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No Free Vacation for Greenwald:

Glenn Greenwald, I take it, will not take me up on my offer of a free vacation to Sderot. My offer was specifically in response to his claim that Israel is engaging in a "massively disproportionate response" to the shelling of southern Israel from Gaza.

He obscures the issue by writing:

That "argument" is the same as saying to someone who objects to Hamas' suicide bombs or rockets: "I'll personally pay for your Ramallah or Gaza City vacation, so you can see what it's like to live imprisoned by walls, under a 40-year foreign occupation, with blockades that cause your children's growth to stunt and to be denied basic nutritional and medical needs."

The fact that the people of Location X are suffering doesn't mean that anything and everything their government directs to the general vicinity of those inflicting the suffering is justified.

So, now that I don't have to worry about paying for Greenwald's vacation, I can ask, rhetorically (though Greenwald is free to answer): when a terrorist entity controls territory bordering that of a sovereign nation, and indiscriminately lobs rockets into that nation's territory, terrifying the civilian population and making normal life unlivable, what is a proportionate response?

Israel has engaged in pinpoint targeting of military facilities operated by said terrorist entities, and has gone so far as to send messages in Arabic to residents of Gaza, warning them that if they allow their homes or businesses are sheltering Hamas weaponry, they will be destroyed. Even according to Palestinian sources, the overwhelming majority of victims of Israeli bombs thus far have been Hamas fighters. This is perhaps the least extreme response that any sovereign nation faced with an analogous situation has ever engaged in. Cf. Russia in Chechnya.

Greenwald's real problem, I surmise, is that he thinks that Israel's response is "disproportionate" not because its disproportionate relative to Hamas's military actions and Israel's military objectives compared to the civilian damaged inflicted (more or less the international law definition of proportionality), but because he believes that Israel is primarily to blame for the situation in Gaza, and therefore any suffering inflicted on Gaza's civilians is primarily Israel's fault. Hence his observation about Israel's blockade of Gaza, which is not at all relevant to whether Israel's response to the rocket fire is "proportionate," but rather to whether Israel is morally at fault in general.

But by putting the issue in terms of the "proportionality" of Israel's response, Greenwald (and others) are obscuring their real argument, which is that Israel is not entitled to act in self-defense because no matter how many rockets are launched into Israeli territory, Israel is ultimately the aggressor in the Gaza situation.

I find that argument hopeless naive, and, in fact, counterfactual. Let's start with the fact that the blockade was a response to Hamas's actions against Israel, not vice versa. (If Hamas had been a peace-loving entity, and Israel had nevertheless blockaded its territory, and I had attacked Hamas's military response as "wildly disproportionate", then Greenwald's counter-offer of a trip to Gaza would make sense). Now imagine for a moment that Hamas announced, sincerely, that its goal was no longer to annihilate Israel, but to establish a peaceful Islamic democracy that was willing to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a lasting agreement with Israel, and then acted on that announcement by ceasing all violence aimed at Israel and offering to commence negotiations immediately. Is there any doubt that the blockade would end forthwith? And, for that matter, that Israel would happily cooperate with a peaceful Hamas and the international community to return Gaza to the incredible rates of economic growth (and beyond) it achieved under the first 20 years of the "brutal occupation"? Hamas, however, is not interested in a peaceful settlement with Israel, and, while its leaders hide in underground bunkers, is perfectly willing to fight Israel to the last Palestinian civilian.

So, to sum up, let's rephrase Greenwald's position: "I think that Israel is not entitled to cause any casualties, civilian or otherwise, in Gaza, because Israel bears the primary, indeed, almost the entire, responsibility for the conflict it is facing with Hamas. Therefore, Israeli civilians living in the range of Hamas rockets must simply bear with it until their government adopts more enlightened policies that will magically lead Hamas to prefer to live in peace with Israel.

Finally, I find it rather amusing that Greenwald refers to me as an "Israel-obsessive." I blog a fair amount about Israel, not least because I'm there twice a year and my wife is Israeli. Greenwald, meanwhile, blogs far more about Israel, without similar ties. What does that make him?

UPDATE: From the ridiculous to the sublime: Greenwald is now citing Philip Weiss, the right-wing Nazi fringe's favorite Jew (and who, last I looked, had openly anti-Semitic bloggers on his small blogroll), as an authority on the conflict.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Still waiting
  2. No Free Vacation for Greenwald:
  3. Israel's "Disproportionate" Response:
asdf (mail):
So does that mean that you do NOT want to live in Gaza?
12.29.2008 2:41pm
MIke& (mail):
when a terrorist entity controls territory bordering that of a sovereign nation

Is Israel the "sovereign nation" or "terrorist entity"? I suppose if you had been living in Palestine until your land had been taken from you by the barrel of a gun, you might have a different answer than the one you currently seem to have.
12.29.2008 2:43pm
Paul A'Barge (mail):

Greenwald, meanwhile, blogs far more about Israel, without similar ties. What does that make him?


an asshole
12.29.2008 2:51pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

So, now that I don't have to worry about paying for Greenwald's vacation, I can ask, rhetorically (though Greenwald is free to answer): when a terrorist entity controls territory bordering that of a sovereign nation, and indiscriminately lobs rockets into that nation's territory, terrifying the civilian population and making normal life unlivable, what is a proportionate response?


I look forward to Glenn's response. But I ain't holding my breath.
12.29.2008 2:51pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Damn, Paul, you beat me to it. I would have added "self-important" and "thoughtless reactionary" though.
12.29.2008 2:52pm
jtb-in-texas (mail):
David B.,

I still cannot understand how supposedly rational people become unhinged on the subject of Israel. Your column shows quite lucidly that Hamas is not interested in anything but the destruction of Israel or the Palestinian people.

May God have mercy on both the Nation of Israel and the Palestinian people and deliver them both from the death cult that continues the senseless violence.
12.29.2008 2:55pm
The Cabbage (mail):
Again, I present my plan for peace in the middle east:

1. All disputed regions will be held and governed, with absolute authority, by the Chinese.

2. The Israelis and Palestinians will learn to work together by trying to overthrown the brutal Chinese yoke.

3. Profit.
12.29.2008 2:56pm
Rick Ellensburg (mail) (www):
How dare you question the integrity or intelligence of that most noble of souls Glenn Greenwald.

As always, you right wing rethuglicans cant hold a candle to Glenn's intellect and wit, and have to resort to the gutter when matching wits with a mind like this.

You should be ashamed of this disgracefully homophobic rant.
12.29.2008 2:57pm
Steve:
I have never heard a claim of "pinpoint targeting" that turned out to be remotely close to accurate upon inspection. Look, it's fine to believe Israel is 100% justified in its actions, but let's not be rubes about all this. Pinpoint targeting, indeed.
12.29.2008 3:01pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
IANAIL, but when did proportionality become a matter of the law of war? Are we going to redefine American behavior in World War II as unlawful now?

My view is that proportionality is immoral. If you are justified in using violence at all, then pulling your punches is contradictory toward your goal of using violence to obtain results. If there is anything more immoral than violence, it would be ineffective violence, which is just sadism.

Greenwald has chosen an illogical position: Hamas openly and loudly advocates indiscriminate violence. Therefore, Greenwald supports indiscriminate violence.

He cannot then expect to be heard as a critic of anybody else's violence.
12.29.2008 3:04pm
Al Maviva:
David, the Strawman Store called a few minutes ago. They want their Greenwald back.
12.29.2008 3:07pm
AntonK (mail):

"So does that mean that you do NOT want to live in Gaza?"
Gaza is the a**hole of the world. No, I don't want to live there.
12.29.2008 3:07pm
SeaDrive:
I agree with Harry Eagar: the concept of proportionality does not apply to armed conflict. It always sounds to me like what they are really saying is "don't make it too hard on those hapless Palestinians because they hardly every hit anything with those pitiful little old-fashioned rockets.."
12.29.2008 3:09pm
Quick Question (mail):
David,

Can I have Glenn's ticket? How much of my time will I have to spend in Sderot?
12.29.2008 3:15pm
Lawyer (mail):
The reason you're called an 'Israel-obsessive' is because the blogger you're quoting very often operates through ad hominem attack. You're either 'obsessive' or a 'nut-job' or, my favorite (and his) a "super-tough-guy."

(Forget for a moment that all the exchanges are occurring via cyberspace where nobody knows much about anyone).
12.29.2008 3:16pm
Steve:
My view is that proportionality is immoral. If you are justified in using violence at all, then pulling your punches is contradictory toward your goal of using violence to obtain results.

It's noteworthy that the common law of self-defense has taken a different view from yours for many centuries. If someone hits you with a fist, you are justified in using violence to respond, but generally that doesn't entitle you to take a gun and blow the person's brains out. For the law to exist in this state for such an extended period, one presumes it must reflect somebody's values.

Setting that aside, there are many reasons why one might deem it important to be regarded as the "good guy" in a conflict, given the multiplicity of players on the world stage. Israel's ability to obtain assistance from actors like the U.S. hinges in part upon its ability to credibly claim that it is acting responsibly in self-defense.
12.29.2008 3:17pm
Simon P:
I think you're characterizing Hamas rather simplistically. While it's true, and to my knowledge has always been true, that Hamas is at least apparently a terrorist organization without any genuine interest in peace with Israel, part of the reason why that is has to do with poor decisions on behalf of Israel and the west.

There was a moment, as you might recall, when Hamas seemed to be courting the possibility of splitting off a "political," more pragmatic (which is to say, less solidly ideological) wing. Some people were even speculating—and this is around the time of the 2006 PNA elections—that Hamas could become the Sinn Fein of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (Though that view was probably more aspirational than realistic.) Part of the reason they didn't become a more peaceful party, it seems to me, is because the response to their taking a majority in the Palestinian legislature was isolation on all fronts. They weren't, in other words, given the option to be anything other than a terrorist organization only interested in promoting violence with Israel.

It was similar, in my view, to our radicalization of the situation in Iran by failing to enthusiastically support Iran's reformist movement under Khatami. Are we obliged, now, to stand idly by while Iran seeks to develop its nuclear program? No. But our past complicity in creating a situation that now puts ourselves at risk can't be ignored as simply beside the point.

Which is all to say, I think, that we ought not consider this situation as one between good guys and bad guys, between aggressors and defenders. At root, I feel fairly confident in saying that most Palestinians don't want to live in fear of violence or war. Viewing this situation as one where one party or the other "deserves" a certain kind of retaliation or has some "moral right" to issue it tends to obscure that there are people and families on both sides who basically only want to live their lives in peace. Why should that be so hard to achieve? Are the Gaza rockets really what's stopping up the process?
12.29.2008 3:18pm
sputnik (mail):
I have a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Have the Palestinians stop supporting and carrying out terrorist attacks on Israel.

Problem solved.
12.29.2008 3:20pm
Steven Freeman (mail):
How many actual tickets and hotel rooms does Glenn use when he travels? This could get expensive.
12.29.2008 3:24pm
Wilson Ellers Cabanaboy Sockworth IV:
Greenwald, meanwhile, blogs far more about Israel, without similar ties. What does that make him?

Well, it makes him someone...

-Who has a New York Times Best Selling Book on the Bush Administration and its abuses of power.

-Who has one of the most-read blogs on the Interent, after 9 months of blogging.

-Whose blog is read into the record at Senate committee hearings

-Whose blog posts lead to front-page news stories

-Who graduated from a top-five law school

-Who worked at the most prestigious law firm in the country

Can any of you conservative bloggers claim that? Huh???
12.29.2008 3:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
David Bernstein:

You are wasting your time with these posts. You will never, ever convince the critics of Israel that it just might be justified in protecting itself. They have one standard for Israel and another for China, Russia etc. The Russians can commit atrocities against Chechnya all they want and you will hardly hear a peep from them.

More seriously, you are falling into the liberal Jewish trap. To even talk about "proportionality" concedes way too much. It's a ridiculous concept that no sane person would buy into, and even the Hamas sympathizers don't really believe it either. It's just a hammer to pound Israel with.
12.29.2008 3:29pm
Sarcastro (www):
Wilson Ellers Cabanaboy Sockworth IV Wow, by that definition Laura Ingrahm is awesome and we should listen to everything she says!
12.29.2008 3:29pm
NukemHill (mail) (www):
Simon P. You make some rather bold (and frankly ludicrous) statements. Care to actually, you know, provide proof? Links to reputable sources, etc., would be a good start.

And labeling Khatami as a "reformist" indicates an uncritical swallowing of typical MSM characterizations--both of Iran (and Hamas) as reasonable chaps, only trying to get along in a hostile world hell-bent on their destruction; and of the West (i.e., the United States of Amerikkka) as the bad guys, unwilling to bend an inch, so caught up we are in our ideological warmongering.

Good luck with that evidence. I'm thinking linking back to Greenwald ain't gonna cut it....
12.29.2008 3:31pm
Spade (mail):
A real proportionate response would be if Israel tossed a 155mm shell randomly into Gaza for each rocket Hamas shoots at them.

I would like to see them do that just for the hilarious international response.
12.29.2008 3:31pm
Awesome-O:
Joke's on you this time, Sarcasto. Your post is full of fail. Please learn teh internet before snarking on it.
12.29.2008 3:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"If someone hits you with a fist, you are justified in using violence to respond, but generally that doesn't entitle you to take a gun and blow the person's brains out."

If that person is trying to kill you or even inflict grave bodily injury, one is certainly entitled to blow him away, unless he can be stopped with a high degree of certainty by other means. A blow to the head with a fist can easily be fatal, and I would certainly use lethal force to stop such an attack. You can avoid getting killed my simply leaving me alone. If you start up with me, one of us is not going to left standing.
12.29.2008 3:34pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
How many actual tickets and hotel rooms does Glenn use when he travels? This could get expensive.
The offer is good only for him. Sock puppets must pay their own way.
12.29.2008 3:35pm
Steve:
The Greenwald sockpuppet joke is so incredibly shopworn by this point that it's amazing Sarcastro is not familiar with it. He fails, indeed.
12.29.2008 3:35pm
Sarcastro (www):
yes, I do fail. Damn it!
12.29.2008 3:38pm
Zed:
The other country that borders the Gaza Strip is Egypt. Egypt has completely shut down its border with Gaza, without letting commuters or humanitarian aid through, even though Hamas does not lob rockets at Egyptian civilians. There's even an actual wall at the Egypt-Gaza border.

Obviously Mr. Greenwald and other people deeply concerned about the Palestinians' plight have written numerous columns blaming the wholly unjustified Egyptian blockade for the stunted growth of the Gazan children, right? Right?
12.29.2008 3:38pm
Simon P:
Nukem: I haven't asserted any fact that wouldn't be known by any reasonably well-read person who has followed current events for the past five years or so. I also don't know how I could possibly satisfy your (frankly ludicrous) demand for "proof" by resorting to "reputable sources" that are also not part of the "MSM," when you take membership in the latter class as a proxy for unreliability or bias.

The question, Nukem, is whether we ought to believe that international relations are really just high-stakes morality plays, or whether we ought to believe that states behave the way they do for complex and not always morally-clear reasons. The question might alternatively be phrased: are we interested in conflict or in resolutions?
12.29.2008 3:46pm
Steve H:

They have one standard for Israel and another for China, Russia etc.


Shouldn't we?

As a supporter of Israel, wouldn't you want Israel to be thought of as better than brutal and repressive regimes like Russia or China?
12.29.2008 3:50pm
Awesome-O:
The offer is good only for him. Sock puppets must pay their own way.

I cannot believe that you won't let staunch Greenwald defenders Rick Ellensburg, Thomas Ellers, and Wilson go to Israel. Ellensburg (and perhaps Ellers) is probably Jewish, and would greatly enjoy a trip to the Holy Land. I'm really not sure what the objection is. My understanding is that all three fold neatly into a carry-on bag.
12.29.2008 3:52pm
Steve H:

If that person is trying to kill you or even inflict grave bodily injury, one is certainly entitled to blow him away, unless he can be stopped with a high degree of certainty by other means. A blow to the head with a fist can easily be fatal, and I would certainly use lethal force to stop such an attack. You can avoid getting killed my simply leaving me alone. If you start up with me, one of us is not going to left standing.


This is fine, but it misses the point.

The harder question is, if that person is trying to kill you or inflict grave bodily injury, how many of his non-attacking and non-threatening neighbors are you morally allowed to kill?
12.29.2008 3:53pm
wooga:
Simon P said (emphasis added):

Which is all to say, I think, that we ought not consider this situation as one between good guys and bad guys, between aggressors and defenders. At root, I feel fairly confident in saying that most Palestinians don't want to live in fear of violence or war. Viewing this situation as one where one party or the other "deserves" a certain kind of retaliation or has some "moral right" to issue it tends to obscure that there are people and families on both sides who basically only want to live their lives in peace. Why should that be so hard to achieve? Are the Gaza rockets really what's stopping up the process?

Well your confidence is misplaced. Depending on which polling company you ask, Palestinians have anywhere between 30% and 80% support for suicide bombing of Israeli civilians. Only 20% to 40% actually oppose such tactics.

When you have a population which can't even muster a majority of its citizens to oppose the indiscriminate killing of jews, then your population suffers from epic moral fail.

What, Simon P, would allow you to decide that Israel ever had a moral right to retaliate as it is now? Or am I correct in concluding that you reject the very existence of any objective moral truths?
12.29.2008 3:55pm
Awesome-O:
The Greenwald sockpuppet joke is so incredibly shopworn by this point that it's amazing Sarcastro is not familiar with it. He fails, indeed.

Perhaps it's shopworn, but the internet will never grow tired of noting that Greenwald is a self-aggrandizing twit who got caught with his hand up a cock-a-hoop sockpuppet!
12.29.2008 3:58pm
Yankev (mail):

Some people were even speculating—and this is around the time of the 2006 PNA elections—that Hamas could become the Sinn Fein of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Yes, and "some people" fall for those emails from supposed former high ranking officials of the Nigerian government who will pay you millions of dollars for letting them use your bank account to process government contracts.

Poor misunderstood Hamas, driven to a life of crime because no one would give them a second chance.
12.29.2008 4:00pm
wooga:
A recent poll supports my conclusion that any Palestinian desire for "peace" means "peace once we kill all the jews."

An overwhelming majority of 84% support and 13% oppose the shooting attack that took place in a religious school in West Jerusalem. Support for this attack is greater in the Gaza Strip (91%) compared to the West Bank (79%). 64% support and 33% oppose launching rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon.
12.29.2008 4:00pm
Oren:

Greenwald's real problem, I surmise, is that he thinks that Israel's response is "disproportionate" not because its disproportionate relative to Hamas's military actions and Israel's military objectives compared to the civilian damaged inflicted (more or less the international law definition of proportionality), but because he believes that Israel is primarily to blame for the situation in Gaza, and therefore any suffering inflicted on Gaza's civilians is primarily Israel's fault.

I can't speak for him, but I concurrently believe that Hamas is primarily to blame for the situation in Gaza and that Israel has acted shamefully in not improving that situation even absent any original culpability. The sad trope that "they are to blame, therefore we bear no responsibility" is morally bankrupt. They are to blame, and yet it is still morally incumbent on us to make choices that lead to the best overall outcomes.

I cannot fathom how anyone seriously believes that this show of force will lead to anything resembling a long-term solution in Gaza. We've tried this before, maybe a dozen times. Maybe it's time to try something new?
12.29.2008 4:02pm
rarango (mail):
It seems the Israelis have done quite well in targeting hamas security forces with quite minimal collateral damage—at least as I read the reports from the usual suspects. The vast majority of casualties seem to be hamas "security forces."

On a somewhat more inflammatory note, the quicker Israel destroys Hamas, the better, even if a few eggs are broken in the process of creating an hamas free omelete.
12.29.2008 4:09pm
wooga:

We've tried this before, maybe a dozen times. Maybe it's time to try something new?

I assume you agree that: If side A insists side B must be eliminated, side B's only realistic option is to convince side A to change its mind. Here, side B has tried numerous times to play nice, only to be rejected. How about side B try crushing side A into surrender?

Last time I checked, neither the Germans nor Japanese were launching suicide attacks on US military bases, even after the US killed scores of German and Japanese civilians! I wonder why that is? What gifts did we give them to placate their grievances? Maybe Israel should try giving similar gifts to the Palestinians.
12.29.2008 4:10pm
sbron:
What is disproportionate is the media's obsession with Israel. My local So. California paper today had the Gaza story on the front page. It has given near-zero coverage to Mexico's drug war, only 200 miles or so away, which has claimed 7000 lives in the past two years and continues to flood the U.S. Southwest with refugees from the violence and dysfunctional economy. Only today has the AP reported on the destruction of the tourist industry in Baja, not just by criminals, but by "police" who have preyed on surfers, campers and off-road racers. Baja is a big no-go zone for Californians who used to freely vacation in TJ and south to Rosarito.

Similarly I cannot recall an article in the past year in my local paper about the Congo, where an estimated 5 million people have died in the civil war there over the past 10 years.

To be brutally frank, I think that reporters prefer reporting in Gaza over the Congo, as they can stay in a comfortable hotel in a first-world country in the former case, instead of a tent in the latter. Furthermore, Israel is still (incorrectly) perceived as a "white" country, and the media has no interest in and feels no right to judge "people of color" killing each other, whether in Mexico or the Congo.
12.29.2008 4:12pm
Oren:

You are wasting your time with these posts. You will never, ever convince the critics of Israel that it just might be justified in protecting itself.

The question is not about justification for self-protection, it's the continued and unembarrassed continuation of failed policies that will lead to our destruction. Every bomb landed on Gaza brings the State of Israel closer to destruction.

The unwillingness of those that support these policies to justify their actions is disheartening. To be accused of being against Israel's protection when my chief complaint is that the actions putatively being done for protection are only weakening us is the height of irony.
12.29.2008 4:13pm
Oren:

The vast majority of casualties seem to be hamas "security forces."
...
On a somewhat more inflammatory note, the quicker Israel destroys Hamas, the better, even if a few eggs are broken in the process of creating an hamas free omelete.

Your factual premise is true, but the conclusion doesn't follow. Hamas will not be destroyed, the leaders will cower underground until the bombing stops and the peons in the 'security forces' (who are little more than teenagers with AK-47s) will be replaced in a few months time.

If it were possible to destroy Hamas, I would not hesitate for a second to do so. Chasing that impossible dream, however, will end up costing us much more pain than Hamas ever had the power to inflict.
12.29.2008 4:17pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

There was a moment, as you might recall, when Hamas seemed to be courting the possibility of splitting off a "political," more pragmatic (which is to say, less solidly ideological) wing. Some people were even speculating—and this is around the time of the 2006 PNA elections—that Hamas could become the Sinn Fein of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


A "political wing" of a terrorist organization is still part of that terrorist organization. The members of the "political wing" are just as guilty as the full time terrorists.

In fact, it is the "terrorist" wing that gives the "political" wing its political clout. The political aims are realized because of the fear created.

Gerry Adams is just as guilty as a member of the so-called "provisional IRA".

Albert Speer and Rudolf Hess were just as guilty as Goering or Himmler.

If Hamas wants to be treated like a mere political party, it needs to give up terrorism. Not only part of Hamas, but all of it. Otherwise, even the Hamas members of the Palestinaian Authority assembly should be targets.
12.29.2008 4:18pm
Jeffersonian22 (mail):
My take on the current unpleasantness? You don't tug on Superman's cape, Hamas.
12.29.2008 4:21pm
rarango (mail):
Oren: thanks for your measured response--I do not live there, and frankly I have no magic bullet for a policy solution--were I Israel, I could not countenance a terrorist group continuing to rain missles on my territory. While the Israeli response may seem "disprortionate," I dont see where any other response, no matter how "prorportionate" can result in any success--at least success in maintaining the security of Israeli citizens.
12.29.2008 4:23pm
Oren:

I assume you agree that: If side A insists side B must be eliminated, side B's only realistic option is to convince side A to change its mind. Here, side B has tried numerous times to play nice, only to be rejected. How about side B try crushing side A into surrender?

If I believed it were possible to force Hamas to surrender by military action, I would be for it.

Since I believe that military action only makes Hamas stronger, I will have to decline the opportunity to strengthen my enemies.
12.29.2008 4:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The harder question is, if that person is trying to kill you or inflict grave bodily injury, how many of his non-attacking and non-threatening neighbors are you morally allowed to kill?"

