More than 500 killed so far in Gaza

Chip Shields

I don't really know what to say or do about the over 500 people who have been killed so far in Gaza. But I think we at Blue Oregon should acknowledge that it is happening. And we should think about how to stop it. And we must all act in accordance with our own consciences to stop the killing now.

To begin the debate, here's a news clip from the alternative media source Real Network News to provoke some thought and discussion:

Josh Marshall at TPM says the heart of the issue is the exponential growth of settlements in the West Bank. His post on the subject is here.

But what do you think the U.S. should do now? What are you willing to do now?


Comments

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    What am I willing to do? What are you suggesting I do?

    I am going to sit back and wait for President Obama's team to take charge and hopefully they will suggest to the Israeli's that perhaps they should back off a bit and search for a negotiated settlement, which probably won't work because they never will.

    Although...while I realize the Palestinian's have got a bad card draw here. What is Israel supposed to do exactly? I know there is a lot of liberal guilt for the Palestinian plight but what is Israel supposed to do about Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel? Sit back and tell everyone it's ok and they're going to just learn how to deal with it? To make that clear it would mean exactly this...Residents of Buffalo NY being cool with residents of Toronto Canada shooting rockets into their suburbs (granted there is a little more space but it's tough to find something close in America. Maybe something more accurate would be residents of Tijuana lobbing rockets into San Diego? You cool with that? Wanna sit back and take it?

    So it's nice that the violence needs to end. I agree with you...but what is Israel supposed to do? Really...what are they supposed to do? Negotiate with Hamas more even though most of Hamas doesn't care and they would rather die than see Israel be recognized as a valid state in the Muslim world. They can't stand on their high horse and complain about innocent deaths because Sally Jo in San Diego with her 3 kids got blown up by a rocket fired from Tijuana last week.

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    I don't have any great insights, but I can't help but feel that one side, or both, are essentially sending a message to the Obama administration: put us on top of your priority list.

    I know it's more complicated than that, but I have an unshakeable sense that that's a part of what's going on. And it bugs me.

  • Ten Bears (unverified)
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    Israel is a Terrorist State, the Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon an indigenous people. It has no "right" to exist.

    And before you cry the inevitable cry, allow me to pose a question. But first, from my collection of nineteenth century dictionaries:

    Two definitions from the Merriam-Webster dictionary...

    Main Entry: Sem•ite Pronunciation: 'se-"mIt, esp British 'sE-"mIt Function: noun Etymology: French sémite, from Semitic Shem, from Late Latin, from Greek SEm, from Hebrew ShEm Date: 1848 1 a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs
    b : a descendant of these peoples

    Main Entry: an•ti-Sem•i•tism Pronunciation: "an-ti-'se-m&-"ti-z&m, "an-"tI- Function: noun Date: 1882 : hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group

    Question: If Semites include "Hebrews and Arabs," why is anti-Semitism just "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews" instead of all Semites?

    I have a solution to our oil addition: if the talmund/koran/bible are of any value at all, it, they, are a documentation of a group of people’s six, perhaps ten, thousand year refusal to get along with each other. So as a compromise solution I propose we back our asses out of the middle east - the holy land - for five or ten years and let these animals kill each other off.

    And then we’ll have all the oil!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Well, I made a topic post attempt, but at 2000 words I guess it's too long, or inane. Anyway, I think the issue for US policy is that Obama's not saying much on the matter is rapidly loosing him any foreign policy honeymoon he might have had with the Arab world. Given his overall mandate for "change" he faces a conundrum. I heard it well summarized on the BBC's, "This Sceptred Isle" :

    The 1870s were the decade of Gladstonian reforms and of Disraeli's return to power. The imaginative reforms of the Gladstone government are said to have drawn the template for the twentieth century state; education, the law, the civil service. Yet the very brilliance of Gladstonian changes helped bring about his government's downfall. Real reform means the reform of institutions, the institutions that make up the establishment. The establishment is the vested interest of the nation and thorough reform creates enemies within the establishment. So, perhaps Gladstone tried to do too much. Certainly the reform of the Army came too late to have an effect on the implementation of foreign policy.

    Significantly, his "bridge too far" was trying to take the Irish troubles head on, by proposing a new university in Dublin that would allow Catholics to matriculate.

  • Roy M (unverified)
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    How much or little we care about world events, seems to really depend on how it may impact each of us as individuals. This conflict could draw larger nations (meaning us) into a huge war. It is not unrealistic to believe that other Arab countries will collectively decide to go after Israel very soon. While this may not have been possible 5 or 10 years ago, it is not entirely unrealistic now (and even more likely a few years from now). When this occurs the West will help to defend Israel, or Israel might rely on their own weapons of mass destruction. Either way, the impact to each of us will be life changing.

    In comparison, tens of thousands (not 5 or 6 hundred) continue to die every year from fighting, disease, and genocide in Darfur. Yet this news rarely draws as much national concern or outrage as the events occurring now in the Gaza strip. It is human nature to care most about those things that will most dramatically impact us, and events now in the Gaza strip certainly have that potential.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    While this may not have been possible 5 or 10 years ago, it is not entirely unrealistic now (and even more likely a few years from now). When this occurs the West will help to defend Israel, or Israel might rely on their own weapons of mass destruction. Either way, the impact to each of us will be life changing.

    Won't happen until Iran has a nuclear weapon...or someone else in that region comes up with one. Pakistan is too worried about India to care so I'm not worried about them. If anything happens Israel will go after Iran's nuclear facilities first. They haven't yet, which leads me to believe Mossad knows their nuclear program is peaceful right now. The second they know it's not Israel has the capability to lay waste to every Iranian nuclear facility in 1 night.

    This is a foolish war in Gaza that Israel is waging, but it's a war their leaders have to fight. They all know someone that's been killed/injured by a Hamas rocket and so does everyone else in Israel.

  • mlw (unverified)
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    Yes, it's horrible that those terrible Israelis would want to do something about the nice terrorists firing rockets at them from Gaza! Why can't they just leave those nice fellas alone?

    Get real, folks - the Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense. The real questions are what is the desired end state and whether it be accomplished with military force. I have my doubts about the latter, which is the real issue.

  • bear rug (unverified)
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    I know what Hitler would do - Nuke the Jews. And that's exactly what alot of democrats like "Ten Bears" post above are hoping for: the destruction of Israel and deaths of Jews.

    I am willing to bet Obama will punish Israel for it's actions, pulling aid and support from them - and probably stepping up aid to the Palestinians.

  • Jason (unverified)
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    "Israel is a Terrorist State, the Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon an indigenous people. It has no "right" to exist."

    This is the most uniformed, ignorant, insidious, arrogant comment I've seen in a long time. Looks like someone has no historical context or understanding of anything in the Middle East.

    Wow!

  • melch (unverified)
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    "I know there is a lot of liberal guilt for the Palestinian plight but what is Israel supposed to do about Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel?"

    Let them have an economy? Free trade? Education? Jobs? Healthcare? A respectable portion of the land where they'd lived for two thousand years before its colonial ruler, Great Britain, purported to hand their entire land over to the European Jewish people who had moved back there from elsewhere? Maybe stop assassinating their leaders?

    Israel will never "win" by continuing to beat the Palestinians down, telling them to call elections and ignoring the results, locking 1.4 million people into a territory one-fourth the size of Multnomah County (Gaza strip 140 sq miles, Multnomah County 466 sq miles), denying them access to basic services, pouring raw sewage onto what little territory they're allowed, and on and on.

    The "liberal guilt" to blame in this mess is the guilt which led Great Britain and the United States to support tearing Palestine out from under its people and handing it over to European Jews in the wake of the tragedies of World War 2. Anyone lacking sympathy for the Palestinians in this mess lacks any sense of justice or proportion.

  • Facts (unverified)
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    It's virtually impossible to have anything approaching a rational debate concerning the Israeli Government's actions in the US because ANYTHING critical of the GOVERNMENT's actions leads the reactionaries and Pod-people in the US to shout "ANTI-SEMITE" "JEW HATER" "HITLER." Ask Noam Chomsky....a Jew.

    There's a much more rigorous debate within Israel that isn't even acknowledged in the US press. Oh, on Democracy Now radio this morning they did mention the 10,000 Israelis (Self-Hating Jews I suppose?) in Tel Aviv marching in protest of its government's actions.

    Unfortunately, what these reactionaries don't recognize is that their reflexive anti-Palestinain, "Israel can do no wrong" rhetoric fuels anti-Semitism and enables the murderous behavior is the US's most beloved client state.

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    I've been writing about this on my blog - and pissing off some of my Israeli-apologist readers in the process. Some disjointed thoughts/observations:

    1. Josh Marshall is spot on - the ongoing expansion of Jewish settlements is a core issue that's not going to go away no matter how many Palestinians the IDF kills.

    2. Not that it should matter but... I am Jewish.

    3. I would be the first to agree that Israel has a legitimate right to self defense. But we're are all being offered an utterly false choice by all of the major players including Hamas: Do absolutely nothing -OR- respond with massively overwhelming military force (and collateral damage be damned). There is a HUGE swath of possible military responses which lay inbetween those two extremes. Stopping at day 1 would have been one possible choice. Stopping at day 2 another. etc. The longer this Israeli reaction goes on, the more extreme a choice it represents and the less believable is the proffered explanation that Israel is honestly trying to avoid unnecessary collateral damage.

    4. Given the objective historical fact that every single Palestinian entity which Israel has ever waged war on has emerged stronger than before... while those whom Israel has ever comparitively befriended have been weakened (i.e., Fatah), wouldn't it make a great deal more sense - not to mention costing vastly fewer innocent lives - for Israel to befriend Hamas? The overwhelming weight of history veritably screams that it would be.

    I know, I know... it'd be damn hard to wallow in the righteous indignation of victimhood if Israel were to befriend Hamas. But the historical evidence is clear. That would be the one proven effective way to weaken Hamas. Just ask President Abbas...

    Of course, doing so would also underscore the self-evident fact that Israeli policy bears a great deal of responsibility for having indirectly created Hamas and like-minded groups in the first place (there is no Yin without a Yang, no Up without a Down, no Black without a White). But then aknowledging that requires intellectual honesty and I see precious little evidence that either combatant side is interested in going there...

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Garrett:

    I know there is a lot of liberal guilt for the Palestinian plight but what is Israel supposed to do about Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel?

    Melch:

    Let them have an economy? Free trade? Education? Jobs? Healthcare?

    Bob T:

    In Gaza, the Israelis had built lots of greenhouses to grow lots of food. When they withdrew, the Palestinians trashed them (like the way the Egyptians salted the cultivated fields they found in the Sinai when the Israelis withdrew from it after Camp David.

    There were also some factory buildings in Gaza that could have been used as equipment was still in them. They were wrecked, too.

    What are the Palestinains doing for themselves to show an example?

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Ten Bears:

    Israel is a Terrorist State, the Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon an indigenous people. It has no "right" to exist.

    Jason:

    This is the most uniformed, ignorant, insidious, arrogant comment I've seen in a long time. Looks like someone has no historical context or understanding of anything in the Middle East.

    Bob T:

    Jason, too many so-called lefties have been viewing Israel as a Nazi state for so long (coupled with a drooling worship of some of the most anti-liberal people on the planet) that they cannot reverse themselves. It makes them feel so good. Oh, did Rachel Corey stand in the doorway of an Israeli ice cream parlor and shout out a warning to any bomb-belt wearers to stay out of there? I didn't think so.

    Yeah, Ten Bears is correct that he's not an anti-Semite. He's just a Jew hater.

