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January 05, 2011

Comments

Don't call it a ghetto though.

From the NYT piece that Eric linked to:

The cable also notes that Israeli officials told American diplomats that “political pressure arising from the issue of captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, may have influenced high-level Israeli officials to tighten their stance on monetary policy.”

Good to know that the life of a single soldier is worth debilitating poverty for a million people according to the Israeli government...or perhaps I should write "people".

Is there any plausible end game behind this policy? I mean, is the Israeli government reasoning that if they impose enough economic suffering, that will cause some change in Hamas policy that will be more to their liking? What is it? Right now all I see is the desire to impose suffering for its own sake.

Winning hearts and minds!

This pretty much agrees with what the Israeli government said publicly: They were waging economic warfare to topple or modify Hamas. And at the same time, striving to prevent a true humanitarian emergency.

There, of course, worse ways to wage war. And this is a real war. With real shooting on both sides. So economic warfare seems reasonable, given the unreasonable nature of Hamas.

Calling normal warfighting "Collective punishment" is stretching the category to the point of propaganda, and is especially offensive if we consider the cases that prompted the law: The firing squad murder of innocent townspeople by Nazi death squads.

The alternative course is the assassination of Hamas leaders and the conventional warfare of events like Operation Cast Lead.

Collective punishment isn't exactly a new tactic--the Israelis are just following our example in Iraq during the 90's

link

"Calling normal warfighting "Collective punishment" is stretching the category to the point of propaganda, and is especially offensive if we consider the cases that prompted the law: The firing squad murder of innocent townspeople by Nazi death squads."

The rules of "normal warfighting" seem to depend on whose civilians get hurt. So does this work both ways? Should Israel be subjected to equally harsh punitive sanctions, designed to bring their economy to its knees, until they withdraw all settlements from the West Bank? I despise Israel's behavior and wouldn't go along with that.

What DJ said.

And what do you mean "alternative course"? Those courses have a habit of running in tandem.

This seems like confirmation of what was already reported though. I remember reading about this, and just found a McClatchy article about an Israeli document describing the blockade as econmic warfare. I'd be more interested in some more information about that "secret agreement" concerning the settlements between the US and Israel. Ehud Barak told French officials about it according to a cable.

Here's the cable Christian G referred to.

link

Christian: It is confirmation of what was already reported. But that's what most Wikileaks "revelations" are.

Still, it lends credence to the prior reporting that was dismissed by those with a political agenda. In this, it is valuable.

Contra Fred, the Israeli government wasn't really saying this publicly - nor were its supporters in the US. The focus was on weapons, weapons, weapons.

I don't dispute that it's valuable. I just can't get very excited about it. Of course, running around and talking how it's all about weapons sounds better from an Israeli government point of view.

"Calling normal warfighting "Collective punishment" is stretching the category to the point of propaganda, and is especially offensive if we consider the cases that prompted the law: The firing squad murder of innocent townspeople by Nazi death squads.

Unless it's your contention that the term "collective punishment" is only accurate if applied to cases where innocents are murdered by firing squads, the implementation details of the original Nazi cases are entirely beside the point. Collective punishment is defined by the GC as:

No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

I see nothing in there about firing squads, or more broadly any kind of requirement that collective punishment be defined as mass murder.

Calling what is happening in Gaza "normal warfighting" is what's stretching the category to the point of propaganda. Under no sane, reasonable definition used in the last 60 years is that so.

Your excitement level may vary.

There, of course, worse ways to wage war. And this is a real war. With real shooting on both sides. So economic warfare seems reasonable, given the unreasonable nature of Hamas.

One does not continue to wage war against an occupied civilian population.

Calling normal warfighting "Collective punishment" is stretching the category to the point of propaganda, and is especially offensive if we consider the cases that prompted the law: The firing squad murder of innocent townspeople by Nazi death squads.

So you are claiming that this is not, in fact, a collective punishment? You've done a half-clever little two-step here:
1)this is normal war-fighting
2)calling something that is normal war-fighting "collective punishment" is propaganda.
I say half-clever, because it is almost definitional that this is a collective punishment, and you've managed to condemn this categorization without actually disputing it. Either you believe that this collective punishment is moral, effective, etc, or you don't. Playing word games and invoking comparisons with the Nazis isn't trying to reach an understanding, it's attempting to obscure matters.

Turbulence,

Good to know that the life of a single soldier is worth debilitating poverty for a million people according to the Israeli government...or perhaps I should write "people".

But doesn't this cut both ways? If Hamas simply released Shalit, and Israeli policy did not change, wouldn't that be a victory for Israel's critics?

"But doesn't this cut both ways?"

Perhaps when the Palestinians can mount an equally effective economic blockade of Israel, then we can observe this "both ways" cutting. Until then, we can only speculate.

Good to know that the life of a single soldier is worth debilitating poverty for a million people according to the Israeli government...or perhaps I should write "people".

But doesn't this cut both ways? If Hamas simply released Shalit, and Israeli policy did not change, wouldn't that be a victory for Israel's critics?

I think it might very well cut both ways IF we were talking about two sides in a negotiation with equivalent power and status. But that's not the case here. Israel has a great deal more control of the situation than Hamas: for example, continuation of the status quo means that Israel remains a nice European-style high income country while Gaza remains a cage with a horrific economy. Israel has a lot of leverage while Hamas has very little. Given how little leverage they have, I'm not sure I can fault Hamas for refusing to give up the one asset they have that Israel seems to actually care about.

