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December 28, 2008

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Really? I was not aware of that. What did Israel do in November to break the ceasefire?

Turbulence,

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

Are you willing to assert that the treatment of these groups is acceptable? I doubt you are. Establishing a state is one possible solution, practical under some conditions.

As to your further points about South Africa, etc., let's just say that there are other examples, including some in Africa, of inter-ethnic relations that are less appealing.

I am less sanguine than you about the prospects of Jews in an Arab-majority state. You seem to visualize a situation in which the Jews easily retain their wealth and power relative to the new Arab majority. I'm not so confident. It looks awfully risky to me compared to a two-state approach. I don't think it's a good idea to take unnecessary risks with the lives of lots of people in pursuit of one's ideas of an appropriate international order.

If ever had a President who was willing to do that just think of the havoc he would cause.

According to U.S. News & World Report: "The six-month cease-fire started coming apart at the beginning of November after Israeli commandos killed a team of Hamas fighters during a raid on a tunnel they suspected was being dug for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. That raid set off more Palestinian rocketing, which prompted further Israeli attacks. All this prompted Hamas to declare that it wouldn't extend the cease-fire unless Israel lifted its punishing siege of the Gaza Strip, which was imposed after the militant group Hamas was elected to power nearly three years ago."

According to U.S. News & World Report: "The six-month cease-fire started coming apart at the beginning of November after Israeli commandos killed a team of Hamas fighters during a raid on a tunnel they suspected was being dug for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. That raid set off more Palestinian rocketing, which prompted further Israeli attacks. All this prompted Hamas to declare that it wouldn't extend the cease-fire unless Israel lifted its punishing siege of the Gaza Strip, which was imposed after the militant group Hamas was elected to power nearly three years ago."

According to U.S. News & World Report: "The six-month cease-fire started coming apart at the beginning of November after Israeli commandos killed a team of Hamas fighters during a raid on a tunnel they suspected was being dug for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. That raid set off more Palestinian rocketing, which prompted further Israeli attacks. All this prompted Hamas to declare that it wouldn't extend the cease-fire unless Israel lifted its punishing siege of the Gaza Strip, which was imposed after the militant group Hamas was elected to power nearly three years ago."

correct url

Sorry for the triple posting, where I tried to preview my comment but it was posted, not just previewed. I'll have to figure out what is going on with this.

Bernard, thanks for your response, but you did not answer the very specific question I posed, so I'll try again: exactly why do you think Jews would fare worse in an integrated state than whites did in post-Apartheid South Africa?

Are you willing to assert that the treatment of these groups is acceptable? I doubt you are. Establishing a state is one possible solution, practical under some conditions.

I don't think genocide and ethnic cleansing is acceptable so I don't understand your question. I don't see why establishing a state for Copts is any less practical than establishing Israel was. I mean, establishing the state of Israel seems to have brought about some real problems.

As to your further points about South Africa, etc., let's just say that there are other examples, including some in Africa, of inter-ethnic relations that are less appealing.

As for other models, could you name some of them? It is difficult to have a discussion without any details or specifics, yes?

I am less sanguine than you about the prospects of Jews in an Arab-majority state. You seem to visualize a situation in which the Jews easily retain their wealth and power relative to the new Arab majority.

Yeah, I think wealthy and powerful people tend to do all right no matter what. I also wasn't too concerned about the plight of southern slave owners after the Civil War. Call me heartless.

I'm not so confident. It looks awfully risky to me compared to a two-state approach.

I'm sure it does. I mean, from the Israeli perspective, it is extremely risky. Israelis have a good life right now and a one state solution would mean a net decline in their wealth, power, and happiness. If Israelis were the only human beings involved, I'd agree with you that the one state solution is a bad idea. But, you know, there are other human beings involved here. I feel compelled to include the Palestinians in my accounting and that changes things a bit.

I think there's also a question of opportunity costs. It would have been better for Israel if it had dismantled illegal settlements during the Oslo period. It did not. To the extent that Israel was unwilling to do that back when people were hopeful, it makes sense that Israel should suffer some consequences, namely the loss of their identity as a Jewish state. States that screw up lose things they care about. Actions have consequences.

Putting that aside, your claim above is about risk. But I don't think you're considering all the relevant risks. Let's say Israel sticks with the status quo. What are the odds that some disgruntled Palestinian decides to set off a dirty bomb in Tel Aviv sometime in the next 20 years? Over the last few decades, technology improvements have favored poor attackers over rich defenders. This calculus does not bode well for Israel, does it? A unified state would be far safer since it would have millions of Arabs whose safety was directly connected to that of Israel's Jews. Now, if you just assume that stupid Arabs can never pose a real threat to Israel, I guess ignoring such a threat makes sense in your risk analysis. But I don't think such assumptions are warranted.

I don't think it's a good idea to take unnecessary risks with the lives of lots of people in pursuit of one's ideas of an appropriate international order.

That's quite a gutsy statement. One of the reasons that Americans die in terrorist attacks is because of our I-P policy which seems to some extent dictated by Israel. I don't see Israelis shedding any tears for the Americans that died in terrorist attacks brought about by their actions, so please don't lecture me on taking unnecessary risks with other people's lives. Or at least, hold off on the lectures until AIPAC has as much power as any other lobbying group.

Turbulence,

I have no wish to expand this discussion to the entire scope of I-P relations, settlements, Oslo, AIPAC, Al-Qaeda, etc. My initial comment in this thread expressed my belief that a one-state solution was unsatisfactory because it placed Jewish Israelis at great risk.

You disagree, and more important, don't really care. They have it coming, like the slaveholders, you say. And besides, you add, 9/11 was Israel's fault, so no one else should care either.

You cite South Africa and ask why its experience wouldn't be replicated. Why should I assume it would be? Is the similarity really so strong? Is the history and current practice of anti-Semitism in the Arab world irrelevant to your thinking? maybe you think it's chutzpah to even bring that up. I don't.

I doubt that my further participation here will be fruitful for me, or others. I've expressed my opinion on a simple point, and will let that stand.

My initial comment in this thread expressed my belief that a one-state solution was unsatisfactory because it placed Jewish Israelis at great risk.

You cannot perform risk analysis by declaring "Option A has risk so Option A is unacceptable". All options have risk. What matters is which risks are greater. Since you neglected to consider the risks of the status quo, I don't see how you can conduct a reasonable risk analysis.

You disagree, and more important, don't really care.

I certainly do care. I'm not even sure I disagree: you haven't presented real arguments for me to disagree with.

They have it coming, like the slaveholders, you say.

