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No Double Standards Here:

The government, fed up with rebel attacks and failed diplomacy, and rejecting international calls for further negotiations, is invading a densely populated terrorist stronghold, vowing to crush the terrorists, who claim to represent a liberation movement of an oppressed ethnic group, once and for all. The United Nations has rushed to condemn the government in question, the media is highlighting every casualty and blurring the line between civilian and military casualties by including both in its constant updates of the death count, anti-government rallies have broken out throughout the world, and the leaders of the government are being accused of war crimes.

Not Israel and Hamas, but Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers, a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives, and has displaced hundreds of thousands more, all in recent years. Oh, yeah, one other dissimilarity; the last sentence of the previous paragraph is completley untrue vis a vis the Sri Lankan/Tamil Tiger conflict.

Thanks to Eugene Kontorovich for informing me about the current action in Sri Lanka, which I had somehow managed to miss...

Oren:
Well, this is the paradox of the 20th century continued -- which ethnic groups deserve to have their own sovereign nation? From Northern Ireland, through the Balkans and the Caucuses and over to Bangladesh, I've yet to see a persuasive normative answer.

In some sense, this is the fruit of the sort of intolerant idealistic democratic sentiment that refuses to acknowledge that democracy itself gives no solution on how to define the borders of a democratic state nor does it provide an answer about when such a state should accede to a demand by some fraction of it to secede.
1.3.2009 9:45pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I think that there are two factors. One is that Jewish lives are worth less than others. The other is that Arabs are widely perceived as noble and cuddly by non-Arabs, whereas few people know anything about groups like the Tamil.
1.3.2009 10:05pm
Ricardo (mail):
Oren, a lot depends on the history of the territory as well as the viability of any autonomous regions or independent countries that would be created. Committing genocide against a population (as Pakistan did against the Bengalis and as Milosevic did against the Albanians) strengthens the case for independence. But there's certainly no argument from first principles. In Rwanda, separating Hutus and Tutsis is simply impossible as I understand it. On the other hand, in the Balkans, ethnic cleansing was "successful" enough that it was easier to carve out separate countries from the territory of Yugoslavia -- although Bosnia still has a large Serb population.
1.3.2009 10:07pm
Cornellian (mail):
for informing me about the current action in Sri Lanka, which I had somehow managed to miss

That's the key difference - hardly anyone in America knows or cares what goes on in Sri Lanka. I'd be surprised if more than 2% of the population could find it on a map. For Israel, I'd guess about 10% of Americans could point it out.
1.3.2009 10:10pm
Kelly (mail):
I don't think it's really a double standard - as your last sentence indicates, there is a huge lack of knowledge/awareness about the Tamil Tigers and the situation in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has been fighting the Tigers on and off for the last 25 years and most people have no idea that the conflict exists, much less what it is about (most couldn't find Sri Lanka on a map....). I consider myself fairly well-informed, but I only know about the conflict through a couple of friends who are Sinhalese. I don't think I've ever seen any mainstream coverage of the conflict, and certainly nothing that approached the level of coverage that Israel/Gaza gets.

When nobody knows anything about an issue, there's much less incentive for everyone involved (or those not involved) to posture and condemn. It's easier all around to just ignore a complex conflict.
1.3.2009 10:13pm
Joshua House (mail) (www):

It's easier all around to just ignore a complex conflict.


The ultimate fallacy is that the conflicts in the Middle East are century-old, traditional feuds instead of complex, political conflicts.

Every conflict in the Middle East is just as complex as relations between Taiwan and China or Russia and Georgia. The Media likes simple conflicts, and it passes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of as such. Evidently, the conflict sells pretty well.
1.3.2009 10:25pm
randal (mail):
David, people (like Glenn Greenwald) keep telling you the answer:

Lots of people in the world feel like they have a stake in the various Israeli conflicts, and they find Israel's actions to be largely counterproductive in the big picture.

This legitimate sentiment gets expressed in many ways, some of them disingenuous or seemingly hypocritical, as you are always the first to point out. But it's also disingenuous for you to pretend you don't understand what's going on.

Additionaly, Israel's PR failure is epic. They are the Goliath, already a tough position for inspiring sympathy, then they do things like build walls and settlements. I know you're angry that it matters, but it matters. Israel's PR failure opens the door for legitimate policy disgreements to spiral into talk of war crimes etc. Playing the victim isn't working, try a new defence that people can take seriously!
1.3.2009 10:30pm
Jack49 (mail):
Amazing post. It is almost as if one of these countrie was our closest ally in its region, a large recipient of foreign aid and military hardware, and a major topic of consernation by libertarian law bloggers while the other is barely on the radar screen of legal bloggers whose last name begins with Bern and ends with stein.

Keep it up Berny! We all need ya!
1.3.2009 10:38pm
Reader5000:
WONT SOMEBODY THINK OF THE JEWS
1.3.2009 10:52pm
Anonymous12345:
This double-standard is totally "Israel"'s fault. The Zionist entity's Leftist masters elected a pacifist approach - they failed to war against the little arab Eichmanns in Gaza, allowed fascist Moslems to vote, failed to retaliate when Iran declared war this year, etc . . . .

If Israel stopped treating Mohammedan life more preciously than Moslems do - there would be Peace. Israel acts like a housewife who saw a mouse, every time a little arab Eichmann warrior loses.

Israel elected a pacifist approach, and is paying the consequences.
1.3.2009 10:54pm
pmorem (mail):
They are the Goliath, already a tough position for inspiring sympathy,

I don't understand how a country of 7 million is "Goliath".
Iran amd Egypt are both 10 times its size. Syria is 2.5x the size. I find that perspective to be odd.
1.3.2009 10:59pm
TGGP (mail) (www):
Can someone point me to some running links on casualties in Sri Lanka? I didn't know they were being tallied differently than in Israel.

One difference between the Middle East and Sri Lanka is that the U.S sends less aid to the latter, so Americans likely feel they have less "say".

My own suspicion for the lack of coverage in Sri Lanka: the cognitive dissonance Westerners must experience with the concept of violent hawkish Buddhist monks.
1.3.2009 11:01pm
randal (mail):
I don't understand how a country of 7 million is "Goliath".

Really!? You don't find any military imbalance there?
1.3.2009 11:08pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Several commenters mention that there are legitimate reasons why Americans are much more interested in Israel than in Sri Lanka. Granted, but my post was not America-centric, and America's interest in Israel doesn't explain the actions of the U.N., the anti-war demonstrations in cities worldwide, the disproportionate attention paid to Israel by "human rights" groups and "international law" advocates, and the lack of same regarding Sri Lanka and the Tamils. To paraphrase something someone asked me lately, is a Tamil life worth so much less than a Palestinian life (or, more likely, is it that an Israeli life is worth so much less than a Sri Lankan life)?
1.3.2009 11:17pm
c. rutherford (mail):
I must confess I do not understand what is going on here in Sri Linka. There are no Muslims involved here (or any other monotheistic religions for that matter), yet there is mass death on a much larger scale than in Palestine or elsewhere in the middle east. The neocons and Zionists would have us believe that "Islamo-fascism" is the great threat to the world. Could there be someth wrong with their world-view?
1.3.2009 11:19pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Can someone point me to some running links on casualties in Sri Lanka? I didn't know they were being tallied differently than in Israel.
While I can tell you that exactly 440 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the current war began, not only can I not tell you even approximately how many casualties there have been in Sri Lanka, and I can't even give you approximate figures for Afghanistan, a US/NATO war. Obviously, at least hundreds, perhaps thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Afghan civilians and Taliban and Al Qaeda have been killed since 2001, but no one seems to be counting. For that matter, I never heard the casualty count from the war in Yugoslovia in the 1990s. There seems to be only one conflict in which the media insist on updated the casualty count, civilian and military, daily and precisely.
1.3.2009 11:23pm
SteveA (mail):
OT question for the legal scholars:

Suppose I live in Gaza. Suppose I don't support Hamas, but I keep my mouth shut about it, for the same reason that people in parts of New Jersey who don't support the Mob keep their mouths shut.

Suppose I'm tired of the situation. I don't give a fig for Hamas, Israel, Fatah, or the Palestinian "cause." I just want to stop having to hide my feelings, stop worrying about bombs and blockades, and maybe get a better life for my kids.

What can I do?

If I lived in New Jersey, and I were tired of the Mob, I could move to, say, Iowa. No one could stop me. No one would care.

But if I happen to live in Gaza, what can I do?

Can Gazans leave Gaza? Do they need passports? (Can they even get passports?) Where can they go? What countries (or areas) are open to them? How much preparation would it take before they could leave? (Will Hamas even allow them to leave?)

These are questions out of curiosity. I'm asking because I don't know the answers. I'm not trying to start a fight, and I don't have any preset agenda. I'm just curious.
1.3.2009 11:25pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"This legitimate sentiment gets expressed in many ways, some of them disingenuous or seemingly hypocritical, as you are always the first to point out. But it's also disingenuous for you to pretend you don't understand what's going on."

OK. What's going on?
1.3.2009 11:26pm
corneille1640 (mail):

If Israel stopped treating Mohammedan life more preciously than Moslems do - there would be Peace. Israel acts like a housewife who saw a mouse, every time a little arab Eichmann warrior loses.

Actually, Eichmann was German, not Arabic.
1.3.2009 11:35pm
resh (mail):
Not to simply the analysis, but let's state the obvious: when is the last time anyone was in, say, Florida or NY and had a sandwich at the local Sri Lankan Tamils deli?

One might submit that our diplomatic interest in a region needs, minimally, to pass the mustard test....
1.3.2009 11:41pm
randal (mail):
OK. What's going on?

What I said, and what Glenn said. No one has a stake in Sri Lanka, because the Tamil Tigers are not doing things like bombing Madrid. People across the western world (not just Americans) - and by extension the UN - feel like they have a stake in the Middle East. And a lot of them feel like Israel is working against their interests by exacerbating the situation over (what feels to much of the rest of the world like) trivialities, like obviously provocative settlements of ~5 people.

Israel has made a series of PR blunders, including what I mentioned before. But underlying them all is one glaring failure (which David is continuing here): Israel has managed to perpetuate the image of not caring about the "big picture". If they tried making some sort of case that their actions were designed to ultimately benefit the people of Gaza, helping to stabilize the region, the the western public would be a lot less stressed out about it. Instead, they only talk about their right to defend themselves, which doesn't resonate at all outside of Israel and its activists. No one really cares about that, just like no one really cares about Sri Lanka.
1.3.2009 11:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
SteveA, one of the many mistakes I think Israel has made is not providing some way for Gazans who don't want to be ruled by Hamas to leave. It would be both a humanitarian gesture and a huge propaganda victory for Israel to see tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Gazans fleeing Hamas. The more plausible scenario would be for Egypt to take in Gazans, but Egypt has always behaved cruelly toward them, and shows no sign of changing.
1.3.2009 11:42pm
Kelly (mail):

To paraphrase something someone asked me lately, is a Tamil life worth so much less than a Palestinian life (or, more likely, is it that an Israeli life is worth so much less than a Sri Lankan life)?