    Bob Tiernan

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    Thanks for the post, Chip. One thing that progressive Jewish readers can do is support the actions of two organizations who are trying to bring a voice of sanity to the discussion and to weigh in with policymakers: J Street and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace).

  • joebob (unverified)
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    Sure a lot of folks with scorecards here, adding up the number of missiles fired at Party A by Party B. Thing is, everyone's got a different idea about which was the first inning in this particular ball game. As though that mattered: whether you get killed in the 5th inning or 6th inning, you're still dead.

  • marv (unverified)
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    As I read that Israel is raining down white phosphorus on women and children I recall that the same substance was used in Iraq. Three thousand injured thus far in the latest demonstration of power in Gaza. Forty percent are women and children. Genocide. We are responsible. We make this possible. Because we, The United States of America, are the world's leading terrorist nation. And we are led around by the nose by AIPAC. Shame on us. Because it is too profitable to kill women and children.

  • Clackamas (unverified)
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    So the Palestinians are radicalized by having their country taken away from them and 50 years of economic suffering, while the Israelis are radicalized by being a tiny, natural resource poor country in a very hostile region that is constantly targeted by terrorist (which is really just a form of asymmetric warfare.)

    We encourage the Palestinians to democratize. Because of their economic plight and hopelessness, they vote for Hamas, who lobs rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel responds by again invading the remaining Palestinian territory and further destroying their infrastructure/inflicting civilian casualties. Which radicalizes even more Palestinians, who become stronger supporters of Hamas, because Hamas appears to be the only institution fighting back.

    A nice vicious cycle that spins out of control, in turn fueling our own middle east headaches.

    What to do about it? I dunno.

    It seems to me that the timing of Israel's military action has as much to do with the transition of power in the US as it does any immediate need to address the rockets. They are trying to force Obama into a box, where he has no choice but to continue to provide them with military and economic subsidies and carte blanche to carry out such activities, or risk a major split in the Democratic Party just as he takes office.

    The conflict won't end till the Palestinians see a future for themselves where they can have a independent state and decent quality of life without destroying Israel. Contrary to what some of the chest-thumpers here have proclaimed, you don't win a guerrilla war by killing so many people that the rest get the message and give up. Unfortunately, if there is any resolution to this it is going to have to be negotiated by the Europeans. Obama and the US will continue to be politically paralyzed by anything effecting Israel.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    There is legitimate attention given to lobbying groups like AIPAC, but IMHO our wacky policy towards Israel and Palestine has even more to do with the wingnut "Christian Zionists", who are gleeful at any violence that they think is going to bring about Armageddon and the 2nd Coming of Christ. And guess what? The Christian Zionists are not reading this blog.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Josh Marshall at TPM says the heart of the issue is the exponential growth of settlements in the West Bank.

    This is something I learned from "Righteous Victims" by the Israeli historian Benny Morris. When the Zionists arranged for Jews to move into the Palestine Territories in the early part of the 1900s, there were essentially two groups of Jews among them. One was content to live and work in peace with the Palestinians. The other had a plan to take over what they saw as the land of Israel (the Palestine Territories and Trans-Jordan, now a part of Jordan) and transfer the Palestinians elsewhere in the Arab world, or wherever. They didn't care. (We now refer to this as ethnic cleansing.) The latter, being more aggressive, decided the future and after years of terrorist activity established the state of Israel. There appear to be descendants of this dominant group continuing the original plan to get rid of the Palestinians. It is the only road map for the Israeli-Palestinian problem that seems to be working. So Josh Marshall's point is valid.

    There are also in Israel descendants of the Jews noted for their humanity and enlightenment. Unfortunately, they appear to be in a distinct minority barely keeping this better aspect of Jewish heritage alive.

    To be fair, Israel's right-wing and its lobby in the United States didn't do all they have done alone. Many others can share in the guilt. One of the Israelis' shrewdest moves was purchasing the incumbents in the White House and almost all of the senators and representatives in Congress. If the Palestinians want a fair shake or to be dealt a better hand, they will need to up the ante and outbid the Israeli lobby when it comes to campaign donations.

    For many people nothing shows the Israeli corruption of the American government more than the attack on the USS Liberty at the beginning of the 1967 war. This was a deliberate attack ordered by Moshe Dayan to destroy the ship and kill the entire crew. President Lyndon Johnson ordered a cover-up. Admiral John McCain, father of the former presidential candidate, loyally saw that the cover-up was taken care of, even though it meant betraying the crew of one of the ships under his command.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    @Jason:This is the most uniformed, ignorant, insidious, arrogant comment I've seen in a long time. Looks like someone has no historical context or understanding of anything in the Middle East.

    Just for everyone's benefit, what is your educational background? I assume it is a Ph.D in Middle Eastern History.

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    About a year ago I suggested that the next Democratic president put the onus on the Palestinians to actually propose a peace plan. Up until now, all "land for peace" plans have been proposed by the Israelis, and rejected by a majority or significant minority of Palestinians, who express their displeasure by sending suicide bombers into Israeli cafes when they were allowed free movement, and firing rockets now that they aren't.

    To be clear, a "peace plan" is not "Muslims Win. Jews Die. Israel is Destroyed. We Have Peace (until we start fighting among ourselves)". Any proposal which results in the immediate or eventual destruction of Israel is not acceptable. This means the following cannot be part of a Palestinian peace plan: 1) Any plan which makes Israel militarily undefendable, 2) Any so called "right of return" to flood Israel with people hostile to it, 3) Any plan that is non-final (land for another temporary cease fire is not a peace plan), 4) Any plan that has no mechanism to return to Israel the land given for "peace", in the event that Palestinian terrorism continues after the plan, 5) Any plan that is not subject to a referendum and passed overwhelmingly by Palestinians.

    Other than that, Palestinians could propose whatever they felt was fair. All or most of the territories back? Of course. Reparations? Sure. Some "right of visitation [subject to background terrorist check]"? Possibly. Admittedly, Likud wouldn't be happy with any Palestinian peace plan. But if the Palestinians actually offered peace - instead of lies - at least the Israelis would be actually have something tangible to reject.

    Until such a thing occurs, however, Israel deserves no criticism. For 60 years Muslim Arabs, driven by pathological religious extremism and a belief they're going to win a 'victory of the cradle', have chosen war over repeated entreaties for some form of accommodation. And they have suffered the consequences for that. In truth, Israel has treated its defeated enemies far more gently than any other nation on earth, including the U.S. (In fact, it is due to this gentle treatment that Hamas has felt safe in continuing their attacks against Israel; not a nation on earth would have waited longer to respond than Israel did.)

    But in the face of unrelenting hostility, Israel has the right to fully engage in war to defend themselves from enemies pledged to their destruction. And there is no mythical requirement for "proportionality". We weren't "proportional" to Germany when it was run by the Nazis; they don't have to be proportional to Hamas or the Palestinian supporters who live comfortably among them. To paraphrase General Patton, it' is not an IDF soldier's job to die; it's their job to make the other poor bastard die. Period.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Top 5 Lies About Israel’s Assault on Gaza

    "...Israel has long held Gaza under siege, allowing only the most minimal amounts of humanitarian supplies to enter. Israel is bombing and killing Palestinian civilians. Countless more have been wounded, and cannot receive medical attention. Hospitals running on generators have little or no fuel. Doctors have no proper equipment or medical supplies to treat the injured. These people, too, are the victims of Israeli policies targeted not at Hamas or legitimate military targets, but directly designed to punish the civilian population."

    Ten Bears: We have met "the Mother of All Terrorist States", and it is US, not Israel. We are Americans, and it is therefore our first duty to end our own crimes against humanity, including the crimes that are committed by our proxy in the Middle East, which depends on OUR military, political and economic support.

    If there were no oil to control in the ME, the U.S. attitude toward Israel would be the same as it was toward the Jews of Europe during the war against fascism, and there would be no U.S. troops there.

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    That's an excellent and important point, Bill.

    It doesn't go into much detail but this Israeli timeline does make clear that there were factions and not all of them were interested in using violence. It also makes clear that outright terrorism was used (repeatedly) by the more violent factions.

  • Ten Bears (unverified)
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    I, Jason, have studied the middle east for over forty years, and have accesss to information you do not.

    No, not merely a "Jew hater", a jew/muslim/christian cult hater. There's a difference.

    The answer to my question, however, was indeed answered, though somewhat peripherally: somewhere between the original publication of Webster's Dictionary and the 1880 publication marks the initiation of the Zionist Conspiracy to TAKE Palestine and establish the state of Israel. In that conspiracy lay the seeds of the propaganda machine perfected by Hitler and not quite flawlessly executed by his financier's grandson GWBush: lie to the public enough and, because they're doped out on ambien, prosaic, television and viagra dumb f_cks, they'll believe it.

    Don't talk to me of history, boy, I've forgotten more than you'll ever know.

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    Ten Bears,

    My sole criticism of what you said would be to point out that there are precious few ethnic groups anywhere on the planet who didn't get where they're currently at without displacing someone else who was there first.

    There is perhaps a tribe somewhere in central Africa and a few Native American tribes and probably most Polynesians who didn't displace someone else at some point. And if we include proto-humans then few if any of even these didn't displace someone else at some point.

    The past is the past and there's very little that any of us can do to fully undo any of it. That's not to say that wrongs weren't committed. Just that truly undoing any of it that wasn't fairly recent is likely impossible regardless of our best intentions. But we are all fully responsible for today and the future ramifications of the same, both of which we wield near total control over (and thus responsibility for).

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    Steve Maurer: Up until now, all "land for peace" plans have been proposed by the Israelis

    Given the tenor of this 'discussion' trying to inject facts may be pointless, but there have in fact been numerous plans proposed by Arabs and non-Arabs alike. One of the most significant was the Fahd Plan, put forward by the Saudi Crown Prince in 1981. That was before the 1982 Lebanon war, and where the dynamics involving Israel, Lebanon and the PLO were depressingly similar to the prevailing Israel/Gaza/Hamas dynamics today.

    Here are the elements of the plan from about as neutral a source as I could find (about.com) - or, if you prefer, from the Knesset.

    Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership (to say nothing of the US) have always had alternative paths from which to choose; sadly, they've almost always chosen poorly. Let's hope that any new leaders who emerge have the wisdom and courage to choose better.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    About 40 years ago when I was assigned to a ship my supervisor told me that when I went to sea I would meet the best and worst of people with the rest somewhere in between. Time proved he was right and observing a variety of other groups of people (nations, professional groups, unions, etc.) suggests the same rule applies almost everywhere. There are exceptions in political groups, some of which are devoid of the basics of humanity and moral persuasion and their opponents seeking liberty and justice for all.

    After World War II a British historian, I believe A. J. P. Taylor, wrote a history of that war and estimated that about six percent of the German people supported Hitler, about ten percent opposed him and the remainder were apathetic. The situation is probably similar in Israel but with, perhaps, a higher percentage supporting the right-wing and a smaller percentage endorsing humane, just and civilized policies. In between there are the unthinking masses buying into the prevailing propaganda.

    In the United States the political demographics appear to be worse with the vast majority of people supporting the mendacious and hypocritical duopoly currently demonstrating its capacity for criminal foreign policies, a very small percentage believing in the Constitution and justice, and the remainder apathetic.

  • David Hickson (unverified)
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    Ten Bears: Israel is a Terrorist State, the Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon an indigenous people. It has no "right" to exist.

    Jason's analysis of Ten Bears racist comment: This is the most uniformed, ignorant, insidious, arrogant comment I've seen in a long time. Looks like someone has no historical context or understanding of anything in the Middle East.

