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January 12, 2009

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Of course, AIPAC and the Israel Lobby, along with the neocon right wing, aren't really pro-Israel--they're pro-War. Throw that in with a robust disdain for Arabs, and you have our current Mideast policy.

I'll be pretty surprised if the Israeli Supreme Court lets this stand.

Needless to say, it should never have had to rule. This is outrageous.

Justin -

Ditto Gary.

Someone, please make the stupidity stop.

Yes. This is definitely what you want to do. Take a minority that feels oppressed and that your government is pursuing an active campaign to kill their brothers, and then try to remove what little political representation they have to voice their displeasure.

I'm sure that will make them all into happy productive citizens. Or frustrate them to the point of riots and joining Hamas. Whatever.

Publius:

How about a little context?

The CEC is a political body, not a judicial one. It consists of one representative of each party that holds seats in the Knesset, with another member for every four seats that party holds. It's chaired by a Supreme Court Justice.

In 1988 and 2003, it voted to ban particular Arab parties on essentially identical charges. In both instances, the bans were overturned by the Supreme Court. Given the established precedent, there is every reason to believe that this ban will similarly be overturned by the Supreme Court. In fact, the only party successfully banned within Israel is the irredentist Jewish group Kach - banned in 1988, along with an Arab party. The ban of Kach was upheld; the ban of the Arab party overturned. Israel is still a nation of laws.

Also useful is some notion of what had so upset these MKs that they felt the need to send this rather extreme message. The two parties in question are led by younger, more intensely Arab-nationalist politicians than the old-line Israeli Arab political organizations. They angered many by openly siding with Hezbollah in 2006. At the hearing today, leaders of the parties in question called the Israeli campaign in Gaza "genocide," and announced that "every vote for Kadima is a bullet in the chest of a Palestinian child in Gaza." A Balad MK, exchanging angry words with a counterpart from Kadima, declared: "You drink Palestinians' blood; you are a racist." Past statements from the both parties' leaders have crossed even our own high bar of direct incitement.

Which is not to say that banning these parties is a good idea. Suppressing dissenting voices rarely succeeds in suppressing dissent; ordinarily, it bolsters it. Israeli Arabs deserve the right to decide who speaks for them, and to choose the future they would like to pursue. (And I expect that the Supreme Court will fulfill its ordinary function of defending unpopular views.) As a purely electoral maneuver, moreover, today's vote is likely to backfire. But it was hardly 'hyper-nationalist.'

Also useful is some notion of what had so upset these MKs that they felt the need to send this rather extreme message.

So the MKs wanted to send a message, eh? And what message was that exactly? Why does anyone think that message transmission will change anything?

I mean, if everyone believes that it is highly likely that the Supreme Court is going to overturn this decision, then there was no message: this was just a case of mainline parties sucking up to their constituents by making cosmetic signs of disrespect towards Arabs.

Turbulence:

It was just a case of a number of parties sucking up to their constituents by, in effect, censuring two particular Arab parties. I recognize that this is partly the fault of an extremely poorly written report in Ha'aretz. The CEC did not "ban Arab parties"; it banned the Balad and UAL lists.

Will that action change anything? As I wrote, I suspect that its impact will be almost entirely negative. It will further inflame tensions. It was an ill-advised vote, and I don't hesitate to say so. When speech rises to criminal incitement, it can be prosecuted; until then, however intemperate, it is best protected. Banning parties is an extreme measure, and while the conduct and rhetoric of the leaders of Balad and UAL is regrettable, it doesn't justify that sort of extreme reaction.

But neither does the vote, taken today, justify Publius' hyperventilation. Separatist parties that flirt with violence challenge many nation-states; Israel is hardly alone here. In fact, to its credit, its judiciary has so far been resolute in allowing a wide range of political views to be aired, endorsed, and acted upon. If the court upholds the ruling, this will be worth getting excited about, although hardly cataclysmic. Until then, it's not worth the virtual ink that's already been spilt.

It was the AP not Haaretz who wrote the misleading and inflammatory report.