This way of presenting the issue is hardly reasonable, Professor, or fair to those you are criticzing. I don't expect you will follow the fight against the Tigers as diligently as you will continue to monitor the Israel/Gaza situation. That doesn't mean you value a Sri Lankan life less than an Israeli one.

For the groups you mention (human rights groups looking for funding, international law advocates looking for exposure, media looking for viewers/readers, the UN looking for relevance, demonstrators looking for God-knows-what), it comes down to what will attract attention - a conflict that has received massive international attention for 60 years or an obscure fight in a little-known country on the far side of the world that even well-educated law professors have "managed to miss"? It may not be evenhanded and it certainly does not reflect well on those who continue to ignore the situation in Sri Lanka, but I think it's pretty rational.
1.3.2009 11:47pm
heh:
I was just making the very same point elsewhere. In the very same week, Sri Lanka has launched a massive ground offensive against the Tamil Tigers in a conflict that has as, if not more, brutal than anything we've seen so far between Hamas and Israel. So where are the protests? Or do those hypocrites only come out especially for Israel?

I think we know the answer.
1.3.2009 11:48pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
What I said, and what Glenn said. No one has a stake in Sri Lanka, because the Tamil Tigers are not doing things like bombing Madrid. People across the western world (not just Americans) - and by extension the UN - feel like they have a stake in the Middle East. And a lot of them feel like Israel is working against their interests by exacerbating the situation over (what feels to much of the rest of the world like) trivialities, like obviously provocative settlements of ~5 people.
Except that what brings the protesters into the streets is moral outrage; I get emails all the time from morons who compare Israel to Nazi Germany and the like. If I'm in the mood, I challenge them to forward me the similarly outraged emails they send to people about other violent conflicts around the world. So far, no one has managed to send me even one such email, including those who otherwise respond; the moral outrage is reserved for Israel, not China in Tibet, not Sri Lanka with the Tamils, not Russia in Chechnya, not NATO in Afghanistan, not Turkey and the Kurds.
1.3.2009 11:49pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I must confess I do not understand what is going on here in Sri Linka. There are no Muslims involved here (or any other monotheistic religions for that matter), yet there is mass death on a much larger scale than in Palestine or elsewhere in the middle east. The neocons and Zionists would have us believe that "Islamo-fascism" is the great threat to the world. Could there be someth wrong with their world-view?
No. While the Tamils are the only non-Muslims in the world who engage in suicide bombing, they stick to their little island (with the exception of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in India, in retaliation for India's intervention in their war in Sri Lanka.) They have no religious doctrine that holds them to be at war with non-Tamils around the world, nor do they have any international agenda at all. They don't blow up trains in Spain or subways in London or cultural centers in Argentina.
1.3.2009 11:50pm
heh:
Kelly, you're simply describing the problem and the hypocrisy. Your "explanation" fails to justify the phenomenon at all.
1.3.2009 11:50pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Generally there's also much less of a perception of Sri Lanka as being an "American" or even "European" problem. Everybody that's passed high school history can tell you that "the UN" (really the League of Nations, then United Kingdom, then UN and American interests, but I'm assuming a public high school) is a big reason why the whole Israel thing is so interesting.

Sri Lanka's been aiming for American and United Nations interest, but really they're a fairly neutral country otherwise (pro-Israel, since that's where the guns come from, anti-Kosovo) with a rather different cultural neurology than the typical Westerner.

I think it's a bit of a tragedy, though.

Can Gazans leave Gaza? Do they need passports? (Can they even get passports?) Where can they go? What countries (or areas) are open to them? How much preparation would it take before they could leave? (Will Hamas even allow them to leave?)


Excluding, for now, the logical issue with fleeing the mob to Iowa (tickets and hitmen aren't expensive...), and that Egypt has a border with the Gaza Strip, too :

Hamas has largely been preventing individuals from leaving the Strip since they took over, and Israel and Egypt's tightened down the routes on their side, too, since some of the recent messes. In 2006, I think it was easier, mostly taking money and a tourist visa (possibly a passport), but Hamas has very big reasons to lock people in.
1.3.2009 11:53pm
LM (mail):

One is that Jewish lives are worth less than others.

While there's obviously ample historical basis for this claim, I see no evidence it plays a meaningful part in the double standard. Do you know of any?

The other is that Arabs are widely perceived as noble and cuddly by non-Arabs, whereas few people know anything about groups like the Tamil.

This strikes me as arrant nonsense. Again, any evidence?

On the other hand, this recurring argument,

One difference between the Middle East and Sri Lanka is that the U.S sends less aid to the latter, so Americans likely feel they have less "say".

seems equally ill-founded. Does anyone really believe that if the US stopped aiding to Israel, the hyper-scrutiny of Israel's behavior would stop too? I'd happily be proven wrong, and I'd be happy for the aid to end. But I doubt either will happen, and even if the latter does, the former won't.
1.3.2009 11:54pm
LM (mail):
aiding to Israel.... (Preview, preview!)
1.3.2009 11:56pm
pmorem (mail):
It is necessary to equate Israel with the Nazis because that allows the Europeans to separate themselves from that little event 65 years ago, and wash their hands of the guilt.
1.3.2009 11:57pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
While there's obviously ample historical basis for this claim, I see no evidence it plays a meaningful part in the double standard. Do you know of any?

I hope the first part of that first sentence was merely stated less than clearly. I'm not sure there's any sort of historical basis that would make someone's life worth less than another individual's on the basis of race. I may be reading the phrasing incorrectly.

Generally speaking, people find it easier to justify violence in order to save valuable lives. If Israeli targets of rockets are not as worthwhile as Arabic targets of missiles, in the public awareness, the former are much harder to justify. The Christian moral system, for example, has extremely little issue with driving a legion of boars to suicide in order to save a man's life, but probably would not consider killing a legion of men to save another man's life to be as easily moral.
This strikes me as arrant nonsense. Again, any evidence?

Excluding Dadaists and a few far-eastern (India or further) religious groups, few modern peoples consider themselves anything less than noble or cuddly. Arabic cultural neurology is only a few hundreds years branched from most of the Western world, and I've been unable to find any evidence their internal policies are different than external ones.

Given some of the word choice used in newspapers or by some comments on the web, a number of people have a bias toward favorable terms when describing an obviously Arabic individual in many circumstances. That's not a bad thing, but it does lead to the cognitive bias listed above.
Does anyone really believe that if the US stopped aiding to Israel, the hyper-scrutiny of Israel's behavior would stop too? I'd happily be proven wrong, and I'd be happy for the aid to end. But I doubt either will happen, and even if the latter does, the former won't

I don't believe that removing funding would wipe the legacy of the League of Nations or pre-insanity United Nations from the history books. My apologies for presenting an untestable hypothesis, but I didn't think it was unreasonable to assume humans would be biased toward news which they had an effect on or believed themselves to be responsible for.
1.4.2009 12:06am
DanO29 (www):
SteveA wrote:
Suppose I live in Gaza. Suppose I don't support Hamas, but I keep my mouth shut about it, for the same reason that people in parts of New Jersey who don't support the Mob keep their mouths shut.


Loose lips sink wooden dhows.

Suppose I'm tired of the situation. I don't give a fig for Hamas, Israel, Fatah, or the Palestinian "cause." I just want to stop having to hide my feelings, stop worrying about bombs and blockades, and maybe get a better life for my kids.


Move to Toledo and buy a restaurant?

What can I do?


Move to Los Angeles and buy a AM-PM?

If I lived in New Jersey, and I were tired of the Mob, I could move to, say, Iowa. No one could stop me. No one would care.


While Palestinians are able to open 7-11s in Rapid City, I do believe there is or should be a law against Mooks from Jersey leaving the Garden State.

But if I happen to live in Gaza, what can I do?


Weave a rug? Slaughter a goat? Launch a Rocket?

Can Gazans leave Gaza? Do they need passports? (Can they even get passports?) Where can they go? What countries (or areas) are open to them? How much preparation would it take before they could leave? (Will Hamas even allow them to leave?)


Are you kidding me? Do you live in a remote cabin, in the middle of the Alaskan Tundra? They do not seem to have a problem immigrating to the U.S.
1.4.2009 12:09am
randal (mail):
DavidBernstein says:

What brings the protesters into the streets is moral outrage; I get emails all the time from morons who compare Israel to Nazi Germany and the like.... the moral outrage is reserved for Israel, not China in Tibet, not Sri Lanka with the Tamils, not Russia in Chechnya, not NATO in Afghanistan, not Turkey and the Kurds.

Well instead of your sortof permanent state of perplexity, why do you think that is?

1. The protesters are "morons".

2. The protesters have limited time / energy, and choose to engage in the most valuable protests to engage, which obviously are those which are most highly publicized. (Kelly's point.)

3. The protesters have limited time / energy, and choose to channel their moral outrage to the issues which they happen to have secondary interests in.

4. The protesters realize they are being somewhat disingenuous, but have decided that feigned outrage is an effective tool to achieve the actual desired results.

5. The protesters are rationally ignorant, and end up protesting what others, in particular the media, have chosen to highlight for reasons other than moral outrage.

6. The protesters realize that protesting has a sort of "network effect" where each additional protester multiplies the effects of all the others. (One person protesting is probably worse than zero since that's just pathetic.) So protesters rationally tend to join the already most-highly-represented protests.

7. Protests are not totally spontaneous, and can be manipulated to a large degree by organizers and those in contact with them, who may have motivations other than moral outrage.

Personally I feel like "all of the above" and probably more. I certainly don't think it's a big mystery.

I also think you are overstating your case a little bit. People do protest China, Darfur, Turkey, Afghanistan, Russia, and others, and probably do / will protest Sri Lanka.
1.4.2009 12:23am
tvk:
the moral outrage is reserved for Israel, not China in Tibet, not Sri Lanka with the Tamils, not Russia in Chechnya, not NATO in Afghanistan, not Turkey and the Kurds.

The analogy doesn't seem apt. People don't express moral outrage at Russia and China because it doesn't work (though China still gets its fair share on Tibet); and I doubt moral outrage directed at Sri Lanka will do much either. If NATO was doing in Afghanistan what Israel is doing in Gaza, I think you'd see some moral outrage. By this I mean the analogy to NATO in Afghanistan would be to have the Palestinian government invite Israel to pacify Gaza. So far as I know that hasn't happened yet.