    Hey Ten Bears, we can all tell you have "40 years experience" studing Middle Eastern issues - from an Islamic fundamentalist point of view. Your kneejerk bigotry is actually illegal in some countries, as it would be considered incitement to racially-motivated violence and grounds for arrest. In other words, hate speech. You know absolutely nothing about the Middle East, about Israel or about the Arabs who call themselves Palestinian, that much is obvious. Your sole point of reference seems to come from Al Manar television, courtesy of Hizbullah, otherwise you would be forced to admit what is blatantly obvious: Israel and the IDF are defending themselves from a group which proudly and candidly lists genocide as its top priority and goal. Hamas is not interested in governing, nor is it capable. It is a criminal organization which the bulk of the "Palestinian" people voted for in a fair election. That alone renders moot most arguments based on your deliberately faulty reading of history. Hamas has, in effect, declared open war against the state of Israel through its continuing and ongoing acts of violence against civilians. It is not the IDF's fault that Hamas hides among children and the clergy, either. At any scene of an IDF airstrike you will not see rescue crews, you will see ghoulish Hamas thugs with video cameras more interested in the carnage and saving whatever weapons weren't destroyed in the strike than in helping people.

    In short, Jason's analysis of your vitriol is dead on. You can claim whatever type of racist garbage you want Ten Bears. But, one, it doesn't make it remotely true. And, two, it's just a damn shame that hate speech is still legal in this country because I would personally make a citizens arrest once I tracked you down and handed you over to the FBI. You are one dangerous individual.

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    Dan, you are most welcome to inject facts into the discussion. But as part of those facts, please do not make any implicit assertion that I am not being factual.

    The Fahd Plan was not a peace plan. It was a plan for Israel to surrender its sovereignty by flooding it with people hostile to the very existence of that nation. Let me explain again that "We win. You die." or "We fill your country with people to vote for you to die, before we turn it into yet another religious dictatorship common to the region" is not actually a peace plan.

    Israel has never been offered peace by any Arab leader. In fact, it may be impossible for any Arab leader to do so, because the religious extremism that runs through the region makes our own Christian Dominionists look like Unitarians; whatever calls for peace might very well be ignored, the leader assassinated. Look at the way the Sunnis continue to bomb the Askariya shrine, the Shi'ite version of the Vatican. Or the female suicide bomber who killed a dozen Shi'ite pilgrims just a few days ago. Those are fellow Muslims they're targeting, and the intent is purely a religious attack - there's no strategic benefit in it. Do you seriously expect people from a culture like this to ever accept Israel?

    Again, the fix is obvious: Israel returns the territories, the "right of return" becomes the right to move into those territories and compensation for those who prefer not to. The sticking point isn't Israel. It's that the substantial minority of Palestinians don't want a just peace with Israel. They want it destroyed. That's why they elected Hamas.

  • Clackamas (unverified)
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    Maurer, your right. Right of return is a silly idea. I mean, proposing that families who lived in an area for hundreds of years but were then forcibly evicted be given the right to return? That is crazy talk! I mean, that would be like proposing that Japanese American internees in World War II be allowed to return to their home communities!

    The idea that Israel can ever have the security it desires while maintaining an apartheid system separeting Jews and Palestinians is silly. While you certainly can't go from where we are today to Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in peace, you also can't expect Palestinian families who were forcibly evicted from their own country to just forgive and forget.

  • David Hickson (unverified)
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    Chip, you want to stop the killing? One obvious way is to make it clear that racist hate groups like Hamas are unacceptable under any circumstances. If people like this are allowed to take any form of power, conflict, violence and war is the inevitable result. It from a toxic style of religious fundamentalism, and no country should be expected to come to an accomodation with groups like Hamas until and unless they transform themselves into exclusively non-violent organizations dedicated to the democratic process. Until Hamas swears off war and violence as its chosen means of dialogue, they can expect nothing but the same in return. Simply asking Israel to turn the other cheek against a group like this is the quickest way to ensure continuing violence.

    I could expend thousands of words explaining why Israel is fully justified in embarking on a military campaign against Hamas, but the history behind this conflict and the facts on the ground are so obvious that it shouldn't be necessary. Working toward peace under current circumstances seems to require working to see the "Palestinian" people pried from the clutches of Hamas. And if the "Palestinians" don't want to be saved from themselves, as evidenced by their support for Hamas in a fair election, you see clearly what is happening now in Gaza. It is the result of Hamas ideologies based on relgious fundamentalism and racial supremacy. It is an implacable set of ideas, and should not be accomodated. If that means civilians supporting these ideas have to suffer, then so be it. No country in the world would stand back for as long as Israel has in the face of constant rocket attacks on schools, retirement homes and playgrounds. Nor should they be expected to.

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    You're a funny guy, Steve. You trash peace plans that have been put forward on the grounds that they'll force Israel to accept enemies within the state (ignoring, by the way, one of the most significant features of the Fahd Plan, which was to suggest compensation for refugees in place of actual return) - while in the real world it's the occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands that will, sooner or later, create an Arab majority within the territory now controlled by Israel.

    In other words, forestalling a two-state solution for so many decades is rapidly making a "one-state" solution all the more likely - as even Ehud Olmert has belatedly recognized. That may delight both secularists and eliminationists (of either the Hamas stripe or those like David Hickson, who can't even bring themselves to use the word Palestinian)who think their side will prevail, but it's obviously not what you yourself suggest you support.

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    Gee, Clackamas, when are you leaving the United States? After all, isn't the land you're living on really the property of some descendant of the native peoples of the northwest? Certainly they should be able to take ownership of the land you live on and displace you. In fact, if it was really an option for them to obtain trillions of dollars of built up land tax free, I'm sure more than a few would do exactly that. So since you believe in the Right of Return so much, you should do the moral thing and leave the U.S. right now. Don't let the door hit you in your hypocritical ass on the way out.

    And Dan, the idea that Palestinian refusal to accept a two-state solution is going to lead to a "one state" destruction of Israel through a victory of the cradle is one of the many fantasies that prevent any real movement on the Palestinian's part. (Really, you should talk to Muslims - even among American moderates there's this inexplicable belief that time is on the Palestinian side. For any one of a number of reasons, it's not.) And while Israelis are not angels - they have plenty of asshole settlers - unlike every other actor in the area, they're the only nation who has any willingness to control their extremists.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Chip, you want to stop the killing? One obvious way is to make it clear that racist hate groups like Hamas are unacceptable under any circumstances.

    Would hate groups include settlers who continue to encroach on land owned by Palestinians?

    Ten Bears: Judging by the personal vitriol directed your way, it appears you hit a couple of nerves. That is often a consequence to telling embarrassing truths.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Get real, folks - the Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense.

    But if they provoke aggression against themselves by a long history of human rights abuses and war crimes against others then they have no one to blame but themselves.

    At any scene of an IDF airstrike you will not see rescue crews, you will see ghoulish Hamas thugs with video cameras more interested in the carnage and saving whatever weapons weren't destroyed in the strike than in helping people.

    Then why has Israel banned international media from reporting in Gaza?

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    the idea that Palestinian refusal to accept a two-state solution is going to lead to a "one state" destruction of Israel through a victory of the cradle is one of the many fantasies that prevent any real movement on the Palestinian's part

    It is indeed a destructive fantasy - with equally destructive fantasies on the part of many Israelis and right wing defenders in the U.S. And the two camps feed on each other in perfectly complementary ways.

    Thirty years ago your exact arguments were the basis of both US and Israeli refusal to negotiate with the PLO and accept a two-state solution. We're now reaping the whirlwind: having virtually destroyed the PLO as a nationalist movement and supported creation of Islamist institutions as a way to weaken it, Israel now faces and even more intractable foes in HAMAS and Hezbollah. Having failed to develop effective state institutions that were not mired in corruption or that could gain any meaningful concessions from Israel, what you would probably call the "moderate" Palestinian leadership saw its authority eroded.

    But I wouldn't be so sanguine about thinking that time is on anyone's side here. The festering wounds are making life increasingly miserable for all, and periodic bombing raids and re-invasions ultimately solve nothing, since once the military action is ended the fundamental political problems remain, while the weapons in the next round of fighting only get deadlier.

    The parallel is certainly far from perfect, but the British and the Irish did eventually reach a settlement. And though they faced a prolonged campaign of terror by the IRA, I don't recall that the Brits ever sent the RAF to bomb Northern Ireland.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    I am completely baffled by Bodden's comment a ways up-thread that Hitler was supported by only six percent of the German population. WTF??!! The Nazis came to power in 1933 at the ballot box with 43.9% of the vote. The parties of the left in that election gained around 30%.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    I see that trying to figure out the score, and when the first inning took place, and how many strikes the umpire has to call before the batter is out, still occupy a lot of people's attention in this thread.

    I think we can probably all agree on one thing: no self-identified nation is going to commit collective suicide. And thus IMHO the tragedy of Israel and Palestine: two nations, each one of which reasonably enough refuses to commit suicide, but each one of which seems to be convinced that committing suicide is precisely what the other one ought to do.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I am completely baffled by Bodden's comment a ways up-thread that Hitler was supported by only six percent of the German population. WTF??!!

    First of all, Joel, the six percent figure was an estimate by a British historian who was active during the Hitler years. I didn't say "that Hitler was supported by only six percent of the German population."

    I'm not sure that your figure of 43.9% of votes for Hitler is correct, but it is very likely that the historian's figure was referring to an earlier period when Hitler didn't do very well at the polls. If I recall correctly, the Nazi Party was close to collapse before it made a turn around in the early 1930s. Also, I wouldn't confuse votes with support. Many people voted for Obama and Merkley, not because they supported him but because they were more opposed to Hillary, McCain and Smith. In other words they were seen as the lesser evils, a status that is not synonymous with support.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Mr. Bodden, please check the Wikipedia entry on Weimar Germany and the specific link to the 1933 election, which I gave above. The Nazis were the biggest party in Germany even before the 1933 election, which was followed shortly thereafter by their seizure of absolute power (something that was actually done in a quasi-legal way through an act of parliament). The Nazis polled quite well, especially for a parliamentary system with many parties, for at least three successive elections. Your assertion that people were voting National Socialist as a "lesser of many evils" choice is not credible, sorry.

    Sorry about this detour, which has nothing to do with Israel and Palestine. We'd do well to avoid talking about Nazis, and not just for obvious reasons. The fact is, there were Arabs in Palestine under the British Mandate who thought the Nazis had the right idea when it came to Jews. One can play this sort of twisted blame game ad infinitum.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Your assertion that people were voting National Socialist as a "lesser of many evils" choice is not credible, sorry.

    Joel: If you re-read my comment more carefully than you did before you wrote the above you will find I didn't use the lesser evil analogy in the case of the Nazis. I used that in reference to Obama and Merkley.

    I'll come back tomorrow on the point I made about the Nazis being in a very weakened position.

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)
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    There's no excuse for the Israel's actions over the past week and half. None.

    Lame

  • gina (unverified)
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    Israel has a right to defend itself. Emphasize defend, not engage in all-out war.

    Hamas wages a psychological war that kills 4, so Israel is justified to wage an actual war (and with it the given psychological war) that kills 534 and counting?

    The IDF is the most disciplined army in the world, with US weaponry; Mossad is 2nd only to America's CIA (and is better in some cases), so you don't think they could have had a much more effective, less bloody conflict if they just went in and wiped out the head Hamas honchos?

    Collective punishment is forbidden by the Geneva Convention, and the UN. But since when has Israel had any regard for the life of others? Case in point: the 131 UN resolutions Israel has blatantly ignored.

    And who broke the ceasefire? You probably didn't notice because Israel cleverly did so on Nov 4, when we were too busy with Obama.

