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June 01, 2010

Comments

Once again I feel compelled to point out: Gaza has a border with Egypt. Let me repeat that:

Gaza has a border with Egypt.

No matter what evil you attribute to Israel, no matter what nefarious motives, the unavoidable fact is that Israel can't keep anything out of Gaza, anything at all, that Egypt doesn't agree to keep out of Gaza.

So, what's Egypt's motive for denying Palestinians chocolate?

Bold off.

I mean, seriously, why DO we keep discussing this as though Gaza were surrounded on all sides by Israel?

"There’s a name for all this: collective punishment"

I think these are acts of war. War often devastates large swaths of territory and human living conditions without meeting the legal criteria for "Collective Punishment".

War is quite terrible. But terrible war is within the laws of war. The "Laws" of course, are treaties. Treaties differ from real laws in that nations make their own "Laws" by signing treaties. Or sometimes by unilateral declaration, such as the "Monroe Doctrine".

There is some ambiguity since Hamas/Gaza is not a state, of course.

So, what's Egypt's motive for denying Palestinians chocolate?

Well, the Egyptian government depends on a lot of aid from the US that is conditioned on making Israel happy. For a long time, I believe Egypt was the second largest aid recipient right after Israel. When your powerful neighbor asks you to do something, you do it, especially if they can plausibly threaten to have their big brother cut you off from the cash that your corrupt regime desperately needs to stay in power.

Do you really not know any of this?

I think these are acts of war. War often devastates large swaths of territory and human living conditions without meeting the legal criteria for "Collective Punishment".

Collective punishment in war is not legal.

Note also that this behavior looks much like terrorism. Israel is essentially telling Gazan residents that if they try to engage in vital economic activity (like, say, trading), Israel will kill them UNLESS they make political changes that Israel desires. I believe that it is currently illegal for the US to associate with states that support, let alone engage in, terrorism.

There is some ambiguity since Hamas/Gaza is not a state, of course.

This is a common misconception. Some parts of international law are considered binding because states become signatories to a treaty. But other parts are considered binding because enough states have signed on that they are recognized as customary international law. So, for example, countries are required to abide by the Geneva Conventions even if they never become a signatory of the treaty. See this article for more information.

So, Israel gets blamed for what Israel does, AND Israel gets blamed for what Egypt does, too. Well, makes a kind of weird sense; They get blamed for whatever the Palestinians do, too.

So, Israel gets blamed for what Israel does, AND Israel gets blamed for what Egypt does, too.

I'd say that parties with power get blamed for both their direct actions and actions which they indirectly bring about. I don't think this is a novel ethical principle.

I'm curious though: what's your theory regarding Egyptian actions? Do you really believe that Egypt just decided to economically cripple Gaza for the hell of it? Do you think that the Egyptian government doesn't care about money that they get from the US or isn't smart enough to connect it with their treaty with Israel?

Brett, it seems to upset you if someone blames Israel for anything.

I believe that Israel's neighbors view the Palestinians as a handy way to wage a proxy war against Israel, where directly attacking that nation has proven too dangerous. Rather like keeping a pack of rabid dogs in a kennel that borders on your hated neighbor's property, knowing they'll burrow under the fence once in a while.

You sure as hell don't remove the fence on YOUR side of the kennel... or do anything to make your pack of dogs less vicious.

That's what I think is going on there. Egypt keeps their side of the Gaza border closed because otherwise the Palestinians might have someplace else to go, and something other than attacking Israel to do.

I believe that Israel's neighbors view the Palestinians as a handy way to wage a proxy war against Israel

Why exactly would Mubarak want to wage a proxy war with Israel? He's not an Islamist. He's a profiteer. Trade with Gaza provides more money for Mr 20% to skim off the top.

I am glad to see that you have absolutely nothing to say about the large sums of money we give to Egypt specifically to keep the peace with Israel. Apparently, money has no ability to change people's incentives at all and is thus unworthy of comment.

By the way...rabid dogs? Brett, you're so cute when you say deliberately provocative things to get attention. Speaking as an Egyptian, I find your clownish antics to be highly amusing.

Speaking as somebody who refuses to not notice Gaza has a border with Egypt, I'm amused at Egyptians' excuses for keeping that border closed, and the Palestinians trapped. So, how many Palestinians does Egypt allow to immigrate from the Gaza strip each year?