For better or worse, Israel holds itself out to have higher standards than Russia or China, and is held to those standards. Personally, I don't think that is a bad thing. Moreover, were Israel to lower its standards to the pits, then I would think its military assistance from the U.S. would be endangered. Thus, while it may neither be admirable nor fair, the double standard directed to Israel makes perfect realpolitik sense. No other country in the world is both (a) a regional superpower, and (b) has that superpower status depend in great part on the goodwill of the American public.
1.4.2009 12:26am
law student 23456:
David:

If it hasn't dawned on you yet that JEWS ARE DIFFERENT then I doubt it ever will. And even though no one wants to talk about it, that is the beginning and end of the reason. Nothing more, nothing less.
1.4.2009 12:28am
DavidBernstein (mail):
"By this I mean the analogy to NATO in Afghanistan would be to have the Palestinian government invite Israel to pacify Gaza."
The Taliban "invited" the U.S. and NATO to overthrow it in 2001?
1.4.2009 12:30am
lonetown (mail):
Don't ask me, I'm still trying to figure out why Jews vote for Democrats.
1.4.2009 12:42am
Andrew MacDonald (mail):
There are also some substantive differences between the conflicts that seem relevant.

1) History of international community involvement in Israel/Palestine. Not just from the West, but also from the Arab states. In that sense, Israel/Palestine has played a central role in power politics in the world. The US would be very ill-advised to ignore the state, and previous entanglements beget future entanglements

2) From my understanding of the Sri Lanka situation, after independence, the Tamils thought the majority Sinhalese elected government was being too chauvinistic toward Tamil rights. After a period of failed political manuvering, a Tamil rebel movement formed in the predominantly Tamil area (Jaffna peninsula).

This compares to the Israel/Palestine situation in that there is not two groups claiming rights over the same piece of land as a "homeland", but rather a separatist group seeking to separate from the putative government of an area.

If all that the PA had wanted in 1991 was to cease Israeli government control over the West Bank and Gaza, then the mideast peace process would have been done a long time ago. Instead, there are the issues such as right of return, control over Jerusalem, and the settlements that make any peace proposal impossible for both sides to agree.
1.4.2009 12:46am
LM (mail):
gattsuru

I hope the first part of that first sentence was merely stated less than clearly. I'm not sure there's any sort of historical basis that would make someone's life worth less than another individual's on the basis of race. I may be reading the phrasing incorrectly.

I was quoting Bill Poser who (unapprovingly) put those words in the mouths of the Israel critics. The historical basis was the anti-Semitism to which his comment implicitly attributed part of the double standard.
1.4.2009 12:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I think no one has mentioned oil. It's natural that we would focus more attention on a region that has it.

I realize that Sri Lanka is roughly as close to the Persian Gulf as Israel is, but the politics of the Israel/Palestine conflict are intertwined with oil issues in a way that does not apply to the Sri Lanka conflict.
1.4.2009 1:01am
randal (mail):
If it hasn't dawned on you yet that JEWS ARE DIFFERENT then I doubt it ever will.

While the above is obviously nonsensical, it raises an interesting, unavoidable point: Jews are different.

First, the Jewish people have a unique history, most prominently bracketed by Exodus and the Holocaust. This has a few effects, the most often cited (including on this thread) being "European Guilt" although I would put "Propensity to Play the Victim Card" as the most counterproductive (see the JEWS ARE DIFFERENT comment above).

Second, Israel is in a unique situation, being the only current example of an invader nation operating under whatever a race/religion-neutral term for Zionism would be. (Something tells me that experiment will not be repeated.)

The closest parallel - on both counts - is probably Liberia. The guilt / victimization interplay works similarly, and look at the state of Liberia.
1.4.2009 1:04am
Anon522 (mail):
Don't forget that the Sri Lankans are "people of color," while Israelis are at least not considered people of color, though about half the Jewish population originates in Asia or Northern Africa. "Governments of color" are never held to the same standards as "whites." Has Mugabe gotten even 1/1000 of the attention of apartheid South Africa?
1.4.2009 1:06am
Grover Gardner (mail):
<blockquote>
If I'm in the mood, I challenge them to forward me the similarly outraged emails they send to people about other violent conflicts around the world.
</blockquote>

A somewhat disporportionate demand from someone who admits he doesn't know sh*t about Sri Lanka, don't you think?
1.4.2009 1:12am
Anon522 (mail):
"invader nation"

Curious that peaceful, lawful immigration to a land always settled by at least some members of one's ethnic group, and at times under their sovereignty, with the immigrants buying land from the lawful owners, constitutes an "invasion" by an "invader nation."
1.4.2009 1:13am
Ace (mail):
David,

Serious question. Are you or have you ever been a neocon? The answer to this may shed alot of light on so many things.
1.4.2009 1:20am
Ken Arromdee:
Actually, Eichmann was German, not Arabic.

"Little Eichmanns" is almost certainly a reference to Ward Churchill (though he didn't actually originate the phrase), who used it to blame Americans working in the World Trade Center for being attacked on the grounds that their government supports evil.
1.4.2009 1:31am
randal (mail):
Curious that peaceful, lawful immigration to a land always settled by at least some members of one's ethnic group, and at times under their sovereignty, with the immigrants buying land from the lawful owners, constitutes an "invasion" by an "invader nation."

invade: to enter as if to take possession

I don't think anyone was confused by the motives in play. The whole Zionist thing was pretty public.

If you are saying that the Jews possessed the territory comprising Israel all along, that's ridiculous. Obviously they possess it now, and the alleged "right of return" is something that must be negotiated. Or do you think the Palestineans continue to "possess" the land of Israel, e.g. by virtue of the fact that some live there?
1.4.2009 1:49am
David Matthews (mail):
Randal,

I spent quite a bit of my life in Liberia, and, if you're referring to the original colonization by the ACS in the 1820s-1840s, I suppose there's the vaguest of parallels -- the idea of "returning" stateless peoples to their ancestral homeland (and if this is what you're referring to, then Sierra Leone also shares many of those aspects, having been used by the British as a repatriation point for intercepted slave ships) -- but that's about where any similarities end.

The civil war that just ended in Liberia had pretty much nothing to do with Americo-Liberians, who have by and large either died out, assimilated or returned to the US. And any comparison to Zionism is tortured, at best, and belies either a complete misunderstanding of the history and realities of Liberia, or of Zionism, especially the evangelical and assimilation aims of the Americo-Liberian movement, which are distinctly different from Zionism.

William Tolbert was already dismantling the old True Whig Party in the '70's, when he was deposed by S. K. Doe and company, and by the time Charles Ghankay Taylor and the rest of the warlords overran the country from 1990 - 2003, there was really nothing remaining at all of the "Americo-Liberians," except for the burnt-out shells of the old Masonic Temples, which were destroyed during the Doe years.

Again, one of the main tenets of Americo-Liberian philosophy was the conversion and assimilation of their native brethren, which I don't think was a part of Zionism at all. (Of course, in reality the assimilation was mostly in the opposite direction.)

So I don't think there are really any lessons to be drawn for Israel if you "look at the state of Liberia." (By which, I assume you mean that Liberia's a total mess, or some such. Personally, I think it's recovering amazingly well from a decade-long bloodbath, where schools were closed and many youth were taught to torture and kill wantonly and at random. And maybe this, if nothing else, could be a positive lesson for the many Palestinian youth who have known nothing but war and killing: It is, in fact, possible to move on from that. Extremely difficult, but possible.)
1.4.2009 1:56am
Anon522 (mail):
Webster: "Invasion is the generic term, denoting a forcible entrance into a foreign country." The entrance wasn't forcible, but with the permission of the recognized rulers of the country. And depending on what you mean by "foreign," it wasn't entirely If you meant a peaceful, lawful "invasion," back to the land of one's forefather's that had always been settled by members of one's ethnic group, using a rare definition of the term, then I take back my critique. Are mexican immigrants "invading" the U.S.? If not, then the Jewish immigrants to Palestine, most of whom were looking for a safe haven and were not Zionist ideologues, certainly did not "invade" Mandatory Palestine.
1.4.2009 2:01am
SecurityGeek:
Is Sri Lanka using F-16s we paid for to kill civilians as well as terrorists? If so, Americans should probably pay better attention to how our foreign aid is being used. Thanks for pointing this out!
1.4.2009 2:16am
cubanbob (mail):
" randal (mail):
Curious that peaceful, lawful immigration to a land always settled by at least some members of one's ethnic group, and at times under their sovereignty, with the immigrants buying land from the lawful owners, constitutes an "invasion" by an "invader nation."

invade: to enter as if to take possession

I don't think anyone was confused by the motives in play. The whole Zionist thing was pretty public.

If you are saying that the Jews possessed the territory comprising Israel all along, that's ridiculous. Obviously they possess it now, and the alleged "right of return" is something that must be negotiated. Or do you think the Palestineans continue to "possess" the land of Israel, e.g. by virtue of the fact that some live there?"

Since the people who are today called "Palestinians" have not resided their since time immemorial and have indeed displaced others your point is what? Do you hold Arabs to this standard or only Jews? Should not Arabs practice what they preach and depart from the lands they have conquered from others, say like the Kurds? Come to think of it when are you packing your bags and leaving since obviously you are occupying someones land.
1.4.2009 2:22am
randal (mail):
David Matthews:

I completely agree with you. Israel is a unique situation. Any parallel is a distant one.
1.4.2009 2:23am
billooooh (mail):
Just wondering if Mr. Bernstein is still arguing that Glenn Grenwald posts "much more" about Israel than he does?
1.4.2009 2:33am
tvk:
Ah, I misunderstood your reference to Afghanistan. For the 2001 invasion by the U.S., the analogy is inapt for a very different reason: I think it is inappropriate to compare a few rockets lobbed from Gaza to 9/11. Perhaps I am being U.S. centric and the relative scales are comparable given Israel's smaller population, but it is just not the same to my mind...

A second, less important, difference is the role of permanent occupation. NATO had a fairly clear, short-term objective, if a difficult one: get in, overthrow the Taliban, set up a friendly and hopefully clean government, leave. It is not clear what Israel's objective is in Gaza, but setting up a friendly government doesn't seem possible, so long-term occupation seems quite possibly on the cards.
1.4.2009 3:38am
Gabor (mail):
The comparison is very weak. At the time of independence, in 1948, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was created and internationally recognized as a single state, a status which it continues to have. The LTTE are separatists, without international recognition (most notably, without recognition from India, home to most ethnic Tamils; India has, in fact proscribed the LTTE as a terrorist orgnaization). The Sri Lankan government has granted considerable autonomy to Tamil regions and has not restricted trade and services to these regions.
1.4.2009 5:39am
Anonymous12345:
corneille1640 writes: "Actually, Eichmann was German, not Arabic"

Ahh, true enough. The point here is that while one may personally disagree with the Left; you can acknowledge the validity of some of their arguments. After 9/11 the entire Left supported al-Qaeda and was ecstatic over the killings. (in the United States some, for political reasons, had to pretend to mourn the strategy - but even in the U.S. there was universal support for Al-Qaeda's GOALS, if not their METHODS).