    Does nobody realize that Israel just created an entirely new generation of Hamas leaders and standard-bearers?

  • ws (unverified)
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    I read the following guest column in the O today, written by a person, Harris Zafar, who is a muslim and residing locally.

    How Many Must Die Before Peace Prevails, Harris Zafar in the O

    What he says makes about as much sense as I can understand about what's going on over there.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Let me make some points to outline my views on this. Before listing these, I will point out that I've long believed that both the Israelis (Palestinian Jews as well as immigrant Jews) and the Palestinian Muslims should have their own states. Too bad the Muslims of the region more or less coerced the Palestinian Muslims into rejecting the two-state deal in 1947, even if the borders of those two states were perhaps unworkable in many ways and would have need to change in trade-offs.

    Try to read the full list before commenting.

    1) Israel was not created by Jews "kicking out" Muslims from their land. Most of the land that became Israel (particularly the UN partition version) had been purchased going back into the 1800s from absentee Muslim landowners. This land was then cultivated and/or plotted for towns.

    2) Much of this area was devoid of people and very sparsely populated when many Jewish immigrants from Europe (including Czarist Russia) and other parts of the Middle East settled in that part of the Ottoman Empire, joining the many Jews already there who had been descended from those who had lived at the time of two early Jewish states (there never being a "Palestine" as anything but a name on a map as a region of first the Roman Empire and then the Ottoman Empire. Read what visitors to that area wrote, such as Mark Twain who described traveling over large portions of what is now Israel without seeing anyone at all.

    3) Once many towns were laid out and started to grow, and many square miles of land cultivated (they did indeed take barren land and turn it into orchards, citrus groves, fields of vegetables and so on), many, many Muslims migrated to the area in order to take advantage of the active and growing economy. Many, many of the people calling themselves Palestinians today are descended from immigrants to the area who arrived even later than the Jews who arrived in 1890-1920 period.

    4) Far from being a "racist" movement, Zionism was simply a movement to create a homeland with a Jewish identity (enough to prevent being victims like they had been in Russia and most of Europe), and did NOT exclude Muslims from being part of the community. If you think otherwise then you are ignorant of the views of many of those dedicated to Zionism in the 19th century. And if you read of the newly settled areas and communities surrounding the older towns and cities you'll find ample evidence of Muslims and Jews living and working together.

    5) The Muslims of the Palestine region of the Ottoman and then out-going British Empire were tho ONLY pro-Axis colonial people offered their own state following World War Two. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, acknowledged leader of Muslims on the Palestinian region, spent much of the war in Berlin making radio broadcasts and aiding to raise Muslim combat units from then-occupied Yugoslavia. He made it clear that he planned to do with the Jews in the Mideast what Hitler was doing to them in Europe. The Grand Mufti is the one who really jump-started the serious hatred of Jews (in the 1920s or a bit earlier) and propagandized (brainwashed) many, many thousands into a no-compromise, irrational hatred that exists to this day. Among his accomplishments were various murder campaigns carried out against Jewish settlements.

    6) Muslims in the Palestinian region weren't as interested in their own state so much as they were interested in being part of a greater Islamic state, or in particular becoming part of Syria. In fact, many or most of them called themselves "Southern Syrians" (and were, in fact, from Syria originally).

    7) When the two-state partition plan was proposed (this does not include the already-created eastern Palestinian state known as Jordan, formerly Trans-Jordan, which is mostly Palestinian and prohibited Jews from living there), the partially-checkerboard borders were drawn up to create a majority of Jews in one and a majority of Muslims in the other without a single person needing to be relocated. Many Jews would have found themselves in the Muslim state, and many Muslims would have found themselves in the Jewish state. They had been living that way for decades already, for the most part (by then there was a record of murder raids by the Grand Mufti groups, and by the Jewish self-defense groups that formed in response to these), so apparently most knew they could live with this without seeming to change anything about their lives.

    8) The future residents of the Muslim state foolishly turned down the deal when existing Muslim nations of the area convinced them that if they waited they would the entire Palestine region to themselves.

    9) After some months of this impasse, the Israelis decided to declare their independence. No one was "kicked out" to creat this state (see next section).

    10) The Muslim nations in the area immediately vowed to fight this new state to eliminate it, and the Muslim Palestinians were told to get out of the way so that they would not be killed by the Muslim artillery and air attacks in particlar. Many of these Muslim residents never got back because, as we know, their Muslim brothers failed to overrun the Israelis. These nations then refused to take in the refugees and kept them in that status ever since. In response to this fighting, in some areas of fighting the Israelis pushed out many of the Muslim residents if they were deemed to have been part of the effort to help the Muslim coalition forces overrun Israel. Prior to this they had been more than welcome to stay and be part of the Jewish state, as many did anyway (where they have a higher standard of living than if they were living in any other Islamic state in the Mideast).

    11) After Israel was independent, the area known as the West Bank (considered by some to be a good candidate for a Muslim Palestinian state, or at least part of one) was an unclaimed area that was, I think, under some limited UN oversight. It remained so for five years and then Jordan annexed it. During the Jordanian occupation (until Israel overran it fifteen years later in response to years of attacks coming from that area), there was apparently no cry that this was an occupied Palestine that should be a Palestinian state for Muslims. It was only after Israel moved in that this became an issue. Gee, what a surprise. (Note: Israel should not have annexed either this area, or the Golan Heights, but they hadn't done so when they fought for independence in creating their own state from what was left-over empire land and the Palestinians refusal to accept Israel's existence all these years has allowed the Israelis to settle this area to a point that perhaps makes it impossible to give up entirely. The Palestinians are indeed their own worst enemies in many ways.

    12) Israel has given up two pieces of land it had taken in response to aggression or planned aggression against it (1967 and 1973), namely, the Sinai and the Gaza strip, and in each case they forcible removed all of the Israeli Jews who had been living there. So it can happen again. Despite his flaws, I think Sadat was a good man because he realized the stupidity of being dedicated to eliminating Israel. And Israel responded. He was no Gandhi, but I'd like to know if the Left would like to see any Muslim Gandhis on the north, west, and south of Israel, and inside it. Or must they all be murdered as "traitors"? I had not realized that Gandhi was out of fashion.

    13) Even though I support the creation of a Muslim Palestinian state, I have no illusions that it's going to be just one more Jew-hating Islamic despotism. Gee, what a concept.

    14) Calling Israel a genocidal nation is another piece of nonsense. Considering all of the health care and the standard of living in Israel (many Muslim Israeli citizens don't want to be anywhere else), it must be one of the oddest efforts at genocide I've ever heard of. It's just another very over-used propaganda lie that does nothing but get many to reach a no-compromise stance.

    15) Every single Israeli Jew (there are Israeli Muslims of course) is a legitimate target to those who want to overrun Israel. There is no such thing as incidental killings to them. On the other hand, the Israelis know that it's ineffective militarily to consider any and every Muslim within and around its borders to be a legitimate target. So they don't, despite the propaganda that they do. They have to be more selective in their targeting which is why they go after as many arms caches, bomb factories, militant hideouts and leaders as possible.

    16) With the kind of Jew hatred taught to Muslims from an early age, is there anyone out there who thinks that this can be turned off if a Muslim Palestine is created out of, say, Gaza-Golan Heights-West Bank? If such a state is created, will the current supporters of the Palestinians be able to turn on those Muslims who still seek to eliminate Israel, and have the guts to support crushing them? If you want to see Israel eliminated, just come out and say it instead of hiding behind a claim that you're in favor of a two-state solution.

    Because...

    17) Those calling Israel a Nazi state while claiming support for a two-state solution puts them in a position of eventually accepting Israels continued existence even though the lesson of WWII is that no Nazi regime should be allowed to remain. Hence the stupidity of calling Israel a Nazi state (because they are not one anyway), or even an apartheid state similar to the old South Africa. I used to be anti-Israel until I read more and realized that I had been buying into all of the sh*t spewed by the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel propagandists. I'm sorry I ever felt that way, particularly since any objective, rational comparison of the two sides clearly reveals too many of Israel's opponents in the region to be unworthy of much sympathy at all, in how they treat their own people, let alone the dreaded infidels of various stripes. Even in recognition of a number of things Israel does (even if all or most of it is in response to moves against it), anyone who does not think that Israel is by far the best nation in that region (justice-wise, fairness-wise, you name it) is, to put it mildly, a very ignorant and misguided individual.

    Bob Tiernan

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    With the kind of Jew hatred taught to Muslims from an early age...

    Gee, Bob, you're sure putting a lot of weight of the fathers on a population where (according to the CIA World Factbook) 44% of the population is under the age of 17.

    I guess Republicans really believe in that first part of Christ's words: "Suffer the children..."

  • melch (unverified)
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    "Any proposal which results in the immediate or eventual destruction of Israel is not acceptable."

    Not destruction, of course. But the relevant comparison is Apartheid South Africa. European Jews occupied Palestine much the same way Europeans occupied South Africa. Eventually, the land was restored to those who'd actually lived there for over a thousand years. The same needs to happen in Palestine. So, in effect, the best result would be a single-state solution with Jews in the voting minority, as they would be if all residents of Palestine/Israel were fairly enfranchised as voters.

  • melch (unverified)
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    "Let me explain again that "We win. You die." or "We fill your country with people to vote for you to die, before we turn it into yet another religious dictatorship common to the region" is not actually a peace plan."

    This quote could have been written by P.W. Botha in the last decade or two of Apartheid South Africa.

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    We could go on and on here, but in the interest of getting back to Chip's original "what would you do" question, here is a fine post by Daniel Levy over at TPM Cafe. And though levity might seem perverse at such a time, this clip from the Daily Show that introduced Middle East Correspondent Aasif Mandvi back during the Lebanon War in 2006 was one of the sharpest I've ever seen, and still right on the mark.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    The news Tuesday AM is that an Israeli missile hit a school in Gaza where people were sheltering. Around 40 deaths. If you cannot see this as a tragedy--if you cannot see this as yet one more example of the sort of awfulness that occurs in urban warfare--then I don't know how we can even begin to talk.

    The blame game can go on forever. And as Bob Tiernan (which Bob Tiernan is this, BTW?) notes, the history is complicated. Unfortunately, the history is typically deployed as a weapon, with the "beginning" conveniently chosen to support whomever is making the argument.

    I am not interested in historical arguments and justifications.

    I don't give a damn about historical arguments and justifications, actually, regardless of which party you're trying to support.

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    Dan Petegorsky: It is indeed a destructive fantasy - with equally destructive fantasies on the part of many Israelis and right wing defenders in the U.S. And the two camps feed on each other in perfectly complementary ways.

    I agree completely. I disagree, however, with your attempts at historical revisionism:

    Dan Petegorsky: Thirty years ago your exact arguments were the basis of both US and Israeli refusal to negotiate with the PLO and accept a two-state solution.

    Thirty years ago, the PLO Charter had the destruction of Israel as its central plank. Fateh also had until very recently as its central plank the destruction of Israel listed as a major goal. I read it directly off their website. Arafat never made an offer that would not have resulted in the destruction of Israel. In fact, he never actually made any offers at all; at best, he stated that he was willing to at least listen to Israeli offers, prior to rejecting them.

    Now if destroying Israel is your goal, then we can talk about which middle-east nation has the best record of governance. We can talk about who has the better record of protecting the rights of religious minorities. We can talk about who starts wars (Arabs, and unfortunately, the U.S.), and who merely responds to repeated bombardment of their nation. But at least both melch and Ten Bears don't try to disguise their antisemitic hate, or pretend that their objective is anything but the destruction of Israel. I disagree, but such honesty is still preferable to language that tries to couch the destruction of Israel as "saving" it.

