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May 19, 2008

Comments

And the list of "anti-Semitic" Jews grows longer....

Jews cannot be "anti-Semetic." They can, however, be "self-hating."

"Semitic"--spell-check is your friend

"Semitic"--spell-check is your friend"

"Semetic" is how I thought it was spelled. But Mozilla insists on "Semitic." As does Google. I trust their spelling more than my own. Maybe I shouldn't. As for Jews being "anti-Semitic", I agree with you, but I've seen plenty of right-wingers refer to liberal Jews as "anti-Semitic," which I find rather amusing. Thus the poor attempt at a joke.

russell:Certainly Arafat was an ass and threw away the best shot for peace in a couple of generations at Camp David in 2000.

Respectfully, I don't think this is certain at all. At least one negotiator who was actually there disagrees with your interpretation of events quite strongly. I would ask you though: how could Arafat throw anything away at all when there was never any proposal written down? Please, give me a link to the written proposal that Arafat rejected so that we can discuss what an ass he was. I would very much like to see a copy of this artifact. If you're unable to do so, please let me know.

Certainly the terror campaigns of Hamas and Hezbollah have been counter-productive.

I don't understand why either of these things is certain. They're not certain to me. You can't evaluate whether a campaign has been productive without understanding the goals and the alternatives. Certainly, Hezbollah came out of the 2006 war much stronger than it entered. Or do you consider defending one's home against armed foreign invaders to be terrorism?

Insisting that your opponent be driven into the sea is not an opening position that is likely to lead to a reasonable negotation.

Has this insistence been as counterproductive as Israeli insistence that not a single illegal settlement will ever be removed? Has it been as counterproductive as Sharon's insistence that even the tiniest most remote most legally defenseless settlement was to him as Tel Aviv itself? When Hamas unilaterally declared a ceasefire which Israel then repeatedly ignored, was that productive? What were the tangible gains that Hamas realized as a result of their ceasefire? What were the productive gains that elements of Hamas realized when they said that they would consider a one-hundred year truce in which no attacks would be permitted against Israel?

If Hamas is really such a horrific organization that is so fundamentally bent on the destruction of Israel, why did the Israeli government sponsor them back in the day? Do you think the Israeli government is unusually stupid?

But about half the Palestinian people got tossed out of their homes in 1948...So, they're still pissed.

With respect russell, I don't think this is why they're pissed. They're pissed because their entire society has been destroyed. They're pissed because they can't work and thus can't feed their families. They're pissed because Israelis take everything they have and then take more and there is not a damn thing they can do about it. They're pissed because they want their children to have a life better than their own and they know that will never happen. They're pissed that their society has been economically strangled by Israel to the point where a good chunk of their children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

There has been an unfortunate tendency on the part of many Americans to assume that arabs are irrational and bizarre hangups on history and memory that we can never hope to understand. I don't think that's true, but in any event, Palestinians are motivated far more by their current suffering than by injustices from half a century ago. They talk about because they see the two as of a piece.

"the former Shin Bet chief Ephraim Halevi"

This is an error. Halevy has never been a chief, or even member, of Shin Bet/Shabak. He was 9th Director of Mossad.

The error clearly crept in due to mentioning Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin, and clearly someone got confused, and the editors didn't catch the obvious mistake.

So, bc, why aren't you worried about how dangerously naive John McCain is?

[...] Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

Don't forget Fareed Zakaria.

And why do you think leftist terror-symp David Brooks said of Obama: "He's part Harry Hopkins and part James Baker," in the course of praising Obama in that very column you linked to in the other thread?

"'Semetic' is how I thought it was spelled."

You were wrong.

It's also spelled "antisemitic" and "antisemitism," by many, if not most, folks in recent decades, -- check most any dictionary or encyclopedia of the last twenty years -- to get away from the confusion that it has anything whatever to do with "Semitism," which it doesn't. See Wilhelm Marr, the popularizer of the term, and read up on the etymology, I suggest.

"If Hamas is really such a horrific organization that is so fundamentally bent on the destruction of Israel, why did the Israeli government sponsor them back in the day? Do you think the Israeli government is unusually stupid?"

Then, yes. Of course. This seems a dubious line of argument.

It's one thing to argue for the need to talk to Hamas, and to explore what room there is for limited agreements, and another to have illusions about the goals of the more extreme members, and leadership.

Either extreme -- to insist that the best policy is to simply wait out Hamas and respond to them solely with military means, or to claim that they're not really all that hostile to the existence of the Jewish state -- is what I'd call "stupid," with no hesitation.

Hey Turb -

I can't produce documentation of the proposal that Arafat allegedly took a pass on at Camp David. My statements there are, basically, Conventional Wisdom. I could be wrong.

My reference to the events of 1948 were to bc's question about 'historical roots'. You are quite right to note that the Palestinians have suffered plenty since then, and not just at the hands of the Israelis. They seem to be the Arab group that other Arab groups love to cry about but not to help all that much. Could be wrong about that last also, again it's just my understanding.

Some of them have, of course, dished out plenty of misery in turn.

I do think that the Palestinian people would be better off today without violent groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah representing them. Those guys have won some ground, but IMO they've lost as much as they've won. Just my opinion.

I also do think 'we want to drive the Jews into the sea' is a pretty fair characterization of Hamas' nominal goal, as stated by them. My guess is that it's largely bluster and that they'd settle for less, but it is kind of a hard-ass opening volley.

None of the above is to claim that Israel is blameless. Just trying to acknowledge the very real warts that go along with the very real and very legitimate gripes and claims that the Palestinians bring to the table.

Net/net there is little to be lost and plenty to be gained by engaging both groups in conversation.

Thanks -

"Has this insistence been as counterproductive as Israeli insistence that not a single illegal settlement will ever be removed?"

I presume you are aware that quite a few settlements were actually removed, some of them forcibly removed by the Israeli government? Including all the Gaza settlements? See the "Disengagement Plan" which dismantled settlements as old as 30 years. There was also the sad looting by Palestinians of Gaza greenhouses that were left behind, see here, helping to destroy the economic viability of the withdrawn-from settlements for Palestinian use. See also the Hamas vandalization of synagogues at the same time.

So I would say that Hamas' insistence on the destruction of Israel is worse than Israel's instistence on maintaining all the settlements, because the latter doesn't exist.

Excerpts from the Hamas Charter:

In The Name Of The Most Merciful Allah
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it. (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

By adopting Islam as its way of life, the Movement goes back to the time of the birth of the Islamic message, of the righteous ancestor, for Allah is its target, the Prophet is its example and the Koran is its constitution.

Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.

http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm

Have a nice talk.

I’m convinced that the modern left doesn’t take Islam seriously because deep down they consider brown people to be dumb and incapable of executing plans. Islam is the polar opposite of liberal ideals. It’s also on the march.

John Quincy Adams and Winston Churchill had a higher level of respect for brown people. They recognized the brilliance of Mohammed’s system of government and the threat that it posed to free societies.

Turbulence, I agree with you about why many Palestinians are angry, and I also agree they have a lot to be angry about.

I'm not as impressed as you are by their supposed attempts to ratchet down the violence, tho.

When Hamas unilaterally declared a ceasefire which Israel then repeatedly ignored, was that productive?

"Declaring" is nice. Enforcing, or agreeing in the context of civil negotiations, would be more to the point. A unilateral announcement that it wants time to regroup in peace, while "fringe elements" or nominally unaffiliated groups keep attacking Israel, is not very productive, no.

What were the productive gains that elements of Hamas realized when they said that they would consider a one-hundred year truce in which no attacks would be permitted against Israel?

Why should we care what gains an "element" of Hamas made from a meaningless, impotent statement? If Hagel proposed that America negotiate a truce with the Sadr Army, would you ask what gains an "element" of the Republican Party made?

I do agree with you that the terror campaigns have been productive: Hezbollah managed to prod Israel into a disastrous war, and Hamas made Gaza so hot for the Israelis that they backed off it. They may yet succeed in driving Israel into the sea. This would come at a horrific cost in life, both Jewish and Arab, but if that cost is unimportant, then these are productive campaigns.

The thing is, the majority of Israelis keep polling as wanting peace if there is any way to preserve security, so I think that an Israeli government that refused to accept a good-faith fair offer would face electoral problems. But I have not seen any such offer. Instead, the Palestinian bargaining position has been, we offer nothing, we want everything, and we will keep bombing your bus stations until we get it. I understand the value of an aggressive, pugnacious bargaining stance, but the definition of insanity is to expect different results from the same behavior. Either the Palestinians are nuts, or they prefer a long war of attrition to peace. I don't think they're crazy or stupid, I think they are as a group not very interested in peace or compromise.

Gary: Then, yes. Of course. This seems a dubious line of argument. It's one thing to argue for the need to talk to Hamas, and to explore what room there is for limited agreements, and another to have illusions about the goals of the more extreme members, and leadership. Either extreme -- to insist that the best policy is to simply wait out Hamas and respond to them solely with military means, or to claim that they're not really all that hostile to the existence of the Jewish state -- is what I'd call "stupid," with no hesitation.

I don't think I suggested either extreme. I imagine there are many other ideas I have not suggested that are also stupid. I asked the question you reference in an (obviously failed) attempt to suggest to those who might not know their history as well as you that questions of organizational morality in this area may be less black and white than they first appear.


russell:I can't produce documentation of the proposal that Arafat allegedly took a pass on at Camp David. My statements there are, basically, Conventional Wisdom. I could be wrong.