The issue is getting only minor treatment on Israeli websites.

It was two parties - not Arab parties per se - that were banned. and anyway the supreme court will reverse it by the end of the week.

I'd add that if one isn't reasonably familiar with Israeli politics, enough to be historically familiar with the parties and developments, for instance, it's probably not wise or helpful to blog about the topic. Kinda a subset of the general rule that it's not wise to blog unless one has specific knowledge to add about a subject that most folks aren't aware of.

"anyway the supreme court will reverse it by the end of the week"

I guess they use similar logic as some here, politicians etc. doing the wrong thing, at times for political effect, causing some degree of harm, but hoping that daddy will stop them in the end. Daddy doesn't always stop them, btw, even if he will here.

And, apparently, ignore daddy when it is in their interest to do so.

General message, whatever happens here.

But neither does the vote, taken today, justify Publius' hyperventilation. Separatist parties that flirt with violence challenge many nation-states;

Sure, but the nation-states that I consider successful and responsible don't ban separatist parties. Canada. Ireland. Belgium. Spain.

I also think the argument that this doesn't matter because the Supreme Court will overturn it is insane. All they managed to do is to demonstrate that a majority of Israelis, or, at least, the political parties that represent them, would strip Arabs of their political representation if they could. Publius' post was spot on, even using the correct story.

It was two parties - not Arab parties per se - that were banned

It was the two main Arab political parties in the country. There is no way to spin this as anything other than Jewish racism.

I agree it isn't nationalism as Israel is no more a Jewish nation than the US is a Caucasian one or a Christian one. By which I mean the facts on the ground, not the facts amongst the racists in the legislature.

And claiming that it doesn't matter because the courts will, possibly, reverse the decision seems to be missing the point.

There is no way to spin this as anything other than Jewish racism.

I don't think "spin" is needed to find some explanation other than "Jewish racism." Personally, I looked just upthread.

The two parties in question ... angered many by openly siding with Hezbollah in 2006.

It clearly was not "racism" that prompted General Burnside to stifle Clement Vallandigham during the Civil War. For that matter, although racism played a large role in popular hatred of the Viet Cong and the New Left, the demonization of young whites like Jane Fonda, Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, etc. took on a life of its own and swept up many who were not especially racist.

Many, perhaps most Israelis think they are in an ongoing, armed struggle for national and even personal survival. Consider our own national panicky abandonment of civil liberties after a single successful terrorist attack in New York, and imagine how arbitrarily we would be lashing out in similar circumstances. It's not pretty, or wise, but to call it simple racism misses most of the picture.

By the way, is there some particular quality to "Jewish racism" that differentiates it from other folks' racism? Is it racism with a big nose? Inquiring minds want to know.

Many, perhaps most Israelis think they are in an ongoing, armed struggle for national and even personal survival.

Many of those Israelis are Arab.

Many, perhaps most Israelis think they are in an ongoing, armed struggle for national and even personal survival.

Indeed, Israel, a modern nation with nuclear weapons, tanks, fighter jets, drones, submarines and warships is facing the prospect of national extinction at the hands of a bunch of starving losers armed with a couple of rockets. Why, this month alone, I understand that the starving losers managed to kill with their rocket attacks almost as many Israelis as traffic accidents did in a few days.

National survival indeed.

Every vote for Kadima is a bullet aimed at the people of Gaza.

This slaughter-war is Olmert's, and Livni's and Barak's. And it's an election campaign tactic as much as anything else. (Of the possible objectives of the assault on Gaza, in fact, that one is looking the most successful.)

How uncivil of the Arab parties to call a spade a spade.

But it's our slaughter-war, too. We shipped the bullets (and shells and missiles and GBU-39s) to the Kadima government to be launched at a defenseless people jammed into a tiny area and trapped there. (Will anyone be seeking to enforce the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act?) Our annual $3 billion and $12 billion more in loan guarantees helps fund the very expensive next stage of the election campaign, the mobilization of reservists.

What if the Supreme Court overturns it but is ignored (as in the "let reporters into Gaza" decision)?