But there were exceptions, and as time went on the LEADING liberal intellectual - the most important and influential thinker of the anti-war left - Ward Churchill (a plagiarist, naturally, and raging anti-semite) explained that 9/11 was America's chickens were coming home to roost. (Obama's father-figure said the same thing).

What Churchill and his acolytes support support not only al-Qaeda's GOALS, but also their METHODS. And he reveled in the slaughter of innocent because they weren't innocent at all - in his memorable phrase, the victims at the world trade center were "Little EIchmanns".

Churchill may have many philosophies with which I disagree - but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Similarly, the little arab Eichmanns are guilty - Palestine's chickens are coming home to roost.

(and by the way - the arab world supported Adolph Hilter and Nazism. Even today there are large flourishing and mainstream Nazi parties all over the Islamic world. In Syria, the SSNP - the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, who still use the swastika as their logo - is the number two party and very mainstream. Most arabs are Nazis at heart).
1.4.2009 5:54am
Oren:
Actually, much of the antisemitism in the middle east can be attributed to Soviet influence, not Nazi.
1.4.2009 6:06am
LM (mail):
Anonymous12345:

"After 9/11 the entire Left supported al-Qaeda and was ecstatic over the killings."

[...]

"... the LEADING liberal intellectual - the most important and influential thinker of the anti-war left - Ward Churchill...."

Do you really believe this stuff, or are you a left-wing troll trying to embarrass the right? That's a sincere question. Either possibility would surprise me, but both seem plausible.
1.4.2009 7:29am
Anonymous12345:
LM:

Yes. I genuinely believe that Ward Churchill represents the thinking of the mainstream anti-"war" movement. Because the Left is concerned about the blowback they don't say so explicitly - but spend some time on the website of indymedia to learn how liberals REALLY feel about Jews and Peace.

And after 9/11 I witnessed personally, and through media, thousands of anti-American, thousands of anti-Israel, thousands of anti-Semitic protests. You did as well.

But NOT ONE anti-"war" protest against al-Qaeda.

I think a reasonable conclusion is that CODEPINK, ANSWER, Rev. Wright, and the entire Left support Jihad. (again, because of political reasons they have to lie and say that they condemn both sides - but there were no such calculations outside of the US or in Islamic communities in the United States where they openly and expressly support Hamas and al-Qaeda - financially and morally).

Look no further to the heavy and unconditional support to Hamas being provided by the Left. Or the left-wing rally last week in Fort Lauderdale in support of building ovens for American Jews.

Oren writes: "Actually, much of the antisemitism in the middle east can be attributed to Soviet influence, not Nazi."

No - antisemitism in the middle-east can be attributable to the Koran and the antisemitic teachings of Mohammed. Moslems allied themselves with the Nazis (and after the Nazis lost, with the Left-wing Russians) because Moslems have always allied themselves with whoever can further the cause of Koranic genocidal antisemitism.
1.4.2009 7:57am
lonetown (mail):
We may have found Karl Rove's nom de plume!
1.4.2009 8:01am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
WRT David vs. Goliath:

Israel started out as David. It's now, militarily, Goliath.
Question is, how? Their opponents have oil money and seven and seventy times as many people, including a substantial number of young men with no prospects of a decent job or a date (due to polygamy).
Israel is now militarily Goliath because they chose to become such, and had the cultural and personal qualities to succeed. Their opponents had the money....
Israel continues to be Goliath by a massive national exertion which continues indefinitely. Whether that is sustainable is one question. Whether it's a pleasant way to live is another.
1.4.2009 8:24am
Toby:

SteveA, one of the many mistakes I think Israel has made is not providing some way for Gazans who don't want to be ruled by Hamas to leave. It would be both a humanitarian gesture and a huge propaganda victory for Israel to see tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Gazans fleeing Hamas. The more plausible scenario would be for Egypt to take in Gazans, but Egypt has always behaved cruelly toward them, and shows no sign of changing

Middle Eastern Tribalism contributes a lot. Palestinians who fled in the first A/I war, settled all over the middle east, and were among the most educated. For a long time, they were the locals running the foreign oil fields. Of course, their "brother Arabs" through them out and herded them into refugee camps...
1.4.2009 9:15am
Steve H:
I think there are a number of reasons why Israel draws more attention than Sri Lanka, all of which have to do with Israel being "western", and none of which have to do with Israelis being mostly Jewish.

The proper analogy here is South Africa in the 1980s. Maybe most of the posters are too young to remember this, but there was a time when protesters in the US and Western Europe spent far more time worrying about how South Africa treated its black citizens than how black-governed countries like Uganda treated their black citizens. South Africa was the target of protests, boycotts, calls for "divestment," etc.

This was because the South African government was considered to be Western. Therefore, for better or for worse, the protesting class in Western nations identifies more with them, expects better out of them, and (as pointed out above) feels more of a stake in what they do. Just like Israel.

Sure, the fact that the US sends a shitload of tax dollars to Israel also gives people a stake, but I really think the cultural identification is the main culprit.

I think there's a racist/tribalist component here -- there is no real reason why Western protestors should expect better conduct out of Israel and (former) South Africa than they do out of Sri Lanka and Uganda. There's also a component of responsibility for your own -- I am a lot more concerned about my own kid's behavior than a neighbor kid's.

But I don't think very much of the opposition to Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians comes from the fact that the Israelis are Jewish. So those of you feeling oppressed about it, give me a break.

By the way, someone arguing that protests are motivated by the principle that "Jewish lives are valued less than others" is pretty laughable. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed dozens of Arab civilians, purportedly to stop rocket attacks that have killed a handful of Israelis.
1.4.2009 9:33am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Steve H.
Was the Soviet Union "western" in your schema?
Because, at the time the left was rending its garments about apartheid, it was ignoring the USSR's infinitely worse actions in Afghanistan. In fact, when inquiring among certain lefty groups about why the diff, I was accused of "demonizing" the USSR.
No left/right thing here, huh? All "western"/non-"western", you think?
Good luck trying to promote that to anybody with a lick of sense.
1.4.2009 9:45am
Forman:
History. Religion. Economics.

History - for at least a century Palistine/Isreal has been the subject of intense international interest. Sri Lanka?

Religion - Christians, Muslims and Jews are weaned on the stories of Zion -- speaking both of the past and of the future. Sri Lanka?

Economics - Vast commodity interests in the region. Sri Lanka?
1.4.2009 10:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anonymous12345:

After 9/11 the entire Left supported al-Qaeda and was ecstatic over the killings.


Shortly after he invaded Afghanistan, Bush's approval ratings were 90%. That's higher than any other president, ever.

And does that mean that 10% disapproved of the invasion? No. 3-5% were "unsure," and 5-7% disapproved. And of those 5-7%, there were probably some who disapproved because they expected Bush to be more hawkish (e.g., invade sooner, more violently, and/or in more places).

So your statement might actually be correct if you define "the entire Left" as a fringe element that is a tiny percentage of the population.

the left-wing rally last week in Fort Lauderdale in support of building ovens for American Jews


The video of that rally shows exactly this many people shouting a slogan about "ovens:" one.
1.4.2009 10:35am
Anonanon1 (mail):
Yes, Israel-Palestine gets more attention. This is because America is largely responsible for the current order there, and there are moral actions we can take to improve the situation. It's not a double standard. The standard is that we concern ourselves with the moral problems that WE face, and not with problems that we can't do anything about.

If you can think of things we could do to mitigate the horrors of what is going on in Sri Lanka, which would be likely to be effective, then we should do more. But if they exist, they're certainly less blatantly obvious than what we can do in palestine (given our history of decisive action there). You'll have to forgive people for missing whatever it is that you see so clearly about the Sri Lanka case.
1.4.2009 11:31am
Steve H:

Was the Soviet Union "western" in your schema?


No.

To simplify it further, the Soviets weren't "us".

But for what it's worth, I'm not denying that there is a left-right thing going on. I think that's closely related to my point.

(But I'm not sure how the left-right angle or the Western angle explains the whole Free Tibet thing.)

My main point is that opposition to Israel's killing of Palestinian civilians is not driven by antipathy toward Jews or by some alleged belief that Jewish lives are worth less than Palestinian lives.

Anyway, there's another big difference between the Sri Lanka situation and the Israel situation. If the Tamil Tigers or their supporters laid down their arms, they would be accepted as Sri Lankan citizens, right? With equal rights (however limited they may be) as other Sri Lankan citizens?

If the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank lay down their arms, they are not going to be treated as Israeli citizens.
1.4.2009 11:42am
Anonymous12345:
jukeboxgrad:

90% approved of Bush's pacifist approach. So? If I was an al-Qaeda supporter I would have also been cheering Bush's immediate reaction which was a nonstop dhimmi speech about wonderful and peaceful Islam.

How many objected to their fellow Nazi protestor? 0. Silence is acquiescence.
1.4.2009 11:56am
PC:
When Sri Lanka becomes the second largest benefactor of American tax dollars to a foreign country (first if you don't consider Iraq), I'm sure there will be similar concerns about how those dollars are spent. $3 billion a year in tax dollars make some of us care about the affairs of some countries over others.
1.4.2009 12:52pm
Floridan:
I think DB could answer his own (implicit) question if he would explain to us why he has posted so little on the carnage in Sri Lanka.
1.4.2009 1:21pm
trad and anon (mail):
I get emails all the time from morons who compare Israel to Nazi Germany and the like. If I'm in the mood, I challenge them to forward me the similarly outraged emails they send to people about other violent conflicts around the world. So far, no one has managed to send me even one such email, including those who otherwise respond; the moral outrage is reserved for Israel, not China in Tibet, not Sri Lanka with the Tamils, not Russia in Chechnya, not NATO in Afghanistan, not Turkey and the Kurds.
Why would anyone send you an email about the Tamils? The last time I checked, every time the Israeli government decides to take any kind of hostile action against the Palestinians, you write a series of posts defending it as a necessary, laudable act of self defense and implying (but not actually saying) that anyone who disagrees is an anti-Semite (as with this post). I have yet to see you write even one such post regarding the Tamils.
Yes, Israel-Palestine gets more attention. This is because America is largely responsible for the current order there, and there are moral actions we can take to improve the situation. It's not a double standard. The standard is that we concern ourselves with the moral problems that WE face, and not with problems that we can't do anything about.
I don't think that's the whole explanation. Israel is a country with lots of white people, and white people tend to care a lot more about events involving white people than about events that don't. Of course, people have diverse motives; I'm sure anti-semitism is a major factor motivating worldwide opposition to Israeli policy.
1.4.2009 1:33pm
trad and anon (mail):
Oh, I forgot to mention: As for China in Tibet, perhaps DavidB missed the anti-China, pro-Tibet protests that popped up wherever the Olympic torch was run?
1.4.2009 1:38pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I think DB could answer his own (implicit) question if he would explain to us why he has posted so little on the carnage in Sri Lanka.
Because his wife is Israeli, not Sri Lankan?

