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July 19, 2010

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cut. them. off.

According to Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, the video should be “Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel.”

I find it hard to believe that there is anyone, in Israel or anywhere else, who wasn't already aware that Netanyahu is a thug.

I ask again: what, exactly, does the United States get out of its relationship with Israel?

UK: You overestimate the American public, and underestimate the skewed media narrative in the States.

Apparently, Israeli political culture really doesn't believe Palestine has a right to exist.

You overestimate the American public, and underestimate the skewed media narrative in the States.

Very true. I was thinking more of the "around the country" part of the quote...my sense is that people in Israel already know the deal on Bibi, they just see his thuggishness as a positive quality rather than a drawback.

If nothing else, this site has opened mt eyes about Israel. This post just seals it. Cut. Them. Off.

What I have really had to appreciate in recent years is the extent to which the conflict with the Palestinians is driven by internal partisan politics, and the way in which the US War on Terror mirrored its tactics.

It's not really about a national security strategy for Israel. The comment about "beating up" on Palestinians makes no sense in terms of national security - it's not actually possible to beat an enemy into submission that way - but it makes perfect sense if the goal is simply to find a designated enemy and enact punishments on them as part of a strategy of distraction and scapegoating. In its own way it resembles segregation or immigrant-bashing here as a method of creating a group to whom all Israelis can feel superior whatever their own relative status versus other Israelis.

Having appreciated that, the US support for Israel seems less and less sensible. I don't mind the US acting to support Israel against invasion by surrounding states. I accept Israel's right to exist and be secure in its (actual) borders. But that threat is more distant now than it ever has been; Israel is formally at peace with most of its neighbors and has an unquestioned military superiority over them. The Palestinians pose no threat whatsoever to Israel's real security, and we need not assist in the game of pretending that they do.

I am reminded yet again about our 'good faith' bargaining with the Native American tribes during the westward expansion.

That the Israelis desire a similar outcome should come as no surprise.

...but it makes perfect sense if the goal is simply to find a designated enemy and enact punishments on them as part of a strategy of distraction and scapegoating.

Gosh, this reminds of something else that happend in the last century, but I just can't put my finger on it. I'm pretty sure it was really big and awful. I'm also sensing some irony, given the subject at hand. I guess it'll come to me later.

I wish I could say I was optimistic that this will put an end to our indefensible subsidy of this rogue nation. One would think that openly bragging about sabotaging Oslo and how easy it is to manipulate the US displays a level of contempt at which even the conservatives who claim to love this country might take umbrage.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall for the next conversation between Netanyahu and President Obama. But I don't have much faith that this insult will really change anything.

The comment about "beating up" on Palestinians makes no sense in terms of national security - it's not actually possible to beat an enemy into submission that way - but it makes perfect sense if the goal is simply to find a designated enemy and enact punishments on them as part of a strategy of distraction and scapegoating.

It also serves the purpose of keeping the radical elements on the Palestinian side on top. While claiming to wait a reasonable Palestinian counterpart with which to negotiate, Netanyahu's actions help prevent any moderates from gaining ground.

Ten years ago, I would've expected this sort of thing to have an effect on public opinion- it seems that it'd be hard to maintain the position that Israel has always negotiated in good faith in the face of this evidence. Now, I don't expect much to change.

I am reminded yet again about our 'good faith' bargaining with the Native American tribes during the westward expansion.

Oh, those pesky settlers. Again.

I ask again: what, exactly, does the United States get out of its relationship with Israel?

Israelis are fighting a war that Americans can understand. Their victims, the Palestinians, are experiencing a war that most Americans cannot comprehend.
American War versus Real War:

Few Americans born after the Civil War know much about war. Real war. War that seeks you out. War that arrives on your doorstep -- not once in a blue moon, but once a month or a week or a day. The ever-present fear that just when you’re at the furthest point in your fields, just when you’re most exposed, most alone, most vulnerable, it will come roaring into your world.

Those Americans who have gone to war since the 1870s -- soldiers or civilians -- have been mostly combat tourists, even those who spent many tours under arms or with pen (or computer) in hand reporting from war zones. The troops among them, even the draftees or not-so-volunteers of past wars, always had a choice -- be it fleeing the country or going to prison. They never had to contemplate living out a significant part of their life in a basement bomb shelter or worry about scrambling out of it before a foreign soldier tossed in a grenade. They never had to go through the daily dance with doom, the sense of fear and powerlessness that comes when foreign troops and foreign technology hold the power of life and death over your village, your home, each and every day.

It doesn't really matter what the Israelis say: Americans are always going to find their side of the war more sympathetic and comprehensible.