I don't believe there is any such document. And I think you are correct when you describe this as conventional wisdom. I also think that it is politically difficult for the US to mediate when conventional wisdom reflects extreme biases that favor one party of the conflict over another. Biases like the belief that Arafat blew off this totally awesome deal that actually never existed.

They seem to be the Arab group that other Arab groups love to cry about but not to help all that much. Could be wrong about that last also, again it's just my understanding.

In general, I think such broad claims about any ethnic group are likely to either be wrong or to trivially apply to humanity in general. Certainly, many arab governments have been extraordinarily cynical in their use of the suffering of the Palestinian people.

However, it remains unclear to me what you expect arabs or arab governments to do. Many arab countries have spent a fair bit of money on relief efforts; others have literally started wars on behalf of the Palestinians. Does the blood of their soldiers not count? Do we wish to see more such wars? I think not.

Many arab nations have worked hard to facilitate a diplomatic solution. Note the existence of the Saudi Arabian peace proposals and Egyptian efforts at mediation. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has not just thrown a sham proposal out into the void; in his book "The One Percent Doctrine", Ron Suskind recounts how the SA king repeatedly tried to bring up the I-P issue when he met personally with Bush. Maybe he had no intention of behaving seriously, but he did make a major effort to broach the subject before and during personal meetings with the President. He did say very clearly that this was a vitally important issue for him; indeed, it was the most important issue. Bush blew him off. Repeatedly. So, what do you think he should have done exactly? How much more would he have had to have done before it became "enough" for you?

I do think that the Palestinian people would be better off today without violent groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah representing them. Those guys have won some ground, but IMO they've lost as much as they've won. Just my opinion.

This is nitpicking, but Hezbollah is not a Palestinian group.

I also do think 'we want to drive the Jews into the sea' is a pretty fair characterization of Hamas' nominal goal, as stated by them. My guess is that it's largely bluster and that they'd settle for less, but it is kind of a hard-ass opening volley.

I agree with you. Hamas has been quite explicit on this point for many years.

However, given that Hamas' constituency consists of people who believe the Israelis have reneged on every deal they ever cut and who are bent on ruining and destroying them, what alternative goal do you think they could advocate while remaining politically viable? I mean, things would be very different if Hamas could go to its constituency and say "See? The Israelis have done X, Y, and Z to prove they're serious about honoring their commitments (this time) so now in the spirit of brotherhood, we renounce our commitment to destroy Israel", but there has been no progress justifying such a statement. Palestinians have tried keeping faith with Israelis and it did not work: during the Oslo process, settlements increased every single year without stop. Now, I can understand Israeli claims that they had to strangle Palestine economically and kill lots of people in order to ensure Israeli security. That makes sense to me. But adding more settlements during the Oslo process did nothing to enhance Israeli security: in fact, it weakened Israeli security by greatly increasing the amount of territory that had to be manned, supplied and defended.

What I don't understand about certain members of the right is that they drudge up all these quotes establishing how rotten Islam or Hamas or whoever is, and then they offer no policy prescription, no plan of action, nothing ... as if the only point were to ratchet up feelings of animosity, and the only real problem is that there wasn't enough anger in the air.

So, once you've gotten appropriately *angry* at Hamas, then what? Then you still have the same considerations in play as to whether to talk to them.

Unless of course you've decided that you are going to make a decision on the basis of being angry.

The best argument I can make out of it is: "Look! They will never change! Here is the proof. Let me quote the Koran to you. So there is no point whatsoever in speaking to them!" But, no matter what their platform happens to be, why does that follow? Plenty of people ran as segregationists back in the day in this country, and they changed.

I've never understood this argument.

"others have literally started wars on behalf of the Palestinians."

Please name which countries (plural?) you believe have literally started wars *on behalf of the Palestinians*. Surely you don't believe that Egypt, Jordan or Syria are actually such countries? So which ones do you have in mind? Or do you mean 'on behalf of' as something more like: wanted to declare war on Israel for territorial gains or for the destruction of Israel and threw in something about Palestinians on the side?

There is something else I enjoy about the Dumb-as-a-Beast Right. I have many Muslim friends. I also know a lot of right-wing Morons. On occasion, I've seen confrontations between the two.

The Dumb-as-a-Beast Right loves to argue from passages in holy texts to real-world political intentions of diverse communities. There has to be a relationship of inference there. So when they meet this Muslim friend o' mine, they are forced into one of two choices. They can believe that the person is out to destroy and convert them, which is manifestly ridiculous, since you know the person is an American, born here, professional, all that. Or they can argue that they are not *really* a Muslim, because they don't follow the Koran.

And they usually opt for the second! So here you see these dweebie guys from, like, Connecticut, who are so buried in their ideology arguing with an actual Muslim that they are not *really* a Muslim, holding them to standards of interpretation as ludicrous as those of the most extremist clerics they revile!

It's beautiful to watch the ways a mind twists to keep to internal consistency.

I presume you are aware that quite a few settlements were actually removed, some of them forcibly removed by the Israeli government? Including all the Gaza settlements? See the "Disengagement Plan" which dismantled settlements as old as 30 years.

I am. I never claimed that Israel has never removed any settlements. I claimed that some Israeli leaders have made bold statements about how no settlements would be removed. As you point out, Israel has indeed removed some settlements, which illustrates my point: governments often make bold pronouncements, but it is wrong to assume that all such statements are absolute truth or even that they represent an ironclad commitment.

There was also the sad looting by Palestinians of Gaza greenhouses that were left behind, see here, helping to destroy the economic viability of the withdrawn-from settlements for Palestinian use. See also the Hamas vandalization of synagogues at the same time.

Just out of curiosity, when the Israelis left these greenhouses, did they also leave the irrigation equipment needed to support them? Did they also relinquish rights to all water sources that the greenhouses depended on?

More to the point, destroying stuff is stupid and awful. It is more likely to happen in places where state capacity has been systematically mutilated by a concerted policy of targeted assassination directed at a large number of political leaders. This is one of the benefits of a state that is not crippled: it can keep people from rioting and looting and pointlessly destroying stuff.

So I would say that Hamas' insistence on the destruction of Israel is worse than Israel's instistence on maintaining all the settlements, because the latter doesn't exist.

Seb, I compared (what I consider to be) insane policy statements from both parties. I think that neither party intends to follow through on their respective statements. You've pointed out that one party has failed to follow through on its statement. And I agree with you! But that's not a refutation of my original point at all.

Hamas talks about eliminating Israel and I talk about eliminating all potatoes on earth. We both have about the same liklihood of achieving our goals. Does that mean that people shouldn't take Hamas seriously when it uses such hateful eliminationist rhetoric? Absolutely not. But I do think we should keep matters in perspective. Hamas cannot destroy Israel. The notion that it has anywhere near the capabilities needed to do so is simply absurd. If you disagree with me, please explain how credible this threat is. In any event, Hamas has dealt extensively with the Israeli government: clearly, their eliminationist rhetoric doesn't preclude them in any way from dealing with the Israeli government.

Hamas talks about eliminating Israel and I talk about eliminating all potatoes on earth.

I realize this was unintentional but, to clarify: Jews are not potatoes.

I realize this was unintentional but, to clarify: Jews are not potatoes.

But potatoes are kosher, aren't they?

"Has it been as counterproductive as Sharon's insistence that even the tiniest most remote most legally defenseless settlement was to him as Tel Aviv itself?"

You're referring to the Sharon who ordered the withdrawal from Gaza? The one who was the first head of Kadima? That Sharon?

"Has this insistence been as counterproductive as Israeli insistence that not a single illegal settlement will ever be removed?"

Whom, exactly, are you referring to here when you refer to "Israeli"? Obviously neither the government nor Knesset nor most Israelis, so whom, exactly?

"There has been an unfortunate tendency on the part of many Americans to assume that arabs are irrational and bizarre hangups on history and memory that we can never hope to understand."

Who at ObWi, specifically?

"Declaring" is nice. Enforcing, or agreeing in the context of civil negotiations, would be more to the point. A unilateral announcement that it wants time to regroup in peace, while "fringe elements" or nominally unaffiliated groups keep attacking Israel, is not very productive, no.

My writing was unclear. As I understand it, Hamas declared the ceasefire and then honored it. It obviously did not and could not ensure that the ceasefire was honored in areas that it does not control, nor could it systematically hunt down every single group that opposes it and eliminate them. Nevertheless, attacks went down.

Do you have any evidence that whatever attacks that were made in this period were associated in any way with Hamas? Or do you just assume that all Palestinians are equally culpable?

Look, neither side is ever going to be able to make guarantees that it will absolutely eliminate all violence. The Palestinians lack the state capacity to ever do such a thing and I don't think the Israelis have sufficient control of their extremist elements to make such a guarantee. I mean, the Israeli government can't even keep its extremist elements from assassinating its Prime Minister. If we insist on the ability to eliminate all violence whatsoever, there will never be peace. Doing so is tantamount to giving any lunatic veto power over any peace deal.


Why should we care what gains an "element" of Hamas made from a meaningless, impotent statement?

Anyone interested in peace should care. Organizations are not monolithic. In practice, the way you achieve peace is by separating out moderate from extremist elements within the leadership. If you can't get traction with the moderates, you likely have no hope at all with the extremists. And the statement is no more meaningless and impotent than Hamas' ability to destroy Israel. Still, if Hamas' statements about eliminating Israel are a problem (and they do seem to be a problem for several people on this thread), then surely getting Hamas to renounce those statements is important for peace, right? So how do you plan on doing that? The Israeli plan of utterly crushing Hamas and forcing them to say uncle has not worked. It has been a complete and utter failure. Do you think this plan is likely to bear fruit soon?