I'm allowed to kill as many as is necessary for me to survive.
12.29.2008 4:27pm
poul (mail) (www):
oren,
<blockquote>I cannot fathom how anyone seriously believes that this show of force will lead to anything resembling a long-term solution in Gaza. We've tried this before, maybe a dozen times. Maybe it's time to try something new?
</blockquote>
like what? new oslo accords? maybe if we give them half of negev they will leave us alone?

any better ideas besides vague "something new" platitudes?
12.29.2008 4:30pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Oren:

"Since I believe that military action only makes Hamas stronger, I will have to decline the opportunity to strengthen my enemies."

It seems to me that no matter what Israel does Hamas gets stronger. What could Israel do that would make Hamas weaker? What can one do with an implacable foe?
12.29.2008 4:32pm
Steve:
I'm allowed to kill as many as is necessary for me to survive.

But you're not, legally. You can claim whatever prerogatives you like for yourself, but here in the real world, the common law of self-defense has recognized the concept of proportional response for centuries.
12.29.2008 4:33pm
Giya:
<blockquote>
Steve H:

This is fine, but it misses the point.

The harder question is, if that person is trying to kill you or inflict grave bodily injury, how many of his non-attacking and non-threatening neighbors are you morally allowed to kill?
</blockquote>
Then I guess you are against the Geneva Conventions because they state that if an enemy places military hardware or weapons within a civilian facility, all bets are off. Israel didn't put Hamas' rocket launchers in a hospital - Hamas did. And claiming that Israel has forced Hamas to do so by virtue of their superior military is not a valid counterargument.
12.29.2008 4:35pm
Connecticut Lawyer (mail):
Oren,

Your conclusion - that the current IDF actions against Hamas will only make Hamas stronger - would only be true if Israel is willing to stay its hand and refrain from re-occupying Gaza, and killing every single Hamas member and supporter. Israel might indeed refrain from taking such steps, probably because of the great risk of killing hundreds or even thousands of civilians. Still, assuming that Israel continues to fight with great, mind-numbing restraint, as it has to date, one can hope and pray that it succeeds in killing enough of Hamas's senior leadership to put the group back a few steps.
12.29.2008 4:36pm
wooga:

Since I believe that military action only makes Hamas stronger, I will have to decline the opportunity to strengthen my enemies.

Oren,
If this belief is true, then what course of action will make Hamas weaker?

I do not think it is possible to improve the economic situation to the level necessary to eliminate the militant impulse. In other words, even if couch potatoes with nice cars are not going to support violence, there is no way we can get inject enough prosperity into that culture to make that happen. At the very least, the rampant corruption among the palestinian power brokers prevents it.
12.29.2008 4:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Steve:

"... but here in the real world, the common law of self-defense has recognized the concept of proportional response for centuries."


You asked a question about morality, not legality.
12.29.2008 4:39pm
Quick Question (mail):

Last time I checked, neither the Germans nor Japanese were launching suicide attacks on US military bases, even after the US killed scores of German and Japanese civilians! I wonder why that is? What gifts did we give them to placate their grievances? Maybe Israel should try giving similar gifts to the Palestinians.


USA spent billions rebuilding Germany and Japan, developing them into the richest countries in the world (after USA).

MacArthur whupped the Japanese - into shape. They were far better off. Eisenhower beat the shit out of the Germans - and then reformed their society, leading to unprecedented prosperity.

Israel is still stuck on Stage 1 - asskicking. The Gazans have already been rocked to the stone age. Israel even destroyed the University in Gaza. Further asskicking alone isn't working. This isn't about who has the right to do what, or who deserves to be punished. It's about what works. Like it or not, this is the Age of Obama. We are all pragmatists now.
12.29.2008 4:46pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I think both Bernstein and Greenwald miss the key point.

The air strikes may be useful or not, but they are small potatoes. The question is: Is Israel going to send in tanks or diplomats to address the situation on the ground? Here is to hoping it is the latter.
12.29.2008 4:47pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I do not think it is possible to improve the economic situation to the level necessary to eliminate the militant impulse."

I think that's correct. Time and time again we get into the Eleanor Roosevelt model for the world: every conflict is some variation of a slum clearance problem. This model assumes that some level of material prosperity will always alleviate crime or violence. This notion posits an extremely one-dimensional view of human behavior.
12.29.2008 4:47pm
alexhostdude (mail):
Greenwald is a complete idiot. I never understand why anyone tries to analyze the phlegm he constantly spouts.
12.29.2008 4:48pm
Dan28 (mail):

So, now that I don't have to worry about paying for Greenwald's vacation, I can ask, rhetorically (though Greenwald is free to answer): when a terrorist entity controls territory bordering that of a sovereign nation, and indiscriminately lobs rockets into that nation's territory, terrifying the civilian population and making normal life unlivable, what is a proportionate response?

Uh, I dunno. But according to the Jewish Daily Forward, 16 people have been killed in Hamas rocket fire on Sderot, while the Israeli airstrikes have thus far killed 300. Casualty counts may be a crude measure of proportionality, but let me turn the tables back on you: if 300 casualties (along with 800 injured, not to mention the loss of important resources into Gaza including food and medical supplies) is a proportional response, then what would a disproportionate response be? It seems pretty clear that by the standard definition of "proportionate" - "agreeing in amount, magnitude, or degree", the Israeli response is not proportionate.

It seems to me that you aren't really arguing that the Israeli military response is proportionate, but rather you're arguing that the Israeli military response should be disproportionate, or at least that the Israeli military has a right to strike against Hamas at a level disproportionate to the Hamas attack. If you want to make that argument, fine, but I wonder where you would draw the line. Surely you don't believe that a single rocket fired into Sderot would justify the IDF massacring the population of Gaza. So where are your lines?

I think Glen's point - which I completely agree with - is that your current argument of "go to Sderot and then see if you believe the IDF should be able to do whatever it wants" is an emotional argument that doesn't admit of any the precise distinctions that you owe to your readers, especially as a lawyer. "Y is justified because go to X and see how bad conditions there are" is an argument that could be used by almost any group of people to justify anything.
12.29.2008 4:48pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Simon P:

There was a moment, as you might recall, when Hamas seemed to be courting the possibility of splitting off a "political," more pragmatic (which is to say, less solidly ideological) wing. Some people were even speculating—and this is around the time of the 2006 PNA elections—that Hamas could become the Sinn Fein of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (Though that view was probably more aspirational than realistic.) Part of the reason they didn't become a more peaceful party, it seems to me, is because the response to their taking a majority in the Palestinian legislature was isolation on all fronts. They weren't, in other words, given the option to be anything other than a terrorist organization only interested in promoting violence with Israel


I think that is fairly insightful.

However, also consider that Likud has passed resolutions stating that they will not support any Palestinian state west of the Jordan. Why is this fundamentally different than Hamas's statements about Israel? If we can all agree that a 2-state solution is necessary, why not treat those who believe that there is no existential right for a state on the other side to exist the same?

FWIW, I think that a lot of this by both Likud and Hamas could be shown to be posturing if the opportunities for talks presented themselves.
12.29.2008 4:54pm
Steve H:

Steve:

"... but here in the real world, the common law of self-defense has recognized the concept of proportional response for centuries."

You asked a question about morality, not legality.


For what it's worth, I was the one who asked the question about morality. The responder there is a different Steve.

Anyway, that's an interesting morality you have there.

What if the threatened victim is not you, but a friend of yours, or maybe a distant relative (like a second cousin). Are you still allowed to kill as many non-threatening people as you feel necessary to allow your friend to survive?

What if such killing isn't necessary, because the friend could just retreat. I know one of the posters here had a few posts about "stand your ground" as it relates to self-defense, but how does that relate to defense of others?

And if the Geneva Conventions really do allow one country to kill scores or hundreds of civilian residents of another simply because the other country's leadership posts weapons in a civilian area, without regard for the damage those weapons actually cause or threaten, then I am against them.
12.29.2008 4:56pm
Oren:

I dont see where any other response, no matter how "prorportionate" can result in any success--at least success in maintaining the security of Israeli citizens.

As a purely factual matter, the continuing military operation has not succeeded in reducing the frequency or severity of Hamas missile attacks on Israel. In that respect, the operation has not provided any tangible gains.

Of course, for those that just want to kill as many Hamas as possible, the operation is a huge success, but that's not the ultimate goal, is it?
12.29.2008 4:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
So do people here really believe that nation-building is the right solution for Iraq and the wrong solution for the Occupied Territories?
12.29.2008 4:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Like it or not, this is the Age of Obama."

I'm reminded of C. M. Kornbluth's, The Maching Morons.
12.29.2008 4:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Oren:

Of course, for those that just want to kill as many Hamas as possible, the operation is a huge success, but that's not the ultimate goal, is it?


Some seem to think that is the goal.

Especially read the comments....
12.29.2008 5:00pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Make that the "Marching Morons."
12.29.2008 5:02pm
LHD (mail):
First, it's fairly clear that those who rely on polls purporting to show that most Palestinians want to kill all the Jews have never actually met any Palestinians. I have several close friends who are Palestinian. The depth of the pain and the suffering that they are experiencing right now is enormous. Enormous. All this talk about proportionality and whatnot, it just completely overlooks the fundamental tragedy at work. You can argue all you want, from morality, political economy, international security, international law, whatever. You are still a son of a bitch if you can't recognize the profound human sorrow involved. Palestinian and Israeli alike.

Second, our current President pushed hard for Palestinian elections to be held. Democracy, remember? The grand cure for everything. Other world leaders were more hesitant. They knew what could and did happen. Hamas won. Democracy, remember? Don't get me wrong. I am fully aware that Hamas has a major terrorist component. (If you think that's all Hamas is, you're sadly misinformed, and you may as well move on, because your understanding of the realities of life in the Palestinian territories is so inadequate that you just won't comprehend anything I'm saying.) But how is our response to the Palestinian legislative elections in any responsible or respectful? Our response was just plainly wrong.

Third, I'm sure I'll either be ignored or attacked as soft, as unrealistic, as whatever, because I'm not waving the Israeli flag and foaming at the mouth for more blood. For all you nascent Marats wanting just to crush Hamas no matter the cost, you are obviously overlooking the fact that no matter what Israel's justification, when you have a man raising the lifeless body of his now dead 4 year old from the rubble of a building, you didn't just stamp out "security forces" with some collateral damage. You just destroyed a man's life. You just destroyed a father's life, a mother's life. And you created new enemies.

But hey, we're just on the horizon of peace, now, aren't we? Once we get Hamas stamped out, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Just like this same exact strategy worked brilliantly with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon...
12.29.2008 5:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Steve H:

And if the Geneva Conventions really do allow one country to kill scores or hundreds of civilian residents of another simply because the other country's leadership posts weapons in a civilian area, without regard for the damage those weapons actually cause or threaten, then I am against them.


IIRC there are limits to the sort of force that can be used against civilian areas. I think the 2002 incident where Israel dropped a 1T bomb on an apartment building to kill one terrorist (and killed 15 or so others including 11 kids) was disproportionate and similar to conduct that Milosevic was prosecuted for.

Given that these rockets are more or less portable in the same way that rifles are, I am not sure that just attacking buildings where such people are presumed to live and hence keep their weapons is sufficient justification any more than this was valid when presented as Milosevic's defense.
12.29.2008 5:06pm
Steve:
For what it's worth, I was the one who asked the question about morality. The responder there is a different Steve.

Well, I actually brought it up too, in my 3:17 comment. (As my friend Steve's girlfriend used to say, one Steve is as good as another.) My point is that the common law of self-defense reflects Western moral judgment as developed over the course of many centuries.

So there's not this bright line between morality and legality in this context, as if the law was just dreamed up in an ivory tower somewhere. If the law says that a response to violence must be reasonable and proportional, if the law says that it's not permissible to kill innocents in order to defend yourself, that's indicative of a wider societal morality. The fact that some individual's personal morality may differ isn't all that interesting. There's plenty of nuts out there.
12.29.2008 5:07pm
Oren:

It seems to me that no matter what Israel does Hamas gets stronger. What could Israel do that would make Hamas weaker? What can one do with an implacable foe?

(1) Create a 5-mile buffer zone around Gaza (Sderot is a shitty town anyway, we could relocate them for a fraction of the cost of protecting them). That solves 90% of the rocket problems.

(2) Reopen the Gaza seaport in accordance with traditional guarantees of open access to the seas. Of course, the Navy would be free to interdict ships that are smuggling weapons or wanted men.

(3) Announce free passage between the West Bank and Gaza for all Palestinians.
12.29.2008 5:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Steve H.

Sorry I confused you with the other Steve. The key phrase in my response was "as is necessary." If people can retreat and that's a good solution that won't come apart in the future, then do it by all means. But suppose a gang lives next door to me, and I'm under the constant threat of severe violence. Suppose the police won't help me out because of either budget problems or local politics. What do I do? I could move away, but suppose that's not an option? I might just have to kill them before they kill me. The law might not like that, but sometimes the law is an ass.
12.29.2008 5:11pm
D.R.M.:
You know, under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Israel actually has the right to cut off all shipments of food to Gaza.

(There's a provision for allowing the passage of shipments of food to feed children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases . . . on the condition that there is no reason to expect diversion of the food to non-qualifying persons. It would also be conditioned on Hamas/Gaza being a High Contracting Party, but we'll assume Israel would treat Hamas/Gaza as such as a courtesy.)

That's right. Under actual international law, it would be perfectly legitimate for Israel to besiege and starve the whole Gaza Strip until the survivors surrendered unconditionally enough to satisfy Israel . . . such as including the physical surrender of every member of Hamas.

The problem is that everybody's locked into the logic of "proportionate response" instead of "war is war." If Israel were politically/diplomatically able to fully exercise its muscle (while remaining completely within the limits of the Geneva Conventions and other provisions of international law), the whole running sore would go away in a matter of months.
12.29.2008 5:14pm
SG:
Oren:

If your hypothetical plan were put into effect and Hamas responded by changing its tactics (encroachment of the buffer zone, longer range missiles, resumption of suicide bombings, etc.) would you then consider an Israeli military response to be justified?
12.29.2008 5:23pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
At the current point, I think the big danger is that this will deteriorate into a third intifada. The only solution to this is nation-building in the PA, which Israel has actively worked against (bombing police stations and the like).

Anarchy in Gaza is worse than Hamas controlling it from a security perspective.
12.29.2008 5:29pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):

Oren:


It seems to me that no matter what Israel does Hamas gets stronger. What could Israel do that would make Hamas weaker? What can one do with an implacable foe?


(1) Create a 5-mile buffer zone around Gaza (Sderot is a shitty town anyway, we could relocate them for a fraction of the cost of protecting them). That solves 90% of the rocket problems.

(2) Reopen the Gaza seaport in accordance with traditional guarantees of open access to the seas. Of course, the Navy would be free to interdict ships that are smuggling weapons or wanted men.

(3) Announce free passage between the West Bank and Gaza for all Palestinians.


More death by a 1000 cuts.
12.29.2008 5:29pm
HZM (mail):
Oren,

Unfortunately your solution is almost certain to fail and has at least as high a chance of backfiring as the present action. A five mile buffer zone is a very temporary solution at best. Hamas has acquired an arsenal of Katyusha rockets with a range of up to 40 km. With open borders, they would only add to their stockpile. An evacuation from Sderot and the creation of a buffer zone would be regarded as a victory for Hamas (remember the portrayal of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza?) and would only incentivize them to fire further rockets. I am not saying that the current course of action is wise -- the endgame is quite unclear to me. But your "solution" is a dangerous prescription.
12.29.2008 5:30pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
LHD:

Your points are important and underappreciated.
12.29.2008 5:33pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Oren:

Suppose Israel adopts your 3 point plan and it doesn't work. What then? By "doesn't work," I mean the following.

(1). Hamas get rockets with a greater range and does the same thing. Hamas also claims that the buffer zone violates their sovereignty and continues its terror campaign.

(2) Hamas continues to get arms by sea and Israel has to stop and search virtually every ship.

(3) The passage between Gaza and the West Bank is also used to transport arms.

You still have not responded to the closed border between Egypt and Gaza. Why does Israel have to provide for the welfare of the residents of Gaza? The Egyptians are fellow Arabs and shouldn't they take care of their brothers? Could it be that the Palestinians are so awful that even other Arabs want no part of them?
12.29.2008 5:34pm
luagha:
In answer to the Steve who posts on the common law of self-defense:

Policemen are not subject to the common law of self-defense, and are permitted to escalate the use of force as needed. Depending on policy, they may have a stated path of escalation or it may be left to the officer's discretion. If they have a stated path of escalation then they are only held liable in court if they depart from it, whereas if 'officer's discretion' is the policy they may have to justify themselves later in court.

(An example of a standard police 'stated path of escalation' is 'one-up.' If a perpetrator raises a fist, the officer may choose to fight with fists or escalate to less-than-lethal force such as a baton, pepper spray, or taser. If a perpetrator uses less-than-lethal armed force, the officer may choose to match him or escalate to lethal force, the firearm. And so on.)

Since Hamas is a terrorist organization and a non-state party and not signatory to the Geneva conventions nor abiding by their rules even though non-signatory; Israel's military forces, as policemen, are perfectly justified in following a stated path of escalation as per the Geneva conventions. Many people, above, have pointed out how Israel's response so far falls well within the stated path of escalation as given by the Geneva conventions.

As unpleasant as any war is.
12.29.2008 5:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A Zarkov:

Israel is essentially the legal custodian (as the occupying power previous to unilateral disengagement) of Gaza and are required to provide for their welfare in a way that Egypt is not.
12.29.2008 5:38pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I think the 2002 incident where Israel dropped a 1T bomb on an apartment building to kill one terrorist (and killed 15 or so others including 11 kids) was disproportionate and similar to conduct that Milosevic was prosecuted for.
The bomb was more lethal than anticipated. And a year or two later, Israel, to avoid similar casualties, dropped a much smaller bomb on the entire leadership of Hamas meeting on the ground floor of a house. Only the top floor was obliterated, and Hamas survived, leading to thousands of additional deaths and injuries. If only Israel had ignored critics like yourself, Hamas would likely have never taken over Gaza. So much for "proportionality."
12.29.2008 5:38pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
luagha:

Are you arguing that the Palestinian non-combatants are not protected in any way by the convention?

Were the Bosnians protected when they were rebelling? Did that stop us from prosecuting Milosevic?
12.29.2008 5:40pm
Kirk:
einhverfr,

Surely if "diplomats" could actually do something helpful for "the situation on the ground", they would already have done so by now.
12.29.2008 5:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
David Bernstein:

We saw Milosevic prosecuted at the Hague for similar destruction of residential housing in order to kill a few rebels. What makes this different? Certainly the security of a state (in that case the greater Yugoslavia) is the greatest responsibility of the leadership, correct?
12.29.2008 5:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I think Glen's point - which I completely agree with - is that your current argument of "go to Sderot and then see if you believe the IDF should be able to do whatever it wants"
The IDF, of course, is not "doing whatever it wants," but is attacking specific strategic locations and trying to minimize civilian casualties. But Greenwald thinks that even this is "disproportionate" which means he essentially opposes any military action. That's very easy for an armchair blogger to argue, but the Israeli gov't is responsible for the welfare of the citizens of Sederot and other southern communities, and if Greenwald lived there, I'm sure he'd have a different view of "proportion."
12.29.2008 5:44pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(My point to David Bernstein is regarding the 1-ton bomb issue)
12.29.2008 5:45pm
Oren:

If your hypothetical plan were put into effect and Hamas responded by changing its tactics (encroachment of the buffer zone, longer range missiles, resumption of suicide bombings, etc.) would you then consider an Israeli military response to be justified?

The buffer zone will be mined heavily (and marked as such). Anyone in the buffer zone is subject to immediate liquidation. This has the benefit of not ever having to attack Gaza proper.


(1). Hamas get rockets with a greater range and does the same thing. Hamas also claims that the buffer zone violates their sovereignty and continues its terror campaign.

Hamas doesn't have rockets that can get much past Ashkelon.


(2) Hamas continues to get arms by sea and Israel has to stop and search virtually every ship.

Easy enough. With modern chemical techniques, you can search a whole ship for explosives in a few minutes.



(3) The passage between Gaza and the West Bank is also used to transport arms.

Again, search and seize any weapons or wanted men in transport.


You still have not responded to the closed border between Egypt and Gaza. Why does Israel have to provide for the welfare of the residents of Gaza? The Egyptians are fellow Arabs and shouldn't they take care of their brothers? Could it be that the Palestinians are so awful that even other Arabs want no part of them?

The shameful policies of Egypt should weigh in favor of a humanitarian Israeli policy, not a more brutal one.
12.29.2008 5:47pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Kirk:

Surely if "diplomats" could actually do something helpful for "the situation on the ground", they would already have done so by now.


Olmert is an idiot. He can't even win a war against Hizbullah when the only thing he has to do is stop at the right time. All Hamas needs to do is to survive in some form if Israel commits large-scale ground troops, and they will win.

OTOH, I think that diplomats can make a difference. It is just that Kadima likes to talk peace but not actually deliver on any painful concessions, unlike Likud which likes to talk war but makes painful concessions for peace.

Here is to hoping Likud wins the next election so we can actually see credible peace negotiations rather that the idiocy we see now....
12.29.2008 5:50pm
LHD (mail):

luagha:

First, unless Gaza is a part of Israel in the way that, say, Vermont is a part of the United States, Israeli military forces are not "police." Or unless we want to call Gaza occupied and Israel the Occupying Power. Which would be a stretch, since Israel pulled out of Gaza.

Second, look at the commentary on Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It explicitly addresses the idea that something may be a "police action" as against "armed conflict."

Third, a previous poster indicated that Israel doesn't have to apply the Geneva Conventions because Gaza/the PA isn't a High Contracting Party. The commentary on Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention also pretty explicitly says that High Contracting Parties should respect the Conventions even when they're in an armed conflict with a non-party, although the HCP in that case isn't strictly bound.
12.29.2008 5:52pm
Steve H:

Only the top floor was obliterated, and Hamas survived, leading to thousands of additional deaths and injuries.


Source?


If only Israel had ignored critics like yourself, Hamas would likely have never taken over Gaza. So much for "proportionality."


And if Israel had simply killed every Palestinian man, woman, and child, then Hamas definitely would not have taken over Gaza.
12.29.2008 5:54pm
LHD (mail):
12.29.2008 5:55pm
HZM (mail):
Oren,


Hamas doesn't have rockets that can get much past Ashkelon.


What are you talking about? Just today, Hamas fired rockets into Ashdod, Ofakim and Yavne. A five mile buffer would be almost worthless.
12.29.2008 5:55pm
SG:
Here is to hoping Likud wins the next election so we can actually see credible peace negotiations rather that the idiocy we see now....

Good lord. What in the past 60 years history of Arab/Israeli conflict leads you to the conclusion that problem hinges on the current composition of the Israeli government?

Which should not be interpreted as support for the current Israeli government, only as the obvious recognition that the conflict will not be resolved by changing the faces on the Israeli side of the table.
12.29.2008 5:56pm
Steven White (mail):
It is difficult to come in at comment #90 and be useful but I'll try.

First, Prof. Bernstein is far more civil than I would be towards Mr. Greenwald.

Second, the law and use on 'proportionality' goes back to Aquinas and has a strong tradition in civil law. Various attempts have been made to apply it to international conflict, though a review of Clausewitz on war would suggest that proportionality was not in his vocabulary.

But, and I hope this is a useful point: proportionality goes out the window when dealing with terrorists, who, after all, seek to inflict the maximum harm possible on you and yours. The goal of Hamas, according to their charter, is nothing less than the destruction of Israel, and there is virtually nothing in seeking that goal that is out of bounds for them. That Hamas may also act as a social and charitable organization does not earn them points to offset the many, many terrorist acts they've committed in seeking their goal.

So with regard to proportionality, Hamas has already demonstrated that they have no bounds -- ergo, no 'proportion' to respect. Israel is justified in virtually any response under the law of proportionality because Hamas has already been as disproportionate as they can be. Indeed, a more ruthless application of the time-honored rules of war (e.g., Saladin, Genghis Khan, etc) would suggest that the Israelis have been (I'll use the vernacular here) wussies in dealing with Hamas. Or said alternately, Israel has been remarkably restrained and considerate towards the civilians in Gaza.

Proportionality is indeed important in civil war, and Prof Bernstein and the rest of the Volokh conspiracy can educate us all on that. It may be useful in certain aspects of war between nation-states. But it has no foundation at all in dealing with terrorists or a terror-founded state such as Hamas-controlled Gaza. To argue otherwise is either to miss the argument, or to have a different agenda.
12.29.2008 5:57pm
Crust (mail):
DavidBernstein:
The IDF, of course, is not "doing whatever it wants," but is attacking specific strategic locations and trying to minimize civilian casualties. But Greenwald thinks that even this is "disproportionate" which means he essentially opposes any military action.
Let me admit up front I haven't followed the details of this. Still, according to media reports there are approximately 300 Palestinian casualties. Israel's ambassador to the UN is saying that the main goal is to "destroy completely" Hamas. So I would have thought there was plenty of room for milder military action and nothing inconsistent with opposing this response as disproportionate yet supporting a hypothetical military alternative.
12.29.2008 5:58pm
Dan28 (mail):

if Greenwald lived there, I'm sure he'd have a different view of "proportion."