But I don't see why protesters would care what David Bernstein's wife's nationality is.
1.4.2009 2:05pm
trad and anon (mail):
Why would anyone send you an email about the Tamils? The last time I checked, every time the Israeli government decides to take any kind of hostile action against the Palestinians, you write a series of posts defending it as a necessary, laudable act of self defense and implying (but not actually saying) that anyone who disagrees is an anti-Semite (as with this post). I have yet to see you write even one such post regarding the Tamils.
Never mind. Clearly wasn't really paying attention to what DavidB said. Point retracted.
1.4.2009 2:18pm
billoooh-again:
1.4.2009 2:41pm
Samual:
Not relevant:

While flying over arid Palestine on the way to the Teheran conference, Roosevelt while looking out the window remarked, "I wouldn't want it as my homeland."
1.4.2009 2:53pm
Fidelity (mail) (www):
Is this some sort of argument deflection? It's like when my older sister would get in trouble with my mother, and then my sister would try and blame completely irrelevant things on me in hopes my mother would deflect her anger to me. Thankfully, any rational person can tell you that bad things are always bad. War is always evil, and should always be the last resort of any nation.

Professor Bernstein, would you really like me to enumerate the reasons why Americans and Europeans feel more strongly about the Israeli issue than we do Sri Lanka?

This is just getting ridiculous, stick to writing about law. You're clearly not gaining anything continuing to write these asinine justifications for warfare.
1.4.2009 3:57pm
Talkosaurus:
Fidelity wrote:

Professor Bernstein, would you really like me to enumerate the reasons why Americans and Europeans feel more strongly about the Israeli issue than we do Sri Lanka?

This is such a disingenuous dodge, and common place in both this thread and the issue in general. It' s not a mystery why matters involving Israel hit closer to home than concerns in Asia or Africa. The issue is masking idealogical politics as humanitarian principal.

When the vast majority of criticism is leveled at Israel from commentators, it's almost always sold as a 'general principal of sticking up for human rights wherever they are threatened.' Israel-Palestine just happens to be where an issue is! But in the year 2008, with the internet at our fingertips, it's no hard task for people truly, deeply interested by conflict to become aware of multiple simmering disputes every bit as deadly, if not more so, than Israel-Palestine. Hear much about other situations? Not even a fraction as much as Israel-Palestine.

If 'concern for human rights' was really a held *principal*, we would hear much more about Russia, China, Sri Lanka, etc. When all you ever hear about is Israel or the US, that's not a principal, that's idealogical expediency.
1.4.2009 4:28pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
It is not surprising but still hard to believe that the question of state boundaries in Ceylon gets a thread at VC before Kurdistan does.

(If I've missed a thread on VC on a claim by the Kurds to a homeland, I apologize.)

The US may have less invested in Sri Lanka/Ceylon than in Israel, and less invested in Kurdish regions than in Israel, but we're catching up in Kurdistan. In terms of American blood, we're already ahead.
1.4.2009 4:52pm
PlugInMonster:
Considering far worse ethnic conflicts in Asia, the left's obsession with Israel can only point to sheer maniacal Jew-hatred.
1.4.2009 6:13pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
While the Tamils are the only non-Muslims in the world who engage in suicide bombing

This is a sly piece of anti-Muslim bigotry by David Nieperont. Suicide attacks are not new and they aren't specifically Muslim. Kamikaze pilots flew explicit suicide missions, for instance. And many, many people over the years went out on military missions that were effectively suicide missions, in the sense that they had no chance of returning alive if the mission were successful, even if they were not labeled as such.

There is a great desire among some people to paint Muslims as a uniquely barbaric civilization. And that's simple religious prejudice, not reality.
1.4.2009 7:04pm
Samual:
"Considering far worse ethnic conflicts in Asia, the left's obsession with Israel can only point to sheer maniacal Jew-hatred."

Not effective, in the least.
1.4.2009 7:11pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
When the vast majority of criticism is leveled at Israel from commentators, it's almost always sold as a 'general principal of sticking up for human rights wherever they are threatened.' Israel-Palestine just happens to be where an issue is! But in the year 2008, with the internet at our fingertips, it's no hard task for people truly, deeply interested by conflict to become aware of multiple simmering disputes every bit as deadly, if not more so, than Israel-Palestine. Hear much about other situations? Not even a fraction as much as Israel-Palestine.

If 'concern for human rights' was really a held *principal*, we would hear much more about Russia, China, Sri Lanka, etc. When all you ever hear about is Israel or the US, that's not a principal, that's idealogical expediency.
Without endorsing every word or the spelling errors, this commentor has gotten the gist of my point.
1.4.2009 7:19pm
Samual:
DB: It is certainly useful, ideologically, to indict all "protesters," "commentors," commentators" and "leftists," for whatever and every sin. It's just not much of a point.
1.4.2009 7:35pm
Former Student:
Just listening to CNN explain that while they aren't biased or unprofessional in their coverage, but it is just barely possible that some of their local affiliates may have a perfectly understandable emotional view of the conflict because CNN's reporters on the ground are usually local nationals, their own lives and families are at risk etc.

Where they lost me though was when they went on to compare their local reporter's emotional view of the situation to the average American's reaction to 9/11. What am I supposed to take away from that comparison? That Israel and Al-quaeda are morally equivalent? That 9/11 was morally justified?
1.4.2009 7:45pm
Samual:
To look at the premise more closely. Do you really think it's true that somone who concerns themselves with human rights in Isreal, or somone who concerns themself with human rights in Sri Lanka? Does not care about human rights, generally?

Or must all people who concern themselves with human rights be generalists? Who would benefit from that state of things?
1.4.2009 7:48pm
trad and anon (mail):
When the vast majority of criticism is leveled at Israel from commentators, it's almost always sold as a 'general principal of sticking up for human rights wherever they are threatened.' Israel-Palestine just happens to be where an issue is! But in the year 2008, with the internet at our fingertips, it's no hard task for people truly, deeply interested by conflict to become aware of multiple simmering disputes every bit as deadly, if not more so, than Israel-Palestine. Hear much about other situations? Not even a fraction as much as Israel-Palestine.

If 'concern for human rights' was really a held *principal*, we would hear much more about Russia, China, Sri Lanka, etc. When all you ever hear about is Israel or the US, that's not a principal, that's idealogical expediency.
Call it what you wish, but this remains an argument ad homenim (accusing your opponent of being a hypocrite, or not believing what he's saying). It is not a refutation, even if true.

My concern for universal human rights is indeed much less than it ought to be. I do not follow these conflicts nearly as closely as I should (I only follow them at all when they make the top of the front page of the BBC news site); my charitable giving to organizations supporting human rights is much less than it ought to be.

But my arguments, and the arguments of those who agree with me, are sound (or not) regardless of our degree of hypocrisy, or our secret motivations for offering them. In this case, the secret motivation is laziness: information about Israel is much easier to come by. I am not endlessly subjected to arguments defending the atrocities in Sri Lanka, but there seems to be no shortage of apologists for atrocities committed by both sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
1.4.2009 8:07pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dilan Esper,

How common are suicide bombings of non-military targets among non-Muslims, though? I suspect that's what David Nieporent meant, though of course I can't speak for him.
1.4.2009 8:31pm
Simon P:
I don't see any particular need to defend the fact that people seem to care more about claimed Israeli atrocities than they do about claimed Sri Lankan atrocities. I readily accept that this represents an inconsistency that ought to be rectified—by informing oneself about the Sri Lankan/Tamil Tiger situation and acting appropriately on what one learns. Similarly, critics of Israel ought also to inform themselves of the many other similar ongoing conflicts throughout the world.

So what?

You don't need me to tell you, David, that one's failure to criticize Sri Lanka and Israel in the same breadth undermines for that reason the criticism of Israel or of Israel's defenders. Nor does it suggest that people who fail to oppose or defend Sri Lanka's approach against the Tigers accept, as you seem to do, the moral legitimacy of Sri Lanka's approach. Yet the point of this post seems to be to suggest that these are the only two possible explanations for the "double standard" you so rightly note. They're not, and indeed to suggest that they are recalls to my mind the work of college-paper editorialists more than the sort of work one comes to expect from a learned professor of law.

There is, too, a hint of intellectual dishonesty here, in that you are raising the plight of the Tigers not because you view them to be in a plight worthy of attention, but because you feel that, by doing so, you can mount a defense of Israel's tactics. How convenient!
1.4.2009 8:32pm
Bill oh oh (mail):
Editor: This commenter has been banned twice, but keeps using new URLs to post the same nonsense.
1.4.2009 8:32pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
There is, too, a hint of intellectual dishonesty here, in that you are raising the plight of the Tigers not because you view them to be in a plight worthy of attention, but because you feel that, by doing so, you can mount a defense of Israel's tactics.
I don't feel any need to engage in further defense of "Israel's tactics" until someone tells me what military tactics they think Israel WOULD be justified in using in response to the shelling of their civilian communities. So far, everyone who has claimed to respond to the question states that Israel shouldn't engage in military tactics at all, but just negotiate, which means that they are not, in fact, questioning Israel's specific tactics, but arguing that Israel is either unwise or unjust in acting militarily at all. I'd be happy to argue about THAT point, as soon as the critics admit that that's their real point, not that Israel is engaging in "war crimes" etc.
1.4.2009 8:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anonymous12345:

90% approved of Bush's pacifist approach. So?


Bush's approval rating was 90% after he invaded Afghanistan. So either you think the invasion of Afghanistan is fairly described as "Bush's pacifist approach," or your reading comprehension is exceptionally poor. Which is it?

How many objected to their fellow Nazi protestor? 0.


You don't know how many objected. You only know how many objectors appeared in the video. And do you really think the person who edited the video would have been interested in showing us the objection, if it had happened?

==============================
When all you ever hear about is Israel or the US, that's not a principal, that's idealogical expediency.


There are criminals in lots of places, and I'm outraged by them all. But I have a special duty to be concerned about criminals who are on my payroll. Their crimes are also mine, in a way that the others are not.

This applies to criminal behavior, and it also applies to behavior that's not criminal, but is nevertheless objectionable in some way.
1.4.2009 8:50pm
SG:
Or must all people who concern themselves with human rights be generalists? Who would benefit from that state of things?

Humans?
1.4.2009 8:56pm
randal (mail):
DB says:

"If 'concern for human rights' was really a held *principal*, we would hear much more about Russia, China, Sri Lanka, etc. When all you ever hear about is Israel or the US, that's not a principal, that's idealogical expediency."