I think that the only realistic plans involve convincing Hamas to ratchet down their public statements in stages by engaging with the moderates in the leadership. Under such a plan, Hamas won't renounce anything overnight. Instead, they'll put out feelers on smaller revocations so they can gauge the political impact. But it all starts by engaging the moderates and seeing what they have to offer. There is political value in publicly holding on to the eliminationist statements. It would be irrational for Hamas to sacrifice that value in exchange for...nothing at all. So if you expect them to sacrifice it, they need something (and that something may be what they're trying to achieve anyway). If you give them nothing, you're asking them to sacrifice on faith, and I can imagine cases where they'd do that, but most people aren't willing to give up something of value on faith unless you can explain why they're likely to gain something (i.e., peace) in exchange.

This is exactly what the Iraq Study Group tried to do: separate out factions within the executive that could be reasoned with from the insane factions controlled by Cheney. The ISG failed, but it was still a useful effort that was worth undertaking.

If Hagel proposed that America negotiate a truce with the Sadr Army, would you ask what gains an "element" of the Republican Party made?

If the Mahdi Army (there is no Sadr Army) was sending feelers out to see if anyone in the US government was interested in negotiating and the most moderate republicans all said "No, never!", then I think that would tell us something very important indeed.

More to the point, I can imagine cases where Hagel puts out a trial balloon that Bush can't politically embrace yet in order to see the reaction. If Hagel did so and the response by the Mahdi Army was utter contempt, then I think Bush could reasonably assume that this idea wasn't going anywhere.

I do agree with you that the terror campaigns have been productive: Hezbollah managed to prod Israel into a disastrous war, and Hamas made Gaza so hot for the Israelis that they backed off it. They may yet succeed in driving Israel into the sea. This would come at a horrific cost in life, both Jewish and Arab, but if that cost is unimportant, then these are productive campaigns.

I don't think Hezbollah intended to prod Israel into a war. Why do you think that's true? And I'm not sure that Hamas intended to drive Israel from Gaza per se rather than to the negotiating table. I only raise the question of intentions because they seem important for deciding how productive a policy has been.

I still don't see any reason to believe that Hamas has the capability to drive Israel into the sea. Any information you could provide here would be useful.

The thing is, the majority of Israelis keep polling as wanting peace if there is any way to preserve security, so I think that an Israeli government that refused to accept a good-faith fair offer would face electoral problems.

Really? A majority of Americans keep polling as wanting withdrawl from Iraq but Democrats face no electoral pressure to, you know, withdraw or cut funding. In fact, Democrats are very concerned about the electoral consequences of cutting funding. For that matter, most Americans poll as supporting Roe v Wade but voting for judges opposed to Roe v Wade is clearly an electoral winner.

I'm sorry, but I don't think this sort of very simple "because X polls well, the government must enforce X or lose electorally" logic works in general.

But I have not seen any such offer. Instead, the Palestinian bargaining position has been, we offer nothing, we want everything, and we will keep bombing your bus stations until we get it.

It has? What are you talking about? Who was bargaining and when were they doing so?

Look, the Palestinians are living pretty deprived lives. They've got no functional economy and their society has disintegrated. Do you really believe that the only reason they haven't cut a deal is because they're unwilling to reduce their demands from "we want everything"? Do you think they behave in ways fundamentally different from other human beings?

I understand the value of an aggressive, pugnacious bargaining stance, but the definition of insanity is to expect different results from the same behavior. Either the Palestinians are nuts, or they prefer a long war of attrition to peace. I don't think they're crazy or stupid, I think they are as a group not very interested in peace or compromise.

I'm sorry but I don't really know what to say to this. I'll have to think about it.

An intersting conundrum concerning appeasement:

Had the British and French not appeased Hitler at Munich, would Israel exist today? This assumes an earlier end to the war as the Germans get bogged down in Czechoslovakia, the Soviets intervene against Germany, the British and French invade Germany while the bulk of her forces are fighting Czechoslovakia, a military coup against Hitler, or a combination of some of these events. No Hitler, no Holocaust, no Israel?

Another nitpicking: Palestinians are not necessarily Arabs (their ethnicity is extremly disputed) and not necessarily Muslims (although the Christian minority is shrinking).

Seb: Please name which countries (plural?) you believe have literally started wars *on behalf of the Palestinians*. Surely you don't believe that Egypt, Jordan or Syria are actually such countries? So which ones do you have in mind? Or do you mean 'on behalf of' as something more like: wanted to declare war on Israel for territorial gains or for the destruction of Israel and threw in something about Palestinians on the side?

My mistake Seb; I happily withdraw the claim about starting wars on behalf of them, if for no other reason than to avoid a protracted discussion of foreign government motivations. So, now that I've stipulated that point, would you care to answer the question I raised around it: what else do arabs or arab government have to do before you'll agree that their efforts to help Palestinians are not entirely self-centered?


Anarch: I realize this was unintentional but, to clarify: Jews are not potatoes.

Indeed, they most certainly are not.

Of course, potatoes don't have secondary and tertiary nuclear strike capabilities, so arguably my plan to eliminate the potatoes is far more likely to succeed.

Just to clarify: I'm not comparing Jews to potatoes. I'm comparing ridiculous eliminationist statements that will never become reality.

Gary:You're referring to the Sharon who ordered the withdrawal from Gaza? The one who was the first head of Kadima? That Sharon?

Yes I am. Please see my earlier response to Seb.

Whom, exactly, are you referring to here when you refer to "Israeli"? Obviously neither the government nor Knesset nor most Israelis, so whom, exactly?

Ariel Sharon said "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...Everything we don't grab will go to them". I can dig up other quotes later tonight when I'm not at work if you wish.

"There has been an unfortunate tendency on the part of many Americans to assume that arabs are irrational and bizarre hangups on history and memory that we can never hope to understand."

Who at ObWi, specifically?

At the time, I thought russell, but he has since clarified his remarks, so my earlier statements are no longer appropriate. My apologies.

"I’m convinced that the modern left doesn’t take Islam seriously"

I'm not "the modern left," but I take Islam perfectly seriously, Bill. It's your kindergarten cartoon of Islam I don't take seriously.

"It’s [Islam] also on the march."

Islam is an abstract concept, Bill; it has no volition or consciousness, let alone ability to march, sit, speak, sit up, roll over, or bark.

Only individuals can do that, and they're all we need be concerned with as regard who will be engage in any kind of action.

As it happens, observedly, most Muslims are quite peaceful, and uninterested in killing other people any more than the next Christian, Jew, Hindu, or atheist.

It's useful to be clear about the distinction between an abstract concept, and actual people; I recommend it to you.

"Just out of curiosity, when the Israelis left these greenhouses, did they also leave the irrigation equipment needed to support them?"

You didn't read the article I linked. Yes they did, and it was immediately stolen by Palestinians.

"I am. I never claimed that Israel has never removed any settlements. I claimed that some Israeli leaders have made bold statements about how no settlements would be removed."

Who? Please name them specifically so we may judge their importance.

"I think that neither party intends to follow through on their respective statements. "

Yes, I'm aware you think that. But you've offered no evidence for why you think that.

"I think that the only realistic plans involve convincing Hamas to ratchet down their public statements in stages by engaging with the moderates in the leadership. Under such a plan, Hamas won't renounce anything overnight. Instead, they'll put out feelers on smaller revocations so they can gauge the political impact."

Interesting plan. I'm a little surprised that you're unaware that has been tried.

"I still don't see any reason to believe that Hamas has the capability to drive Israel into the sea. Any information you could provide here would be useful."

Ah, so you support the Israeli effort to keep weapons out of the hands of Hamas?Every weapon at their disposal has been used as it became available to them. The same is most decidedly not true of Israel which has the military capability of destroying every human being in the Palestinian territories and which has not exercised such capability.

"Look, the Palestinians are living pretty deprived lives. They've got no functional economy and their society has disintegrated. Do you really believe that the only reason they haven't cut a deal is because they're unwilling to reduce their demands from "we want everything"?"

Your problem seems to be that you don't accept that a population might want war against another population--war even to the complete destruction of the other side, and war even if it causes significant hardship to prosecute. But history has dozens of such cases, so I have no idea why you don't believe it is possible.

I've little time for the internet today (again, I thought that last comment posted moments after my last comment before that, but came back a bit ago to find the captcha hadn't worked), but: "I do think that the Palestinian people would be better off today without violent groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah representing them."

Hezbollah isn't a Palestinian group, Russell, and has never claimed to be. It's a Lebanese Shi'ite organization.

In general, I think such broad claims about any ethnic group are likely to either be wrong or to trivially apply to humanity in general. Certainly, many arab governments have been extraordinarily cynical in their use of the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Your second sentence here is pretty much the only point I was trying to make.

This is nitpicking, but Hezbollah is not a Palestinian group.

Not nitpicking at all. The two are different groups with different histories and goals. My bad lumping them together in this discussion.

To be honest, I think I may be out of my depth here. I certainly don't have enough of a grasp of the history to make good suggestions about how to actually solve the problem.

The only real point I'd like to make is that, IMO, there is value in the US engaging both Hezbollah and Hamas in conversation.

Both are significant political actors in the area, with significant constituencies even among non-militant folks. I think it would be hard to achieve any kind of satisfactory result without their engagement.

Yes, they both are guilty of violence against civilians. So, in their day, were the Irgun, the IRA, and the ANC. Sometimes its an ugly world.

