy the Jewish state and reclaim the land it occupies. It is not shy about sharing these objectives. //

Sad but seemingly true.

It strikes me that Gaza is about 2/3 the size that Singapore was in the 1960's when it began it's run to prosperity. (Singapore has since grown by reclaiming some of the sea). Anyway, imiagine if Gaza's leaders actually focused on improving what they have instead of trying to take/recover more land from Israel.

Did anyone notice that the Egyptians also fired on the Gazans?

Yes.

Supplementing Donald's link, Reuters put out a good analysis the other day of Egypt's complicated role in the crisis.

Turbulence,

why exactly does it have to be a majority Jewish state?

I had intended to stay out of this thread, but I think this question demands an answer.

The simple historical fact is that when Jews have been an unpopular ethnic minority they have not fared particularly well. Is this an arguable point?

If you think that a Jewish minority in an Arab-majority state would do just fine I invite you to consider the fate of Jews in Arab countries in the wake of the establishment of Israel.

A single-state approach to the Israel-Palestine problem would be a catastrophe for Israeli Jews.

novakant,

But the notion of a state based on ethnicity and religion is pretty much toast.

And how many centuries, or millennia, and how many wars, did it take Europe to work that out? Nothing personal, but given the roots of Zionism I'm not too interested in European lectures about Israel's sins.

The simple historical fact is that when Jews have been an unpopular ethnic minority they have not fared particularly well. Is this an arguable point?

No, but it also doesn't settle the issue. Like most random historical facts. I think your argument would be easier to understand if you laid it out step by step rather than making a single offhand historical observation.

Many groups have done about as well as the Jews when they became ethnic minorities. For example, consider any Native American tribe. Are you willing to assert that any minority ethnic group that fared as poorly as the Jews did is entitled to its very own state? Are you willing to back the Copts as they try to seize control of Cairo since it "belongs" to them?

If you think that a Jewish minority in an Arab-majority state would do just fine I invite you to consider the fate of Jews in Arab countries in the wake of the establishment of Israel.

Question: would a Jewish minority in an Arab majority Israel do any worse than a white minority in post-Apartheid South Africa? If so, why? I'm quite curious as to your answer on this point.

I think Israeli Jews would be pretty safe even as a bare minority today. I mean, Israeli Jews on average have a great deal more wealth and power than the Palestinian Arabs that would join them in a hypothetical one state solution, yes? People with vast amounts of wealth and power tend to do pretty well in the face of even dramatic social change. Seriously, if the one state solution was brought about tomorrow, the vast majority of elites in Israeli society for the next few decades would be...Jews. Somehow, I think the Jews will be OK given their control of the military, the police, the Universities, the courts, and the upper levels of the civil service. If Arabs in such a state ever seem to get close to gaining political power proportionate to their numbers, I'm sure the US can step in and teach Israeli Jews about how to neuter the political power of a very large oppressed group. You know, based on our experience in majority African American states starting after the Civil War and continuing until...well, now I guess.

majority African American states

Which ones are those?

Or am I misreading the layers of meaning/logic/sarcasm here?

"It strikes me that Gaza is about 2/3 the size that Singapore was in the 1960's when it began it's run to prosperity. (Singapore has since grown by reclaiming some of the sea). Anyway, imiagine if Gaza's leaders actually focused on improving what they have instead of trying to take/recover more land from Israel."

Yeah, the situation in Gaza is so exactly like that of Singapore in so many ways. Plus, maybe they could establish trading relations with that Zionist entity in Uganda--oh, wait, that was the other timeline.

Myself, I've always favored handing over the land and property of a few million American Christian Zionists to the Palestinians. I'm not sure where the displaced fundies would go, but there are a lot of them living all over the place, so they could re-establish themselves without much of a fuss, or else we could just stick them in some small area and keep them under tight control and see what happens.

Which ones are those?

Or am I misreading the layers of meaning/logic/sarcasm here?