And if you lived in Gaza, I'm sure you'd have a different opinion.

Lets assume arguendo that you are right. Why Glen Greenwald as a resident of Sderot have a more accurate view of what constitutes a proportional response than a blogger in the United States? It seems pretty obvious to me that, in fact, the reverse is true: that the residents of Sderot are among the least likely people in the world to have an accurate view of what a proportional response would look like.

God forbid that we ever leave the laws of war to be interpreted by the people who live most in fear. By their standards, their side will always be justified and exonerated, and their enemies will always be war criminals.
12.29.2008 5:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
LHD: UNSC resolutions, ICJ judgements, and so forth have also applied the Geneva Conventions to this conflict.

Also one more point to Bernstein:

When Hamas was elected I thought it was an opportunity to bring them into the negotiating process. Let us not forget that the alternative was a corrupt and ineffective Fatah party running the PA. I thought that the rejection of the corruption of Fatah was a step towards possible peace, not a step away from it. Unfortunately, Bush, the EU, and others seemed to approach democracy as the "right to elect parties we, as a foreign power, deem acceptable" and this opportunity was squandered.

In order to have real stability there needs to be credible negotiations by all of the major belligerents. Hamas is one of these parties. Their absence largely means that the negotiations are not binding to one of the big parties to this conflict.

Long-term, the only solutions are political solutions, unless we entertain genocide, expulsion, or the like. Political solutions in a territory rife with anarchy need to address wide political bases. Hamas has a political base which is non-negligible.

If you disagree with me, what alternative do you propose?
12.29.2008 5:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
einhverfr:

"Israel is essentially the legal custodian (as the occupying power previous to unilateral disengagement) of Gaza and are required to provide for their welfare in a way that Egypt is not."

Is there anything that prevents Egypt from providing for their welfare? Why is it ok for Egypt to seal its border and not Israel?

I also don't know what you mean by "legal custodian." It seems to me that you're trying to dodge the issue with technicalities.
12.29.2008 6:01pm
autolykos:
Couple points:

1. To the variety of Steves who keep harping on this point:


What if the threatened victim is not you, but a friend of yours, or maybe a distant relative (like a second cousin). Are you still allowed to kill as many non-threatening people as you feel necessary to allow your friend to survive?


If you feel like analogizing it to domestic criminal law, the analogy that seems most appropriate would be of a person shooting at an assailant and inadvertantly hitting innocent bystanders. We could get into an entire discussion about how one couldn't be prosecuted for murder under this scenario (for one, the shooter lacks the requisite mens rea) and how, while it might be theoretically possible that they're prosecuted for something like manslaughter or negligent homicide depending on their mindset, such a thing happens so infrequently as to be of almost no probative value, but frankly I can't see a person being prosecuted even if such a shooting did occur.

2. There's a lot of problems with discussing proportionality in this context, but I think a lot of the problem relates to a misreading of the term that people like Dan28 make. There's a reason the concept is proportionate response and not equal response.

3. I was convinced a long time ago that this problem will only be solved by the imposition of a solution upon the parties. You're not going to have a negotiated solution when one party won't recognize the others right to exist. There's not much point in negotiating where that's the case.
12.29.2008 6:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov:

If Egypt is refusing to allow medical materials in, then I think this is similarly problematic. However, Israel is still at least a de facto occupying power and has responsibilities that Egypt does not have.
12.29.2008 6:08pm
LHD (mail):
autolykos said:

I was convinced a long time ago that this problem will only be solved by the imposition of a solution upon the parties.

Take a peek at Said's Orientalism. Just saying.
12.29.2008 6:09pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Still, according to media reports there are approximately 300 Palestinian casualties.
Most are Hamas. The whole point of war is to kill enemy soldiers. It would be very odd to say that, say, the U.S. acted disproportionately in Iwo Jima because it killed 40K Japanese. That's the whole point, no? Do you really not read enough beyond the headlines that you aren't aware that the 300 hundred were mostly Hamas gunmen and leaders?

When Hamas was elected I thought it was an opportunity to bring them into the negotiating process.
12.29.2008 6:13pm
Steve:
If you feel like analogizing it to domestic criminal law, the analogy that seems most appropriate would be of a person shooting at an assailant and inadvertantly hitting innocent bystanders.

I think the collateral damage is probably a little more foreseeable than that, but you may be another one of the believers in "pinpoint targeting."
12.29.2008 6:14pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
When Hamas was elected I thought it was an opportunity to bring them into the negotiating process.
What basis do you have for thinking that Hamas wanted to be brought into the negotiating process? Its announcement that it would not abide by any previous PA-Israel accords? Its massacre of Fatah officials?
12.29.2008 6:15pm
David King:
Israel needs to exact some sort of final solution, enabling them to live in peace. There will never, ever be peace with the moslems around. Eradication is the only workable long-term solution. It would be a net gain for the cvilized world.
12.29.2008 6:21pm
LHD (mail):
David Bernstein said:

Do you really not read enough beyond the headlines that you aren't aware that the 300 hundred were mostly Hamas gunmen and leaders?

The U.N. has said that 60 have been civilians. Not that that contradicts your point. But everything you've said so far indicates that you just simply glide right over the tragedy in your eagerness to support Israel.
12.29.2008 6:23pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Greenwald, like most lefties, believes that is illegal for Jews to defend themselves against attack by Arabs, because the Jews deserve it.

In terms of practical outcomes, though, the current Israeli response is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This will go on until someone starts slaughtering Arabs in sufficient numbers as to terrify the rest into peace. Which won't happen as long as some Arabs have zillions in oil income to incite the ones near Israel.

Lee Harris put it this way:

"There is, of course, nothing to keep one from applying the purely honorific title of "state" to the Palestinians, for example, just as the English are perfectly entitled to dub a popular singer a Knight, though it would be dangerous to rely on him to defend the realm. But merely to call the Palestinian community a "state" does not and cannot transform it into a viable subsistent entity if those who govern and decide its course are utterly lacking in a sense of what is realistically available to them. And nothing highlights this more than the official explanation, on the part of Palestinian spokesmen, for those acts of terrorism committed by the suicide-bombers, the assertion that these are acts of war. For the bitter truth is that if the Palestinian people were indeed a genuine state fighting a genuine war, they would have long since been annihilated root and branch - or else they would have been forced to make a realistic accommodation with the state of Israel, based on a just assessment of the latter's immense superiority of resources, both military and political. And the reason for this superiority, by a paradox typical of history, is not American aid or funding, but the fact that the state of Israel has been forced to struggle for every moment of its existence from the very day of its birth - and it is this struggle that has made them into what no assembly of nations can ever bestow - a viable state. And unless the Palestinians as a people can set aside their fantasies of pushing a vastly superior enemy into the sea, instead of seeking out a realistic modus vivendi with him, they may demand a state, and even be "recognized" as a state. But it will exist as a viable entity only by virtue of the liberal conscience - and seemingly inexhaustible forbearance - of the Israeli people.

But in this the Palestinians are not alone. It is a common feature of much of the Arab world to entertain the illusion of viability. In a world that had abandoned the liberal system, they would have long been extirpated, or else - a far happier and more probable outcome - they would have rapidly shed their delusions for a more realistic manner of proceeding.

This gives a sense of Greek tragedy, with its dialectic of hubris and nemesis, to what has been unfolding in the Islamic world. If they continue to use terror against the West, their very success will destroy them. If they succeed in terrorizing the West, they will discover that they have in fact only ended by brutalizing it. And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. And the only way to avoid this horrendous end is to bring the Islamic world back to sanity sooner rather than latter.

Nothing but force can break them from their illusion. Not because there is something wrong with them as a race, but simply because they are acting like any other individual who has been permitted to live in a dream world - they continue to fantasize. And who can blame them? It is only brute fact that shakes any of us from the single most cherished of our illusions - the myth of our own grandeur and omnipotence. And this is as true of a culture as of an individual."

12.29.2008 6:23pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
David Bernstein:

What basis do you have for thinking that Hamas wanted to be brought into the negotiating process? Its announcement that it would not abide by any previous PA-Israel accords? Its massacre of Fatah officials?


Because they now represent a people that, for the most part DOES want such talks?
12.29.2008 6:27pm
Yankev (mail):

Israel is essentially the legal custodian (as the occupying power previous to unilateral disengagement) of Gaza and are required to provide for their welfare in a way that Egypt is not.
Egypt was in control of Gaza for nearly 20 years before that. And while Israel's exercise of Gaza was condemned by much of the world, no one had a mumbling word to say about Egypt being there, even though Egyptian rule was harsher and life improved dramatcially under the Israel;is until the Gazans decided to have an intifada or two. So I'm not convinced in the least that Israel's responsibility is greater than Egypt's.

If Egypt is refusing to allow medical materials in, then I think this is similarly problematic.
In fact, Israel is allowing shipments of medical supplies and food, is sending medical aid to civilians, and is allowing the wounded into Israel for treatment. Egypt is shooting at Gazans who try to enter Egypt, and is not allowing food or medical supplies.

Remember the world's mantra -- nothing that anyone does to an Arab or a Muslim is wrong unless it's a Jew or an American doing it, and nothing that a Jew or an American does to an Arab or a Muslim is ever justifiable.
12.29.2008 6:27pm
Hoosier:
when a terrorist entity controls territory bordering that of a sovereign nation, and indiscriminately lobs rockets into that nation's territory, terrifying the civilian population and making normal life unlivable, what is a proportionate response?

Not enough information. Is the nation Israel, or any other country?
12.29.2008 6:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
David King:

Israel needs to exact some sort of final solution, enabling them to live in peace. There will never, ever be peace with the moslems around. Eradication is the only workable long-term solution. It would be a net gain for the cvilized world.


I think we have heard that before many times regarding removing the Jews from various parts of Europe.

My ancestors, for example, were forcibly removed from their homes in Spain in 1492 on account of them being Jewish.

Jews should be the LAST people to advocate such final solutions.
12.29.2008 6:29pm
Crust (mail):
DavidBernstein, yes I am aware that most of the casualties are Hamas not civilians. Yes, Israel is (unlike Hamas) trying to minimize civilian casualties. My point was just that one could envision a more modest military response. I'm not sure the asymmetric conflict between Israel and Hamas is analogous to that between the US and Japan in WWII. Certainly, it's very hard to imagine a definitive resolution as we saw in WWII. It's not obvious to me that it serves Israeli interests or that the "whole point" should be to kill as many Hamas as possible.
12.29.2008 6:32pm
jr565 (mail):
Oren wrote:

"Since I believe that military action only makes Hamas stronger, I will have to decline the opportunity to strengthen my enemies."

Why does this only work for our enemies or enemies of our friends but not for us and our friends? In other words, by the same logic, wouldn't attacks from Hamas only make Israel stronger? Wouldn't suicide attacks against the US in Iraq only make the US stronger? Or is there something peculiar to the stock of our enemies that allows them to ignore things like battle fatigue attrition and casualties?
Simply being an enemy of the US or by extension Israel makes one an unstoppable force.
12.29.2008 6:33pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

In fact, Israel is allowing shipments of medical supplies and food, is sending medical aid to civilians, and is allowing the wounded into Israel for treatment. Egypt is shooting at Gazans who try to enter Egypt, and is not allowing food or medical supplies.


I think that such things would constitute serious crimes on the part of the Egyptians, assuming they are true.


Remember the world's mantra -- nothing that anyone does to an Arab or a Muslim is wrong unless it's a Jew or an American doing it, and nothing that a Jew or an American does to an Arab or a Muslim is ever justifiable.


Egypts control over Gaza had everything to do with the Israeli War of Independence, as did Jordan's control over the WB and East Jerusalem.

Are you suggesting you work out a deal for Egypt to re-assert their claims over Gaza and amend various peace treaties to do so?
12.29.2008 6:35pm
wooga:

First, it's fairly clear that those who rely on polls purporting to show that most Palestinians want to kill all the Jews have never actually met any Palestinians. I have several close friends who are Palestinian. The depth of the pain and the suffering that they are experiencing right now is enormous. Enormous. All this talk about proportionality and whatnot, it just completely overlooks the fundamental tragedy at work. You can argue all you want, from morality, political economy, international security, international law, whatever. You are still a son of a bitch if you can't recognize the profound human sorrow involved. Palestinian and Israeli alike.


LHD,
Boo-f'n-hoo. My second best friend from law school is Palestinian. I went to high school with several Palestinians (and all sorts of international refugee kids). My own family (by marriage) dealt with all sorts of horrors involving the mullahs in Iran. If you think you have some "superior moral authority," forget about it. You are openly embracing a logical fallacy.

Think, there were a lot of Germans really pissed off about the end of WW1, and they had lots of suffering. There were a lot of US Southerners who suffered terribly after the Civil War. That does not, and never will, excuse the morally abhorrent tactics employed by the Nazis, Klansmen, or the modern Palestinians.

Look, if Mr. X came and did unspeakable acts upon my mother, I would have no right to go stomp to death X's pet dog. There is no amount of 'profound human sorrow' that gives me, or any Palestinian, license to deliberately shred children to pieces with nail bombs. And when those people overwhelmingly support (in opinion polls and at the ballot box) such tactics, then they easily deserve what Israeli is doing to them now.
12.29.2008 6:36pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

In other words, by the same logic, wouldn't attacks from Hamas only make Israel stronger?


Sure. Why not?
12.29.2008 6:36pm
LHD (mail):
jr565 said:

Wouldn't suicide attacks against the US in Iraq only make the US stronger?

You need not look to Iraq. Suicide attacks against the U.S. in the U.S., circa 9/11, did indeed unite all of us behind the President. Of course, he subsequently lost most of us over the next 6 or 7 years, but yes, that was the effect.
12.29.2008 6:37pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
einhverfr,

"Needs must when the Devil drives."

When then enemy won't stop attacking you until they are all dead, it is necessary to kill all of them. War is not peace. War is not law enforcement. War is war. When the enemy would rather die than stop attacking you, it is necessary to kill them all to make them stop attacking you.

When the only question is who dies, better them than us, and better you than me.
"And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed."
12.29.2008 6:38pm
LHD (mail):
wooga:

You just missed the point entirely right then, didn't you? You clearly inferred something that I did not imply. I did not argue, nor would I, that the human tragedy of the situation alone is justification for Israel sitting on its hands. I raised the point because of people just like you, people all too willing to overlook the humanity of the other. Both sides in this conflict suffer from that particular flaw. It just so happens that one side's supporters are particularly active (and bloodthirsty) on this blog.
12.29.2008 6:40pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
The Palestinians in Gaza will not stop attacking Israel until either Israel ceases to exist, or there are no more live Palestinians in Gaza.

Fast forward.
12.29.2008 6:41pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
The U.N. has said that 60 have been civilians. Not that that contradicts your point. But everything you've said so far indicates that you just simply glide right over the tragedy in your eagerness to support Israel.
Any civilian death under any circumstances is a tragedy. But if you make an absence of civilian casualties the prerequisite for war, you've become, in practice, a pacifist, because there's no such war. I'm not a pacifist, so I accept the fact that if military action is called for, civilians will be killed. It would be criminal for a government to say, for example, that we will allow 5,000 of our own civilians to be killed in a war of aggression against us in order to avoid killing 5,001 civilians in a war of defense.
12.29.2008 6:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas_Holsinger:

When then enemy won't stop attacking you until they are all dead, it is necessary to kill all of them.


So your view is what, exactly? Kill all the Palestinians because all such actions make more enemies?
12.29.2008 6:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas Holsinger:

The Palestinians in Gaza will not stop attacking Israel until either Israel ceases to exist, or there are no more live Palestinians in Gaza.

Fast forward.


I will say with absolute certainty that your statement is absolutely atrocious, and if people accuse me of advocating mass murder because I think settlements outside the Green Line are legitimate targets, your viewpoint is many hundreds of times worse.

As someone whose grandmother gave up Judaism because of widespread Antisemitism in this country (the US), and as someone who is aware of what my Jewish ancestors endured in Europe (Spain, Russia, etc), I can say that your recommendations are not substantively different than any of the dictators of the last several centuries who have commissioned genocides.
12.29.2008 6:46pm
LHD (mail):
David Bernstein:

That is a perfectly fair point you make, and I concede it. I, also, am not a pacifist. I am, however, always alarmed when people fail to acknowledge profound human sorrow and loss. (See Thomas_Holsinger's prescription of wiping out the entire Palestinian population in Gaza above.)
12.29.2008 6:48pm
wooga:

I raised the point because of people just like you, people all too willing to overlook the humanity of the other

LHD,
Where did I overlook the suffering of Palestinians? I simply reject the notion that they have any special suffering. Of course they suffer. The world is dominated by suffering. Of course it is bad when Palestinian bystanders are killed. The difference is that Israel does not make a habit of deliberately targeting the bystanders. That makes most of the Palestinian suffering a tragedy, whereas the Israeli suffering is an atrocity. I'll take more tragedy, and less atrocity, please.
12.29.2008 6:48pm
Steve H:
It would be criminal for a government to say, for example, that we will allow 5,000 of our own civilians to be killed in a war of aggression against us in order to avoid killing 5,001 civilians in a war of defense.

Sure, but change that first number to 5, or even 50, instead of 5,000. In your view, is it still criminal for the government not to kill 5,001 "enemy" civilians.
12.29.2008 6:50pm
wooga:

I am, however, always alarmed when people fail to acknowledge profound human sorrow and loss.

War is hell. If the Palestinians don't want hell, they should stop declaring war.
12.29.2008 6:50pm
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov:

You are wasting your time with these posts. You will never, ever convince the critics of Israel that it just might be justified in protecting itself.

If the object is persuasion, the whole blogosphere should be dragged before the ICC for ineffective, disproportionate responses.
12.29.2008 6:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas Holsinger:

Fortunately, I don't think your views will EVER be mainstream among Israelis. Of the various Israelis I have met, almost all have felt strong concessions for peace were both necessary and good, and only ONE was an extremist (a Kahanist) with views which suggested very harsh approaches to the Palestinians and even there, the views were not as extreme as what you have suggested.

The far-right of Israeli politics is dying. Fortunately Israelis are smarter and have a greater sense of humanity than you do. You should be ashamed.
12.29.2008 6:58pm
DavidBernstein (mail):

It would be criminal for a government to say, for example, that we will allow 5,000 of our own civilians to be killed in a war of aggression against us in order to avoid killing 5,001 civilians in a war of defense.

Sure, but change that first number to 5, or even 50, instead of 5,000. In your view, is it still criminal for the government not to kill 5,001 "enemy" civilians.
I had a blog post on this exact topic in 2006 during the Lebanon War. I think where, if anywhere, the line should be drawn is a very interesting and difficult question and one, as I recall, that was not neatly resolved in the comments.
12.29.2008 7:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
LHD:

One thing I would recommend people do is talk to Jews more about the experiences their people have suffered in Europe. The fact is there is a great deal of pain there too.

My great grandmother used to put a cross by her name every time she signed it, as a reminder of when the Christians drove out our ancestors from Spain (in her words "Zion") in 1492. Real Jews don't forget these things, nor do they wish them on others. Perhaps Israeli Jews and Palestinians have more in common than is apparent in the experience of pain. Perhaps there is a possibility of that allowing a new beginning? It might be too much to hope for but it is always worth trying.
12.29.2008 7:05pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Steve sez: 'It's noteworthy that the common law of self-defense has taken a different view from yours for many centuries. If someone hits you with a fist, you are justified in using violence to respond, but generally that doesn't entitle you to take a gun and blow the person's brains out.'

Not where I grew up (east Tennessee).
12.29.2008 7:13pm
SG:
if people accuse me of advocating mass murder because I think settlements outside the Green Line are legitimate targets, your viewpoint is many hundreds of times worse.

Why? I see no difference between the two viewpoints. You're both saying it's legitimate to killing anyone, civilian or otherwise, living in the wrong place. The only distinction I see is the religion of the dead.

In which case, you're saying it's many hundreds of times better to kill Jews. You're hardly the first with that moral calculus, but stop fooling yourself into believing that believing it makes you more moral.
12.29.2008 7:16pm
LHD (mail):
einhverfr:

I couldn't agree more. The whole orientation of my life is towards understanding other people as individuals, with individual stories and circumstances. That makes these types of historical events particularly sad, because I can't help but look behind the numbers of dead to the lives affected.

I think we can all take a lesson from a Palestinian friend of mine. She didn't mean it as a lesson. She was just talking to me, but it's one of those things you take something away from. It was the day that Hamas &Israel exhanged prisoners / bodies of the dead. One of the pictures associated with the news stories circulating was of an Israeli husband &wife, whose son was among the dead. I had talked with my friend about it that day. The next day, she calls me in the afternoon and says, "I can't stop thinking about that Israeli soldier's mother. I cried for her." This is a person who lived through the Second Intifada, whose balcony was destroyed by a tank round meant for the building next to hers, who has been degraded and mistreated virtually every time she has ever crossed a border checkpoint between the West Bank &Israel. Her mother is dead, her family is scattered. I can't begin to imagine how she handles it all. And she cared so much about an Israeli mother whose son's remains were being delivered to her.

May we all live thus.
12.29.2008 7:18pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
SG:

The difference is that living in a settlement is participating in a war crime under a reasonable reading of GC IV Art 49(6). Note that this is a standard interpretation which is at least generally accepted even by the Israeli Government (and was a big reason why although Israel signed the Rome Statute, the Knesset refused to ratify).
12.29.2008 7:20pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
einhverfr,

You win today's Unclear On The Concept award. War is war.

Tough for both the Palesinians and the Israelis. The Israelis will continue to die at Palestinian hands until they decide that it is preferable to kill the Palestinians in immense numbers, because the Palestinians won't stop killing Israelis.

There are worse things than commiting genocide yourself, specifically letting others do it on a greater scale, particularly when they will do it to you. At some point the Israeli people will make that decision.

The United States was willing to, prepared for, and was about to commit, genocide on Japan in 1945 when our last ditch effort to avoid that worked, and it wasn't our survival that was at stake.

"Check out the book Tennozan by George Feifer, about the battle of Okinawa, and look up the word "Teruachi" in the index.

Terauchi was the Japanese field marshall in charge of the Imperial Japanese Army's southern group of forces, which included Burma, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and Singapore. He had received instructions to begin the massacres of all Allied prisoners of war, interned Allied civilians, and all Allied civilians his forces could catch, effective when the British invaded Japanese-occupied Malaya. That was planned for late September 1945.

The Allies knew this because they had intercepted and decoded the radio message from Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo to Field Marshal Teruachi. This had major, major, repercussons.

The A-bombs were only one of those. Had those not induced surrender, or been unavailable, the worst case scenario would have happened. Here it is (sorry about the formatting - blockquoting seems to be disabled):

When A Democracy Chose Genocide - June 18, 1945

"The United States government decided on June 18, 1945, to commit genocide on Japan with poison gas if its government did not surrender after the nuclear attacks approved in the same June 18 meeting. This was discovered by military historians Norman Polmar and Thomas Allen while researching a book on the end of the war in the Pacific. Their discovery came too late for inclusion in the book, so they published it instead in the Autumn 1997 issue of Military History Quarterly.

Polmar &Allen ran across references to this meeting in their research and put in a Freedom of Information Act request for related documents. Eventually they received, too late for use in their book, a copy of a document labeled "A Study of the Possible Use of Toxic Gas in Operation Olympic." The word "retaliatory" was PENCILED in between the words "possible" and "use".

Apparently there were only five of these documents circulated during World War Two. The document was requested by the Chemical Corps for historical study in 1947. In an attempt to "redact" history, another document was issued to change all the copies to emphasize retaliatory use rather than the reality of the US planning to use it offensively in support of the invasion of Japan.

The plan called for US heavy bombers to drop 56,583 tons of poison gas on Japanese cities in the 15 days before the invasion of Kyushu, then another 23,935 tons every 30 days thereafter. Tactical air support would drop more on troop concentrations.

The targets of the strategic bombing campaign were Japanese civilians in cities. Chemical Corps casualty estimates for this attack plan were five million dead with another five million injured. This was our backup to nuking Japan into surrender. If the A-bombs didn't work, we were going to gas the Japanese people from the air like bugs, and keep doing so until Japanese resistance ended or all the Japanese were dead.