Look, the Palestinians are living pretty deprived lives.

Indisputable, which has to represent some kind of bottom line or ground reality for this discussion.

I will now retire from the field and look forward to reading the offerings of folks who know more than I do about the issues here.

But leave those potatos alone! :)

Thanks -

"But potatoes are kosher, aren't they?"

It depends on their hooves.

"Instead, the Palestinian bargaining position has been, we offer nothing, we want everything, and we will keep bombing your bus stations until we get it."

I am very strongly of the opinion that generalized statements of this kind, which turn out not to be true, though they're made by partisans of all sides, are extremely unhelpful.

Being as specific as possible, and giving cites to actual documents and quotes and events can be productive, but all generalized claims like this do are produce fodder for pointless generalized arguments that serve only to waste everyone's time, unless the goal is simply venting emotionally.

Similarly, generalized claims about who is more at fault, etc., are equally useless and counter-productive, I suggest.

Similarly, generalized assertions about "the Israelis," or "the Palestinians," and what "they" "want" or "offered," etc.

There are no such useful generalizations, because for every opinion you can find a Palestinian or Israeli who holds it.

What's sometimes useful is citing the opinion of a given official statement by an organization, or individual, on a given name, and then comparing it to the position/statement of all the other significant players that month, and trying to get some grasp of what might the majority of either Israelis or Palestinians might be able to favor at a given time, or brought around around to having a majority favor at a given future moment, under realistic conditions.

Be concrete. It's the only way to get anywhere in reaching points of agreement, or just having a useful discussion of reality as regards the Middle East (or any other problem involving large masses of diverse, non-homogenous, politically split, people).

There has been a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Bavarian_Succession>potato war but the potatoes survived.

You didn't read the article I linked. Yes they did, and it was immediately stolen by Palestinians.

Sorry, I didn't notice a link. I'll look at it later tonight.

Who? Please name them specifically so we may judge their importance.

Please see my previous response to Gary. If you'd like more quotes, I can probably post some later tonight.

Interesting plan. I'm a little surprised that you're unaware that has been tried.

It has? Where? When? By who?

Ah, so you support the Israeli effort to keep weapons out of the hands of Hamas?Every weapon at their disposal has been used as it became available to them.

No, I don't support any plan by which Israel would keep Hamas from ever getting any "weapons" since that means that Palestinians could not survive. Chlorine can be used as a weapon; it is highly toxic. Under such a plan, Palestinians could not treat water for drinking. That's insane. Anything on earth can be used as a weapon. If Israel successfully implemented a plan to keep all "weapons" from Palestinians, they would end up killing every single Palestinian. What you are proposing here is genocide. I assume that you do not seriously intend to call for genocide.

If you want to have a serious discussion, please specify what "weapons" you're talking about.

Also, do you realize what you've just done? You've moved the goalposts from questions of Hamas destroying Israel to questions of Hamas doing any harm to Israel whatsoever, even if that harm is completely trivial. Do you understand that these are very different concepts? Do you see that Palestinian children throwing small rocks at Israeli tanks has nothing to do with Hamas eliminating Israel? Even though both cases involve Palestinians using weapons against Israel, they're still not at all alike.

The same is most decidedly not true of Israel which has the military capability of destroying every human being in the Palestinian territories and which has not exercised such capability.

Intriguing. Can you explain to me how exactly Israel could destroy every human being living in the occupied territories? It seems that nuclear weapons would injure many Israelis due to fallout proximity. Heavy bombing might be possible but would take a long time...more than long enough to bring massive international pressure to bear. I'm not seeing a lot of feasible options here.

Also, which weapons in Israel's conventional weapons arsenal has it refrained from using against Palestinians? I'm excluding nuclear weapons given the fallout issue. I suppose Israel has manfully refrained from using its submarine force, so um, good for them.

Your problem seems to be that you don't accept that a population might want war against another population--war even to the complete destruction of the other side, and war even if it causes significant hardship to prosecute. But history has dozens of such cases, so I have no idea why you don't believe it is possible.

You're wrong. I certainly accept that such populations may exist. However, I don't think that any such population exists that also is willing to continue for decades in the face of clear evidence that they will never succeed in destroying their enemy. The Japanese in WWII were a good example: they insisted on fighting the war to the end, but the mass of people also did not understand how impossible victory really was. If the US hadn't used atomic weapons and instead simply continued the blockade, how long do you think the Japanese would have been able to hold out? They had no food and no raw materials. Under the blockade, they could acquire neither from abroad. How many years or decades do you think they would have happily persisted in believing that victory was just around the corner?

I think the conflict continues to go on because of the differential in costs and benefits. From my view, the Israelis haven't been serious about peace. And why should they be? There's no logical reason for them to be serious about peace. If they hold out long enough and impose enough suffering on the Palestinians, they will get as much territory as they want and a large class of economically marginalized virtual slaves to boot. The costs to them are fairly small: some people die every year. Well, that's terrible, but people die every year on Israeli highways too. For every Israeli that dies in the conflict, 3-15 Palestinians die (depending on what time period you're looking at). Yes, the occupation is expensive, but Israel is a highly militarized society, and militarism has many benefits for the country. For example, Israel sells a fair bit of military hardware to countries around the world at a handy profit. Militarism also helps with social cohesiveness. Does anyone think that disputes between religious and secular Israelis would improve if there was no occupation and no unending war?

In addition, the financial costs of occupation are not very visible: the government has obscured the total cost. Perhaps I've just been ignorant in finding it out though: can you tell me what the total cost has been for government incentives for settlers, settlement, road, and fortification construction, army deployments and supplies for said army units over the last year?

Beyond financial costs, there are political costs and benefits. Having an enemy and being under attack are enormously valuable politically, as Bush demonstrated. See terror management theory for one explanation for why this might be the case. There are also political costs to pissing off religious parties that advocate for controlling greater Israel. Even if some Israeli prime ministers can afford to ignore them, their influence is real and many PMs do not have the luxury of ignoring them entirely.

Turbulence, good points, and I will think about them.

I think you're right about the value of engaging relatively moderate elements in discussion. And yes, a cease-fire with the majority is worth something if it could lead to a real peace: the pinprick attacks are bad not so much because of the body count on any particular occasion, but because they seem unending. A peace agreement would presumably include some way to police smaller terrorist groups (and might even reduce their support among the general population).

I suspect Israel has used Hamas's public intransigence as an excuse not to engage, and that Israel wants an excuse because it has no clear mandate to make peace. But I disagree that the situation is comparable to the unpopularity of the Iraq war in America. The Iraq war is not perceived as existential for America, and those who die are volunteers - most Americans can deplore it in safety, but assign it a low priority. Every Israeli knows he or she is at risk, and that in the long term so is the country.

Can Hamas destroy Israel? Depends just how crazy they are and how much help they get. A suicide bomber with a nuke could take out Tel Aviv, which is at least half the job right there. It would also throw the army into disarray, and bear in mind just how tiny the country is, how quickly armed fighters can drive across it. I think all they would accomplish would be a mutual mass slaughter, but they have shown a remarkable indifference to civilian casualties on a smaller scale, so I see a real risk that they might try it if given the opportunity.

More prosaically, occupation is increasingly less tenable. The army is ruinously expensive, overstrained, and apparently unable to make a long-term difference short of genocide. Israel has given up occupied territory piece by piece. If it gives up enough that the PA becomes a real state, funded and armed by sympathetic Arabs worldwide, and what with Hezbollah now more or less taking over Lebanon, Israel will have active enemies on two borders, with no realistic nuclear deterrent (you can't nuke next door, you poison your own country). Under those circumstances, yes, I think Israel could lose even a conventional war.

Re bargaining postures, I was referring to general positions, not specific talks. Negotiation starts long before you actually step up to a negotiating table.

"I'm not seeing a lot of feasible options here."

Conventional bombing would be fine to kill enough of Palestinians to make it all stop. It worked quite well for Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood and took about a week. Israel isn't interested in doing it, and good for them. And if you don't think Israel has conventional forces enough to literally kill everyone in the Palestinian territories (or at the very least 90% of them and the rest only because hunting them down through the wasteland would be annoying) you just don't understand the military capability very well.

"The Japanese in WWII were a good example: they insisted on fighting the war to the end, but the mass of people also did not understand how impossible victory really was. If the US hadn't used atomic weapons and instead simply continued the blockade, how long do you think the Japanese would have been able to hold out? They had no food and no raw materials. Under the blockade, they could acquire neither from abroad. How many years or decades do you think they would have happily persisted in believing that victory was just around the corner?"

You don't know your history well if you don't think Japan could grow food on the island. If we weren't willing to utterly destroy cities and instead just blockade them how long could it have lasted? You make it sound like I can't possibly answer "minimum decades, quite possibly two generations" but that is what I would answer. And even at that your historical imagination is very limited if Japan is all you can come up with. After the third war how easy is to visit Carthage? Small powerless groups becoming powerful quickly and laying to waste those around them? Ever heard of the Mongols? But you don't hear much of the Tanguts who didn't worry about them until too late do you?

The Palestinians don't currently have the ability to prosecute a successful war against Israel. That is almost entirely because Israel has destroyed that ability whenever they tried to make it (and invariably when they made it they used it--see the history of the PLO occupation of southern Lebanon). And I presume you are aware that the Palestinians don't just make war against Israel, they did it to Jordan and Lebanon too when they were there. The lives of Palestinians would have been very different if they had wanted to live peacefully anywhere.