Sure, Turbulence. Why, it's as crazy to imagine that citizens of a modern nation are at personal risk from a bunch of losers with rockets, no matter how many there are, how upset, or how popular, as that a bunch of starving colonists could take on the greatest empire on earth and gain independence, that a handful of conquistadors could topple the Aztec, or that a street gang party could threaten all of Europe and America, kill one-third of all Jews, and render them for tallow.

Heck, I doubt the Arabs of Al Quds in 1880 thought the Jewish settlers were anything to worry about.

I'll grant you that the Gazans alone are unlikely to literally overrun Israel -- but (a) they have in the past found allies with serious military capacity; and (b) it is not reasonably tolerable to have rockets keep pounding at one of your cities, so what do you do, retreat from that one? Then what, they start firing at the next furthest city?

I'm not saying the Israeli response to the perceived threat is reasonable. I don't think it is. The fear, however, is both reasonable and real.

The fear, however, is both reasonable and real

An Israeli has less reason to fear death from a rocket attack than an American has to fear death from lightning strikes. How many Americans do you know that felt enough fear of lightning that they moved to a different area, let alone committed war crimes?

That level of fear is not reasonable, nor do I believe what is motivating Israel is fear. Israel is playing politics as usual.

"An Israeli has less reason to fear death from a rocket attack than an American has to fear death from lightning strikes."

This is nonsense; tens of thousands of Israelis have fled their homes due to rocket strikes, and they've been coming down at 80+ per day. People are having to flee to basement or exterior shelters multiple times a day.

The most charitable explanation of your assertion is that you're, um, unfamiliar with what one side is going through.

"That level of fear is not reasonable, nor do I believe what is motivating Israel is fear."

Only someone who knows no Israelis, and knows nothing about what's been going on in Israeli could say this.

I'm not arguing in favor of Israel's response: but it's taken place because of genuine fear, and a view that the people of Gaza are one with a large-scale surrounding threat. That may be incorrect, but it's perfectly sincere, like it or not, sympathize or not.

nor do I believe what is motivating Israel is fear

What, then? Bloodlust? The desire to stab the unsuspecting Palestinian in the back?

This is nonsense; tens of thousands of Israelis have fled their homes due to rocket strikes, and they've been coming down at 80+ per day. People are having to flee to basement or exterior shelters multiple times a day.

People flee lighting every day too, in America. None of that has anything to do with a death rate, nor is it an excuse for acting hysterically.

I'm not arguing in favor of Israel's response: but it's taken place because of genuine fear

First of all I disagree with that statement, second, if it is true, the genuine fear is comparable to the genuine fear Americans had of being attacked by Iraqi nuclear weapons, i.e., a ludicrous fear stoked by the basest propaganda.

People flee lighting every day too

Why, just the other day I ran screaming from a torchiere lamp.

What, then? Bloodlust? The desire to stab the unsuspecting Palestinian in the back?

I answered that question in the post to which you responded.

So, you think that Israel is playing some kind of political game, here? To what end? To what advantage?

Is this a belief, or do you have some substantiation?

"People flee lighting every day too, in America."

Go ahead and cite a locale in America where 100,000 people have fled lightning, or go fleeing to their shelters a dozen times a day because of their fear of it.

"second, if it is true, the genuine fear is comparable to the genuine fear Americans had of being attacked by Iraqi nuclear weapons, i.e., a ludicrous fear stoked by the basest propaganda."

Again, this is nonsense: actual missiles are blowing up dozens and dozens of houses and schools and buildings in Israel every day. Rockets are landing a dozen yards from people 80+ times a day. That they're not being killed at that rate is a good thing, and neither does it justify the large-scale killings of Palestinians, but it's hardly something not to be afraid of.

Look, would you be fine with Israel rocketing Gaza 80 times a day, and blowing up buildings and schools and homes at that rate, even if Israel "only" killed a handful of Palestinian civilians that way?

Because I wouldn't.

So, you think that Israel is playing some kind of political game, here? To what end? To what advantage?