I mean, from Hamas' perspective, no matter what they do it is never enough to satisfy Israel. They won a free and fair election, and how does Israel respond? By declaring their victory tainted and working to isolate them. Even when they win, they still lose.

I could see collective punishment as a reasonable action in some (limited) circumstances. Butis this one of them?

I think you have to have some good idea what end-point you are trying to get to. And it is not clear that the Israeli government does. (Beyond, perhaps, just wishing the whole problem, i.e. the all of Palestinians, would just go away.)

Do they expect Gaza to someday be a peaceful enclave (that is, part of a separate country) next door? If so, the people living there have to have some hope of a viable economy. Which you don't get to via collective economic punishment like this -- at least as far as I can see. Because if there is no hope, why not strike out at whomever you see as the cause of your problems?

Or do they see it as ideally a permanent refugee camp, subsisting on charity from elsewhere (but one which doesn't interact with Israel to any significant degree)? If so, can they point to anywhere, at any time, where that has actually worked out? And is there any indication that keeping the inhabitants on the edge of economic collapse is the way to get there?

Or is there some other intended end-point that I merely lack the imagination to see?

P.S. I suppose the same could be said about the West Bank. But in comparison to Gaza, it does have something that could be, or become, a viable economy. Sort of.

I think wj's point is excellent.

Israeli policy appears dominated, at least presently, by what they will NOT accept (note: this appears largely true of the Palestinian groups too). No to this, no to that, meanwhile the settlement building continues and the endgame is... what?

Eric,
Your excitement level may vary.

I thought myself that using "excitement" in this context might not be the best choice of words and this and my first comment came off more dismissive than intended.
You are without doubt better informed about the Gaza situation than me, and I have a hard time remembering individual statements without looking it up by going back to these discussions at time . From what I remember, I think the problem went deeper than dismissed reporting by those with an agenda.
You wrote that "the Israeli government wasn't really saying this publicly".
I take that to mean that the Israelis have said it on occassions, but it wasn't really part of their main message. The http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/27/AR2008012702062.html > Washington Post reported in 2008 that Israeli officials told their supreme court that they were waging economic warfare.
From what I can tell, the official Israeli position is and was that economic sanctions against Gaza are an entirely legitimate tool in the fight against Hamas. These sanctions make hardly sense if they don't aim to introduce any crippling effects on the economy. Was there actually a widespread denial about this? I thought the debates were more focused on the actual effects of the blockade. People here and in other places were discussing if there was in fact a humanitarian crisis, for example.


Working link to the Wapo article.

I take that to mean that the Israelis have said it on occassions, but it wasn't really part of their main message.

That was exactly my point - that, and their US counterparts were certainly not playing that part up as well.

But no worries about being dismissive. I got your point.

One does not continue to wage war against an occupied civilian population.

When they're firing missiles at you, you either do or you get replaced by a government that will.

When they're firing missiles at you, you either do or you get replaced by a government that will

Who is "they"? It only takes a few, with DIY rocket kits.

That's sort of the whole 'collective punishment' point. All Isreal does is punish everyone in Gaza for the actions of a few. Actions that won't EVER stop, because the "few" are getting everything they want -- including more recruits because of clownshoes Israeli heavy-handedness.

Seriously, Israel's entire plan seems to be "If we smack them HARD enough, OFTEN enough, magic will happen and the small % of radicals will disappear!".

On the question of punishment, there's the usual chicken and egg problem that pops up with this topic, except in the US it's always assumed that Palestinian violence comes first and then Israel retaliates, sometimes too harshly. But in reality sometimes Palestinians retaliate against Israeli violence, and anyway, the occupation itself (including the blockade) is violence. Also, in almost any time period you care to examine more Palestinian civilians are killed by Israelis than Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians. Not that this justifies the rocket fire.

Anyway, that aside, here's a group we probably shouldn't be punishing--

link

Who is "they"?

"They" is Hamas, which is the elected government in Gaza. If you're going to claim that Hamas isn't behind the attacks, I'd like to see some evidence to that effect.

"When they're firing missiles at you, you either do or you get replaced by a government that will."

You do know that both sides kill civilians, don't you? Or does that not matter? Does the occupation not matter? Apparently not.

B'tselem

Of course your attitude is common among Americans. One constantly hears about Palestinian terrorism as though only one side in this conflict commits atrocities. It just isn't so.

And our lovely politicians see nothing wrong with collective punishment--here's Chuck Schumer endorsing it--

link

And again, the same logic applies to Israel--if it is legitimate to engage in collective punishment against Palestinians, then it is legitimate to do the same to Israelis and Americans.

You know what? The argument that "But Tommy hit me!" isn't vaild in elementary school and is even less valid if the disputants are using real weapons on civilians.

Israel is the stronger party in the conflict. That puts them in the position of being the party that can step up to the plate, act like grownups, take responsiblity for their side of the conflict and take the intiative to stop the killing.


The Palestinians and the Israelis both have a right to territory and economic survival. I don't give a shit who hit who first or last or most. That sort of debate just continues the conflict.

The difference that matters is that the Israelis are stronger in every sense. Therefore they need to be the ones to lead in stopping the fight. They aren't doing that. Their goverrnment is perpetuating the fighting and taking no responsiblity.


And again, the same logic applies to Israel--if it is legitimate to engage in collective punishment against Palestinians, then it is legitimate to do the same to Israelis and Americans.

Ah, you thought I was justifying the Israeli government's behavior rather than explaining it.

The reason terror works is that people are horribly afraid of being killed randomly, in ways that are beyond their control. It's why 2000 deaths ten years ago have dominated American thinking over the past ten years, when we accept 50,000 every year in automobile accidents without thinking twice. We are currently fighting two wars, costing well north of a trillion dollars, thousands of American lives, and tens of thousands of wounded because the memory of those random deaths still scares the crap out of us.