If you include states that were near African American majorities, there was South Carolina (41% white in 1870), Mississippi (46% white), Lousiana (50% white), Florida (51% white), and Alabama (52% white). After the Civil War, there were a bunch of states were African Americans constituted an outright majority or close enough to a majority to have amassed significant political power. The history of the ensuing decades in those states consists largely of whites finding clever ways to ensure that these African Americans could not effectively exercise the political rights they supposedly had. We're good at this sort of thing and judging by the treatment of Israeli Arabs in Israel, I suspect the Israelis are as well.

But none of those states continued to have an African-American majority until any time near "well, now I guess", which may be what puzzled JanieM.

Ah, thanks for explaining KC. You're right, my meaning was unclear. While those states are no longer majority African American, lots of the clever tricks at reducing their political power have been employed until quite recently.

Yes, KCinDC, that's what puzzled me. Thanks to you and Turbulence for clarifying in all directions.

Now if you want a state with an African American majority, you can make DC into a state, but you'll probably need to do it fairly soon, with current demographic trends.

"The State of Israel declared by fiat."

Balfour Declaration:

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 (dated 2 November 1917) was a classified formal statement of policy by the British government stating that the British government "view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" with the understanding that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." [1]
Wikipedia; "In 1922, the League of Nations granted the United Kingdom a mandate over Palestine for the express purpose of "placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home"."

The White Paper of 1939:

The White Paper of 1939, also known as the MacDonald White Paper after Malcolm MacDonald, the British Colonial Secretary who presided over it, was a policy paper issued by the British government under Neville Chamberlain in which the idea of partitioning the Mandate for Palestine was abandoned in favour of creating an independent Palestine governed by Palestinian Arabs and Jews in proportion to their numbers in the population by 1949 (section I). A limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the five-year period 1940-1944, consisting of a regular yearly quota of 10,000, and a supplementary quota of 25,000, spread out over the same period, to cover refugee emergencies. After this cut-off date, further immigration would depend on the permission of the Arab majority (section II). Restrictions were also placed on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs (section III).

[...]

In June 1922 the League of Nations approved the Palestine Mandate with effect from September 1923. The Palestine Mandate was an explicit document regarding Britain's responsibilities and powers of administration in Palestine including 'secur[ing] the establishment of the Jewish national home', and 'safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine'. In September 1922, the British government presented a memorandum to the League of Nations stating that Transjordan would be excluded from all the provisions dealing with Jewish settlement, and this memorandum was approved on 23 September. Due to stiff Arab opposition and pressure against Jewish immigration, Britain redefined Jewish immigration by restricting its flow according to the country's economic capacity to absorb the immigrants. In effect annual quotas were put in place as to how many Jews could immigrate, while Jews possessing a large sum of money (500 Pounds) were allowed to enter the country freely.

Following the rise of Adolf Hitler and other anti-Semitic regimes in Europe, a growing number of European Jews were prepared to spend the money necessary to enter Palestine. The 1936 Nuremberg Laws made the 500,000 German Jews stateless refugees. Jewish migration was made difficult by Nazi restrictions on the transfer of finances abroad (departing Jews had to abandon their property), but the Jewish Agency was able to negotiate an agreement whereby the Germans would allow Jews to use their funds to buy German goods for export to Palestine thus circumventing the restrictions.

As a result large numbers of Jews began entering Palestine, and this was one of the primary causes of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. Britain responded to the Arab revolt by appointing a Royal Commission, known as the Peel Commission which traveled out to Palestine and undertook a thorough study of the problems. The Peel Commission recommended in 1937 that Palestine be partitioned into two states, one Arab the other Jewish.

In January 1938, the Woodhead Commission went to Palestine to explore how partition would work on the ground. The report of the Woodhead Commission was published on November 9, 1938. The idea of partition was upheld, but the proposed Jewish state was to be substantially smaller, receiving only the coastal plain.