Genocide is defined by treaty as the murder of a large number of people of an identifiable group, generally a nationality or religion, which number comprises an appreciable percentage of the total group. Five million dead is 6.4% of then 78 million people in the Japanese Home Islands, so this proposed gas attack would certainly have qualified as genocide.

What brought the United States government to that decision was the prospective casualties of a prolonged ground conquest of Japan against suicidal resistance, after Japanese Kamikaze attacks and suicidal ground resistance elsewhere had thoroughly dehumanized them to us.

The American people certainly would have supported such tactics at the time, especially as Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued orders a month later, provided to us courtesy of code-breaking (MAGIC), to murder all Allied prisoners of war, all interned Allied civilians, and all other Allied civilians Japanese forces could catch in occupied China, the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Malaya, etc., starting with the impending British invasion of Malaya in late September 1945. The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS, and more lethal. They'd probably have killed at least an additional 50 million people, more than had died in all of World War Two to that point, before Allied armies could eliminate Japanese forces overseas.

The horror would not have stopped there. An estimated ONE THIRD of the Japanese people (25-30 million) would have died of starvation, disease, poison gas and conventional weapons during a prolonged ground conquest of Japan. The Japanese Army planned on locking up the Emperor, seizing power and fighting to the bitter end once the US invasion started. Thank God for the atom bomb - killing 150,000 - 200,000 Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved 75-80 million lives. One of whom would have been the writer's father, an infantry lieutenant who survived Okinawa.

So the United States has within living memory made a decision to commit genocide on a whole people as a matter of state policy. We didn't have to do it because the A-bomb convinced the Japanese that we were about to do it."

"And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed."
12.29.2008 7:25pm
josil (mail):
There is a difference worth noting between Hamas and Israel. The former intends to terrorize; else, why would they launch rockets indiscriminately into Israel...even putting aside suicide bombers in restaurants, hospitals, markets,etc. Israel is trying to decimate armed Hamas personnel and their leaders. That civilians get killed in the process is hardly surprising. Hamas, on the other hand, prefers its object of terror to be the innocent and unsuspecting. When I read the response from much of Europe and, especially, the defenders of Hamas (and their friends) in the U.S., I can only think they are insensitive to the destruction of Israel.
12.29.2008 7:27pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
Should anyone be motivated to spend some time doing the research and reading necessary for placing current events in Gaza and Israel in proper historical and political constext, you can visit my post at Ratio Juris: "Israeli Bombardment of Gaza, etc."
12.29.2008 7:29pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
Erratum: context
12.29.2008 7:30pm
buckets (mail):
"And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed."

This is the reason that many of us were (and still are) cheering hard for American success in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush, as hated as he is, has given the Islamic world an incredible chance to save itself.

Those of us who understand the magnitude of what is at stake with Western incursions into the Middle East pray for the success of said incursions, because the alternative is far, far worse. If the U.S. were to be pushed out of the Middle East like it was pushed out of Vietnam, the next time U.S. forces entered the region they would not be interested in "nation-building" but "nation-destroying." If the U.S. can achieve some success through its efforts at establishing liberty in these countries, we can forestall or even prevent entirely a Hobbesian response to the next atrocities of Hamas, Hizballah, Al-Qaeda, etc.

The same principles hold true for Israeli response to terror attacks.
12.29.2008 7:33pm
Oren:

Is there anything that prevents Egypt from providing for their welfare? Why is it ok for Egypt to seal its border and not Israel?

It's not OK for either. I'm not a citizen of Egypt, however, and so while I condemn their shameful treatment of the Palestinians, I'm not really empowered to change that. Moreover, as I said before, the abuses of the Egyptians are even more reason to be charitable.

Thomas, you can continue with that tripe, but the bottom line remains that unless you take a very short-term view of "protect herself", the only long-term solution to our problems is a viable 2-state system. Insofar as the current actions take us away from that solution, it has moved us further from long-term survival.



You win today's Unclear On The Concept award. War is war.

And you win today's Stating Tautologies award. War is indeed war, boys will indeed be boys and 1 does, in fact, still equal 1.
12.29.2008 7:34pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Also it is worse also by a matter of numbers. Why would Gaza be fundamentally different than the West Bank and Golan? You have about 4 million Palestinians living in Gaza and the WB by themselves. What about Southern Lebanon? Where does it end?

The two factors are:

1) A few hundred times more people are exposed to jeopardy in this case and

2) This occurs in the absence of participation in a war crime, which can be seen as a legitimate agrevating factor.

Even if we just include the WB and Gaza we still have something like 200x more civilians at risk and without the aggrevating factors of participation in the war-crimes of the settlement projects.

And it leaves the full destruction of a people who have created their own identity as a possiblity.

A better comparison would be to say that all Israelis are a legitimate target, which is something I feel is just as wrong.
12.29.2008 7:35pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'It's not obvious to me that it serves Israeli interests or that the "whole point" should be to kill as many Hamas as possible.'

It's obvious to me, however.

I'll agree with everything Lee Harris wrote, but he missed a point: Islamic supremacism. Until Moslems give this up -- it is universal among them -- then the only prospect is endless, aggressive war by them against the rest of us.

It is far from obvious that the overwhelming slaughter of the Moslems in 1798 did not result in the century of Muslim timidity that followed. Having gotten over the Battle of the Pyramids, the Muslims returned to their war, and it is not obvious that the overwhelming slaughter at Omdurman in 1898 did not lead to a century of Muslim quiescence.

It is far from obvious that a real war against Islam -- the locale does not greatly matter -- would not also buy a century's comparative security for the civilized world from Islamic warfare.

It is worth, in my opinion, making the experiment. What's to lose?
12.29.2008 7:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas:

Tough for both the Palesinians and the Israelis. The Israelis will continue to die at Palestinian hands until they decide that it is preferable to kill the Palestinians in immense numbers, because the Palestinians won't stop killing Israelis.



Aside from the moral issues....

You miss an absolutely critical practical problem here: Israel is extremely dependent on exports. The image of Israel being evil will cause the state to collapse long before we get to that point.

Did you follow the economic news in Israel during Operation Defensive Shield? If not, let me summarize: European exports dried up and security concerns caused the Israeli economy to nosedive. According to Haaretz coverage at the time, US foreign aid also started arriving late, and Bush started re-arranging his recommendations for how foreign aid was structured.

This turned out to be the turning point in the Sharon administration and the point when he turned on the settler movements.
12.29.2008 7:40pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
josil,

For them, it's a feature, not a bug.
"When I read the response from much of Europe and, especially, the defenders of Hamas (and their friends) in the U.S., I can only think they are insensitive to the destruction of Israel."
12.29.2008 7:42pm
jr565 (mail):
Oren wrote:
but the bottom line remains that unless you take a very short-term view of "protect herself", the only long-term solution to our problems is a viable 2-state system. Insofar as the current actions take us away from that solution, it has moved us further from long-term survival.

There is no long term without many short terms, and you can't get to the long term solution without going through the step by step journey to get there. But there will be no viable two state solution so long as one side is shelling the other daily? Didn't Israel give up Gaza to try to reduce violence? And what did it get them. An escalation of hostilities from Hamaz and their ilk who proceeded to shoot rocket after rocket into Israel. The recent blockade against Gaza was a reaction to said attacks and the latest bombings from Israel are reactions to said attacks as well. You'd think that Hamas in the interest of a two state solution would recognize that if they want peace they shouldn't use Gaza which was given to them as a staging ground for indiscriminate bombings.

But then again, that's assuming that long term Hamas actually wants a two state solution. Maybe they are acting under the belief that a one state solution is better, and that one state is one that has no jews in it.

Who are the Hamas peace makers?
12.29.2008 7:44pm
Oren:

It is worth, in my opinion, making the experiment. What's to lose?

Our own respect for the sanctity of all human life.
12.29.2008 7:45pm
Oren:
jr565, you are right that we have to get there in short steps. Most of the time, that assumes that we aren't taking steps in the wrong direction.

If there are no Hamas peacemakers, it is incumbent upon us to make them. Shelling seems particularly counter-productive in this regard.
12.29.2008 7:46pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Bad cess to the Europeans, who never lack a good excuse for doing a bad turn to Jews; and another example of Bush's profound failure to understand Islam, if the Haaretz account was correct.

As an American taxpayer, I would consider it a privilege to support the Israelis financially until the rest of the world gets over its antisemitism.

Know your enemy.
12.29.2008 7:46pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Harry Eagar,

Orders of magnitude make a difference. Neither battle you mention counted for much, or at all, in terms of Islamic attitudes.
12.29.2008 7:47pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Patrick S. O'Donnell:

Thanks for recommending Juan Cole's piece. It is very insightful and level-headed.
12.29.2008 7:49pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
jr565,

You do not accept that the Palestinians have refused a two-state solution. They insist on only one state. That's what this is all about. They don't want peace. They want victory. They will keeping attacking Israel until either Israel ceases to exist, or the Palestinians cease to exist.

Everything Israel does until then is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

So admit it. You want Israel to cease to exist.
12.29.2008 7:52pm
rrr:
What's amazing to me is that David bothers to respond at all. When you have self-righteous naivety, all bets are off. I simply can't believe how incredibly naive the pro-Palestinian posters are. It's matched only by their self-righteousness.
12.29.2008 7:52pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Harry Eager:

Bad cess to the Europeans, who never lack a good excuse for doing a bad turn to Jews; and another example of Bush's profound failure to understand Islam, if the Haaretz account was correct.


Also, everybody likes an underdog.

Why does past antisemitism mandate supporting many of these horrors? It seems to me that we should be trying to PREVENT the far-right and center-left of Israeli politics from doing to the Palestinians what the Europeans did to the Jews.
12.29.2008 7:53pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas Holsinger:

You do not accept that the Palestinians have refused a two-state solution. They insist on only one state. That's what this is all about. They don't want peace. They want victory. They will keeping attacking Israel until either Israel ceases to exist, or the Palestinians cease to exist.


Now, for the fun question:

As you may know, Arab Israelis still have a significantly higher birth rate than Jewish Israelis. We are talking about citizens of Israel with the right to vote etc, and Arabs now account for something like 30% of the Israeli citizenry. Given the observation that education levels seems to inversely correlate generally with birth rates, and given the widespread discrimination that Arabs face, it seems likely that Arab birth rates will continue to remain higher than Jewish birth rates.

Your solution?
12.29.2008 7:55pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW: To Professor Bernstein:

I don't think the IAF has gone too far outside of established allowances yet. I think the IDF will as soon as the tanks start rolling into Gaza city, however. At that point, I would expect the response to become extremely disproportional.
12.29.2008 7:58pm
LM (mail):
Oren:

It is worth, in my opinion, making the experiment. What's to lose?

Our own respect for the sanctity of all human life.

You're confusing people with blog-thread commentators. I'd like to believe that something in the interface prevents that respect from informing the opinions of otherwise decent folks.
12.29.2008 8:02pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Frankly, this debate over the right way to bring "peace" between Israelis and Arabs -- particularly when it starts getting into the irrelevant minutiae of the Geneva Convention -- reminds me of arguments among trekkies as to which captain is better, or whether phasers are better than disruptors: it's mostly based in fantasy, with some fictional technobabble ("custodian," "occupying power," etc.) thrown in.

But I just couldn't let this go, from einhverfr, in response to the suggestion that Arabs be removed from Palestine:

I think we have heard that before many times regarding removing the Jews from various parts of Europe.


Right. Remind me, please -- how many buses did Jews blow up in Europe? How active was the Judaic Jihad? How often did Jews attempt to destroy a European country? How many airplanes did the Jewish Liberation Organization hijack in Europe?

Jews' only "crime" against Europeans was being different, and a convenient force to blame for when things went badly. Arabs' calls for genocide of Jews and repeated attempts to do the same are indisputable. So let's spare us all the pained sanctimony: whatever pain Arabs get from Jews, they earned it far more than the Jews did in Europe.
12.29.2008 8:02pm
jr565 (mail):
Oren wrote:

If there are no Hamas peacemakers, it is incumbent upon us to make them. Shelling seems particularly counter-productive in this regard.

How do you propose making them into peacemakers, through force? Seriously, maybe war works well for them. They seem to be really gungho to start fights.

And from a cost benefit standpoint, being peacemakers might be more trouble than its worth. After all, why settle for half of Palestine when they can get the whole thing? And they have a really great position in the world. They can start endless fights, lob endless bombs, yet any reaction from Israel is viewed as the instigator. With endless apologists for their actions, why would they want to go the peace route?

And you're arguing about a state of the world that simply does not exist. In a utopia it would be great for all sides to come together and drink from the cup of peace. In the real world though, when one side is adamant and unbending about its desire to not have peace, and uses whatever concessions are given to it (in the interests of peace)to wage further war, maybe shelling is the most productive means to achieve peace or at least stability, or at least a cessation of daily rocket attacks.

One way to achieve peace is to come up with treaties and aliances. The other way is to pummel your opponent so badly that the cost of continuing a war is more costly than trying for peace. Very often, the way you get to the former (ie treaties) is by inflicting the latter.

So, we both acknowledge there is no Hamas peace makers. Which explains the daily bombing attacks. That means though there is no peace process and one side has no need or desire to come to the table. Hoping for peace when one side wont commit and uses any consessions to wage further war, is willfull idiocy.

If all Hamas understands or wants is war , don't expect peacemakers to emerge unless the cost of war is worse than its benefits to them.
12.29.2008 8:05pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
More einhverfr:

The difference is that living in a settlement is participating in a war crime under a reasonable reading of GC IV Art 49(6).


That's ridiculous, even without referencing the Geneva Convention as though it were a real law and not a polite fiction.

Israel didn't bus in the settlers at gunpoint. They came of their own accord, often bought the land, and built houses on there. They did this for many reasons, which frankly aren't important: people should be able to live where they wish. The mere fact that this offends the fragile pride of Arabs, who would prefer the West Bank Jew-free, doesn't make it a crime of any sort.
12.29.2008 8:09pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
einhverfr,

So what? That's up to the people of Israel. All of them.

It's the Palestinians outside Israel who are the problem.

But you don't think it's a problem, because Palestinians killing Israelis is not war, and the Jews deserve it. It's only war when Israel fights back. Because Israel is always wrong. The only thing you believe Israel can do right is to die.

What will really happen is that the liberal system which gives you the freedom to think that way will die.

"And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed."
12.29.2008 8:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
E. Nough:

Jews' only "crime" against Europeans was being different, and a convenient force to blame for when things went badly. Arabs' calls for genocide of Jews and repeated attempts to do the same are indisputable.


Um.....

Show me these calls for genocide. Note that wiping out the state of Israel is no more genocide than the Russian annexation of South Ossetia constitutes genocide of the Ossetians......

However, the big issue with the Jews in Europe is that they were not only different but they cut against the grain of what was expected of the European social order under Christianity (an international group, large social units), reduced cultural differences) while the Jews were the opposite and provided a bad example to heretics and the like.
12.29.2008 8:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Just finished Patterson's "Exile" about this very matter, albeit written in 2006. Looks at both sides very closely and his scholarship is astounding, for a novel.
Problem is, he restricts his view to the West Bank and Israel.
Israel, and oil, had nothing to do with the slo-mo genocide of Christians on East Timor. When the UN, with Australia in the lead, stepped in, the Bali bombing resulted, with the perps insisting it was in revenge for interfering wrt East Timor. The UN compound in Baghdad was blown up spefically because the senior UN diplomat was the guy who'd headed up the East Timor op.
A poll in Indonesia discovered that 10% of those polled saw the bombings as a justified defense of the faith. Which is a good view of what they think of as "the faith". The West Bank and Gaza occupations are not, apparently, motivating the terror killings in South Thailand, nor in the Phillipines.
Nor the mob attacks on Christians in Nigeria.
With the militant Muslims, it's always something. And if you are gullible enough to believe that what they claim to want redressed is the key to peace...you're an idiot.
See "Stockholm".
12.29.2008 8:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Just finished Patterson's "Exile" about this very matter, albeit written in 2006. Looks at both sides very closely and his scholarship is astounding, for a novel.
Problem is, he restricts his view to the West Bank and Israel.
Israel, and oil, had nothing to do with the slo-mo genocide of Christians on East Timor. When the UN, with Australia in the lead, stepped in, the Bali bombing resulted, with the perps insisting it was in revenge for interfering wrt East Timor. The UN compound in Baghdad was blown up spefically because the senior UN diplomat was the guy who'd headed up the East Timor op.
A poll in Indonesia discovered that 10% of those polled saw the bombings as a justified defense of the faith. Which is a good view of what they think of as "the faith". The West Bank and Gaza occupations are not, apparently, motivating the terror killings in South Thailand, nor in the Phillipines.
Nor the mob attacks on Christians in Nigeria.
With the militant Muslims, it's always something. And if you are gullible enough to believe that what they claim to want redressed is the key to peace...you're an idiot.
See "Stockholm".
12.29.2008 8:18pm
Yankev (mail):

It seems to me that we should be trying to PREVENT the far-right and center-left of Israeli politics from doing to the Palestinians what the Europeans did to the Jews.
And the circle is complete, with the use of the Nazi-Israel inversion.

The most radical elements of Israel, up to and including the Kachniks, do not want to do to the Palestinians what the Europeans did to the Jews. And despite all of the fevered imaginings of the Juan Coles and Rowan Atkins of the world, if Israel DID want to exterminate the Palestinians, there would not be one Palestinian alive today. (Hamas' announced goal and Abbas' goal announced in Arabic but never in English, is no Jews left alive in Israel. Hizbollah is more ambitius, having the announced goal of wiping out all Jews everywhere.) What Israel does want to do is live in peace, but the emphasis here is on live -- which you can't do if you commit suicide for fear of hurting those who are trying to kill you.
12.29.2008 8:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
E Nough:

Israel didn't bus in the settlers at gunpoint.


GC IV Art 46 prevents forcible transfer of residents of occupied territories out, but prevents any transfer (no reference to the word "forcible") of the occupier's civilian population in.

So the lack of force there is irrelevant.

If the Israelis ahve a right to build anywhere they want in the West Bank, then the Palestinians have a right to do so anywhere in Israel.

You ask about Jewish terrorist activity. Although this was not in Europe per se, the British were the subject of numerous attacks by LEHI in British Palestine between the wars. LEHI was eventually banned in Israel after assassinations of Europeans.

There are terrorists who are Catholic (PIRA) and those who are protestant (UUP and affiliates), those who are Muslim (Hamas, AQ, etc) and those who are Jewish (Koch), those who are Hindu (LTTE) and those who are Buddhist (SLA). Even those who are Marxist/Atheist(FARC).

I don't think religion has anything to do with capacity for terrorism.
12.29.2008 8:25pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Right, einhvertr -- individual suicide bombers happily blow up civilian buses and shoot toddlers in their beds, but we're all to believe that as soon as Arab armies gain the upper hand, they'll just leave the Jews alone, and stop murdering them at once. The Hebron Massacre was an aberration, and promises to drive the Jews into the sea are all metaphorical.

But here you go: a lovely catalog of Palestinians calling for genocide. Charming stuff.

However, the big issue with the Jews in Europe is that they were not only different but they cut against the grain of what was expected of the European social order under Christianity (an international group, large social units), reduced cultural differences) while the Jews were the opposite and provided a bad example to heretics and the like.


Which seems like a longer way of saying "they were different." Point is -- can you demonstrate Jews committing and commemorating mass murder against Europeans, the way Arabs did and continue to do against Israelis?
12.29.2008 8:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

And the circle is complete, with the use of the Nazi-Israel inversion.


???

I have repeatedly referenced my ancestors experiences in Russia and Spain here. So you can accuse me of Inquisition/Jewish inversion if you wish, and I will acquiesce. You can accuse me of Tzarist/Jewish inversion and I will plead guilty.

Where exactly did I mention the Nazis?
12.29.2008 8:27pm
HZM (mail):
einhverfr,


In other words, by the same logic, wouldn't attacks from Hamas only make Israel stronger?



Sure. Why not?


You're kidding, right? So the September 11 attacks made the US stronger? Hiroshima made Japan stronger?

Not only are your morals in question, but your logic is quite incomprehensible. It will be difficult in future to take anything you say seriously.
12.29.2008 8:31pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
En Nough:

Which seems like a longer way of saying "they were different." Point is -- can you demonstrate Jews committing and commemorating mass murder against Europeans, the way Arabs did and continue to do against Israelis?


Mass murders by Zionist militants (referring specifically to Irgun, LEHI, and similar groups) of Arabs were relatively frequent during the 48-49 war too. Your point?

Fortunately most Jews, including my family members are not militant in this way.
12.29.2008 8:32pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

You're kidding, right? So the September 11 attacks made the US stronger?


It did. And it strengthened our ability to respond to such things in the world.

If only Bush hadn't squandered the political capital....
12.29.2008 8:33pm
Aristides (mail) (www):

Greenwald's real problem, I surmise, is that he thinks that Israel's response is "disproportionate" not because its disproportionate relative to Hamas's military actions and Israel's military objectives compared to the civilian damaged inflicted (more or less the international law definition of proportionality), but because he believes that Israel is primarily to blame for the situation in Gaza, and therefore any suffering inflicted on Gaza's civilians is primarily Israel's fault. Hence his observation about Israel's blockade of Gaza, which is not at all relevant to whether Israel's response to the rocket fire is "proportionate," but rather to whether Israel is morally at fault in general.


There's no need to "surmise", as that is basically what he's saying. He is of course right. At this point I don't see how it's possible for any sane person to argue that a protracted bombing campaign will solve the problem posed by Gaza, and the Palestinians in general.

Essentially, the problem with the Israel hawks here in America is that none of you can quite explain how it is that yet one more bombing campaign, occupation, assassination, etc., etc., will bring peace to the Middle East. No doubt Hamas will be blunted by these attacks, but not destroyed. And without a doubt, the Arab world will rise in anger against Israel. If Israel desires this as their foreign policy, that's their choice. But why are we supposed to be supporting it with our money, or arms?
12.29.2008 8:34pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
E. Nough:

But here you go: a lovely catalog of Palestinians calling for genocide. Charming stuff.


No kidding. However you said Arabs and this is all limited to Palestinians. Nothing about Iran, which by my reading has gone out of its way to assure Iranian Jews that rhetoric about Israel is not targetted at killing Jews so much as removing the Israeli state.

That catalog shows why reconciliation efforts are so important. If we do nothing the cancer which is hatred and marginalization will grow.
12.29.2008 8:35pm
HZM (mail):
einhverfr,

Yet another error. Iranians are not Arabs. You really should know better.
12.29.2008 8:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Richard Aubrey wrote:

A poll in Indonesia discovered that 10% of those polled saw the bombings as a justified defense of the faith.


Take a look at the International Crisis Group's paper entitled "Understanding Islamism." Having lived in Indonesia, I will tell you that this does not really surprise me. There is a portion of the population that believes in mob rule and engages in violence against bars and night clubs (not just bombings btw, it includes everything from petty vandalism to more serious harrassment and beatings of club owners).

I actually think that the rise of militant Salafism will cause major problems in the Islamic world. However, I also think that the consequences will be so dire locally that we will see renewed opposition to those ideas.
12.29.2008 8:43pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
HZM. True. The Iranians are not Arabs. They are, in fact, Indo-Europeans!

But the Iranians are often accused of urging genocide unfairly and are often confused with Arabs.
12.29.2008 8:44pm
jr565 (mail):
einhverfr wrote:

It did. And it strengthened our ability to respond to such things in the world.

If only Bush hadn't squandered the political capital....

First off, much unity from 9/11 was temporary or to taken with a grain of salt. it's easy enough to say "we're al americans" after 9/11. But let the US do something or require some assistance in dealing with Al Qaeda and all that unity goes out the window from the people who simply said what was easy for them and cost them nothing. Meanwhile behind their backs they were busying themselves sharpening their knives.

As for Bush squandering political capital - its about par for the course for your arguments. Because obviously all problems are caused by Bush and the US.
And how do you propose we dealt with our response to 9/11 in ways that wouldn't involve force or require us to squander our political capital?
12.29.2008 8:45pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
einhverfr writes:

GC IV Art 46 prevents forcible transfer of residents of occupied territories out, but prevents any transfer (no reference to the word "forcible") of the occupier's civilian population in.


What the GC says interests me slightly less than what Mohammed said about proper divorce procedures. That said, I fail to see any "transfer" by the Israeli government -- settlers up and moved themselves. They can do that the same way I can pack up and move to Guam, if I so choose. Arabs may have the right to keep their land after losing a war, but they don't get to dictate who lives next to them.