Speaking as somebody who refuses to not notice Gaza has a border with Egypt

So cute! I love it when you pretend to have some actual knowledge about the middle east...it is like watching a little yap dog stand up on its hind legs pretending to stand before lying down to eat excrement.

I'm amused at Egyptians' excuses for keeping that border closed, and the Palestinians trapped.

Tyrannical governments do all sorts of evil things in exchange for the money that they need to oppress their population. I'd expect most libertarians know that, but I suppose your libertarian principles go out the window whenever the opportunity to insult Arabs appears.

So, how many Palestinians does Egypt allow to immigrate from the Gaza strip each year?

I don't know. Does it matter? Would that change the fact that the Egyptian government gets large sums of money from the US in exchange for keeping Israel happy?

Why exactly would Mubarak want to wage a proxy war with Israel? He's not an Islamist. He's a profiteer. Trade with Gaza provides more money for Mr 20% to skim off the top.

By the way Brett, is there something that prevents you from answering the questions above? With your vast knowledge of geographic borders, this should be an easy question for you.

Brett, it seems to upset you if someone blames Israel for anything.

It's not that that he minds, it's people portraying Palestinians as anything other than filthy subhumans. Or, you know, "rabid dogs." I can guarantee you that Brett doesn't give a tinker's dam about Israel qua Israel one way or the other.

In fact, the actions of the Israeli government and military would, in any other context, generate a whole bunch of Bellmorian speechifyin' about how it proves that government is evil, the Mafia, etc., etc. But because it's being exercised against filthy Muslim mud-people, he's all for it.

Forgot to add: But he has a Filipino wife so he's incapable of being racist or whatever.

Is the embargo being enforced on the same terms on the Egyptian side as the Israeli side, e.g., are they keeping out things like chocalate and coriander, as opposed to missle launchers, small arms, etc.?

Cause, it seems to me that Egypt has a pretty good incentive to keep Hamas from openly importing massive amounts of weapons across the Gaza border to be used on Israel, namely that Israel would likely see that as an act of war (and probably a breach of treaty obligations) and commence bombing accordingly. Not to mention the denial of U.S. funds that would also follow.

Does anyone know if Egypt's embargo tracks Israel's in terms of goods, etc.? Cause if it does then Egypt's gov't is bad bad bad, like that was a mystery or something.

Now, now, Phil. Everybody knows the principle of ethnic transtubstantiation. Since the Palestinians were thrown out of their homeland it is a relatively easy matter for them to 'blend in' with their neighbors, since they are all simply 'Arabs', and thus indistinguishable (except the Palestinians have this knack for making money).

And these Arab neighbors want to push the Israelis into the sea because, well, just because. I mean they are pure evil! No Egyptian even LIVES IN ISRAEL. What does that tell you?

Now if you were to posit that forcibly exiling the current Israelis "into Europe" would be logically the same thing you'd be accused of a cheap rhetorical trick because (some/many) of the Israelis, even though most of them came from or are descendants of Europeans, speak Hebrew. To that, there is the common conservative reply that immigrants should learn __________(the native tongue).

I just don't see a problem here.

So, what's Egypt's motive for denying Palestinians chocolate?

Chocolate is bad for you.

"But because it's being exercised against filthy Muslim mud-people, he's all for it."

I think that about sums it up.

Brett, it isn't entirely clear why the motives of Egypt and the Arab countries for supporting the Palestinians is relevant tot he merits, or lack of merits, of Israel's policies and actions. Their motives may be entirely cynical and for domestic self-serving purposes. But that is totally irrelevant to whether Israel is behaving good or bad.

[/p][/p][/b]
bobbyp, there would be enough room in Eastern Germany to transfer Israel there. In some areas the population density qualifies for "essentially uninhabited" and resembles the situation after the 30 Years War. Additional benefit: it would really upset the Poles ;-)

" But that is totally irrelevant to whether Israel is behaving good or bad."

No, it's not. But it is entirely relevant to the question of whether Israel is atypically bad in the context of the region, or simply being held up to a standard much, much higher than it's neighbors.

THAT is my position: Not that Israel is a particularly admirable country, (They are in some respects, very much not in others.) but that, in the context of the middle east, they're not an unusually bad country. Quite the opposite.