Without endorsing every word or the spelling errors, this commentor has gotten the gist of my point.


If that's what your point was, that's what you should have said. That's not what you said; you titled your post "Double Standards". The same standard is being applied to Sri Lanka and Israel; it's just that the standard isn't the one you want.

Of course, you don't even apply the standard you think everyone else should be applying. This is your first (and I expect last) post on Sri Lanka.

[EDITOR: When Glenn Greenwald, Matt Yglesias, other usual suspect bloggers, the UN, HRW, Amnesty, et al., start attacking Sri Lanka for taking moderate, limited military action in self-defense against rocket attacks on its civilian population by a terrorist group that has pledged to destroy its government and deport its population, I'll be happy to defend Sri Lanka.]
1.4.2009 8:59pm
billohmygosh (mail):
My name is Bill, and I keep posting here, even though I know I am not welcome. Every time I waste my time posting something, Prof. Bernstein will replace it with this message, but I don't care. And of course, I don't have the courage to reveal my actual identity, I only post anonymously.
1.4.2009 9:09pm
Alexia:
"I don't feel any need to engage in further defense of "Israel's tactics" until someone tells me what military tactics they think Israel WOULD be justified in using in response to the shelling of their civilian communities."

http://www.amconmag.com/ blog/2009/01/03/if-i-were-israels-pm/

Scott McConnell is more eloquent than I am.

Because the link thingy never works for me on this site you'll have to remove the extra space.
1.4.2009 9:12pm
randal (mail):
DB further says:

Everyone who has claimed to respond states that Israel shouldn't engage in military tactics at all, but just negotiate, which means that they are not, in fact, questioning Israel's specific tactics, but arguing that Israel is either unwise or unjust in acting militarily at all. I'd be happy to argue about THAT point, as soon as the critics admit that that's their real point. emphasis mine

Hahahaha, rolling all over the place. When Glenn said exactly that, that Israel is some combination of unwise and unjust in acting militarily at all, you definitely were NOT happy to argue it. You just called him names more.

I'm not sure what "the critics" you are talking about that don't "admit" that they are "arguing that Israel is either unwise or unjust in acting militarily". I feel like that's what the vast majority of them are openly arguing.

Well, in any case, here I am: Isreal is unwise to respond militarily.
1.4.2009 9:15pm
Samual:
"'Or must all people who concern themselves with human rights be generalists? Who would benefit from that state of things?'

Humans?"

Certainly. Humans who like to keep human rights concerns general and ineffective.
1.4.2009 9:19pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
When Glenn said exactly that, that Israel is some combination of unwise and unjust in acting militarily at all, you definitely were NOT happy to argue it.
No, what Glenn initially said was that Israel's military response was wildly disproportionate, or words to that effect. Only when he was challenged to explain what a "proportionate" military response would be did he then state that he doesn't think Israel should respond militarily at all, and he never did acknowledge that the issue therefore was not one of proportionality, but that he thinks that Israel isn't entitled to act in self-defense militarily at all, making even the meekest military response to Hamas illegitimate in his view.
1.4.2009 9:33pm
Steve H:

When the vast majority of criticism is leveled at Israel from commentators, it's almost always sold as a 'general principal of sticking up for human rights wherever they are threatened.'


Now that you have indicated that this is the gist of your point, Prof. Bernstein, can you give examples of how criticism of Israel's actions are "almost always" sold under the general principle of "sticking up for human rights wherever they are threatened"?

I think I've read most of what was posted on the three or four threads dealing with the recent Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and I believe there have been about a dozen people criticizing Israel's actions -- or criticizing those who blindly support Israel's actions. But I don't remember anyone claiming to be doing so under the general principle of standing up for human rights wherever they are threatened.

I readily acknowledge that I may have missed something here or there, however. So, in order to assess the validity of your point, I am asking if you could cite me to the posters here who have been criticizing Israel under the banner of standing up for human rights wherever they are threatened.
1.4.2009 9:55pm
billohmygosh (mail):
My name is Bill, and I keep posting here, even though I know I am not welcome. Every time I waste my time posting something, Prof. Bernstein will replace it with this message, but I don't care. And of course, I don't have the courage to reveal my actual identity, I only post anonymously.
1.4.2009 9:59pm
randal (mail):
DB:

No, what Glenn initially said was that Israel's military response was wildly disproportionate, or words to that effect. Only when he was challenged to explain what a "proportionate" military response would be did he then state that he doesn't think Israel should respond militarily at all, and he never did acknowledge that the issue therefore was not one of proportionality, but that he thinks that Israel isn't entitled to act in self-defense militarily at all, making even the meekest military response to Hamas illegitimate in his view. Emphasis mine.

The problem you are having is that you refuse to stop conflating "should not" (as in "unjust or unwise" as we were using above) versus "not entitled".

It is rational to believe that Israel "should not" act militarily while also believing that Israel is "entitled" to act militarily.

You seem to believe that just because Israel is entitled to a military response, it's automatically a great idea to bomb and invade Gaza. For you (and other Israel activists), the discussion ends with "we're allowed, we'll do what we want."
1.4.2009 10:25pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Steve H., nothing I like better than beginning a post with "Without endorsing every word," and then being asked to defend the exact language of the post referenced.
1.4.2009 10:26pm
Fidelity (mail) (www):
Talkosaurus wrote (and Prof. Bernstein agreed):

The issue is masking idealogical politics as humanitarian principal.

When the vast majority of criticism is leveled at Israel from commentators, it's almost always sold as a 'general principal of sticking up for human rights wherever they are threatened.'

Yes, that's correct, I am morally opposed to almost all killing. It's not idealogical, political, or secularized thought, it's a moral foundation. This issue being at hand, I disagree with Israel for killing Palestinians. In fact, if you pick a place where people are being oppressed, killed, or persecuted, I'm opposed to that, too! I hope you agree.

Why is there more media coverage? I don't know, I'm not employed in the newspapers, ask them why they don't report on Sri Lanka.

North Korea said this is a Crime Against Humanity.
1.4.2009 10:35pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The problem you are having is that you refuse to stop conflating "should not" (as in "unjust or unwise" as we were using above) versus "not entitled".
I thought that DB has explicitly said the opposite: that he is only defending the "Entitled" issue, and not the "should" issue.

Whereas Glenn is saying that because Israel shouldn't, they're not entitled to do so.
1.4.2009 10:41pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
While the Tamils are the only non-Muslims in the world who engage in suicide bombing

This is a sly piece of anti-Muslim bigotry by David Nieperont. Suicide attacks are not new and they aren't specifically Muslim. Kamikaze pilots flew explicit suicide missions, for instance. And many, many people over the years went out on military missions that were effectively suicide missions, in the sense that they had no chance of returning alive if the mission were successful, even if they were not labeled as such.


Sure. But it's hard to come up with suicide attacks that were deliberately aimed at civilians. An attack on enemy troops that has little chance of survival can be described as courageous. And I'd be willing to accord that to the kamikazes. But one aimed at killing a bunch of schoolgirls? Sorry, no Medal of Honor.

There is a great desire among some people to paint Muslims as a uniquely barbaric civilization. And that's simple religious prejudice, not reality.

This is a base slander against barbarians, who had some standards. "Savages" might be more appropriate. And it is fair to judge savagery by standards of the applicable time. A 15th century European would have aspects that are fairly described, today, as savage. I'd just everyone in the early 21st century by early 21st century standards. To do otherwise would be ... patronizing?
1.4.2009 10:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
You seem to believe that just because Israel is entitled to a military response, it's automatically a great idea to bomb and invade Gaza.
I actually wrote, and continue to maintain, that I am agnostic on the wisdom of the operation, especially because there are so many variables that depend on secret information that I am not privy too. I take it that Greenwald is at best as well-informed as I am, but he's confident that the mission will fail, so far as I can tell, only because that would comport with his ideological anti-war priors. (He, like others who say that Israeli military actions never bear any fruit, manage to forget the success of Operation Defensive Shield, among others.)

By contrast, I don't have any ideological priors that tell me that military action must or must not succeed. It depends on all sorts of military and diplomatic factors unique to the particular situation. I'm content to maintain that Israel's response is perfectly legitimate, without opinion on whether it is wise. FWIW, I though Defensive Shield was doomed to fail, while the Lebanon War in '06 was likely to succeed. I was wrong both times, in both cases because I really didn't have the information needed to make an informed judgment, so I've learned to refrain from talking out of my hat.
1.4.2009 10:43pm
Steve H:

Steve H., nothing I like better than beginning a post with "Without endorsing every word," and then being asked to defend the exact language of the post referenced.


Sure, but you did say that you supported the gist of the post, and that was the gist. So I understood you to mean that you supported that main point.

Forgive me for my misunderstanding. For the sake of clarity, would you mind explaining the extent to which you do endorse that position?

[Editor: The gist is that many of Israel's critics claim to be criticizing Israel as opposed to others not for any pragmatic [get more attention, Israel is more significant geopolitically, we expect more from Israel] or ideological [we hate Western democracies, American allies, Jews, like jihadists, whatever] reason, but on general moral principle. And, given that this general moral principle is much[!] less often extended to criticism of other countries, they are either lying or self-deluded.
1.4.2009 10:43pm
Anderson (mail):
I am beginning to lose interest in the inerrant rightness and justice of Israel.

A tape recording of radio exchanges between soldiers shows what unfolded with Iman walked towards an army post. The soldiers at least 100 yards from any soldier and, while a bomb is always feared in such situations, no one described her as a threat. She was identified as a “girl of about 10″ who was “scared to death.” Worse yet, the soldiers describe her as heading east - away from the army post and toward the refugee camp when she was shot. Captain R had to leave the post and pursue the girl to shoot her and later “confirm the kill” after emptying his magazine into the child.

Does no one in the Israeli army ever get a primer on "illegal orders"? I can think of one or two historical sources which they might find poignant.
1.4.2009 10:57pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Anderson, have you heard anyone sane ever claim that none of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli soldiers who have been actively engaged in combat in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, has ever acted unethically/illegally? Anyone who would believe that you could give thousands of young men weapons, put them under the stress of war, and expect NO bad actions by any of them at any time would be a good candidate to sell a Brooklyn Bridge to. If you can find me someone who actually believes in the "inerrant rightness and justice of Israel," such that no Israeli ever commits what appears to be a criminal act of violence, whether in civilian or military garb, I'll eat the strawman that you seem to have created.

