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The Gaza Conflict and the Limits of International Law.

A number of people have already accused Israel of breaches of international law, and even war crimes, going so far as to argue that an international tribunal should be established and assigned the task of trying suspected war criminals. If I had a dime for every imagined war crimes tribunal that never came to fruition…. The international law issues are serious but largely irrelevant, however.

Others (including Kevin Jon Heller and Marko Milanovic) have set out the issues well. Here are the high points:

1. Jus ad bellum. Gaza is not a state. It's not clear what it is—occupied territory? Mandate? If it's not a state, the UN charter does not forbid an attack. Even if it were, the UN charter would not forbid an attack as long as Israel's attack is in self-defense—which it appears to be, so far.

2. Jus in bello. Can there be a war between a state and a non-state entity? Yes! And most people think the regular laws of war apply. The laws of war forbid the deliberate killing of civilians, but so far no one has proved that Israel has deliberately killed civilians. That leaves the proportionality rule, which bars an attack that causes civilian casualties (or property damage) that are "disproportionate" to the attack. Unfortunately, no one knows what proportionality means. Can you drop a bomb on a Hamas leader that might or will kill a nearby civilian? Two civilians? Ten? A thousand? Does it matter how important the leader is? Whether he has taken refuge in a densely packed area? There are no settled answers to these questions.

3. Human rights. Ideally, the Israelis enter Gaza and arrest the rocket shooters and their leaders, try them, and convict them if they are guilty. In practice, this is impossible. Human rights law does not prohibit the use of violence when ordinary law enforcement practices are inadequate.

So where does this leave us? There is no evidence that Israel has violated international law, though perhaps it has, or will. So why so many calls for investigations and tribunals for Israelis? And what of Hamas? Why doesn't anyone want to set up a tribunal for those guys?

This brings us to the question of relevance. No one cares whether Israel has violated international law or not, except for a handful of law professors. For its more mainstream critics (as opposed to those who think it has no right to exist), Israel has acted wrongly by mistreating Palestinians over decades, and has only itself to blame for Hamas's rocket attacks. It shouldn't have squeezed Hamas in the first place; it ought to negotiate a settlement with Hamas now. On this view, Hamas is just another national liberation movement, like the African National Congress under Apartheid, which can't be blamed for using violence to overthrow its oppressors. For Israel's defenders, Israel has every right to defend itself against a bunch of violent terrorists.

The glory of the laws of war was the separation of jus ad bellum (the laws that govern the conditions under which one goes to war) and jus in bello (the laws that govern conduct during a war). Your soldiers must comply with jus in bello rules regardless of whether the war itself is legal or not, or morally justified or not. But people do not think this way. The bombing of Dresden and London were not moral equivalents in historical memory: Dresden was payback, plus it helped weaken an infinitely more odious government. As so often happens, when law and people's moral intuitions diverge, people ignore the law. When the law is international law, and so there is no independent enforcement machinery for implementing the law, governments that are sensitive to public opinion will ignore the law and try to enforce public opinion.

People around the world see the pictures of smashed houses and bleeding children and, rightly or wrongly, blame Israel. European governments worry about their restive Muslim populations. Israel has law on its side in this battle but that does not matter because it is losing the public relations war and, one way or another, Israel will find the law closing in on it because the law is what the other states say it is. In the long term, this could mean diplomatic isolation; Israel is dangerously dependent on the support of one fickle nation that is looking for a way to reestablish its international bona fides.

DavidBernstein (mail):
I agree. But you're much too easy on those, like Amnesty International, who invoke international law when it suits them, but when Israel complies with both the letter and spirit of international law, nevertheless accuse Israel of misconduct. Also, while I'm no fan of international law, there are accepted principles among those who are, so to the extent "international law is what Israel's critics say it is," then it's not law at all, but arbitrary political considerations.
1.3.2009 11:53am
billooooh (mail):

If it’s not a state, the UN charter does not forbid an attack.

If it's not a state, would the UN charter forbid a nuclear attack?

And, Mr. Bernstein, is 9 "much more" than 30?
1.3.2009 12:02pm
beamish:
No one cares whether Israel has violated international law or not, except for a handful of law professors.

I care.
1.3.2009 12:15pm
Sagar:
"So where does this leave us?"

Propaganda and influencing the public opinion.
1.3.2009 12:18pm
Lior:
Does it matter that Israel warns the Hamas leaders that their home is about to be bombed, and they decide to remain inside, together with their family? To which side to we attribute the resulting "civillian" casualties?

In practice, "international law" is a useful extra stick for the winners to beat the losers with. I cannot recall any state ever saying during an emergency "doing X would be in our interests, but international law says we should do Y, which is against our interests; we choose to do Y".
1.3.2009 12:20pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
The major human-rights groups routinely criticize Hamas for its illegal rocket attacks. See, for example, the current cover story on HRW's homepage. Professor Bernstein's real objection is not that such groups selectively invoke IHL, but that they have the temerity to criticize Israel, which he believes can do no wrong.
1.3.2009 12:25pm
Dave N (mail):
The major human-rights groups routinely criticize Hamas for its illegal rocket attacks.
Yes, here is Amnesty International's take:
Amnesty International reiterates its call for an end to reckless and unlawful Israeli attacks against densely populated residential areas which have killed more than 300 Palestinians since 27 December, including scores of unarmed civilians and police personnel not taking part in the hostilities, and injured several hundred others.

Amnesty International also calls once again on Hamas and all other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza to stop firing indiscriminate rockets against towns and villages in southern Israel, which have killed two Israeli civilians and injured several others in the past three days.
Sure sounds evenhanded to me.
1.3.2009 12:37pm
Zed:
Kevin Jon Heller, your article that is supposedly criticizing Hamas devoted ten whole paragraphs detailing Israel's attacks on Gaza in detail, and spent one paragraph summarily describing 160 Hamas rocket attacks over the past three days. Overall, it's to criticize Israel for the attacks by providing dates, times, and quotes, while adding a few sentences here and there that, oh by the way, Hamas did some bad things too that we won't go into in detail (such as quotes from the victims). Its conclusion is that Israel must stop everything it's doing, including actions that have nothing to do with creating accidental civilian targets.

Care to provide a better example, such as an actual article that is not a thinly-disguised excuse to bash Israel some more?
1.3.2009 12:41pm
Dave N (mail):
Zed,

That was my point too--I am afraid the sarcasm didn't come across as well as it might have. Compare the tone of the two paragraphs from AI. Even handed? Hardly.
1.3.2009 12:44pm
R. M. Swan:
I was pleasantly surprised to see a well-thought out post about this issue, rather than a propaganda-filled post by Prof. Bernstein. Imagine my dismay to see a propaganda-filled post by Prof. Bernstein leaching onto this.
1.3.2009 12:51pm
donaldk2 (mail):
Come on, let's tell the truth. The Jews are all wrong, always have been, always will be, until you manage to kill the last one.
1.3.2009 1:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
How about the crimes and terrorism in the Chechen War? You want war crimes, you got them here by bucket full: torture, rape, murder, disappearances. Here's a sample (from Wikipedia).
1. On December 3, 1999, at least 40 people fleeing the besieged Grozny were shot and killed by a Russian troops, leaving only seven wounded survivors.

2. In early December 1999, Russian troops under command of general Vladimir Shamanov killed up to 41 civilians during two-week drunken rampage in the village of Alkhan-Yurt, near Grozny.

3. In several incidents during December 1999 and January 2000 in the Staropromyslovski district of Grozny, Russian troops killed at least 50 unarmed civilians, mostly elderly men and women.

4. A particularly brutal massacre was carried out on February 5, 2000 in the suburb of Novye Aldi, where suspected members of OMON from St Petersburg and contract soldiers summarily executed at least 60 civilians.

5. Following the March 2000 Battle of Komsomolskoye about 70 Chechen combatants who were taken prisoner were officially amnestied, but almost all of them are believed to be murdered in captivity.
The list is far far from complete. Note we don't have collateral damage to civilians as part of a military attack; we have a systematic abuse and state terror directed at a civilian population. While some human rights group have protested, the kind of cries for vengeance against Israel are strangely missing here.
1.3.2009 1:09pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
There are more paragraphs about Israel than Hamas? Aha, bias!

What a ridiculous position to take. How many paragraphs are necessary to condemn Hamas's direct and intentional attacks on civilians, the quintessential war crime? Should they have used more bold text and italics? All caps? Maybe an unhappy emoticon or two? The reason the article devotes 10 paragraphs to Israel is that it bothers to, you know, explain and defend its claim that the attacks are likely disproportionate. If it hadn't -- if it had just accused Israel of launching disproportionate attacks -- you would no doubt be using the article's brevity as evidence of HRW's bias.

Here, by the way, is a link to four pages of HRW articles specifically dedicated to criticizing Hamas's many war crimes. But don't let a fair accounting of HRW's activities get in the way of making your -- and Professor Bernstein's -- cheap political point.
1.3.2009 1:13pm
Gary McGath (www):
It's funny how when Hamas puts Palestinians on the roofs of buildings so that they'll get killed in attacks, or conduct suicide bombings in civilian areas, the people who shout "war crimes" are strangely silent.
1.3.2009 1:15pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
And here, for Mr. Zarkov, is a link to 17 pages of HRW articles criticizing Russia's war crimes in Chechnya. But again, no reason to let facts get in the way of ideology.
1.3.2009 1:15pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Israel is dangerously dependent on the support of one fickle nation that is looking for a way to reestablish its international bona fides


As we saw in Iraq, international law is what the US says it is. We blame Hamas so that is that.

Israel has been "dangerously dependent" on the US for 20 years. It will remain "dangerously dependent" for the foreseeable future, certainly through the end of the current crisis. We really are not all that fickle.
1.3.2009 1:22pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
Donaldk2,

Who is this genocidal "you" to whom you are referring? Me, the Jew of Polish descent who lost family in the Holocaust and is writing a book for Oxford on the Nuremberg Military Tribunals? Ken Roth, the executive director of HRW who is the son of Holocaust survivors? The Israeli peace groups? The editorialists who contribute to Haaretz?

Is anyone who criticizes Israel's actions toward the Palestinians automatically the same as Ahmadinejad?
1.3.2009 1:23pm
SecurityGeek:
Dave N, those paragraphs are as even-handed as the death tolls.

Zarkov, everybody knows the Russians are first-class A-Holes, that's why we fought a Cold War to destroy their empire. The difference is that Israel is killing Gazans with planes built in Seattle and Texas and shipped over at US taxpayer's expense.

Israel is definitely losing the propaganda war on this one, but it's not for lack of trying. All of the cable shows are dominated by Israel's surrogates, but I've seen a lot more open and honest debate online and even on TV than I have in a long time. I think this is natural outcome of the Iraq war drawing down. Americans want to disengage from the Middle East and fix our own problems, and 60 years of Israel and the Arabs duking it out is a long time for it to dominate our foreign policy.

Hamas will never wise up and use non-violent methods of struggle, nor will it ever willingly negotiate a two-state truce. It also seems clear that Israel will never be able to come to terms with the few remaining secular Palestinians, since Israel lacks the political will to dismember the settlements (and dislodge the religious nuts) that make a peaceful Palestinian neighbor an impossibility.

If Obama is smart, he will see that this conflict has destroyed the foreign policy of a half dozen American presidents, and find a way to "withdraw". This probably means a slow reduction in military aid to Israel and Egypt, and the re-establishment of our neutrality.

BTW, if Israel wants that land, it should take it and give Palestinians the vote. The One-State solution: it's the new two-state solution, only trendier!
1.3.2009 1:24pm
corneille1640 (mail):

And what of Hamas? Why doesn’t anyone want to set up a tribunal for those guys?

I do.


In the long term, this could mean diplomatic isolation; Israel is dangerously dependent on the support of one fickle nation that is looking for a way to reestablish its international bona fides.

I assume Mr. Posner is referring to the US. To be dependent on the goodwill of another, lone country is indeed "dangerous." But I'd hardly agree that the US has proved "fickle" in the past as it has been a consistent ally of Israel, with only minor exceptions. Of course, none of this affirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that the US will continue to support Israel, but it is a strong indicator of continued support.
1.3.2009 1:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"But again, no reason to let facts get in the way of ideology."

What are you talking about? I never said the Russian atrocities got no attention.
1.3.2009 1:25pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
These professional "human rights" groups always make sure they have press releases and now web pages attacking the true bad guys like Russia in Checnya or Hamas. That is how they convince the fools that they are "even handed".

The big press conferences and speeches and white papers and fund raising, however, is reserved for Israel and the US.
1.3.2009 1:27pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The difference is that Israel is killing Gazans with planes built in Seattle and Texas and shipped over at US taxpayer's expense."

So what? Does that make the Israel and Russia comparable? How do we explain the European attitude towards Israel and Russia? The Europeans purchase energy from Russia providing them with the money to build the weapons of war to attack Chechnya.
1.3.2009 1:30pm
SecurityGeek:
So what?

So, I care more about the deaths of innocents that I am helping pay for.

Does that make the Israel and Russia comparable?

No, they are not comparable because Israel is supposed to be the good guys!

Russia doesn't want to be the good guys. They like being evil. The whole Putin resurgence is because the Russian people tried being a nice poor Western nation and now prefer being feared and powerful.

Israel talks a big game about being a democracy, having respect for human rights, blah blah blah, but then they respond to a half-dozen deaths from sporadic rocket fire by leveling entire blocks. Hey, that's war. It's messy, like a lot of people say here. I JUST DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT, both literally with money and figuratively in soft power around the world. I think a lot of other Americans agree with me.
1.3.2009 1:39pm
cabalamat (mail) (www):
SecurityGeek: """Hamas will never wise up and use non-violent methods of struggle, nor will it ever willingly negotiate a two-state truce. It also seems clear that Israel will never be able to come to terms with the few remaining secular Palestinians, since Israel lacks the political will to dismember the settlements (and dislodge the religious nuts) that make a peaceful Palestinian neighbor an impossibility."""

Sadly you are probably right on both counts.

"""If Obama is smart, he will see that this conflict has destroyed the foreign policy of a half dozen American presidents, and find a way to "withdraw". This probably means a slow reduction in military aid to Israel and Egypt, and the re-establishment of our neutrality."""

The US economy isn't doing brilliantly right now, so if Obama does want to withdraw aid, he could argue that the money is better spent on Americans hit by the recession.

Having said that, we've very little idea what Obama will do.
1.3.2009 1:41pm
SecurityGeek:
The Europeans purchase energy from Russia providing them with the money to build the weapons of war to attack Chechnya.

Stupid argument. Global trade is very different than direct military aid. I'm not saying boycott Israel, just let them kill Palestinians with Chinese weapons. Which are probably cheaper and 80% as effective, but for God's sake don't let your kids lick them!
1.3.2009 1:43pm
cabalamat (mail) (www):
"""The bombing of Dresden and London were not moral equivalents in historical memory: Dresden was payback, plus it helped weaken an infinitely more odious government."""

One could argue it the other way round, of course: it was Britain that declared war on Germany, so one can hardly blame the Germans for fighting a country that chose to fight them. And the bombing of Dresden, so close to the end of the war, with German industry and transportation in ruins anyway, probably had negligible military affect compared to the civilian lives lost.

Even at the time, after 5 years fighting the most evil enemy Britain has ever faced, British public and government opinion had misgivings about it.
1.3.2009 1:49pm
LHD (mail):
KJH said:

Professor Bernstein's real objection is not that such groups selectively invoke IHL, but that they have the temerity to criticize Israel, which he believes can do no wrong.

I think we have a winner.
1.3.2009 1:53pm
David Holliday (mail):
Do Palestinians have a right to a state? Has it been determined through international law? I know that the United States has long supported a two-state solution. But is that just a pragmatic attempt to create a peaceful solution to an intractable problem?

And why should Israel accept the creation of a state on its borders whose objective is ultimately the destruction of Israel? Hamas openly advocates and pursues Israel's destruction. Fatah is content to lie low until circumstances are in its favor. If Cuba were launching missiles into population centers in the United States would our allowed response be dictated by "proportionality"?

What rules are nations required to follow in a fight to the death? Hamas is a proxy for Iran whose ultimate intent is to destroy Israel. This fight is just another battle in the ongoing war in which Israel is defending its existence and Iran is trying to destroy it.

The Palestinians would slaughter the Israeli’s is the tables were turned and the Western world would look the other way. Why should Israel be held to a higher standard?
1.3.2009 1:54pm
Bruce_M (mail):
Israel (and the United States, too) is being attacked by a crazy religion. Attacking the followers of that religion in defense is pointless because they all want to be martyred. In fact many of them are committing suicide attacks to begin with.

What these countries need to do is make it clear that the holiest shrines of that religion will be attacked. Nuke Mecca. Blow up their little gold temple-shrine. Blow up their magic rock.

If civilians are killed in the process, they had prior notice that those locations were targets, so if they were there, they were most likely dangerous fundamentalists. But regardless, what could be more humane than literally targeting a rock? You're not targeting or threatening a single human life. You're threatening a ROCK.

Save the nuclear attack on Mecca for last, of course, as there are plenty of other holy shrines and pillars of islam that can be destroyed before the holy city. But this is the only way to control mad, violent, irrational religious people. They don't care about their lives - they want to die and be with their god in heaven. They DO care about their earthly holy places. Rocks, buildings, caves, walls, bricks, temples, trees, etc. It doesn't even take all that much explosive power to destroy most of these things.

Anyone who tells me that targeting a rock or tree is worse than targeting people is as crazy and unreasonable as the religious fundies are (and probably is one).
1.3.2009 1:55pm
LHD (mail):
I'd be interested to hear from the resident Russians among the Conspirators about how evil Russians are.

Volokhs, come clean. You're evil and want to take over the world, with your 1st Amendment and your "civil liberties."

And Bruce_M has officially taken this thread to a new low.
1.3.2009 2:01pm
SecurityGeek:
LHD, the good Russians all left. :)
1.3.2009 2:02pm
grackle (mail):
I thank Prof. Posner for a thoughtful post. The commenters, by and large, having seen the magic words in the post, seem to have misplaced both the general subject and its gist. No surprise there, and so edifying.
1.3.2009 2:17pm
mzeh (mail):
Kevin Jon Heller,

Has it occurred to you that perhaps you are the one with ideological blinkers and perhaps there is some truth to the charge of a disproportionate focus on Israel by the "Human Rights" groups? You may remember a well publicized exchange between Kenneth Roth of HRW and the editors of the late, lamented New York Sun back in 2006 (at the time of the Lebanon war). The Sun rather convincing dismantled Mr. Roth and his charges of even-handedness - link and link. You may also want to read the linked article by Foxman which cites the percentage of HRW studies critical of Israel (but to use you own snark against you-"no reason to let facts get in the way of ideology")

On a tangential personal rant, I get so tired of Jewish critics of Israel thinking they get some sort of special status because of their religion and because, as they are always to quick to remind us, they lost relatives in the Holocaust. Look, we all did - ok? It gives no special moral status. Stop it already.
1.3.2009 2:20pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Do Palestinians have a right to a state?"