Now picture how traumatized Israels were by the second Intifada. Not one incident, but dozens. Not one day, but six years. A third as many deaths, but out of a population of a few million, not a few hundreds of millions.

When Hamas attacks Israel with rockets threatening the same kind of random death, do you think that a government that meets that threat with anything less than full force is going to stay in office?

"The argument that "But Tommy hit me!" isn't vaild in elementary school and is even less valid if the disputants are using real weapons on civilians."

I agree with that. Neither side has any right to hit civilians and since one atrocity cannot justify another, morally it doesn't matter who started it. But in the US the situation is invariably described as Palestinian terrorism followed by Israeli retaliation, and that's not necessarily the case.

link

Yes, this is all nursery school stuff, but when it is presented this way it shows a bias at work.

I'm aware of the statistics, Mike. Now take that trauma you describe, multiply the death toll by about four or so and add to it a brutal occupation and (in the case of Gaza) a blockade intended to hurt the entire population. That goes a long way towards "explaining" (while not justifying) Palestinian terrorism.

As for what the Israeli government should do to stay in office, I'm sure a lot of slaughter and chest-pounding is probably the way to go.

The reason terror works is that people are horribly afraid of being killed randomly

Ah. Auto accidents are not random. Good to know.

That goes a long way towards "explaining" (while not justifying) Palestinian terrorism.

Agreed on all counts.

Ah. Auto accidents are not random.

Not so much. They're much more likely if you're drunk, or speeding, or talking on your cell phone, far less likely to kill you if you're wearing your set belt. Even when the other guy's drunk and driving 90 the wrong way, you have some chance to dodge him.

Compare that to eating at Sbarro's the day someone blows the place up.

Do they expect Gaza to [...] Or do they see it as [...]
The current Israel government "is made up of a coalition of Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, the Labor Party, The Jewish Home, and on April 1, United Torah Judaism joined as well. It is the largest cabinet in the country's history, in terms of the number of ministers: it contains 30 ministers and nine deputy ministers."

You expect this group to agree on a coherent policy, exactly how, please?

How would that work? Who do you suggest should do what to influence the other members to do something?

If you don't know how they might achieve that, how do you expect an answer to your question?

Specifically:


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom Likud

Moshe Ya'alon Likud

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Barak Labor Party

Avigdor Lieberman Yisrael Beitenu

Dan Meridor Likud

Eli Yishai Shas

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Shalom Simhon Labor Party

Minister of Communications Moshe
Kahlon Likud

Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat Likud

Minister of Defense Ehud Barak Labor Party

Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Silvan Shalom Likud

Minister of Economic Strategy Benjamin Netanyahu Likud

Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar Likud

Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan Likud

Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz Likud

Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman Yisrael Beitenu

Minister of Health Benjamin Netanyahu Likud

Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias Shas

Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver Yisrael Beitenu

Minister of Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan Likud

Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labour Binyamin Ben-Eliezer Labor Party

Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli-Yoel Edelstein Likud

Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor Likud

Minister of Internal Affairs Eli
Yishai Shas

Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich Yisrael Beitenu

Minister of Justice Ya'akov Ne'eman Not a member of the Knesset

Minister of Minorities Avishay Braverman Labor Party

Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau Yisrael Beitenu

Minister of Pensioner Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu Likud

Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom Likud

Minister of Religious Services Ya'akov Margi Shas

Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz The Jewish Home

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon Likud

Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov Yisrael Beitenu

Minister of Transportation and Road Safety
Yisrael Katz Likud

Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog Labor Party

Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin Likud

Meshulam Nahari Shas

Yossi Peled Likud

Deputy Ministers

Deputy Minister of Defense Matan Vilnai Labor Party

Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoob
Kara Likud

Deputy Minister of Education Meir Porush United Torah Judaism

Deputy Minister of Finance Yitzhak Cohen Shas

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon Yisrael Beitenu

Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman[3]
United Torah Judaism

Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour Orit Noked Labor Party

Deputy Minister of Pensioner Affairs Lea Nass Likud

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Gila Gamliel Likud

These people couldn't agree on whether the sky is up or the ground is down. I would love for someone to explain to how, specifically, you expect these people to produce any coherent program towards the Palestinians?

How would it work?

Take it step by step.

I'd love to know because I'm familiar with with Israeli politics -- no expert, Ijust read the newspaper some times, to have no idea how they possibly could, given their positions, and parties, and the reasons those parties have those positions, but since everyone knows so much about Israel and Palestine, I'm sure someone here could explain to me how they think it will work.

Anyone?

"You know what? The argument that "But Tommy hit me!" isn't vaild in elementary school and is even less valid if the disputants are using real weapons on civilians."

I would argue that "But Tommy hit me!" is, in fact, perfectly valid, in elementary school, and at the level of governments. It's just that, in elementary school, you've got a superior force, the school administration, which is invested in the notion that they're providing an effective, non-violent means of resolving such situations, even though they generally aren't. Which leads them to ban self defense, even though they really provide no defense in it's place.

Who's in that position with respect to Israel and the Palestinians? Who's offering to protect Israel from Hamas missile and mortars? Which they could, pretty clearly, afford to fire off a lot more off, were the embargo not in place.

Israel and the PA are in a state of war. Palestinians have elected a government which is conducting continual military attacks on Israel. The latest less than a week ago. That really does have to be factored into any analysis of the situation.

"Compare that to eating at Sbarro's the day someone blows the place up."