I think the game is mostly internal Israeli politics, from the UK Telegraph:

The political imperative to act undoubtedly lay behind Israel's decision to launch the attack. It will have weighed most heavily on the minds of Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and leader of the centrist Kadima party, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister and leader of the Labour party.

Both will be fighting the election against Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister from the right-wing Likud party. As they enter this contest, neither can afford to appear anything but hawkish.

Yet the scale of the response exposes Israel to international criticism. Almost 300 Palestinians have been killed in the last two days alone. By contrast, rockets fired from Gaza have killed 17 Israeli civilians in the last seven years.

It is basically a murder-for-votes scheme.

There is also the international politics angle - trying to narrow the options of an incoming US administration right from the start. It isn't a coincidence that the attacks occurred during a lame duck administration but I think it is mostly politics for domestic consumption in Israel.

The attack on Gaza was planned months in advance during a period when rocket attacks killed zero Israelis, and were most often responses to Israeli provocations. That should tell you something.

Go ahead and cite a locale in America where 100,000 people have fled lightning

Have you ever lived in the midwest?

actual missiles are blowing up dozens and dozens of houses and schools and buildings in Israel every day. Rockets are landing a dozen yards from people 80+ times a day. That they're not being killed at that rate is a good thing, and neither does it justify the large-scale killings of Palestinians, but it's hardly something not to be afraid of.

First of all, "dozens and dozens of houses and schools" are not being blown up every day. We're talking about rockets that are so poorly aimed they only hit the ground due to gravity. Second, yes, lightning destroys houses and schools and daycare centers and the homes of tiny kittens every day. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it.

Look, would you be fine with Israel rocketing Gaza 80 times a day, and blowing up buildings and schools and homes at that rate, even if Israel "only" killed a handful of Palestinian civilians that way?

You have to admit it would be an improvement over what Israel is doing now.

"...but I think it is mostly politics for domestic consumption in Israel."

Of course it is. You think most countries engage in military actions for foreign consumption?

"I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it."

And yet if rockets were landing close enough for the explosions to shake your house a dozen times a day, you might. Or maybe you're differrent than most human beings.

You know, it doesn't say anything towards Israel being right in what it's done to notice or admit that the number of rockets being fired at Israel are a seriously frightening threat if you're living under them. If you aren't aware of what's going on, you're just ignorant. If you are aware, and want to ignore it, that's something else. Either way, it doesn't justify how Israel is responding, but it does speak to your credibility.

"...but I think it is mostly politics for domestic consumption in Israel."

Of course it is. You think most countries engage in military actions for foreign consumption?

"I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it."

And yet if rockets were landing close enough for the explosions to shake your house a dozen times a day, you might. Or maybe you're differrent than most human beings.

You know, it doesn't say anything towards Israel being right in what it's done to notice or admit that the number of rockets being fired at Israel are a seriously frightening threat if you're living under them. If you aren't aware of what's going on, you're just ignorant. If you are aware, and want to ignore it, that's something else. Either way, it doesn't justify how Israel is responding, but it does speak to your credibility.

"Second, yes, lightning destroys houses and schools and daycare centers and the homes of tiny kittens every day. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it."

The second thing that's wrong here is that lightning has no moral volition. People firing rockets, and dropping bombs, and using tanks, do. We fault those people; we hold them morally responsible. We don't provide excuses for them such as "oh, it's just nature."

"You have to admit it would be an improvement over what Israel is doing now."

Yes, it would be. And it would be an improvement if both sides quit their brutal and threatening immoral attacks. Whatever the proportionate costs are. Because two sides are doing immoral things here; not just one.

Intelligent people can understand that, rather than reduce events to a black-and-white cartoon.

Saying "I don't spend a lot of time worrying about [Israelis being missiled]" is no morally different than saying "I don't spend a lot of time worrying about [Palestinians being bombed and shot and killed]." Either way, you're dismissing the shock and damage being done to the real lives of real people. Whatever the side. Whatever the proportions.

Anyone who actually cares about evil being committed should care about any human life being threatened or hurt. Not just those of one side.