In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria making its 200,000 Jews stateless refugees. In September the British agreed to Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland making a further 100,000 Jews refugees. There were no countries willing to admit more then small numbers of Jews.

In July 1938 an international conference convened by the USA, failed to find a solution to the rapidly growing Jewish refugee problem. The Jews were not allowed representation at this conference.

In February 1939, the St. James Conference (also known as the Round Table Conference of 1939) convened in London; since the Arab delegation refused to meet with its Jewish counterpart, to recognize them, or even use the same entrances to the building, proposals were put by the British government separately to the two parties, who however, were not able to agree to any of them. The Conference ended on March 17 without making any progress.

[...]

In June 1922 the League of Nations approved the Palestine Mandate with effect from September 1923. The Palestine Mandate was an explicit document regarding Britain's responsibilities and powers of administration in Palestine including 'secur[ing] the establishment of the Jewish national home', and 'safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine'. In September 1922, the British government presented a memorandum to the League of Nations stating that Transjordan would be excluded from all the provisions dealing with Jewish settlement, and this memorandum was approved on 23 September. Due to stiff Arab opposition and pressure against Jewish immigration, Britain redefined Jewish immigration by restricting its flow according to the country's economic capacity to absorb the immigrants. In effect annual quotas were put in place as to how many Jews could immigrate, while Jews possessing a large sum of money (500 Pounds) were allowed to enter the country freely.

Following the rise of Adolf Hitler and other anti-Semitic regimes in Europe, a growing number of European Jews were prepared to spend the money necessary to enter Palestine. The 1936 Nuremberg Laws made the 500,000 German Jews stateless refugees. Jewish migration was made difficult by Nazi restrictions on the transfer of finances abroad (departing Jews had to abandon their property), but the Jewish Agency was able to negotiate an agreement whereby the Germans would allow Jews to use their funds to buy German goods for export to Palestine thus circumventing the restrictions.

As a result large numbers of Jews began entering Palestine, and this was one of the primary causes of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. Britain responded to the Arab revolt by appointing a Royal Commission, known as the Peel Commission which traveled out to Palestine and undertook a thorough study of the problems. The Peel Commission recommended in 1937 that Palestine be partitioned into two states, one Arab the other Jewish.

In January 1938, the Woodhead Commission went to Palestine to explore how partition would work on the ground. The report of the Woodhead Commission was published on November 9, 1938. The idea of partition was upheld, but the proposed Jewish state was to be substantially smaller, receiving only the coastal plain.

In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria making its 200,000 Jews stateless refugees. In September the British agreed to Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland making a further 100,000 Jews refugees. There were no countries willing to admit more then small numbers of Jews.

In July 1938 an international conference convened by the USA, failed to find a solution to the rapidly growing Jewish refugee problem. The Jews were not allowed representation at this conference.

In February 1939, the St. James Conference (also known as the Round Table Conference of 1939) convened in London; since the Arab delegation refused to meet with its Jewish counterpart, to recognize them, or even use the same entrances to the building, proposals were put by the British government separately to the two parties, who however, were not able to agree to any of them. The Conference ended on March 17 without making any progress.

[...]

In 1947, the British government withdrew from commitment to the Mandate of Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.[51] The newly created United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem was to be designated an international city – a corpus separatum – administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status.[52] The Jewish community accepted the plan,[53] but the Arab League and Arab Higher Committee rejected it.[54] On December 1, 1947 the Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a 3-day strike, and Arab guerrilla attacks began against Jewish targets. Convinced that these attacks were merely a prelude to full-scale military confrontations with the regular armies of the Arab states, Ben-Gurion elected to escalate the military conflict. As such, Haganah embarked on a policy of "aggressive defense." This strategy was accompanied by economic subversion and psychological warfare.[55]

On May 14, 1948, the day before the end of the British Mandate, the Jewish Agency proclaimed independence, naming the country Israel.

For an act of "fiat," quite a few parties seem to have been actors and had a say.