It depends on what "it" means. Israel made some bad choices in the past, so I think Israel should accept a compromise that is less than ideal. That does not mean I think Israel should accept complete destruction of all Israelis.

And besides, you add, 9/11 was Israel's fault, so no one else should care either.

No, that is a lie. What I said was that I-P issues constitute some fraction of what motivates terrorists to attack Americans. Maybe it is one percent, maybe it is ten percent, but we know for certain it is not zero. That means that some Americans who have been killed by terrorists would still be alive had the US not done what Israel demanded of it. That does not mean that no one should care about Israel. But given the utter lack of Israeli concern for the consequences of policies they demanded, I think some skepticism is in order when you complain about taking risks with Israeli's lives, as if Israelis had not been doing just that with American and Palestinian lives for decades.

You cite South Africa and ask why its experience wouldn't be replicated. Why should I assume it would be? Is the similarity really so strong?

Well, the cases look somewhat similar to me. They're not identical, but I think talking about how they differ can foster some very useful discussion. If you can't articulate reasons why you think differences between the two cases would change the outcome, then maybe your conclusion about the outcome is not rational. Maybe your conclusion is based on nothing but fear. Which is fine, but policies based on fear and not fact tend to be...not good.

Is the history and current practice of anti-Semitism in the Arab world irrelevant to your thinking?

No. But we're not talking about integrating the whole Arab world into Israel: we're talking about integrating Palestinians. Do Palestinians hate Israelis right now? Absolutely. But is that hatred due to the actions of Israelis or to an unshakable belief in the evil of Jews? I'd argue the former. Palestinians have lots of reason to dislike Israelis. Offer them citizenship, voting rights, government assistance, and the chance to work in a functioning economy, and they'll have lots of reasons to like Israelis. In any case, citizens don't need to like each other. So what if some Palestinians retain anti-semitic views? Such views are deplorable, but don't matter much compared to real human suffering. In any event, those views will die off with the cohort.

There's little reason to speculate though. We already have Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens. Tell me Bernard, do you think those citizens are particularly anti-Semitic? Are they so blinded by their hatred of Jews that they threaten to destroy the society?

maybe you think it's chutzpah to even bring that up. I don't.

I never said anything about chutzpah. Perhaps you're thinking of someone else.

The Ha'aretz editorial writers agree that Israel violated the truce in November. I would guess that very few Americans who read our newspapers or watch TV news would know this if those are their only sources of info.

On causes of war, I don't know whether it qualifies as a legal matter, but the blockade on Gaza has been very harsh and amounts to collective punishment of over 1 million people. And it has not simply been collateral damage-- the reason for it was to cause suffering among ordinary Palestinians and thereby weaken Hamas. The US also tried to foment a civil war between Hamas and Fatah and succeeded, though the outcome wasn't what they planned. That's also not generally known in the US, though Vanity Fair wrote about it last spring and the foreign press had written about it earlier.

None of this, apparently, is a cause of war that gives Palestinians a right to shoot at Israelis. No, their role is to be silent sufferers, to be pressured by sanctions and suffer "collateral damage" deaths and to have outsiders incite civil wars and to be pitied for having bad leaders (true enough), but nothing that is done to them is ever a legitimate cause for violence. Only one side has the right to inflict violence and to have their violence analyzed in the newspapers (as in the NYT today) on the basis of whether it will work by changing Palestinian attitudes.

As it happens, the proprietor of my regular blog hangouts was making the same point at the exact same time

No, their role is to be silent sufferers, to be pressured by sanctions and suffer "collateral damage" deaths and to have outsiders incite civil wars and to be pitied for having bad leaders (true enough), but nothing that is done to them is ever a legitimate cause for violence.

No worries, noone will ever mistake Hamas for "silent sufferers".

The list of legitimate grievances that both the Israelis and the Palestinians hold against each other would, laid end to end, probably reach around the world ten times.

Neither side is ever going to get full satisfaction or justice for what they have suffered. Ever.

Neither population is going anywhere. Neither side has both the ability and the will to do what it would take to make the other go away.

So, they can either bury the hatchet and try to find a way to live together, or they can live side by side with their hands around each other's throats until the end of time.

The question of "who started it" is, I think, no longer worth raising. Both parties have more than enough blood on their hands that the question of moral high ground is moot.

Everybody knows what the best achievable end state is. Two states, more or less the '67 boundaries, shared jurisdiction over Jerusalem. Not perfect for anyone, but good enough to move forward.

It's the best deal anyone's going to get. It's that, or they can spend the rest of their lives killing each other.

You tell me what makes more sense.

All they have to do is agree to live with it. Both of them.

Thanks -

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

Well, Israelis have had since 1948 - 2 or 3 generations - to change their minds about it being acceptable to treat Palestinians like crap as the price of a majority-Jewish state.

And for some of them, they have changed their minds. The Women in Black; B'Tselem; several Haaretz journalists and the editorial board of Haaretz: and many others who protest against their country's atrocities against Palestinians.

The difficulty is, as Donald Johnson points out, for most Israelis the price of a unified state would mean a reduction in their wealth and political power, and the end to something that has a great deal of emotional power: the existence of a state in which Jews are the majority. That idea has sufficient emotional power for those who hold it to make it worth having hundreds of Palestinians killed each year, and making the rest lead lives of grinding misery and abject poverty, collectively punished for any act of attempted or successful terrorism by their fellows. To decide to become slightly less rich, slightly less powerful, is something I think is possible for people to collectively agree to.

But what this change of mind requires is for Jewish Israelis who do not regard the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their fellow human beings, any more than most white Southerners regarded black Southerners as their fellow human beings, to decide that the death of one Palestinian civilian is as unacceptable as the death of one Israeli civilian: that a Palestinian child killed is as tragic a loss as an Israeli child killed. And that, I think, will only happen after there is a unified state: because while there is apartheid, for most people, it's humanly impossible.

Bernard Yomtov feels it is unacceptable for the Jewish Israelis in a unified state to suffer the same fate as the Southern slaveholders after the Civil War: which was, as he presumably is aware, to retain absolute political power in the South for a century after they no longer owned slaves...

russel: Everybody knows what the best achievable end state is. Two states, more or less the '67 boundaries, shared jurisdiction over Jerusalem. Not perfect for anyone, but good enough to move forward.

I don't see that as "the best achievable end state", Russel. Nor, more to the point, do many Palestinians (from what I have read, at least).

Everybody knows what the best achievable end state is. Two states, more or less the '67 boundaries, shared jurisdiction over Jerusalem. Not perfect for anyone, but good enough to move forward.