OK. Let's try. As part of a group that viciously oppresses another people, I'd say my chances of being blown up at the salad bar are more likely.

Random is as random does.

These people couldn't agree on whether the sky is up or the ground is down. I would love for someone to explain to how, specifically, you expect these people to produce any coherent program towards the Palestinians?

The first sentence is obviously false, as in, completely 100% wrong. The Israeli government makes decisions every single day. It wrestles with difficult problems ever single day. Yes, it it made up of a complex array of characters representing different parties with different interests, but it still manages to function. That is to say: they agree on things all the time.

The notion that the Israeli government can't possibly formulate coherent policy is just sophistry. And it remains sophistry no matter how many lists of ministers you include in your comment.

If you want to narrow your claim by saying that dealing with Palestinians is such a contentious issue that the current Israeli government can't have a coherent policy on that specific issue alone, by all means, do so.

Compare that to eating at Sbarro's the day someone blows the place up.

Actually, an Israeli friend of mine has reduced his chances of getting blown up at Sbarro's to zero. He was conscripted by Israeli military and told them 'screw you, I'm not going to serve in an army that spends most of its time abusing Palestinians'; they did the usual things to him, including imprisoning him for a few months. When he got out, he immigrated to the US. Israel's loss: he's an incredibly sharp guy.

"Israel and the PA are in a state of war."

Germany and the US were once in a state of war. We firebombed their major cities to rubble, killing hundreds of thousands of innocents. Why some of them might even have been in line at the salad bar.

Yes, the ends do justify the means....discuss.

"Israel and the PA are in a state of war. Palestinians have elected a government which is conducting continual military attacks on Israel. The latest less than a week ago. That really does have to be factored into any analysis of the situation."

The Israelis have an eleced governemtn that is just as responsible for the war as the PA's are.

The Israelis have nuclear weapons, a highly trained, well equiped professional fighting force and the backing of one of the most powerful nations on earth. They also have a remarkable record of winning battles.

I just don't buy the poor little victimized helpless Israel perspective. I think that those who absolve Israel of responsibility for their contribution of the conflict are perpetuating the conflict.

I think that the school yard metaphor is valid. Governments often behave like children, only on a larger and far more dangerous scale.

I remember reading an essay by Colin M Turnbull years and years ago. I did a little googling just now but couldn't find it. ANyway the thesis of the essay was that governments generally behave worse than is normative for individuals in the given society. The dynamic of group decisionmaking has the effect of dumbing down the decisions and lifting up the more primitive emotional responses. That's the way I remember it, anyway. In fact I think hegoes on to compare your average government to a thirteen year old.


It does seem to me that governments frequently behave like middle school students. It is very difficult for governemtns to think long run, make difficult decisions, or control the more negative passions of people in the government or in the society.

The Israeli government's attitude seems to be typically childish and primitve: nothing is their fault, they are always the victim, nothing matters beyond racting in a vengeful way for the last round in the fight.

The Palestinians aren't necessarily any more mature in their behavior but they are the weaker party. The weaker party really isn't in a good position to give up the fight unless they are willing to lose
everything. It stronger party is in a much better position to make a concession and make a serious commitment to ending a conflict.
(Although I do think the Palestinians couuld win a viable state for themselves through mass nonviolent demonstrations a la Ghandi. They would have to be willing to die in large numbers but the publicity for Israel would be very bad and the image of poor little victimized Israel would no longer be sustainable.)

I would argue that "But Tommy hit me!" is, in fact, perfectly valid, in elementary school, and at the level of governments. It's just that, in elementary school, you've got a superior force, the school administration, which is invested in the notion that they're providing an effective, non-violent means of resolving such situations, even though they generally aren't. Which leads them to ban self defense, even though they really provide no defense in it's place.

I find it very rich indeed that Brett wrote the above, then immediately followed it by vigorously berating the Palestinians for failing to abide Israeli bans on Palestinian self-defense (i.e., de-militarization).

Oh, wait, silly me, I got confused by the subtly of Brett's analogy. Israel is the poor, helpless, scrawny kid with glasses, and the Palestinians are the hulking, vicious playground bully bent on abusing them just because they can. Everything falls into place now!

Although I do think the Palestinians couuld win a viable state for themselves through mass nonviolent demonstrations a la Ghandi.

One of the perks of marrying into a Pakistani family is learning, over and over and over, that Ghandi was an evil sociopath responsible for the deaths and impoverishment of millions.

Beyond that, I don't see a lot of evidence that such nonviolence would be effective or even feasible. I mean, let's say that tomorrow, half of Gaza devoted themselves to nonviolent resistance. That would really irritate the Israeli government, right? An irritated Israeli government could easily pay off a few Gazans to engage in violence. Boom, non-violent movement discredited. That's one of the benefits of economically crippling a caged population: everyone is desperate so it becomes a lot cheaper and easier to buy off people.

This isn't some crazy notion: Israel has, in the recent past, paid lots of money to fund Palestinian groups that would compete with Palestinian groups that were getting too popular. That's why they paid so much to fund Hamas back in the early days.

They would have to be willing to die in large numbers but the publicity for Israel would be very bad and the image of poor little victimized Israel would no longer be sustainable.

I think this perspective might be true in an ideal world but doesn't work in this one. There's already a non-violent Palestinian movement in the town of Bilin for example. A non-violent Palestinian protester there was recently murdered by the Israeli government. The movement has the support of some Israeli allies and even got the agreement of the Israeli Supreme Court. And they are still a failure. No one knows about them. Their existence has done nothing to change the prevailing narrative. Israel's behavior with respect to them hasn't changed. Their land is still being taken by Israel, court judgment notwithstanding.