People firing rockets, and dropping bombs, and using tanks, do. We fault those people; we hold them morally responsible. We don't provide excuses for them such as "oh, it's just nature."

Actually, in the case of the Israeli military, that is exactly what most people do.

"Actually, in the case of the Israeli military, that is exactly what most people do."

If you just reduced all your comments to "Israel = evil," you'd save a lot of effort.

Sure, Turbulence. Why, it's as crazy to imagine that citizens of a modern nation are at personal risk

Everyone on Earth is at personal risk from all kinds of things outside of their control. But all risks are not created equal, so we must prioritize them. It seems like the average Israeli is far more likely to die from a car accident than from rocket fire. Israel could save lots of lives by beefing up their traffic policing, cracking down on DUI, etc., but the state doesn't think it would be worth the trouble.

from a bunch of losers with rockets, no matter how many there are,

I am on unclear on how the number of losers is relevant. I mean, the limiting factor here is the supply of rockets, yes? Perhaps you can explain to me how more losers translates to more deaths given a fixed rocket supply....

how upset, or how popular,

I don't understand how the degree of anger or popularity affects death tolls. Rockets do not multiply in the air when fired by sufficiently angry people, nor do they become more lethal.

as that a bunch of starving colonists could take on the greatest empire on earth and gain independence, that a handful of conquistadors could topple the Aztec, or that a street gang party could threaten all of Europe and America, kill one-third of all Jews, and render them for tallow.

If you think the German state is a street gang, then you don't know enough history.

I'll grant you that the Gazans alone are unlikely to literally overrun Israel -- but (a) they have in the past found allies with serious military capacity;

So? The same could be said of various Latin American leftist regimes during the 1980s. They allied themselves with the USSR which posed a far greater military threat to the US than all the Arab countries together pose against Israel. In either case the argument is ridiculous: it doesn't matter what the communists in El Salvador do or how closely they're tied to Moscow; no one wants to get nuked.

Would you mind clarifying your claims of allies with serious military capacity? What is serious exactly? Are you claiming that Iran could plausibly invade and conquer Israel right now? Are you claiming that any country in the middle east is a credible threat to Israel with its arsenal of nuclear weapons, secondary and tertiary strike capability, and defense guarantee provided by the US?

and (b) it is not reasonably tolerable to have rockets keep pounding at one of your cities,

A far greater portion of Americans die from cigarette smoking than Israelis die form Gazan rockets. Is that tolerable? Should the US send bomb every tobacco warehouse in the country?

Governments tolerate horrific things everyday. Rocket fire is awful. But it is not the end of the world. And it didn't have to continue. Perhaps the Israeli government should have thought of that before breaking the ceasefire.

so what do you do, retreat from that one? Then what, they start firing at the next furthest city?

I believe the rocket attacks are limited in range. What I would do is cut a deal, but there's no reason to do that when you can call just call up the President of the US and give him orders, now is there?

I'm not saying the Israeli response to the perceived threat is reasonable. I don't think it is. The fear, however, is both reasonable and real.

Which "fear" is reasonable? It is certainly reasonable for Israelis that live in striking distance of Gaza to be somewhat concerned. It is not reasonable for Israelis in, say, Tel Aviv to be fearful and it is not reasonable for anyone anywhere to fear that the Gazans with their rockets will eliminate Israel. This was your original claim, yes?

I have no doubt that many Israelis are afraid. But not all fears are justified. Most white racists in the US are very very scared that young black men will kill them. But their fears have far eclipsed the threat the young black men pose to them. That doesn't mean that there's nothing for them to be scared of, but it does mean that they've taken a small seed of justifiable fear and nurtured it in their hearts until it has grown into a vast forest of unjustifiable terror. That nurturing process is not automatic: they made a choice to do so over a long time. I think the same is true of Israelis that are terrified that a few desperately impoverished losers in Gaza with crummy rockets are going to annihilate the state of Israel.