It's simply not true that "everyone knows" that that is the best achievable goal. If I've understood Turbulence's posts accurately, he prefers a one-state solution, which I happen to think is probably a better option too.

The long-term solution should be assessed in terms of both morality and feasibility, and it seems to me that the 2-state solution fails on both those counts. Morally speaking, it clearly follows that the Palestinians will inherit the lesser of those two states, probably with their sovereignty curtailed and their economic potential very meagre indeed. In practical terms, though the 2-state solution has the appearance of infallible reasonableness, this is actually a facile misconception IMHO. In reality, as nearly two decades have shown us, the 2-state solution begets endless zero-sum negotiations and conflict over territory or other issues, which is why peace has never seemed further away.

In other words, I personally think the 2-state solution is a red-herring, a dead-end.

In contrast, the one state solution scores very well in terms of morality, and is at least as viable as the chimeric 2-state solution. No one denies it would be easy or clean, but unlike the other options (which have all failed), it would at least be worth fighting for (in a non-violent sense). It is also the only outcome, it seems to me, that has the potential to actually make the zero-sum conflict obsolete at some point in the future.

With the passage of time, I do find advocates of the one-state solution increasingly persuasive.

"No worries, noone will ever mistake Hamas for "silent sufferers"."

No they won't Russell, but I wasn't talking about them--I was talking about 1.5 million Gazans and about the Palestinians in general. Some of them are as innocent as the Sderot civilians, I'm told. Also, what I meant was that in the US one hears that Israelis could not be expected to live under rocket bombardment, which is fine--they shouldn't. But one doesn't hear that Palestinians should not be expected to live in a state of economic collapse or that Israel has often been responsible for truce violations, and so violent resistance is justified, albeit it should be more carefully calibrated and might at times be excessive and counterproductive and not mold Israeli public opinion in the desired direction.

As for both sides needing to live together and both sides being guilty of atrocities, that's great. I agree. But there is zero chance of the US being an honest broker until we hear mainstream American politicians saying that, including the President-elect. I hope he doesn't continue his rhetorical policy of blaming everything on the Palestinian leadership.

"The difficulty is, as Donald Johnson points out, for most Israelis the price of a unified state would mean a reduction in their wealth and political power"

Actually, Jes, Turb has been making that point more in this thread than me, though I agree.

On the 1-state vs. 2 state solution, I think the only fair solution is a 1 state solution, but would worry for the same reasons Bernard worries--it might turn into Lebanon or Iraq. You don't need a majority on either side to cause that, I don't think--a sufficiently fanatical minority on either side (and there are plenty of ugly fanatics on both sides) could cause tremendous harm and cause things to spiral downwards.

Amira Hass made a good point that I read yesterday--I'll try to find the link later. She said that she didn't think you could get to a 1 state solution without going through the 2 state solution first, building trust, and then ultimately people might say "why not?"

It wasn't that hard to find--

Amira Hass interview

Bernard Yomtov feels it is unacceptable for the Jewish Israelis in a unified state to suffer the same fate as the Southern slaveholders after the Civil War: which was, as he presumably is aware, to retain absolute political power in the South for a century after they no longer owned slaves...

This is false.

Turbulence said he cared no more about the fate of Israeli Jews than over the fate of the slaveholders. I took that to mean that he didn't care at all about the fate of either group. he now backs away from that implication. Fine. But my interpretation of his remark was nothing like you describe.

"toad" is me. Sorry.

Turbulence said he cared no more about the fate of Israeli Jews than over the fate of the slaveholders.

What I actually said was Yeah, I think wealthy and powerful people tend to do all right no matter what. I also wasn't too concerned about the plight of southern slave owners after the Civil War. Call me heartless.

Looking over it, I can see two reasonable interpretations. One is that I don't care if Israeli Jews are all brutally murdered because I consider them no better than slaveholders. Another is that I think Israeli Jews will fare as well in an integrated state as southern slaveholders did post reconstruction: i.e., their power will not be significantly diminished.

I took that to mean that he didn't care at all about the fate of either group. he now backs away from that implication. Fine. But my interpretation of his remark was nothing like you describe.

I think the context shows that I meant interpretation two. Note my first sentence in that passage. It makes zero sense under interpretation 1. In addition, if I was alive during reconstruction, I would in fact care about southern slaveholders. I would not want, for example, for any of them to be murdered. But given their social position, I would not assume that most of them were in any real danger, especially not when compared to the lives of their former slaves.

In addition, I've told you that I meant interpretation two. If you think I'm lying, please say so explicitly. I'm not backing away from anything.

None of this, apparently, is a cause of war that gives Palestinians a right to shoot at Israelis. No, their role is to be silent sufferers.

on my collaborative blog at Jews Sans Frontiers I give a shot to analyzing the self defense rights of people in Gaza.

With the passage of time, I do find advocates of the one-state solution increasingly persuasive.

If a one-state solution will work, then by all means make that the goal.

My guess, personally, is that it would be hard to get Israelis and Palestinians to live together peaceably in a single state right now.

There's also the issue of the loss of Jewish majority status in Israel. I think Bernard's point concerning the historically bad experience of Jews as a minority population is, frankly, pretty freaking valid. YMMV.

So my thought is that a two-state scenario would be the way to go, at least for the forseeable future. But if everyone is happy to live in a single state, go for it.

My point here is that, whatever the political form a solution might take, there will be no solution until *both sides* accept that the other isn't going anywhere, so it's in everyone's best interest to find a way to get along.

IMVHO it will take a couple of decades of really hard work to make that real. That's the most optimistic view.

In the meantime, the focus should be on keeping everybody from killing each other. Israeli raids on civilian areas don't help. Neither do rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

I don't see a good guy here. I see lots of innocent victims on both sides, but no good guys.

Thanks -

"I don't see a good guy here. I see lots of innocent victims on both sides, but no good guys."


True, but I'd extend that to American politicians, for the most part. It's not like we're just innocent onlookers in all this. Our mindless one-sided support of Israel is part of the problem and some of those weapons they use have "made in America" on them. We'll see if Obama is any different. AFAIK he hasn't reacted to Barak using Barack's words as support for Israel's bombing.

It's not like we're just innocent onlookers in all this. Our mindless one-sided support of Israel is part of the problem

I agree. I'm not sure our support of Israel is mindless, but it is certainly one-sided. And we give them a *lot* of support, in a lot of ways, not least of which is big pots of $$$.

We have a big lever to apply there if we choose to do so. I'm sorry that we do not, or at least that we do so in such a one-sided way.