The power of nonviolence is a nice story that liberals tell themselves, but it doesn't have much to do with the real world.

"They" is Hamas, which is the elected government in Gaza. If you're going to claim that Hamas isn't behind the attacks, I'd like to see some evidence to that effect.

Which rather ignores one point. Hamas did not win that election because of their rhetoric or actions regarding Israel. Which were not, after all, all that different from those of the Fatah folks then running the PA. Rather they won because Hamas, as a non-government organization, was providing hospitals and other social services which the PA government was signally failing to provide. (Nor, just for the record, was Israel, as the occupying power, doing much there either.)

In short, Palestinians voted their pocket books, not foreign policy. Gee, where else have we seen that happen?

Note that I'm not saying that Hamas is not responsible (or at least complicit) in the attacks on Israel. Just that doing so was not what got them elected. Which rather cuts into the justification for collective punishment.

Turb:

[...] If you want to narrow your claim by saying that dealing with Palestinians is such a contentious issue that the current Israeli government can't have a coherent policy on that specific issue alone, by all means, do so.
There are innumerable other crucial issues they are incoherent. on, and this present government of Israel is a bad one. It cannot be otherwise. The Israeli governmental system is, in my opinion, very dysfunctional. It's no excuse whatever for anything, but it does help explain some things.

The Palestinian multitude of internal factions is also not terribly functional or coherent, and they shoot each other more. This also is not helpful but it does help explain some things.

It's all very bad, and I'm not asserting any equivalency.

I, within that context, agree with your above statement, and I thank you for it.

[...] No one knows about them.
Not enough, there are never enough, but this statement is very false. That not enough people know is true.

I'm sorry I can't do more on this for now. Thanks for the good and correct info that you present.

I offer you the opportunity to write a front-page post on I/P, or other subjects of interest to you, as a guest post, and submit to me, at your convenience. We'll deal with specifics on that, if you wish to, then.

Offer open, and I hope you will. You have a valuable POV which deserves more attention. That's what I can do to help at this moment: I'm making that offer, and when I can respond, if you choose to, I will.

Have as great a day as possible.

wonkie:

a la Ghandi.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Gandhi.

This is not personal, nor a criticism; I know of your limitations, as we've discussed. I'm merely stating for the public, to remind everyone, since it's one of the most common name errors around, that his name, nor the relevant part of one of his names, has never been "Ghandi," but part of one of his names "Gandhi."

Thanks muchly for your views!

I'm not sure why Gandhi's name is so often spelled "Ghandi", but I see that mistake all the time online. Maybe more often than I see the correct spelling.

Now on to Brett--

No thread on the I/P conflict around here would be complete without Brett coming in, making it clear that to him the only deaths and suffering that matter are the deaths and suffering of the Israelis. In fairness, go to some very pro-Palestinian blog with a comment section and say anything critical of Palestinian violence aimed at civilians and usually someone (thankfully not most, in my experience) will defend it, often saying that occupied people have the right to resist "by any means necessary". I finally got around to googling the phrase--comes from Sartre and was popularized by Malcolm X and now, apparently, it's an internet cliche. Brett and these Sartre readers should get together and exchange notes.

Rather they won because Hamas, as a non-government organization, was providing hospitals and other social services which the PA government was signally failing to provide.

Also (and yes, relatedly), Hamas was widely viewed as being much, much, much less corrupt than Fatah. Given Fatah-level corruption, that was a low bar, but it was still a very important one.

I'm not sure why Gandhi's name is so often spelled "Ghandi"
I am!
Maybe more often than I see the correct spelling.
Close enough. Try the link; it's amusing, and a useful source for many years, though it's really just Google. But fun google! Googlefight!

Other people have noticed: Mahatma Gandhi (not "Ghandi").

Why?

Mark Liberman of Language Log:

(Mis)spelling Gandhi

Shankar Kalyanaraman observes that people often write Gandhi as "Ghandi".

In fact, this misspelling is much commoner than either of the other two errors, "Ghandhi" and "Gandi":

gh & dh = 8,220
gh & d = 261,000
g & dh = 2,260,000
g & d = 78,000

The difference is even larger considering that many of the "gandi" hits are really examples of gandi.net or other completely different but equally valid words. We've commented on this pattern of errors many times before, for example with respect to Jennifer, tomorrow, parallel, Karttunen, Attila, and so on. What this means in the case of Gandhi is that people know there is an "h" in there somewhere, and just one of them, but they're not too sure where it is. As a result, the omission of the "h" after the "d" and the insertion of an "h" after the "g" are not statistically independent processes.

It's no doubt also relevant, in this case, that "gh" is a commoner sequence of letters in English than "dh" is, by a large factor.

I haven't seen a model of spelling/misspelling that does a very good job of predicting such patterns. The spelling-correction algorithms that I'm familiar with tend to assume independent of string-local edits, which is obviously wrong.

Posted by Mark Liberman at June 2, 2004 09:22 PM
I'm a bit vague on how to to tables in comments here, so I reformatted what's a table in the original; click through if you prefer that graphic to my sloppy version.

It bugs me.

A post: PUSH-BUTTON GANDHI, BUT PLEASE DON'T PUSH THE BUTTONS.

Another post: ONE OF MY MANY FORMS OF SNOBBERY,

if you like.

But one of my many rules of thumb for internet discussion is: "Never discuss Israel with someone who can't spell it."

Unfair, to be sure, but life is short.