If the Israelis ahve a right to build anywhere they want in the West Bank, then the Palestinians have a right to do so anywhere in Israel.


Plenty of Arabs -- no less "Palestinians" than their cousins in Gaza -- do live in Israel, as you point out elsewhere in this thread. I believe there are more of them than Jews in the West Bank, and despite a clear ability to do so, Israelis seem rather less prone to charging into Arab villages and shooting toddlers in their beds.

There are terrorists who are Catholic (PIRA) and those who are protestant (UUP and affiliates), those who are Muslim (Hamas, AQ, etc) and those who are Jewish (Koch), those who are Hindu (LTTE) and those who are Buddhist (SLA). Even those who are Marxist/Atheist(FARC).


Thanks. What's your point? Did those Jewish terrorists blow up buses in Europe, or not?
12.29.2008 8:47pm
Oren:

If all Hamas understands or wants is war , don't expect peacemakers to emerge unless the cost of war is worse than its benefits to them.

Actually, I would think quite the opposite. Increasing the cost (aka misery) on an opponent only makes a glorious death seem like a more attractive option.
12.29.2008 8:49pm
HZM (mail):
einhverfr,

You're kidding, right? So the September 11 attacks made the US stronger?



It did. And it strengthened our ability to respond to such things in the world.

If only Bush hadn't squandered the political capital....


This is just getting crazy. By your logic, the more attacks you suffer and the more losses you incur, the more you win. Are we in Bizarro world? So the US should immediately cease all efforts to prevent another terrorist attack because if it happens, it will just make us stronger.

I can't believe I am actually taking the time and energy to rebut this "argument".
12.29.2008 8:50pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
einhverfr:

However you said Arabs and this is all limited to Palestinians.


Palestinians aren't Arabs? I use the terms interchangeably, since the "Palestinian people" didn't even exist until the 1960s.

But the reference was, in fact, specifically to West Bank and Gaza Arabs, and not Arabs in general. You compared calls for removing the "Palestinians" from Palestine to calls for making Europe Jew-free, and my response was to point out that there is a vast difference to how Jews acted towards Europe, vs. how "Palestinians" act towards Israel. (Not that I'm taking a position on their removal -- that's beside the point.)

If you care to broaden that scope, you might notice that calls for annihilation of Israel and "Jews" aren't exactly rare in the rest of the Arab and Muslim world, not to mention Nazi propaganda and references to Jews as descendants of apes and pigs.

I definitely wasn't referring to Iran (hence "Arabs"). That's a can of worms for a different fishing trip.
12.29.2008 8:58pm
jr565 (mail):
Aristedes wrote:

Essentially, the problem with the Israel hawks here in America is that none of you can quite explain how it is that yet one more bombing campaign, occupation, assassination, etc., etc., will bring peace to the Middle East. No doubt Hamas will be blunted by these attacks, but not destroyed. And without a doubt, the Arab world will rise in anger against Israel. If Israel desires this as their foreign policy, that's their choice. But why are we supposed to be supporting it with our money, or arms?

Again, your argument is totally one sided. I would ask this. How is it that yet one more day of shelling and screams of death to Israel and smuggling of weapons from Iran through hidden tunnels will bring peace to the Middle East. Israel will be blunted but not destroyed. And without a doubt, Israel will rise in anger against Hamas. Hamas may want this as their foreign policy but why is Iran supporting it with money and arms, and why are we in wester world trying to give such people a state of their own?
The answer is, of course, that you are deliberately looking at the battle from one side. Apparently, daily rocket attacks dont' count as foreign policy to you nor deliberate attacks on Israel, and any response from Israel is not a response to aggression directed at it, but rather a deliberate provocation.

Of course, the US is to be chastised for supporting Israel, but no mention of Iran supporting hamas. Of course Israel is to be villified for bombing Gaza but no mention of the tunnels used to smuggle weapons to attack Israel further, not to mention the daily bombings.
That's quite a double standard.
12.29.2008 8:58pm
Mike 'Ralph' Smith:
You know Bernstein is pulling a fast one when he has to resort to "Greenwald's real problem, I surmise . . . ." Why does he have to surmise Greenwald's "real problem" to make a response instead of responding to what Greenwald actually wrote? It's a classic case of inventing a straw man; quite intellectually dishonest.
12.29.2008 8:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Did those Jewish terrorists blow up buses in Europe, or not?


No but they massacred towns of Arabs during the 48-49 war, bombed British targets in British Palestine, and generally engaged in terrorist nastiness......

Probably didn't happen in Europe because of the fear of military reprisals. For example, it wasn't THAT uncommon for the Tsarist armies to harass Russian Jews....
12.29.2008 8:59pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Aristides:

Essentially, the problem with the Israel hawks here in America is that none of you can quite explain how it is that yet one more bombing campaign, occupation, assassination, etc., etc., will bring peace to the Middle East.


The same way victory always bring peace. The enemy runs out of resources, runs out of resolve, or runs out of people.
12.29.2008 9:00pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Of course, the US is to be chastised for supporting Israel, but no mention of Iran supporting hamas. Of course Israel is to be villified for bombing Gaza but no mention of the tunnels used to smuggle weapons to attack Israel further, not to mention the daily bombings.


I have been in favor of offering security guarantees to Iran provided a suspension of nuclear fuel enrichment efforts and a cessation of funding or otherwise providing material support for attacks against civilian targets inside the Green Line of Israel (excludes military targets, and those in Golan, West Bank, and Gaza). We can simply say that we will make military aid to Israel contingent on them following the deal too, and thus simply draw some red lines in the sand with a warning "do not cross."

If Iran supports Hizbullah and Hizbullah wants to shell targets in Golan, that is a dispute between Lebanon and Syria from our perspective. If Hizbullah wants to send in rockets into Israel proper and Iran does not immediately condemn and drop support, then the security guarantee goes away.

Such a step might lend a great deal of stabilizing influence to the area.
12.29.2008 9:04pm
Aristides (mail) (www):

Of course, the US is to be chastised for supporting Israel, but no mention of Iran supporting hamas. Of course Israel is to be villified for bombing Gaza but no mention of the tunnels used to smuggle weapons to attack Israel further, not to mention the daily bombings.
That's quite a double standard.


Since we're not presently debating Iran's foreign policy, but rather the United States', I don't see how your point is relevant.
12.29.2008 9:04pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
einhvefr:

No but they [Jewish "terrorists"] massacred towns of Arabs during the 48-49 war, bombed British targets in British Palestine, and generally engaged in terrorist nastiness......


Even taking your description at face value, this happened in the Middle East after World War II and the Holocaust, to say nothing of Kristallnacht or the pogroms. So I ask again: what's your point? How are calls for removal of "Palestinians," who have committed multiple brutal acts of mass murder against Israel, in any way comparable to calls to remove Jews from Europe, where they did nothing remotely similar?
12.29.2008 9:05pm
Aristides (mail) (www):

The same way victory always bring peace. The enemy runs out of resources, runs out of resolve, or runs out of people.


This handy rule of thumb may work for wars between states, but it's hardly useful when discussing informal conflict between states and non-state actors.
12.29.2008 9:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I am going to suggest that we start a fund suggesting that if Prof. Bernstein would like to spend a couple weeks after these current hostilities have subsided in Gaza talking to people there, that we should provide enough money for a full expenses-paid vacation there.

That seems a fair bargain.
12.29.2008 9:07pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
But then we know what happened to my fellow alumn, Rachel Corrie.....
12.29.2008 9:08pm
Thucydides:
einhverfr,
You and I may deplore Thomas Holsinger's opinion but it may in the end come to that. I have no doubt that IDF staff officers have privately reached the following conclusions:
1) It is impossible to build a "buffer" that will protect Isreal from rocket attack. There is not yet a missle defence that could eliminate or even mitigate the rocket threat from Hamas. Nor is retreating or yielding more land a solution since Hamas will rightly interpret this as a victory and merely move in to the buffer zone or just increase the range (and payload) of its current rockets.
2) Hamas does not "want" peace. Hamas will take advantage of cease fires and truces, but will merely think of these as temporary measures until it attains victory, which their charter defines as control of all of Palestine. To attain that goal, it is more than willing to use suicide bombers, fire unguided rockets into civillian areas, and located arms depots, headquarters, and other facilities near civillians. If these actions result in large numbers of civillian deaths in Gaza, so much the better since it gives them an effective public relations weapon. Mind you, they do not suffer from such humanity.
3) The Western world, with the exception of the US and possibly Britian, will never fully support Isreal, but also will probably never do anything besides speak. If Europe could barely muster the moral courage to intervene in the Balkans, do you think they would do anything in the Middle East? Heck, given the state of their militaries, could they?
Thus, when you add it all up, the only sure solution is if Gaza simply did not exist.
I hope that this does not happen, but I grow more and more pessimistic every day. "Ethnic cleansing" is not just a third world curse, and if it can happen in Europe, then who is to say it can not happen in the Middle East?
12.29.2008 9:08pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I will pledge $1000 towards such a vacation for Prof. Bernstein. Any other takers?
12.29.2008 9:09pm
jr565 (mail):
HZM wrote:


This is just getting crazy. By your logic, the more attacks you suffer and the more losses you incur, the more you win. Are we in Bizarro world? So the US should immediately cease all efforts to prevent another terrorist attack because if it happens, it will just make us stronger.

It really is bizarro isn't it? I figured by Al Qaeda succeeding in its attacks on 9/11 that it made it stronger (as succeeding I would think would mean more people would flock to their side). However, as per the logic here, apparently the more successful the attack the worse it is for the terrorist organization. Al Qaeda being routed in Iraq only means they've been strengthened though.

And of course, I'd imagine the tail end of that argument is that we caused the resentment in the first place due to our "policies" whatever those might be.
12.29.2008 9:09pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
einhvefr:

Such a step might lend a great deal of stabilizing influence to the area.


Perhaps, if by "stabilizing" you mean "uproarious laughter."

Iran isn't seeking "security guarantees" from the U.S. or anyone else. Even if their primary fear was an American invasion (why? for what?), I doubt they share your holy reverence for any piece of paper signed by a government, be in the Geneva Convention or some kind of "security guarantee." And what would it mean if we withdrew this abstract "guarantee" in response to very concreet Hizbollah shelling of Israeli territory? Does that mean we'd be landing marines in the Iranian south and sending the army in from the west? Or just dramatically ripping up a piece of paper, and making a speech at Turtle Bay where we "condemn in the strongest possible terms" etc.?

This is, of course, assuming we could even "prove" to the satisfaction of some "impartial" body that Iran continues to support Hizbollah. Considering how long the IAEA continued to insist that Iran's nuclear program is "peaceful," I'm guessing that the Hezbos will run out of missiles first.

Sheesh. My supply of sneer quotes is running low.
12.29.2008 9:15pm
jr565 (mail):
Aristedes wrote:

Since we're not presently debating Iran's foreign policy, but rather the United States', I don't see how your point is relevant.


It never is with you, most likely. the only states with foreign polices worht mentioning, let alone critisizing are Israel's and the US's. if Israel's policies are relevant than so are Hamas's. If who supports Israel is important, then so is who supports Hamas.
12.29.2008 9:17pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Aristides:

This handy rule of thumb may work for wars between states, but it's hardly useful when discussing informal conflict between states and non-state actors.


Even if Hamas didn't blur the line between a state and a non-state actor, the simple fact is that its resources come from the pool of men and materiel available in Gaza. With enough bombing, that pool dwindles -- to zero, if necessary. I would hope that Gazans' resolve would run out first, but either way, eventually the terror would stop, if only because there'd be no one left to do the terrorizing.
12.29.2008 9:19pm
Waldo (mail):
There are two Law of War principles that are always in play: distinction and proportionality. Distinction requires that military forces only target military objectives, those that make an effective contribution to military action or those whose destruction offer a definite military advantage (though some countries such as the US also consider war-supporting targets legitimate). I have seen no evidence that Israel has deliberately targeted non-military targets, but am open to any evidence to the contrary.

Proportionality states that any anticipated civilian loss of life or damage to civilian property not be clearly excessive to the direct military advantage anticipated (Rome Statute, Article 8 ). This is where most misinterpret proportionality. The assessment is based not on relative casualties or damage, but whether the expected casualties or damage are excessive when compared to the expected military advantage.
12.29.2008 9:22pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
einhvefr:

I am going to suggest that we start a fund suggesting that if Prof. Bernstein would like to spend a couple weeks after these current hostilities have subsided in Gaza talking to people there, that we should provide enough money for a full expenses-paid vacation there.


Why? What would that accomplish? Prof. Bernstein didn't deny that Gazans were suffering. I fail to see what he could learn from such a trip.

But then we know what happened to my fellow alumn, Rachel Corrie...


Yeah. She died in a political stunt, protecting a terrorist smuggling tunnel. Fitting, and good riddance.
12.29.2008 9:26pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Thomas, I thought I implied that Muslim attitudes did not change. However, behavior did.

Temporarily. Until supremacism is somehow removed from Islam, any truces will always be temporary.

Islam made unremitting war on all borders during its first 11 centuries. That means something.

It paused around 1700 and definitively in 1709, not because Islamic attitudes changed but because the military situation changed. Islam is now weak militarily, leading to calls for 'proportionality' that were never evident when Islam controlled dominant armies.

Periodically, Muslims forget their weakness and revert to expansionism. In 1798, 1898 they were forcefully reminded.

Now they have forgotten again, or, more precisely, have concluded that the sympathy of apologists for murder like Greenwald give them a chance of a military-cultural-political victory in the near future.

Military setbacks, like this week's pinprick, are not going to be sufficient to persuade them they have miscalculated.

My suggestion is to revert to American ideals, announce our recognition of Great Kurdistan, suggest that the other countries in southwest Asia consider reevaluating their borders according to nationalist principles and go on from there. That would, if there are moderate modernists among the Arab Muslims, provide them a non-western goal to work toward. Who knows? They might form coherent, self-interested political movements.

Worth a try. Compromises with our national principles haven't provided any benefits so far. If you are going to bother to have principles, might as well live up to them.
12.29.2008 9:28pm
Jim Treacher (mail) (www):
What does that make him?



Decorum forbids an accurate description.
12.29.2008 9:32pm
Dan28 (mail):

I think a lot of the problem relates to a misreading of the term that people like Dan28 make

All I did was quote the dictionary. If you've got an alternate definition, I'm interested.
12.29.2008 9:32pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Just to take a moment and clarify my points about antisemitism in Europe being the prototype for a lot of behavior by the center-left and far-right of Israeli politics. Strangely, the far-left and center-right seem relatively free from these problems (though the center-right goes to great lengths to hide this fact).

People tend to look to the Holocaust as being a primary factor in the foundation of Israel, but this is to ignore two important points: 1) Zionist military orgnanizations becoming active early in WWII and operating primarily against the British and 2) the lack of widespread condemnation of the most extreme group's advances to the Nazis for support. The fact is, that by WWII, British control over their Middle Eastern holdings were weak and a lot of Zionists had moved to British Palestine following the Balfour Declaration.

The fact is simply that life for Jews in Europe was pretty rough and had been for many centuries. Such severe antisemitism was not found in the Arab world at that time, despite some large enclaves of Sephardim who had settled in the Muslim world after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.

There are a number of specific elements of the legacy of European antisemitism in Israeli politics including:

1) The sense that since everyone hates Israel, allies of convenience, even if they are heavily antisemetic are heavily valued (LEHI's attempt at an alliance with the Nazis should be seen in this light, as should the courting of the religious right in this country which wants to see Judaism destroyed through the second coming).

2) The sense that the only way to secure the safety of Jews is to provide a place where they have the kinds of power over others that the Tsarists did over the Jews.

3) The sense among the far right that expulsion of non-Jews from Israel and/or the Territories is the only way to maintain the above goals.

The Nazis and the Holocaust do not enter into this as they came about after the independence movement was already in full swing. The general experiences in Europe however, are the main problems. We tend to focus on the holocaust as a way to avoid responsibility for tremendous antisemitism elsewhere.
12.29.2008 9:34pm
Thucydides:
Oren,

The preeminent military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz stated there are three factors in attaining the end of a war: destroying military power, conquering the country, and finally subduing the will of the enemy. Of the three, Clausewitz put importance on the will of the enemy, since "the hostile feeling and action of hostile agencies, cannot not be considered as at an end as long as the will of the enemy is not subdued also."
Clearly, the IDF attack is concentrating on both reducing the military power of Hamas and attacking the will of Hamas. You may debate how effective it will be, but it's logical to assume that as long as Hamas has the will to fight then this war will continue.
12.29.2008 9:34pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
einhverfr,

Which of the following outcomes to Palestinian hostility towards Israel will happen first?

a) The state of Israel ceases to exist;

b) The number of human beings living within the present borders of Gazas drops to under 50,000 by means of force and violence.
12.29.2008 9:53pm
Portland (mail):

I blog a fair amount about Israel, not least because I'm there twice a year and my wife is Israeli.


Sheesh, tell us something we didn't know. No one reading your propaganda would confuse you with an objective analyst. "Jewish Israeli-by-marriage thinks Israel is justified." Talk about your "Dog Bites Man" posts.

Glenn Greenwald, I take it, will not take me up on my offer of a free vacation to Sderot.


Please, send me the ticket. The fear felt by residents of Sderot is a leaf compared to the vast forest of terror sown by Israeli bombardment over the years, which has killed tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians alone.

Israel has always made its neighbors live in fear of random death from the skies -- something they have inflicted on civilians ten times as successfully as, say, Al Queda. Now they are getting a tiny bit of fear in response -- and they go to pieces, whining incessantly and ranting in hysterical rage.

when a terrorist entity controls territory bordering that of a sovereign nation,


You meant to say when a democratically elected government hold territory next to an minority-ruled apartheid state.

Calling Hamas a "terrorist entity" simply reflects the fact that you don't like them. Israel orchestrated the elections that brought Hamas to power and fled Gaza. They have no grounds to call the government there "terrorist"; like Israel, it is a government; it sometimes violates international law, and it also picks up trash and pays for traffic cops.


Israel has engaged in pinpoint targeting of military facilities operated by said terrorist entities,


It's amazing how Zionists recycle the same tired lie from one slaughter to another. The killings are always "pinpoint" strikes at "military facilities." That's what Israel said in Lebanon, where they killed 17,000 civilians, and in the Intifada, where they killed several thousand civilians. It's just another bald-faced lie. Israel's targets have included a police cadet graduation ceremony and the grounds of a university. They are not limiting themselves to military targets.


and has gone so far as to send messages in Arabic to residents of Gaza, warning them that if they allow their homes or businesses are sheltering Hamas weaponry, they will be destroyed.


That's an absurd basis on which to claim the moral high ground. Obviously civilians in Gaza have no capacity to exclude Hamas fighters, should they take refuge in their homes, nor do they have anywhere to flee to. Israel knows this. It costs them nothing to broadcast these meaningless messages, and the only function it serves is so that loyal mouthpieces like Mr. Bernstein can trumpet them as excusing massive civilian casualities.



Even according to Palestinian sources, the overwhelming majority of victims of Israeli bombs thus far have been Hamas fighters.


Please, cite those sources. Are the fifteen police cadets who died considered "Hamas fighters"? The schoolchildren? Most people killed on the first day were affiliated with the Hamas government in some way -- like the cadets. But it's been three days now. They hit all the military targets they knew about in the first four minutes. As the conflict continues, they may discover a few, but not enough to sate their appetite for revenge.

Mark my words, as the rockets continue and Israel gets more and more frustrated with the lack of results, more and more civilians would die. Israel made these same claims in Lebannon in 2006 -- that overwhelmingly, Hezbollah fighters were dying -- but when the bodies were counted, 80-90% proved to be civilians.
Hence his observation about Israel's blockade of Gaza, which is not at all relevant to whether Israel's response to the rocket fire is "proportionate," but rather to whether Israel is morally at fault in general.


I read Greenwald's reference to the blockage as a response to your bathos about the supposed suffering of Sderot, who live in a state of safety and security Palestinians can only dream about.


But by putting the issue in terms of the "proportionality" of Israel's response, Greenwald (and others) are obscuring their real argument, which is that Israel is not entitled to act in self-defense because no matter how many rockets are launched into Israeli territory, Israel is ultimately the aggressor in the Gaza situation.


Israel is clearly the aggressor here, having shed first blood and violated the ceasefire. They will continue to be the aggressor as long as the siege of Gaza continues -- such obstruction of an neighboring country's trade is a clear-cut act of aggression according to international law.

Let's start with the fact that the blockade was a response to Hamas's actions against Israel, not vice versa.


Let's not, because you are lying. The blockade of Gaza has never been lifted since Israel pulled its troops and colonists from Gaza. It is therefore not a "response" to anything. The rocket fire is a response to the siege, and it fell to nothing for weeks at a time during the cease-fire, under the terms of which Israel was supposed to (but never did) lift the siege.


(If Hamas had been a peace-loving entity, and Israel had nevertheless blockaded its territory, and I had attacked Hamas's military response as "wildly disproportionate",


Notice that your case hinges on your completely emotional and biased idea of who the good guys are (your fellow Jews) and who the bad guys are (those unruly natives causing problems). Take away your anti-Hamas bile, and you have no argument to justify Israel.


Now imagine for a moment that Hamas announced, sincerely, that its goal was no longer to annihilate Israel, but to establish a peaceful Islamic democracy that was willing to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a lasting agreement with Israel, and then acted on that announcement by ceasing all violence aimed at Israel and offering to commence negotiations immediately. Is there any doubt that the blockade would end forthwith?


Yes, there is. Again, your basic argument here is that everybody knows those Israelis are good guys and given half a chance, would make peace and stop making life hard for the Palestinians. The record suggests the opposite; it is the moderate Palestinians that scare Israel the most. Disciplined forces with clear-cut, reasonable goals -- like the PLO in 1982, which had maintained a 14-month ceasefire and were making noises about a two-state solution -- are what triggers these bloodbaths, more often than not.

It is more than likely that this long-planned operation was triggered not by violations of the ceasefire, but by the fact that it was generally honored for six months, and Hamas wanted to renew it -- with real guarantees of a lifting of the siege.


And, for that matter, that Israel would happily cooperate with a peaceful Hamas and the international community to return Gaza to the incredible rates of economic growth (and beyond) it achieved under the first 20 years of the "brutal occupation"?


This again is a total myth, coupled with a dishonest omission. The myth is that the Palestinian economy prospered under Israeli occupation. It didn't. Israel created a classic colonial economy, surpressing manufacturing and forcing Palestinians to import the goods they needed from Israel, while they served as cheap labor in Israel proper.

The lie of omission is that beginning in 1991 and escalating through the Oslo years (again, Israel is most brutal when the Palestinians try and make peace) Israel, which had forced the Palestinian economy to become completely dependent on Israel's, cut off the Palestinian workers, and prevented the import and export of goods. This destroyed the Palestinian economy, by design, and was followed by a tripling of the numbers of Jewish settlers and the closure of towns and villages, cutting them off from each other as well as the rest of the world.

Hence, while the first twenty years of Israel's occupation were unjust and oppressive, denying the Palestinians basic human right and political representation, they pale in comparison to the brutality that followed, and to use them as if they reflected Israel's behavior over the last twenty years is deceptive.


UPDATE: From the ridiculous to the sublime: Greenwald is now citing Philip Weiss, the right-wing Nazi fringe's favorite Jew (and who, last I looked, had openly anti-Semitic bloggers on his small blogroll), as an authority on the conflict.


Philip Weiss has the same qualifications to write about Israel that you do. If there are right-wingers who like him and are despicable (I'm sure there are), I'm equally sure there are fascist right-wing Jewish settlers who love what you've written above. But this is not one of the (many) things that renders you less than credible about these matters. We can hardly control the people who admire us.
12.29.2008 9:53pm
LM (mail):
Aristedes,

If Israel desires this as their foreign policy, that's their choice. But why are we supposed to be supporting it with our money, or arms?

I'd like to see the financial and military support end, for three reasons:

1. Better for U.S.

2. Better for Israel.

3. Never again have to listen to this argument.
12.29.2008 9:56pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
It was once said that "war is hell." I'm always amused by the lawyers-soldiers who try to maintain that war is heck, or just yucky.

It may be worthwhile to review how our own Civil War was won. Someone said that civil wars should be fought more gently (or words to that effect).

Well, the key to ending that war was the economic destruction of the South so that the Confederate armies could not be supplied. And the one who did that was W.T. Sherman.