We'll see if Obama is any different.

I personally do not expect to see a significant change in US policy toward Israel under Obama.

Thanks -

Evildoer--Good post. I disagree with part of it. I wouldn't say that the Israelis are the chief criminals of Sderot. People are chiefly responsible for their own actions and may or may not have some secondary responsibility for the actions of others. (Bush, for instance, is responsible to some degree for all the increase in Iraqi mortality since 2003, but more responsible for the deaths inflicted by the US.) The Israelis are chiefly responsible for their own crimes and secondarily responsible for inciting Palestinians to react, while Palestinians are chiefly responsible for their crimes but as the weaker occupied party, much less responsible for Israel's actions when they are disproportionate. That's speaking of those involved in rocket-launching. Ordinary Palestinians are less responsible for the violence than ordinary Americans and certainly far less than, say, American presidential candidates who put all the blame on one side, the side without the air force.

Actually, I think I understated Bush's responsibility above, but that's a side issue.

Bernard, thanks for pushing back against some of the incendiary rhetoric here. I started to take a stab at it last night and decided I was just too tired to have this fight, so thanks.

In particular, I join with Russell in agreeing that Jews have not done well as a minority population -- their current status in America notwithstanding. Modern America is an extremely tolerant society, thank G*d. The Middle East is not.

Turbulence blithely asserts that a Jewish minority would be protected by their wealth and political power. But these advantages can easily be stripped away by a vengeful majority. This has happened many times -- including to the Jews. Weimar Germany is the obvious example, but one could also consider the way that former political and social prominence made Jews a target in post-Caliphate Spain and Portugal, or the targeting of Jewish tax collectors in the Cossack uprising.

I'm not saying that makes it okay to oppress others, just that a general similarity to South Africa does not come close to quieting perfectly reasonable fears that a one-state solution would turn into a bloodbath. You keep demanding that Bernard explain why this is different from SA -- I can't speak for him, but personally I'm not an expert on SA. Why don't you explain why you think they're so alike that a similar outcome is likely, likely enough that the Israelis should put their necks on the block?

Despite my ignorance, I do see a few troubling facts that I don't think applied in SA: 80 years of demagoguery about driving the invaders off the sacred soil, Moslem expansionist ideology, encouragement by mainstream groups throughout the Moslem world to kill Jews, the Palestinian role in invasions intended to annihilate Israel, active enemies on Israel's borders, a Jewish population packed so densely into such small urban areas that one good race riot could kill a goodly percentage of the whole, and the Palestinians' fundamental commitment to reclaiming family lands, which would require forced eviction of most Jews. Were these big issues in SA?

BTW, I don't see where Bernard suggested that Israel's internal Arab population wants to murder the Jews. You appear to assume that his fears arise from racism. You might want to support that, or withdraw it.

A brief word or two re comments upthread that Israel is "colonial" (don't you need a home country somewhere else for that? Where's that supposed to be, Germany?), "imperialist" (they're doing it all wrong, you're not supposed to keep giving land back) or "ethnic cleansing" (only somehow, they keep forgetting to hold massacres). In particular, may we cease the double-standard in which people denounce Israeli nationalism, while touting Palestinian nationalism? If ethnic nationalism is now passe, would someone please inform the Arabs? (not to mention the Irish, the French, the Walloons, etc.) Then they can stop yammering about how they must have their very own country, and go live somewhere else. I bet the American Jewish population would give them a grubstake.

Calling Israel names is not going to solve the very real problems here. Israelis are not saints, but they're not monsters either, and the Palestinians have not, to put it mildly, been eager partners in peace.

Bernard:

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

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

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

russel:

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

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


Figure it out, kids.

Unpopular ethnic minorities do not always remain unpopular ethnic minorities. If not faring particularly well means becoming wealthy, educated and powerful members of a society after a period of struggle, I will permit you to listen extremely closely as I play you a very sad song on the world's tiniest violin, and if you think it means you are allowed to commit ethnic cleansing (yes, Crafty, ethnic cleansing) you must have lost your mind. Every race and religion is unpopular somewhere at some time, and many of them are unpopular most places at most times. And no, the US is not the only place where Jews are not an "unpopular ethnic minority".


Crafty:

Modern America is an extremely tolerant society, thank G*d

Oh, is that who we should thank for America's tolerance? How incredibly rude.

I'm not saying that makes it okay to oppress others

And then you go on to explain why that makes it okay to oppress others.

Turbulence blithely asserts that a Jewish minority would be protected by their wealth and political power. But these advantages can easily be stripped away by a vengeful majority. This has happened many times -- including to the Jews. Weimar Germany is the obvious example, but one could also consider the way that former political and social prominence made Jews a target in post-Caliphate Spain and Portugal, or the targeting of Jewish tax collectors in the Cossack uprising.

Do you understand the difference between a minority group comprising 2% of the population and a majority group comprising 49% of the population? They're both minority groups, but it is a great deal easier damage the 2% group than the 49% group.

I was unaware that Jews in Weimar Germany comprised almost all of the officer corps, the police force, judges and lawyers in the court system, and high ranking executive positions. Of course they did not. That makes a big difference between Weimar Germany and our hypothetical integrated state. Jews constituted less than 1% of the population of prewar Germany. That makes another big difference. Because of these differences, I don't think the examples you cited can be easily applied to our hypothetical integrated state.

Do you disagree? Are you trying to claim that a group with 1% of the population has about as much social power as a group with 49% of the population?


Why don't you explain why you think they're so alike that a similar outcome is likely, likely enough that the Israelis should put their necks on the block?

Well, in both cases, we're talking about two ethnic groups that have shared the same bit of land with one group being clearly dominant transitioning to a more equitable democratic system of government in which the oppressed group gains power at the expense of the previously dominant group. This delicate transition is managed in spite of a long history of mutual violence, hatred, recriminations, fear of annihilation and cycles of vengeance. That seems pretty similar to me. Not identical, but closer than any other model I can think of in the last century. Many whites in South Africa were also deathly afraid of what would happen to them under an integrated government. Note that white South Africans constituted a much smaller fraction of the population than Jewish Israelis would. They had much more reason to fear as far as I can see. But maybe I'm wrong. I keep asking for Bernard (or anyone else) to explain what facts I'm missing but all I've gotten is sputtering.