I don't know what it's like to be either an Israeli or a Palestinian, so I can't compare the fear and misery. I do know what it's like to be an American, whose government (even the party I voted for) seems to be giving unqualified support for Israel's government, which seems to be turning Gaza into a concentration camp. The fact that casualties among Gazans number over 900 (last figure I saw) with approximately 200 children dead (at least), compared with something like 10 dead Israelis, speaks volumes. It's as though because murders happen in the District of Columbia, we send machine guns in to wipe out whole neighborhoods.

I'm sick of the U.S. giving Israel financial, moral or political support. Sorry they're besieged by the people they mistreat, but enough.

If you just reduced all your comments to "Israel = evil," you'd save a lot of effort.

If you just reduced all your comments to, "No matter how evil Israel is, it must be defended," you, also, would save a lot of effort.

"If you just reduced all your comments to, "No matter how evil Israel is, it must be defended," you, also, would save a lot of effort."

Except that your comment makes no sense, since I never write such comments.

Things I've written in this thread alone "defending" Israel:

This is outrageous.

[...]

I'm not arguing in favor of Israel's response

[...]

neither does it justify the large-scale killings of Palestinians

[...]

Look, would you be fine with Israel rocketing Gaza 80 times a day, and blowing up buildings and schools and homes at that rate, even if Israel "only" killed a handful of Palestinian civilians that way?

Because I wouldn't.

[...]

You know, it doesn't say anything towards Israel being right in what it's done

[...]

The second thing that's wrong here is that lightning has no moral volition. People firing rockets, and dropping bombs, and using tanks, do. We fault those people; we hold them morally responsible. We don't provide excuses for them such as "oh, it's just nature."

[hint: who has been using tanks, and dropping bombs?]
[...] "You have to admit it would be an improvement over what Israel is doing now."

Yes, it would be.

[...]

And it would be an improvement if both sides quit their brutal and threatening immoral attacks.

[...]

Because two sides are doing immoral things here; not just one.

In just this short a thread, I've criticized the Israeli side nine times. Number of times you've admitted that Hamas does anything wrong at all: 0.

Not a parallel.

This is setting aside my lifelong history of criticizing Israel, and writing blog posts doing so. I'm sure you have an equally citable record of criticizing Hamas.

Things I've written in this thread alone "defending" Israel:

This is outrageous.

[...]

I'm not arguing in favor of Israel's response

[...]

neither does it justify the large-scale killings of Palestinians

[...]

Look, would you be fine with Israel rocketing Gaza 80 times a day, and blowing up buildings and schools and homes at that rate, even if Israel "only" killed a handful of Palestinian civilians that way?

Because I wouldn't.

[...]

You know, it doesn't say anything towards Israel being right in what it's done

[...]

The second thing that's wrong here is that lightning has no moral volition. People firing rockets, and dropping bombs, and using tanks, do. We fault those people; we hold them morally responsible. We don't provide excuses for them such as "oh, it's just nature."

[hint: who has been using tanks, and dropping bombs?]
[...] "You have to admit it would be an improvement over what Israel is doing now."

Yes, it would be.

[...]

And it would be an improvement if both sides quit their brutal and threatening immoral attacks.

[...]

Because two sides are doing immoral things here; not just one.

In just this short a thread, I've criticized the Israeli side nine times. Number of times you've admitted that Hamas does anything wrong at all: 0.

Not a parallel.

This is setting aside my lifelong history of criticizing Israel, and writing blog posts doing so. I'm sure you have an equally citable record of criticizing Hamas.

Number of times you've admitted that Hamas does anything wrong at all: 0

I'm forbidden by law from supporting Hamas. If I supported Hamas, I would be put in a cage. I'm forbidden by law from refusing to support Israel. I am required to pay taxes, some of which go to buy Israel weapons it uses for ethnic cleansing. If I refused to support Israel in that manner, I would be put in a cage.

I'll criticize Hamas when I am forced at the point of a gun to finance its activities, or when I run out of other worse stuff to bitch about, whichever comes first.

And yes, you have defended Israel over and over in this thread. You make excuses for inexcusable behavior. No more excuses.