And by the way, you do realize that the story in question dates back to 2004, right? Not that this makes it better, but the author fails to make it clear in his post that his refers to something that happened five years ago, not during or otherwise directly related to the present fighting.
1.4.2009 11:10pm
trad and anon (mail):
Only when he was challenged to explain what a "proportionate" military response would be did he then state that he doesn't think Israel should respond militarily at all, and he never did acknowledge that the issue therefore was not one of proportionality, but that he thinks that Israel isn't entitled to act in self-defense militarily at all, making even the meekest military response to Hamas illegitimate in his view.
I am no expert on military tactics. Perhaps there is no military action that would stop the rocket fire without killing a disproportionate number of innocent people. In that case military action to stop the rocket fire would indeed be wrongful. If a serial killer flees into a crowd, one does not respond by firing a bunch of rounds into it.
1.4.2009 11:24pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):

I don't feel any need to engage in further defense of "Israel's tactics" until someone tells me what military tactics they think Israel WOULD be justified
in using in response to the shelling of their civilian communities.


DB,

I would go to the other extreme, Israel would be fully justified in driver every living person out of Gaze, be it into Egypt, the ocean or out through the Negev. What I find unethical about this Israeli response, just like their previous responses is that it will cure the boil while spreading the cancer. And if they aren't willing to at least attempt to finish the job militarily, they need to come up with some other approach that will be a lasting solution.
1.4.2009 11:27pm
trad and anon (mail):
I would go to the other extreme, Israel would be fully justified in driver every living person out of Gaze, be it into Egypt, the ocean or out through the Negev. What I find unethical about this Israeli response, just like their previous responses is that it will cure the boil while spreading the cancer. And if they aren't willing to at least attempt to finish the job militarily, they need to come up with some other approach that will be a lasting solution.
Sounds like you are looking for something more like a final solution.
1.4.2009 11:36pm
Steve H:

The gist is that many of Israel's critics claim to be criticizing Israel as opposed to others not for any pragmatic [get more attention, Israel is more significant geopolitically, we expect more from Israel] or ideological [we hate Western democracies, American allies, Jews, like jihadists, whatever] reason, but on general moral principle. And, given that this general moral principle is much[!] less often extended to criticism of other countries, they are either lying or self-deluded.


Thanks.

Now, however, I don't really understand your beef. It seems to me that there is a difference between the stated grounds on which people criticize Israeli actions and the motivations for such criticism.

For example, the basic ground for my criticism of Israeli actions in general is that I believe it is wrong to kill 100 innocent people to save 5 other innocent people. This, to me, is a general moral principle.

But I will acknowledge that I am not equally concerned about every wrongful death everywhere in the world. (If it were, I would probably be firebombing the headquarters of Phillip Morris.)

In your view, does this mean I am lying or self-deluded?

Is it your position that commenting more about Israel than Sri Lanka or Chechnya makes me some kind of a hypocrite?

If one person complains about Israel but not Sri Lanka, and another complains about Israel and Sri Lanka equally, how is that relevant to the accuracy or validity of their stated views of the Israel-Gaza situation?

Like I said before, I apologize if I am missing something obvious here.
1.4.2009 11:36pm
randal (mail):
DB:

I am agnostic on the wisdom of the operation
he [Glenn] doesn't think Israel should respond militarily

I don't see how you are very far apart then. He has an opinion and you don't. Why is that such a big deal?

he's [Glenn again] confident that the mission will fail, so far as I can tell, only because that would comport with his ideological anti-war priors

You should look harder then. I believe that he - like many of the "morons" you complain about, including myself - simply have a different definition of "success" than you do. I care a little bit about random rockets from Gaza into Israel. I care a lot about the stability of the Middle East. Israel's actions seem highly likely to undermine the thing I care a lot about in order to (maybe) achieve a goal that I don't care that much about. Most irritatingly, Israel doesn't even pretend to share my goal, which further decreases my expectations from any Israeli operation. So from my perspective, the chances of "success" for this operation are essentially zero. I believe this is the angle Glenn is coming from as well.

He, like others who say that Israeli military actions never bear any fruit, manage to forget the success of Operation Defensive Shield.

Again, this depends on your definition of "fruit" - I certainly didn't see much in the way of fruit having been borne from Operation Defensive Shield. If it had any effect at all on the long-term stability of the region, it was to further undermine it.
1.4.2009 11:39pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
trad and anon:

I don't believe people have a right to peaceful existance, not states to continued viability. They each have a right to what they can either seize and hold or what they can negotiate. So no, a final solution to the Palesteinian situation wouldn't particularly bother me. Just as the situation in Sri Lanka and Tibet doesn't particularly bother me. The only reason the Nazis are remembered with horror is that they lost, not because what they attempted was worse in kind or degree than what others have tried.
1.4.2009 11:45pm
Oren:


No - antisemitism in the middle-east can be attributable to the Koran and the antisemitic teachings of Mohammed

You should probably try reading the Koran at some point (since you obviously never picked it up).

It's pretty funny to call the Koran antisemitic when it explicitly says that that the Torah was inspired by God in the same as Koran itself.


It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).


Sounds pretty antisemitic to me.
1.4.2009 11:48pm
Oren:

They each have a right to what they can either seize and hold or what they can negotiate.

This line of reasoning was explicitly rejected at the founding of this country. If ever there was speech that could be called "unamerican", the notion that human beings' rights are contingent upon earthly facts would surely qualify.
1.4.2009 11:50pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Oren, I don't get your point. Christians believe that what they call the Old Testament is inspired by God just as they believe their New Testament is, but that doesn't mean they don't get anti-Semitic notions from it.
1.4.2009 11:53pm
Oren:

Anyone who would believe that you could give thousands of young men weapons, put them under the stress of war, and expect NO bad actions by any of them at any time would be a good candidate to sell a Brooklyn Bridge to.

That doesn't excuse those abuses anymore than the lefties in Europe than whine about the inevitability of terror by the oppressed Gazans with no real economic chances. Moral ownership goes a long way.
1.4.2009 11:54pm
Oren:

Oren, I don't get your point. Christians believe that what they call the Old Testament is inspired by God just as they believe their New Testament is, but that doesn't mean they don't get anti-Semitic notions from it.

No, Christians believe that the Jesus forged a new covenant and explicitly invalidated all that came before him. Otherwise, good Christians would still be bound by the various vagaries of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (e.g. keeping kosher, keeping the sabbath). The whole "nobody comes unto the father except through me" business.

Most Protestant denominations have, in fact, explicitly rejected the "dual-covenant theory", that holds that Jews can go to heaven without accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior so long as they follow the laws of Moses.
1.5.2009 12:00am
DavidBernstein (mail):

"That doesn't excuse those abuses"



who excused them?
1.5.2009 12:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bernstein:

have you heard anyone sane ever claim that none of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli soldiers who have been actively engaged in combat in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, has ever acted unethically/illegally?


That's the "rotten apple" defense. But I think the problem is not just what the soldier did, but how the system reacted.

There's a pretty detailed wiki page here.

who excused them [abuses]?


He was acquitted, promoted, and compensated for time spent in jail. Sounds like "excused" to me.
1.5.2009 12:15am
DavidBernstein (mail):
You should look harder then. I believe that he - like many of the "morons" you complain about, including myself - simply have a different definition of "success" than you do. I care a little bit about random rockets from Gaza into Israel. I care a lot about the stability of the Middle East. Israel's actions seem highly likely to undermine the thing I care a lot about in order to (maybe) achieve a goal that I don't care that much about.
The "morons" in question were those who think the Israelis are comparable in their behavior to the Nazis, not people who disagree with me in general. From what I've read, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia all support (privately) Israel's actions, with the only priviso that Israel must crush Hamas, and not leave it viable after the military action is over. I'm sure it feels good to be confident that they, and the Israeli government, are wrong and you are right, even though you have much less information than they do, and are less directly affected, but I have no such confidence.

FWIW, if you really want to worry about stability in the Middle East, worry about what will/would happen when the rockets start raining down on Tel Aviv, either from Hezbollah, or from Hamas if they come out of this conflict sufficiently unscathed. At that point, you would see just how limited Israel's use of military force has been until now.
1.5.2009 12:17am
Soronel Haetir (mail):

This line of reasoning was explicitly rejected at the founding of this country. If ever there was speech that could be called "unamerican", the notion that
human beings' rights are contingent upon earthly facts would surely qualify.



Funny, the founding of the US would seem to be a perfect example of both seizure and negotiation. Buttressed by the US Civil war, I have a very difficult time seeing the US founding as any sort of rejection of might and will makes right in international law.
1.5.2009 12:17am
randal (mail):
DB issuing strange pseudothreats:

At that point, you would see just how limited Israel's use of military force has been until now.

Finally, you're on a path to talking about something other than the short-term goal of rocket-reduction. If Israel and its activists would focus their arguments on long-term stability, rather than victimhood and retaliation, I think they would find a much better reception.
1.5.2009 12:33am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Not a pseudo-threat. Just pointing out that those who think that Israel's current action is either destabilizing or contrary to humanitarian principles are forgetting that lack of action may lead in the future to a much more destabilizing, unhumanitarian conclusion. I would have thought that the idea that refraining from military action against fanatics could make things worse in the long wrong was trite ever since Neville Chamberlain. (Note: I'm not comparing this situation to WWII. It's just that this argument is so obvious that it's hard to believe anyone needs it to be pointed out to them, and of course Israeli spokespeople make arguments along these lines all the time.)
1.5.2009 12:47am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bernstein:

The United Nations has rushed to condemn the government in question … the last sentence of the previous paragraph is completley untrue vis a vis the Sri Lankan/Tamil Tiger conflict.


You are claiming that it is "completley untrue" to claim that "the United Nations has rushed to condemn the government" of Sri Lanka. Trouble is, what's "completley untrue" is this claim of yours, because "the United Nations has [indeed] rushed to condemn the government" of Sri Lanka, on a variety of occasions. Example:

UNITED NATIONS CONDEMNS INDISCRIMINATE USE OF FORCE IN SRI LANKA

NEW YORK, 9 November 2006 (OCHA) -- “Yesterday’s massive attack on civilians shows that force continues to be used indiscriminately in the conflict in Sri Lanka,” said Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

A Sri Lankan Army artillery bombardment yesterday hit Kathiravelli School, which was hosting some 1,000 internally displaced persons in the Vaharai area of Batticaloa District.  The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, in its initial report on Wednesday, said they had counted 23 bodies, and 135 people were being treated in the hospital with serious and minor injuries, but the number of fatalities is expected to increase.  The Monitoring Mission found no evidence of military installations. …

“The people trapped in this camp are terrified and feel that they are completely at the mercy of others,” said Allan Rock, Special Adviser on Sri Lanka to the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.  “The time has come for all parties to respect the basic human rights of these people, which are simply not being observed at the moment,” he added.  After his visit to the camp today, Mr. Rock described it as a “shocking sight.”

On 2 November, a Sri Lankan Army aerial bombardment hit the vicinity of the hospital in the LTTE-held town of Kilinochchi, northern Sri Lanka.  The bombing killed five civilians and damaged the hospital’s maternity ward.