As for whether Israelis should put their neck in the block, well, I've tried to explain my thinking. Their necks are ALREADY in the block. You act as if the status quo is perfectly safe. But each year, technological progress further empowers poor decentralized actors relative to rich centralized actors. Each year, more and more Palestinians get pissed off with more and more grievances. Each year, Israel becomes more vulnerable. Israel only has to screw up once to have an extremely bad day, but attackers can try again and again because there are many of them. If you want to seriously discuss Israel's long term security, you have to compare the risks of the status quo with the risks of an integrated state. You can't just declare that an integrated state is risky and therefore unacceptable, acting as if the status quo were utterly risk free. I do not understand why this concept is so difficult to accept.


BTW, I don't see where Bernard suggested that Israel's internal Arab population wants to murder the Jews. You appear to assume that his fears arise from racism. You might want to support that, or withdraw it.

He didn't. But Israel's Arab population shares some traits with Palestinians in the occupied territories, does it not? I thought that in some ways, Israel's Arab population can be used as a proxy for how Palestinians in the occupied territories might behave in an integrated state. How effective a proxy they might be is a legitimate question, but surely we should at least consider how well they fit into Israeli society when considering what would happen if you added lots more Palestinians. Given that there are "perfectly reasonable fears that a one-state solution would turn into a bloodbath", where presumably Arabs would be doing the killing, an examination of the behavior of Arabs in Israel today seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Please don't tell me what you think I assume. You're not very good at reading minds, so there's no need to waste our time.

Trilobite, with regard to your points on "ethnic cleansing": I was the one who introduced the term to describe Francis' suggested plan of forcibly transferring many many Palestinians out of Gaza. Ethnic cleansing includes both the forcible transfer of people as well as extermination. Do you understand that transfer qualifies as ethnic cleansing?

Evildoer--Good post. I disagree with part of it. I wouldn't say that the Israelis are the chief criminals of Sderot.

Thanks. Of course, you have every right to disagree, although you haven't presented any argument. Which is fine. I'm just noting.

russell: My guess, personally, is that it would be hard to get Israelis and Palestinians to live together peaceably in a single state right now.

But what makes you think it would be any easier to get Israelis and Palestinians to live together peaceably in a two-state solution, when all Israeli definitions of an acceptable two-state solution include a return to 1967 borders?

The reason I became converted to a single-state solution was not merely because that is the preferred solution of Palestinians, though I do think that the people who are doing most of the dying and suffering in order to maintain a Jewish-majority state are the people who most deserve the right to say that the Jewish-majority state is being rented at an unacceptable cost; it's geography.

If you look at the map of Israel, in order for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to become a viable independent mini-state, it isn't only that all the illegal settlements have to be withdrawn from the West Bank and the Wall needs to come down. Gaza needs a commercial seaport - which the Israelis have always opposed : and there must be unrestricted access between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by some kind of "land bridge" between the two - which the Israelis have always opposed.

Plus, there are the significant problems of the settlements in the West Bank, the settler-only roads which Palestinians are only allowed to cross at guarded checkpoints, the new wall built to cut Palestinians off from their farmlands, the issue of Jerusalem...

No. Israel has done too much, over the past 41 years, to make any two-state solution practicable. They can continue to mistreat and abuse the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for as long as this continues to be a viable strategy for maintaining the status quo - accepting that this will mean the Palestinians will sporadically and ineffectively strike back; or they can accept the Palestinians as Israeli citizens and Gaza/the West Bank as part of Israel, and move on as a state where half the citizenry and virtually all the wealthy and powerful people are Jewish.

accepting that this will mean the Palestinians will sporadically and ineffectively strike back

The chief protection (IMO) that Israel has against any significant chance of terrorists going nuclear, as Turbulence suggests, is that no devout Muslim* would propose any attack on Israel that would damage the holy sites in Jerusalem. Of course that isn't absolute - and there are nuclear weapons that supposedly could be used in downtown Tel Aviv without risking Jerusalem... I agree the possibility of a truly damaging attack killing thousands becomes more likely as the decades pass, but as yet, suicide bombers have always used conventional weapons, and their strikes have never even equalized the death toll of Israelis with Palestinians. (Use of suicide bombers has meant that in the second intifada, one Israeli died for every three Palestinians: in the first intifada, the ratio was one Israeli death for every 10 Palestians killed.)

A gruesome statistic - very roughly, the number of Palestinian children killed has always more or less equalled the total number of Israeli civilians killed, though as of the end of November, I think the number of Palestinian children killed was well ahead of Israeli civilian casualties.

*Of course, the vast majority of devout Muslims would say that no terrorist could be a devout Muslim, because terrorism is intrinsically unIslamic. But then, the vast majority of devout Christians say that about the American terrorists who justify their attacks on doctors and health centres with Christian doctrine. So, well.

A brief word or two re comments upthread that Israel is "colonial" (don't you need a home country somewhere else for that? Where's that supposed to be, Germany?), "imperialist" (they're doing it all wrong, you're not supposed to keep giving land back) or "ethnic cleansing" (only somehow, they keep forgetting to hold massacres). In particular, may we cease the double-standard in which people denounce Israeli nationalism, while touting Palestinian nationalism?

This is a series of non-sequiturs and uninformed lashings.

Israel is the result of a colonial enerprise. that's a historical fact. The word "colonization" is used proudly by all the founding figures of Zionism. Are you saying that Herzl was wrong to use that word? It was obvious to him, to Ben Gurion, to Jabotinsky. In 1920, Jews in London created the "Palestine Immigration and Colonization Fund" which would become a major organ in the history of Israel. Do you want to argue with that? When I grew up in Israel the name of that fund was the street address of my primary school.

Colonialism results in distinct social, political, and economic structures that are found mutatis mutatandis in colonial societies (including the U.S.) A lot about how Israel behaves, including what is in the news now, becomes incomprehensible if one ignores this framework. That is why it is relevant. I refer you to the work of Israeli geographer Oren Yiftachel, easily accessible on the web.

As for imperialist, Israel is not an imperialist power, although it has always been expansionist. You could read the Sharett Diaries, all published, if you don't trust my word. Israel is however a local power that has always colluded with imperial strategies in the region, from the war of 1956 to the current tight collaboration with the U.S.. These are facts, and they have material consequences on the perception of Israel by Arab victims of these imperial strategies. Life in Egypt today sucks. There are many reasons for that. But the destruction of Nasserist reformism and the 2 billion dollar yearly U.S. aid to the military juggernaut that rules Egypt today is one of these reasons. You have the luxury of not being aware of that. Few Egyptians do.

Israel didn't "forget" to hold massacres, and that statement of your can be explained by other callousness or ignorance or more likely both. Have you heard of Dir Yassin, Qibia, Tantura, Dawayma, Kufr Kassem, Sabra and Shatila, Qana? These are just the more famous ones. Do you know that the lowball death toll of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon is 18,000 souls, i.e. one in every 200 Lebanese? Just checking.