"And yes, you have defended Israel over and over in this thread."

Which is not what you accused me. Geez, you can't even go from one comment to another without making an accusation and, since it's self-evidently insupportable, having to switch to a new accusation.

"I'll criticize Hamas when I am forced at the point of a gun to finance its activities, or when I run out of other worse stuff to bitch about, whichever comes first."

Yes, I figured. Thanks for admitting there's no reason to talk further with you, even to engage in my unlimited defenses of Israel by which I explain that Israel is wrong. Bye, now.

Observer: and while the conduct and rhetoric of the leaders of Balad and UAL is regrettable

Why? What, exactly, are Balad and UAL's leaders charged with doing? From what I gather, what these MKs object to is that they have been openly speaking out against the IDF attacks on Gaza - something which ought to be their right in a democratic country, and which also ought to be seen as their obligation, to represent the views of their constituents.

The story about Olmert literally ordering GWB around was a real jaw-dropper and I had serious doubts about the veracity at first (it sounded too much like 'Jewish World Conspiracy' stuff). But it seems that it is either true or Olmert set a new record in boastful lies.

Slightly off-topic, but it'll go here until a better Israeli/Arab conflict thread comes along. Here is Tom Friedman simultaneously denying and then admitting that Israel targeted civilians in the Lebanon War, and he does it in the same sentence. It's a thing of Orwellian beauty.

On criticizing Hamas, of course we should criticize Hamas for targeting civilians even though we haven't paid for their attacks. I've been known to criticize Genghis Khan, Jack the Ripper, Hitler, and the Sudanese government from time to time. I think we should criticize Israel more, because we pay for their crimes, supply them with weapons, and they kill many more people than Hamas has managed to do, but that's no reason to not criticize Hamas.

I'll criticize Hamas when I am forced at the point of a gun to finance its activities,

Gee, you don't pay for my groceries, but you sure as hell felt comfortable criticizing my diet.

Greenwald blogs about Friedman.

Go ahead and cite a locale in America where 100,000 people have fled lightning

Have you ever lived in the midwest?

Not sure what you're trying to say, here. Is it your point that the midwest is prone to lightning, or that people have fled there to escape the barrages of lightning landing in, say, Florida and Colorado and Texas?

People rarely flee lightning, unless they were unwise enough to put themselves at risk of being struck in the first place. About 50 people are killed each year by lightning. About 400 damage reports are filed each year, nationwide. According to NOAA, anyway; they probably have a good feel for this sort of thing.

The thing about lightning, though, is that retaliation doesn't do anything at all about preventing the next "attack". This is not one of the better analogies I've seen of late, in other words.

The thing about lightning, though, is that retaliation doesn't do anything at all about preventing the next "attack". This is not one of the better analogies I've seen of late, in other words.

On the contrary, in that respect it is a very good analogy.

People rarely flee lightning

They stay in the swimming pool when they see a storm coming where you live? Don't go inside? Don't call off the game?

Slarti: The thing about lightning, though, is that retaliation doesn't do anything at all about preventing the next "attack".

Which makes it is a very exact analogy for the IDF retaliation on Palestinian civilians, doesn't it? The Hamas rocket attacks on Israel are continuing. Attacks on a civilian population with the intent of rendering them submissive/compliant/unaggressive have rarely, if ever, been successful, you know.

They don't, for instance, leave home and not return because there might be more lightning tomorrow. There's a difference between avoidance and not being able to avoid, that you seem to be missing here.

Thanks (if that's the right word) to Donald Johnson for bringing my attention to Thomas Friedman's latest outpourings.

What an unredeemably repugnant man. What a disgrace for a formerly reputable newspaper.

They don't, for instance, leave home and not return because there might be more lightning tomorrow.

True, but the towns being hit by rockets don't seem to have depopulated, have they?

Also, I'd like to hear why you think Israel's actions in Gaza will prove any more effective at preventing further attacks than impotent raging at a lightning storm.

I wonder if arguing about the validity of the lightning analogy is terribly important to one's view of the Hamas rocket threat.