Rights don't matter. A population has a state when it is strong enough to take and hold the land. That's how it's always been. The Palestinians aren't strong enough.
1.3.2009 2:22pm
Joe Trossa:
Regarding #2 - the relevant rule of law is that any attack or response by Israel automatically disproportionate. Israel is not allowed to apply the expansion of the Powell Doctrine (stating that when a nation is engaging in war, every resource and tool should be used to achieve decisive force against the enemy) at all. Because Israel is (fill in the blank here), it has no right of self defense.

For a similar principle of law, see the 28th Amendment, passed after 2000, which states that all recounts must continue until a way is found for the Democratic candiate to win. (Also referred to as the Franken Rule, alternately the Gregoire rule. References to the Gore Rule have been overturned.)

Anyway, I fail to see why a nation should cripple itself in terms of national defense so that people who hate it can somehow see them as the "good guys." See Israel; see also the United States.
1.3.2009 2:22pm
John Moore (www):
@SecurityGeek writes:

It also seems clear that Israel will never be able to come to terms with the few remaining secular Palestinians, since Israel lacks the political will to dismember the settlements (and dislodge the religious nuts) that make a peaceful Palestinian neighbor an impossibility.


Yes, heaven forbid that Jews might be allowed to live outside their "ghetto" of Israel. They must be removed at once from their homes, so that the land can be Judenfrei.

Ahem.
1.3.2009 2:26pm
trad and anon (mail):
No one cares whether Israel has violated international law or not, except for a handful of law professors.
If they don't care, why do opponents of Israel's foreign/domestic policy vis-a-vis Gaza keep pressing this argument? They should thank you for the free P.R. advice, I guess.

Given that the "factual" claim involved is transparently false, I don't think you have any interest in making a factual claim at all. You are really making an implied appeal to majority: that because "nobody" cares, nobody should care. Appeal to majority is a persuasive argument, but was a fallacy in Aristotle's day and remains one today.

For my part, I don't care about international law, because I view law as having no moral force (at least not in most circumstances).
1.3.2009 2:27pm
wm13:
Prof. Posner is sadly mistaken if he thinks there is some behavior, or set of behaviors, that would incline world public opinion favorably toward the Jews or a nation of Jews. History really doesn't support that contention.

On the other hand, the Jews are still here, hated but still here. So maybe having God on your side is better than having world public opinion.
1.3.2009 2:27pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
Mzeh,

Tell you what: when the Donaldk2's of the world stop implying that all critics of Israel want to wipe Jews off the face of the earth -- see above, if you think I'm misstating his position -- I'll stop pointing out that many Jews are critical of Israel. Funny, and more than a little sad, how much more upset you are by my comment than his.
1.3.2009 2:35pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
If it's not a state, would the UN charter forbid a nuclear attack?
If it's not a state, the UN charter would say no more about it than it does about bank robbery.
And, Mr. Bernstein, is 9 "much more" than 30?
Is 9 or 30 accurate or relevant? No.
1.3.2009 2:58pm
mzeh (mail):
Kevin Jon Heller,

Donaldk2's comment was obviously hyperbolic - and probably a little reckless. If you want to take it seriously, you have a mighty thin skin. But if it makes you feel less sad, I'll agree it was inappropriate (don't say I'm not a caring person :-)). However, please desist on the tiresome knee-jerk response of "I lost relatives in the Holocaust" that characterizes so many Jewish critics of Israel in the diaspora. It is however rarely used in Israel and I doubt you will see that type of comment in the pages of Haaretz who would dismiss it with the contempt it deserves.

So, no response on HRW? Will you accept that maybe there is some legitimacy to comments on its impartiality?
1.3.2009 2:59pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
This whole discussion misses the point. This kind of International law isn't sharply defined nor uniformly enforced and therefore lacks any independent moral force.

We use national law as a sort of public set of rules the breaking of which constitutes it's own offense. Thus we don't need to debate whether an offense is in principle immoral because we conclude it's immoral to break the agreed upon rules, i.e., We warned you it was illegal and you did it anyway so you deserve the punishment.

However, this kind of argument only works when the law truly reflects a universally applied and precisce set of rules. Given the willingness of the international community to overlook violations of this kind of international law in all sorts of cases (maybe even the US bombing in bosnia?) and lack of sufficient precedent to resolve the many technicalities it's simply not valid to use the fact that Israel or whoever violated international law to conclude they are acting immorally.

You can still argue they are acting immorally but until we have a system of international law that is precisce and widely enforced (even in unpopular ways) this requires a distinct argument and not merely the observation (if true) that something violates international law.
1.3.2009 3:01pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It also seems clear that Israel will never be able to come to terms with the few remaining secular Palestinians, since Israel lacks the political will to dismember the settlements (and dislodge the religious nuts) that make a peaceful Palestinian neighbor an impossibility.
1) Israel, in fact, did "dismember the settlements" in Gaza, and got rewarded with Hamas and rocket attacks.
2) Why are Jews the only people in the world for whom ethnic cleansing is the side supported by the left?
1.3.2009 3:02pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
My response to the HRW comment is that I am both familiar with the exchange and believe that the Sun consistently distorted Roth's positions. It's easy to criticize a strawman. HRW has never claimed to be infalliable, and it admits when it makes mistakes. I have yet to see any of its critics do the same. As for Foxman's article, it studies one year -- 2004 -- and simply asserts that 25 of the 33 HRW reports are critical of Israel. That is hardly compelling proof.

As for Jewish critics of Israel, I agree with you that Jews have no special status. Nevertheless, there are obviously people out there -- such as Donaldk2 -- who don't realize that Jews disagree with each other concerning the propriety of Israel's actions. So sometimes a gentle reminder that we are not a monolithic group is necessary.

I'm curious -- given the vitriol that is the stock in trade of many VC commenters, what makes you think Donald2k was simply being hyperbolic?
1.3.2009 3:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
The arguments for war crimes have been largely inapplicable to this conflict. I think that building settlements largely constitute such a crime, but that is not relevant to the current campaign. Also, there are certainly times when allegations have been made of war crimes with relevant specificity, but those don't apply to the current operation either.

One important point you miss is that even if Gaza were a state, or even if the PA were to be recognized as one, the response to rockets fired at civilian population seems legal in the sense that it is self-defence, and rules of proportionality might be seen to be met (force being proportional to the military value of the target).

This being said, the operation will, in my estimation, undermine long-term Israeli security unless it is followed up with important, multinational nation-building initiatives INCLUDING the development of an official PA armed forces.

I have come to agree with wfjag that negotiations will not produce peace, which means that, IMO, occupation complete with nation building must be the alternative, since anarchy won't produce peace either.
1.3.2009 3:17pm
wm. tyroler (mail):
Rights don't matter. A population has a state when it is strong enough to take and hold the land. That's how it's always been. The Palestinians aren't strong enough.

Minor (perhaps merely rhetorical) quibble: they aren't cohesive enough. If they wanted a state they could've had one, and a long time ago at that. They'd rather destroy a viable state than build one of their own.
1.3.2009 3:23pm
trad and anon (mail):
This whole discussion misses the point. This kind of International law isn't sharply defined nor uniformly enforced and therefore lacks any independent moral force.

We use national law as a sort of public set of rules the breaking of which constitutes it's own offense. Thus we don't need to debate whether an offense is in principle immoral because we conclude it's immoral to break the agreed upon rules, i.e., We warned you it was illegal and you did it anyway so you deserve the punishment.

However, this kind of argument only works when the law truly reflects a universally applied and precisce set of rules.
Whereas national law is precisely defined and uniformly enforced? If you think that, I can get you a great deal on a bridge . . .
1.3.2009 3:30pm
lucklucky (mail):
Well Hamas makes combat without respecting Geneva Convention at all: Using civilian shiels, firing indiscriminately into populated areas, without uniform.

So Hamas increases the risk of civilian casualities, while Israel protects their civilians: warning systems, there are a couple kindergardens hit by rockets without any children there because they were warned in time, medical rescue etc. If Israel would just do what Hamas does to their civilians there would be much more Proportionality in deaths...
1.3.2009 3:44pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I find it more than a little strange that Kevin Jon Heller responded to my criticism of Amnesty International by linking to various articles on Human Rights Watch's website. In case Mr. Heller is not aware of it, these are two different organizations.
1.3.2009 4:11pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
(Not that HRW didn't acquit itself miserably in the Lebanon conflict, as I documented on this blog, but I haven't examined what they've said or done this time, and didn't mention it at all).
1.3.2009 4:13pm
mzeh (mail):
Kevin Jon Heller,

Instead of just saying that the NY Sun distorted Roth's position, why don't you provide evidence? I read the entire exchange both at the time and again today and, in my view, Roth came off a very poor second. The Sun pointed out many situations where Roth, intentionally or by mistake, misstated the facts. Please also read the linked piece by Dershowitz who lists in some detail clear evidence of HRW bias.

Donaldk2's comment seemed like clear hyperbole to me. Maybe I was wrong, but I prefer the more generous interpretation. It is interesting that you use words like "vitriol" to describe this site. If you would like a more polite level of discourse, perhaps you should avoid lines like "...Professor Bernstein's real objection is not that such groups selectively invoke IHL, but that they have the temerity to criticize Israel, which he believes can do no wrong..." , "cheap political point" and "no reason to let facts get in the way of ideology". I make no apologies for replying in the same tone.
1.3.2009 4:20pm
AntonK (mail):
The inimitable Mark Steyn has a great column today tying together Samuel Huntington's death, Hamas's vote to allow crucifixion, the disproportionate expectations of how Israel and how Hamas should behave, Britain's Channel 4's invitation to Ahmadinejad to issue a Christmas message, and several other topics into a humorous whole that will both anger and amuse you.
1.3.2009 4:24pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A Zarkov:

Agreed about the war crimes regarding Chechnya. There has also been some evidence that Putin was behind the Beslan massacre, or at least wanted it to end in a bloody manner (poisoning those who tried to mediate, etc).

Of course, this brings up an interesting point:

Why are Chechnyan lives worth less than Gazan lives on the part of the activists? Is this simply because of US support for Israel? Is it latent antisemitism? Is it a reaction against too much support for Israel on the part of some organizations?
1.3.2009 4:24pm
eaglewingz08 (mail):
Do trivial things like neither Israel nor Hamass have ratified the Geneva Convention supplemental treaties that deal with use of proportional force. (BTW neither has the USA). So any talk of proportionality is just anti semites (you leftwingers know who you are) seeking to attack Israel.
Since Gaza has never been formally and lawfully severed from the British Mandate Israel is really just taking internal actions with respect to its responses there, and since a real country cannot violate international law with respect to internal matters, this whole leftist brouhaha is just a distraction to focus attention away from the terror thugs of Hamass and try to play the guilt game on Israel.
1.3.2009 4:24pm
HowardHH (mail):
A point not mentioned much: it should be totally clear by now that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and dismantling of the settlements there (carried out under Ariel Sharon) accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of Israel's standing vis-a-vis the international community.

The implication is equally clear: Israel must take the steps necessary to safeguard itself, and when it comes to international community Israel must consider things from the view of realpolitik.
1.3.2009 4:29pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
But while we're on the subject, here's a previous relevant critique of HRW: Roth [head of HRW] claims that international humanitarian law required Israel to "treat[] Lebanese civilians as human beings whose lives are as valuable as Israelis'." Can you imagine any government doing this? In other words, a terrorist group in Gaza or Lebanon is attacking Israeli civilian targets. According to Roth's logic, Israel can only retaliate if it's retaliation will cost no more civilian lives in Gaza or Lebanon than would be caused by the terrorists if Israel didn't try to stop them. This is a formula that would paralyze not only Israel, but the U.S., Russian, India, and any other country that feels the need to pursue a military response to terrorism. Surely, the Allied forces inadvertantly killed more Afghan civilians than the number of Westerners likely at immediate risk from Al Qaeda and the Taliban! The type of "international law" and "human rights" activism that Roth and co. represent is scrupulously amoral in failing to consider that the aggressor should be held responsible for the deaths on both sides, as you can't expect any nation to allow its civilians to be attacked and not retaliate militarily. And it's also ridiculously utopian, in the sense that it expects citizens of a democratic polity to value the lives of civilians on the other side, including civilians who openly support terrorist enemies, as highly as their own, their family's and their countrymen's.

And here's Amnesty:

"However, even if it could be argued that some of these objects could qualify as military objectives (because they serve a dual purpose), Israel is obligated to ensure that attacking these objects would not violate the principle of proportionality. For example, a road that can be used for military transport is still primarily civilian in nature. The military advantage anticipated from destroying the road must be measured against the likely effect on civilians, especially the most vulnerable, such as those requiring urgent medical attention."
In other words, no country can ever attack road, port, bridge, etc., facilities used by an irregular, guerrilla army, because by the very nature of such an army, these facilities will primarily be used by civilians. Or, put another way, a country at war must sacrifice the lives of its own soldiers and perhaps civilians by avoiding attacking military targets that are also used by civilians, unless you can come up with some sort of cockamamie calculation that somehow proves that the military benefit is greater than the harm to the other side's civilians. I'm sure there are people out there who believe this, but again, this is a highly ideological position that reflects a strongly pacifist sentiment, and should not be confused with the sort of objective human rights standard (e.g., don't lock up someone for writing a newspaper article critical of the government) that all "liberals" of good will could agree on.
1.3.2009 4:32pm
trad and anon (mail):
ince Gaza has never been formally and lawfully severed from the British Mandate Israel is really just taking internal actions with respect to its responses there, and since a real country cannot violate international law with respect to internal matters, this whole leftist brouhaha is just a distraction to focus attention away from the terror thugs of Hamass and try to play the guilt game on Israel.
If you take that view, Israel killing a bunch of its own citizens (as opposed to "enemy civilians") as "collateral damage" in response to rocket attacks that have caused a number of deaths you can count on one hand. We wouldn't stand for that kind of thing here.

If you think that Gaza is simply part of Israel, that also amounts to accepting the view that Israel is an apartheid state. If Gaza is just part of Israel, it's effectively an enormous concentration camp, because Jews may enter and leave freely, but Arabs may not.
1.3.2009 4:38pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
I'm not sure why Professor Bernstein would find my comment strange, when he wrote that Eric was "much too easy on those, like Amnesty International, who invoke international law when it suits them." In case Professor Bernstein isn't aware of it, the normal rules of grammar indicate that he was not directing his criticism toward only one specific group. Perhaps it was foolhardy of me to assume that he was also referring to the other major human-rights group in the world, one whom he has repeatedly claimed on this blog is anti-Israel -- including in his second comment above. I'll let others be the judge of that.

As for mzeh's comment: again, I find it revealing, and sad, that you reserve your generosity for someone who states, with no apparent irony, that anyone who criticizes Israel wants to eradicate the Jews.
1.3.2009 4:38pm
HowardHH (mail):
KJH's evasiveness is getting annoying.

If KJH is not disagreeing w/ Bernstein about AI, he should take back his comment that Bernstein is really just against all criticism of Israel.
1.3.2009 4:41pm
mzeh (mail):
Ok, KJH, please tell me which of your comments was hyperbole and consequently I should not have criticized. I plan to go the extra mile to make you less sad .
1.3.2009 4:42pm
Kevin Jon Heller:
Yeah, I'm being evasive by pointing out that Professor Bernstein was criticizing more than just AI, in response to his claim that I don't know the difference between AI and HRW.
1.3.2009 4:49pm
jr565 (mail):
"The difference is that Israel is killing Gazans with planes built in Seattle and Texas and shipped over at US taxpayer's expense."

I'm not sure of the veracity of that statement. but what's the difference any way? The rockets fired into Israel are built in Iran and Syria and shipped over at their expense. Would Isreal no longer receiving anymore planes from Seatlle somehow mean that Hamas would receive fewer rockets? Or, more likely would that mean that Hamas would receive more rockets since Iran perceived that we were souring on Israel and would no longer support them. In other words, they see the tide turning and thus increase the attacks.

Hey, if we really want to do Iran's bidding why not stop shipping the planes to israel and instead send them to Hamas. That way we can aid Hamas directly in exterminating the Jews and get it done quicker.That way we still can fuel our economy with our weapons, we just ship them to a different address.

Or, why not give them even better rockets than those supplied by Iran so they can do an even more efficient job of targeting the Israel population centers.

If we can drive all the jews into the sea I predict that the Middle east will like us again.
1.3.2009 4:50pm
trad and anon (mail):
Or, put another way, a country at war must sacrifice the lives of its own soldiers and perhaps civilians by avoiding attacking military targets that are also used by civilians, unless you can come up with some sort of cockamamie calculation that somehow proves that the military benefit is greater than the harm to the other side's civilians. I'm sure there are people out there who believe this, but again, this is a highly ideological position that reflects a strongly pacifist sentiment, and should not be confused with the sort of objective human rights standard (e.g., don't lock up someone for writing a newspaper article critical of the government) that all "liberals" of good will could agree on.
I accept your absurdum. People have rights, which all are morally bound to respect, including governments. They do not give up those rights, or become anyone's enemy, by virtue of being located on the other side of a government line.
1.3.2009 4:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm not sure why Professor Bernstein would find my comment strange, when he wrote that Eric was "much too easy on those, like Amnesty International, who invoke international law when it suits them." In case Professor Bernstein isn't aware of it, the normal rules of grammar indicate that he was not directing his criticism toward only one specific group. Perhaps it was foolhardy of me to assume that he was also referring to the other major human-rights group in the world, one whom he has repeatedly claimed on this blog is anti-Israel -- including in his second comment above. I'll let others be the judge of that.
I don't believe I've ever said that HRW or Amnesty is anti-Israel per se. I've said that they have a leftist agenda disguised behind a veneer of international human rights concerns. We know the international left doesn't like Israel, so it follows that these groups will be hostile to Israel, but it's not like the tail of Israel is wagging the dog of leftism here.

Anyway, I was specifically alluding to this Amnesty release, which, among other things, calls on the United States to cease weapons shipments to Israel and "conduct an investigation into whether U.S. weapons were used to commit human rights abuses." Of course, Amnesty can't identify any actual human rights abuses, unless one accepts pacifism by Western powers as the norm.

And Prof. Heller is hardly one who should be offended by inflammatory, idiotic claims by his critics. After all, it is he who absurdly wrote that I think "Israel can do no wrong." I'd be happy to provide Prof. Heller with a list of things I think Israel has done and still does wrong; I don't happen to think that the Gaza action falls into that category.

How about turning the question around. What does Prof. Heller think Israel has done right? Will he acknowledge that Israel is unique in sending warning phone calls to civilian cell phones before bombing a military target? That Israel has been far more restrained in its military operations vis a vis civilians than the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan (remember, a Nato operation), and Iraq? Certainly that Russia in Chechnya? In fact, if we are going to do comparisons, is there another power that has, when faced with a comparable threat, been MORE restrained? Or is it the case that Prof. Heller, like O'Donnell in his comments section, thinks Israel can do no right because it was conceived in original sin?
1.3.2009 4:52pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Professor Bernstein:

I'd be happy to provide Prof. Heller with a list of things I think Israel has done and still does wrong; I don't happen to think that the Gaza action falls into that category.