While I'm at it: Gandhi, Tolkien, Asimov, Le Guin. It's not hard at all, with all due respect to Mr. Ghandi, Professor Tolkein, Dr. Azimov, and Ms. Leguin, all of whom live in Isreal. (I had to retype the last twice, because I literally couldn't make my fingers spell out that "word" I've never written before; amusing.)

This has been your Gary's Rules Of Thumb Minute.

Sufficient, unless anyone would like to know more.

The "rule" is, of course, not one I fully followed, then, or since.

But it's not altogether useless, either.

I'm not sure why Gandhi's name is so often spelled "Ghandi"
I am!
Maybe more often than I see the correct spelling.
Close enough. Try the link; it's amusing, and a useful source for many years, though it's really just Google. But fun google! Googlefight!

Other people have noticed: Mahatma Gandhi (not "Ghandi").

Why?

Mark Liberman of Language Log:

(Mis)spelling Gandhi

Shankar Kalyanaraman observes that people often write Gandhi as "Ghandi".

In fact, this misspelling is much commoner than either of the other two errors, "Ghandhi" and "Gandi":

gh & dh = 8,220
gh & d = 261,000
g & dh = 2,260,000
g & d = 78,000

The difference is even larger considering that many of the "gandi" hits are really examples of gandi.net or other completely different but equally valid words. We've commented on this pattern of errors many times before, for example with respect to Jennifer, tomorrow, parallel, Karttunen, Attila, and so on. What this means in the case of Gandhi is that people know there is an "h" in there somewhere, and just one of them, but they're not too sure where it is. As a result, the omission of the "h" after the "d" and the insertion of an "h" after the "g" are not statistically independent processes.

It's no doubt also relevant, in this case, that "gh" is a commoner sequence of letters in English than "dh" is, by a large factor.

I haven't seen a model of spelling/misspelling that does a very good job of predicting such patterns. The spelling-correction algorithms that I'm familiar with tend to assume independent of string-local edits, which is obviously wrong.

Posted by Mark Liberman at June 2, 2004 09:22 PM
I'm a bit vague on how to to tables in comments here, so I reformatted what's a table in the original; click through if you prefer that graphic to my sloppy version.

It bugs me.

A post: PUSH-BUTTON GANDHI, BUT PLEASE DON'T PUSH THE BUTTONS.

Another post: ONE OF MY MANY FORMS OF SNOBBERY,

if you like.

But one of my many rules of thumb for internet discussion is: "Never discuss Israel with someone who can't spell it."

Unfair, to be sure, but life is short.

While I'm at it: Gandhi, Tolkien, Asimov, Le Guin. It's not hard at all, with all due respect to Mr. Ghandi, Professor Tolkein, Dr. Azimov, and Ms. Leguin, all of whom live in Isreal. (I had to retype the last twice, because I literally couldn't make my fingers spell out that "word" I've never written before; amusing.)

This has been your Gary's Rules Of Thumb Minute.

Sufficient, unless anyone would like to know more.

The "rule" is, of course, not one I fully followed, then, or since.

But it's not altogether useless, either.

Just remember that the folks in Eric Frank Russell's "And Then There Were None" were Gands, not Ghands.

Myob!

One of the classics.

Libertarians particularly like it, but don't let that put you off! :-)

I trust you've noticed this, Mike, but just in case.

If you'd like me to put in a link to you in any fashion, just let me know; I would have if I'd had any sense of one you'd desire, but a private Twitter page, or linked-in, or other choice seemed not a good idea.

Write me at gary underscore farber at yahoo cot com with an email address, anyway, if you feel like and don't mind; I'd find it useful -- perhaps -- if you wouldn't mind.

No ob. Myob!

Donald, occupied people have a right to resist. Leaving aside whether murdering random civilians can really be a legitimate part of resistance, my point relates to the prudence of continuing to pick a fight with an opponent vastly more powerful than yourself. Even were I to concede the moral equivalence of the Israelis and the Palestinians, (I'm not willing to entertain the moral superiority of the Palestinians even as a counter-factual hypothetical...) I think they're being remarkably stupid, by maintaining a status quo the Israelis are perfectly willing to live with.

If peace is going to come, it's going to have to be by concessions by the Palestinians. Not as a matter of justice, but simply because they NEED peace a lot more.

Perhaps more peace could come by exchanging birds.

Brett:

[...] Leaving aside whether murdering random civilians can really be a legitimate part of resistance
Without drawing equivalencies, both sides have done that, just as every government in the world has done that.

Some lots more than others.

But few haven't murdered, by any standard... pick a number.

Peace will never come from anyone keeping score.

If peace is going to come, it's going to have to be by concessions.

And recognizing the other side's concessions.

And listening to each other. And caring.

Despite every reason in the world not to, including your murdered family member.

That's what makes it so hard.

For all sides in wars.

Brett:

Who's in that position with respect to Israel and the Palestinians? Who's offering to protect Israel from Hamas missile and mortars?
If the U.S. military were less busy elsewhere, they could be peacekeepers on both sides.

So could NATO.

So could a properly constituted, with sane rules of engagement, UN Force. Note modifiers, please.

Or if you prefer, how about a Gurkha force?

Israel and the PA are in a state of war.
You may be unaware of the Oslo Accords, or the fact that this is news.

If Israel is at war with the Palestinian Authority, Brett, why is the United States training and supplying Palestinian forces?

How do you explain this?

May I also suggest looking into the differences between the Palestinian National Authority, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip?

After that we might discuss the internal divisions in Hamas, or other matters, but perhaps we could restart here?