Turb brought it up to say that the rockets don't kill very many people. To that my response would be that people are notoriously illogical about evaluating the level of danger from this and that. I assume the rockets are not heard before they strike, so the thought of having something come out of the sky and kill you on a clear day with no warning whatsoever is going to be very unnerving to most people, even if the odds are very good that you aren't going to die that way. This is worse than lightning (sigh), because lightning usually strikes when there's a thunderstorm overhead or nearby, though I've read there really is such a thing as a "bolt from the blue", where people are killed by lightning on a clear day. I don't know if there's a thunderstorm some miles away or not. (I think I'll google that)

Of course I don't think that killing hundreds of innocent people is the proper way to deal with this. The proper way would have been

A) Not to try and undermine the unity government between Fatah and Hamas, as the US successfully did, even stirring up a civil war
B) Given that we did do that, Israel should not have blockaded the Gaza Strip
C) When Hamas put an end to the blockade as a condition for renewing the ceasefire, Israel should have complied.

Hamas did maintain a not-quite-perfect ceasefire for six months.

Good old wikipedia. Bolt from the blue

Also, I'd like to hear why you think Israel's actions in Gaza will prove any more effective at preventing further attacks than impotent raging at a lightning storm.

I didn't say they would be effective. I don't know, actually. I do know that retaliation against the clouds for discharging electricity to the ground is never, ever going to be effective (at least with current technology, barring something nuclear), whereas there's at least a prayer of being effective if you locate an enemy mortar team and drop a weapon on them.

whereas there's at least a prayer of being effective if you locate an enemy mortar team and drop a weapon on them.

Not even a prayer, if in attempting to kill the enemy mortar team you kill children and other civilians whose deaths inspire people to become more enemy mortar teams.

The Israeli logic here appears to be: "Kill nine Palestinian civilians to get one terrorist" which overlooks the point that if you kill nine Palestinian civilians, that most likely gives you ninety Palestinians who now loathe you enough to support terrorism against you.

The Germans thought they could bomb the UK civilian population into submission and surrender if they just bombed enough. They were wrong. Other military powers since have made the same calculation. They have also, almost always, been wrong. (You can argue Hiroshima and Nagasaki as exceptions, but the Japanese government were trying to find a way of surrendering before the US dropped the atom bombs, besides all the other reasons a military might have for not wanting to go nuclear.)

"I assume the rockets are not heard before they strike,"

In fact, warning sirens give a minute's warning, which is why people have to frantically jump up and run to their shelter at hysterical top speed. Over and over and over again, through day and night, day after day, week after week.

Thanks Gary. Of course the reality is not any better than my scenario.

decidedly better than the gaza scenario, though.

Hmm, that might be even more psychologically stressful than my scenario. Death tolls don't measure everything, is the point.

(That point also applies to what Israelis do to Palestinians).

"decidedly better than the gaza scenario, though."

Has anyone argued otherwise? Because seems beyond obvious.

Turb brought it up to say that the rockets don't kill very many people.

Actually, I don't think I did. I brought up car accidents. The lightning thing is all now_what.


Over and over and over again, through day and night, day after day, week after week.

That's really awful. Of course, the number of people subjected to that is much much smaller than the total population of Israel and, in fact, is much smaller than the number of Gazans suffering under a crippling blockade. If Israelis living in range of rocket fire wish to relocate, they have the benefit of great personal wealth (on average, relative to the average Palestinian) and the freedom to travel (whereas Palestinians are locked in a giant cage like animals). So while Israelis suffering from rocket attacks do indeed suffer greatly, I think it is important to emphasize that we're talking about a very small number of people who for the most part have the ability to end their suffering anytime they wish. Their suffering is still wrong, but it doesn't really compare well with the deliberate starvation, impoverishment, and military assault on a million human beings locked in a cage. Of course, we are required to spend as much time talking about their suffering as we do the Palestinians. Well, maybe we're not required, but it seems like discussions here always end up following that pattern. That's probably just a coincidence though.

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Whatnot


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