"Beyond financial costs, there are political costs and benefits. Having an enemy and being under attack are enormously valuable politically, as Arafat demonstrated. See terror management theory for one explanation for why this might be the case. There are also political costs to pissing off parties like Hamas that advocate for controlling greater Israel."

I fixed that quote for you.

The Japanese in WWII were a good example:

I only emerge from my foxhole into an I/P thread to point out that in this case, because the Japanese are such a unique example, they may not be a good one. Ivan Morris calls it the Japanese 'Nobility of Failure' While the review may put the point a bit too strongly, the thrust, that the Japanese aesthetic has developed in a way that places it rather far from our Western sensibilities, illustrates why it might be a bad example, though conceivably, some other society could evolve in such a way as to prize total destruction over survival.

I feel compelled to add that though my point might complement Sebastian's, I am sympathetic to Turb's viewpoint. Furthermore, I really think that 'fixing' people's quotes the way Sebastian did is an perfect way to increase the noise in a discussion to the detriment of the signal.

Jews are not potatoes.

True, though I do know some who are bananas.

You are quite right about the quote fixing. It is an annoying way to make a point and I apologize.

Conventional bombing would be fine to kill enough of Palestinians to make it all stop. It worked quite well for Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood and took about a week.

Um, what are you talking about? I'm not necessarily looking for a cite, just some notion of what events you're referring to. Syria did attack the city of Hama after the Muslim Brotherhood seized it. But they bombed it for about a month and killed between 4-12% of the population.

Given that I was responding to your statement that "Israel has the military capability of destroying every human being in the Palestinian territories", I don't see why Hama is relevant. Syria failed to kill more than 12% (at most) of the population despite bombing for a month. So if Syria couldn't kill more than 12% in a month, why do you think that Israel would be able to kill 100% (or even 90%) before international pressure forced them to stop? I mean, do you think that arab countries would just sit by while Israel conducted a genocide without doing anything like impeding oil sales to western nations that might influence Israel?

I'm sorry, but I still don't understand how your original statement could work in practice. Please explain in a way that makes sense. You tried to move the goalposts from "Israel can destroy every human being" to "Israel can kill enough Palestinians to make it stop". Those are two very different statements. Why did you do that? Did you think I wouldn't notice?

With respect, I would suggest that the Allies were unable to bomb German and Japanese civilians enough to make either country stop fighting. Indeed, German war production rose during the bombing campaign. Are you suggesting that Israel could deploy an equivalent level of force and be successful where the Allies failed? I don't doubt that Israel could kill many people, but conventional strategic bombing of civilians has been vastly oversold and it takes a very long time.

Israel isn't interested in doing it, and good for them. And if you don't think Israel has conventional forces enough to literally kill everyone in the Palestinian territories (or at the very least 90% of them and the rest only because hunting them down through the wasteland would be annoying)...

Well, the US has the military capability to end the war in Iraq decisively using nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, simply having a weapon available is not the same as having the freedom to employ that weapon in practice. I don't understand how Israel could kill 90% of Palestinian civilians quickly enough to avoid massive international pressure that would force them to terminate their operations. Perhaps you could explain?

...you just don't understand the military capability very well...You don't know your history well...your historical imagination is very limited...

Is the discussion really advanced by making snide comments about what you think I do and don't understand? I mean, if you want to be rude, go right ahead, but I don't see how it helps you. I've tried to be polite throughout this discussion and I've tried to respond to your questions and arguments. It would be nice if you could reciprocate without resorting to petty schoolyard taunts. If that is too much to ask of you, don't worry.

You don't know your history well if you don't think Japan could grow food on the island.

Could Japan have grown food on the islands? Of course. But that question isn't relevant to the discussion. A more relevant question would be: can Japan in 1945 grow enough food on their island to keep the population from starving with no food imports, no rubber imports, no fuel imports, and no significant access to the ocean for fishing? Industrial agriculture requires fuel and Japan didn't have any. It often requires cars and trucks which require rubber for tires and Japan didn't have any. Historically, Japan has not been able to feed its population without significant ocean harvesting for centuries.

In any event, there's no need to talk about hypotheticals: the civilian population was already starving -- their food rations had been cut repeatedly by the end of the war. It was only a matter of time. You may wish to read the history of Operation Starvation. Wikipedia says: millions of people were still on the brink of starvation for several years after the surrender."

If we weren't willing to utterly destroy cities and instead just blockade them how long could it have lasted? You make it sound like I can't possibly answer "minimum decades, quite possibly two generations" but that is what I would answer.

Given that Japan was literally starving to death, I don't think this answer matches the historical record.

And even at that your historical imagination is very limited if Japan is all you can come up with. After the third war how easy is to visit Carthage? Small powerless groups becoming powerful quickly and laying to waste those around them? Ever heard of the Mongols? But you don't hear much of the Tanguts who didn't worry about them until too late do you?

I described the case of Japan as an example. An example is not the same as a complete enumeration. Do you understand the difference?

I've read books about the Mongols and Carthage. However, I happen to think that examples from a time when states could and did engage in wholesale genocide are not particularly helpful when analyzing the current situation because modern states cannot engage in genocide without extraordinarily high costs. I also think that the current option of strategic bombing makes such comparisons misleading at best. Do let me know why you disagree with both of these points. I am very curious to hear what great insights you can share based on the Mongols and Carthage.

The Palestinians don't currently have the ability to prosecute a successful war against Israel.

Whoohoo! We agree.

How important is territorial contiguity?

The US does okay without being able to drive to Alaska without visiting a foreign (albeit friendly) country. And wiki's list of exclaves and enclaves suggests that it's not uncommon. (See, eg, Azerbiajan.)

But I wonder about the ability of any nation to live with its neighbors in peace when it's already sliced in two, and one bit (Gaza) tends to be reported in the West as being one big refugee camp (eg, according to wikipedia, 1.0 of 1.4 million residents are "refugees".)

On the other hand, swapping Israeli occupants of the West Bank for Palestinian occupants of Gaza seems, well, absurd.

Don't shed the poor blood
Of this poor helpless spud.
That's the worst kind of thing you could do.
Oh, no, don't slay that potato
What never done nothing to you!


--Tom Paxton

Full lyrics at http://www.geocities.com/willboyne/nosurrender/DontSlay.html

"I claimed that some Israeli leaders have made bold statements about how no settlements would be removed."

Which comment did you make that claim in?

Here at 1:29 p.m. you instead wrote: "Has this insistence been as counterproductive as Israeli insistence that not a single illegal settlement will ever be removed?"

I asked you: "Whom, exactly, are you referring to here when you refer to 'Israeli'? Obviously neither the government nor Knesset nor most Israelis, so whom, exactly?"

But I missed seeing your response to my request for clarification, and your comment in which "claimed that some Israeli leaders have made bold statements about how no settlements would be removed." Where can I find that comment?

"Just out of curiosity, when the Israelis left these greenhouses, did they also leave the irrigation equipment needed to support them? Did they also relinquish rights to all water sources that the greenhouses depended on?"

You can google to find out, you know; as you appear to have inferred, the answers are somewhat important to be aware of when discussing Gaza, as are all the other basic facts. It's probably a good thing to know about this level of simple stuff if you want to discuss Gaza.

"Palestinians have tried keeping faith with Israelis and it did not work"

Both sides are perfectly correct when they assert that the other side has failed to meet many of the commitments that the other side has made.

[...] Hezbollah managed to prod Israel into a disastrous war, and Hamas made Gaza so hot for the Israelis that they backed off it. They may yet succeed in driving Israel into the sea. This would come at a horrific cost in life, both Jewish and Arab, but if that cost is unimportant, then these are productive campaigns.

I don't think Hezbollah intended to prod Israel into a war. Why do you think that's true?

"managed to prod" doesn't mean "intentionally prodded."

There's no claim whatever about intentions in "managed to prod," and thus no reason to believe such a claim was made, unless you're referring to some other comment.

Indeed, I think it's indisputable that Hezbollah had no intention of provoking, or "prodding," Israel into anything more than some minor retaliation, and some negotiations, but nonetheless Hezbollah's actions did "manage to prod" Israel into an unwise extremely excessive over-reaction fairly described as a small and short "war."

"And I'm not sure that Hamas intended to drive Israel from Gaza per se rather than to the negotiating table."

I'm not entirely sure what you're asserting there, but if you're implying what you seem to be, that the Hamas leadership -- and are you referring to the political leadership in Gaza, or the military leadership outside of Israel and Palestinian territory, and in either case, whom exactly are you referring to? -- would have preferred continued Israeli occupation of Gaza, what leads you to that conclusion?

"A majority of Americans keep polling as wanting withdrawl from Iraq but Democrats face no electoral pressure to, you know, withdraw or cut funding."

We don't have a parliamentary system; Israel does. This makes an important difference in how susceptible to popular pressure the governments are when it's not an election period.

"what else do arabs or arab government"

Is there some reason you seem to consistently render "arab" in non-caps? You're aware that that's generally considered derogatory when referring to a people or other form of proper noun? (Certainly rendering "Jew" into "jew" is fairly taken as intentionally antisemetic, and absent better information, a fair interpretation of "arab" as a regular usage is that one is deliberately insulting Arabs; as I doubt that's your intent, but I can't think of any other reason to do this, I'm curious what that other reason might be.

Whom, exactly, are you referring to here when you refer to "Israeli"? Obviously neither the government nor Knesset nor most Israelis, so whom, exactly?

Ariel Sharon said "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...Everything we don't grab will go to them".