I would be interested in seeing your list, and I think it might be useful for dialog. Currently you have come across as unconditionally supporting Israeli military operations. I think that once we get past the idea that, of the peoples in conflict, one is supremely good and can do no wrong while the other is supremely evil, we can discuss what is required to bring peace, stability, and security to the region.
1.3.2009 5:02pm
Lefty:
I'm not sure that the UN Charter would allow Israel to conduct this military operation if Gaza were part of a fully recognized state. As I understand the charter, it defines self-defense very narrowly to only apply to attacks in progress. So under the charter Israel could legally attack a mortar team that's actively launching shells across the border, but could not invade Gaza without specific authorization from the Security Council.

(This is a flaw in the Chater, which didn't anticipate quasi-state terrorist groups like Hamas.)
1.3.2009 5:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW, I think the most important point in the main article is:

People around the world see the pictures of smashed houses and bleeding children and, rightly or wrongly, blame Israel. European governments worry about their restive Muslim populations. Israel has law on its side in this battle but that does not matter because it is losing the public relations war and, one way or another, Israel will find the law closing in on it because the law is what the other states say it is. In the long term, this could mean diplomatic isolation; Israel is dangerously dependent on the support of one fickle nation that is looking for a way to reestablish its international bona fides.


War crimes have generally been a matter of victor's justice and international politics. I don't think this is inevitable, but I think that Israel needs to change how it approaches the conflict in order to bring lasting peace and security and to avoid the PR mess.
1.3.2009 5:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Lefty:

As I understand the charter, it defines self-defense very narrowly to only apply to attacks in progress.


And the constant bombardment by Gazan rockets is, what? The continuation of these attacks despite targetting by the IAF prevents Israel from taking further actions?

The bigger issue is that without a formal army, the PA is going to end up unable to control those that want to BE the army of the Palestinians. The PA needs an official group of armed forces which is capable of challenging on their own terms Hamas and the like.
1.3.2009 5:20pm
obi juan (mail):
David Bernstein is back to posting with commenting disabled. Heh.
1.3.2009 5:30pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Currently you have come across as unconditionally supporting Israeli military operations.
I've tried to make it quite clear that I think Israel has the legal and moral RIGHT to defend itself from the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the fact that such defense results in civilian casualties does not take away that right, any more than the the fact that civilians are being killed by NATO forces in Afghanistan means that NATO has no right to try to uproot Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I generally refrain from commenting regarding whether any given military action is WISE, or from criticizing those who question the wisdom, but not the morality, of Israel acting in self-defense.
1.3.2009 5:32pm
cubanbob (mail):
SecurityGeek: I suppose you would prefer that Israel nuke Gaza with its presumed nuclear weapons (that have not been supplied by the US) than using US supplied F16's. And while they are at it, nuke Iran and Saudi Arabia, and do us a favor in exchange for all the aid they have received. Just don't harm the oilfields. Its not like the world would actually miss the great contributions that Arabs provide the world today, a few sardines, some cotton and lots of criminals and terrorists and assorted other economic parasites.

If Israel annihilates its enemies, that should bring a lasting peace.
1.3.2009 5:33pm
Oren:

In fact, if we are going to do comparisons, is there another power that has, when faced with a comparable threat, been MORE restrained?

The question hinges on what criteria we use to determine what is a "comparable threat".

From a purely military point of view, the ability to launch low-yield unguided rockets in a random and uncoordinated fashion is absolutely inconsequential. It does not change the military reality on the ground in any appreciable way.

On the other hand, from the civilian point of view, their effect is far larger precisely because of the random and arbitrary nature. Human psychology attaches more weight to effects that it cannot predict and so the population "feels" the rocket attacks as being far stronger than their real power.

I predict, not shockingly, that the vast majority of people arguing either side of this debate have (perhaps implicitly) accepted one or another definition of the threat.
1.3.2009 5:37pm
trad and anon (mail):
I've tried to make it quite clear that I think Israel has the legal and moral RIGHT to defend itself from the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the fact that such defense results in civilian casualties does not take away that right, any more than the the fact that civilians are being killed by NATO forces in Afghanistan means that NATO has no right to try to uproot Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Agreed. The question is whether the Israeli government is morally justified in "defending" itself through the means it has chosen. A right to defend oneself does not entitle it to do so through all possible means.

At a minimum, I would say that in attempting to prevent the deaths of n innocent people, one should kill no more than 10n other innocent people. Israel's aerial strikes (which don't seem to have been very effective, given the apparent need for a ground invasion) don't meet that criterion.

(I would advocate a stronger criterion than that one, but I picked it as a minimal criterion that ought to be acceptable to any reasonable person.)
1.3.2009 5:44pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
Professor Bernstein,

I don't believe in original sin, either literally or figuratively. There are many things I deplore in the founding of this country but that hardly precludes me from cherishing its virtues (e.g., and especially, the Constitution) or criticizing its faults. The same holds true for the state of Israel. I happen to believe the lives of Israelis are no more valuable than (i.e., have the same worth and dignity as) the lives of Palestinians (indeed, of all human beings) and that both are entitled to the full protection of their human rights, including social, economic and cultural rights.
1.3.2009 5:52pm
Oren:
T&A (hehehe), the airstrikes killed ~400, of which at least 325 were military. That makes 75 innocents dead in order to prevent about 10 Israeli casualties. Maybe I don't follow your math.
1.3.2009 5:53pm
cubanbob (mail):
" In fact, if we are going to do comparisons, is there another power that has, when faced with a comparable threat, been MORE restrained?


The question hinges on what criteria we use to determine what is a "comparable threat"."

Irrelevant. The only relevant criteria is that rockets are continually being being fired. Whether or not the damage done is immaterial. That greater damage is not occurring is due to a relative lack of technical ability not of any lack of desire to inflict harm. What is relevant is the deliberate siting of civilians on or near military targets by the Arabs. That is the war crime, not the killing of the civilians by the Israeli's in their attempt to destroy enemy military targets.

Of course all of this could come to an end when the Arabs cease firing on Israel. Since they don't its rather obvious that they don't care about their 'civilian' casualties. The casualties are just a part of their agitprop.
1.3.2009 6:00pm
jr565 (mail):
trad and anon wrote:

At a minimum, I would say that in attempting to prevent the deaths of n innocent people, one should kill no more than 10n other innocent people. Israel's aerial strikes (which don't seem to have been very effective, given the apparent need for a ground invasion) don't meet that criterion.

(I would advocate a stronger criterion than that one, but I picked it as a minimal criterion that ought to be acceptable to any reasonable person.)


Why is that a criterion that should be acceptable to any reasonable person since it seems like a criterion that could never be met in the real world? It sounds decidely unreasonable to me actually and would force anyone undergoing such a policy to jump through hoops to achieve results that could never be achieved.

Not that one should want to kill any innocent people but if Hamas puts innocents in the same area as legitimate targets so as to cause their deaths and Israel's weapons are not so precise as to determine a persons guilt or innocence as they are being fired there will inevitably be collateral damage.

I would think a far better criterion would be things like bomb Hamas until their ability to fire weapons is degraded, or kill off key members of Hamas so as to weaken their command ability. Or, destroy as many tunnels as possible so as to make it more difficult to smuggle weapons. In other make it difficult for Hamas to wage war for the short term.
The criterion you are suggesting though is laughable.
How about this? Israel instead of bombing Hamas starts planting random car bombs and starts firing rockets daily into Hamas neighborhoods. Woudl that be more pleasing to you?
Though even here it opens up a can of worms. What if Israels rockets are more efficient and hit their targets more often. Does that mean then that Israel should target itself a few times so as to even out the numbers? Or maybe Israel should give Hamas a few bombs that Hamas can then use to even out the death toll?
1.3.2009 6:14pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
P.O.: I apologize on the original sin part, then. But if you think Palestinians deserve to have their human rights protected, you surely can't be a supporter of Hamas rule of Gaza.
1.3.2009 6:19pm
Oren:

The only relevant criteria is that rockets are continually being being fired. Whether or not the damage done is immaterial. That greater damage is not occurring is due to a relative lack of technical ability not of any lack of desire to inflict harm.

I'm not aware of any precedent that takes into account what actions could or would have been taken under counterfactual assumptions. Quite the opposite seems to be true -- the only thing that is relevant is what actually happened.
1.3.2009 6:29pm
Oren:

P.O.: I apologize on the original sin part, then. But if you think Palestinians deserve to have their human rights protected, you surely can't be a supporter of Hamas rule of Gaza.

Given the option, I don't think anyone here would endorse continued Hamas rule in Gaza. The realists, however, seem to have concluded that the facts on the ground are not as we would wish.
1.3.2009 6:30pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
D.B.:

I supported the rights of Palestinians to freely elect those who would govern them (the failure to allow them to govern, indeed, the active destruction of the mechanisms of governance by the Israelis and other states, only distanced Hamas further from the democractic principles and practices we would prefer to see them adopt). Israelis at one time supported not a few of the founding members of Hamas in the hopes that they would undermine the power of Arafat and Fatah (a divide and conquer strategy they've employed rather effeciently and adroitly), and like the case with our country's support of the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation, it backfired. Moreover, undermining the rule of the Palestinian Authority only radicalized the population and increased support for Hamas. I also happen to believe that those who resort to terrorist tactics (as did some among the founders of the state of Israel) can learn to prefer the means and methods of democratic conflict resolution, including first and foremost resort to democratic electoral and legislative politics (i.e., once a terrorist, possibly, not always a terrorist: or at least history has taught us as much). But it takes two to tango, and Israel has thus far proven an unwilling dance partner.
1.3.2009 6:35pm
Anonymous12345:
David Bernstein wrote - "But if you think Palestinians deserve to have their human rights protected, you surely can't be a supporter of Hamas rule of Gaza."

No, no, no, David. You don't understand. According to the Left the "human rights" of so-called "Palestinians" includes the right to slaughter Israeli civilians. Go to any American anti-"war" demonstration. The left-wing chant of "Allahu Akbar" (the Islamic god is greatest) and the left-wing chant of "Chrad al Yahud" (kill the Jews) is ubiquitous. The killing of Jews is the MOST important goal of the American Left - that's what they mean when they say "human rights".

So, yes, the Left strongly believes in Human Rights; because when they interpret human rights to mean the murder of Jews, the dehumanization of women, homosexuals, etc . . . , the killing of cartoonists.

So just the opposite - if you support "Human Rights" you MUST support the genocidal and fascist social and political goals of Hamas.
1.3.2009 6:38pm
Oren:

The killing of Jews is the MOST important goal of the American Left composed largely of Jews

Hmmm, yes.
1.3.2009 6:40pm
LHD (mail):
I second Patrick O'Donnell's 6:35pm comment.

I hasten to add that, for my own part, I can understand why Israel and other nations reacted the way they (in fairness, we) did after Hamas won elections. I can understand why, but I think it was unhelpful in the extreme. Just because Hamas was elected didn't make the situation we're in today inevitable. That, I think, is a key point, and it may be a key point of disagreement. No question, it made this result more likely, but as Patrick said, it takes two to tango.
1.3.2009 6:40pm
Anonymous12345:
"The killing of Jews is the MOST important goal of the American Left composed largely of Jews"

First - you cannot be a Leftist and a Jew. Stop. Period. End of Sentence.

Second - even atheists who come from Jewish families who support and lead the left report that it is largely a genocidally anti-semitic. See, e.g., Naomi Klein http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/26/13/feature2.shtml - or this article on Wikipedia on the issue http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Anti-globalization_and_antisemitism

Third - why can't Jews be antisemitic? Norman Finkelstein reports how his mother survived by supporting the Nazis and lived by allowing other Jews to die. Certainly she was antisemitic. So, sometimes Jews, like Norman Finkelstein and his mother, ARE antisemitic.
1.3.2009 6:49pm
trad and anon (mail):
T&A (hehehe), the airstrikes killed ~400, of which at least 325 were military. That makes 75 innocents dead in order to prevent about 10 Israeli casualties. Maybe I don't follow your math.
Did the Hamas rockets just kill a bunch more people? Before the Israeli government started their aerial bombing campaign the number I had seen was 4.

Was it really 325 military? As far as I can tell references to the bulk of those killed as Hamas "fighters" or "military" really seem to mean "people who are associated with Hamas in some way," such as politicians, police officers, and university departments where weapons research is supposedly conducted. Admittedly, the line between "police" and "fighter" is somewhat blurred in the case of Hamas, and high-level politicians and weapons researchers are legitimate military targets, but it seems like overstating the case to call them "military."
1.3.2009 6:54pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Patrick: If Hamas would simply have stopped the flow of rockets into Israel, and also stopped importing more and better rockets smuggled via Iran, most Israelis, polls show, would be willing to include it in peace talks. Unfortunately, it appears that Hamas's whole reason for existence is the jihad against Israel, and that's not likely to change. It's possible that a perfectly wise Israel and U.S. gov'ts could have helped facilitate such change (although it's also possible that Hamas really, really means it!), but one can never count on governments to even approach such wisdom (as witnessed by the stupidity of Israel in facilitating Hamas in its early years). The choice can't be between imperfect military action and assuming an all-wise diplomatic initiative; it has to be between imperfect military action and the level of diplomatic wisdom we can reasonably expect.
1.3.2009 7:08pm
mzeh (mail):
Patrick,

Your arguments sound dangerously naive. It is true that Israel was partially responsible for the growth of Hamas - a fact which it certainly regrets. But that is history and irrelevant. Hamas now exists, is officially dedicated to Israel's destruction and only has made the briefest hints (quickly dispelled) of a reevaluation of its aim. Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was simply met by rocket fire and the perception of a Hamas victory. If Israel were today to cease all hostilities and open all borders (as you seem to suggest), it would be myopic to believe anything other than Hamas would immediately take the opportunity to rearm and strengthen its own position.
1.3.2009 7:20pm
PubliusFL:
eaglewingz08: Do trivial things like neither Israel nor Hamass have ratified the Geneva Convention supplemental treaties that deal with use of proportional force. (BTW neither has the USA). So any talk of proportionality is just anti semites (you leftwingers know who you are) seeking to attack Israel.

You're off-base. The US decision not to ratify Protocol I has nothing to do with proportionality, which is recognized as a requirement of customary international law. Israel also accepts the requirement of proportionality.
1.3.2009 7:25pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

our country's support of the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation, it backfired


Another "internet fact".

1. There was no such thing as the Taliban when we backed Afghans against the Soviets. They formed later.

2. Some of the people we gave arms to became Taliban but others went to the Northern Alliance, our allies. Ahmad Shah Massoud, assassinated in September 2001 was a major figure in the resistance to the SU and anti-Taliban.

3. Its been 20+ years. Weapons wear out. The ones we gave have long since been used or destroyed.

4. Our aid to the Afghans helped to destroy the SU, a huge benefit to the world. That some of the people we helped are now our enemies hardly makes it a "backfire". We sent arms to the SU during WW2, so they could destroy our immediate enemies. Same thing.
1.3.2009 7:26pm
LM (mail):
Anonymous12345:

First - you cannot be a Leftist and a Jew. Stop. Period. End of Sentence.

Sure, and with the right Orwellian slight of hand, we found the weapons of mass destruction and Bill Clinton never had sexual relations with that woman.
1.3.2009 8:06pm
Anonymous12345:
one other point. Someone here said:

That makes 75 innocents dead in order to prevent about 10 Israeli casualties.

That's simply not true. Being a "child" does not make you an innocent. Amira Hass has an article about the death of seven "children" here http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052258.html.

As you can see from the video embedded in the story - those "children" were war criminals. Had the IDF not exterminated them; then the international community should have convicted these children with the death penalty for their war crimes.

Enough already with this fantasy that the little arab Eichmann children are innocent.
1.3.2009 8:15pm
pst314 (mail):
Kevin Jon Heller, would you like to suggest how Israel can stop the rocket attacks without offending HRW?
1.3.2009 8:22pm
wm13:
The American Left is composed largely of Jews? That is news to me. There are only about five million Jews in America; it seems like any movement that relied on them would be pretty pitiful, numerically. Plus, most of the Jews I know are full-time lawyers, investment bankers, mortgage brokers, etc., so any movement composed largely of them would have to operate on a very part-time basis.

Now, if you wanted to say that most American Jews are to the left of David Bernstein on most questions--though not necessarily on questions relating to Israel--that would be more plausible.
1.3.2009 8:24pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
David,

If Israel loosened its stranglehold on Gaza and the West Bank, fully respected the rights of Palestinians, etc., etc., i.e., stopped illegal settlements, stealing water and land, making daily life in general quite miserable for so many Palestinians, I think there would be pressure from within Hamas itself to reduce the smuggling of a least some forms of weaponry into Gaza. But it's hard to stop such flow when the disparity of military power is so great between the two parties, an asymmetry exacerbated by the relative political powerlessness of Hamas. At least two (there are others) very good studies of Hamas that I've mentioned elsewhere, namely, those by Mishal & Sela (of Tel Aviv and Hebrew Universities respectively), and by Tamimi, make it clear that it is simple-minded and simply mistaken to understand Hamas along the lines you characterize, that is, as if its "whole reason for existence is the jihad against Israel." But few people take the time to learn anything of any depth or scholarly sophistication as to what Hamas has been about or its potential to evolve or change (as Islamist parties have done in Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has on occasion; Hamas is rather different from the likes of al-Qaeda on this score) and it is certainly no monolithic social organization (indeed, providing it with an opportunity to govern would have allowed the internal differences to surface, but such differences are wholly sublimated or repressed in any sort of military confrontation in the interests of presenting a united front against a common enemy).

Typically, it is the party with the far greater bargaining power, in this case the Israelis, that needs to demonstrate good faith and the willingness to make concrete, historic (i.e., unprecedented) concessions before the weaker party will bargain and negotiate with equal earnestness. As long as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza feel under siege, Hamas will attempt to arm and defend itself and the Palestinians. Remove the conditions of insecurity, hence defensiveness, and you begin to undercut the rationale for importing arms, etc. It's the stronger party that is capable of the meaningful, magnanimous gesture that breaks a stalemate....
1.3.2009 8:26pm
Randy McDonald (mail) (www):
Mr. Posner:

"European governments worry about their restive Muslim populations."

Is there any actual evidence this is the case? Muslim immigrant populations aren't especially popular or politically influential groups in most European societies, and mainstream opposition to Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip in Europe seems to be based on the sense that it's a disproportionately violent act that will do nothing to solve the situation.

Muslims in Europe might well like mainstream European opinion on the Middle East, but that need be no more determinative than Jews in America supporting mainstream American opinion on the Middle East0
1.3.2009 8:26pm
John Moore (www):
Those who question Israel's proportionality share the burden of suggesting a workable alternative.

Such an alternative cannot not include terrorist attacks (by indiscriminate rocketry or otherwise) that not actively fought by the government of Gaza.

Until then, proportionality simply means use no more force than necessary, and to try to avoid the deaths of innocents.