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    Bob: Far from being a "racist" movement, Zionism was simply a movement to create a homeland with a Jewish identity (enough to prevent being victims like they had been in Russia and most of Europe), and did NOT exclude Muslims from being part of the community. If you think otherwise then you are ignorant of the views of many of those dedicated to Zionism in the 19th century.

    Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones...

    Etzel - (Hebrew) Acronym for "Irgun Tzva'i Leumi" - National Military Organization; Dissident (revisionist) Zionist terrorist group founded in reaction to Arab riots. Etzel broke away from the Haganah and began violent activities about 1938. Etzel conducted a number of terror operations against the British, alone or in cooperation with Lehi, as well as brutal bombings of Arab civilians

    There were Irgun (generic shorthand for like-minded Zionist terrorists) committing acts of terrorism and intimidation years over a number of years. Perhaps the most famous example was the bombing of the King David Hotel (British HQ) killing 91 people in 1946. Less well known was the assasination of Lord Moyne in 1944.

    Now... if all Zionists were so willing to accept the UN partition - and it was only Arabs who objected - then why were Zionists terrorists operating for years leading up to the UN attempt?

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    I'm sorry, Bob, but your comments reflect a complete distortion of the history of Mideast peace negotiations. You're entitled to your positions and opinions - but they clearly place your on the right edge of the spectrum even of Israeli opinion.

    You either ignore or apparently reject the willingness of multiple Israeli governments to enter into serious negotiations (on terms that you seem to find objectionable), which very nearly came to fruition - for example, following the Oslo Accords (when progress was ended by Rabin's assassination) and more recently at Taba, (where progress was halted by Sharon's election and Bush's support for Sharon).

  • Idler (unverified)
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    With the kind of Jew hatred taught to Muslims from an early age...

    Gee, Bob, you're sure putting a lot of weight of the fathers on a population where (according to the CIA World Factbook) 44% of the population is under the age of 17.

    What use is such flippancy? This is a real problem .

    Melch writes:

    So, in effect, the best result would be a single-state solution with Jews in the voting minority, as they would be if all residents of Palestine/Israel were fairly enfranchised as voters.

    This may work with Flemings and Walloons; is it really going to happen with Israelis and their Arab enemies, people who vote for Hamas and give this kind of education to their children?:

    http://www.pmw.org.il/tv%20part3.HTML

    http://www.take-a-pen.org/english/Articles/Children.htm

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/01/022455.php

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I am completely baffled by Bodden's comment a ways up-thread that Hitler was supported by only six percent of the German population. WTF??!! The Nazis came to power in 1933 at the ballot box with 43.9% of the vote. The parties of the left in that election gained around 30%.

    First of all, Joel, the six percent figure came from a noted historian without reference to a particular time. In a lame attempt to try to score a point you cherry-picked the 1933 numbers. What do you make of this from "The Coming of the Third Reich" by Richard J. Evans (page 259): "Only 0.8 million people had supported the National Socialists in the Reichstag election of 1928"?

    Back to Israel-Palestine: The History and "Morals" of Ethnic Cleansing Note the quote attributed to Albert Einstein.

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    I also have to say that Bob Tiernan's post is a bit much for me. He makes it seem as if Israel was almost entirely purchased prior to its foundation. Not true. The amount of land that had been purchased from absentee landlords is vastly overstated. And further, it is simply not true that Arab/Palestinian refugees who left in the 1946 war all did so voluntarily. Many were forcibly displaced (just as many jews were later involuntarily displaced from surrounding countries and forced to move to Israel), but they never received compensation.

    So let me be clear that I do not subscribe to the belief among hard-like Likudniks that Jordan's current borders is the true Palestine. Palestinians deserve a Just Peace with Israel. It is a shame they prefer hatred, armed struggle, and dreams of victory instead.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    Our opinions, individually or collectively, matter not one bit (and yes, I understand the irony of my stating mine here nonetheless).

    Sorry to rain on the parade, but currently there IS no workable solution to the problem. Until and unless the people who occupy those lands truly want peace, enough to press their leaders for it, it won't happen. Israel and Palestine will continue to fight, there will never be peace in that area, and the history is irrelevant because both sides will twist the facts to suit themselves.

    We as a nation waste valuable time, money, and energy trying to impose peace from outside when the only workable solutions must come from within that region. We should not involve ourselves in the matters of Israel/Palestine but focus on our own problems and focus on the areas of the world that are asking for the assistance of the other nations of the world and showing by their behaviour that they will accept such assistance by improving the situations within their borders.

    Okay, I'll hush now and wait for the inevitable slamming that I'm going to get.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    There were Irgun (generic shorthand for like-minded Zionist terrorists) committing acts of terrorism and intimidation years over a number of years. Perhaps the most famous example was the bombing of the King David Hotel (British HQ) killing 91 people in 1946. Less well known was the assasination of Lord Moyne in 1944.

    This might be a better example :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_Yassin_massacre

    Not an insignificant part of the picture, but as in other cases, this represented a distinct minority presence in Palestinian Jewish society as it does in Israel today. The fact remains that Israel punishes its terrorists and Palestinians lionize theirs. Why shouldn't we demand that such behavior is unacceptable under any circumstances?

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    Your general rhetorical question is valid, IMHO. But I have to disagree with the generalization that Israel punishes its terrorists. They only do so if those terrorists cross a certain line. As long as they stop short of that line (which seems to be based on whether it gets noticed by the international community/media) then Israel has a long policy of turning a blind eye to them and their activities.

    The best example I can think of at the moment is certain ultraorthodox Jewish settlers. Settler rampages and violence against Palestinians (and any members of the media who attempt to document it) have happened many, many times, even in recent history, and the Israeli government rarily does anything about it. Indeed, those same Jewish terrorists clearly have no problem with using violence against the IDF as well when and where the IDF attempts to interfere with their plans - and they're on record as bluntly stating as much. Actually, some of them openly reject the legitimacy of the secular Israeli government.

    This is all a matter of the public record.

    Now... that said, I fully agree that Palestinians lionizing their terrorists are a fundamental obstacle to peace. No doubt about it! And nothing Israel does or has done negates that reality.

    All I'm saying is that it's an grave error to turn a blind eye to the transgressions of Israel Jews for their fundamental contributions to the enduring nature of the bloodshed over there.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Sorry to rain on the parade, but currently there IS no workable solution to the problem. Until and unless the people who occupy those lands truly want peace, enough to press their leaders for it, it won't happen. Israel and Palestine will continue to fight, there will never be peace in that area, and the history is irrelevant because both sides will twist the facts to suit themselves.

    What utter nonsense. The same thing has been said about other nations and groups that now live in peace with each other. Germany and France are but one example of many.

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    Ms Mel Harmon: Okay, I'll hush now and wait for the inevitable slamming that I'm going to get.

    I wouldn't call Bodden's comment a "slam". Given his lack of intellectual rigor, it's more like you were gummed by a newt. He seems to think that the people occupying Germany and France want war, but are being prevented from waging it somehow.

    But yes, you are entirely right. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict won't ever be resolved until both Israelis and Palestinians want 'peace through compromise' more than the dream of 'peace through utter victory'. And from my reading of history, far from being demagogues, leaders on both sides of the conflict have been significantly more willing to at least consider peaceful resolution than their respective peoples.

  • Tom Carter (unverified)
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    Comparing the history of the relationship between Germany and France with the conflict between Israel and non-state terrorists supported by other states is nonsense.

    There is one way to stop the violence, if not resolve all the issues. When the Palestinians stop attacking Israel and its citizens, Israel will stop responding to the attacks. That means that by stopping Palestinian terrorism once and for all, an atmosphere can exist in which other issues, many of them serious, can be addressed.

    The U.S. will have to continue what it has been doing--fully support Israel, while doing as much as possible to encourage some restraint. To abandon Israel is to doom that democratic ally and its people. President Obama will essentially take that course--wait and see. Bloggers notwithstanding, real decision makers have to deal with reality.

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    There is one way to stop the violence, if not resolve all the issues. When the Palestinians stop attacking Israel and its citizens, Israel will stop responding to the attacks.

    Sigh. Try this out:

    “We are facing not terror but a war. It is a national war declared upon us by the Arabs. Terror is one of the means of war…This is an active resistance by the Palestinians to what they regard as a usurpation of their homeland by the Jews - that’s why they fight. Behind the terrorists is a movement….let us not build on the hope that the terrorist gangs will get tired. If some get tired, others will replace them. A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily…it is easier for them to continue the war and not get tired than it is for us…When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves this is only half the truth. As regards our security and life we defend ourselves and our moral and physical position is not bad…But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves.”

    With a couple of very minor modifications, these are the words of David Ben Gurion in 1938, before the Holocaust, before the establishment of Israel (cited in Simha Flapan’s Zionism and the Palestinians).

    The one certain way not to resolve the conflict is to pretend that any incident of violence demands a retaliatory response, and that identifying one act as the cause of what follows is in any way meaningful as a starting point for discussion. Any side in this struggle can always point back to a prior incident that they claim was the cause of the one you've selected, in an endless regressions of "what abouts."

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    I have to admit that I agree with Maurer about a couple of things. One is that Tiernan's "history" is a whitewash that even apologists for ethnic cleansing like Israeli historian Benny Morris now acknowledge. Second, the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis is very similar to the treatment of indigenous peoples of North America by the U.S.

    I disagree with Maurer in his insistence that melch is an anti-semite. The comparison with South Africa is obvious (even Jimmy Carter agrees). And "anti-semites" like Noam Chomsky have been calling for a single-state solution for many years, although Chomsky sees that outcome as having to follow a two-state solution.

    The irony of historical DP support, including your savior, for a racist, hegemonist Israeli state is that it leads to an increase in real anti-semitism, as evidenced by Ten Bears, who sees the history of all negative events as a zionist conspiracy. When will Obama end his silence and call for a cease-fire? ("One president at a time" didn't prevent him from addressing the economic collapse.) Even Earl Blumenauer, who was a cheerleader for the attack on Lebanon, has called for a cease-fire.

    "Every Palestinian has become a prisoner. Gaza is surrounded by an electrified fence on three sides: imprisoned like animals, Gazans are unable to move, unable to work, unable to sell their vegetables or fruit, unable to go to school. They are exposed from the air to Israeli planes and helicopters and are gunned down like turkeys on the ground by tanks and machine guns. Impoverished and starved, Gaza is a human nightmare.

    Hope has been eliminated from the Palestinian vocabulary so that only raw defiance remains.

    Palestinians must die a slow death so that Israel can have its security, which is just around the corner but cannot be realized because of the special Israeli "insecurity." The whole world must sympathize, while the cries of Palestinian orphans, sick old women, bereaved communities, and tortured prisoners simply go unheard and unrecorded. Doubtless, we will be told, these horrors serve a larger purpose than mere sadistic cruelty. After all, "the two sides" are engaged in a "cycle of violence" that has to be stopped, sometime, somewhere. Once in a while we ought to pause and declare indignantly that there is only one side with an army and a country: the other is a stateless dispossessed population of people without rights or any present way of securing them. The language of suffering and concrete daily life has been either hijacked or so perverted as, in my opinion, to be useless except as pure fiction deployed as a screen for the purpose of more killing and painstaking torture - slowly, fastidiously, inexorably.

    That is the truth of what Palestinians suffer."