"You might as well appeal against the thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war."
-- Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Sept. 12, 1864



Sherman's sober words about the "terrible hardships of war" were written to the mayor of Atlanta, who had complained about the cruelty of the Union commander's order for the evacuation of the civilian population of the city. Sherman's merciless attitude was motivated by his belief that the South bore responsibility for starting the war, and thus had no legitimate grounds to complain about the consequences of war. Sherman furthermore believed that by devastating the interior of the Confederacy, destroying its infrastructure and resources, he would hasten the end of the war and thereby end its attendant misery:


We must have peace , not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies . . .


The "War should be heck" fighting keyboard warriors are right about one thing however, half measures will not end this conflict. Anyone want to play by Roman rules?
12.29.2008 9:56pm
trad and anon (mail):
I have never heard a claim of "pinpoint targeting" that turned out to be remotely close to accurate upon inspection. Look, it's fine to believe Israel is 100% justified in its actions, but let's not be rubes about all this. Pinpoint targeting, indeed.
That's because there is no such thing as "pinpoint targeting" via aerial bombardment. If you drop bombs from the air, you always miss a lot, and kill a lot of innocent people when you do. To be fair, todern technology has made aerial bombardment less inaccurate than it was in, say, World War II, but that hardly makes it very accurate.
12.29.2008 10:00pm
Dan28 (mail):

You know Bernstein is pulling a fast one when he has to resort to "Greenwald's real problem, I surmise . . . ." Why does he have to surmise Greenwald's "real problem" to make a response instead of responding to what Greenwald actually wrote? It's a classic case of inventing a straw man; quite intellectually dishonest.

Yeah, I'm pretty unimpressed with his dismissal of Phillip Klein as "the right wing Nazi fringe's favorite Jew". It's an obnoxious thing to say about somebody, not to mention a blatant violation of Godwin's law. Both of these posts have been pretty good examples of the way that Bernstein's emotional self-identification is interfering with his ability to be rational or remotely fair to his ideological opponents. It's an unfortunate habit common to a certain segment of otherwise rational Jews and Arabs when the conversation turns to the Middle East conflict. All of a sudden it's nothing but accusations of bad faith, bigotry, and straw men, and those of us who want to have a sensible conversation are pushed to the side.
12.29.2008 10:11pm
Portland (mail):
Bernstein errata:


Israel's heavy bombing, more than 300 airstrikes since the operation began on Saturday, reduced dozens of buildings to rubble, but appeared to be directed mainly at the political, military and academic symbols of Hamas's rule in Gaza. The Israelis also made targets of the homes and offices of Hamas's political and military leaders, who did not appear in public during the day (NYT).


In no conceivable way can this be equated with "pinpoint targeting of military facilities."
12.29.2008 10:12pm
Horatio (mail):
Rabbi Meir Kahane was right
So is this guy - Samson Blinded
12.29.2008 10:12pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Yeah, I'm pretty unimpressed with his dismissal of Phillip Klein as "the right wing Nazi fringe's favorite Jew"
That's obviously because you haven't read his blog's comments section.
12.29.2008 10:14pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Bernstein errata:


Israel's heavy bombing, more than 300 airstrikes since the operation began on Saturday, reduced dozens of buildings to rubble, but appeared to be directed mainly at the political, military and academic symbols of Hamas's rule in Gaza. The Israelis also made targets of the homes and offices of Hamas's political and military leaders, who did not appear in public during the day (NYT).
You're trusting the Times for military analysis? It's widely reported elsewhere, just e.g., that the university buildings were bombed not for "symbolic" reasons, but because they were where Hamas conducted it's research on missile technology.
12.29.2008 10:15pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
At this point I don't see how it's possible for any sane person to argue that a protracted bombing campaign will solve the problem posed by Gaza, and the Palestinians in general.
Israeli officials have made it clear that they aren't trying to "solve" the overall problem, but to provide a normal life for southern residents. I don't know that it will work, but withdrawing from Gaza and NOT bombing didn't work, either.
12.29.2008 10:21pm
Oren:

Israeli officials have made it clear that they aren't trying to "solve" the overall problem, but to provide a normal life for southern residents. I don't know that it will work, but withdrawing from Gaza and NOT bombing didn't work, either.

I hope so too.
12.29.2008 10:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Portland: Let's at least be fair....


You meant to say when a democratically elected government hold territory next to an minority-ruled apartheid state.

Calling Hamas a "terrorist entity" simply reflects the fact that you don't like them. Israel orchestrated the elections that brought Hamas to power and fled Gaza. They have no grounds to call the government there "terrorist"; like Israel, it is a government; it sometimes violates international law, and it also picks up trash and pays for traffic cops.


Ok.... Let's be fair about this. I don't see Hamas's tactics here as being existentially different than the tactics Rabin advocated (beating Palestinians into submission with blunt objects). Both approaches are international terrorism by definitions found in US law. Both approaches might not cause a lot of loss of life, but cause significant injury and fear.

However, I think it is disingenuous to claim that Israel is a minority-controlled government, unless you clarify what you mean by that. I don't include Palestinians among Israeli citizens, and I see no reason why Arab Israelis couldn't become a force in Israeli politics to rival at least Labor or Likud. Instead they are largely divided among an Islamist party, a Communist party, and the bulk of them siding generally with Labor.

The Arab Israelis helped Sharon secure his term in office by witholding support for Barak following the brutal police force used by Israeli police on Arab Israeli protesters in October of 2000. (Police, in contravention of stated policy, started firing live ammunition at such protesters. Naturally everyone hated the Or Commission's findings which ended the law enforcement careers of ten officers responsible for the worst abuses.)

When Ha'aretz authors speak of apartheid in Israel they are not talking about the Occupation of Gaza, Golan, and the West Bank. They are talking about the fact that Arab Israelis, despite constititional guarantees to non-discrimination, are unable to purchase housing in most areas because nobody wants to sell to them.

However, the fact is that the center-left of Israeli politics (and this includes Barak and Olmert) have really made a mess of this situation, and now Israel is left with few good options.

But, hey, the US supported the UNSC resolution which basically called on "both sides" to stop, enraging Israel who complained that the US was supporting an idea that Hamas and Israel were equal parties to the conflict.....
12.29.2008 10:26pm
Portland (mail):

You're trusting the Times for military analysis?


More than I trust a guy whose only "qualifications" are that he married an Israeli and visits twice a year.

What the NYT is saying is the same thing that you can read in Ha'aretz or in Yedioth Ahronoth. University campuses. Politicians' homes. Police cadet graduation ceremonies. These aren't military targets, period. They are attacking anything in any way associated with Hamas, including classrooms and private homes.
12.29.2008 10:27pm
Dan28 (mail):

That's obviously because you haven't read his blog's comments section.

Well, it's true that I haven't done that, but it seems silly to blame Glenn Greenwald for stuff written on Phillip Klein's comments section.

Really, don't you think you're getting a little petty with that one-liner update?
12.29.2008 10:29pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
The stories I have read about the conflict in Gaza and Israel have not been war reporting but human interest stories with a war "hook." My local paper, the Virginian Pilot reprinted a NY Times story illustrated with a photo of a man carrying a young girl.

This picture reminded me of the propaganda photo shoots that accompanied the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 2006.

We can expect to see "Green Helmet Guy" all over again, or perhaps another fake photo like the one by Timesman Tyler Hicks. And who can forget the infamous photo of the ambulance with a hole dead-center in its roof - supposed to be proof of Israeli atrocities but actually the place where the rooftop flashing light was removed. Trust me, that scam was so successful that it will be run again.

We are informed "What started it."


"A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas collapsed a week ago, leading to rocket attacks in large numbers against Israel and isolated Israeli operations."


A cease fire collapsed? A man can collapse and a wall can collapse, but a cease fire can't collapse all by itself. Some act of aggression must take place before a cease-fire is known to have collapsed. But we are led to understand that the mysterious collapse of a cease-fire was the act "leading to rocket attacks."

As I said, this was not a news story. It was an editorial and a human interest story with the war as the hook.

And it's going to continue to be treated as a human interest story because Israel is not fighting a real war with the end point being surrender. Until that happens the murders and reprisals will go on, a tragedy for both sides.
12.29.2008 10:36pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Besides the issues in Israel, it looks like Al Sistani and other prominent Iraqi clerics are siding with Hamas on this, so this might complicate Iraq a bit too.

Given past history, for example, involving the Al Wazzani incident, I would not be surprised if the US is considering Iraq policy in how it reacts. In that incident the US sent a team of "mediators" to help convince negotiate a deal, which resulted in Israel respecting a much larger level of Lebanese water rights than Israel wanted to recognize, largely because a conflict there would have delayed preparations for war in Iraq.
12.29.2008 10:37pm
Portland (mail):

However, I think it is disingenuous to claim that Israel is a minority-controlled government, unless you clarify what you mean by that. I don't include Palestinians among Israeli citizens, and I see no reason why Arab Israelis couldn't become a force in Israeli politics to rival at least Labor or Likud.


If there is no disenfranchisment without disenfranchisement of citizens, than neither the antebellem South, nor homelands-era South Africa, nor post-1939 Nazi Germany can be accused of disenfranchisement. They all, like Israel, thoughtful ensured that as a matter of law, the people they wanted to rule over absolutely would not be citizens.

Neither East Jerusalemites, nor West Bankers in general, nor Gazans are citizens, but since a much higher proportion of them were born under Israeli rule than were Jewish Israelis (75% born since 1967, vs only 68% of Jews being native-born) I am not convinced this acquits Israel of the charge of being minority-ruled. The fact that the Jews who are born alongside them in the settlements are automatically citizens and are in no way treated by the law as foreign-born is especially damaging to the claim the Palestinian non-citizens have no claims to political representation in the state that rules them.

However, my larger point was not about citizenship and representation but rather (and this may have been poorly expressed) about the fact that enemies often deny one another's legitimacy, and that taking one side's claims as fact is a poor basis for arguing the legitimacy of military action.
12.29.2008 10:38pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW, here is an interesting opinion piece.....
12.29.2008 10:45pm
stevefromaustin (mail) (www):
Since Israel doesn't have any strategic value for the United States, why should Americans care about this stuff?
12.29.2008 10:47pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):

University campuses. Politicians' homes. Police cadet graduation ceremonies. These aren't military targets, period. They are attacking anything in any way associated with Hamas, including classrooms and private homes.

You are aware, aren't you, that those facilties are Hamas' military industrial compex (except for the arms smuggled in from abroad, of course). When you're a terrorist you sometimes have to make do. Why build a special building when assembling explosive vests can be done in the privacy of your own living room, or rocket fuel mixed in the college chemistry lab?

Waste not, want not, is the terrorists' motto.
12.29.2008 10:47pm
Portland (mail):

When Ha'aretz authors speak of apartheid in Israel they are not talking about the Occupation of Gaza, Golan, and the West Bank. They are talking about the fact that Arab Israelis, despite constititional guarantees to non-discrimination, are unable to purchase housing in most areas because nobody wants to sell to them.


That isn't true. Ha'aretz authors do have a proud record of speaking out about racism and injustice inside the Green Line, but when they use the a-word, they are talking about Israel's rule in the territories.

Twenty years ago, the allegation of apartheid referred mostly to the lack of political representation, but under Sharon and his successors a real "homelands" model has been implemented in the territories. Many people inside and outside Israel -- including men like Desmond Tutu, who know a thing or two about the original -- have compared Israel's rule in the territories to apartheid.

The racism against Israeli Arabs (or Palestinian citizens of Israel, as most of them identify themselves now) is another shade of bad, more resembling segregation -- the vote without real influence, acceptance of those willing to accept inferior status coupled with violent hostility to those who demand equality or commit other mortal sins of a Jim Crow society, like flirting with Jewish girls, which has inspired stabbing and beating of Palestinians.

It's amazing the dark places that the attempt to dominate Palestine has taken the Jewish people, who so recently were on the receiving end of the same sorts of abuses.
12.29.2008 10:50pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Wow, the sheer amount of spittle coming out of portland is a bit staggering, but let's address a few choice loogies:

"Jewish Israeli-by-marriage thinks Israel is justified." Talk about your "Dog Bites Man" posts.


This is, I suppose, in contrast to portland's "ignorant leftoid spews outrage" posts, which could possibly be categorized under "Dog Humps Man's Leg." Or something equally worthwhile in their contribution.

Israel has always made its neighbors live in fear of random death from the skies -- something they have inflicted on civilians ten times as successfully as, say, Al Queda. Now they are getting a tiny bit of fear in response -- and they go to pieces, whining incessantly and ranting in hysterical rage.


Yes, those Syrians, Jordanians, and Egyptians are truly living in fear, yessirree. And yes, effectively bombing your enemies -- sorry, "civilians," since they don't have army bases -- is the same as what Al Qaeda does, only more effective. Well, at least the Israelis aren't incompetent. They do whine, however, when missiles fall into their towns. With "whining" defined as "they complain that missiles are falling in their towns, and ask that it stop, for six months, before paying back in kind."

Calling Hamas a "terrorist entity" simply reflects the fact that you don't like them.


And here I thought it had something to do with the bombing of buses and pizza parlors. If only we had portland's incredible insights, such as that everything -- everything -- is defined through "international law."

It's amazing how Zionists recycle the same tired lie from one slaughter to another. The killings are always "pinpoint" strikes at "military facilities." That's what Israel said in Lebanon, where they killed 17,000 civilians, and in the Intifada, where they killed several thousand civilians. It's just another bald-faced lie. Israel's targets have included a police cadet graduation ceremony and the grounds of a university. They are not limiting themselves to military targets.


Jumping jellybeans, I had no idea anyone more sentient than a foot fungus actually believed that a Hamas training camp is a "police academy," even if they choose to call it that. Yes, that's what Hamas is known for: their traffic management skills. Wow.

Those "police cadets" were men of military age belonging to a terrorist organization and carrying arms. They can call themselves "police" or for that matter, "girl scouts" -- they are still most definitely a military target. Likewise for the "Islamic University" (now there's an oxymoron) -- a propaganda outlet, and perfectly legitimate target. If Hamas et al. don't like waking up to bombs, maybe they should find a hobby other than fighting Israelis.

As for "pinpoint targeting" -- look, portland, if Israelis weren't pulling their punches, there'd be a lot more Arabs dead in Gaza than a mere few hundred. (And likewise, Lebanon would have more dead than "17,000" "civilians," whatever the source of those claims.)

If Israel chose to kill Gaza civilians, they'd all be dead, and no one could say boo in response. That the civilians in Gaza are alive at all -- after all that the Gazans have tried to do to Israelis -- is thanks entirely to Israeli restraint. Somehow this point never gets through the skulls of Arab apologists. But it's true: if Israel wanted Gazans dead, they would be. It's just that simple.

The myth is that the Palestinian economy prospered under Israeli occupation. It didn't. Israel created a classic colonial economy, surpressing [sic] manufacturing and forcing Palestinians to import the goods they needed from Israel, while they served as cheap labor in Israel proper.


Err, yes, Israel suppressed Palestinian manufacturing, which was clearly flourishing prior to 1967. Just like it was in Jordan, Egypt, and Syria -- manufacturing powerhouses all, per that grand manufacturing tradition that turned Arab countries into such advanced societies. Until those mean ol' Israelis came along and turned them all into agrarian backwaters. Wow.

Seriously, thanks, portland -- we all needed a laugh.
12.29.2008 10:52pm
Portland (mail):

You are aware, aren't you, that those facilties are Hamas' military industrial compex


Any proof, other than your deeply held conviction that Israel can do no wrong? Politicians' houses are part of the military industrial complex? Since those houses and their inhabitants are public knowledge, wouldn't storing arms or forces there be kind of stupid? Does anyone with an ounce of common sense think that any of these people are sleeping at home on day three of Israeli bombing?

Answer: no, no one thinks that but Israel's most hairbrained dittoheads. They know those houses are empty; they are symbolic, not military targets, just as the NYT wrote. And while Israel is hitting these symbolic targets, civilians are being killed next door.
12.29.2008 10:55pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well, it's true that I haven't done that, but it seems silly to blame Glenn Greenwald for stuff written on Phillip Klein's comments section.

Really, don't you think you're getting a little petty with that one-liner update?
If I cited the Vanguard News Network on a race-related issue, you don't think that would have a bearing on my credibility?
12.29.2008 10:56pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Portland continues with the cheap outrage:

Any proof, other than your deeply held conviction that Israel can do no wrong? Politicians' houses are part of the military industrial complex?


That's right, genius, since those "politicians" are senior leaders of a terrorist organization. Even if they aren't in the houses on "day three," the loss of the house itself is not trivial, even if it didn't include an arms cache in the basement.

Neither East Jerusalemites, nor West Bankers in general, nor Gazans are citizens, but since a much higher proportion of them were born under Israeli rule than were Jewish Israelis (75% born since 1967, vs only 68% of Jews being native-born) I am not convinced this acquits Israel of the charge of being minority-ruled.


Unless those Arabs accept Israeli rule and agree to work for citizenship from within, I don't even see what claim they have on such citizenship. They are occupied subjects who lost a war of aggression that they started.

The fact that the Jews who are born alongside them in the settlements are automatically citizens and are in no way treated by the law as foreign-born is especially damaging to the claim the Palestinian non-citizens have no claims to political representation in the state that rules them.


What does this drivel mean? A child born to American citizens in Mexico is automatically an American citizen. Does that obligate the U.S. to extend citizenship to all Mexicans "born alongside" him?

If this is your backhanded recognition of Israeli rule over the West Bank and Gaza, terrific. But Israelis still get to decide who gets citizenship in their land, and who does not. It's hardly unique to the West Bank: most of Europe operates this way, as third-generation Turkish immigrants in Germany will be happy to let you know. Maybe this offends you, but Isralis aren't obligated to satisfy your rather selective sense of "justice."
12.29.2008 11:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Portland:

First, some good news about the death of the Israeli far-right....


If there is no disenfranchisment without disenfranchisement of citizens, than neither the antebellem South, nor homelands-era South Africa, nor post-1939 Nazi Germany can be accused of disenfranchisement. They all, like Israel, thoughtful ensured that as a matter of law, the people they wanted to rule over absolutely would not be citizens.


The fundamental question is whether the Gazans and the West Bank residents are or should be citizens of Israel. I think in the past there was good reason to see this as legitimate disenfranchisement, but I think today, the question is how we get the WB and Gaza together as their own state and get the state institutions properly built. In this regard, I see the Gaza residents currently as having a status similar to that of the Iraqi residents today. As in Iraq, nation-building is the answer.


However, my larger point was not about citizenship and representation but rather (and this may have been poorly expressed) about the fact that enemies often deny one another's legitimacy, and that taking one side's claims as fact is a poor basis for arguing the legitimacy of military action.


Yeah.... This recently happened in the Knesset IIRC with Netenyahu being seen as threatening very heavy-handed tactics against Arab Israelis and a bunch of others. See this editorial.

Although I dont like all of his party's politics, I think that Mohammad Barakeh
sometimes helps to bring needed perspective to the realm of Israeli politics.
12.29.2008 11:07pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Portland:

Israel doesn't live one day without European trade and American money and arms. It's that simple. They are limited not just by the cowardice and piss-poor skills of their soliders -- so humorously on display in the Lebannon debacle -- but by their constant need for material support from a world that is instantly sickened by a glimpse of their true face.


What true face? Israel's government is disfunctional and chaotic. I am not sure Israel has a "true face" which is reflected in government policies. FWIW, I have met and had long conversations with a number of Israelis of various political affiliations.

The polls consistently show a picture of what the people want which is different than what happens at the top. I believe this is heavily influenced by the electoral model the Knesset uses and the important place 2% fringe parties play in political alliances.

But then what people say at the top of Israeli politics and what they do tends to have nothing to do with eachother. Of course we see that in American politics too.....
12.29.2008 11:12pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
The homes of Hamas officials are valid targets. If the leaders are made to suffer, sending peons to fire rockets will no longer seem cost free.

"Police" cadets are just baby terrorists. Now they will never kill any Jews. So sad.
12.29.2008 11:17pm
autolykos:

All I did was quote the dictionary. If you've got an alternate definition, I'm interested.


Read the thread.
12.29.2008 11:19pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
More insights from Portland:

Israel doesn't live one day without European trade and American money and arms. It's that simple.


They'd get plenty of the latter even if Gaza burned to a crisp. Shocking as this may be to you, American interests in the Middle East go far beyond keeping Gazans sucking oxygen.

They are limited not just by the cowardice and piss-poor skills of their soliders [sic] -- so humorously on display in the Lebannon [sic] debacle


Yes, you're a military genius, too. Sure, the Israelis have kept at bay half a billion Arab nutballs who have tried vainly to annihilate them multiple times, and kept Iraq from going nuclear back in 1981 -- but their soldiers have "piss-poor skills" because they stopped before wiping out Lebanon.

but by their constant need for material support from a world that is instantly sickened by a glimpse of their true face.


Yes, the world is such a moral place, that cares deeply about every issue some leftoids scream about for a day. Israel held off the Arabs in 1948 and all the way until 1967 without global support. Even if the U.S. -- or those oh-so-pro-Israeli Europeans -- cut off trade and aid, Israel could still buy materiel from Russia or China. That is, of course, assuming a strategic status quo, and not, say, a reinvasion of the Sinai and takeover of the Suez -- well within their capabilities, and giving them control of a vital oil shipping lane.

But no, it's not Israel's lack of Gazan bloodlust that restrains them -- they are afraid that Portland et al will cut off their American aid.

(By the way, after that attack on Osirak in 1981, the U.S. threatened to cut off aid, too. Strangely, it didn't happen -- and Iraq was an important counter to Iran! But if those Gazans die off, man, game over. Like, fer sure.)

Thanks again, Portland -- not only are you funny, but imaginative, too. Sleep tight, knowing those mean Israelis are pounding those poor innocent Hamas "police cadets" again today. I know I will.
12.29.2008 11:20pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Bob from Ohio:

"Police" cadets are just baby terrorists. Now they will never kill any Jews. So sad.


Actually the targets were probably in jail. This is typical of Israeli air strikes.

The real problem though is that without police infrastructure, Israel has no security on its border. Yet the police stations have almost ALWAYS been on the first lists of targets. That does not strike me as smart, but then I think Olmert is unusually incompetent.
12.29.2008 11:22pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Portland is now banned for a post that I thought went well over the line, and revealed that any mask of reason that he displayed was just that.
12.29.2008 11:23pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
E. Nough:

They'd get plenty of the latter even if Gaza burned to a crisp. Shocking as this may be to you, American interests in the Middle East go far beyond keeping Gazans sucking oxygen.


European boycots were what killed Operation Defensive SHield and more or less ensured Sharon's government turning hard against the settler movement, so I think you heavily underestimate the importance of European trade.
12.29.2008 11:24pm
Dan28 (mail):

If I cited the Vanguard News Network on a race-related issue, you don't think that would have a bearing on my credibility?

Yes. But if you cited Charles Murray on a race-related issue, that wouldn't have much bearing on your credibility, even if he has a blog with comments that come from a lot of people who might agree with the Vanguard News Network.
12.29.2008 11:26pm
E. Nough (mail) (www):
einhvefr:

European boycots were what killed Operation Defensive SHield and more or less ensured Sharon's government turning hard against the settler movement, so I think you heavily underestimate the importance of European trade.


Fair enough. And I certainly don't want it to read as though I advocate the depopulation of Gaza.

That said, Europeans are rather ...flexible with their principles. They'd have a boycott, then get bored and end it. Meantime, Gaza would be just as empty. If anything, Israel suffers from continuously having its conflict on the airwaves all these years.
12.29.2008 11:46pm
Dan28 (mail):
(I should say, I think Charles Murray is a douchebag, so I wouldn't actually be all that impressed if you cited him on a race-related issue. But he's a douchebag with opinions that are within reasonable discussion, as opposed to Nazis or Vanguard News Network, and IMO that doesn't change regardless of who comments on his blog).
12.29.2008 11:48pm
Mike 'Ralph' Smith:

Portland is now banned for a post that I thought went well over the line, and revealed that any mask of reason that he displayed was just that.


Kind of chickenshit for you to ban someone for disagreeing with you. I know that's not the given reason, but, like you with Greenwald, I surmised it as the real reason.
12.29.2008 11:56pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Mike 'Ralph' Smith:

DavidBernstein can correct me if I am wrong, but I think what happened was Portland's last post more or less portrayed Israel as a wholely evil state and so he was banned on civility grounds.

While I can understand this and think that Portland was over the line in this, I wonder if it is too much to ask that those who openly advocate genocide on this board be banned too. Unfortunately this is an issue that makes a lot of people uncivil.
12.30.2008 12:10am
billooooh (mail):

Portland is now banned for a post that I thought went well over the line, and revealed that any mask of reason that he displayed was just that.