If 1000 "innocent" Gazan's die in Israeli airstrikes, it says nothing about Israeli proportionality.
1.3.2009 8:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
If Israel loosened its stranglehold on Gaza and the West Bank, fully respected the rights of Palestinians, etc., etc., i.e., stopped illegal settlements, stealing water and land, making daily life in general quite miserable for so many Palestinians, I think there would be pressure from within Hamas itself to reduce the smuggling of a least some forms of weaponry into Gaza.
You have no reason to believe that any particular Israeli actions would change Hamas. It's equally, if not more, possible, that any Israeli concessions would be seen as a form of weakness leading to more violence. I'm sure you're aware that when Israel and the PA were getting along, and everyone was optimistic, Hamas intentionally set out to ruin things by sending suicide murderers to buses, and has specifically targeted then and since the industrial parks where Gazans got much of their employment, purposely emiserating their own people.
I think the problem is that you don't take Hamas's ideology seriously, because you don't think intelligent people could possibly believe such nonsense. I went for 12 years to religious schools. I know full well that perfectly intelligent people can really, truly, and sincerely believe all sorts of absurdities.

And the idea that making life better for the Palestinians would limit the conflict is at best speculation. If Palestinians, or at least their leadership, were mainly concerned with material well-being, they would never have protested against Israeli rule, because they were never better off financially than when the First Intifada broke out (before which there was virtually free movement between Israel and the territories). It's a sound goal on its own merits to improve the condition of the Palestinian public, but it's entirely possible this would lead to more violence, not less. The violence in the West Bank fizzled out in part because the Palestinians had become too poor to want to fight as a result of the Second Intifada, not because their economic condition had improved.
1.3.2009 8:40pm
New Pseudonym:

Israel is not allowed to apply the expansion of the Powell Doctrine (stating that when a nation is engaging in war, every resource and tool should be used to achieve decisive force against the enemy) at all.


I believe that doctrine should be attributed to William Tecumseh Sherman. Terming something "civilain" which contributes to the ability of the enemy to wage war does not protect it from being a legitimate target. The post about highways has it exactly backward. There is no need to refrain from destroying a military line of communications merely because civilians may also use it (the Georgia Southern Railroad was undoubtedly used to transmit fodder to farm horses as well as to General Wheeler's cavalry).


You're off-base. The US decision not to ratify Protocol I has nothing to do with proportionality, which is recognized as a requirement of customary international law


Customary international law is only established by universal acceptance. Refusal to enter into a treaty is evidence of non-acceptance. Therefore, this is not a requirement of customary international law.
1.3.2009 8:46pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1) I have yet to see forms of international law as enforceable and understandable as, oh, my city's parking codes. The academics debate over them, and those with real power could give a hoot.

2) I'd think the one thing that might be clear is that firing a thousand missiles at someone is an act of war, and eventually will be treated as such. If someone did that to my town, I'd expect a grossly disproportionate response. Probably stop short of the firebombing of Dresden, but I'd expect to see quite a few tons of high explosive delivered.

3) How in hades can anyone negotiate a deal with Hamas? Any representatives of Hamas who agreed to anything short of "our opponents will commit ritual suicide after igniting their houses" will be overthrown or killed by those who insist upon those terms.

4) There was a point when I was concerned about the PR implications in the Arab world of Israel using our equipment to blow things up. My concerns have been attenuated of late.
1.3.2009 8:51pm
billooooh (mail):
Mr. Bernstein,

Is 9 "much more" than 30?

If you run away and refuse to address or even admit when you make a boneheaded assertion like "Mr. Greenwald posts much more about Israel than I do," [that's a paraphrase, by the way) how can anyone take any of your arguments seriously?

Of course, you are free to come onto other poster's threads and bloviate as much as you want, but your steadfast refusal to admit an obvious error doesn't boost your credibility much?

I mean, if you can't be rational and even-handed about simple arithemetic, how can any more substantial - and less verifiable - claims you make be taken seriously?

Surely you are not so weak and insecure that you can't admit a simple error.
1.3.2009 8:52pm
billooooh (mail):
not spell checked, obviously
1.3.2009 8:52pm
Lyle (mail):
Good post Posner. I agree. Hamas needs a beat down, hopefully it's epic and leads to a lasting peace.
1.3.2009 8:57pm
Oren:

First - you cannot be a Leftist and a Jew. Stop. Period. End of Sentence.

I can and am whether you like it or not. As it happens you can't eject me from the clan just because you disagree with my political leanings. Of course, I can't disagree apparently because you declared the end of the Sentence.
1.3.2009 9:23pm
Oren:
Also, as I recall, both Marx and Trotsky were Jews. This just gets curiouser and curiouser.

wm13, you are correct. I had my construction backwards, it's American Jews, who are in large majority lefty (left-center on the world scale, lefty on the US scale). My apologies.
1.3.2009 9:29pm
Anonymous12345:
Judaism is not a clan. It is a Religion. If you don't believe in the religion you've removed yourself.
1.3.2009 9:30pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
not spell checked, obviously
Not fact checked, either. As has already been established, "9" and "30" are false. So please go away, Greenwald troll.
1.3.2009 9:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Many of the discussions of proportionality miss a key point. Under universally accepted conventions (and conventions which are applied to those who don't accept them, such as the Geneva Conventions), is that civilians must be reasonably protected according to customary laws of war. Those who do not protect civilians are guilty whether or not they represent signatories to the conventions or not (some of the individuals prosecuted by the UN for the Balkan mess represented non-state militias and informal paramilitaries).

The doctrine of proportionality, by my understanding, is a tool to use to determine whether civilians were adequately protected. The idea is that one may target military targets but is responsible to protect civilians to the extent practical. It is later codified in the Rome Statute and elsewhere but seems to be used in cases prior to those treaties.

The fact is that over half of the casualties of the air strikes have been confirmed Hamas militants, and around 20% have been confirmed noncombatants. The other 30% is of undetermined status. This means that possibly just under half could have been innocent civilians, though the numbers are likely much lower. However, even assuming the worst interpretation of the numbers, it is noteworthy that such an operation in an extremely heavily populated area has resulted in as few casualties as it has, and in particular the civilian casualties have been quite low. Proportionality thus is on Israel's side.

Having said this, the operation will still probably end, like Lebanon 2, with Hamas gaining significant political capital to use in PA elections.
1.3.2009 10:00pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Judaism is not a clan. It is a Religion. If you don't believe in the religion you've removed yourself.
You're confusing Judaism and Christianity. Your statement would be correct for the latter; it isn't for the former. And anybody who "believes in the religion" of Judaism would understand that; in Judaism, if you're born of a Jewish mother, you're Jewish regardless of what you "believe."

That having been said, Oren, Marx's parents, though born Jewish, had 'converted' to Lutheran, and he was not raised as a Jew.
1.3.2009 10:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
David Bernstein:

I think you miss one important reason to negotiate with Hamas representatives in the PA. The fact is that most Palestinian people want a two-state solution where both sides have full sovereignty, armed forces, and the like, but peaceably coexist. This is shown in poll after poll.

I don't think Israel should negotiate with Hamas or Fatah directly because this is international political horse-trading and is not likely to provide any real help in lasting stability, but if Israel were to negotiate with elected PA leaders, regardless of party platform, then you have a possibility to push the matter off to the Palestinian people. If one can help keep the matter in front of the Palestinian electorate, then they get to apply pressure, and Hamas will have to change or die.

In the end, Israel must take a strategy which assumes the goodwill of the Palestinian Joe-the-Plumber, but at the same time avoids trusting those in power.

I suppose the alternative is for both sides to end every speech with the words "___ must be destroyed," but in the end this will only mean peace by genocide. Since the PEOPLE in both places don't want that, why not leverage them as much as possible?
1.3.2009 10:11pm
Fishbane (mail):
I guess there aren't many Jews in NYC, then. Maybe 9/11 got all of us.
1.3.2009 10:16pm
David Holliday (mail):

Rights don't matter. A population has a state when it is strong enough to take and hold the land. That's how it's always been. The Palestinians aren't strong enough.


Then the only reason Palestinian Hamas continues to exist is through the restraint of the far superior militarily nation with which it continues to wage war. This would seem to invalidate every argument of disproportionate use of force.

Hamas exists solely because Israel allows it. Disproportionate force would be that which resulted in the non-existence of Hamas.
1.3.2009 10:31pm
billooooh (mail):

As has already been established, "9" and "30" are false. So please go away, Greenwald troll.

Do you have link to where this was "established" or are you operating in your own fact-free zone?
1.3.2009 10:52pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Do you have link to where this was "established" or are you operating in your own fact-free zone?
The exact same thread here where you got these "facts."
1.3.2009 11:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bernstein, 1/3/09:

I don't believe I've ever said that HRW or Amnesty is anti-Israel per se.


bernstein, 7/9/07:

In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International


FWIW.
1.4.2009 12:06am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
do you have link


The link that nieporent is understandably not eager to provide is here.
1.4.2009 12:08am
John Moore (www):

Hamas exists solely because Israel allows it. Disproportionate force would be that which resulted in the non-existence of Hamas.


Not at all. In fact, given Hamas' actions and intentions, it may be that the only proportionate force would be that which resulted in the non-existence of Hamas. Hamas not only threatens (and kills) Israelis, it does similar things to its own people.
1.4.2009 12:13am
Mike Haas (mail):
When a suicide bomber targets a Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Mosul, Iraq I think it's safe to conclude that not everyone has absorbed that feared PR memo yet.
1.4.2009 12:45am
JerryT (mail):
"Proportion, as defined by Beehner and the Hague Conventions, is impossible between Israel and Hamas."

This about sums it up. "Proportion" is a non-issue.
1.4.2009 1:22am
cubanbob (mail):
" Oren:


The only relevant criteria is that rockets are continually being being fired. Whether or not the damage done is immaterial. That greater damage is not occurring is due to a relative lack of technical ability not of any lack of desire to inflict harm.


I'm not aware of any precedent that takes into account what actions could or would have been taken under counterfactual assumptions. Quite the opposite seems to be true -- the only thing that is relevant is what actually happened.
1.3.2009 6:29pm"

Is this a joke? What, Hamas launches rockets for shits and giggles? Launching of the rockets is the operative point, the launching of the rockets is the hostile act intending to kill Israelis. That they fail is irrelevant.

As for proportionality, that fact that Gaza has not been burned to the ground by an adversary that has the ability to do so is proof enough of Israel's proportionality. The whole concept of proportionality is a stupid leftist construct to hobble the west. The purpose of war is to kill the enemy in sufficient numbers that they either die outright or surrender.

" Typically, it is the party with the far greater bargaining power, in this case the Israelis, that needs to demonstrate good faith and the willingness to make concrete, historic (i.e., unprecedented) concessions before the weaker party will bargain and negotiate with equal earnestness. As long as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza feel under siege, Hamas will attempt to arm and defend itself and the Palestinians. Remove the conditions of insecurity, hence defensiveness, and you begin to undercut the rationale for importing arms, etc. It's the stronger party that is capable of the meaningful, magnanimous gesture that breaks a stalemate....
1.3.2009 8:26pm"

Is this another joke? Stalemates are not broken in wars by gestures. They are broken by victory. As Churchill phrased it, first you win, then you be magnanimous, but first you win. In the meantime isn't time for the Palestinians to quit their illegal occupation of Zion? And that of the illegal occupation of Kurdistan, Assyria and some many others by the Arabs?
1.4.2009 2:00am
billooooh (mail):

The exact same thread here where you got these "facts."

Ha. Rich.

I followed the link that jukebox grad provided. I can see why you didn't want to provide a link.

I hope you were lubed up before he administered that lesson to you.

I esp. loved your claim that the post about the Walt-Mearsheimer article about the Israel lobby was not "about" Israel.

I mean, really, do you have any idea what a doofus you are?
1.4.2009 2:32am
billooooh (mail):

bernstein, 1/3/09:

I don't believe I've ever said that HRW or Amnesty is anti-Israel per se.



bernstein, 7/9/07:

In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International



FWIW.

Wow.

That's a spanking.
1.4.2009 2:35am
Andre (mail):
"Launching of the rockets is the operative point, the launching of the rockets is the hostile act intending to kill Israelis. That they fail is irrelevant."

You are wasting your time is you want to arbitrarily identify the inciting incident. Before the firing of rockets, there was the blockade of Gaza by Israel, which is not only an act of war, but was a violation of the ceasefire agreement.

"The whole concept of proportionality is a stupid leftist construct to hobble the west. "

I seem to recall the right using this same argument to criticize Russia during the conflict with Georgia. That's a remarkably short memory you have there cubanbob.

"In the meantime isn't time for the Palestinians to quit their illegal occupation of Zion? "

Is this a joke? There are over 60 UN resolutions calling for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Even the Israeli High Court recognizes this fact. What planet have you been living on?
1.4.2009 4:06am
Andre (mail) (www):
"Then the only reason Palestinian Hamas continues to exist is through the restraint of the far superior militarily nation with which it continues to wage war. This would seem to invalidate every argument of disproportionate use of force."

It could similarly be argued that the only reason Israel exists is due to the massive and unconditional military and financial support it receives from the west. If Israel were to resort to such extremes, they might run the risk of attracting international outrage and being isolated.

"Hamas exists solely because Israel allows it. Disproportionate force would be that which resulted in the non-existence of Hamas."

Actually, Hamas exists being Israel invited Hamas into Palestine to begin with, but that's another story. I know Israel's amen corner get quite aroused at the concept of Israel's military might, but as we have seen with the US experience in Iraq, there are limits to military power, no matter how disproportionate.
1.4.2009 4:14am
Andre (mail) (www):
"I think the problem is that you don't take Hamas's ideology seriously, because you don't think intelligent people could possibly believe such nonsense."

The problem with this argument is that Israel's supporters selectively cite the 23 year old Hamas charter calling for Israel's destruction, while ignoring the fact that Hamas signed the 6 year old offer from the Arab League that offered to recognize Israel as per the 1967 borders and normalize relations with Israel.

So if you insist we take Hamas seriously, which position should be take seriously?
1.4.2009 4:21am
tsotha:
First - you cannot be a Leftist and a Jew. Stop. Period. End of Sentence.

Marx would have been appalled. Someone should have told him.
1.4.2009 7:38am
tsotha:

Israel is not allowed to apply the expansion of the Powell Doctrine (stating that when a nation is engaging in war, every resource and tool should be used to achieve decisive force against the enemy) at all.



I believe that doctrine should be attributed to William Tecumseh Sherman. Terming something "civilain" which contributes to the ability of the enemy to wage war does not protect it from being a legitimate target.


You are confusing two different concepts. The Powell doctrine is the rejection of the idea of war as a tool for compelling behavior as opposed to defeating an enemy - that war should only be engaged with clear objectives and with all available resources. And that if you couldn't commit to going all out to achieve a defined goal then you shouldn't go to war at all. I assume this was all colored by his experience in Vietnam.

Sherman's philosophy wasn't concerned with whether or not a war should be joined or with what resources, but rather how it should be prosecuted. He believed in total war - the complete destruction of the enemy's material and psychological resources so they could no longer conduct a war. "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it...". I don't think Powell would support that notion, and indeed much of Iraqi infrastructure was declared off limits in 2003.

In regard to the current discussion, Israel is conducting this operation by neither man's military philosophy. There is little in the way of infrastructure to destroy in Gaza, and the populace isn't supporting an army in the field. It's not clear to me what the objective of a ground campaign is. Reduce the rocket stockpiles? Surely those stockpiles will simply be replenished when the troops are withdrawn.
1.4.2009 8:14am
yooper (mail):
The only ally Israel has is the US. Without our support they would be forced into a diplomatic solution. This support may seem strong but it could easily change, and if our policy was run by polls, it would change now. Israel is not important to me, in fact it drains our treasury and causes ill will with the Arab world.
1.4.2009 10:03am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
billooooh:

I esp. loved your [nieporent's] claim that the post about the Walt-Mearsheimer article about the Israel lobby was not "about" Israel.


Of course that article is not "about Israel." Here's another way we can tell. The article barely mentions "Israel." In fact, here's a complete list of all the words that appear in that article more frequently than the word Israel: 'the,' 'they,' 'of,' 'and,' 'in' and 'lobby.' So it's very clear that the article is actually about one or more of the following things: 'the,' 'they,' 'of,' 'and,' 'in' and 'lobby.'

Everyone knows that an article which mentions Israel more than any other person or place is obviously about something other than Israel. Just like everyone knows that an organization that works to "meet the challenge of addressing anti-Israel sentiment" is obviously an "anti-Zionist" organization.

It's all just a question of having the right perspective.
1.4.2009 10:17am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
yooper:

One can also note that the cost of supporting Israel to a point where it incites terrorist action against the US is getting to be a problem. I suspect this is why Bush is working on a ceasefire rather than working on a better solution.
1.4.2009 11:57am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
There is a background of history and theory that is in play here that should be examined to understand our predicament.

First, it is a mistake to lump the issues under the term "international law". There are two main bodies of rules that can have some force of law: Jus gentium, the law of nations; and jus inter gentes, treaties and conventions. Jus gentium is a kind of common law, an invocation of fundamental, unwritten principles arising from the laws of nature and a "society" of nations. It is fundamentally different from agreements among national governments. It is also what is incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. Treaties are treated separately, and made a kind of statute that can be enforced like other statutes in U.S. courts. The U.S. is nearly unique in having a constitution that makes treaties enforceable in domestic courts.

There is no such thing as "international law". There is no law without a sovereign, and what makes nations nations is that they are sovereigns and therefore have no common sovereign among them.

Second, the UN Charter is not a treaty or a world constitution of government. Joining the UN does not transfer sovereignty from the joining nation to a lawmaking body. Joining is not a treaty. UN resolutions are not international treaties or conventions with any force of law. They may have some moral force, but they have no legal force. A lot of people aspire to make them more, by using language that pretends they are more, but that is tergiversation and durable world peace is not built on deception, especially such patently obvious deception that falls apart as soon as anyone tests it.

Third, the prevailing world order is basically that established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The key element of that order is that each nation state bears absolute liability for any warlike acts that are perpetrated from its territory or by its citizens, whether sanctioned by the government or not. All national governments are expected to be able to maintain total control over their territories and their citizens.

Such rules as distinction (avoid harming noncombatants) and proportionality (reprisals no greater than injuries) sometimes apply and sometimes don't. Generally, proportionality applies to warlike acts by nonstate actors, that is, acts without governmental sanction. If some citizens of or operating from the territory of country A commit an act of piracy by destroying a coastal village of country B and killing its people, it is not sufficient for the pirates to be captured and hung. Country A owes country B compensation for the loss of the village, and if country A doesn't pay, then under the laws of war country B has the right to attack country A and destroy a village of comparable size. Tit for tat. Proportionate reprisal. But the persons doing the reprisal need to bear letters of marque and reprisal or it is just another act of piracy.