Donald Johnson | December 29, 2008 at 10:30 PM

What's your problem? Why are you firing Qassams at me?

The simple historical fact is that when Jews have been an unpopular ethnic minority they have not fared particularly well.

Yes those poor American Jews have been faring so poorly, haven't they? I hear one of them was faring so poorly he had the misfortune of misplacing $50 billion dollars that had been entrusted with him. I assume anti-Semitism was to blame. He would have had better opportunities in Israel, you think?

If you think that a Jewish minority in an Arab-majority state would do just fine I invite you to consider the fate of Jews in Arab countries in the wake of the establishment of Israel

That invitation certainly meets the traditional definition of chutzpah.

I'm not too interested in European lectures about Israel's sins.

I'm not too interested in financing it's war crimes any longer. Not that I was before.

d'd'd'dave: It strikes me that Gaza is about 2/3 the size that Singapore was in the 1960's when it began it's run to prosperity. (Singapore has since grown by reclaiming some of the sea). Anyway, imiagine if Gaza's leaders actually focused on improving what they have instead of trying to take/recover more land from Israel.

We don't need to imagine that, d'd'd'dave: we know what happened whe Gaza's leaders tried to focus on "improving what they have".

A seaport in the Gaza Strip was agreed to by Israel back in 1993, but the Israelis broke that agreement: the seaport has never been built. Israel controls all trade movement by land in and out of the Gaza Strip, and Gaza's territorial waters.

The land crossing out of Gaza is (as described in more detail in this paper from April 2007- doc file) irregularly, frequently, and unpredictably closed by Israel, usually for unspecified "security reasons".

The deficient operation of the crossing prevents Gaza exporters and merchants from competing in foreign markets. The delays and frequent disruptions in the passage of goods make it hard for them to plan a production and marketing schedule for their goods, and do not allow them to commit to supply dates. This causes them to lose existing and potential customers. In addition, the delays lead to an enormous increase in the shipping and storage costs of goods, and goods often rot or are damaged before they reach their destination. As a result, import and export sectors have been paralyzed, businesses have collapsed and many residents of Gaza have lost their source of income.

In short, d'd'd'Dave, what happened when Gaza leaders tried to focus on improving the Gaza economy by trade, was that Israel doesn't permit that; evidently the last thing Israel wants is for Gaza to become a thriving, prosperous trading nation.

Well, a few years ago (iirc) some nut* floated the idea that Germany should provide the land for a new Israel as a compensation for the Holocaust.
As a dedicated anti-Bavarian I had a certain sympathy for that idea (especially after Bavarian proposals to sell West Berlin to the Soviets in the 50ies and 60ies**) as long as the Bavarian population would be transferred to Austria (concentrating all the brownies in a single bag) ;-)


*Sorry, can't remember the source. It was meant seriously, although it could not be taken as such.
**a triple win: getting rid of a political problem, getting rid of the Prussians, reducing the tax burden (Berlin being a net recipient of federal taxes)

Nothing personal, but given the roots of Zionism I'm not too interested in European lectures about Israel's sins.

I wasn't lecturing, I was stating a fact.

And if you think that 50 years of peace and prosperity count for nothing, that Israel can forever justify anything and everything by pointing to past persecution and that Europeans have no right to discuss the matter - then I do take that kind of personally.

"What's your problem? Why are you firing Qassams at me?"

Actually, I backed up one of your points, gently disagreed with the Uganda thing, and only got a little testy with Singapore. And unlike Qassams, my projectiles were accurate.

"For an act of "fiat," quite a few parties seem to have been actors and had a say."

Gary, the actors in that drama who had a right to say the most were the people living in the affected region. In fact they should have had the determining voice about the future of the land where they already lived. They all should have been welcoming to Jews moving there as neighbors, but there was no reason at all (except brute force) for them to accept the notion that their own land should become part of someone else's state.