Portland was cleaning your clock so I am not surprised that you banned him.

He wrote several hundred words carefully dismantling your arguments but that's NOT the reason he was banned, right?
12.30.2008 12:19am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
E Nough:

That said, Europeans are rather ...flexible with their principles. They'd have a boycott, then get bored and end it. Meantime, Gaza would be just as empty. If anything, Israel suffers from continuously having its conflict on the airwaves all these years.


Comments from the Israeli foreign ministry suggest that Israel expects to have no more than a week to finish up the operations before international pressure makes it unsustainable without serious consequences.
12.30.2008 12:23am
E. Nough (mail) (www):
Are Europeans going to lob missiles into Israel? Because that, too, is a serious consequence.

That said, should the Israelis decide to do Gaza Hama-style, I can't imagine it taking more than a day or two.
12.30.2008 12:26am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
einhverfr:

he was banned on civility grounds


The civility standards here might be somewhat elastic. As you noticed, there doesn't seem to be problem with advocating genocide. Likewise, there is apparently no problem with calling someone "a total fucking idiot."
12.30.2008 12:32am
E. Nough (mail) (www):
billooooooh

Portland was cleaning your clock so I am not surprised that you banned him.


An essay sized collection of pointless drivel, non-sequiturs, and unsupported assertions, punctuated by the occasional ad-hominem bite of Bernstein's ankles is not what I would call "cleaning [Bernstein's] clock."

He wrote several hundred words carefully dismantling your arguments...


About as carefully and skillfully as Hamas aims its rockets.
12.30.2008 12:39am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
jukeboxgrad:

Doesn't build much for credibility, does it?

I figured it would be too much to hope for. This is one of those subjects which makes people turn to their worst. So it goes....
12.30.2008 12:46am
Mike 'Ralph' Smith:

Portland is now banned for a post that I thought went well over the line, and revealed that any mask of reason that he displayed was just that.


What was the post? It would help everyone to know where the line is for you to be specific. Unless, of course, you have something to hide and your real reason was other than stated.
12.30.2008 12:47am
wooga:
Aristides:

This handy rule of thumb may work for wars between states, but it's hardly useful when discussing informal conflict between states and non-state actors.


Why would a non-state actor be immune to basic principles of attrition? History does not support you.
12.30.2008 12:50am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Mike 'Ralph' Smith:

I think it was the one I quoted here. Maybe it was deleted?
12.30.2008 12:58am
wooga:
einhverfr,
If that was the offending post, it should have been left up as a monument to Portland's hilariously delusional worldview.

Seriously, anyone with any sense should know that in air to air combat, the Arab nations are the worst in the world. We don't have a recent example of Iranian air capabilities, but their air force was also crippled in 1979 when all the good pilots fled Iran. Put simply, Israel would obliterate any attacker (except the US) in the air. Then with total air superiority, Israel would wipe out any invading ground forces. Does anyone doubt this?
12.30.2008 1:04am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Wooga:

Why would a non-state actor be immune to basic principles of attrition? History does not support you.


It isn't so much a matter of non-state actors but rather less organized actors.

And it isn't that attrition isn't a bad way to look at it so much as it can be overly simplistic. In terms of irregular and guerilla forces, usually the key factor is political support, not anything else. Unfortunately everyone likes an underdog, so go around bombing Gaza and you will start to see more people in Iraq start sending money to Hamas. You will see more recruits, more weapons, and the like.

In a lot of these cases, base political support is the only resource worth competing for. The rest follows as commentary. And yes, you get rid of political support and attrition follows quickly.
12.30.2008 1:07am
E. Nough (mail) (www):
This situation really does bring out the worst in people. While Israelis defend themselves and try to keep rockets from falling in their towns, others accuse them of failing to live up to responsibilities they don't have, and creatively reinterpreting some pseudo-legal document, but only in a way that's hostile to Israel. Oh, and demand "respect" for a government that's dedicated to the genocide of its neighbors because it was democratically elected -- but not holding responsible the people that democratically elected it.

I think Orwell wrote something about this.
12.30.2008 1:09am
trad and anon (mail):
Many people inside and outside Israel -- including men like Desmond Tutu, who know a thing or two about the original -- have compared Israel's rule in the territories to apartheid.
Whether Israel is an "apartheid state" ultimately turns on the question of whether the Gazans and West Bankers ought to be citizens of Israel, which amounts to saying that the Palestinians' demand for a right of return is in some sense morally justified. I won't claim to have any opinion on that matter, and don't really care. What matters to me is what will produce peace without genocide (I have no idea).

But one thing that does bother me is Israel's ban on interreligious marriage. If a Jew and an Arab want to marry, either the Arab has to get an Orthodox conversion (which is very difficult and, among other things, requires men to submit to genital mutilation), or the Jew has to renounce their Jewish identity and convert to the Arab's religion (which is a lot to ask of people living in the world's only Jewish state). Since in practice ethnic Jews are generally considered Jewish for the purpose of marriage law and Arabs almost never are, the marriage laws, in substance, are hard to distinguish from antimiscegenation statutes. I find this result extremely bothersome.
12.30.2008 1:11am
Mike 'Ralph' Smith:
einhverfr,

That post is definitely harsh on Israel and strident, but no ad hominen attacks or lack of civility to other posters. I've read worse or similar here about Arabs and Muslims without any indication of banning. If the proprietors of this site want to restrict the content of speech that is certainly their right, but I would hope they would have the intellectual honesty to say so.
12.30.2008 1:14am
LM (mail):
DB,

I encourage you to reconsider the Portland ban. He's certainly a hard core Israel-hater, but his rhetoric wasn't any more extreme than some on the pro side, so banning him could create the impression of being point of view biased. What's more, as you pointed out, he lost his cool and dropped his mask of reason. Is there a better indictment of some of the arguments he made earlier than matching them with the feelings he exposed later on?
12.30.2008 1:18am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Wooga:


If that was the offending post, it should have been left up as a monument to Portland's hilariously delusional worldview.


I agree, but I don't run things around here ;-)


Seriously, anyone with any sense should know that in air to air combat, the Arab nations are the worst in the world. We don't have a recent example of Iranian air capabilities, but their air force was also crippled in 1979 when all the good pilots fled Iran. Put simply, Israel would obliterate any attacker (except the US) in the air. Then with total air superiority, Israel would wipe out any invading ground forces. Does anyone doubt this?


I doubt it in an urban environment like Gaza. Air power is of limited utility there. Thus far there have been some surgical strikes, and the various relief agencies suggest that about 1/5 killed was a noncombatant, which is pretty darned respectable for this sort of environment.

However, to get into a serious war in a city of high-rise buildings you either have to kill everybody (which I presume Bernstein would consider to be a war crime or at very least disproportionate) or you have to send in ground forces.
12.30.2008 1:19am
E. Nough (mail) (www):
If that was indeed the offending post, the offense would have to be his implication that Israel is intent on genocide, limited only by the fear of a cutoff in European trade and American aid. That's one helluva calumny, and rather ironic in light of the Arabs' explicit pronouncements of genocidal intent.

Not that Portland was above ad hominem -- on several occasions he basically dismissed Bernstein's argument based on the fact that Bernstein is a Jew married to an Israeli.

And, of course, his entire rant was mostly counter-factual nonsense flavored with his own bile.
12.30.2008 1:21am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Mike Ralph Smith:

That post is definitely harsh on Israel and strident, but no ad hominen attacks or lack of civility to other posters. I've read worse or similar here about Arabs and Muslims without any indication of banning. If the proprietors of this site want to restrict the content of speech that is certainly their right, but I would hope they would have the intellectual honesty to say so.


Agreed which is why it is probably too much to hope for that those who call for genocide of Arabs be banned.....

Next we will see Prof Bernstein support attempts to get rid of the Arab MK's through the legislation aimed at banning people who travel to "enemy" countries from running?
12.30.2008 1:22am
David M. Nieporent (www):
But one thing that does bother me is Israel's ban on interreligious marriage. If a Jew and an Arab want to marry, either the Arab has to get an Orthodox conversion (which is very difficult and, among other things, requires men to submit to genital mutilation), or the Jew has to renounce their Jewish identity and convert to the Arab's religion (which is a lot to ask of people living in the world's only Jewish state). Since in practice ethnic Jews are generally considered Jewish for the purpose of marriage law and Arabs almost never are, the marriage laws, in substance, are hard to distinguish from antimiscegenation statutes. I find this result extremely bothersome.
I find this result to be based on an incorrect understanding. There is no such "ban;" there's just no civil marriage in Israel, and religious authorities won't perform such a ceremony. But if a Jew and an Arab want to marry, they'll likely do neither of the things you suggest, but simply travel to Cyprus, because Israel does recognize intermarriage.

And of course the term is "circumcision," and most Arabs -- the Muslim ones -- would be circumcised already, which means that their conversion would require merely a symbolic act.
12.30.2008 1:29am
autolykos:

What was the post? It would help everyone to know where the line is for you to be specific. Unless, of course, you have something to hide and your real reason was other than stated.


Why are you expecting there to be a fixed line? If DB was legitimately offended by something Portland said (such as calling the Israeli military cowards, which, given the citizen soldier nature of the Israeli military, is akin to calling Jews, or at least Israeli Jews, cowards) what's the issue with banning him on the grounds of civility?


Why would a non-state actor be immune to basic principles of attrition? History does not support you.


It goes too far to say that non-state actors are immune from basic principles of attrition, but non-state actors are generally less susceptible to attrition due to the nature of the resources they use (in the case of Hamas, mostly just human resources). You could only cause sufficient attrition to those resources by either (i) killing all the terrorists and the future terrorists or (ii) diminishing the willingness of the future terrorists to become terrorists.


While I can understand this and think that Portland was over the line in this, I wonder if it is too much to ask that those who openly advocate genocide on this board be banned too. Unfortunately this is an issue that makes a lot of people uncivil.


As distaseful as you might find Holsinger's arguments to be (and as wrong as you might find his statements of fact to be), he raises interesting points and doesn't resort to namecalling. It's a fact that Hamas (one of the most prominent Palestinian organizations) is committed to the destruction of Israel and is actively waging a campaign of extermination against the Jews. The fact that the Jews continue to survive has more to do with the fact that Hamas is underequipped than with any measure of restraint. If we ever reach the day where Hamas ceases to be underequipped (either because of the acquisition of WMDs or otherwise) Israel's choice won't be between some limited air strikes in the Gaza Strip or a couple rockets falling on a relatively small Southern city. It will be between massive retaliation and extinction. Maybe that day will never come, but it's only because of the relatively low stakes that Israel isn't forced to make the choice now.
12.30.2008 1:56am
Michael B (mail):
billooooh,

Portland was cleaning nobody's clock, he was positing and asserting a great deal, nothing more. Or, prove me wrong and point to or reformulate what you consider to be his most formidable argument and let's see how it stands up. Give it your best shot.

It was Hamas that broke the cease fire in November in dramatic fashion - simple bar chart reflecting that fact.

Additionally it has been Hamas that has been firing rockets and mortars since 2001, with a dramatic increase in those rockets and mortars fired after Israel forced all settlers out of Gaza in 2005 (same link, page down one click, or here for an enlargement upon that fact).

More telling still, it's Hamas that specifically indicates, in their founding charter - their Constitution - that their goal is to eliminate Israel and kill Jews - and these Qassam and Grad rocket attacks and mortar attacks, into civilian populations, are consonant with that avowed strategy and goals. Hamas also reinitiated suicide/homicide attacks in November.

That's merely the barest of beginnings, highlighting three of four salient factors. There's also the malice and the mendacity being promulgated in the MSM.

But again, give it your best shot. Marshal your very best argument(s).
12.30.2008 2:00am
Kevin Jon Heller:
I don't expect much from comment threads on VC, especially when it comes to Israel, but I do expect a blogger to resist the temptation to censor someone who disagrees with him on the (obviously pretextual) ground that the commenter is being uncivil -- especially when those that agree with him on his blog routinely engage in the most bloodthirsty rhetoric toward Palestinians without suffering the same state. Banning Portland was a cowardly, shameful act.
12.30.2008 5:59am
Kevin Jon Heller:
That should, of course, read "fate."
12.30.2008 5:59am
good riddance:
Kevin Jon Heller, please familiarize yourself with the comment policy:

"We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. . . . We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises."

Deal with it.
12.30.2008 7:16am
Kevin Jon Heller:
Good riddance,

I don't recall suggesting that Professor Bernstein didn't have the right to ban Portland. I suggested that it was a cowardly, shameful act. There is a difference. Deal with it.
12.30.2008 8:00am
autolykos:

Banning Portland was a cowardly, shameful act.


How was it cowardly? Portland was being made to look stupid in the thread and I'm pretty sure DB could handle himself just fine. I don't know where you went to school, but where I'm from insulting the religious/ethnic group of the person you're arguing with generally isn't considered the height of civility. As for the shameful part, to each his own. I don't have a problem with it, even if I thought Portland's posts (and the subsequent retorts) made for good entertainment.

He was acting uncivilly and he got banned. Deal with it.
12.30.2008 8:51am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

I will say with absolute certainty that your statement is absolutely atrocious, and if people accuse me of advocating mass murder because I think settlements outside the Green Line are legitimate targets, your viewpoint is many hundreds of times worse.



Yes, because settling in an area is exactly morally equivalent to murder, incitement to murder, and electing a government based on its explicit promise to murder. /sarc-o

What is it about Isreal that makes people into such moral and mental midgets?
12.30.2008 8:55am
LM (mail):
KJH,

I suggested DB reinstate Portland's commenting privileges, and I'd still like to see that happen. But in David's defense, it seems Portland may have already been banned here at least once before, and to the extent Orin was involved, I'm pretty sure he's banned more right wing commenters than left. The point being... actually there are two points.

First, at minimum, Portland was put on notice about the comment policy, so the argument I and several others made about the apparent asymmetry of David's singling him out has no merit. It's fair to assume someone who's been warned and possibly even banned is entitled to less slack than someone who hasn't.

The second point is, "Portland" is at least the second name I've seen this commenter use, so I'm guessing, banned or not, he'll be back.

I still think it would be a good idea for David to just let him back in, but your harsh words are unwarranted, whatever David decides.
12.30.2008 8:56am
good riddance:
Kevin Jon Heller,

The comment policy was written to preempt comments like yours. Try reading it in full. Especially the part that says: "We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention."

I helpfully quoted it for you above, but it appears that you have not read it; or else you have read but failed to understand it. Since you can't be sure that Bernstein "monitors every comment" made on this thread, or even that he has read every comment on this thread, you have no warrant for suggesting that banning Portland was a "shameful, cowardly act" any more than I am warranted in asserting that your selectively calibrated outrage is a "shameful, cowardly" outburst.

Deal with it.
12.30.2008 9:17am
Kevin Jon Heller:
LM,

I appreciate your reasoned defense -- as opposed to that ever-powerful narrative trope, "deal with it" -- but I still believe my harsh words are warranted. The anti-Palestinian rhetoric in this comment thread is far more inflammatory and uncivil than Portland's anti-Israel rhetoric. My favorite, from David King: "Israel needs to exact some sort of final solution, enabling them to live in peace. There will never, ever be peace with the moslems around. Eradication is the only workable long-term solution. It would be a net gain for the cvilized world." And there are numerous comments that are simply ad hominem, such as Paul A. Barge calling Glenn Greenwald (in a two-word comment) an "asshole."

David King, not banned. Paul A. Barge, not banned. Portland, banned.

In my book, banning only those commenters who disagree with you, leaving equally (if not more) culpable commenters who agree with you unbanned, is the very definition of a cowardly, shameful act.

(As an aside, I have no idea about how "Portland" has behaved previously. Nor do I think it's relevant, given that Professor Bernstein said that Portland was banned for his comments on this post.)
12.30.2008 9:26am
Kevin Jon Heller:
Good riddance,

I see. So Professor Bernstein's decision to ban Portland was not a cowardly, shameful act, because he banned him without actually paying attention to what he actually said? Well, that's much better!

With friends like these, Professor Bernstein hardly needs enemies.
12.30.2008 9:32am
SpaceCat (mail):
Face it Bernstein, you're overmatched trying to go head to head with Greenwald. Even if you were arguing the non-sociopathic position, you'd still lose. Your arguments are too puerile, too poorly expressed, to win. Typical right wing Folderol.
12.30.2008 9:49am
good riddance:
Kevin Jon Heller,

No, you don't see. The crux of your complaint was that Portland's banning was "shameful" because other "culpable" commenters who agreed with Bernstein weren't banned. I pointed out to you that you cannot be sure that Bernstein "monitors every comment," or even that he has read every comment in this thread -- and thus you couldn't know if Bernstein was even aware of these comments you cite as "culpable," in which case your ascription of blame to him for turning a blind eye to comments agreeable to him is uncharitable, and unwarranted.

You have no warrant for suggesting that banning Portland was a "shameful, cowardly act" because you have no idea if Bernstein has deliberately ignored these other, "culpable" comments. It could be that he simply has not read them; and in a thread with hundreds of comments, it is very plausible that he hasn't. Indeed, the comment policy addresses this possibility at length.

I encourage you to read the comment policy again. Read it several times even, as you appear to have difficulty comprehending its import.

In short, Professor Bernstein's decision to ban Portland was neither "shameful" nor "cowardly" not because "he banned him without actually paying attention to what he said" -- the most obtuse possible reading of what I meant -- but rather, because he wasn't paying attention to these other, "culpable" comments, in which case he cannot be faulted for not banning what he hasn't noticed.

It's not all that difficult to grasp, Kevin.
12.30.2008 10:30am
Thomas_Holsinger:
K.J. Heller,

It's fun watching you guys flip-flop between accusing us of being shills for the Jews, and racists, usually anti-Palestinian racists. You just can't make up your minds.

FYI, it's the particular Arab variety of Islam we can't stand, i.e., it's both cultural and religious. Islam has certain repellent inherent tendencies (the laid-back South-east Asian variety of Islam shows those are only tendencies) which Arab culture exacerbates.
12.30.2008 10:47am
lw:
Perhaps you should ask yourself why you call Palestine simply a "territory" and Israel "a sovereign nation" and whether this has any bearing on the cause and nature of the conflict. I don't know if this is for political reasons, intellectual shallowness or simply going along with the commong wisdom in the U.S. Either way, it makes for unenlightening commentary..
12.30.2008 11:18am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas_Holsinger:

I don't accuse you of being a shill for Jews. I have accused you of advocating genocide which you more or less admitted to, and I would accuse you of being a pretty horrible racist.

However, one thing that REALLY irks me is how I hear a lot of people resent Jews for the conduct of Israel's government, or I hear people suggest that bast antisemitism means that we must ABSOLUTELY and TOTALLY support Israeli actions even when they are unconscionable.

Israel's continued response to the Palestinian problem, and various proposed "final solutions" (as called by other commenters) are representative of a group mentality of a certain and limited segment of the Jewish population and has as much to do with Jewish religious principles as the Christmas Tree does with Christianity.
12.30.2008 11:42am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
In case there are misunderstandings about my post, I see the settlements as unconscionable, as well as the approach to Palestinian water rights. I also see the lack of nation building after these exercises as unconscionable, and I see most of Israel's responses during the Second Intifada as being disproportionate.

However, these air strikes don't rise to this level.... yet.
12.30.2008 11:45am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Perhaps you should ask yourself why you call Palestine simply a "territory" and Israel "a sovereign nation" and whether this has any bearing on the cause and nature of the conflict. I don't know if this is for political reasons, intellectual shallowness or simply going along with the commong wisdom in the U.S. Either way, it makes for unenlightening commentary.
Israel is a sovereign nation, and Gaza -- not "Palestine," whatever that is -- isn't. That's not merely "common wisdom in the U.S."; it's a factual statement.
12.30.2008 11:48am
Objectivist (mail):
There are several factual inaccuracies in your post. It is by all means your right to agree or disagree with Greenwald, but to embellish and distort the arguments of those you disagree with makes your own arguments immediately suspect, regardless of their content.

For one thing, day in and day out Greenwald rarely posts about Israel. On occasion when he does focus on Israel it is only in relation to American politics, the primary subject of his blog.

Also, your assertion that Israel's critics secretly believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself is made from whole cloth and really has a twinge of conspiratorial lunacy to it. Nobody has even suggested it. In fact, looking at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict objectively it is easy to see that the exact reverse is true. Whereas Israelis have every right to defend themselves, Palestinians absolutely do not. In fact, Israel has stated that it is bombing "the house of anyone who has arms or ammunition at home". They have declared any Palestinian with even the smallest ability to defend themselves and their family a target.

And that is to say nothing of your assertions about Gaza, its conditions, and the proportionality of Israel's bombing campaign. If everything is so good there are you going to be vacationing in Gaza or not? I will personally buy your tickets.
12.30.2008 12:07pm
catbirdman (mail):
I wanted to give both sides of this spat a fair hearing, so I followed up on your characterization of Philip Weiss as "the right-wing Nazi fringe's favorite Jew (and who, last I looked, had openly anti-Semitic bloggers on his small blogroll)."

What I found was your own post attempting to paint him as such, citing his confusion over the nomination of Sarah Palin for VP as a development that would not fit with a "Strict application of the Israel lobby [controls everything important in American politics] theory." Somehow that makes your point that he "the right-wing Nazi fringe's favorite Jew"?

It would be nice if you could answer Glenn's main point, which is that American politicians inevitably fall into lockstep with whatever Israel decides to do with the military equipment and the billions of dollars we give them each year, despite most Americans favoring a different approach. If this is not evidence of some kind of conspiracy against our representative democracy, please please please explain why our politicians shy away from any semblance of debate over this rather serious national security issue.
12.30.2008 12:51pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
einhverfr,

You are accusing the bearer of bad news of advocating the bad news. This is a perfect example of your reasoning ability. You believe in magic - that denouncing the bearer of bad news refutes the validity of the bad news.

"The Yale Daily News reports that "in the wake of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech in which a student killed 32 people, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has limited the use of stage weapons in theatrical productions":
According to students involved in the production, Trachtenberg has banned the use of some stage weapons in all of the University's theatrical productions. While shows will be permitted to use obviously fake plastic weapons, students said, those that hoped to stage more realistic scenes of stage violence have had to make changes to their props.

"Fub," a commenter on the Volokh Conspiracy, has a perceptive analysis:
What makes these ritual bannings of depictions or imitations of real weapons politically effective (among those for whom they are effective) is a very primitive human thought process: belief in sympathetic magic.

The actual object, the weapon, is imbued with magical power. Its very presence magically causes harm. It causes people to behave in evil ways. The rationale commonly offered is that the mere presence of a weapon makes people more prone to violence.

Sympathetic magic is the belief that what one does with an imitation of the thing with magical power will affect the actual thing. For example, in a magical religious context we see the image of a deity addressed, or given gifts or sacrifices. The magical deity is affected through the treatment of its image, and so performs its magic for the one who gives the image a gift.

In the imitation weapon banning context we have first the belief that the object, the actual weapon, is magic and causes those in its presence to behave in an evil manner. The sympathetic magical belief is that by banning the image or the imitation weapon, the magical power of real weapons to cause people to be violent will be lessened, or the real weapons will stay away from the presence of the faithful.

Betty Trachtenberg, do do that voodoo that you do so well!"
12.30.2008 12:54pm
Good Lt (mail):
Heh - Hi, Glenn. Er, I mean "Objectivist."
Whereas Israelis have every right to defend themselves, Palestinians absolutely do not.
Wrong. What Palestinians don't have the right to do is launch rockets into Israeli towns - PERIOD. Furthermore, they don't have a right to expect that there will be no consequence to such reckless and provocative actions.

They have declared any Palestinian with even the smallest ability to defend themselves and their family a target.
Hamas has decreed that Israel will be eliminated - in its own founding charter. The Palestinian elected this terrorist group to do violence to Israel on its behalf. Now that they're losing the fight, they want to pretend that they're the victims here? They brought it on themselves.

Can you show us where that phrase is written in IDF military policy, by the way? Because the only places I can find that are from leftwing blogs who reproduced it ad nauseum from an editorial printed in Haaretz, from anonymous sources in Gaza who are claiming that they were roused from their sleep to phone call in Arabic claiming "This is to warn you that we will bomb the house of anyone who has arms or ammunition at home." There is no verification for this claim other than a source the story identifies as "S."