It is a different situation if the attack by A had the knowledge and consent of its government. Never mind if it was the legally recognized government. The de facto government will do. That makes it a state act, and an act of war. At that point country B has the right under the law of nations to take whatever measures are necessary to make sure country A can never do anything like that again, even if that means going in and exterminating the entire male population (and female as well if they are potential combatants). Country B is also within its rights to do that with a minuimum of risk to its own forces, so if the only way to make country A stop its offenses is to annihilate it with nukes, they have a right to do that.

Fourth, one of the main problems with our present situation is that many nations that claim the privileges of nations do not accept the accompanying obligations under the Westphalian Order. The people and governments of many of these nations do not accept responsibility for everything done from their territories. They still think of themselves as loose collections of tribes and factions with a national identity they invoke only selectively.

Even many well-intentioned people in Westphalian nations don't hold nations to Westphalian standards, especially those that they see as loose collections of tribes or factions. Rather than demanding that those nations shape up, and punishment of those that do not, they try to treat them the way modern people try to raise their children, with persuasion or demands for "time-outs" rather than disciplinary methods that real children are likely to respect.

Just as reluctance to firmly discipline is giving us a nation of lawless adolescent barbarians who hardly qualify as citizens, the reluctance to discipline nation-like entities is giving us a world of lawless adolescent barbarians, except that these are acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

We will all go together when we go. Every Jew, Hottentot and Eskimo.
--Tom Lehrer
1.4.2009 12:17pm
mzeh (mail):
jukeboxgrad and billooooh,

I can't quite tell if you guys are being mendacious or just stupid. In any event, the quote used to prove Prof Bernstein wrong ("...In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International...") was so taken out of context as to totally distort its meaning. For those who didn't click on jbg's link, the previous sentence was "With the Mearsheimer and Walt book "The Israel Lobby" due out next month, I thought I'd preemptively discuss "the anti-Israel Lobby," using a similarly broad definition for the "anti-Israel Lobby" as M &W do for the "Israel Lobby". Bernstein (and others) have regularly made it clear that the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and he is using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for that particular posting as a debating point. This is quite clear in the context.

Prof Bernstein, do us all us a favor and ban billooooh already. He adds nothing substantive to the discussion and his comments have gone well over the line of what is appropriate - see postings at 2.32 and 2.35 as examples.
1.4.2009 1:09pm
dbadger (mail) (www):
Who is to blame? Who started it? Who was there first? These are the questions most of us are asking this week as Israel Defense Forces begin their ground invasion of Gaza. The Israeli government and the Bush Administration insist that Hamas alone is to blame, because Hamas is firing rockets at Israeli towns and villages, and because the Israeli government has the right and duty to protect its citizens.

But is the right of self-defense unconditional? The US criminal code recognizes that a "first aggressor" cannot claim the right of self-defense when attacked by his victim in retaliation for his aggression. Nor would anyone argue that Nazi Germany had the right to defend itself if Poland had struck back in retaliation for the Nazis' 1929 invasion.

So who started it? The Hamas rocket attacks, Israel's targeted assassination of Hamas leaders and its military occupation of Gaza followed by withdrawal followed by imposition of an economic and humanitarian blockade -- all are elements of the state of war between the Palestinian people and the Jewish state that was ignited by the 1947 UN Resolution 181 partitioning Palestine and creating the state of Israel.

Hamas has repeatedly offered to observe a 10-year truce if Israel agrees to do the same. But Israel will only agree to observe a truce on three conditions: Hamas must agree toabide by all previous agreements between Israel and Yassir Arafat's PLO; Hamas must permanently renounces the use of violence; and Hamas must recognizes the state of Israel. While these conditios might seem reasonable at first glance, a closer look reveals them to be completely disingenuous. For Israel to insist that Hamas abide by previous agreements between Israel and the PLO is disingenuous because a key provison of these agreements (in addition to PLO recognition of Israel) is Israel's recognition of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Of course it should be up to the Palestinian people, not Israel and Arafat, to decide what party should be the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Hamas defeated the PLO in the 2005 elections, and can rightly claim to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Yet Israel demands, as condition of accepting the 10-year truce offered by Hamas, that Hamas agree that it is not the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people!

For Israel to insist to insist that Hamas permanently renounce violence as a condition for a truce is disingenuous because Israel is not offering to renounce violence. To the contrary, Israel insists on the right of self-defense by any means necessary. How can Israel expect the other side in this conflict to renounce the right of self-defense while insisting on its own?

The condition that Hamas must agree to recognize Israel is the most disingenous of all. In effect, Israel is saying it will agree to a truce in its war with the Palestinians if they will first agree to surrender! Palestinian rejection of the legitimacy of UN Resolution 181 is what the war is all about. To accept the legitimacy of resolution 181 would be to end the war. (This is reminescent of the Bush Administration's approach to "negotiating" with Iran over its uranium enrichment program -- the US will agree to negotiate about the program only if Iran first agrees to abandon it.)

Which brings us to Resolution 181, which gave 55% of the land of Palestine to the Jewish population, who comprised 30% of the total, and 45% of the land to the Arab population comprising 60%. The vast majority of this Jewish population had been born outside of Palestine, while the vast majority of the Arab population had been born in Palestine to families whose ancestors had lived there continuously since before Abraham arrived from Iraq forty centuries earlier.

In a curious formulation of moral algebra, Chaim Weizmann (the first President of Israel) had lobbied for partition at the UN by describing it as the "lesser injustice." But how could the infinite injustice of the Holocaust in Europe justify another injustice in Paelstine whereby the European powers and America gave away 55% of it to European colonists almost all of whom had immigrated during the preceding 50 years? Why should the Palestinians be required to accept the legitimacy of this resolution as a condition for a truce?

So the war continues, with each side refusing to lay down its weapons unless the other accepts its position on the legitimacy of Resolution 181. But Israelis are in no position to claim the moral high ground for their position. Chaim Weizmann's dubious moral algebra is the only justification anyone can give for Resolution 181. But it is not good enough.
1.4.2009 1:34pm
SG:
Why should the Palestinians be required to accept the legitimacy of this resolution as a condition for a truce?

Because the Israelis have better weaponry.

Alternatively they can choose to fight a war, but having so chosen, they ought to receive no sympathy.
1.4.2009 1:56pm
mzeh (mail):
dbadger,

Your analysis is quite incomplete. A couple of points you gloss over:
- Israel's unilaterally withdrawal from Gaza was met immediately with rocket fire. That hasn't stopped until today
- It was Hamas that decided not to renew the current six month truce

You say that the Israeli demands are disingenuous partially because of technical legal interpretations. We all know that is a non-issue that would be negotiated away if Hamas was serious about seeking peace. On Hamas recognizing the right for Israel to exist, your argument is extreme and quite concerning. According to you, a recognition of the Israel means that the Palestinians have surrendered. If this really is the majority Palestinian position (recognition of Israel is a defeat), then one has little hope that there will ever be peace in the region. You are being quite telling when you say that recognition of Israel is what the war is about. More moderate commentators on the Palestinian side say the war is about the freedom and security of the Palestinian people and the creation of a Palestinian state. Well, I guess you are being honest but I find your position quite depressing.
1.4.2009 1:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
mzeh:

What of Israeli assassinations against Hamas leaders during the truce? Also, if the Palestinians are not allowed an official army, then how do they expect to control the unofficial armies of Fatah (which has 2 offensive armed forces under their command, one of which is clearly terrorist in tactics), Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc?

The simple thing is that negotiations with Israel should be by PA officials, not by political parties (Hamas, Fatah, etc). Those officials are answerable to the voters in a way the political parties are not specifically. The Palestinian voters generally do want peace, but one free from Israeli interference and occupation (which even after disengagement, has not ended in Gaza).

The simple fact is that Israel is the state, they occupy Gaza and the West Bank, maintain control of airspace, ports, borders, etc. The development of a Palestinian state is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. If there is a lack of a credible state there it is as much Israel's fault as it would be the US's fault if the Iraqi government were in the same position.
1.4.2009 2:36pm
billoooh-again:

Bernstein (and others) have regularly made it clear that the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and he is using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for that particular posting as a debating point. This is quite clear in the context.

Ahhh, so a post that quibbles about the definition of the Israel Lobby, and contends that people (like Walt and Mersheimer) who argue that Israel has perhaps too much influence over the US's foreign policy is ____not____ a post about Israel?

I see.

Who needs reality when you got whatever you are smoking?
1.4.2009 2:45pm
billoooh-again:
And, I can see why you would be a fan of banning people given how easy it is for others to point out the idiocy of your posts.
1.4.2009 2:46pm
mzeh (mail):
billooh,

What are you talking about? I never said the post was or was not about Israel. Leave me out of that whole crazy debate you are obsessed with. I was just pointing out that your comment at 2.35am commenting on an alleged Prof Bernstein inconsistency was, well, stupid. You and JBG owe the good professor an apology.
1.4.2009 2:57pm
mzeh (mail):
einhverfr,

You are mistaken - Israel suspended its targeting of Hamas leaders during the truce. Israel did kill certain militants who were digging tunnels under the border or involved in firing rockets.
1.4.2009 3:17pm
Working for the Man (mail):
John Roland
"Spare the rod, spoil the child"

I like that.


I do wonder what would become of Palestine if the US were to withdraw support from Israel. Many claim it would force Israel into a diplomatic solution. I wonder if it would be like taking the muzzle off a dog.

When the US cut aid to North Korea, The DPRK didnt immediatley pull the chairs from table and ask for the world to sit down and talk. Their actions were initially extremely hostile, and it wasnt until this last fall the DPRK caved to US requests. It took 8 years.

I imagine we would see a similar reaction from Israel. First a wave of anger as the "US has turned on Israel." Followed by increasing levels of unrestrained violence. Wouldnt Israel feel like the lone kitaabi in a sea of muslims, much like a cornered animal would? The only thing I believe holding Israel back from completely occupying the West Bank and Gaza, are the dangling carrots from the United States.

Removing the incentive to restrain itself leaves a well funded, war ready nation who, I'm sure has tired of the nagging pain in their side. I wouldnt be suprised if Israel tore out (pardon the pun) pounds of flesh from its own side in an attempt to remove the irritation. Whether such actions would forever prevent Israel from receiving US aid in the future remains to be seen.

A more interesting scenario is if Obama removes the US from its role as the "Defender of Democracy," and Israel proceeds to eliminate the Palestinians, and other nearby "Arab" threats, would the US come to the defense of a new "Democratic" Iraq, or other "Arab" countries?

Could Obama sustain a policy of foreign neutrality?

A comment above mentioned Obama looking to improve the image of the United States abroad, and most importantly in the Middle East. Do you think Obama would actually remove support from Israel? What kind of realistic steps would he take in an effort to improve foreign opinion? Whose opinion will matter in the next decade? Europe? China? Just curious what others think.
1.4.2009 5:31pm
Andre (mail) (www):
"- Israel's unilaterally withdrawal from Gaza was met immediately with rocket fire. That hasn't stopped until today"

That's the story according to Israeli government, proven time and time again to have lied. What is true is that Israel responded by shelling Gaza at a rate of 3 shells to each rocket.

"- It was Hamas that decided not to renew the current six month truce"

Wring. Israel were supposed to lift the blockade during the previous cease fire agreement, and refused to do so. A blockage FYI is an act of war.

Hamas wanted to renew the truce with the blockade lifted and Israel refused.

You seem to believe it is reasonable that Gaza be starved and imprisoned and should shut up and take it on the chin.

"We all know that is a non-issue that would be negotiated away if Hamas was serious about seeking peace. "

We know that is complete rubbish because Israel had the chance to do so before Hamas were elected.

"You are mistaken - Israel suspended its targeting of Hamas leaders during the truce. Israel did kill certain militants who were digging tunnels under the border or involved in firing rockets. "

Israel were supposed to lift the blockade of Gaza during the truce and refused to do so. The last time Israel were on the receiving end of a blockade, they declared it an act of war and went to war over it.

It appears only Israel is allowed to do that.
1.4.2009 5:53pm
mzeh (mail):
Andre,

Israel has said many times that it would have lifted the sanctions on Hamas if the rocket fire ceased. Maybe they were not being honest but it's not as if we had a chance to find out. You say that the Israeli government has lied about the continuing rocket fire. Please provide some support for this rather reckless assertion or it will be disregarded as another unsubstantiated allegation. I have not read any independent body dispute Israel's claim on this point. And let's not forget that there is a border between Egypt and Gaza which Israel does not control.
1.4.2009 6:15pm
Working for the Man (mail):
dbadger

Who is to blame? Who started it? Who was there first?


Determining who is to blame, or is at fault for a war is an exercise in futility. The same goes for the importance of knowing "who drew first blood." Determining "First Blood" is not an exercise created to attribute blame, but actually a way of determing success.

Determining who started a conflict is only important if some higher authority can punish the person who did. I'm not sure what international authority you believe could preside successfully over such a conflict.

Also if we allow "who was there first" to dictate such rights as statehood, then no (only a few?) society(ies) would have ever expanded past village size. I get it, Arab's were there first, but do you give the same credence to giving all animals superior claims of title? Unlikely.

I think more likely people are just asking, How do we end it?
1.4.2009 6:18pm
Working for the Man (mail):
Is Andre at post 5:53PM the same Andre that was accepted to Boalt Hall a couple years ago? It would make sense if it was. He could sniff someone typing Palestine from across the web. Defending Palestinians as a form of martyrdom in an effort to win the approval of his true love and her parents. People never change. :)
1.4.2009 6:29pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Working for the Man:
I do wonder what would become of Palestine if the US were to withdraw support from Israel.

It is not a secret that it is only U.S, aid that is holding Israel back from the dream of a "Greater Israel" held by many of the more extreme Zionists, that would lead Israel to drive Muslims out of not only the West Bank but much of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the Sinai. Some have spoken of an Israel from the Suez Canal to the Euphrates River, but that is probably an exaggeration.

I have had conversations with some of those people, who resent U.S. aid and the willingness of their countrymen to accept territorial restraint in exchange for it.

This is not the only theater in which U.S. aid has been used to restrain warlike behavior of recipients. It has kept Turkey and Greece from going to war, and prevented at least 30 other wars I know about that reached the early stages. If more people knew more about how much foreign aid has been used to prevent war they might have a different attitude about the role of the U.S. in the world.
1.4.2009 6:46pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Question:

Does anyone here think that the Israeli crackdown on Dec 31 which involved firing live ammo at peaceful demonstrators in Nih'lin was anything other than disproportionate?
1.4.2009 6:51pm
Andre (mail) (www):
Good point einhverfr,

And why is Israel banning the news reporters from Gaza, other than to hide what they do not want the world to see?

"This is not the only theater in which U.S. aid has been used to restrain warlike behavior of recipients"

This makes little sense. The reality is that without US financial and military aid, Israel's economy would collapse and it's military dominance would evaporate.
1.4.2009 7:09pm
Andre (mail) (www):
"Is Andre at post 5:53PM the same Andre that was accepted to Boalt Hall a couple years ago?"

No it is not the same Andre.

is defending Israel as form of martyrdom too?
1.4.2009 7:11pm
Andre (mail) (www):
Andre,
mzeh,

"Israel has said many times that it would have lifted the sanctions on Hamas if the rocket fire ceased."

Israel has said many things, and lied every time. In fact, Israel's leadership can't even seem to agree on the reasons for the siege.

a) On one hand they claim the aim of the siege is to stop the rocket attacks while acknowledging that the bombing is unlikely to stop the rocket attacks.

b) They claim that the bombing is a response to the rocket attacks while it has been revealed that the siege was planned six months ago.

c) They claim that Hamas have violated the ceasefire, when even Haaretz state that it was Israel that violated it.

How's that for starters?

"You say that the Israeli government has lied about the continuing rocket fire."

They are lying because they are claim the rocket attacks is the reason for their bombing campaign, when in fact, the bombing campaign was planned six months ago.

They are lying because they claim Hamas broke the ceasefire when in fact, Israel not only violated the ceasefire in November 4th, but have been in violation of the ceasefire from day 1 by their refusal to lift the blockade.

They are lying becasue they claim Hamas do not want to renew the truce, when in fact, Hamas want to renew it along with the blockade being lifted.

Once again, let's remember that a blockade is an act of war.

These are not reckless assertions. They are easily supported facts.

"Please provide some support for this rather reckless assertion or it will be disregarded as another unsubstantiated allegation. I have not read any independent body dispute Israel's claim on this point."

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.

Today, 25% of those killed are women and children.

The Israeli leadership lied then, and it's lying now.

"And let's not forget that there is a border between Egypt and Gaza which Israel does not control."

But they do control it, via US pressure.

Then why are you forgetting that the last time this border was opened, Israel complained bitterly that it would risk their security?
1.4.2009 7:25pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
"This is not the only theater in which U.S. aid has been used to restrain warlike behavior of recipients"

This makes little sense. The reality is that without US financial and military aid, Israel's economy would collapse and it's military dominance would evaporate.
This makes little sense. The reality is that Israel is a wealthy, economically successful country, and does not need US aid to survive. A couple of decades ago, American aid made up a large part of Israel's economy, but that no longer is the case, as Israel has abandoned most of its socialist past.
1.4.2009 8:08pm
Andre (mail) (www):
"This makes little sense. The reality is that Israel is a wealthy, economically successful country, and does not need US aid to survive."

Israel's wealth and economic success are entirely dependent on aid and support from the US and the UK.

The reality is that if Israel were such an economic success, it would not be not only demanding financial and military aid from the US, but asking for the aid to be increased.

1.4.2009 8:16pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
b) They claim that the bombing is a response to the rocket attacks while it has been revealed that the siege was planned six months ago.
There's no contradiction between these. Planning ahead is what any competent government does. (And it's not like it took a great deal of foresight to see that Hamas would abrogate the cease-fire; it was about as unlikely as the sun rising in the east.)

They are lying because they claim Hamas broke the ceasefire when in fact, Israel not only violated the ceasefire in November 4th, but have been in violation of the ceasefire from day 1 by their refusal to lift the blockade.
1) That was not the deal.
2) Hamas has been in violation of the ceasefire from day 1 by their rocket attacks on Israel. Hamas never actually ceased fire as part of the ceasefire.

Today, 25% of those killed are women and children.
Nice bait-and-switch, but "women and children" does not equal "civilians."
1.4.2009 8:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mzeh:

Bernstein (and others) have regularly made it clear that the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and he is using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for that particular posting as a debating point.


The full passage is this:

The Israel Lobby and the Anti-Israel Lobby:

With the Mearsheimer and Walt book "The Israel Lobby" due out next month, I thought I'd preemptively discuss "the anti-Israel Lobby," using a similarly broad definition for the "anti-Israel Lobby" as M &W do for the "Israel Lobby". In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes the 20% or so of Americans who are strongly anti-Semitic, the National Council of Churches, the Middle East Studies Association, the oil industry, many former state department officials who served in Arab countries, businesspeople with close ties to Arab countries, Muslim and Arab-American organizations, major elements of the ideological Left (including NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that falsely claim not to be part of the ideological left), and the Buchananite right.