It was an act of extraordinary (though entirely characteristic) arrogance of the British to offer the Jews a homeland in an already populated area outside of their own country.

now_what,

Me: The simple historical fact is that when Jews have been an unpopular ethnic minority they have not fared particularly well.

You: Yes those poor American Jews have been faring so poorly, haven't they? I hear one of them was faring so poorly he had the misfortune of misplacing $50 billion dollars that had been entrusted with him.

Did you miss the word "unpopular" in my sentence?

Me: If you think that a Jewish minority in an Arab-majority state would do just fine I invite you to consider the fate of Jews in Arab countries in the wake of the establishment of Israel.

You: That invitation certainly meets the traditional definition of chutzpah.

And why is that? Are you claiming that those events didn't occur? Or that Syrian Jews, for example, deserved persecution because of the establishment of Israel?

Posted by: Jesurgislac | December 30, 2008 at 04:26 AM

No. I'm sorry. That won't fly. Gaza's govt has NEVER made a serious attempt to stop Gazans from making random attacks on Israel. If the Gazan leaders truly wanted to build a peaceful and prosperous city state they would do their best to stop all reason for Israel to attack.

Yes. Israel should do the same. But this is a followup to a comment about what Gaza's leaders have been doing.

Novakant,

I wasn't lecturing, I was stating a fact.

And if you think that 50 years of peace and prosperity count for nothing, that Israel can forever justify anything and everything by pointing to past persecution and that Europeans have no right to discuss the matter - then I do take that kind of personally.

Yes. And I was pointing out that the fifty years of peace and prosperity were achieved only after incalculable amounts of bloodshed, so maybe establishing an EU-on-the-Jordan, however desirable, is not so easy.

My further comment was not intended to defend Israel on the grounds of past persecution, nor do I think Europeans have no right to discuss the situation. though I can see how it came off that way. Sorry.

My reaction was more to what I sense as a certain smugness in European comments on the problem, and a reference to the fact that the fundamental I-P conflict was very much created in Europe.

No. I'm sorry. That won't fly. Gaza's govt has NEVER made a serious attempt to stop Gazans from making random attacks on Israel. If the Gazan leaders truly wanted to build a peaceful and prosperous city state they would do their best to stop all reason for Israel to attack.

Quite the opposite is true: From August to the 4 of November, when israel broke the cease fire, Hamas did do everything it could to stop the firing of Qassams and succeeded.
Jews Sans Frontieres


Yes those poor American Jews have been faring so poorly, haven't they?

It hasn't always been so great to be Jewish in the US.

Better than pogroms and systematic campaigns of extermination? No doubt. But that's a pretty low bar.

I hear one of them was faring so poorly he had the misfortune of misplacing $50 billion dollars that had been entrusted with him.

Yes, and clearly the fact that Maddow is Jewish is highly relevant.

If Maddow's $50B was the only act of financial malfeasance on the table right now, we'd all be happy campers.

White collar financial crime and fraud: an equal-opportunity career path.

Back OT:

There won't be peace in the middle east until everybody figures out that nobody else is going anywhere, and that life would be much better if they would stop trying to kill each other. I have no idea how to make that happen. The best suggestion I've seen so far is to put a damned wall up and wait for a generation or two to pass.

Hamas is the elected government in Gaza, and they are shooting rockets at civilians in Israel. I'd call that a causus belli. IMO Israel is showing restraint in trying to limit the scope of their counter attacks. Regardless of what happened 60 years ago, unfair as that might have been.

At the same time, Israel will have to kill every man, woman, and child in Gaza, burn the place to the ground, plow the ashes under, and then salt the earth in order to destroy or neutralize Hamas. And they (correctly) won't do that. Even if they did, it would probably not be enough.

There is no military or political program that will bring peace there. Peace won't come until people's minds change. That will take a lot of difficult, concerted effort, for a long time. Like a couple of generations. There isn't another way.

Thanks -

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Whatnot


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