When did he say this, and what were his subsequent policies on settlements? This is crucial information. What someone's opinion was in the significant past, before their opinion significantly changed, isn't terribly relevant in terms of understanding what their position is currently, or when they last had a position.

"How important is territorial contiguity?"

Simple answer: when lack of sufficient amount of it would make the difference between economic and political viability as a single state and nonviability.

Alaska isn't necessary to the economic or political viability of the U.S. Is the same true of the reverse? I have no idea.

Pakistan's being created with two separated parts didn't work out too well, and thus we now have two separate countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are other examples we could consider.

Rather OT, and violating the DNFTT protocol, but of passing interest:

The latest Journal of Asian Studies, which reached me today, contains a scholarly review of Pieternella van Doorn-Harder, Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qur'an in Indonesia (U Illinois Press, 2006). The book is a comparison of the women's sections of two of the largest Muslim organizations in the world, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, with special attention to how they interpreted women's positions within Islam. (It also notes, FWIW, that many of these women "follow tireless schedules of teaching, praying, and fasting.")

Interestingly - according to the reviewer - the more "modernist" Muhammadiyah is constrained by a "narrower intellectual foundation, consisting primarily of the Qur'an and hadiths," for their critique of Muslim misogyny, whereas NU, generally considered the more conservative group, actually arrives at more creative and flexible interpretations of Islam because of their greater ability to deploy Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) as it evolved over the centuries. The author believes (says the reviewer) that "these traditional interpretations are not only more progressive but more sustainable."

All very well and good, and a credit to their scholarship and commitment, but think of how much time, effort, and nuance they would have saved had they but listened to the wisdom of B.O.B. and stuck to his univocal version of the "core texts"!

When did he say this, and what were his subsequent policies on settlements? This is crucial information. What someone's opinion was in the significant past, before their opinion significantly changed, isn't terribly relevant in terms of understanding what their position is currently, or when they last had a position.

He said it in 1998 I believe. And he certainly did dismantle some settlements afterward. Gary, I don't dispute the notion that Sharon disbanded some settlements after saying such things. In fact, I referred you to my earlier comments to Seb when he raised the same issue where I wrote:

I never claimed that Israel has never removed any settlements. I claimed that some Israeli leaders have made bold statements about how no settlements would be removed. As you point out, Israel has indeed removed some settlements, which illustrates my point: governments often make bold pronouncements, but it is wrong to assume that all such statements are absolute truth or even that they represent an ironclad commitment.

Again, I mentioned Sharon's statement to demonstrate merely that important Israeli leaders (can we all agree that Sharon has been such a leader for many years?) have made extremely strong statements even though their own actions have contradicted those statements. The fact that Sharon later changed his tune is part of my point. I am not trying to claim that Ariel Sharon has always and forever insisted that no settlement will ever be disbanded.


I asked you: "Whom, exactly, are you referring to here when you refer to 'Israeli'? Obviously neither the government nor Knesset nor most Israelis, so whom, exactly?"

But I missed seeing your response to my request for clarification, and your comment in which "claimed that some Israeli leaders have made bold statements about how no settlements would be removed." Where can I find that comment?

Based on your 12:02 comment, I'm going to assume that you have found my earlier response. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

You can google to find out, you know; as you appear to have inferred, the answers are somewhat important to be aware of when discussing Gaza

I'm sorry, but I don't see what relevance Seb's greenhouses have for the issues at hand. I mean, if we assume that these were the greatest greenhouses ever, then even if the Palestinians left them intact and made good use of them, the larger strategic situation would not change at all. Greenhouses are of little use if you can't get your crops to market. Greenhouses are worthless if you don't have a state with sufficient capacity to protect valuable and delicate assets (like greenhouses) from thieves and gangs and it is extremely difficult to build a state with sufficient capacity when you are opposed by a powerful state that destroys leaders and institutions at will through targeted assassination.

as are all the other basic facts. It's probably a good thing to know about this level of simple stuff if you want to discuss Gaza.

Actually, most basic facts are utterly useless for answering most questions. Perhaps I'm mistaken though: can you explain to me why Seb's greenhouses, in and of themselves, would significantly alter the economic sustainability of Gaza? Because if you could demonstrate some relevance of Seb's greenhouses to the issues he tried to relate them to, that would be very useful.

Both sides are perfectly correct when they assert that the other side has failed to meet many of the commitments that the other side has made.

I concur.


There's no claim whatever about intentions in "managed to prod," and thus no reason to believe such a claim was made, unless you're referring to some other comment.

You are correct; I read intentionality where there was none.

I do feel slightly uncomfortable with the phrasing employed regarding Hezbollah's "prodding" in that it implies that Israel is not responsible for its own actions (those bad guys made the poor Israelis do it). If I walk up to a stranger in a bar and angrily berate him and then accuse him of being a traitor, it is fair to say that I "prodded" him into the inevitable violent retaliation. However, if I make a rude comment in passing to a stranger and he responds by pulling his gun and shooting me dead, well, I don't think his shooting can be said to have been prodded. Again, this is perhaps an irrational nitpick on my part.

I'm not entirely sure what you're asserting there, but if you're implying what you seem to be, that the Hamas leadership -- and are you referring to the political leadership in Gaza, or the military leadership outside of Israel and Palestinian territory, and in either case, whom exactly are you referring to? -- would have preferred continued Israeli occupation of Gaza, what leads you to that conclusion?

I think the Hamas leadership in Gaza would have preferred a more complete settlement rather than a unilateral Israeli withdrawal. The withdrawal leaves many issues unsettled and that clearly puts the residents of Gaza at a disadvantage.

We don't have a parliamentary system; Israel does. This makes an important difference in how susceptible to popular pressure the governments are when it's not an election period.

Indeed it does. I maintain though that for issues as complex and emotionally fraught as "the Palestinian question", simple models of polling result X proves that governments must do Y in order to remain viable are far too simple to be useful. Parliamentary governments are somewhat more susceptible to public opinion, but they are also subject to coalition dynamics whereby the most politically stable result is often a compromise position rather than a position that a majority of the electorate shares. After all, Israeli politics are complex and fractious and the Palestinian question does not dominate debate sufficiently to ensure that most Israelis vote primarily based on that one issue.

Moreover, the polling that I've seen tends to be relatively simple. If you ask people: "do you favor peaceful coexistence with Palestinians?" then of course many people will say yes. But peaceful coexistence is not a policy: it is one benefit of a policy tradeoff and that tradeoff implies costs that many people will not accept. I mean, everyone wants peace when it has zero costs. If you asked people instead, "do you favor peaceful coexistence with a Palestinian state that has not formally renounced its claims on Israel and where there is some risk that extremists may seize power and launch attacks against Israel?", the number of affirmative respondents will be much lower. I'm not saying that those are the properties of any practical solution, but any practical solution will involve serious costs, like loss of national prestige or increased risk or a failure to "send a message" by "utterly crushing the opposition". If you can point me to any Israeli public opinion polls that articulate non-trivial downsides to peaceful coexistence and still get high approval ratings, I'd be very interested.

Is there some reason you seem to consistently render "arab" in non-caps? You're aware that that's generally considered derogatory when referring to a people or other form of proper noun? (Certainly rendering "Jew" into "jew" is fairly taken as intentionally antisemetic, and absent better information, a fair interpretation of "arab" as a regular usage is that one is deliberately insulting Arabs; as I doubt that's your intent, but I can't think of any other reason to do this, I'm curious what that other reason might be.

I'm just forgetful especially when it comes to capitalization. I make the effort to do better for other ethnicities because I don't wish to give offense, but since I'm from the middle east, I'm less sensitive to offense there (I know that I'm not biased against me). It is something that I should take better care of. On the other hand, as far as I can tell, there are a great deal more Jewish commenters at OW than Arab commenters. Moreover, there appear to be a great many more people whose positions on I-P issues are closer to Israel's than mine are. From my perspective, the respect I show by engaging on this topic and presenting a less Israeli-slanted perspective is a great deal more important than the disrespect associated with mere capitalization. But YMMV.

If Israel actually wanted to wipe out the Palestinians (to my knowledge there are few Israelis outside the radical settler movement that do), it could be done quickly. Cutting or poisoning all water supplies, sending in the bombers and shooting anyone trying to escape should do the job in a week. Germany and Japan were a wee bit larger in WW2 than the Palestinian territories are today, so comparisions don't fit very well here.
But I think the Israeli military would mutiny, if actually ordered to commit a full genocide (as opposed to local massacres; for things like that most armies will find enough voluntaries).

"Again, I mentioned Sharon's statement to demonstrate merely that important Israeli leaders (can we all agree that Sharon has been such a leader for many years?)"

To be completely literal, no, not me, since Sharon hasn't been a leader for several years now. I'll certainly agree that he had been such a leader for many years, of course.

(Contrary to claims made by others, I almost never offer unsolicited grammatical or spelling corrections to others, other than of proper nouns/names, or if the meaning is clearly not what the author intended; but if you ask me a direct question, I'll respond directly.)

(Speaking of which, I was so exhausted when I was forced to stay awake last night for hours while feeling ill, that I accidentally referred to "intentionally antisemetic." Sheesh.)

"I'm sorry, but I don't see what relevance Seb's greenhouses have for the issues at hand."

I wasn't suggesting they were, but you asked him the question, and I assumed you had a reason.

I don't have any disagreement with any of the rest of your 1:58 Turbulence, but could perhaps please clarify for me which group or factions or set you have in mind when you refer to "Israel" in usages such as "[m]oreover, there appear to be a great many more people whose positions on I-P issues are closer to Israel's than mine are."