Just because I believe in socialism do I have to support chauchescu? Nationalism is wide gamut. Some nationalist currents I support, and some I don't. depending on how I perceive their overall political direction. This isn't a double standard. It is using one's judgment. Palestinian nationalism is not unproblematic, but it is a movement whose major practical goal is liberty. I cannot say that about, for example, U.S. nationalism (those ridiculous "support our troops" ribbons.) Every person has the right to belong to a nation in the place where they were born while enjoying full political and civil rights. A movement that seeks to deny that right to others is odious. Calling that nationalism doesn't change a thing.

"Thanks. Of course, you have every right to disagree, although you haven't presented any argument. Which is fine. I'm just noting. "

Well, no argument except for saying that people are chiefly responsible for their own actions. I'm a little surprised by your snark--I was generally in agreement with your post but don't think it's unreasonable to say that the people most responsible for launching rockets at Sderot are the people who launch the rockets at Sderot, going on to attribute the Israelis some responsibility for inciting Palestinian violence and much more responsibility for their own (much larger) crimes and for being the dominant occupying power. But whatever.

Here's a famous interview with Benny Morris, where he describes the 1948 massacres and ethnic cleansing, goes on to defend ethnic cleansing (but not massacres, apparently feeling that it should be done more politely) and also approvingly notes that establishing the great American democracy required the annihilation of the American Indians. This is the guy the NYT gives op ed space to in order to explain why Israelis feel threatened.

Link

Evildoer, I agree that historically, pre-1948, the prospective state of Israel was a colonialist enterprise.

But, post-1948, the Jewish refugees from neighboring countries had become a very significant proportion of the Jewish population of Israel.

And while one can argue almost endlessly over the numbers involved, or discuss how the colonialist mentality of the pre-1948 settlers ensured a social stratification of the new nation into layers of privilege, so that the Middle Eastern Jews, besides having been forced to leave their homes, also found themselves very much the unequal citizens of the new Jewish state, still: that influx meant Israel was no longer simply a colonialist enterprise, but had become genuinely a new Middle Eastern country.

One thing about the South African comparison--South Africa isn't such a great success story right now. There was an article about this in Harpers one or two issues back. Very high violent crime rate. Of course this is the legacy of apartheid, and also Mbeki's failings, and maybe even Mandela's, in the sense that they might have made too many concessions to neoliberalism.

That's not to say that "one man one vote" was wrong--obviously it was the only way to go. But I wouldn't necessarily point to SA as an example of a happy ending. Apartheid made a huge mess of the country and the violence it created in the townships didn't go away when it ended.

Jesurgislac,

My point of referring to Israel as colonial is not to put it as the opposite of "a true Middle Eastern Country." I don't know what makes a country "true". All states emerge in a variety of formative processes that involve stratification and power. This apposition between "true" and "false" states is purely pejorative and in my opinion serves no useful analytical purpose. I refer to Israel as colonial because this is the specific state formation process that created Israel, and this is the historical background that still best helps understand an important part of the laws, economy, politics and culture of the state, and therefore also help makes sense of current events. The advent of the Arab Jews in the fifties made a big impact but did not undo theses colonial structures of the state which were and still are embedded in its laws, culture, economy and politics.

Donald. I'm sorry if my comment looked snark. That wasn't my intention. I simply noted that in the absence of concrete criticism I cannot argue with what you said. Of course Palestinians are responsible for their actions. But in order to establish that they are responsible for a 'crime', you have to establish first an 'actus reus.' I challenged the facility with which this is assumed by everybody as obvious when in fact it is the very opposite of obvious.

Evildoer--

Okay, no problem on the snark issue.

On the Sderot issue, I think it's obvious that launching rockets at a town is criminal. I sympathize with the general idea--I have no patience with the argument that the Israelis (or the US) is somehow in a morally superior position because they (or we) supposedly try to avoid civilian casualties with smart weapons. First, it's obviously not true that they always try to avoid civilian casualties--sometimes they fire or bomb indiscriminately and sometimes there's evidence of deliberate targeting. And anyway the whole blockade is aimed at Gaza's civilian population. But even granting the claim, if you bomb Gaza and kill hundreds of Hamas members (not all of whom are necessarily legitimate targets anyway), you are bound to kill civilians and if there was any other reasonable option, you are culpable.

I just don't like the argument that Palestinians have the right to use their ineffective weapons in the most effective way possible, which is by aiming at civilians, on the grounds that they are trying to prevent a much greater harm befalling their own people. Americans and Israelis are in no position to criticize, unless we first condemn our own governments for much greater crimes, but it's still wrong, not least because it's not likely to be effective. It obviously just gives Israelis the feeling that they have the right to cause even greater levels of suffering.

More important, though, is that once you open the door for that kind of argument then you are obligated to listen to all the apologists for state terror as they say they were justified in bombing this or that village because there was a sniper there, or rockets stored there, or there might be rockets or whatever. I first encountered this argument reading about Vietnam. This might be in accordance with the laws of war--I'm not sure. And it might be worth pointing out that if so, then the Palestinians firing at Sderot might make a similar claim using proportionality as their justification. I'm uncomfortable with this though, because I think one should make it extremely hard to ever justify firing at civilians.

Rereading that, I think I can boil it down much more simply--

Don't ever fire directly at civilians, no matter what greater good you think you are going to attain.

That aside, I suspect that underneath both the bombing of Gaza and the rocketing of Sderot is not so much careful calculation about costs and benefits, but simple feelings of revenge and hatred.

I just don't like the argument that Palestinians have the right to use their ineffective weapons in the most effective way possible, which is by aiming at civilians, on the grounds that they are trying to prevent a much greater harm befalling their own people.

First, I wouldn't phrase it like that. "Belligerant reprisals" is not the same as "the end justifies the means." As I understand it, it is an affirmative defense to the charge of a war crime under very specific circumstances.

With that caveat, I don't like it either. Affirmative defenses are always slippery slopes.

But a) this is state of customary international law. And it is important to note that 99% of mainstream discussions of the situation misrepresent it.

b) It is impossible to legislate saintliness.

No political leadership will abstain from defending its people in order to spare civilians on the other side when the other side shows no similar respect. It's just not going to happen. It is a demand of sainthood. Jesus can asks his disciples to turn the other cheek. the law cannot. The stumbling block isn't "the end justifies the means". The stumbling block is absence of reciprocity.