“I call upon all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians under all circumstances, in accordance with International Humanitarian Law,” Mr. Egeland said.


Another example:

UNITED NATIONS CONCERNED BY CIVILIAN DEATHS IN SRI LANKA
 
NEW YORK, 2 January (OCHA) -- At least 14 civilians, including children, were killed this morning in north-western Sri Lanka during the aerial bombardment of the coastal village of Illupaikadavai in Mannar District by the Sri Lankan Air Force.  At least 35 additional civilian casualties have also been reported. …

“Sri Lankans continue to suffer deeply due to this conflict, and today’s loss of life is a source of deepest concern,” said Margareta Wahlström, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator.  “It is imperative that both sides to the conflict take all measures to fulfil their obligations under international law to protect civilians in this conflict; we have too often seen them fall short in this duty.”


Another example:

PRESS CONFERENCE ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT IN SRI LANKA
 
Stressing that thousands of Sri Lankan children were being killed, abducted and recruited as soldiers as Sri Lanka’s brutal armed conflict escalated, a report released at Headquarters this morning by a global non-governmental organization network called on the United Nations Security Council to pressure the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), Sri Lanka’s Government and the military wing of Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) to stop those practices and uphold international child protection standards.

the Sri Lankan Government had been complicit in the large-scale recruitment and abduction of children by the TMVP’s military wing since early 2006, much of it occurring in Government-controlled areas in the eastern part of the country where abducted children were often transported through multiple military checkpoints to get to TMVP military camps, she said.  It had also failed to follow through on promises to investigate complicity and secure the release of such children.


And hopefully you are also aware of statements like this:

The Secretary-General condemns rocket fire against Israel by Hamas, which intensified yesterday and killed an Israeli civilian in Sderot.  He calls on Hamas and other militant groups to cease such acts of terrorism.
1.5.2009 12:53am
Ken Arromdee:
North Korea said this is a Crime Against Humanity.

And we all know that what North Korea says is truthful and insightful, and that North Korea really cares about innocent people.
1.5.2009 12:55am
Oren:

I have a very difficult time seeing the US founding as any sort of rejection of might and will makes right in international law.

Maybe it's just us in Massachussets, but there are plenty of people that still fly the Pine Tree flag. As far as I know, none of the founders of this Republic rode (or sailed) into battle waving an "appeal to the force of our arms flag".

Maybe you need (stronger) glasses.
1.5.2009 1:19am
Oren:

Just pointing out that those who think that Israel's current action is either destabilizing or contrary to humanitarian principles are forgetting that lack of action may lead in the future to a much more destabilizing, unhumanitarian conclusion.

Since you have avowed a sincere belief that the current action will lead away from such a conclusion and I have no doubt as to your sincerity, that's quite reasonable.

There are still plenty of us that believe that the only conclusion for this conflict will be a badly bloodied but infinitely stronger, internationally recognized, Arab street credified, Hamas. It's hard for me to even imagine an alternative option?

Who exactly do you think will be in charge of Gaza when the Israelis pull out? Certainly not Fatah. Definitely not Egypt. Israel says she has no plan for a long-term reoccupation. Seems to me there's really only one option. . .
1.5.2009 1:24am
PlugInMonster:
Let us pray for the young IDF soldiers laying their lives on the line for all of Western civilization. For they not only fight for their own families, but as a bulwark for Western ideas in the Middle East.
1.5.2009 1:30am
randal (mail):
DB:

I would have thought that the idea that refraining from military action against fanatics could make things worse in the long run was trite ever since Neville Chamberlain. (Note: I'm not comparing this situation to WWII. It's just that this argument is so obvious that it's hard to believe anyone needs it to be pointed out to them, and of course Israeli spokespeople make arguments along these lines all the time.)

Well, I think we found the root of the problem. Not everyone thinks this is a trite, obvious argument, especially given Isreal's long history of lots of action and no long-term progress. Glenn doesn't think this is a trite, obvious argument. Try engaging it, rather than writing it off with (not) a Nazi comparison.
1.5.2009 1:31am
PlugInMonster:
Greenwald doesn't deserve anything but a public humiliation by now.
1.5.2009 1:50am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Oren,

They didn't need any such slogan on a flag, their very presence on the battlefield was proof of their acceptance of might and will being the final arbiter. The theme was carried on in other ways as well, for instance the US expansion westward. While much of it was accomplished relatively peacefully with regard to other organized states, the same cannot be said for the various groups of Amerindians. The Amerindians may complain, but I believe they've actually fared better than they might have given that they lacked the will and might to keep claim to the land.
1.5.2009 1:51am
Oren:
Soronel, as I recall, the US Navy and MA privateers sailed into battle with the Pine Tree flag.

I shudder to think of what the declaration of independence would amount to after all the parts you find objectionable were removed.


When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute and justifiable Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:


For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:


For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:


For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty &Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Kind of loses its essential character, doesn't it?
1.5.2009 2:00am
Sam H (mail):
SteveA said "Can Gazans leave Gaza? Do they need passports? (Can they even get passports?) Where can they go? What countries (or areas) are open to them? How much preparation would it take before they could leave? (Will Hamas even allow them to leave?)"

All the members of the Arab League refuse to allow people from Gaza or the West Bank to relocate to their countries. They said that it was important to keep them where they are to fight Israel.
1.5.2009 8:16am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Oren,

What parts do you think a recognition that only force and the will to use it would achieve their goal would nessitate removal? Such already seems to be clearly stated to me. I just don't see the problem you are having reconciling the positions.
1.5.2009 9:42am
Elliot123 (mail):
"People across the western world (not just Americans) - and by extension the UN - feel like they have a stake in the Middle East."

What's the stake? I don't have a stake in the Mideast. Who here has a stake in the Miseast? What is it?
1.5.2009 10:43am
Steve H:

What's the stake? I don't have a stake in the Mideast. Who here has a stake in the Miseast? What is it?


I assume you're joking, but if not, have you heard about 9/11?
1.5.2009 10:47am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
How common are suicide bombings of non-military targets among non-Muslims, though? I suspect that's what David Nieporent meant, though of course I can't speak for him.

Lots of military forces (including the US') have deliberately targeted civilians. Of course, they dress it up as a military target-- oooh, we were bombing Hiroshima because of its machine works, of course-- but the reality is that when your desire is to force the population of the other side to submit to your power, you are targeting civilians.

And as I point out, lots of people engage in suicide attacks.

While I find Hamas' actions of firing rockets randomly into civilian areas to be quite contemptible, I think the desire to paint this as somehow quite different from what other forces have done in other conflicts is just that, a desire, not a reality.

And the desire to say that "only the Muslims do it" is pure bigotry. Apparently anti-Muslim prejudice is the only remaining acceptable bigotry.
1.5.2009 12:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
While I find Hamas' actions of firing rockets randomly into civilian areas to be quite contemptible, I think the desire to paint this as somehow quite different from what other forces have done in other conflicts is just that, a desire, not a reality.

And the desire to say that "only the Muslims do it" is pure bigotry. Apparently anti-Muslim prejudice is the only remaining acceptable bigotry.
Of course, I never said that Hamas's firing rockets was "somehow quite different from what other forces have done in other conflicts." I said that suicide bombings were. And obviously I didn't say "only the Muslims," since in fact I was pointing out that the Tamils do it also.

Also, you did not point out that "lots of people engage in suicide attacks." You pointed out one group -- Japanese kamikaze pilots -- who targeted military targets. You also claimed that other soldiers go on suicide missions, but a "suicide mission" is a colloquial term for a mission where the chances of survival are low, not a mission where suicide is the point of the mission.
1.5.2009 1:20pm
Oren:

What parts do you think a recognition that only force and the will to use it would achieve their goal would nessitate removal? Such already seems to be clearly stated to me. I just don't see the problem you are having reconciling the positions.

Everything about people having rights granted by the creator needs to go. Everything about the colonies "ought" to be independent. Everything that proclaims an independent moral standard to be applied to the actions of Princes has to go because, if you are right, a Prince has the right to do everything that it is in his power to do.

Is Stalin your favorite prince or is it Mao?
1.5.2009 5:18pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dilan Esper,

I was talking about suicide attacks against civilians. Not suicide attacks (or "suicide missions" where there's no practical hope of getting out alive) against military targets; and not non-suicide attacks against civilian populations either. As you say, neither of those is unprecedented, and the second, though terrible, is not terribly uncommon.

But suicide attacks on unarmed and unsuspecting civilians are pretty new, historically speaking, and I think David Nieporent is correct in saying that the Tamil Tigers are the only group outside the spectrum of Muslim jihadists to take that tactic up.

Is it bigoted to say so? I don't see why. There are a lot of terrorists of all stripes who are united in doing despicable things. It just happens that this particular despicable thing is the province, by and large, of terrorists of one particular faith. I'm not sure that I don't prefer, in dispassionate moral terms, the man who hates his enemy enough that he'll gladly kill himself for the pleasure of dismembering a score of random civilian strangers of the enemy race in the process to the man who likes the dismembering-the-enemy-civilians part fine, but prefers to do it from a distance and remain alive to see the flames. No one can say that Hamas's "rocket scientists" fall into the former category, at least; whether that's to their glory or to their detriment I'll leave to you.

As to why suicide bombers of civilians are mostly Muslim, I can only guess. But committing this act must require great bodily courage; a hatred of the enemy as a people intense enough that they are seen (men, women, and children alike) as more vermin than human; a certainty of great posthumous reward, whether worldly fame or heavenly bliss; or all three.
1.5.2009 8:22pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Dilan Esper sez, in regard to suicide attacks: 'There is a great desire among some people to paint Muslims as a uniquely barbaric civilization.'

Well, Muslims are unique in that suicide bombers are not a wasting asset in Islam. Even the Japanese during World War II had to start conscripting kamiksze pilots after a few weeks.

So, yes, Islam is barbaric and uniquely so. It just isn't a civilization.
1.5.2009 8:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Harry.
And, as somebody once remarked, their idea of heaven is a fourteen year-old's wet dream.
1.6.2009 12:16pm
Yankev (mail):

Israelis are at least not considered people of color, though about half the Jewish population originates in Asia or Northern Africa.

Last night at a rally in Columbus, we were addressed by an Israeli born in Ethiopia. Her two-year old nephew in Sderot was killed by one of those "crude" missiles that do so little harm, and that trigger such a "disproportionate" response. She had to stop several times during her talk, in order to fight back the tears. Not once did she speak of wanting to get even, or to hurt anyone or take revenge; only that she and her family and countrymen want to be allowed to live in peace.
1.8.2009 12:31pm
Yankev (mail):

It's pretty funny to call the Koran antisemitic when it explicitly says that that the Torah was inspired by God in the same as Koran itself.
Okay, Oren, then by your standards there's nothing anti-Semitic in the Gospel of John, either?
1.8.2009 1:41pm

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