Interestingly, this preceded the passage you attributed to the IDF:
Sunday, the sound of an incoming missile could be heard over the telephone. And then another, along with the children's cries of fear. In Gaza City's Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, high-rise apartment buildings are crowded close together, with dozens of children in every building, hundreds in every block.

Their father, B., informs me that smoke is rising from his neighbor's house and ends the call. An hour later, he tells me that two apartments were hit. One was empty; he does not know who lives there. The other, which suffered casualties, belongs to a member of a rocket-launching cell, but no one senior or important.
Hmmm. A rocket launching cell in an apartment building. That would seem right in line with Hamas's human-rights-violating placement of military weapons positions in the midst of civilian population centers. And Israel hit one of them? You don't say. They also struck other Hamas and government targets (if you keep reading the unverified editorial) - which were intentionally targeted, unlike civilians. More from this "unimpeachable account:"
"Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members," said S., who opposes Hamas. "And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It's against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way."
Hamas will, however, because they wanted this to come to pass.

So not all of these "seventy" "policemen" supported Hamas, but there were some that did. Well, Israel is at war with Hamas because Hamas has sworn to be at war with Israel - by its own charter. Therefore, if you are colluding with or supporting or palling around with members of Hamas, you're going to be in the line of fire with them. It's not hard for a thinking person to contemplate. It is hard, however, for those offering twisted apologias for terrorists to contemplate.

You just complained that the Prof. was distorting your...I mean Rick Ellensburg's word. You then proceed to twist a statement from an anonymous (perhaps nonexistant) source and attributed it to the IDF. I'd like to know why you appear to think somebody wouldn't check your sources on that.
And that is to say nothing of your assertions about Gaza, its conditions, and the proportionality of Israel's bombing campaign.
I have seen nothing in your comment concerning Hamas's charter - the one that explicitly calls for the eradication of the state of Israel - as there is nothing in your comment suggesting that the 10,000 rockets launched into Israeli towns is somehow "proportional" to Israel not doing anything of the sort. Israel gets attacked, Israel responds. If you poke a sleeping dog with a stick, don't whine when it reels around and snaps at you. I assume "proportional" response would be for Israel to lob rockets into Palestinian towns at random for each rocket that lands in an Israeli town. I'm sure you'd support that.

I also assume, by your logic, that our response to Pearl Harbor was "disproportionate." And our response to Hitler's attempt to take over Europe (Hitler never attacked the US homeland) was "disproportionate" to the damage Hitler did to us.

The "proportionality" argument is a fool's errand, as you've inadvertently demonstrated. Force begets force. If Hamas wants a fight, they should expect to get one. If they want peace, they'll get that, too. It's in their hands, and they're choosing rockets. Well, in response to rockets, they're going to get precision military strikes on the targets Hamas has positioned in schools, apartment buildings and civilian centers.

That's reality. Time to deal with it, Mr. Glenn Rick Ellensburg Greenwald.
12.30.2008 1:19pm
Brendan (mail):
From above:

"This is fine, but it misses the point.

The harder question is, if that person is trying to kill you or inflict grave bodily injury, how many of his non-attacking and non-threatening neighbors are you morally allowed to kill?"

No, it isn't a hard question. Trying to conflate action against massive volleys of rockets with selectively neutralizing a single attacker is just flat dishonest.

Your teary-eyed sympathy for the hapless neighbors of Hamas at Home is of course noted. Nobody likes what happens to human shields used by scum, and we all cheer when the scum gets theirs and the human shields don't. Would that it were always thus, but it ain't.

Hamas is a puppet of Iran through Hezbollah, and Iran has plans for Israel, and here's a news flash: Israel knows it. Proportionality has nothing to do with it. The jihad against Israel is big-scale politics related to mideastern hegemony and tribal power more than Israel, but it
could really leave a mark anyway.

It's charmingly naive to apply western standards of reason and fair play to the islamic "cultures" that dress their forceably illiterate women as shuttlecocks, hang homos from tow-truck gantrys, and all the while cheerfully assert that their historical mass-murderer is a telephone to God. Um, what's not to like?

To avoid embarassment in the actual world, my advice is to save the multi-culti relativism for the campus coffee shop, where it's o.k. to be silly, and not show it around on the street. In the real world, that kind of naivety is akin to dragging your dinner in front of a wolf pack. The outcome is predictable, and when they finish the pork chops, what then, my plump little cherub?
12.30.2008 1:34pm
David M. (mail):
The issue here is not whether the Israelis are right or wrong, or partly right or wrong, or disproportionate, or whether Hamas can be trusted to be honest with the Israelis, or vice versa, or what the Egyptians or the Jordanians or the Hottentots think.

The question is why the United States treats Israel like the 51st state and then some. Whatever debts or responsibilities we have had to the State of Israel have long been discharged, with interest. The question that Greenwald correctly poses is why, when most Americans have had it up to here with the endless bloodbath in the Middle East, there is essentially no debate about that in the political establishment, aka the Village.

Most Americans think that the United States should stop funding the Israeli military's adventures in the Middle East and start to have a more normal bilateral, arm's length relationship with that state, and a generally more balanced position about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's long past time that the question of why we don't gets some serious public discussion.
12.30.2008 1:52pm
Timber (mail):

You just complained that the Prof. was distorting your...I mean Rick Ellensburg's word. You then proceed to twist a statement from an anonymous (perhaps nonexistant) source and attributed it to the IDF. I'd like to know why you appear to think somebody wouldn't check your sources on that.


If I'm not mistaken I do believe that Greenwald has a habit of misattributing sources to bolster his lacking arguments and pretty certain he also cites sources that in no way even bolster his lacking argument.

Keep that in mind.
12.30.2008 2:09pm
Good Lt (mail):
I find it interesting that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East (with the possible exception of Iraq, now). It is surrounded by corrupt, brutal, racist theocracies, dictatorships, religious tyrants and enemies of human rights.

And yet, it is Israel that must be questioned and put upon. It is Israel that should not be defended. It is Israel that must justify its existence. The country that has given so much to the world in terms of medicine, science, literacy, religion, liberty, technology and freedom in a part of the world where freedom is an anathoma, and yet it is Israel that is the problem.

And on top of this, the US's support of the region's only democracy - the support of which was essentially mandated by the late JFK as part of the burden of upholding the survival of liberty at any cost - that is really the question. No questions for the Islamic tyrannies, ever, for any reason. The existence and flourishing of the nation of Israel, we're made to believe, is a "burden" on these Islamic countries (when in reality, the mere existence of a strong Israel is a constant reminder of their societies' humiliating cultural and governmental failures).

It's just interesting. The US's support of other democracies like those of Europe or Japan is never questioned - only that of Israel. Ask yourselves why you who demand that Israel justify itself to the world but make the demand of no other nation.

It is, in fact, long past time for the rest of the Arab world that must justify itself, for they are the ones exporting terrorism, oppressing women, hanging homosexuals, encouraging violence against non-Muslims, threatening their neighbors with annihilation, inciting Antisemitism on a societal level, etc. It is not Israel that is inciting violence. It is the Arab world that is stoking the flames of hate and directing it at the one nation they should be using as a model for the redemption of their societies.

And yet, Israel is the real problem. Do I have that right, David M?
12.30.2008 2:10pm
Timber (mail):

(when in reality, the mere existence of a strong Israel is a constant reminder of their societies' humiliating cultural and governmental failures).


Which the left is happy to ignore. Paper shredders? Faggitaboutit. Gas balloons? No big. Decapitation? Answer: Don't you know we play loud music at terrorists?
12.30.2008 2:16pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Thomas_Holsinger:

Leaving aside the argumentum ad hominem aspects of your post...

You have repeatedly advocated genocide as the only way out. You claim that this is inevitable. Is it more inevitable than Iraq becoming the staging ground for massive terrorist actions against the US when we leave?

Israeli policies have failed regarding the Palestinian conflict as much because of internal political issues regarding Israel than as because of Palestinian problems. The Israeli center-left has consistently used negotiation times to expand settlement activities, and this has made it harder for sane negotiations to take place. At least Likud has a solid track record of such negotiations (Labor does NOT).

One piece of good news I saw on the Ha'aretz web site was the fact that the Syrian government had issued a statement saying that they would not resume early negotiations aimed at settling the Golan issue during the Gaza incursion. But think about it-- this means that there is AT LEAST a possibility of such negotiations starting up after this is over, and that perhaps after Netanyahu wins the PM race again, he can complete what he started there in his last term (before Barak screwed things up).

If Israel's continuing conflict with Syria can be resolved, then Israel may have peace on her northern border. If Israel/Syria/Hizbullah might actually be able to co-exist, why not Hamas/Fatah/Israel?
12.30.2008 2:19pm
David M. (mail):
Israel doesn't have to justify its existence to me or anybody else. It has a perfect right to defend itself however it sees fit. I don't need or want to criticize Israel. I do not intend to do so.

But I fail to see how the degree of support, financial, military, and diplomatic, that the United States extends to Israel is rational, in the United States' best interests, or morally demanded.

Why should Israel constantly be the focal point, the center around which all of American foreign policy must endlessly revolve? It is not in the best interests of the United States that it should, in my opinion. The United States as a society has no critical strategic or other stake in the existence or nonexistence of Israel.

And sooner or later that reality of international life will become manifest. It always does.

I wish Israel good luck. I just consider myself an American, not an Israeli.
12.30.2008 2:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Good Lt:

I find it interesting that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East (with the possible exception of Iraq, now).


Really? What defines a democracy to you?

Why is the PA not a democracy given their electoral process? Why not Turkey? For that matter, why not Iran, given that both the Assembly of Experts and the Parliament are democratically elected?

Is Lebanon more of a democracy than Colombia?

Or is the definition of "democracy" effectively "backed by the US?"
12.30.2008 3:02pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Why is the PA not a democracy given their electoral process? Why not Turkey? For that matter, why not Iran, given that both the Assembly of Experts and the Parliament are democratically elected?
A government is not "democratically elected" when an unelected religious cadre arbitrarily decides who may be permitted to run for office. The mere fact that one stages an event where the public is given pieces of paper with options on them and asked to choose is insufficient to make a "democratic election."

Turkey is a democracy (mostly; the military from time-to-time likes to get rid of governments it deems too religious).
12.30.2008 3:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

A government is not "democratically elected" when an unelected religious cadre arbitrarily decides who may be permitted to run for office


Bt that unelected religious cadre is elected by the Assembly of Experts, which is elected. Furthermore, the elections to the Assembly have not seen the level of micromanagement that has been seen in the Parliamentary elections.

How is this different from electing people to the Electoral College as used to be the case in this country? Or having the Senate composed of people that the states choose through their legislative assemblies (pre-17A US)?

Just asking......
12.30.2008 3:11pm
Brendan (mail):
Good Lt:

And on top of this, the US's support of the region's only democracy - the support of which was essentially mandated by the late JFK as part of the burden of upholding the survival of liberty at any cost - that is really the question. No questions for the Islamic tyrannies, ever, for any reason. The existence and flourishing of the nation of Israel, we're made to believe, is a "burden" on these Islamic countries (when in reality, the mere existence of a strong Israel is a constant reminder of their societies' humiliating cultural and governmental failures).

One explanation of this is the old saying that "a Liberal is a friend of every country not his own", or in Israel's case, one that looks like his own (sort of). Another source is that whichever society is "losing", however degenerate, is an excuse for the academic machine to leap into action, since those affixed tightly onto the public tit must necessarily pretense some function, but what? How about something that distinguishes them from the common thread, nevermind the assinine paradoxes. These guys are like little kids with a space helmet and a cape made from a table cloth, seeing themselves as superheros of the downtrodden. Yet when you are among them, it's interesting how these giants of social justice carefully avoid contact with "the oppressed" (AKA poverty-stricken losers and their offspring). When I was in the racket, I couldn't get anyone else in the whiner departments to volunteer-teach among the unwashed with me. They were either lazy (not uncommon) or (unspoken) afraid of low buck neighborhoods.

Why is it that these gutless, weak spongers of the public tit pretense to supporting the worst among us and in the world, much less the merely unfortunate? Well, why do some retired old guys like to dress like bikers? It's a fashion, after all, and kicking Israel around is just another manifestation of the academic racket, a combination of fashion, the Stockholm syndrome and the Big Con. The obvious targets are not bad, corrupt, hideous, lawless people who may very well and very competently kick your butt over standing up to them, but rather "safe" and successful and reasoning "targets" that won't drop by to turn you into a grease spot. Heavy lifting is not part of the current program for the "elites". The old men with sleeveless black T-shirts and wallets hanging on chains stay out of the real biker bars, they go over to the Hilton instead; but they are still "legends in their own minds". Right, and so are Israel's US tormentors.
12.30.2008 3:16pm
LEL:

Is Israel the "sovereign nation" or "terrorist entity"? I suppose if you had been living in Palestine until your land had been taken from you by the barrel of a gun, you might have a different answer than the one you currently seem to have.

The only people who were removed from their land by the barrel of a gun in were JEWS from Gaza three years ago.
12.30.2008 3:33pm
Connecticut Lawyer (mail):
Ethnic cleansing is ugly indeed, a sin any way you look at it. Let's pray that the Palestinians don't back the Israelis into a corner where they have no choice.

If the Palestinian Arabs who live in Gaza are committed, irrevocably and forever, to killing the Jews and driving them out of the land of Israel (as the Hamas charter calls for), then I'm not sure that there would be any alternative to waging total war against them.

The fact that Israel is not waging total war in the face of such implacable hostility is proof of the mercy and morality of the Jewish state.

What do I mean by total war? See the above post about Gen. Sherman's march to the sea. Israel would be completely justified in doing the same thing to Gaza, razing every building and killing every Hamas member and whoever else got in the way, and driving the rest into Egypt. That it's not doing so demonstrates Israel's desparate attempt to act with restraint when such restraint merely encourages Hamas and allows it to posture as having prevailed in the war.
12.30.2008 3:34pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
einhverfr, what if what you call 'genocide' and what I call military defeat IS the only way out?

Since Hamas is very clear that from its point of view, genocide is the only resolution Hamas will consider, there doesn't seem to be much room for compromise.

I have suggested various other approaches, all aimed at wrecking the supremacist ideology of Islam. Interestingly, the idea of wrecking Islam seems more distasteful to most people than the idea of killing people.
12.30.2008 3:57pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Harry Eager:

In that case, maybe we can be fair and turn all if Israel and Palestine into one big tourist part, wholely owned and operated by the Buddhists, of course ;-)
12.30.2008 4:39pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
I had said to einhverfr:

"You are accusing the bearer of bad news of advocating the bad news. This is a perfect example of your reasoning ability."

He replied (my emphasis in his response):

"You have repeatedly advocated genocide as the only way out. You claim that this is inevitable."

Q.E.D.
12.30.2008 5:03pm
LM (mail):
einhverfr,

However, one thing that REALLY irks me is how I hear a lot of people resent Jews for the conduct of Israel's government, or I hear people suggest that bast antisemitism means that we must ABSOLUTELY and TOTALLY support Israeli actions even when they are unconscionable.

This is one and a half straw men.

Taking them in reverse order, where have any but a meaningless fringe argued that "past antisemitism means that we must ABSOLUTELY and TOTALLY support Israeli actions even when they are unconscionable"? More to the point, has anyone argued it here? And if anyone here did, shouldn't your response be directed at that person, rather than inductively implying the claim reflects even a remotely meaningful portion of those disagreeing with you? This is a puzzling departure from the standard of your usual arguments.

Your other claim, that "a lot of people resent Jews for the conduct of Israel's government," confuses a more common argument. The actual argument is that a lot of people who hate Jews hide behind their criticism of Israel. Your version is typically heard as a defensive response to that. But that you (I assume inadvertently?) confused them into a straw man is really beside the point. Both versions are true, and frankly, which is more true or heard more frequently is a chicken and egg question that doesn't interest me. As long as incidents occur like the torture and murder of the couple in the Mumbai Chabad center, targeted solely because they were Jewish, and newspapers print stories like this one, I'd count on both versions being raised, because if nobody else does it, I will.

Of course there's the separate issue that some people use those accusations indiscriminately to smear Israel critics who aren't bigots. Likewise there the anti-Zionists who hold up every accusation of anti-Semitism as proof that no one can criticize Israel without being smeared. I hope you'd agree it's neither accurate nor constructive to define most of the people arguing these issues by those demagogues.
12.30.2008 5:16pm
MIke:
Hamas has killed about 5 Israelis in their rocket attacks.
Israel has killed about 380 Palestinians in their attacks.

Does anyone really think the Palestinians will now finally realize the error of their ways?

If someone attacked the US and killed, oh say, 3000 people, would that mean that the Americans would go "A-ha! We've been wrong all along, let's surrender!"

The idea that Israel is justified in what they're doing is debatable. The idea that what they're doing will lead to an end of the conflict is ludicrous.
12.30.2008 11:14pm
Brian L. (mail) (www):
Regarding the "disproportionate" response in Gaza, if you read NOTHING else on the subject, be sure to stop by and check out this statistical analysis of the casualties.

To summarize: The numbers don't add up—but why am I surprised to find the press is not curious about it?

Regards,
Brian
12.31.2008 12:13am
Harry Eagar (mail):
einhverfr, I wasn't making a joke.

Think back to 1967. What do you suppose would have happened if the Arab armies had occupied Israel?

What do you suppose has changed in the minds of the Muslims with regard to their 1967 goals as of today?
12.31.2008 3:13pm
Skeptic911:
"I said, "I would guess that 99% of those killed and wounded on Israeli soil by attacks (rockets, suicide bombings, knifings, bulldozers, etc.) launched from the West Bank and Gaza have been civilians." Did that B'Tselem report you allude to count only "those killed and wounded on Israeli soil by attacks...launched from the West Bank and Gaza," or did it fold in combat deaths in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza? I'll bet dollars to donuts . . . They rarely go after soldiers and military targets, clearly preferring more vulnerable civilians on the street, in their homes, etc."

Sigh. This is what I was afraid of: your prejudices aren't subject to correction with facts. You simply repeat the same unsupported assertion that " They rarely go after soldiers and military targets, clearly preferring more vulnerable civilians on the street, in their homes, etc." You don't support your accusation with any statistics or any sources. You dismiss my sources by playing word games with your original mistake, which was off by more than an order of magnitude.

The reality is quite of opposite. Read about the operation in which Gilad Shalit was captured. Working with very little -- shovels, small arms, some explosives -- Hamas suprised and defeated a unit of Israeli soliders armed to the teeth and equipped with tanks. These organized and disciplined soliders then eluded capture despite being burderned with a prisoner.

The reality is that it is Israel that is going after "soft targets" -- peoples homes, school dorms, government ministries -- rather than come into Gaza and fight Hamas face to face, which every military analyst agrees they would have to do to stop the rocket fire. Hamas, everyone agrees, is hoping for just such a ground invasion. Yet it is slow in coming. Israelis prefer the soft work of terrorizing a civilian population from the safety of their F-16s.
12.31.2008 8:32pm
Andre (mail):
Michael B

Proving you wrong is almost too easy.

"It was Hamas that broke the cease fire in November in dramatic fashion - simple bar chart reflecting that fact."

Yes, the Israeli Ministry of foreign affairs. What a cornerstone of factual data that site is. Notice there is no mention of Israel's incursion into Gaza on the 4th of November.

"Additionally it has been Hamas that has been firing rockets and mortars since 2001, with a dramatic increase in those rockets and mortars fired after Israel forced all settlers out of Gaza in 2005"

The Hamas rockets rationale is fraudulent. For instance, Jerusalem Post writer Larry Derfner has noted, "We don't want to see how people in Gaza are living, we block it out of our minds -- which, I suppose, is natural for a society at war, but which also keeps that war going longer than it might if we would recognize that Gaza is getting so much the worst of it.

You might also note that Israel has shelled Gaza in return, often by an order of magnitude greater than the number of rockets fired from Gaza. Indeed, during a period where 70 rockets were fired from Gaza, Israel launched over 2000 shells into Gaza.

How strange that none of this rates a mention from your beloved link?

And In spite of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the blockade of Gaza commenced almost immediately, not to mention the siege that took place after Hamas won the elections.

"More telling still, it's Hamas that specifically indicates, in their founding charter - their Constitution - that their goal is to eliminate Israel and kill Jews."

Actually, Hamas has endorsed the offer laid out by the Arab League, to recognize Israel as per the 1967 borders. An offer that Israel continues to reject to this day.

"and these Qassam and Grad rocket attacks and mortar attacks, into civilian populations, are consonant with that avowed strategy and goals. Hamas also reinitiated suicide/homicide attacks in November."

Again, no mention here of the siege of Gaza, whom the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, has labeled as "a crime against humanity." Falk, who is Jewish, has condemned the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza as "a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention." He has asked for "the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law."

Falk described the rockets attacks as such - "This is a crime of survival....Israel has put the Gazans in a set of circumstances where they either have to accept whatever is imposed on them or resist in any way available to them"

That's merely the barest of beginnings, highlighting three of four salient factors.

Indeed, your arguments are so paper thin that that could only have resulted from the "barest of beginnings".

Two years ago, in Southern Lebanon, Israel engaged in similar bombings in civilian areas. Then, too, it maintained that only "terrorist" targets were being hit. As impartial observers finally ascertained the truth, clear evidence of enormous civilian carnage surfaced. The Israeli leadership lied then, and it's lying now.

Perhaps you had better try harder next time.
1.1.2009 8:37pm
Michael B (mail):
The Nov. 4 raid was for purposes of targeting a tunnel that Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence just two hundred meters away.

During the raid, one Hamas gunman was killed and four Israeli soldiers were wounded. The Palis then launched mortars at the Israeli military, followed by an Israeli air strike that killed five more Hamas militants. Hamas then responded with a flurry of rockets, one of which reached Ashkelon. In sum, it was esssentially a pinpoint operation designed to prevent an abduction, another kidnapping.

But I suspect you're not terribly concerned with kidnapped Israeli soldiers such as Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. I suspect that because you didn't bother to mention the purpose of the Nov. 4 operation, much as you failed to mention the fact Hamas had already broken the cease fire with a much smaller number of rockets and mortars fired relative to the pre-cease fire numbers.

Talk about "salient factors" and "paper thin" all you like, but it's all fluff and rhetoric and the remainder of your reply is similarly poorly based.
1.2.2009 1:51pm
Andre (mail):
Israel's justification for what took place on November 4, as usually, does not add up. As Uri Avnery observed, "From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians."

As Haaretz have reported, it amounted to a violation of the ceasefire. End of story.

If you want to resort to your petty argument about who violated the ceasefire prior to that event, Israel had been in violation of the ceasefire from day 1, seeing as they were blockading Gaza - in itself an act of war. After all, the last time Israel were on the receiving end of a blockade, they argued that but I'm sure you are of the belief that whatever Israel does is justified.

As for your argument about pin point operations, the world was made all to aware of Israel's idea of what pin point amounts to during their countless blunders during the Lebanon war. Like I said, Israel were lying then and given that they have banned the media from entering Gaza, they are undoubtedly lying now.

Like all of Israel's actions, the Gilad Shalit event was not an isolated incident. After Hamas were democratically elected, Israel and the US immediately vowed to punish the Palestinians for voting the wrong way. In June 24th of that year, Israel abducted 2 Gazan civilians, a doctor and his brother. Their names weren't reported but they have never been seen again.

Shalit was abducted the next day by militants, which was widely reported. In was not the first abduction, but as is so often the case, it is the only one that matters, especially to people like yourself, or perhaps you were merely ignorant of this information.

As for Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, your crocodile tears are pathetic. The Wonigrad report revealed that Israel were itching for a war with Hezbollah and were more than willing to used that incident as a justification for escalating the war. As is ISrael's raison d'etre and like were are witnessing in Gaza, Israel's repose to that incident was to bombd Southern Lebanon and inflict collective punishment on the population.

You arguments are lazy and poorly thought out, as we have seen, very easily disseminated.

You are lucky Portland was indeed banned. He would have done much more than polish your clock.
1.2.2009 5:06pm
Michael B (mail):
It's "clean" your clock, Mr. IQ. And do you know what "disseminated" means?
1.2.2009 5:44pm
LM (mail):
Andre,

How do you ambush a missile?
1.2.2009 5:53pm
Andre (mail):
"It's "clean" your clock, Mr. IQ. And do you know what "disseminated" means?"

Is that all you have left Mr B?

Polishing a clock is done once a clock is cleaned. I cleaned yours the first time.

LM,

Last time I checked, missiles do not get launched through tunnels. But as for the ambush story, I suggest you consult Michael B. He seems to have no problem acepting at face value the contradictory arguments being pumped out by the Israeli government.
1.2.2009 8:02pm

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