    ---Edward Said, August 2002

  • gina (unverified)
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    for those of you who think Israel is just "defending itself" and is completely innocent, please watch this documentary "Occupation 101". This shows the Palestinian side, and how Israel oppresses them:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2451908450811690589&ei=s9ljSaa-FZiEqQPV8J2cBg&q=occupation+101

    These are common arguments:

    Palistinian supporter: Israelis have murdered 600 people (including more than 215 children & 89 women) and injured at least 2,470 (that's the last figure I saw last night). This is genocide! (only 6 Israeli soldiers have been killed)

    Israeli supporter: Israelis are defending themselves. Civilians live in constant fear everyday; Hamas shoots rockets into parks, neighborhoods and where other innocent people are.

    Palestinian supporter: It's because Israel has made life for Palestinians extremely difficult.

    What do I mean by 'difficult'? Well, difficult includes the 26-foot wall that Israel has built in the West Bank. The wall isn't even on the border, but goes inside so that Israel can have access to the fertile land of the region etc. 5% of Gaza's electricity has been cut off. 530,000 people from Gaza, Rafah and the Middle Area are entirely cut off from running water.Too many patients in hospitals. morgues are filling up. 5,000 (and growing) displaced people in 11 shelters. Gaza's water and sewage system is on the verge of collapse due to the lack of power and fuel... all in the name of self-defense. (Read the full report from the U.N. at http://www.ochaopt.org/gazacrisis/admin/output/files/ocha_opt_gaza_situation_report_2009_01_05_english.pdf)

    But watch Occupation 101 to see exactly WHY the Palestinians feel so oppressed. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2451908450811690589&ei=s9ljSaa-FZiEqQPV8J2cBg&q=occupation+101

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    I have to defend Ten Bears here.

    He has consistently stated - anywhere and everywhere someone gives him the opportunity to do so - that he is a fully equal-opportunity critic of each of the monotheistic religions. In fact, he explicitly stated as much in a comment up-thread.

    He is NOT an anti-semite.

    He IS an anti-Jewish/Islamic/Christian_religionist and is exceptionally unappologetic about it.

    Agree or disagree with his views on religion as you see fit. But pinning the "anti-semite" label on him is just flat wrong and inherently devalues the very meaning of the term.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Palistinian supporter: Israelis have murdered 600 people (including more than 215 children & 89 women) and injured at least 2,470 (that's the last figure I saw last night). This is genocide! (only 6 Israeli soldiers have been killed)

    Has anybody said Israel has never done anything wrong?

    With regard to the quote above, did the Israelis really murder 600 people? Also, assuming the figure is correct, while 2,470 is frightful, it would bear no resemblance to genocide even if the deaths were "murders," which I'm confident they were not.

    Israeli supporter: Israelis are defending themselves. Civilians live in constant fear everyday; Hamas shoots rockets into parks, neighborhoods and where other innocent people are.

    Palestinian supporter: It's because Israel has made life for Palestinians extremely difficult.

    Palestinians can't help committing atrocities? They have no recourse but to attempt to kill civilians (and, yes, that is murder.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Mr. Bodden, here's a tabulation (courtesy Wikipedia) of the vote for the National Socialist German Workers' Party in the last 5 elections held in the Weimar Republic:

    1928: 2.6% 1930: 18.3% July 1932: 37.8% November 1932: 33.1% 1933: 43.9%

    So tell me exactly what I've been cherry picking, because I don't get your point, I'm afraid. It seems you want to draw a distinction between the known, tabulated vote totals and postwar historiographical commentary. As you wish. I'll stick with the numbers and not try the impossible task of figuring out exactly why Herr und Frau Schmidt, and millions of other Germans, filled in their ballots for the Nazi Party. I also won't condemn later generations of Germans for the sins of their forebears.

    It's admittedly very uncomfortable to have to recognize that the Nazi Party had broad support at the ballot box (and I will let you parse what this means exactly). It's also very uncomfortable to have to recognize that a neo-fascist like Jean-Marie LePen came in 2nd (ahead of the Socialist) in the penultimate French presidential race (2002, I believe)...or that neo-fascist parties all over Europe have routinely been getting around 10-15% of the vote in the 21st century, and sometimes more (as in Austria)...or that blatant bigots who want to expel all Arabs from Israel get that sort of vote in Israeli elections...and so on. As the saying goes, democracy is messy, and even people whose goal is to destroy democracy wind up participating.

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    Palestinians can't help committing atrocities? They have no recourse but to attempt to kill civilians (and, yes, that is murder.

    Excellent point and nice job cutting to the quick.

    In strictly practical terms I am utterly baffled by the Palestinian's seeming preference for violence.

    Ghandi won with non-violent resistance what his armed and violent fellows could not. Ditto for MLK here in America and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. It's a strategy that's proven itself on three seperate continents!

    Against what? The Kurds long-standing armed resistance? Native American armed resistance? The Tibetans armed resistance?

    Seems to me that armed resistance by a militarily inferior ethnic group almost always serves to reinforce the ethnic bigotry of the superior group and that just perpetuates the suffering on all sides.

    Yes, I'm aware of the North Vietnamese victory through violence and other such examples. But stacked against the spectacular victories won by Ghandi, Mandela and MLK (& Company) it just seems to me that the weight of history strongly favors non-violent resistance as the more effective and infinitely more humane path.

  • Gina (unverified)
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    Palistinian supporter: Israelis have murdered 600 people (including more than 215 children & 89 women) and injured at least 2,470 (that's the last figure I saw last night). This is genocide! (only 6 Israeli soldiers have been killed)

    Has anybody said Israel has never done anything wrong?

    No, but at this rate (600 since DECEMBER 27).. if this continues it is like genocide. And yes, it is murder because they shot rockets, invaded Gaza etc. Okay, if you don't consider it murder, what is it then? Accidental kills?

    Israeli supporter: Israelis are defending themselves. Civilians live in constant fear everyday; Hamas shoots rockets into parks, neighborhoods and where other innocent people are.

    Palestinian supporter: It's because Israel has made life for Palestinians extremely difficult.

    Palestinians can't help committing atrocities? They have no recourse but to attempt to kill civilians (and, yes, that is murder.

    Watch the video, Occupation 101. Then you will see what I mean (once again, the link is Occupation 101

    These people are fighting for THEIR LIVES. I don't like that they hit innocent people, but remember, these people are desperate. They are cooped up within the Wall. they cannot travel within their own country because there are checkpoints everywhere... they are like foreigners in their own home.

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    Kevin - You raise some good points, and no less imposing figures than Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad were trenchant critics of the PLO's glorification of armed struggle, which they viewed most often as strategically idiotic. That said, a couple of notes:

    First, it's historically inaccurate to place Mandela solely in the nonviolent resistance camp, since the ANC's armed wing (Umkhonto we Sizwe) was a critical component of its strategy.

    Similarly, while I in no way want to signal approval for such tactics, it's nonetheless the case that there are more examples than you're suggesting where groups using armed resistance have in fact won despite being vastly outnumbered and out-resourced military by occupying powers. The Algerian Revolution is the classic post-colonial model, and I think you'd also have to include the (US-aided) Afghan mujahideen's expulsion of the Soviet army.

    Most important, though, was Hezbollah's recent success in stopping the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which had an enormous effect across the Arab world and is regarded as something of a textbook case in the ever growing literature on what's called Asymmetric Warfare. In many interviews I've seen during the current crisis, savvy reporters have consistently questioned Israeli leaders on why they think this action in Gaza will succeed where their Lebanon action failed.

  • Ron Paul (unverified)
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    Israel depends on us; they depend on us economically, they depend on us for their military power and all their weapons and they really got a green light from our administration. No matter what they do, it is our money, it is our weapons, and they are not going to do it without us approving it.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    So tell me exactly what I've been cherry picking, because I don't get your point, I'm afraid.

    My point was to remind anyone reading this thread that there are good and evil people in almost every nation and society in part to dissuade people from indulging in anti-Jew comments. But you had to go nit-picking and change the subject. And typical of your modus operandum you ignored my question about the 0.8 million (800,000) votes for the Nazis that offset your cherry. As far as my point is concerned, the numbers are irrelevant. What if the Nazis got 70%, opponents only got 5% and the rest were apathetic? My original point is still valid. You get the best and worst among most peoples and the rest are somewhere in between.

    Sorry to rain on the parade, but currently there IS no workable solution to the problem. Until and unless the people who occupy those lands truly want peace, enough to press their leaders for it, it won't happen. Israel and Palestine will continue to fight, there will never be peace in that area, and the history is irrelevant because both sides will twist the facts to suit themselves.

    One of the hopeful facts related to the Israel-Palestine issue is that there have always been Jews and Palestinians who have lived in peace with each other. A big part of the problem we have today comes from the United States keeping the Likud, and now the Kadima and Labor parties, on life support. Take away all the military aid and be an honest broker and the situation would very likely resolve itself in the foreseeable future.

    Ghandi won with non-violent resistance what his armed and violent fellows could not. Ditto for MLK here in America and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. It's a strategy that's proven itself on three seperate continents!

    Gandhi, MLK, Jr., and Mandela succeeded with non-violence, in part, because the regimes they opposed had some moral restraints within their societies or, in the case of South Africa, imposed on them from outside. Non-violence didn't make it in Tibet, isn't having much luck in Zimbabwe and won't make it Israel as along as it is ruled by a morally bankrupt government supported by equally immoral governments, including the United States.

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    Oh please, Gina. You can lie to yourself, but don't lie to us. Gaza is about double the size of Washington D.C. After the Israelis withdrew, it had absolutely no checkpoints inside it. You could travel anywhere no questions asked. And the laws (or lack thereof) was left entirely up to the Palestinians. It was, in fact, a de-facto "State within a State", sort of a trial run for what the Palestinian side of a "two state solution" would really look like.

    What immediately happened after is kind of bracing for anyone who thought modern Palestinians have even the slightest ability to govern themselves. There was open warfare between Fateh and Hamas. This accounted for 150 deaths (according to Gina's accounting, that would be about 1/4 of a "genocide"), and after Hamas won they started shelling Israel proper. Israel responded by shutting the border between Gaza and Egypt, which was where Hamas was buying the weapons. Hamas kidnapped some IDF soldiers outside of Israel, and used some tunnels they dug to evade the border closure, to smuggle them into the strip. Israel is now collapsing those tunnels.

    In other words, Israel unilaterally gave the Palestinians de-facto sovereignty ("land"), and received in return what they've always always gotten: war. The only thing that has ever actually stopped Palestinian terrorism is what they're doing right now.

    And I'm sorry, but this excessive focus on bashing Israel is clearly based on nothing but pure antisemitic bile. All the hate filled posters here making strained comparisons to historical atrocities have no idea what real war based suffering looks like. If you did, you'd be posting every day about Africa's World War, which from 1998 to 2003 took 5.4 MILLION lives - nearly all of them civilian. But since no Jews are involved and it's only black people who are dying, it's really not news.

    Please don't pretend you actually care about suffering. It's really all about validating your own crude bigotry.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Arundhati Roy ( Listening To Grasshoppers- Genocide, Denial And Celebration):

    "The poor, the so-called poor, have only one choice: to resist or to succumb...

    They have watched the great Gandhian people's movements being reduced and humiliated, floundering in the quagmire of court cases, hunger strikes and counter-hunger strikes. Perhaps these many million Constraining Ghosts of the Past wonder what advice Gandhi would have given the Indians of the Americas, the slaves of Africa, the Tasmanians, the Herero, the Hottentots, the Armenians, the Jews of Germany, the Muslims of Gujarat. Perhaps they wonder how they can go on hunger strike when they're already starving. How they can boycott foreign goods when they have no money to buy any goods. How they can refuse to pay taxes when they have no earnings...