And yet, they come in for much more intense criticism than their neighbors. Why the difference? It's sure as hell not a result of objective moral judgment! I think it's a result of three things:

1. Yes, antisemitism.

2. No oil, so we don't have to suck up to them. That's a BIG factor.

3. As an actual civilized country, they don't get the the "they're just wogs' allowance for horrible behavior.

But objective moral judgment? Not a chance. Everybody in the region treats the Palestinians like dirt. The difference is, the Israelis have an excuse: The Palestinians are trying to KILL them.

What's everybody else's excuse? "We're being paid to treat them badly."? That was Turbulence's excuse for Egypt. Not a very good one, if you ask me.

Well, I've got an explanation, and I provided it. It fits the facts. Don't like it? Come up with another explanation for why Palestinians aren't permitted to just immigrate to other countries in the region, are kept trapped there up against Israel's border.

Just don't give me any explanation that relies on implicitly pretending that the Palestinians are somehow surrounded by Israel, with their fate entirely in Israeli hands. They're not, and it's not just Israel's fault they're stuck there, and poor.

Mr. "the Palestinians are rabid dogs" now says people who criticize Israel are motivated in part by antisemitism. Sure didn't see that coming. And yes, some criticism of Israel is obviously motivated by antisemitism, just as some defense of Israel is obviously motivated by hatred of Arabs.

The Egyptian government probably treats the Palestinians badly in part because they receive billions from us and in part because the dictatorial government there fears political Islam, so they probably aren't fond of Hamas and (I would guess) hoped they would be discredited by the suffering in Gaza.

In Jordan they were a destabilizing influence, to the point where there was a brutal civil war in 1970. In Lebanon it's partly the same thing.

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that if only the ethnically cleansed Palestinians had been adopted by other Arab countries the whole problem would have gone away. This notion leaves out the fact that maybe the Palestinians themselves don't want to give up on their cause.

"No oil, so we don't have to suck up to them."

Um, sure, Brett, nobody in the US sucks up to Israel. Nobody at all. I'm hard put to think of any politician or pundit who has ever done such a thing, or of any action that we take or don't take that could be described as "sucking up" to Israel.

No oil, so we don't have to suck up to them. That's a BIG factor.

Wow. The US is overly critical of Israel because it lacks oil.

Also, Brett, one of the reasons that some of us are critical of Israel: it is the biggest recipient of US aid, and thus we expect them to respect basic human rights.

But it is only a handful of citizens. Politicians don't criticize, or make such demands.

Also, come on Brett, Egypt would not be blockading Gaza if it wasn't for US money/aid, and US demands in order to support Israel.

This is basic.

That's not to say that Egypt would or should open up its borders to 1.2 million Gaza residents, as few countries can assimilate massive refugee flows, and certainly not one situated as Egypt is.

Nor is it to say that Egypt wouldn't want to keep an eye on potential arms shipments into Gaza.

But the recent blockade? Egypt is doing our bidding, and we Israel's.

It's really not that complex. I'm surprised it has you so confused.

PS: Mubarak is not exactly overly popular in Egypt, BTW, in part because of his obsequiosness to the US/Israeli interests. But he certainly does deserve blame for going along with it - even if his resistance could end his political career.

European Christians and European Jews (and the European atheists who live among them) used Palestine to say “I’m sorry” for the pogroms and Holocaust.

The problem is that land that belonged to Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims (and the Palestinian atheists who live among them).

I think Brett believes that European (ie, white) folks are the only folks deserving of “libertarian” principles.

This whole thing, that this is a conflict between Jews and Arabs is BS! This is classic European colonialism and its victims.

Another reason Egypt keeps the border with Gaza closed is that they know that Israel's preferred solution to the situation would be to simply hand the problem over to Egypt, who once upon a time controlled Gaza. If Egypt opens their border, they fear that Israel will promptly close theirs and declare that they will hold Egypt responsible for any future violence.

Whatever their reasons, there is no doubt that Egypt is a willing partner in the collective punishment of Gaza. Israel seems to set the policy, since they never say they're consulting with anyone else about it and Egypt happily goes along with it. And the US and Canada applaud.

If Egypt opens their border, they fear that Israel will promptly close theirs and declare that they will hold Egypt responsible for any future violence.

This sounds about right.




those are some bold words, y'all.

Well, I've got an explanation, and I provided it. It fits the facts. Don't like it? Come up with another explanation for why Palestinians aren't permitted to just immigrate to other countries in the region, are kept trapped there up against Israel's border.