Let's get one thing straight; in its current state Israel is not an ally of the United States. In fact, it may be the single biggest threat to US security in the Middle East. I'm far, far more worried about Israel starting a war which drags us in, than anything Iran is up to.

I desperately want to see an Israel run by sensible people seriously seeking peace. I sincerely want to support them, but what they're doing is incredibly dangerous and deeply immoral.

Jesus. The fact I'm hearing this here says something. Our media completely whitewash this country, its leadership especially.

Gosh, this reminds of something else that happend in the last century, but I just can't put my finger on it. I'm pretty sure it was really big and awful. I'm also sensing some irony, given the subject at hand. I guess it'll come to me later.

The US South? The US Red Scare? Or maybe apartheid South Africa, which Israel supported? How about violence in the name of defending Islam, which Saudi leaders use to distract from their shortcomings?

Few Americans born after the Civil War know much about war. Real war. War that seeks you out. War that arrives on your doorstep -- not once in a blue moon, but once a month or a week or a day.

This is not actually true. Millions of Americans have lived through this sort of war, often for years on end.

ajay: Millions of Americans have lived through this sort of war, often for years on end.

Naturalized citizens may well have, yes - but not native-born Americans.

I'm not sure why that should necessarily make any difference, Jes. Don't they count? Don't non-native-born citizens get to have a voice on foreign policy?

Manifestly, they do: see Florida, for example. See Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Zbigniew Brzezinski, for Pete's sake. Three naturalised Americans, all with immense influence on US policy towards the Middle East and everywhere else, all of whose backgrounds affected their views on foreign policy very deeply.

I would estimate that there are more American citizens who have lived through war, in this sense, than there are, say, German citizens. Possibly even more than there are Russian citizens.

"Naturalized citizens may well have, yes - but not native-born Americans."

amen to that!

Don't non-native-born citizens get to have a voice on foreign policy?

Just like the American poor, their presence in the halls of power is atypical...and stands out because they are uncommon.

I'm not sure why that should necessarily make any difference, Jes.

Well, proportionally, I think it does.

Don't they count? Don't non-native-born citizens get to have a voice on foreign policy?

Sometimes more than most, considering naturalized citizens like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who (born 1947) would have parents and grandparents with direct experience of war on the losing side.

I would estimate that there are more American citizens who have lived through war, in this sense, than there are, say, German citizens.

From the CIA factbook, 20% of the population of Germany is over 65 - that is, born prior to 1945. That's about 16.7 million people who have lived through war and its aftermath.

According to the Migration Information website, there are about 38 million foreign born people in the US - about twice the number of German citizens over 65, but only 12.5% of the population compared to Germany's 20%. Added factor: while we can both cite stand-out examples of naturalized citizens who are extremely influential, I think it's probably fair to say that Germany's 20% of citizens with direct experience of war probably proportionally includes more influential people than the US's 12.5%.

An added factor, from my own personal experience - my father remembers WWII from his schooldays, my grandfather served in WWI: the memorials that surround us become more vivid when they are part of your own country's experience, when the reason for one building or one street of buildings standing out as newer than the rest is known to be because it was destroyed in the war.

Possibly even more than there are Russian citizens.

Yes. The proportion of Russian citizens over 65 is only 13.5%, or about 18.5 million. Approximately 13.5% of the population of the USSR were killed in WWII - 1 out of every 7 or 8 people. Clearly, this kind of experience would mean the descendents of the survivors would have less knowledge of what war means...

There have been lots of people who suspected, or believed, that Netanyahu and the current Israeli government thought this way. And kept standing up and saying so -- usually with little effect on American policy or public opinion.

But there is a significant difference, especially when you are trying to convince others, between that and having the Israeli PM actually stand up (however accidentally) and say so. It may well be that this will have more impact than those here who were already convinced might expect.

Well, quite. So why make the distinction?

Why say, when I point out "actually, lots of people will have lived through war in their native countries and then become Americans" dismiss them by pointing out that they're only naturalised citizens, rather than native-born?

(And I'd doubt how influential the war generation is in Germany now; the youngest of the ones who can actually remember the war will be 70 at least, and almost invariably retired...)

In tragic irony the German war generation is also the one that is essential to keep the flame of nazism alive. It is said over here that nazism jumped a generation and now it is the original Nazis still alive that infect their grandchildren.
Btw, even those that did not consciously lived through WW2 had to cope with the aftermass. And some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiser_Wilhelm_Memorial_Church>ruins have been left standing too.

Yes Hartmut, I visited that church when I vacationed in Berlin a few years back. Actually, we stayed at a hotel right down the block, so I went in several times.

Good times. The visit, not the whole bombing thing.