More important, though, is that once you open the door for that kind of argument then you are obligated to listen to all the apologists for state terror

I think this is an important issue, but it is not so simple. First, apologists for state terror have a natural advantage, the advantage of power. I think it is naive to think that one can silence them by technical means. They will always have to be met and fought against on substantive grounds through popular struggles. When you make laws tighter, the more powerful agents often increase their relative ability to pass through loopholes. (Think of bankruptcy reform.) The only way to avoid that outcome is to have zero discretion laws. Which is what you are trying to do. But it just won't work. You cannot outlaw self-defense. (you can but it won't have an impact on behavior)

Or think about torture. We all support here (I assume), zero discretion laws against torture. But our best argument is that torture doesn't work, it doesn't increase security, it isn't needed, it provides bad intelligence, etc. It is nice to think that we could have won the argument against torture simply on deontological grounds. But it is naive. If torture supporters could prove that torture is necessary for self-defense, we wouldn't stand a chance outlawing it.

Second, the logic you employ seems appealing because it allows people (or theoretically, a judge) to pass judgment without knowing anything about context. That makes judgment easy. But the other side of the coin is that it also makes it facile. The typical facile judgment is "a pox on both your houses" which is exemplified by the post we're all responding to. Because of the nature of the case, in a situation when "belligerent reprisals" took place, "a pox on both your houses" would automatically follow from applying a "zero discretion" law.

But "pox upon both houses" is an outcome that implicitly favors the stronger party. This is like a headmaster telling children "I don't want to hear these silly, you started, no, you started, arguments. If there's a fight I punish everyone involved." It sounds nice in theory but in practice it is a carte blanche for schoolyard bullies. (especially in the international analogy where the punishment is limited to an unflattering HRW report for both sides.)

The right way unfortunately is the hard way. Identifying who is the bully based on careful study of the situation.

That aside, I suspect that underneath both the bombing of Gaza and the rocketing of Sderot is not so much careful calculation about costs and benefits, but simple feelings of revenge and hatred.

While hatred exists on both sides, based on my acquaintance with the principal actors I suspect the opposite. But that is way too long to discuss now. For the sake of this discussion, I see no reason not to explore this possibility in any study of the facts of the case. But I have a problem with using this as a hunch that supposedly makes it unnecessary to study the facts.

That aside, I suspect that underneath both the bombing of Gaza and the rocketing of Sderot is not so much careful calculation about costs and benefits, but simple feelings of revenge and hatred.

While hatred exists on both sides, based on my acquaintance with the principal actors I suspect the opposite. But that is way too long to discuss now. For the sake of this discussion, I see no reason not to explore this possibility in any study of the facts of the case. But I have a problem with using this as a hunch that supposedly makes it unnecessary to study the facts.

The typical facile judgment is "a pox on both your houses" which is exemplified by the post we're all responding to.

How about the argument that if you're going to take an action as consequential as shooting rockets into civilian populations, it should actually accomplish something other than just randomly slaughtering people, pissing everybody off, and prompting counterattacks against your own folks?

Or is that also typically facile?

In other words, riddle me this:

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

As far as I can tell, the folks shooting the rockets just hate Israelis and want to kill them some, and don't particularly give a flying f*ck what consequences follow from that, for themselves or anyone else.

Either that or they're dumb as a box of rocks.

Lots of populations in the world have been oppressed, ill used, bullied, colonized, etc etc etc. They don't all respond by blowing up random members of the "oppressor" nation with rockets.

I don't really give a crap how evil the Israelis are, or how badly they behave. Or, more accurately, I do care, but I don't think it justifies randomly blowing up whoever happens to draw the short straw that day.

As always, YMMV.

You are correct, the right way is the hard way. The hard way is to change people's attitudes toward each other. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work, and it is not accomplished by blowing random civilians up with rockets.

I have no disagreement with the proposition that the Palestinians have been ill-used by the Israelis, and in fact by lots of other folks, including some of their Arab neighbors. That sucks. They have a legitimate complaint, in fact a long list of legitimate complaints.

They will not gain a single iota of relief for themselves by blowing up random Israeli citizens. They've been trying that for some time, and it ain't working. All they will accomplish is to discredit themselves, harden the animus Israelis hold for them, and get some of their own countrymen, women, and children killed in return.

That might well be unfair, but it is what it is. The Palestinians have no hope, whatsoever, of moving the Israelis one inch through military means. None. They can kill Israelis if that makes them happy, just like any punk with a big gun can kill people for whatever stupid thrill they get out of it, but it won't make life any better for them or their people.

So I call it stupid. YMMV.

Thanks -

Russel,

It's already established that not only you have no clue what you're talking about, which is no sin, but that you also have no interest in knowing and your attitude is not just facile, but dumbassed. Given that, I'm not going to bother much with you.

It was never my argument that Palestinian strategy is brilliant, or the best of all possible strategies. Palestinians are human. They act under all the limitations of the human condition, including sometimes making mistakes. Although the fact is that the only reason Israel stopped killing Palestinians in Gaza in June 2008 was thanks to Qassam rocket fire. Contrary to what you think, liberty and rights are not the reward the Master bestows on those among the natives who prove themselves docile and cooperative.

Let me put it to you simply. If you kill your slave, it is your fault. If your slave kills you, it is also your fault.

Russell: How about the argument that if you're going to take an action as consequential as shooting rockets into civilian populations, it should actually accomplish something other than just randomly slaughtering people, pissing everybody off, and prompting counterattacks against your own folks?

Well, I agree with you. But that applies both to the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, and to the Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, except that Israel randomly slaughters more Palestinian civilians, and is condemned less.

Can anyone give me one good reason why the model for a one state solution would be South Africa, and not, say, Zimbabue? Because looking at the Palestinians' usual standards of behavior, the latter seems a more likely model.

"except that Israel randomly slaughters more Palestinian civilians"

Except that Israel doesn't randomly slaughter Palestinians, they respond to Palestinian attackers who happen to be resorting to a human shield tactic. There's nothing random about that, and if Hamas launched it's rockets from open fields, and then hung around, refrained from situating it's arms depots under civilian homes, and so on, random Palestinians would be pretty damn safe from the reprisals.

Can anyone give me one good reason why the model for a one state solution would be South Africa, and not, say, Zimbabue? Because looking at the Palestinians' usual standards of behavior, the latter seems a more likely model.

"except that Israel randomly slaughters more Palestinian civilians"

Except that Israel doesn't randomly slaughter Palestinians, they respond to Palestinian attackers who happen to be resorting to a human shield tactic. There's nothing random about that, and if Hamas launched it's rockets from open fields, and then hung around, refrained from situating it's arms depots under civilian homes, and so on, random Palestinians would be pretty damn safe from the reprisals.