Brett, you should really do some research on the number of Palestinians living in Jordan, and the widespread, significant, and long lasting difficulties experienced by Jordan in trying to assimilate such a large refugee population.

You also act as if the Palestinians are clamoring to emigrate to other nations, but the host nations refuse. This is really not the case.

It should also be noted that the other countries aren't in the same position as Israel: Israel is occupying Palestinian land. This kind of changes the level of responsibility/duty/culpability. And, no, no other nation in the region even approaches Israel in its oppression of the Palestinians.

Rather than anti-Semitism, it is this essential dynamic that determines the level of blame.

Here's a dumb, "take a step back" sort of question: Is Egypt somehow preventing Israel from doing the right thing?

Come up with another explanation for why Palestinians aren't permitted to just immigrate to other countries in the region

The other nations don't want millions of refugees moving to their country.

"We're being paid to treat them badly."? That was Turbulence's excuse for Egypt. Not a very good one, if you ask me.

It actually seems not just plausible but bloody likely, to me.

Also, it's not an area I'm expert in, but I'm not sure Egypt has had unilateral control over the Rafah crossing in any case. Especially prior to Hamas taking political leadership in Gaza, and certainly not before Israel's military disengagement from Gaza.

Last but not least, Rafah's open now. Own goal for Israel, I would say.

1. Yes, antisemitism.

Horseshit.

2. No oil, so we don't have to suck up to them. That's a BIG factor.

We don't suck up to them, we just give them more money than we give to any other nation on earth, by a huge margin.

And yes, Egypt is number two.

3. As an actual civilized country, they don't get the the "they're just wogs' allowance for horrible behavior.

Nothing personal Brett, but if I were asked to name the one person on this board who I am not interested in receiving a lecture from on the "they're just wogs" topic, the name would be yours.

Chocolate is bad for you.

That, my friends, is a damnable lie!

We don't suck up to them, we just give them more money than we give to any other nation on earth, by a huge margin.

I have probably seen this fact pointed out to Brett at least three dozen times in various threads on this topic. I have never seen him acknowledge it, and I expect I never will.

You're all confused. Brett is saying that the majority of ObWi commenters don't have to suck up to Israel because Israel doesn't have oil. That's the same reason we're not spending our time criticizing Egypt on a thread about an Israeli attack on a humanitarian flotilla (sounds like a Mexican dish you can eat in the bathtub). You know, because we're all, um, lovers of big oil, or something, I guess... so we don't want to criticize Egypt. Geez, now I'm confused. What are you trying to say, Brett?

there's oil under dem thar peer-ee-mids

"'But that is totally irrelevant to whether Israel is behaving good or bad.'

No, it's not. But it is entirely relevant to the question of whether Israel is atypically bad in the context of the region, or simply being held up to a standard much, much higher than it's neighbors."

1. I think you misspoke; your response to "that is totally irrelevant" is "No, it's not. But it is ..." Are you saying it ("their cynical motives) are not totally irrelevant? That would imply that they are relevant. Which is the opposite of what wj said. However, I don't think that's what you mean, because you seem to be trying to agree with him so that you can go on and talk about what is relevant.

2. What is relevant, according to you, is the question of whether Israel is atypically bad in the region. This would imply that the question of whether Israel is violating international maritime laws (as well as the Geneva conventions) or not must be considered in light of their (asserted by you) moral superiority to their neighbors. However, that's not how the law works. The law applies uniformly. If it's a crime for Iran/Libya/Syria to do it, then it's a crime for Israel to do it.

3. Regarding why we on ObWi spend more time criticizing Israel: We give them more money than we give any other country. They are ostensibly a strong ally of ours, yet they keep hurting our interests. Of course, the question of why we criticize them really is besides the point, which is, are those criticisms founded or unfounded? Do you have anything to say about the objective validity of the criticisms? You seem stuck on attacking the critics rather than their arguments. Then, when you don't attack the critic, you point out that Egypt is doing the same bad thing that Israel is, so why don't we get mad at them? But you refuse to debate the subject of whether or not Israel's cited acts are criminal.

I wrote this in another thread, and you haven't responded yet:

"Has anyone said that Egypt isn't bad, Brett? Are you mad that we're neglecting Egypt? Here's a bone: Egypt is bad for enforcing the blockade.

Now, explain why it's okay for Israel (and Egypt) to ban seeds and fishing rods."

Convince us that you're arguing in good faith.


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