If I were a mind-reader, I could take into account what bernstein meant. I'm not, so the best I can do is deal with what he actually said. He does not say here that "the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad." He simply says it's "broad." And then he goes on to claim that HRW and AI fall within "a similarly broad" definition of "the anti-Israel Lobby."

If it was bernstein's intention to make "it clear that the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and he is using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for that particular posting as a debating point," he could have and should have said so. And this would have been a good way for him to say that: 'the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and I am using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for this particular posting as a debating point.' But that's not what he said.

Please consider these three statements:

A) HRW and AI are anti-Israel per se

B) HRW and AI are anti-Israel, provided one is using a broad definition of "anti-Israel"

C) HRW and AI are anti-Israel, provided one is using a ridiculously over-broad definition of "anti-Israel"

A is what bernstein denied saying. C is what you claim he said. B is what he actually said. It's fair to point out that A and B are not exactly the same (although they are pretty close, in my opinion). But you shouldn't claim he said C, because B and C are not exactly the same, either. And C isn't what he said.
1.4.2009 8:38pm
Andre (mail) (www):
"There's no contradiction between these. Planning ahead is what any competent government does."

That is the same lame argument used during the Lebanon war of 2006. The capture of IDF troops was used as justification for bombing Lebanon, except that none of Israel's actions were consistent with trying to secure the release of those troops.

Furthermore, Israel have been lobbying foreign governments in the lead up to this campaign, which proves that it was not a contingency as you suggest, but a strategy that they were planning from day 1.

"1) That was not the deal."

Yes it was the deal. A blockade is an act of war, as was argued by Israel themselves in the lead up to the 6 day war.

"Nice bait-and-switch, but "women and children" does not equal "civilians.""

Why is it a bait and switch? Because Palestinians are all terrorists? The UN has just issued a report that states 100 or the 400 killed were NOT Hamas.
1.4.2009 9:04pm
Andre (mail) (www):
B) HRW and AI are anti-Israel, provided one is using a broad definition of "anti-Israel"

So what is the broad definition of "anti-Israel" to which you refer? Is objectivity "anti-Israel"?
1.4.2009 9:05pm
Andre (mail) (www):
David M. Nieporent,

For your information:

"It should be noted, though, that lifting the blockade was a part of the June cease-fire agreement that was not implemented by Israel and the international community."
1.4.2009 9:09pm
mzeh (mail):
JBD,

Come on. At a minimum, you must admit by not quoting the context you provided a misleading picture. But given your track record of intellectual dishonesty on other threads, I assume you would not concede that here.

As regards DB's views on the M&W definition of the Israel lobby, you have been reading this blog for a long time and I doubt you have any confusion as to DB's rather outspoken opinions on the topic. You are also particularly useful with Google. But let me help you out:

"...And exactly who is "the lobby"? Just in the blogosphere, Mearsheimer and Walt have been criticized by a huge range of bloggers who have no connection with any organized pro-Israel lobbying group, or each other. Is every individual who finds the Mearsheimer and Walt paper to be shoddy scholarship..." link

or, rather directly on point:

"...those, like me, who argued that Mearsheimer and Walt's definition of the "Israel lobby" is absurdly broad, and contrary to the normal meaning of the word.." link

"C" seems a pretty fair summary.

Just apologize to the professor already.
1.4.2009 9:22pm
Andre (mail) (www):
"This brings us to the question of relevance. No one cares whether Israel has violated international law or not, except for a handful of law professors."

On the contrary. The US and Israel are all too happy to cite internationality law when it suits them. During the 2006 Lebanon war, Israel of all countries, had the Hutzpah to wave the UN Resolution calling for Hezbollah's disarmament.

"For its more mainstream critics (as opposed to those who think it has no right to exist),"

Not only is this a signature straw man argument, but it assumes that criticizing Israel and supporting Israel are mutually exclusive. Does Haaretz oppose Israel's right to exist? Do those in Sderot who are demonstrating against the bombing of Gaza oppose Israel's right to exist?

"For Israel’s defenders, Israel has every right to defend itself against a bunch of violent terrorists."

No one is denying Israel's right to defend itself, but this again is yet another straw man. While the rockets being fired are a hostile act, they do not threaten Israel in anyway shape or form.

Furthermore, those who reflexively turn to self defense argument would have us believe that bombing Gaza is Israel's only option, when in reality, it is simply the politically expedient one.
1.4.2009 9:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"And why is Israel banning the news reporters from Gaza, other than to hide what they do not want the world to see?"

Why bother?
1.4.2009 9:40pm
Andre (mail) (www):
"Why bother?"

Exactly. Why bother unless there is reason to do so, especially when it violates the ruling of Israel's own courts.

Clearly there is much Israel does not want the world to see.
1.4.2009 9:53pm
John Moore (www):
@Andre

Let us assume you are correct that Israel, without justification, is doing all the horrible stuff you claim.

Can you provide a cogent reason why Israel is doing so? Are they a nation of sadists and masochists, or what?

What do YOU think they tried to achieve in 2006 in Lebanon and now in Gaza?
1.4.2009 10:17pm
BobDoyle (mail):
John Moore et al.

Andre et al. are beyond reason. No argument can assuage their "perspective."
1.4.2009 10:27pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
If I were a mind-reader, I could take into account what bernstein meant. I'm not, so the best I can do is deal with what he actually said. He does not say here that "the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad." He simply says it's "broad." And then he goes on to claim that HRW and AI fall within "a similarly broad" definition of "the anti-Israel Lobby."

If it was bernstein's intention to make "it clear that the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and he is using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for that particular posting as a debating point," he could have and should have said so. And this would have been a good way for him to say that: 'the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and I am using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for this particular posting as a debating point.' But that's not what he said.
Yes, it is. Nobody else failed to understand him. Perhaps if you had read any of those 30 posts you falsely claimed were "about Israel" but in reality merely mentioned Israel, you'd understand the context better.
1.4.2009 10:31pm
Andre (mail) (www):
BobDoyle,

Andre et al. are beyond reason. No argument can assuage their "perspective."

Perhaps if you resorted to reason rather than emotive carnards, debunked notions and hyperbole you might have more success.
1.4.2009 10:34pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Exactly. Why bother unless there is reason to do so, especially when it violates the ruling of Israel's own courts.

Clearly there is much Israel does not want the world to see."


It's a bother in all cases. They probably don't want to deal with tourists, Amway salesmen, visiting law professors, or Jimmy Carter's shoddy home builders either. There's nothing special about the media.
1.4.2009 10:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
"There's no contradiction between these. Planning ahead is what any competent government does."

That is the same lame argument used during the Lebanon war of 2006. The capture of IDF troops was used as justification for bombing Lebanon, except that none of Israel's actions were consistent with trying to secure the release of those troops.
Remind me where you got your degree in strategic planning? Where do you get the expertise to decide that the actions "weren't consistent" with that? Why is attacking Hezbollah "not consistent" with trying to get Hezbollah to release its hostages?

Furthermore, Israel have been lobbying foreign governments in the lead up to this campaign, which proves that it was not a contingency as you suggest, but a strategy that they were planning from day 1.
No, it doesn't. There's once again no contradiction here. The fact that Israel knew this was likely simply shows that they have experience dealing with Hamas.
1.4.2009 10:36pm
Andre (mail) (www):
John,

Can you provide a cogent reason why Israel is doing so? Are they a nation of sadists and masochists, or what?

That's an excellent question, and I think it's fir to say there are number of motives.

1. With the up coming elections, the incumbent government wants to present itself as tough on national security. As Israei reporter, Hillel Schenker writes:


"The Israeli government felt it was necessary to act militarily because of pressure from public opinion, the media and the right. After all, we are in the middle of an election campaign. And those are the rules of Middle Eastern life: you can't show weakness when being attacked. That's the Israeli mindset that Baram was referring to."


2. Israel will not tolerate the existence of Hamas. After Hamas were elected, Israel did much the same as they are doing now - they punished the Palestinians for voting the wrong way.

3. Olmert's government suffered a huge bruising after the 2006 campaign in Lebanon as is trying to shake off that mokey.

"What do YOU think they tried to achieve in 2006 in Lebanon and now in Gaza?"

Much the same thing. Israel withdrew from Lebanon unwillingly in 2000, and did so with Hezbollah still in place. The 2006 campaign was aimed as destroying Hezbollah once and for all. Once of the motivations for bombing infrastructure in Southern Lebanon so massively was to turn public opinion against Hezbollah.
1.4.2009 10:44pm
Andre (mail) (www):
Where do you get the expertise to decide that the actions "weren't consistent" with that? Why is attacking Hezbollah "not consistent" with trying to get Hezbollah to release its hostages?

Historically, Israel have successfully managed to secure the release of captured Israelis by means of prisoner exchange. This was never considered in this case, which proves there was no intention of doing so.

No, it doesn't. There's once again no contradiction here. The fact that Israel knew this was likely simply shows that they have experience dealing with Hamas.

The so called rocket fire took place at the end of the 6 month cease fire. Anyway, this has already been exposed.

The cabinet spent five hours discussing the plan in detail on December 19 and left the timing up to Ehud Olmert, the caretaker prime minister, and his defence minister Ehud Barak. Preparations involved disinformation and deception which kept Israel's media in the dark. According to Ha'aretz, that also lulled Hamas into a sense of false security and allowed the initial aerial onslaught to achieve tactical surprise - and kill many of the 290 victims counted so far.

If it looks like a duck and walks like and duck...
1.4.2009 10:51pm
Andre (mail) (www):
John Moore,

I just wanted to expand on the "without justification" argument.

Let's consider Israel's obsession with Iran.

As has been detailed in IAEA and NIE reports, there is no evidence that Iran is producing or pursuing nuclear weapons, yet throughout 2008, the talk about Israel attacking Iran's nuclear facilities was never ending.

Iran have not attacked, nor invaded any other country in over 300 years, yet in spite of Tzipi Livni's own words (that Iran is no threat) Israeli leaders repeat the lie that Iran is a threat.

I think that like Hamas and the Palestinians, the Israeli public is played by her political leaders to serve their own ends.
1.4.2009 10:57pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
andre:

So what is the broad definition of "anti-Israel" to which you refer?


I think you didn't notice that I was offering a paraphrase of something someone else said. I wasn't expressing my own belief.

======================
mzeh:

by not quoting the context you provided a misleading picture


And you could argue that if I didn't paste in the complete article, I was omitting some important "context." I provided a link. And I didn't make any particular claim. All I said was "FWIW." Which basically means 'go take a look and see what you think.'

The one who "provided a misleading picture" was bernstein. Because the thing he actually said is pretty darn close to the thing he denied saying. And you also "provided a misleading picture," by suggesting he said something different from what he actually said.

those, like me, who argued that Mearsheimer and Walt's definition of the "Israel lobby" is absurdly broad


You're pointing out that 15 months before the article I cited, Bernstein wrote a different article where he described their definition as not just broad but "absurdly broad." Big deal. I'm not obligated to know that, nor is any other reader. If what he meant is "absurdly broad," that's what he should have said. The word is obviously in his vocabulary. But he didn't use it, in the article I cited. Why not? Who knows. Maybe in 2007 he no longer believed what he believed in 2006.

======================
nieporent:

Nobody else failed to understand him.


Really? How do you know?

those 30 posts you falsely claimed were "about Israel" but in reality merely mentioned Israel


You're now making a stronger claim than you made previously. In the thread, there are places where you admitted that at least some of the 30 were indeed "about Israel." Have you changed your mind, and are now claiming that none were "about Israel?" Or are you just being sloppy in your thinking and writing, as usual?

And has bernstein ever written any posts "about Israel?" Or has he only written posts that "merely mentioned Israel?" And are you willing to tell us how many?
1.4.2009 11:51pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Historically, Israel have successfully managed to secure the release of captured Israelis by means of prisoner exchange. This was never considered in this case, which proves there was no intention of doing so.
You didn't do well in logic class, did you? It "proves" no such thing. Trying a different strategy does not "prove" that one has different goals. And trying a different strategy in different circumstances -- Israel wasn't trying to recover someone long held, but someone who had just been kidnapped, and perhaps hadn't been carted away yet -- certainly doesn't "prove" that one has different goals.

The so called rocket fire took place at the end of the 6 month cease fire. Anyway, this has already been exposed.
I don't know what "so-called" rocket-fire is, but the actual rocket fire was continuous throughout the so-called "cease fire," and escalated after the cease fire ended. (An event which was not a surprise; Hamas had already announced it wouldn't renew the cease fire.) Nor do I have any idea what your link or quote is supposed to prove. Israel planned in advance. What on earth is your point? That doesn't, contrary to your insinuation, "prove" that Israel would have gone ahead with the operation if Hamas hadn't escalated its assault on Israel.


Iran have not attacked, nor invaded any other country in over 300 years, yet in spite of Tzipi Livni's own words (that Iran is no threat) Israeli leaders repeat the lie that Iran is a threat.
Iran invaded Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, which was certainly within the last 300 years. Iran was certainly provoked -- Iraq was the aggressor -- and wasn't very successful in its invasion efforts, but that doesn't change the fact that Iran invaded. Any other silly talking points you want to repeat without understanding?
1.5.2009 12:13am
John Moore (www):
@Andre:

:
Can you provide a cogent reason why Israel is doing so? Are they a nation of sadists and masochists, or what?


......

1. With the up coming elections, the incumbent government wants to present itself as tough on national security. As Israei reporter, Hillel Schenker writes:


"The Israeli government felt it was necessary to act militarily because of pressure from public opinion, the media and the right. After all, we are in the middle of an election campaign. And those are the rules of Middle Eastern life: you can't show weakness when being attacked. That's the Israeli mindset that Baram was referring to."

That punts the question. You still need to answer why Israeli public opinion supposedly pressured the government to military action.. You have not done so.

As to the "weakness when being attacked" - that is, actually, a fine motive for Israel's actions. How can you fault them for that? What do you do when continuously attacked? Call for Mama?
2. Israel will not tolerate the existence of Hamas. After Hamas were elected, Israel did much the same as they are doing now - they punished the Palestinians for voting the wrong way.

I ask again, why? Why will Israel not tolerate the existence of Hamas? Do they not like their manners or dress, or what?

"What do YOU think they tried to achieve in 2006 in Lebanon and now in Gaza?"


Much the same thing. Israel withdrew from Lebanon unwillingly in 2000, and did so with Hezbollah still in place. The 2006 campaign was aimed as destroying Hezbollah once and for all. Once of the motivations for bombing infrastructure in Southern Lebanon so massively was to turn public opinion against Hezbollah.


So once again, you punt the question. Why does Israel spend blooad and treasure to destroy Hezbollah? Because they don't like their name?

and onward...

..........
Let's consider Israel's obsession with Iran.

As has been detailed in IAEA and NIE reports, there is no evidence that Iran is producing or pursuing nuclear weapons, yet throughout 2008, the talk about Israel attacking Iran's nuclear facilities was never ending.


False. The NIE stated that Iran stopped its weaponization program in 2003. It did NOT state that Iran is not now pursuing nuclear weapons. Furthermore, it was a highly politicized document, part of the war between CIA midlevel bureaucrats and the Bush administration. Furthermore, the report was widely misread because too many are ignorant of the fact that it is a very small step from the possession of sufficient quantities of HEU and the construction of a workable nuclear weapon.

The IAEA has reported recent evidence of Iranian weaponization programs. Iran has repeatedly claimed great progress in their "civilian" program.

Why does Iran have a "civilian" nuclear program?

Furthermore, Iranian leaders have repeated stated their goal to destroy Israel. If you are a nation of 7 million people (and no oil) and a nation of 70,000,000 and lots of oil periodically promises to destroy you, shouldn't you be "obsessed" a bit?

Iran have not attacked, nor invaded any other country in over 300 years, yet in spite of Tzipi Livni's own words (that Iran is no threat) Israeli leaders repeat the lie that Iran is a threat.


A remarkably silly statement! Iran says it's a threat to Israel. Iran has been rapidly building up its military (and claiming to build it up more). Iran has armed Hezbollah and Hamas with sophisticated weapons. Iran promises to destroy Israeel. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Syria had a hidden, illegal nuclear reactor until last year, and Syria is an ally of Iran (maybe even a bit of a puppet).

And you say Iran is no threat?

Hey... come on out here to the desert of Arizona. I've got some rattlesnakes you can sleep with. I assure you they're no threat!
1.5.2009 12:13am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You're pointing out that 15 months before the article I cited, Bernstein wrote a different article where he described their definition as not just broad but "absurdly broad." Big deal. I'm not obligated to know that, nor is any other reader.
You are if you're going to comment on what he meant.

Your own definition of dishonesty involves claiming to know things one doesn't and/or can't actually know. You claimed that he meant something without reading enough of what he wrote to understand what he meant. That's dishonest. Which is your usual m.o.

You're now making a stronger claim than you made previously. In the thread, there are places where you admitted that at least some of the 30 were indeed "about Israel." Have you changed your mind, and are now claiming that none were "about Israel?" Or are you just being sloppy in your thinking and writing, as usual?
Neither. You're just being sloppy -- I'm being kind here; you're really being dishonest -- in your reading of what I wrote. I did not change my mind, nor did I just claim that none were about Israel. I claimed that you falsely claimed that the 30 posts were about Israel. Which you did.

(By the way, I identified 7 of your first 9 posts which you falsely claimed were about Israel; given that you keep harping on one, I guess you're conceding that you lied about the other 6.)
And has bernstein ever written any posts "about Israel?" Or has he only written posts that "merely mentioned Israel?" And are you willing to tell us how many?
Yes, of course; no; and no. But I'm willing to helpfully point out that you're lying when you lie about how many. If that's not enough for you, well, I guess "Tough noogies" is the technical term.
1.5.2009 12:23am
Andre (mail) (www):
"Trying a different strategy does not "prove" that one has different goals."


Trying a strategy that differs from one that has been successful on prior occasions is not what one would consider to be logical.

At no point did Israel even mention rescuing the captures soldiers. In fact, logic would suggest that it's massive over reaction on that occasion achieved quite the opposite result.

I don't know what "so-called" rocket-fire is, but the actual rocket fire was continuous throughout the so-called "cease fire,"

Wrong. The rockets attacks commenced in Decemeber.

An event which was not a surprise; Hamas had already announced it wouldn't renew the cease fire.

Actually, Hamas did request to renew the ceasefire under new terms -is sans the blockade which was starving them of food and electricity. Unreasonable request I know.

"That doesn't, contrary to your insinuation, "prove" that Israel would have gone ahead with the operation if Hamas hadn't escalated its assault on Israel."

Oh but it does, at least alongside Israel's history of behavior in that regard.

Iran invaded Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, which was certainly within the last 300 years.

What is it with you guys? Do you make this stuff up as you go along? Iraq started that war in 1980 by invading Iran and was driven out in 1982.

Do yourself a favor and educate yourself.

No wonder you are so clueless on the Palestine Israel conflict.
1.5.2009 12:34am
Andre (mail) (www):
John Moore,

So once again, you punt the question. Why does Israel spend blooad and treasure to destroy Hezbollah? Because they don't like their name?

Hezbollah were never a threat to Israel, but they have given Israel a bloody nose on both occasions that Israel have taken them on.