Because the population of Israel, as well as their representatives in the Knesset, as well as the member of any and every Cabinet, are immensely diverse in their political views, and views of what policy should be at any given moment as regards Palestine and Palestinians.

So I don't think it's productive to refer to the views of either "Israelis" or "Palestinians" or "Arabs" other than when speaking of a position that is close to universally favored, such as that everyone likes to drink water now and again, or that "Palestinians/Israelis love their children, as a rule," or somesuch.

So when you -- or anyone -- makes a statement along the lines of "positions on I-P issues are closer to Israel's," I find it pretty opaque as to whose views -- and therefore which views -- you are referring to. It's not as if there isn't a fairly divergent set of views on what policy as regards the Palestinians should be even within the larger Israeli parties, such as Kadima, Likud, and Labour. (The smaller parties are close enough to homogenous to fairly be treated and referred to that way, but not the three largest blocks; even within Likud there was, until the creation of Kadima, a wide enough range to include outright racist "transfer" advocates, and the members who finally broke off to form Kadima, which clearly had radically different views from what remained of Likud (not so radically different from as much as Labour, but which also was a diverse coalition, nonetheless) as regards withdrawal from Gaza, and many other policies as regards the Palestinians.

Similarly, George W. Bush's foreign policy views aren't shared by a very large segment of the American public and Congress, so one would need to be clear about which policies or aspect of the government we're speaking of when referring to "what America wants" if it isn't something that indeed most Americans agree upon.

Thanks for helping me better understand who exactly you are referring to by lending a bit more clarity here, if you'll be so kind.

"Again, this is perhaps an irrational nitpick on my part."

I'll pretty much never argue against increased clarity, so I don't think it's an irrational nitpick at all.

"I think the Hamas leadership in Gaza would have preferred a more complete settlement rather than a unilateral Israeli withdrawal."

You may be right, but it's not clear to me how homogenous the views of the "leadership in Gaza" are, either. And if we were to discuss this more deeply, I'd want to get more specific. But for now that's sufficient, so thanks.

Although: "The withdrawal leaves many issues unsettled and that clearly puts the residents of Gaza at a disadvantage."

Without disagreeing, I'm reasonably sure that a significant percentage -- I wouldn't venture a guess as to how many -- are still glad to not have Israeli soldiers patrolling their streets every day, no matter that their situation remains, to dramatically understate, untenable and horrible. But I won't go further than that here and now.

"But I think the Israeli military would mutiny, if actually ordered to commit a full genocide"

Certainly not every member or unit, I'm afraid, but a large proportion definitely would.

But that doesn't mean far lesser crimes aren't committed and seen as justified by many Israelis, of course. Israeli views are, I stress again, highly diverse. Certainly far more diverse than the views deemed politically acceptable in the mainstream in the U.S.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, there are a great deal more Jewish commenters at OW than Arab commenters.

I'm sure you are right about Jewish versus Arab, but going to go out on a limb, I'd suggest that there is a subset of commenters who might lean more towards your position, keeping in mind the various vagaries and that it is difficult to imagine complete agreement on any position as difficult as I/P issues. However, (and again, I don't mean to insult anyone) I'd classify the more strongly left leaning members as being supportive of your position, who might include Donald Johnson, dutchmarbel, Jes (who surfaced for a brief comment, I hope everything is ok) and a few others (as I said, I probably lean more towards your points as well) However, a lot of those voices have dropped from ObWi, at least until the election is over because of the conflation with Obama's positions with a truly left/progressive stand.

I only say this because perceiving one to be a lone voice may result in a hardening of rhetoric, which would be unfortunate.

Hello, Jes.

Come back, Shane.

I don't have any disagreement with any of the rest of your 1:58 Turbulence, but could perhaps please clarify for me which group or factions or set you have in mind when you refer to "Israel" in usages such as "[m]oreover, there appear to be a great many more people whose positions on I-P issues are closer to Israel's than mine are."

That was rather unclear, wasn't it? I was trying to refer to what I consider to be the most common position I see discussed by media and politicians in the US, what one might call "Likud light". This position is broadly characterized by the belief that Israel is fundamentally a victim of bloodthirsty and avaricious Arabs with whom negotiation is highly unlikely to succeed andd furthermore by the belief that while many Palestinians do suffer somewhat, that suffering is roughly comparable to the continuous onslaught of terror attacks in Israel and really don't the Palestinians bring it on themselves? I have the sense that the political and media elites in the US broadly skew to this Likud-light perspective; Jeffrey Goldberg, when he's not trying to screw over Spencer Ackerman, agrees. Based on my (very rough) surveys, a much larger fraction of the population in general holds to that belief than the correspondingly biased to the Palestinian version. That makes sense to me: most people aren't going to have well formed opinions on complex issues thousands of miles away from them that differ substantially from the prevailing media narrative.

Because the population of Israel, as well as their representatives in the Knesset, as well as the member of any and every Cabinet, are immensely diverse in their political views, and views of what policy should be at any given moment as regards Palestine and Palestinians.

Absolutely. I would be very happy indeed if American politicians displayed a fraction as much diversity of thought regarding I-P issues as Israeli politicians do. Ditto for the American and Israeli media.

While I agree that there is tremendous diversity of thought on these issues in Israel, I'm not sure that such diversity has been effectively represented in government policy, for a whole host of reasons.

So I don't think it's productive to refer to the views of either "Israelis" or "Palestinians" or "Arabs" other than when speaking of a position that is close to universally favored, such as that everyone likes to drink water now and again, or that "Palestinians/Israelis love their children, as a rule," or somesuch.

So when you -- or anyone -- makes a statement along the lines of "positions on I-P issues are closer to Israel's," I find it pretty opaque as to whose views -- and therefore which views -- you are referring to. It's not as if there isn't a fairly divergent set of views on what policy as regards the Palestinians should be even within the larger Israeli parties, such as Kadima, Likud, and Labour. (The smaller parties are close enough to homogenous to fairly be treated and referred to that way, but not the three largest blocks; even within Likud there was, until the creation of Kadima, a wide enough range to include outright racist "transfer" advocates, and the members who finally broke off to form Kadima, which clearly had radically different views from what remained of Likud (not so radically different from as much as Labour, but which also was a diverse coalition, nonetheless) as regards withdrawal from Gaza, and many other policies as regards the Palestinians.

In general I agree with you. I'm a little bit more willing to use shorthand in this case in spite of that because I see a pervasive bias in our media and politicians. Of course, the Likud-light bias isn't at all well aligned with the interests of Israel...

lj: I'm sure you are right about Jewish versus Arab, but going to go out on a limb, I'd suggest that there is a subset of commenters who might lean more towards your position, keeping in mind the various vagaries and that it is difficult to imagine complete agreement on any position as difficult as I/P issues. However, (and again, I don't mean to insult anyone) I'd classify the more strongly left leaning members as being supportive of your position, who might include Donald Johnson, dutchmarbel, Jes (who surfaced for a brief comment, I hope everything is ok) and a few others (as I said, I probably lean more towards your points as well) However, a lot of those voices have dropped from ObWi, at least until the election is over because of the conflation with Obama's positions with a truly left/progressive stand.

Yeah, I thought about some of the more left-leaning voices who have dropped out of sight recently. But even when they were still around, as I recall from past I-P discussions, the overall tenor of the place had a non-trivial Likud-light bias. Which isn't a problem per se: almost any large conversation outside of very narrow demographics is going to exhibit that bias. Leftists like Donald Johnson et al are a very very small fraction of the population in general and a pretty small fraction of the online population overall. If you compare them to the number of people who show up in this forum that have some connections to Israel -- be they family or religious or cultural -- I don't think the numbers are even close. Which is fine: I grew up in an area that had a lot of Jews and I currently work for a company that was started by Jews (there's always kosher food), so I'm used to that. And while many of the most critical voices regarding Israel's actions are Israeli or Jewish, in the US it seems that such voices are relegated to a small fraction.

Turbulence, you nailed me on the "Likud Lite" characterization. I grew up with that and reflexively fall back into it when I don't watch out. Partly because I am so sick of hearing the "Hamas Lite" memes, i.e., Israel is a brutal, rich, sadistic, imperialist occupier who has for no good reason taken away the eternal homeland of the Palestinian People, who are a wonderful bunch of peaceable victims who have every right to murder children, and why don't all those nasty Jews just go back where they came from. And no, I'm not exaggerating.

So I get touchy and overstate.

BTW, thanks for the defense, Gary, but actually I did mean to imply that Hezbollah intentionally prodded Israel into war, in a sense. Not that they specifically on that date wanted a war that big, but that the logic of a terrorist campaign, any terrorist campaign, is always to provoke overreaction, the bigger the better. The overreaction polarizes the community and increases support for the terrrorist organization within the community and in the outside world. Of course, you have to be able to live through the overreaction, but most nations cringe at the thought of genocide, and guerrillas are hard targets, so that usually works out okay for them.

As to whether Hamas preferred to drive Israel to the negotiating table than out of Gaza, I don't know. Even if they would have preferrred negotiation, one of the goals of that negotiation would presumably have been Israel leaving Gaza. If Hamas wants to negotiate in good faith, it could signal that a lot more clearly. The problem with saying "drive them into the sea" in a context that usually indicates an actual goal, is that it leaves very unclear what, short of that, they might settle for. Most people will not negotiate when it seems unlikely there is any mutually acceptable deal, because it is a waste of time, looks weak, and tends to set a ceiling for any future negotiation. If a party wants to negotiate, they need to at least hint at the general range of acceptable outcomes, or have a history of fair negotiation, plus credibility that want to make a deal and can carry it out if they make it. Hamas has not done this. Their unilateral truce may be the beginning of building credibility, but it's a pretty bare beginning. Frankly, I'm not sure they themselves have a clear picture of their end game.