"ajay: Millions of Americans have lived through this sort of war, often for years on end.
Naturalized citizens may well have, yes - but not native-born Americans. "

This is true for the East Coast. It is not true for the West Coast. When the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor the West Coast was only very lightly defended and in those days it would have taken a long time to get re-inforcements in theater. A large enough invasion force could very well have taken California - they would probably never have made it past the Sierra Nevada, but then the same would have been true for the American forces.

"Btw, even those that did not consciously lived through WW2 had to cope with the aftermass."

Hartmut, you have just invented a new word and I love it. I can see how it would be easy to spell "aftermath" as "aftermass". I suggest changing the voewel to "aftermess".

Jim: This is true for the East Coast. It is not true for the West Coast.

American fantasising at its best.

Jim, I'm fairly sure that the Japanese never actually invaded and occupied the West Coast of America.

But Americans were afraid they would, Ajay, and for Americans, that's exactly as traumatic as the experience of actually having cities bombed, or being invaded and occupied, is for other peoples. Americans are so sensitive.

Why say, when I point out "actually, lots of people will have lived through war in their native countries and then become Americans" dismiss them by pointing out that they're only naturalised citizens, rather than native-born?

I wasn't trying to dismiss them, Ajay, I was pointing out that they're a minority in the US, and always have been. There is no time in US history when the whole population of the US knew what war is like: for most Americans since that time, their experience of war is of being conbat tourists.

Eric, cynics say that the bombing was actually the best that could have happened to that church given that it was seen as an example of rather bad taste even at the time of its building.
---
In WW1 there existed German naval plans for bombarding the US East Coast. Would have been a wee bit difficult given the very limited range of German capital ships.
Late in WW2 submarine launched V2 rockets were close to being used. But at that time subs were unable to get close enough to the US anymore. ICBMs were on the drawing board but not yet tested. Same goes for ultra long range bombers.
The Japanese balloon attacks simply were badly timed and could have caused significant damage at low cost.
Let's say the US was extremly lucky.

There is no time in US history when the whole population of the US knew what war is like

OK, that's a rather different claim now, and one that is by no means restricted to the US. Depending on how you define "knowing what war is like", it probably applies to every almost every nation in the world. Certainly a definition that doesn't include, say, 1865 in America, would also not include 1945 in Russia. (Most of Russia's land area, after all, never saw a German soldier and never heard a shot fired in anger.) And I don't think that's actually a terribly useful definition.

OK, that's a rather different claim now, and one that is by no means restricted to the US. Depending on how you define "knowing what war is like", it probably applies to every almost every nation in the world.

You know, while you obviously know more history than Jim, your insistance that the US really does too have the same experience of war as other nations is kind of weird.

Almost every nation in the world can say that from 1866 to 2010, their sole experience of war was of sending their soldiers off to fight elsewhere?

The US is a privileged nation: your idea of a war with lots of casualties is Vietnam, f'godsake, where over 15 years you had about as many US soldiers die as British civilians were killed in the first two years of the Blitz.

Trying to pretend that privilege does not exist is silly. Trying to talk up the US's bad experiences in war - the fear people on the West Coast felt that they might be invaded as if this was actual invasion, the experiences that some immigrants have had of direct war before they came to the US as if this was comparable to a war being fought in the US - this just demonstrates, once again, that Americans really can't bear to admit that as a nation, you're sheltered and inexperienced.

As a nation, you don't know what war is like: it would be great if "almost every nation in the world" could say the same, but - that's not true. And part of the reason why it's not true, is because the US governent is a great instigator of wars on in other countries, giving US soldiers the experience of being combat tourists.

And the parallels between Israel and the US are fairly clear: the Israeli position is comfortable enough to give Americans a chance of comprehending it, and just dangerous enough to give Americans a pleasant sense of siding with a country under attack.

Americans who are not Palestinian immigrants have no notion of what it is like to live under Israeli attack, and it's beyond the comprehension of the privileged many, because it's like nothing the US has ever experienced.

Most of Russia's land area, after all, never saw a German soldier and never heard a shot fired in anger.

Most of Russia's land area has never seen or heard anything. It's land. But I'm pretty sure that most of Russia's *people* lived within earshot of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe at some point between 1941 and 1945.

One should start with Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance if one is looking for a country knowing what war is like. Wikipedia points out that "Paraguay's prewar population of approximately 525,000 was reduced to about 221,000 in 1871, of which only about 28,000 were men". For those of you who would think that this might make a country think twice about war, you'd be wrong, Paraguay mixed it up with Bolivia in the Chaco War (over borderlands that were thought to have oil reserves) from 1932-1935.

Of course, this isn't really anything on Native American tribes, but they were usually wiped out by epidemics (the Mandan lost 90% to smallpox) so it is slightly different.

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