Israel has prided itself on being the dominant power in the region, so there was a national psychosis about a militia to the north that was still standing, in spite of Isral's vast military superiority.

The irony is that Hezbollah were the product of Israels occupation (there goes that word again).

"False. The NIE stated that Iran stopped its weaponization program in 2003."

And even that assumption was based on very dodgy evidence based on the so called stolen laptop, which most intel agencies in the US suggest is not even credible/

It did NOT state that Iran is not now pursuing nuclear weapons.


Wrong again. It said that there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. 16 Intel agencies came to the same conclusion.

To this day, in spite of the most intrusive IAEA inspection regime ever, the IAEA has concluded with 100% certainty hat Iran in NOT diverting any nuclear material from it's domestics program.

Furthermore, it was a highly politicized document, part of the war between CIA midlevel bureaucrats and the Bush administration.

So what is your point? Was evidence suppressed that contradicted the findings of the 16 intelligence agencies that came to the said conclusion?

Furthermore, the report was widely misread because too many are ignorant of the fact that it is a very small step from the possession of sufficient quantities of HEU and the construction of a workable nuclear weapon.

Rubbish again. Iran has never had anywhere close to the sufficient amount of HEU to produce a bomb.

BTW. I am a former nuclear engineer who has prepared reports for the IAEA, so I do have some knowledge about this matter.

"The IAEA has reported recent evidence of Iranian weaponization programs."

please provide a link to the said report. I have never read any such report.

"Iran has repeatedly claimed great progress in their "civilian" program."

So what? Domestic nuclear programs require 3-4% enrichment, not 90-95%. And please, don't embarrass yourself by suggesting that it is a trivial matter of increasing the enrichment from 4% to 95%.

"Why does Iran have a "civilian" nuclear program?"

Good question. Why don't you ask Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfled, who in 1967, said it was a smart startergy for Iran to adopt a domestic nuclear power program?

Furthermore, Iranian leaders have repeated stated their goal to destroy Israel.

gee, why am I not surprised you would recycle that lie, which has been so thoroughly debunked it's becoming boring. No Iranian leader has said their goals was to destroy Israel. You now it and everyone else knows it.

"If you are a nation of 7 million people (and no oil) and a nation of 70,000,000 and lots of oil periodically promises to destroy you, shouldn't you be "obsessed" a bit?"

I would be more obsessed with why Washington, my so called ally, has dismissed repeated offers from Tehran to recognize Israel and normalise relations with Israel, beginning with the grand bargain made in 2003.

Iran has been rapidly building up its military (and claiming to build it up more). Iran has armed Hezbollah and Hamas with sophisticated weapons.

Iran is repeatedly threatened by the US and Israel. Why would it not build up it's military when Israel and the US are doing so? And what are the sophisticated weapons they are providing to Hezbollah and Hamas? The rockets being used are home made and are embarrassingly crude.

The most effective weapon Hezbollah had in 2006, was the anti tank Kornet rocket, which was provided by Russia.

So no. Iran has never threatend to destroy Israel. Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program. Of course, if you have proof, feel free to link to it.

Like I said, Iran is no threat. Rattle snakes may be nasty creatures, but I take it they leave you alone so long as you don't piss them off, and if you are so inclined, I'm sure they are easy enough to kill.

Good analogy.
1.5.2009 12:56am
Andre (mail) (www):
Sorry John,

I didn't highlight my quotes properly so my post may be difficult to read.
1.5.2009 1:00am
BobDoyle (mail):

Andre et al. are beyond reason. No argument can assuage their "perspective."

Perhaps if you resorted to reason rather than emotive carnards, debunked notions and hyperbole you might have more success.


See, Andre et al. are beyond reason. No argument can assuage their "perspective."
1.5.2009 1:01am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

You are [obligated to know about his prior comment] if you're going to comment on what he meant.


Except that I have made no comment on "what he meant." Only he knows for sure "what he meant." My comment was about what he said. And when I make a comment about what he said, I'm under no obligation to know about something else he said 15 months prior.

You claimed that he meant something without reading enough of what he wrote to understand what he meant.


I have made no claim about what he "meant." I simply reported what he said. Show us where I "claimed that he meant something."

I guess you're conceding that you lied about the other 6


Uh, no. There's no point discussing the other 6 with you when you still haven't explained how a post about the Israel lobby is not "about Israel." And when you're still ducking other basic questions.
1.5.2009 1:11am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Except that I have made no comment on "what he meant." Only he knows for sure "what he meant." My comment was about what he said.
Really, who do you think you're fooling with this crap? Your comment was about what he meant. You love pulling quotes out of context and pretending they mean something other than what they mean -- you've been doing it in the discussion of Chabad, and you're doing it here. You're like a six year old whose mother tells him he can't have a cookie before dinner, and then when he's caught sneaking them says, "You said I 'can't have a cookie,' and I didn't. I had two cookies. That's not a cookie."

Show us where I "claimed that he meant something."
A whole post here is you claiming he meant something other than what he meant.

And you're not going to bait me into jumping through your hoops. You lied about how many posts he and Greenwald made about Israel, and trying to turn it around on me won't change that.

But I certainly did explain how a post about the Israel lobby is not about Israel. I explained to you that it was about domestic American politics. You still haven't explained how you could be so ignorant as to not understand the difference. Perhaps you didn't read the Walt/Mearshimer book or article. Perhaps you never learned that reading comprehension involved more than pattern-matching words.
1.5.2009 2:42am
mzeh (mail):
Andre,

The link you provide does nothing to support your reckless allegations that Israel has lied about continuing rocket fire during the truce. The Guardian article simple says that the current offensive was spurred by the spate of rocket fire after the truce ended (something Israel has also said openly) - it nowhere says that there was a full suspension during the truce. Exactly what was "exposed"? You quote freely from Haaretz. Well, try this link which directly contradicts you link

You shouldn't be so quick to accuse others of "carnards, debunked notions and hyperbole." Yes, Israel was supposed to lift the blockade during the truce. However, every time they relaxed the restrictions there was no reduction in the rockets, which is a clear violation.
1.5.2009 6:59am
mzeh (mail):
JBG,

I am not gong to let you get away with this degree of intellectual dishonesty. Look, the view that the M&W definition of the Israeli Lobby is absurdly broad is a primary, maybe the primary, criticism of their thesis. If you are half as informed on Israel as you claim you be, you would know this. And given you seem to spend your life here (does someone pay you?), you should also know this. Claiming ignorance now is a laughably weak defense. I knew what DB meant, so did others, and it only took two minutes on Google to provide explicit support.

As David M. Nieporent says, you have been caught with your hand in the cookie jar. It is quite fun to watch your contortions to explain yourself (you honestly think that DB changed his views on M&W? Really? Are you new here??). It does nothing for your integrity though.
1.5.2009 7:18am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
A whole post here is you claiming he meant something other than what he meant.


In that post I say explicitly that I can't know for sure what he meant. But I do know for sure what he said. Your mind-reading powers are much greater than mine, since you apparently do know for sure what he meant.

You love pulling quotes out of context and pretending they mean something other than what they mean -- you've been doing it in the discussion of Chabad


You love making statements backed by no proof. That thread is here. Show us your proof that I have been "pulling quotes out of context."

And here's something else you love doing: ducking fair questions.

You lied about how many posts he and Greenwald made about Israel


You have quite an idiosyncratic definition of "about Israel." Your position is that an article about the Israel lobby is not "about Israel." You're obviously entitled to your opinion, but you shouldn't assume than anyone else shares that opinion, and you shouldn't claim that someone with a different opinion has "lied."

I explained to you that it was about domestic American politics.


If an article about the Israel Lobby is about "domestic American politics," and not "about Israel," than greenwald has written very little "about Israel," since most of his articles that I counted as "about Israel" are about the Israel Lobby and its effects on US policy toward Israel.

What you're stubbornly refusing to do is apply the same standard to greenwald and bernstein, and then tell us what result you get. How odd.
1.5.2009 7:21am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mzeh:

the view that the M&W definition of the Israeli Lobby is absurdly broad is a primary, maybe the primary, criticism of their thesis


Except that criticism ("absurdly broad") doesn't appear in the article I cited. Which is odd, if it's "a primary, maybe the primary, criticism of their thesis."

What's 'absurd' is your argument. You want us to believe, simultaneously, that the word is important, but that the omission of the word is unimportant. And you are also "absurdly" claiming that it was OK to omit the word because it had been used in a prior post, 15 months earlier.

And that criticism ("absurdly broad") is not just absent from the article I cited. It also seems to be absent from many other articles bernstein has written about M&W (like the articles here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). It's not just that those articles don't say "absurdly broad." It's that I don't easily see where those articles express that idea in a different form (although it might be buried in there somewhere; I haven't read every word). Which is odd, if that idea is "a primary, maybe the primary, criticism of their thesis."

If you are half as informed on Israel as you claim you be, you would know this.


Being "informed on Israel" is not the same as being a mind-reader. When bernstein says "absurdly broad" in 2006, and then just "broad" in 2007, the most parsimonious interpretation is that he has moderated his view. Not that he meant something different from what he actually said.

It's also not parsimonious to assume that bernstein is assuming that most readers recall what he said on the subject 15 months prior. I think he himself did not recall; if he had, he probably would have expressed himself the same way (if he actually still felt the same way). And just like in 2007 he seemingly forgot what he said in 2006, it appears that in 2009 he forgot what he said in 2007. His readers' exact recall of his prior work should not be expected to be more precise than his own.

does someone pay you


If you bump into Soros, please tell him I could use a raise.

you honestly think that DB changed his views on M&W?


I'm not a mind-reader. I can only go by what he says. When he expresses himself in a more moderate way in 2007, as compared with 2006, it's reasonable to take his words at face value, and believe that his thinking, on that point, has become more moderate.
1.5.2009 8:16am
Don Meaker (mail):
I really dislike the term "innocent civilians". Police officers are civilians. Terrorists are civilians. Innocence is beyond even the courts to determine. The correct term is "non-combatants". HAMAS is a terrorist organization. When they co-locate with non-combatants, or protected structures such as hospitals, churches, or schools, they do not gain protection, but rather the protection normally afforded to protected persons or structures is withdrawn. The rules were written that way to provide no incentive to co-locate with protected structures or persons. All non-combatants killed in this kind of situation are the result of a war crime- a war crime committed by the terrorists of HAMAS.
1.5.2009 9:46am
Elliot123 (mail):
"The so called rocket fire took place at the end of the 6 month cease fire."

Is there a better or more accurate term to use?
1.5.2009 10:48am
mzeh (mail):
JBG,

You are kidding, right? Are you honestly saying that you don't believe that the amorphous definition of the Lobby was not a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis? Yes or no? DB has the right to assume a basic level of knowledge and understanding of context on the part his readers. Basic knowledge is not a mind-reading skill. Apart from your own fifth link of your cherry-picked list, try the following (another three minutes on Google):

link, link, link, link

So let's get this straight. You presented a quote from DB saying: "In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International" . But you don't think it was relevant to point out that DB was purposely using a non-standard definition which has been much criticized (including by him). You don't think the context of using that definition is relevant. Yes, you provided a link but you know well that most people (yourself excluded) do not have the time to follow every link in a message board.

In my first posting, I said that I didn't know if you were being mendacious or just stupid. I guess the answer is clear- it is both.

I'll give you one last chance to redeem yourself. Given the latest discussion, do you think that DB's quote contradicts his current assertion: "I don't believe I've ever said that HRW or Amnesty is anti-Israel per se"?
1.5.2009 11:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I made clear from the beginning that while that video was being widely cited, I had obvious doubts about its authenticity. As soon as someone pointed to evidence that it was fraudulent, I cited it. That's called being honest. Nonetheless, this is the sort of thing that happens when there's an invasion and the invading country refuses -- even in the face of an order from its own Supreme Court -- to allow journalists to see what it is doing.
Yet more fake-but-accurate argument. He posted something he didn't think was true, but thinks that it's okay because he admitted that it might not be true? And besides, it's not his fault but Israel's fault that he did this.
1.5.2009 12:44pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
So let's get this straight. You presented a quote from DB saying: "In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International" . But you don't think it was relevant to point out that DB was purposely using a non-standard definition which has been much criticized (including by him). You don't think the context of using that definition is relevant. Yes, you provided a link but you know well that most people (yourself excluded) do not have the time to follow every link in a message board.

In my first posting, I said that I didn't know if you were being mendacious or just stupid. I guess the answer is clear- it is both.
Note that when explained to JBG that he didn't understand the context of Bernstein's comments, he has dug his heels in and refused to admit that he misunderstood; instead, he has (a) blamed it on Bernstein and (b) even insinuated that Bernstein has changed his views.
1.5.2009 12:47pm
Andre (mail) (www):
mzeh,

The link I provided states categorically that Israel's leadership planned this offensive from day 1 of the truce. The fact that it has coincided with the even of the Israeli elections is so blatant that only an ideologue could not see the obvious fact that it was pre determined.

"Well, try this link which directly contradicts you link
"

How does it contradict my link? It just supports the claim that in early November, the Olmert government had already laid plans for the siege.

So you agree that, Israel was supposed to lift the blockade during the truce, and thus was in violation of the truce form the very beginning. That you for your honesty.

There were no rockets fired until the end of the true, so your claim that "every time they relaxed the restrictions there was no reduction in the rockets" is false.
1.5.2009 3:02pm
Elliot123 (mail):
How about counting the words in all the posts in question by both Bernstein and Greenwald?
1.5.2009 4:36pm
mzeh (mail):
Andre,

I try to be honest - I don't see the point in denying what is clearly a fact. It is true that Israel was supposed to lift the blockade under the truce and that Israel did not so. Israel's claim is that that they did not do so because of continuing rocket fire. You continue to say they are lying but you have not provided a single piece of evidence to prove this. Here is another link from Haaretz contradicting your view. Please provide some support for your claim - until then I will continue to regards it as reckless.

With regards to Israel preparing for the current action for six months, I really don't see what this shows. As Flavius Vegetius Renatus said: "Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum".
1.5.2009 4:54pm
Andre (mail) (www):
mzeh,

I appreciate your honesty, but I take take whatever Hamas or Israeli say with a gain of salt. Both have something to hide and both are therefore prone to lying. Israel is blocking reporters from entering Gaza as we speak. I'm sure you would agree, this policy is not born of a concern for he welfare of those journalists.

This comes back to the chicken and the egg argument. Which came first and did the rocket fire come before or after the blockade? With a blockade in place from day 1, does that not contradict the notion of any ceasefires at all?

The Israeli siege came as no surprise. News reports about the siege were circulating for quite some time. Israel would have us believe it's military option was the only one they had, when in fact, they had another, to lift the blockade. The story goes that there would have been no point in doing so because Hamas, being Hamas, would have responded with violence anyway.

Thank you for your link. What is telling is the double standards at play here. Hamas are thugs, I grant you that, but they are also expected to have ultimate control over every militant group in Gaza, and their failure to reign them in is somehow proof that they are endorsing all the mortar and rocket attacks. Now compare this to Israel, who's government is infinitely more organized and efficient,t and their inability to prevent the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank. If they can;t control their population, then how is Hamas, who reside over a far more desperate constituency, supposed to do it?
1.5.2009 7:13pm
John Moore (www):
@Andre
I notice you are still ducking the "why" questions.


Hezbollah were never a threat to Israel, but they have given Israel a bloody nose on both occasions that Israel have taken them on.

I wonder how you define "threat?" A notably hostile, terrorist pseudo-government, armed with weapons able to easily target a large part of your population, with a history of attacking you, is not a threat? They may not, by themselves, represent an existential threat, but they are certainly a threat.

It did NOT state that Iran is not now pursuing nuclear weapons.


Wrong again. It said that there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. 16 Intel agencies came to the same conclusion.


From the CFR (emphasis mine):
Despite a U.S. intelligence finding in November 2007 that concluded Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Bush administration officials continue to warn that Iran seeks to weaponize its nuclear program. Nonproliferation experts note Iran's ability to produce enriched uranium continues to progress but disagree on how close Iran is to mastering capabilities to weaponize.



To this day, in spite of the most intrusive IAEA inspection regime ever, the IAEA has concluded with 100% certainty hat Iran in NOT diverting any nuclear material from it's domestics program.


That is NOT the same as concluding that they have no nuclear weapons program. They would be fools to divert their nuclear material until it had reached weapons grade enrichment and they were ready to "break out."

In the same sense, Japan has not diverted any of its tons of Pu to a weapons program, but it is generally acknowledged that they could produce Pu-based weapons within a few months, should they choose to. And as you know, Pu based weapons are much harder to make than simple (assembly) HEU weapons. The latter are so easy to make and predict that the US never tested the design of its HEU weapon before dropping it on Hiroshima. The Pu weapon had to be tested (at Trinity Site), and was then dropped on Nagasaki.


So what is your point? Was evidence suppressed that contradicted the findings of the 16 intelligence agencies that came to the said conclusion?


"16 intelligence agencies came to said conclusion" is simply misleading. They did not. Not even the CIA was in 100% agreement with that conclusion.

Rubbish again. Iran has never had anywhere close to the sufficient amount of HEU to produce a bomb.

Of course not. At least, not in their declared program. But what they do have is the capability to rapidly produce it:
According to the IAEA, Iran is capable of enriching to about 4.7 percent. David Albright, an expert on Iran's nuclear program and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, estimates Iran produced roughly 150 kg of LEU in the first five months of 2008 (PDF). Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, says if Iran were to stockpile sufficient LEU they would be able to produce 25 kg of weapons-grade uranium for production of a single bomb "within a couple of months." Iran is using centrifuges to enrich uranium hexafluoride gas, increasing the concentration of uranium-235. Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Mother Jones Iran would have to have between " 600 and 700 kilos" of LEU to make enough HEU for a single bomb.



Sorry, I should have said that the IAEA was unable to verify that Iran was not weaponizing its nuclear program. Note the suspicion in their language:
"The one outstanding issue that is relevant to Iran´s past activities is the so-called alleged studies involving possible weaponization activities. ... After a period during which Iran was reluctant to fully discuss this issue, Iran finally agreed in the work plan to address it. Iran continues to maintain that these alleged studies either relate to conventional weapons only, or are fabricated. However, a full-fledged examination of this issue has yet to take place."


BTW, the IAEA failed to detect North Korea's covert HEU program until NK had tested a weapon. The Nork's overt program, of course, never leaked any material to weapons work (just like Iran) until they decided to break out.



"Iran has repeatedly claimed great progress in their "civilian" program."



So what? Domestic nuclear programs require 3-4% enrichment, not 90-95%. And please, don't embarrass yourself by suggesting that it is a trivial matter of increasing the enrichment from 4% to 95%.

Many experts have pointed out that the technology that Iran is using is quite capable of performing that enrichment, and the increasing number of centrifuges greatly accelerates that. It is not a trivial matter to enrich uranium at all, but once a good enrichment technology is going, it is not that difficult to increase the enrichment dramatically.




"Why does Iran have a "civilian" nuclear program?"