    People who have taken to arms have done so with full knowledge of what the consequences of that decision will be. They have done so knowing that they are on their own. They know that the new laws of the land criminalise the poor and conflate resistance with terrorism...

    They know that appeals to conscience, liberal morality and sympathetic press coverage will not help them now. They know no international marches, no globalised dissent, no famous writers will be around when the bullets fly...

    Are they Idealists fighting for a Better World? Well... anything is better than annihilation...

    Yes. The idea of extermination is in the air. And people believe that faced with extermination, they have the right to fight back. By any means necessary."

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    Steve, despite agreeing with several of your key points above, I have some problems with this paragraph.

    In other words, Israel unilaterally gave the Palestinians de-facto sovereignty ("land"), and received in return what they've always always gotten: war. The only thing that has ever actually stopped Palestinian terrorism is what they're doing right now.
    1. Sovereignty, de-facto or otherwise, implies territorial control, including offshore sovereignty which every nation enjoys, which Israel has emphatically declined to grant Gaza. Thus it simply is not factually correct to say that Israel gave them anything resembling sovereignty. What they gave Gaza was the APPEARANCE of sovereignty.

    2. If bombing the crap out of the Palestinians is the only thing that has ever stopped Palestinian terrorism, as you assert, then please explain the lack of missles or mortars being lobbed from the Occupied West Bank into Israel as well as Israel's abundantly clear preferance for dealing non-militarily with Fatah.

    You're making some very valid points. But you're also over-reaching in the same manner as some of those you are criticizing. Which guts your good points, IMO.

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    Dan, your point about Mandela's involvement with the ANC is well taken. However, I think any objective review of his lifetime would conclude that those efforts were for naught until he came to believe in non-violence. Indeed, he was a relatively minor figure in the ANC resistance until he began engaging de Klerk in what can only be described as a most remarkable and effective manner.

    Along these same lines I have to give a hat-tip to Bill Bodden's pointing out that a critical component of the successful use of non-violence is some level of self-imposed moral restraint on the part of the dominant force. And in addition to the examples he cites, I would also point to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as another such example. Later Afghan history may well beg the question of whether they would even consider non-violence. But there is little doubt that even if they were so inclined, such an effort would almost surely have been utterly lost on the Soviets.

    Lastly, I've noticed the same thing with respect to Israel and the War on Hezbollah/Lebanon in 2006. If one reads much of the coverage then it's pretty hard to miss the IDF spokespeople stumbling over themselves trying to explain (sometimes preemptively) why they've learned from 2006 and what's happening today doesn't represent a continuation of the same.

  • melch (unverified)
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    "And I'm sorry, but this excessive focus on bashing Israel is clearly based on nothing but pure antisemitic bile."

    Oh please. There goes the "anti-semitic" smear. The moment anyone questions Israel, they're an "anti-semite".

    We're over it. Israel has cried wolf too many times. It has become a dangerously aggressive military power, ruled by paranoia. Given their nuclear capability, they have become a danger to the entire world.

    The United States must severely restrict or cut off all military aid to Israel, immediately. If they have to buy their own guns (instead of using our tax dollars, er, I mean skyrocketing national credit card), perhaps they'll think twice before using them.

    The TWO BILLION unrestricted military dollars the U.S. sends to Israel every year would sure fix a lot of bridges and buy a lot of school books.

    Any why focus on Israel moreso than Africa? Again, Israel has nukes. Africa is tragic, but the insanity in Africa doesn't put the rest of the world at risk of a hundred year nuclear winter filled with death, disease, and total social collapse.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Gina wrote: No, but at this rate (600 since DECEMBER 27).. if this continues it is like genocide. And yes, it is murder because they shot rockets, invaded Gaza etc. Okay, if you don't consider it murder, what is it then? Accidental kills?

    Some of the deaths may be deliberate kills of combatants, who because of Hamas’ criminal tactics are indistinguishable from non-combatants. Others are civilians caught up in warfare. More of them are dying because Hamas hides its armaments in civilian areas, which makes them culpable of the deaths.

    I don't like that they hit innocent people, but remember, these people are desperate.

    There are desperate people all over the world who don’t gravitate toward atrocities. If such atrocities go unpunished or—worse still—rewarded, we are guaranteed to have more of them.

    Here’s how it works: Hamas knows that they can manipulate Westerners’ sensibilities. They exploit the victim role accorded by so many by the Palestinians, knowing that their war crimes will be excused rather than thoroughly y repudiated. Confident of that reaction, they not only hide themselves and their weapons among civilians, but also use civilian casualties for propaganda purposes.

    Until they are harmed rather than helped by their tactics, they will continue to expose the local non-combatants to danger. Thus sympathizers play a role in perpetuating atrocities.

    In this respect, Harry K is right when he says:

    People who have taken to arms have done so with full knowledge of what the consequences of that decision will be.

    But he is wrong when he says:

    They have done so knowing that they are on their own. They know that the new laws of the land criminalise the poor and conflate resistance with terrorism...

    In fact the Palestinians have enjoyed enormous sympathy and have milked it for all it's worth, despite their focus on violence rather than constructive activities, their widespread culture of death-worship and their untroubled use of atrocities. How else do you explain a bunch of Oregonians wringing their hands about their plight, along with people in other parts of the world, while those same sympathizers aren't too worked up about Sri Lanka's suppression of the Tamil rebels, executed with far less restraint than Israel used? Similarly with regard to the African example Steve raised.

    I think Kevin was right to appeal to the potential of non-violent resistance because A) the Palestinians begin with recognized victim status and a great deal of sympathy (though their violence has soured that sympathy in many cases) and B) Israel is a democratic country with standards of conduct similar to other advanced democracies that is capable of being shamed, unlike China and Zimbabwe.

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    Here's another fine post to add to the external links re. this thread - from Paul Rosenberg over at Open Left: Being Pro-Israel, When Israel Itself Is Not. Oregonians may appreciate his opening analogy:

    Say you're on a bowling team called "The Ducks," and one of your friends on the team has a drinking problem. Call him "Joe." If Joe asks you to buy him a drink, and you do, does that make you "pro-Joe"? And "pro-Duck"? And if you don't buy him a drink, does that make you "anti-Joe"? Does it make you "a self-hating Duck"?
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    1. I'm sorry Kevin, but your statement about every nation having "offshore sovereignty" is factually incorrect. Monaco, widely known as a sovereign state, has almost the exact same relationship to France that Gaza has to Israel (except that Monaco is smaller). Since they aren't in the habit of shelling France however, the borders are extremely open and friendly.

    2. The population of the Gaza strip is 1.5 million people. 600 people, most of whom were Hamas combatants, represent 0.04% of the population. That does not, in my book, represent "bombing the crap" out of anyone. (Dresden, a city of 200K, lost 25K-40K in a bombing campaign during WW2.) But my statement wasn't about specific war time tactics. It was about the ineffectiveness of any form of accommodation, compared to the great effectiveness of simply removing the ability of Palestinians to engage in terrorist acts. Israel has tried accommodation again and again; it hasn't worked. So they do what does.

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    Steve, I'm pretty certain that Monaco's legal relationship with France is based upon MUTUAL agreement. In fact, it was Monaco, not France, which suggested the current treaty arrangement in the first place. The same simply can not be said about Gaza/Israel. Thus the Monaco analogy flat doesn't work.

    Except where two nations abutt each other or there is some other existing treaty spelling out different terms, such as is the case with Monaco and France, every nation on the planet has a mutually recognized territorial sovereignty extending well beyond their shores. All of this has long since been enshrined in international law.

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    There's another issue with "sovereignty" that's fairly important.

    Prior to the pullout from Gaza a couple years back, Israel collected tax funds "in behalf" of the Palestinian Authority. They were the ones holding the pursestrings. But when Hamas won the election in January 2006, Israel froze over $600 million before finally dribbling out a portion of that to Fateh over a year later.

    That's $400 per person in Gaza, where the per capita GDP is about $1,100. That was money to pay government workers (the largest employer in Gaza), feed their families, pay their rents, provide services, etc. The Israelis basically stole the Palestinians' money. Sort of like Saddam Hussein skimming money off the Oil for Food program, only in this case the perp skimmed everything.

    There's no sovereignty without economic sovereignty.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Robert Fisk: Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask

    Deborah Orr: There wouldn't have been Gaza rockets without the blockade

    From Al-Jazeera:

    "Venezuela has expelled the Israeli ambassador to protest against the country's assault on Gaza, after the Venezuelan president described it as a "holocaust".

    "The move on Tuesday came hours after 40 Palestinians were killed at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter amid the offensive."

    At least one world leader has the guts to not take this crime against humanity in silence.

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)
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    Direct Action by young woman during war time in Gaza.

    Madness

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    The tax that darrelplant refers to is a Value Added Tax on goods and services purchased in Israel, not any tax within gaza itself. Israel records the VAT paid by Palestinians and instead of keeping it (like nearly all U.S. states do with sales tax), they instead reimburse it to the Palestinian government. Understandably, they've been reluctant to give the funds to Hamas, so they can buy more weapons.

    This is typical behavior. Monaco residents pay French taxes when in France, and none of that money comes back to Monaco.

    Again, Kevin, the point isn't that Gaza's "legal relationship" isn't what Palestinians really want: the destruction of Israel. It's that what they were unilaterally given - with nothing asked in return - is a good or better deal than what is found elsewhere in the world. I'd wager a guess that the Tamil Tigers would leap at such a deal, if offered. Same for the few remaining Basque Separatists.

    But the Palestinians continue to wage war because they prefer their religious hate and mistaken belief that if they continue down this path, history will grant them an ultimate victory. They're wrong.

  • Salvador (unverified)
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    I recommend to all posters above reading an article in today's Guardian by Oxford professor of International Relations Avi Shlaim, who served in the Israeli army. Prof. Shlaim provides some much needed historical context to the discussion of the Israel/Gaza/Palestine relationship. The piece is titled "How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian disaster." Here's the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine

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    The tax that darrelplant refers to is a Value Added Tax on goods and services purchased in Israel, not any tax within gaza itself. Israel records the VAT paid by Palestinians and instead of keeping it (like nearly all U.S. states do with sales tax), they instead reimburse it to the Palestinian government.

    That's just rubbish. It money owed to the Palestinian Authority. It's Palestinian money. According to the article, it represented "roughly half the Palestinain government's operating budget" and not just in Gaza but in the West Bank as well.

    How do you run a government of any kind with half your budget stolen for a year and a half or more? Make all of the excuses you want to, but this kind of heavy-handed crap of stealing people's land by bdefying UN resolutions and building settlements in the West Bank, then stealing what little money they have left, and then bombing them indiscriminately is what gives Israel a bad reputation around the world.

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    Please, Darrel. Don't imagine any sales tax you pay while purchasing goods in California ever gets rebated back to Oregon. It doesn't.

    Let me be clear. Rebating VAT taxes is a nice thing to do, and many first world countries do it as a way to help their own retailers. But the idea that nations somehow owe a rebate of taxes collected in their own country to anyone is absurd. What, are you becoming Republican?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    The world should be playing a role in this as one would intervening in a dysfunctional relationship, not choosing sides. Tried to contribute the idea, but it was too long. You can read it here . Warning: contains no partisan rhetoric, so you're not likely to find it as entertaining as this.

  • Jiang (unverified)
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    Tried to contribute the idea, but it was too long. You can read it here

    Having read your posts, more likely it was krap. TA's story of his bike accident was 3000 words long; you said up top your was 2000. It's not the length and this post proves it's not the subject. Capiche?