Palestinians have elected a government which is conducting continual military attacks on Israel.
I'd be interested in some specifics here, with cites from the past six months, about this, please. Could you help out, perhaps?

Thanks, if so.

Mike Schilling:

[...] "They" is Hamas, which is the elected government in Gaza. If you're going to claim that Hamas isn't behind the attacks, I'd like to see some evidence to that effect.
Mike, let's start by my asking you for your description of who you understand the leaders of Hamas to be, and what their positions are.

Try not using Google or Wikipedia, or any reference, and from memory, tell us who the top five -- or three -- most influential leaders are, and why you are picking them.

Failing that, use Wikipedia, Google, reasonable source or cite you like, and then offer us a couple of paragraphs of what you understand the Hamas leadership to be, their decision-making process, and who's is charge.

Presumably you have some knowledge about this, but it would be a useful starting point for discussion, rather than asking other people.

If you prefer, I'll offer some answers myself, but wouldn't it be more interesting to either tell us your own opinion first, or look into it further for yourself?

But, if you like, I'll be happy to answer my own question, of course. Just let me know.

Next, while you are, of course, asking for proof of a negative -- you do understand the problem there, I'm sure, although you've asked it anyway -- sure, it's easy to answer your query.

Does this help?

For the sake of brevity, I'm merely linking, but if you need specific quotes, I'll try to give you some of the most specific relevant quotes in brief.

Or would you like to be more specific as to which set of months, or years, you have in mind?

I'd suggest that we limit ourselves to the past two years, otherwise we're talking history, and score-keeping, and grudges, and I'm unclear how useful that is.

But if you'd like to argue that we should go into detail about the month-by-month chronology of the past five years, or ten years, we can do that, too.

I can give you as much detail as you like, with links and brief quotes, or at more length in posts, when time allows, and I'm more optimistic that more time will be opening up for me in the next few weeks, medical/health issues allowing me to.

I'll be here as long as people put up with me. I'm getting more back into shape to be ready to help out on questions such as these.

If I'm feeling up to being patient with I/P discussions -- up to a point -- well, that's a snap compared to learning occasional patience with months of barely being able to walk, so: looking forward to it.

Let's all play!

And use cites.

Those who can't cite: you foul out. Sorry!

But not very.

A few years ago I read statements* by Hamas members (not sure how high in rank) that they would target the Israeli military if they had the proper weapons but with their home-made rockets there was no chance of selectively hitting military installations. It's of course a difficult thing to test the veracity of that unless someone starts a rocket exchange program where Hamas gets a guided missile for any crappy home made one they deliver to the designated arbiter.
---
Aftenposten has more up including Israeli military interna about plans for the next war(s)** (expected soon it seems). The conclusion seems to be that last time the military acted far too constraint and that this time there would be no restrictions of any kind as far as city warfare was concerned. 'Hit Harder' looks like the lesson learned.
---
As for Israeli statements about treating the Gaza population I want to remind people of the infamous 'keep them hungry though not outright starving' remarks. Excuse my Godwin but on demand I can provide an (internal) Goebbels speech coming up with a similar idea a few years earlier.
---
Again my proposal: Remove both populations (Israelis and Palestinians) from Palestine then use any excess nuke in the world (actual bombing to be done by the Chinese) on the territory. That should also deal (at least for some time) with the Rapturists and their ilk since few would be willing to erect the final temple at the bottom of the radiation pit. Although, given that Ukraine now works on making Chernobyl a popular tourist desination...
---
Israeli politics make Weimar look well-ordered, stable and tame but there is iirc Jewish tradition to it (#opinions >> #involvedpeople, no exceptions).

*sorry, no links
**Lebanon and Gaza

Hartmut, I agree that both Israel's governmental structures, and such that there are of the Palestinian's sides, are immensely dysfunctional, and I suggest that that's as much the root of the continued insoluability of the problem more than any other issue.

If neither side can agree with itself, there's hardly any possibility for having a coherent external policy towards another entity, is there?

This isn't to say that there aren't people on both sides to talk to, as there are, and it isn't to say that there aren't recognized governmental spokespeople at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, or the Israeli Cabinet, or the Prime Minister's office, or the PA, or various voices in Hamas, and so on, or that none neither the Israelis nor Palestinians lack legislatures, because there are such people, and there are such bodies.

But the situation on both sides is pretty damn dysfunctional.

There have to be authorities on both sides capable of representing the majority of each population, and then enforcing their decisions on their own populace to sufficient degree to continue to be able to legitimately represent the people they allegely represent.

This is a problem. It is the starting problem before you even get to issues of what either side should be agreeing over. First each side has to decide what it agrees over.

So far: not so much, really.

Certainly not enough to get anywhere very far in recent years.

And time is only making it harder and worse. The clock is running out on many possible solutions, if it isn't already far too late, as it already is for many past solutions what would have been far better for all concerned, IN MY OPINION.

Gary, if neither side can agree on what it wants, it would seem that the only was to a solution is for one to imposed from the outside. No?

I would fail Gary's test--I knew the top two Hamas officials (though I'd misspell their names and always get mixed up on their official titles). I could mention the top two or three Israeli politicians at the moment, or the ones I think are the most prominent (Netanyahu, Lipni (sp?), Barak). Prominent West Bank Palestinians are Abbas, Fayyad (I stink at spelling non-Western names unless I consciously memorize them), Dahlan (sort of a thug), Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi...