I grew up with that and reflexively fall back into it when I don't watch out. Partly because I am so sick of hearing the "Hamas Lite" memes, i.e., Israel is a brutal, rich, sadistic, imperialist occupier who has for no good reason taken away the eternal homeland of the Palestinian People, who are a wonderful bunch of peaceable victims who have every right to murder children, and why don't all those nasty Jews just go back where they came from. And no, I'm not exaggerating.

Yikes, that's some repugnant stuff. Just out of curiosity, where did you grow up that you heard such things? The closest I've ever seen are university leftists and even there, it was an extreme minority position. I mean, I've heard awful things from anti-semites, but most of them didn't go all the way to actually saying nice things about Palestinians.

No, I grew up among Zionists. You are correct that the anti-Israel position I paraphrased was something I came across at university. Also sometimes on peace marches, and occasionally on blog comment threads, generally among people who knew nothing about the history or geography of the area and didn't want to learn.

Overt Palestinian boosters are rare. But an awful lot of people in the US and UK call for boycotts of Israel, sanctions against Israel, condemnations for breaking UN resolutions, etc., and never attach to these calls anything intended to get the Palestinians to the bargaining table. It seems to me that this is either stupid or evil because it does not help to push only one side when both are to blame, and if Israel were actually forced to concede yet more land, security measures, etc. without corresponding concessions on the other side, the result would be many more dead Israelis. Israel, for all its very real faults, has occasionally made what seem to be sincere efforts to negotiate. I don't think this is true of the Palestinians, nor is their population apparently nearly as interested in doing so as Israel's. When I push people as to why they are focusing all their efforts on the less intransigent party, out spews the sort of sentiment I described.

I don't have any disagreement with any of the rest of your 1:58 Turbulence, but could perhaps please clarify for me which group or factions or set you have in mind when you refer to "Israel" in usages such as "[m]oreover, there appear to be a great many more people whose positions on I-P issues are closer to Israel's than mine are."

That was rather unclear, wasn't it? I was trying to refer to what I consider to be the most common position I see discussed by media and politicians in the US, what one might call "Likud light".

I'm a little confused how this answers my question as to who in Israel you were and are referring to when you refer to "Israel."

Are you saying that you believe there's some sort of homogenous, cross-party, set of beliefs amongst the majority of the Israeli public, and all governments and parties of Israel, that broadly is identical to "the most common position I see discussed by media and politicians in the US"?

If so, I have to disagree. If not, can you take another swing at clarifying whom you're talking about, and why? Thanks.

"While I agree that there is tremendous diversity of thought on these issues in Israel, I'm not sure that such diversity has been effectively represented in government policy, for a whole host of reasons."

You see little significant difference in policy as regards the Palestinians between Labour and Likud, Kadima and Labour, Kadima and Likud, Likud and Meretz, Shas, Meimad, UTJ, Yisrael Beiteinu, Mafdal, and so on? Nor any difference between positions in, say, 2008, 2003, 2001, 1998, etc.? Really?

"But even when they were still around, as I recall from past I-P discussions, the overall tenor of the place had a non-trivial Likud-light bias."

For what it's worth, it's been at least the better part of a year since I chose to engage in much conversation about I/P at ObWi. Too short a life and too little productive reward. But while you might regard my POV as "Likud-light," I wouldn't agree with that terminology.

"Leftists like Donald Johnson et al are a very very small fraction of the population in general and a pretty small fraction of the online population overall. If you compare them to the number of people who show up in this forum that have some connections to Israel -- be they family or religious or cultural -- I don't think the numbers are even close."

I find it odd and questionable that you seem to be suggesting there is a dichotomy between these two groups. Most of the most leftist people I know, and specifically many of the most knowledgeable and in favor of a return to something close to, if not identical to, the 1967 borders, negotiation with Hamas, and so on, happen to have "some connections to Israel -- be they family or religious or cultural," including being Israeli.

Or, say, meet me. Nice to meet you.

(To be sure, both Donald Johnson and Nell, for instance, are somewhat to the left of me on certain issues and attitudes. But not all that much.)

"Hamas has not done this. Their unilateral truce may be the beginning of building credibility, but it's a pretty bare beginning. Frankly, I'm not sure they themselves have a clear picture of their end game."

Again, I have to stress that I think it's highly counterproductive to refer to "Hamas" is if there was a coherent, linear, homogeneous either leadership or set of supporters, of like mind on how to respond to Israel and other issues. That's just completely disconnected from reality.

The fact is that most of Hamas' decision-making is pretty opague to outside observers, but quite a fair amount remains clear. If you want to talk about the positions, as stated in public, of, say, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi versus Khaled Mashal versus Mahmoud Zahar versus Ismail Haniyeh, or the leaders in Gaza versus the Syrian-based military leadership, and so on, and can cite specific statements, with links to support them, fine,and if the same people are equally non-clueless about who takes what position in Israel, and what the political situation is in a given month, then we might start to get somewhere in a discussion. We could start with discussing what the actual common people who voted for Hamas voted for, and what we know about what they might and might not be likely to support, and the same for various Israeli voting blocs, and go on from there.

But I've not observed many observers with an actual clue about much of anything about Hamas or Palestinian politics, or Israeli politics, at ObWi, in the past. Instead I tend to see 99% ignorance, and nothing but pointless typically American ignorant and foolish generalizations, which typically lead to little beyond pointless and unsupported claims being thrown at each other.

But I always live in hope of the future being better.


Are you saying that you believe there's some sort of homogenous, cross-party, set of beliefs amongst the majority of the Israeli public, and all governments and parties of Israel, that broadly is identical to "the most common position I see discussed by media and politicians in the US"?

No, not at all.

If so, I have to disagree. If not, can you take another swing at clarifying whom you're talking about, and why? Thanks.

When I wrote "closer to Israel's", I was referring to what I call the Likud-light position. Characterizing it as an Israeli position is clearly wrong since there are many viable positions on these issues held by Israelis or Knesset members. Nevertheless, in our civic life, I think it is fair to say that many media and political institutions in the US equate the "Israeli" position with Likud-light. Do you disagree with that?

You see little significant difference in policy as regards the Palestinians between Labour and Likud, Kadima and Labour, Kadima and Likud, Likud and Meretz, Shas, Meimad, UTJ, Yisrael Beiteinu, Mafdal, and so on? Nor any difference between positions in, say, 2008, 2003, 2001, 1998, etc.? Really?

Until relatively recently, I didn't see much difference when it came to promoting settlements. For example, can you point to which governments in the 1990s and the early 2000s reduced the settlement count?

But while you might regard my POV as "Likud-light," I wouldn't agree with that terminology.

Um, I don't think I ever said that. I certainly don't think it. Note that most of my disagreement in this thread is...not with you. Why would you think that I think your views are Likud-light?

I find it odd and questionable that you seem to be suggesting there is a dichotomy between these two groups. Most of the most leftist people I know, and specifically many of the most knowledgeable and in favor of a return to something close to, if not identical to, the 1967 borders, negotiation with Hamas, and so on, happen to have "some connections to Israel -- be they family or religious or cultural," including being Israeli.

It is entirely possible that our samples differ. In my limited experience, the majority of leftist folk I've dealt with -- whether or not they had some connection to Israel -- leaned towards the Likud-light perspective. I offered LJ my perception based on my experiences, not a well argued statement loaded down with evidence. If you have a different perception or different experiences, that's fine, but I'm not sure what you'd like from me in that regard.

(To be sure, both Donald Johnson and Nell, for instance, are somewhat to the left of me on certain issues and attitudes. But not all that much.)

Gary, I think Nell is a pacifist. I was under the impression that your views on military force diverge quite significantly from pacifism.

I cop to ignorance and generalizations, but to ask what position each single member of the Hamas government has at some point taken is useless timewasting. Organizations make statements of policy, and if its members don't want to have those statements imputed to them, let them gather support and make changes. It is occasionally useful to go beyond the public statements to private statements or strong dissident positions, but by and large, if a member can't say something publicly on behalf of the group, the group is not going to follow him anyway.

Forex, America is pro-torture, and it does not help that many of us loudly proclaim our innocence. If we don't want America to be pro-torture, we have to get the country to renounce the policy.

That Hamas is not monolithic and has no strong, settled agreement as to how it wants this game to end is, well, exactly what I said, actually.

You do sound like you know a lot more about it than I do, so please feel free to enlighten me instead of dropping names. Based on what data we do have about Hamas's decision-making process and which options it is considering, what do you see as a useful road to peace?

I didn't mean to start a 'more lefter than thou' debate, just an aside about the relative position on the political spectrum of a person seems to correlate to one's view on I/P issues and relate that to the paucity of voices Turb discusses. Turb points out that Nell's pacifism may be correlated as well, and Jes also has pretty strong pacifist views, and both DJ and dm have expressed strong reservations about the use of force, so there is an interesting correlation there.

"Nevertheless, in our civic life, I think it is fair to say that many media and political institutions in the US equate the 'Israeli' position with Likud-light. Do you disagree with that?"

Probably not. I just amn't clear what that has to do with the question I asked you. But as a digression, fine.

I'm not apt to have more internet time today until maybe or maybe a little towards midnight. See ya tomorrow, otherwise.

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