Good question. Why don't you ask Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfled, who in 1967, said it was a smart startergy for Iran to adopt a domestic nuclear power program?

Answering a question with an out of date, out of context question.



Furthermore, Iranian leaders have repeated stated their goal to destroy Israel.



gee, why am I not surprised you would recycle that lie, which has been so thoroughly debunked it's becoming boring. No Iranian leader has said their goals was to destroy Israel. You now it and everyone else knows it.

I'm not going to bother to look that up for you. It's too easy. Aahmenijhad(frequently) and Rafsanjani(Dec 2002) have both stated the desirability of nuking Israel, even with the inevitable counterstrike.


Iran is repeatedly threatened by the US and Israel. Why would it not build up it's military when Israel and the US are doing so? And what are the sophisticated weapons they are providing to Hezbollah and Hamas? The rockets being used are home made and are embarrassingly crude.


Okay, why do the US and Israel threaten Iran? Please explain.

Explain the "embarrassingly crude" rockets (Qassam) to the totally innocent Israeli citizens who were intentionally targeted and killed by them.

As for the sophisticated weapons, how about state-of-the-art Kornet ATM's and the older SAM-7s (*designed* by Russia and provided by Iran). Homemade? Hardly. Also, none of the weapons Hezbollah fired at Israel in 2006 were home made. The grad rockets being fired by Hamas are likewise Iranian supplied (initially Russian designed).


So no. Iran has never threatend to destroy Israel. Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program. Of course, if you have proof, feel free to link to it.

It is clear that the only proof you would accept would be a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv.


Like I said, Iran is no threat.


That is such an absurd statement that I am amazed you would make it. No threat? None. Zip. Nada?

So the US and Israel are concerned about Iran for what reason? You never seem to be able to answer that question, just like you didn't answer it for why Israel would choose to bomb and invade Gaza.


Rattle snakes may be nasty creatures, but I take it they leave you alone so long as you don't piss them off, and if you are so inclined, I'm sure they are easy enough to kill.


My full comment invited you to come over here and sleep with them. That is dangerous. Israel, by proximity, has no choice but to sleep in the same bed as the Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, and given Iran's IRBMs, with Iran itself.

Rattlers are also something one must be continuously on alert for if one is in their neighborhood, just like Iran.
1.5.2009 10:22pm
Yankev (mail):

I can't quite tell if you guys are being mendacious or just stupid. In any event, the quote used to prove Prof Bernstein wrong ("...In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International...")
Based on JBG's idee fixe' that Chabad is a Zionist organization, his denial of the fact that Satmar raises money for the support of impovershed Jews in Eretz Israel and his insistence that Wikipedia knows more about Orthodox Judaism than any of the Orthodox Jews who post at VC, I know which way my vote goes. I express no opinion as to billooooh.
1.7.2009 11:33am
Yankev (mail):
Security Geek

So, I care more about the deaths of innocents that I am helping pay for.
Does that mean that you are in favor of cutting off US aid to the PA, given that the number of terrorist incidents by the PA rise and fall with the amount of monetary aid they receive? Or that the US issued M-16s and ammunition should be taken away from the US trained PA "security forces", many of whom have turned their weapons on innocent Israelis?
1.7.2009 11:36am
Yankev (mail):
tsotha

Marx would have been appalled.

Marx would have been appalled if you had called him Jewish. Marx had very little use for Jews ethnically or religiously.

There seems to be some equivocation over the term "Jewish" Once can be of course be a leftist and be of Jewish ethnicity, as would be the case with Trotsky. Being the child of a Jewish mother, he would be considered Jewish according to the laws of the Jewish religion. But Trotsky did not consider himself ethnically or religousluy Jewish, and had no use for Jewish religion or ethnicity -- the revolution made those capitalist concepts outmoded.

I'm not sure what Anonymous12345 meant when he said "lecftist"; the term covers a good deal of ground. Certaily one cannot favor the abolition of private property nor revolutionary socialism and still be an adherent to the Jewish religion. Regardless of what Oren may think. Then again, since Oren talks about "expulsion from the clan" he may be speaking of Jewish ethnicity, in which case he is of course correct, nor is he a leftist in the sense that say Marx or Trotsky were.
1.7.2009 11:45am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Being the child of a Jewish mother, he would be considered Jewish according to the laws of the Jewish religion."

Technical question: Is there some cut off under these laws? For example, is someone considered Jewish under the laws if she is completely unaware of any Jewish heritage, but does have an unbroken maternal lineage to an avowed and recognized Jewish woman? Is there some point where either ignorance, neglect, or indifference negates the Jewishness?
1.7.2009 3:07pm
Yankev (mail):

Technical question: Is there some cut off under these laws? For example, is someone considered Jewish under the laws if she is completely unaware of any Jewish heritage, but does have an unbroken maternal lineage to an avowed and recognized Jewish woman?
You are describing Madeline Albright for one, and no, there is no cut-off point for purposes of Jewish law. If Ms. Albright or her children (does she have any? ) were to decide to live as a Jew, no conversion would be necessary.
1.8.2009 9:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mzeh:

try the following (another three minutes on Google)


First you said that. Then you said this:

you know well that most people … do not have the time to follow every link in a message board


Your irony impairment is severe. You're arguing that it's unfair to interpret something bernstein said on a certain topic without taking into account a bunch of his other posts on that topic (as if everyone has time to spend "another three minutes on Google" to find his prior posts). And then in your next breath you dismiss the fact that I offered a link, because "most people … do not have the time to follow every link in a message board." Nice double standard.

Here's an idea: pick one story and stick with it. As it is, you're telling a bunch of different stories at once.

Are you honestly saying that you don't believe that the amorphous definition of the Lobby was not a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis?


Are you honestly saying that there's no difference between saying "broad" and "absurdly broad?" Because if there is a difference, then you need to explain why bernstein didn't use the latter term in 2007. And if there isn't a difference, then you need to explain why you think it matters that bernstein did use the latter term in 2006. For some strange reason you still haven't explained why we should consider the word important, but also consider the omission of the word unimportant.

you don't think it was relevant to point out that DB was purposely using a non-standard definition which has been much criticized (including by him)


Except that he didn't say he was "purposely using a non-standard definition." He simply said he was using a "broad" definition. And you're kidding no one by implying that there is such a thing as a "standard" definition of the Israel Lobby.

do you think that DB's quote contradicts his current assertion: "I don't believe I've ever said that HRW or Amnesty is anti-Israel per se"?


I addressed this question here.

==================
nieporent:

he has dug his heels in and refused to admit that he misunderstood


The issue is not whether or not I "misunderstood" something. The issue is what bernstein actually said.

even insinuated that Bernstein has changed his views.


I 'insinuated' nothing, because 'insinuate' means to hint about something bad or wrong. And there's nothing wrong with bernstein changing his views about something. And the idea that he changed his views is a logical way to interpret this fact: he changed the way he expressed himself.

==================
elliot:

How about counting the words in all the posts in question by both Bernstein and Greenwald?


That's a good idea. I have already made that suggestion. Let us know what you come up with.

==================
yankev:

JBG's idee fixe' that Chabad is a Zionist organization


It's not exactly that they're Zionist (they resist that label). It's that they're definitely not anti-Zionist. I proved it.

his denial of the fact that Satmar raises money for the support of impovershed Jews in Eretz Israel


Your reading comprehension is exceptionally poor. I didn't deny that fact. I denied a different fact. I denied this statement of yours:

they encourage Jews to settle in Eretz Yisrael


That statement is baloney. I proved it.

Let's review. I caught you posting a falsehood ("they encourage Jews to settle in Eretz Yisrael"). Instead of taking responsibility for posting this falsehood, you are trying to cover it up by posting another falsehood ("[jbg denied] that Satmar raises money for the support of impovershed Jews in Eretz Israel"). Very impressive.

his insistence that Wikipedia knows more about Orthodox Judaism than any of the Orthodox Jews who post at VC


Oh, the irony. It completely escapes your notice that your pals mzeh and nieporent were relying completely on wiki for the key text they keep promoting. Whereas I was citing chabad and satmar directly.
1.8.2009 6:11pm
mzeh (mail):
JBG,


Your irony impairment is severe. You're arguing that it's unfair to interpret something bernstein said on a certain topic without taking into account a bunch of his other posts on that topic (as if everyone has time to spend "another three minutes on Google" to find his prior posts). And then in your next breath you dismiss the fact that I offered a link, because "most people … do not have the time to follow every link in a message board." Nice double standard.

Here's an idea: pick one story and stick with it. As it is, you're telling a bunch of different stories at once.


Even for you, this is sloppy reasoning. My point is that a link does not make up for a horribly misleading quote taken out of context - not that links should never be used

Let's review the whole "saga"

You posted the quote: "...In the United States, the presumptive anti-Israel lobby includes … NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International..." as evidence that DB regards the NGO's as anti-Isreal per se. (Perhaps you should also look up the definition of "per se").

I pointed out the context of the previous sentence: ""With the Mearsheimer and Walt book "The Israel Lobby" due out next month, I thought I'd preemptively discuss "the anti-Israel Lobby," using a similarly broad definition for the "anti-Israel Lobby" as M &W do for the "Israel Lobby"

The previous sentence was all that was needed for context. Educated readers of the blog who have followed the M&W controversy would immediately know that the thesis has been regularly criticized because of the broad / amorphous definition of the lobby. Strangely you disputed this. In defense of your indefensible position, you provided a series of links to Volokh postings on M&W that you said did not include this criticism. I responded by pointing out that one of your links actually did and I added an additional four links on point. If you are still wedded to this ignorant position, here is an external to the VC two-fer link: Daniel Drezner commenting favorably on Harvard Crimson piece making this very point.

You still refuse to admit that your post was misleading and you refuse to say forthrightly whether DB contradicted himself (Yes or No).

On a second issue, what on earth makes you think I am an Orthodox Jew? I am not. Just more sloppy reasoning / assumptions on your part. But I guess you are embarrassed by your boneheaded mistake on the definition of Eretz Israel which the Orthodox here pointed out rather gleefully (and it is really amusing how, typical to form, you claimed you knew this all along).

Your debating skills may be weak, but they still dwarf your integrity. I gave you a chance to redeem yourself but you refused to accept (I assume your ego won't let you). I have reached the conclusion that it is pointless to enter into debate with someone of your ilk. So in the future, I will do my best to simply ignore your postings knowing that any evidence / links you provide will be severely questionable. I may, however, point people back to this exchange from time to time as evidence of your lack of credibility.
1.8.2009 9:58pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mzeh:

the thesis has been regularly criticized because of the broad / amorphous definition of the lobby. Strangely you disputed this.


What I disputed was this claim you made:

Are you honestly saying that you don't believe that the amorphous definition of the Lobby was not a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis?


If it was true that "the amorphous definition of the Lobby was … a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis," then that issue would not just be raised in some of bernstein's M&W articles. It would be raised in most or all of them. You are making a big fuss about the fact that this issue is raised in some of those articles. Big deal. I never claimed the issue is never mentioned. It's just not mentioned as often as one would expect, if your claim was true.

You still refuse…


You still refuse to answer the simple and fair questions that I've now asked several times.

what on earth makes you think I am an Orthodox Jew?


What on earth makes you think that I think that you're an Orthodox Jew? When I said some people are "pals," that just means they are expressing similar views.

your boneheaded mistake on the definition of Eretz Israel


If you are claiming I made a "boneheaded mistake," then you should cite my text, and prove there was a mistake. Why haven't you done so?
1.8.2009 10:37pm
mzeh (mail):
JBG,

I know I said you weren't worth debating, but I couldn't imagine that you would continue to dispute that "the amorphous definition of the Lobby was not a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis". You somehow believe that for this to be true it should be discussed in "most or all" of all postings that mentions M&W, no matter what the purpose of the posting is. Ok, why don't we look at your nine links in order:

1) Premise: - M&W are arrogant not anti-semitic
2) DB did not even write this - yet another error on your part (and yes, you did say he did)
3) Premise - M&W received a book contract: does not deal with specific criticisms
4) Premise - alleged censorship of the book: does not deal with specific criticisms
5) Actually does comment on the amorphous nature of the Lobby
6) Premise: influence of M&W in the Arab world: does not deal with specific criticisms
7) Premise: M&W are "asking for trouble" by claiming dual loyalty on the part of US jews
8) Premise: There are many people criticizing the thesis: does not deal with specific criticisms
9) Actually does comment on the amorphous nature of the Lobby: "And exactly who is "the lobby"? Just in the blogosphere, Mearsheimer and Walt have been criticized by a huge range of bloggers who have no connection with any organized pro-Israel lobbying group, or each other"

Ok, so of your nine links: one is not by DB, two did reference the amorphous nature and four do not give specific criticisms. I'll be generous and grant you links 1 and 7 (But even those are questionable). I provided another 4 posting by DB that do reference the amorphous nature. Why don't you do the math.

I'm rather comfortable with my assertion. One last chance for you to show some integrity.
1.9.2009 10:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
one is not by DB


You're right, I made a mistake. Big deal. Sue me.

Why don't you do the math.


Combining the posts I cited and the posts you cited, it seems that about half the time bernstein mentioned "the amorphous nature" and half the time he didn't. In my opinion, it would be mentioned more if "the amorphous definition of the Lobby was … a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis."

You have a different opinion? Good for you. Another big deal. You're using misdirection to continue to duck questions that are obvious and simple. Scroll up if you forgot what they are.

Here's a reminder about one of them: what is the exact text of my "boneheaded mistake?"

And here's another one: what on earth makes you think that I think that you're an Orthodox Jew?

And here's another one: why is it fair to expect readers to be familiar with all of bernstein's prior posts on the subject, even though he provided links to none of those posts, but not fair to expect readers to use the link I provided to examine the full context of the quote I cited?
1.9.2009 11:24am
mzeh (mail):
JBG,

You just don't know when to quit.

As regards the Orthodox Jew issue, let's review the context:

Yankev, stated "his (JBG's) insistence that Wikipedia knows more about Orthodox Judaism than any of the Orthodox Jews who post at VC"
Your response: "Oh, the irony. It completely escapes your notice that your pals mzeh and nieporent were relying completely on wiki for the key text they keep promoting. Whereas I was citing chabad and satmar directly."

You now claim that the reference to me and Nieporent is somehow divorced from the reference to "Orthodox Jews". This seems quite unlikely, particularly since Nieporent has identified himself as Orthodox. For many people, I might believe your interpretation. Given your track record, you can excuse me doubting you.

Your bone-headed mistake was here . The error was pointed out by both Nieporent and Yankev. Your protest in later posts that this was not a mistake is just laughable as it contradicts the point you were trying to make (or maybe you are just very, very, very bad at logic - if so I unequivocally apologize to you).

So you continue to deny that " the amorphous definition of the Lobby was … a primary (if not the primary) criticism of the thesis." This is frankly just insane. By my count, in posts that include specific criticisms, the amorphous nature is mentioned six out of 8 times. Please name another criticism is mentioned more often.

For the last time, I don't expect readers to to "be familiar with all of bernstein's prior posts on the subject." I do expect educated readers to know that the amorphous nature of the lobby has been a criticism (yes, a primary - if not the primary - criticism) of the M&W thesis. I do expect you, given your ubiquitous presence on this blog, to know this. So I do expect you to include the immediate previous sentence of the quote that shows the context. The fact that you continue to claim that your original quote was copacetic without the context is very telling.

As a final comment, this whole exchange is all a little silly. You engaged in a childish game of gotcha with DB. I pointed out that your gotcha was mistaken because you took a quote out of context (I was also playing gotcha). I expected you to either acknowledge this or ignore my posting. I never expected you to protest your accuracy. I will never again be able to take anything you say seriously.
1.9.2009 12:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mzeh:

You now claim that the reference to me and Nieporent is somehow divorced from the reference to "Orthodox Jews"


You now claim that I'm somehow responsible for something yankev said. But I'm not. It was him, not me, who made a comment about who might or might not be "Orthodox." Here's an idea: deal with what I actually said, not your fantasy of what you think I meant.

Nieporent has identified himself as Orthodox


Not that it matters, but he did not do so in that thread. So there you go again, pretending it's relevant to drag in something someone may have said in some prior thread that no one mentioned.

Your bone-headed mistake was here . The error was pointed out by both Nieporent and Yankev.


Except that they didn't point out an "error." They pretended that I said something I didn't say. They pretended that I said "State of Israel" is translated as "Eretz Yisroel." But that's not what I said.

And it seems that your (collective) purpose in pretending I said something I didn't say is to direct attention away from the question you're still ducking: where is there evidence that Schneerson "refused to call the state by name?" Aside from a very thinly-sourced statement made by an anonymous wiki contributor, you have none. And I presented evidence contrary to that statement.

I do expect you to include the immediate previous sentence of the quote that shows the context. The fact that you continue to claim that your original quote was copacetic without the context is very telling.


The fact that you continue to pretend that the previous sentence says something it didn't say is telling. This is the previous sentence you're making a fuss about:

With the Mearsheimer and Walt book "The Israel Lobby" due out next month, I thought I'd preemptively discuss "the anti-Israel Lobby," using a similarly broad definition for the "anti-Israel Lobby" as M &W do for the "Israel Lobby".


Here's what you said:

Bernstein (and others) have regularly made it clear that the definition of Israel Lobby in M&W is ridiculously over-broad and he is using a similarly over-broad definition of the anti-Israel lobby for that particular posting as a debating point.


You still haven't explained why bernstein said "broad," if what he actually meant was "ridiculously over-broad." Then again, maybe you're claiming the extra words have no meaning. But if so, why did you use them? Likewise, why did bernstein say "absurdly broad" in 2006, and just "broad" in 2007? Here's one possible explanation: he decided he had been making an absurdly broad claim. What's your explanation?

I didn't include the previous sentence because all it says is that bernstein is using a "broad" definition. In my opinion, that doesn't add much meaning or information. And I think you have the same opinion, which would explain why you jumped in to suggest that the sentence said something stronger ("ridiculously over-broad"), even though that's not what the sentence said.

Here's an idea: deal with what bernstein actually said, not your fantasy of what you think he meant. And that's your pattern in all these three examples ("Orthodox Jews," "Eretz Yisroel," and "absurdly broad"). In all three instances, you're responding to that you think someone meant, as an excuse to avoid dealing with what they actually said.
1.11.2009 7:55am
mzeh (mail):
JBG,

This is really not worth my time. Your points above have been refuted multiple times already. Simply put, if you won't accept you were wrong where you were caught red-handed taking a quote clearly out of context, then there is no point in continuing a discussion with someone as dishonest as you.
1.12.2009 8:27am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
you were caught red-handed taking a quote clearly out of context


Uh, no. You were caught red-handed pretending various people said things they didn't actually say.
1.12.2009 10:20am
mzeh (mail):
The quotes I chose were clear - it takes considerable wriggling to try prove otherwise.

So you still will not accept that the context ("using a similarly (W&M) broad definition for the "anti-Israel Lobby") is relevant to the quote you cherry-picked.

Wow. Just wow.
1.22.2009 7:11am

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