Brett: Except that Israel doesn't randomly slaughter Palestinians, they respond to Palestinian attackers who happen to be resorting to a human shield tactic.

That is what is claimed as the defense for most, if not all, IDF and settler killings of Palestinians and foreign nationals; the assertion that mysterious "Palestinian attackers", who killed no one, were standing behind the Palestinian civilians who were killed by the the IDF or the settlers.

It is very seldom that an IDF victim is someone like James Miller, a foreign national with a right to an independent inquest into his death outside Israel and family survivors who are both determined to make his murderers face justice, and who have access to legal routes to fight for justice for the murdered man.

IDF inquiries into IDF killings invariably turn out to exonerate the IDF and blame either the murdered Palestinian or some unspecified "Palestinian attacker".

The idea of "human shields" has also been used to mean that it is justifiable to kill a member of Hamas in his family home along with his entire family and everyone else in there, because by sleeping at home the Hamas member was using these people as human shields, so it is his fault, not the attackers fault, that they got killed.

To quote my favorite American evangelical:

It's been awhile so it seems again it's time for a helpful reminder that noncombatant immunity isn't just a good idea, it's the law.

In other words: You're not allowed to kill civilians.

Killing civilians is against the law. Killing civilians makes you a criminal.

It's already established that not only you have no clue what you're talking about, which is no sin, but that you also have no interest in knowing and your attitude is not just facile, but dumbassed. Given that, I'm not going to bother much with you.

Dude, I can not begin to tell you how deeply this saddens me.

For the record, here, from your first post on this thread, is your answer to the question of what Hamas seeks to accomplish by firing rockets at Israeli civilians:

The potshots are not an attempt to drive Israelis to emigrate. They are a statement of defiance: do your worst, we're here and we won't surrender.

F'ing great. Mission accomplished.

But that applies both to the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, and to the Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, except that Israel randomly slaughters more Palestinian civilians, and is condemned less.

I agree.

In my very humble, and apparently woefully ignorant, opinion, the goal of both the Qassam rocket attacks and the Israeli raids in Gaza is for one side to demonstrate to the other that they can make the other's life a living hell.

The Israelis have better gear, so their version of "living hell" is that much more vivid.

The Israelis clearly have the upper hand here, and (IMO) the Palestinians very much have the stronger historical complaint, so if one side or the other bears the greater moral responsibility to be the bigger person and stand down from the idiotic tit-for-tat, I'd say it was the Israelis.

On the other hand, the Palestinians have a lot more to gain from an end to the whole stupid cycle, and virtually no chance of actually achieving a useful goal through force, so as a practical matter maybe they should be the ones to bury the hatchet first.

Whatever.

I think hilzoy said it all right here:

Killing people out of anger, frustration, and the sense that you have to do something is just wrong. For both sides. And its actual results are numbingly predictable

I have nothing to add to that.

Thanks -

On the other hand, the Palestinians have a lot more to gain from an end to the whole stupid cycle, and virtually no chance of actually achieving a useful goal through force, so as a practical matter maybe they should be the ones to bury the hatchet first.

Eh... no. (And I say this, please bear in mind, as a lifelong pacifist.)

You're absolutely right that the Palestinians have virtually no chance of achieving a useful goal by force.

But they have virtually no chance of achieving a useful goal by unilaterally burying the hatchet, either. Agreeing to stop fighting while the other side is still using violence against you is usually called "surrender".

The only goal achieved by a unilateral surrender on the part of the Palestinians is a return to the status quo of the 1970s. The Palestinians would be no nearer even a two-state solution, since the Israelis would no longer have any problem requiring any change. This would be useful to the Israelis, but the only thing it would accomplish for the Palestinians is that the IDF would kill fewer of them.

Russel,

I appreciate you making a post without disparaging remarks about the victims of aggression. I'll withdraw my previous uncharitable remark.

In my very humble, and apparently woefully ignorant, opinion, the goal of both the Qassam rocket attacks and the Israeli raids in Gaza is for one side to demonstrate to the other that they can make the other's life a living hell.

That is the overarching strategic goal of Hamas as a resistance movement, as per my previous comment you cited. But there is also the direct military goal right now which is is to force an end to the siege.

However "showing that it can make life hell" isn't the goal of Israel. That would be pointless. There was hardly ever a soul in Gaza that needed proof that Israel can make life hell for Palestinians.

The goals of Israel are layered.

1. Livni and Barak want to triangulate Netanyahu from the right before the elections.
2. The IDF command needs to wipe out the bitter taste of the 2006 defeat (which threatens the position of the military in the culture and social pecking order )
3. and most importantly. Israel needs to prevent the consolidation of a free Palestinian territory (i.e. not controlled by Israel or by a force subservient to Israel.) Such a territory, especially with a democratically elected government in place, would have a very negative impact on the long term colonization process, and a pole of resistance that would complicate if not defeat the ultimate goal of getting rid of Palestinians altogether. Gaza today is to Israel what the free black republic of Haiti was to the colonial powers 200 years ago.

So the goals are not equivalent at all. And both sides CAN in principle achieve their goals using their current strategies. Hence these strategies, while not necessarily the best, are not stupid or pointless.

In fact, contrary to your perception, most informed analysts see Hamas as more likely to achieve their limited military goals than Israel. That isn't because Israel is weaker but because Israel's goals are more difficult to achieve. The resistance wins by not losing.

Hence these strategies, while not necessarily the best, are not stupid or pointless.

Maybe it isn't the strategies that are stupid and pointless, but the goals.

The resistance wins by not losing.

And what is it that they win?

Thanks -

Russell: Maybe it isn't the strategies that are stupid and pointless, but the goals.

That's too gnomic to be useful. If you mean the Hamas / IDF "goal" of intimidation by violence, I agree that's stupid and pointless.

I also think that the apparent Israeli government goal of making life so miserable for the Palestinians that they will, eventually, just give up and quit trying to live there, is also stupid and pointless.

I do not think that the goal of a unified state as much at peace with itself as South Africa or Northern Ireland now is, is either stupid or pointless.

I do not think that the goal of a unified state as much at peace with itself as South Africa or Northern Ireland now is, is either stupid or pointless.

I agree. I don't much care about single state vs two states, and that isn't my hash to settle, but the "at peace with itself" part is a goal much to be desired.

My admittedly gnomic comment was in reference to the specific goals (of both sides) enumerated by Evildoer in his post immediately preceding mine.

Thanks -

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