Anyway, off to look up the spellings of the Hamas guys. I did this last night and forgot again. Okay, done. Meshaal and Haniyeh (there are multiple variations in spelling for both) have both said they would accept the 67 borders. I knew Meshaal had said this on Charlie Rose last year, but didn't know Haniyeh had also said this just last December. Their formulation is that they'd accept the 67 borders and would abide by any peace agreement supported by the Palestinian voters in a referendum. So that at least sounds reasonable. Here's a link to the Charlie Rose transcript--

link

I'm a little better on who has committed what sorts of atrocities, and on finding links to such info.

I'd be very interested in any post Gary would put up on the I/P conflict.

Gary,

While of course commenters should be able to back up factual claims, I think it is inappropriate for you to create entrance exams which must be passed in order to comment on the topic.

"I think it is inappropriate for you to create entrance exams"

I'm sympathetic to what Gary is trying to do, though I wouldn't pass his test. Usually in any I/P discussion there will be someone making sweeping dehumanizing claims about one side or the other and I think Gary is trying to pull people back towards rationality.

Donald,

I'm all for rationality and evidence based arguments. But stuff like:

... let's start by my asking you for your description of who you understand the leaders of Hamas to be, and what their positions are. Try not using Google or Wikipedia, or any reference, and from memory, tell us who the top five -- or three -- most influential leaders are, and why you are picking them.

goes way beyond that. It sounds to me more like intimidation - "Unless you know all the details I know - relevant or not - you shouldn't be expressing an opinion." Sorry, I don't think being unable to identify the fifth, or even the third, ranking leader of Hamas disqualifies one from having an intelligent point of view on Gaza.

Bernard--

Gary's approach isn't the best (and as I said, I'd fail his test), but I still sympathize a bit for the reason I stated above.

On the subject of non-violent protests mentioned above, here's a link to one of the best Palestinian-sympathizing blogs by an Israeli professor of philosophy/Jewish studies who recently took part in one of the demonstrations at Bilin, where a woman died after tear gas inhalation recently.

link

Donald,

Thanks for the link, though I did not doubt the accuracy of the information.

Interesting link, Gary. What it says to me is that Hamas is able to shut down the vast majority of the rocket fire, when it chooses to. At any rate, a group that can participate in a truce is at least as much a military adversary as a subject population.

While of course commenters should be able to back up factual claims, I think it is inappropriate for you to create entrance exams which must be passed in order to comment on the topic.
Bernard, I have no such power, let alone interest in doing so.

If my rhetoric led you to infer otherwise, please let me assure you that the only way we can have rules around here, so far as I'm aware, are, at the least, if they're actually posted as posting rules.

But I'll try to be yet more careful in future in attempting to make myself clearer in distinguishing my mostly-humorously-intended-but-not-entirely personal preferences and opinions as to what leads to more interesting conversation, from any statements I'm qualified to make about Official ObWi policy, which is, to repeat, none whatever unless authorized.

But it's extremely safe to assume that unless I make an extremely clear announcement that I'm Putting On My Officially Silly Kitty Hat, anything I say is purely personal opinion, and of no more importance than that of any other commenter, while also keeping in mind that in no way would I dream of expecting anyone to know or assume that, which is why I'll never be saying anything that claims to be official unless I am so claiming.

Mike:

[...] What it says to me is that Hamas is able to shut down the vast majority of the rocket fire, when it chooses to.
The key words there are "vast majority."

Yes, that's true. And it is indeed a crucial fact. Among many others.

There are endless things that can be usefully discussed about I/P, and I have some slight hopes of getting to some in future, but a quick and easy observation is that Hamas is a very moderate organization compared to, say, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or al Qaeda, or actually extremist organizations.

Hamas, to make a point simply and without coyness, is an extremely diffuse and non-centralized "organization," and the views of those in Damascus and the views of those actually in Gaza aren't particularly strongly aligned; moreover, the membership, such as one might refer to it, is almost as diverse as the Jewish population of Israel is, in the degree of "moderation" and other disagreements, and it truly is a highly moderate organization, even at its worst, compared to the real problem groups, although I'd agree that there are truly extremist factions in Hamas.

But they really are a minority. "Hamas," such as one might call it a single "organization" is demonstrably quite negotiable with, and there are many in power who have made almost innumerable declarations that are quite easy to work with, at least in the same sense that one might, in my view, be said of any Israeli cabinet that has ever yet existed.

I truly believe that the significant problems of both sides are absolutely necessary to solve, and each side has huge internal problems in addressing these internal problems, which makes negotiations for now almost impossible, because both sides are incoherent, self-contradictory, and effectively deadlocked to some degree, and little can be done before both problems are at least ameliorated.

Fatah and the PA, by comparison, are, well, I'd much prefer to deal with them then with Hamid Karzai's "government," if I were dictator of the U.S., by way of simplistic comparison.

And Hamas is probably preferable in ease of dealing with than Karzai's government, as well, although I must make clear that this is purely a personal opinion, not any kind of claim of "fact."

Gary,

Bernard, I have no such power, let alone interest in doing so.

As I think you understand, it is not a question of formal power, but of attitude and responses to others' comments. And those responses do not suggest to me that you have no interest in doing so.

Having said what I have to say about this, I'll stand by it.

Bernard--

I was providing the link just for general information, to show that there are (mostly) non-violent protests going on. It wasn't intended as a response to anything you had said.

And those responses do not suggest to me that you have no interest in doing so.
Bernard, I'll suggest to you that I have no interest in creating entrance exams which must be passed in order to comment on any topic.

Even more, I will state: Gary Farber, the Obsidian Wings junior co-blogger, has no interest in creating entrance exams which must be passed in order to comment on any Obsidian Wings thread or post, other than staying within the posting rules.

What further can I do for you on this?

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