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    I will say that the critique of export controls at Karnai (detailed here), seems quite valid. It isn't the "total shutdown" that Professor Shlaim claims (the author of Salvador's link), but it certainly could be better. Again however, I see a curious lack of recognition of culpability of the Palestinians in their own predicament. The Rafah crossing (to Egypt) was completely free. It was averaging 1318 people a day, and goods were flowing freely until Cpl. Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas in June of 2006.

    Again, every time Israel lets up, it is rewarded with an attack. Brutality, at least temporarily, stops it. In this kind of environment, how exactly is Labor supposed to convince the Israeli people to do the "right thing"? Does anyone think Democrats could win on a platform of being nice to Al Qaeda?

  • melch (unverified)
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    "The population of the Gaza strip is 1.5 million people. 600 people, most of whom were Hamas combatants, represent 0.04% of the population."

    Since Israel withdrew from Gaza, 20 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while 2000 Palestinians - including many women, children, and non-combatant men - have been killed by the vastly superior Israeli military containment force.

    Steven Maurer's willingness to minimize the death of thousands of Palestinians, in his vapid defense of Israel, makes me ill. Good God, have you no sense of perspective or simple human decency?

    Just imagine if Gaza were filled with Israelis. You couldn't babble the word "holocaust" fast enough.

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    If Gaza was filled with Israelis, and Israel was controlled by the Palestinians, very quickly there would be a holocaust. A real one: the entire population would be wiped out. This is the way Arabs treat each other in their current culture. Go google Hama.

    I'm not minimizing the death of anyone. By excusing Palestinians from all responsibility for the effects of their repeated provocations, melch, you are.

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    Steve Maurer's position that brutality is the only effective means Israel has at its disposal shows exactly why over the long term Israel may continue to win battle after battle but ultimately lose the war. The New York Times' front page piece this morning underscores the same point: whatever tactical military lessons Israel may have learned from its failed 2006 invasion of Lebanon, it has failed to absorb any of the political lessons.

    So, as Giora Eiland notes, "the linkage between the political level and the military level is less improved... There is no political system to make strategic assessments and provide alternative options and implement them."

    As the French learned in the infamous Battle of Algiers, the very methods that enabled them to suppress the FLN in the Casbah caused them ultimately irreparable political harm at home and abroad. They 'won' the war in a military sense, but lost where it really mattered, on the political front.

    [Given the topic, can we substitute felafil for chalupas?]

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    Steve, as I pointed out above... you're gutting your good points by overeaching in the exact same manner as those you're criticizing.

    The tax thing is a perfect example. What kind of tax it is was utterly irrelevant to Darrell's point. And then you wanna talk about how we'd handle a similar tax here? Christ, man! You might as well launch into a dissertation on Tibetan throat-singing for all the relevance it had to ANY of this. It doesn't MATTER how we'd handle a similar tax, any more than it matters how effing Dolphins or Polar Bears would handle a similar tax.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Steven Maurer's willingness to minimize the death of thousands of Palestinians, in his vapid defense of Israel, makes me ill.

    What's "vapid" about it? Why do you minimize the responsibility of Hamas and Palestinians in general, who repeatedly choose to commit atrocities and educate their children in mortal hatred of Jews and Israel?

    Since Israel withdrew from Gaza, 20 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while 2000 Palestinians - including many women, children, and non-combatant men - have been killed by the vastly superior Israeli military containment force.

    Lesson: don't try to kill and terrorize citizens of a country with vastly superior military. They have every right to defeat an enemy with force adequate to legitimate military objectives. If Palestinians forswear violence, Israel will have no justification for waging war, and indeed no need to. Actions have consequences.

    Regarding the casualties, you must be assuming that some of the men are non-combatants because, generally speaking, there's no way of telling, owing to Hamas' tactics. Also, why are you not outraged at the fact that Hamas exposes its civilians to danger by using them as shields and storing armaments in mosques, etc.? If they are not made to pay for their war crimes, they will continue to commit them. Indeed, pandering to them and blaming legitimate military action is playing right into their cyincal use of civilians.

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    The money Israel collected was earmarked as tax revenue for the Palestinian Authority at the time the taxes were collected. It was a pre-arranged agreement and there's absolutely no validity to your idea that it was simply done out of the goodness of the heart of the Israeli government.

    If a company, let's call it PGE for, oh, Palestinian Grocery Express, collects a fee for a government tax on top of the price of the goods it sells but then decides to keep the money instead of turning it over to the government, that's theft too.

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    ...educate their children in mortal hatred of Jews and Israel?

    I'd have to contend that Israel is doing and has done far more "educating" in this respect by killing and maiming parents, siblings, children, and relatives -- not to mention destroying property and causing a hell of a lot of misery -- than Hamas could ever teach anyone. Who wouldn't hate the people who killed your family, whether you were Israeli or Palestinian? The concept expressed by the Italian word vendetta translates pretty much across any language and culture.

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    Actually, Dan, you've unintentionally put your finger on the real cause of Palestinian suffering: the belief that Israel can be destroyed by the same tactics that were used to persuade France to leave Algiers. Adherents of this belief see no reason to ever stop provoking Israel. Somehow, they think that Israelis will get tired of being attacked, and return to where they came from.

    What they seem to miss is that there is a difference between a people dying to preserve a foreign colony, and a people dying to preserve their home. Nearly all modern day Israelis were born there. They don't have any place to "return" to, and have no intention of ever leaving.

    And insofar as the idea that Israel is dooomed if it doesn't agree to its own self-destruction - that its response to constant terrorist attacks will make it look like a villain and thus destroy it by world condemnation, the fundamental miscalculation among Islamic radicals is the underestimation of how hated their tactics have become.

    At work, I routinely defend the Islamic faith from the attacks of an engineer raised in India who has had his perception of all Muslim believers colored by jihadists he grew up around. China has problems with Muslim terrorism. And Britain. And all throughout Europe. Some idiots were trying to impose misogynistic Sharia on Sweedish women. And the Philippines. Etc, etc.

    In fact, the only reason why Salafists have as much support as they do is because Arabs have oil. The day the price of extracting crude from Saudi Arabia becomes more expensive than other means of energy production will be the day that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict becomes just like any other - utterly ignored - regional power struggle. Just like Sri Lanka, in which there have been thousands of deaths between government forces and the Tamil Tigers, who just lost their de-facto capital. Tigers have been dying by the thousands, ignored because they don't have some massively rich oil-daddy everyone has to suck up to.

    To conclude, this is not the worst time for Palestinians to cut a peace deal. It's the best. It's too bad they don't want one.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    I'd have to contend that Israel is doing and has done far more "educating" in this respect by killing and maiming parents, siblings, children, and relatives -- not to mention destroying property and causing a hell of a lot of misery -- than Hamas could ever teach anyone. Who wouldn't hate the people who killed your family, whether you were Israeli or Palestinian? The concept expressed by the Italian word vendetta translates pretty much across any language and culture.

    Darrell, what would be the harm in exploring this particular aspect of Palestinian culture and acknowledging how damaging it is?

    Is nothing the Israelis do ever justified, even if they are acting within long-established norms of civilized behavior? Is everything Palestinians do excusable, no matter how often and how grotesquely they depart from such standards?

    Israelis don't happen to feed their children the kind of murderous propaganda that the Palestinians do. Isn't that a good thing? Wouldn't it be a step in the right direction if the Palestinians were to stop doing this?

    When one gets into the habit of drawing false equivalences it becomes increasingly difficult to make judgments based on meaningful distinctions.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Salvador: Thank you for this link. The article is one of the more cogent on this topic and an excellent refutation of some of the meretricious nonsense wasting time and space above.

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    Steve - it wasn't unintentional. And the psychology you describe is certainly at play among some Palestinian leaders and organizations. It's unfortunate, though, that while on the one hand seem able to distinguish "Some idiots" from "the Islamic faith," your highly intemperate comments on this thread come across as playing into rank bigotry - for example, suggesting that, as the saying goes, "violence is the only language they understand" or that "Palestinians" don't want a peace deal. I know nothing about your work, but you might think about what makes you able to drawn such distinctions in a professional context but not when you're writing here.

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    Speaking of work, I really have to get back to it. So this will be my last commentary today. But when I talk about Palestinians, I'm talking about the current majority belief among the Palestinian people.

    It's not just "some Palestinian leaders and organizations". Polls have been done that show that Hamas, far from being a fringe organization, represents in their positions what the vast majority of Palestinians really want. They're just a little more honest about it than most.

    (I actually consider this a step up. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Hamas can make a real peace deal with Israel.)

    But just as I believe that the majority of Americans deserve all the consequences of what they voted for in George Bush (especially in 2004), the Palestinian people are also completely responsible for who they vote into office.

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    It's not just "some Palestinian leaders and organizations". Polls have been done that show that Hamas, far from being a fringe organization, represents in their positions what the vast majority of Palestinians really want. They're just a little more honest about it than most.

    Multiple polls not so long ago showed huge majorities of Americans approved of Bush's job performance as Prez.

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    OK - I'm also happy to sign off on this thread now. I'll just leave folks with one additional piece that came across my screen underscoring the lack of any coherent Israeli strategy in contrast to its military tactics. The take home quote:

    "Asked three times by audience members, [Israeli U.S. Ambassador] Meridor simply could not offer any plausible explanation as to how its military campaign in Gaza would achieve its stated goals."

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    My first post to this blog was in reaction to the attack on Lebanon by Israel with the support of all of the Oregon Congressional contingent, for which I was attacked and threatened. So it's with great satisfaction that I see that I have so many allies now willing to speak out against Israeli atrocities. Now, however, it's time that my allies on this issue do two things:

    (1.) Demand that your nonrepresentatives end all "aid" (most of which goes into the pockets of U.S. corporations) to Israel until it begins to observe international standards of decency, including adherence to the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles;

    and (2.) Take any refusal by your future Democratic candidates to honor your wishes as a deal-breaker, i.e., DO NOT SUPPORT ANY CANDIDATE WHO GIVES UNQUALIFIED SUPPORT TO ISRAEL.

    Lacking that, your arguments here are rank hypocrisy.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    until it begins to observe international standards of decency, including adherence to the Geneva Conventions

    How exactly is Israel in violation of the Geneva Conventions? What do you object to beyond Israel's using military means to destroy its enemy's military capabilities?

    Also, do you observe equal scruple with regard to Palestinian atrocities and violations of international standards of decency and the Geneva Conventions? Do you speak out as vehemently about those violations? If not, couldn't your position be derided as "rank hypocrisy"?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    (1.) Demand that your nonrepresentatives end all "aid" (most of which goes into the pockets of U.S. corporations) to Israel until it begins to observe international standards of decency, including adherence to the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles;

    It looks like it might be kind of late for demanding representatives do the right thing. Democrats in Congress are “scrambling to push out” a “non-binding resolution supporting Israel’s goal” in the Gaza military operations. It will be interesting to see if any representatives other than Kucinich, McDermott and Ron Paul will have the integrity to tell Steny Hoyer where to shove his resolution. Same goes for the Democrats' senators - Wyden and Merkley.

  • melch (unverified)
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    "why are you not outraged at the fact that Hamas exposes its civilians to danger by using them as shields and storing armaments in mosques, etc.?"

    As if Israel and America have allowed them a choice? Israel has two billion American dollars to spend each year on the finest military equipment, training, barracks, bases, checkpoints, guns, missiles, and the rest. The Palestinians do not.

    People being ground into the dirt by a vastly superior military force will do whatever is needed. No million dollar laser guided missiles handy? Yes, some will volunteer suicide. I just watched a Battlestar Galactica episode which honored such a desperate choice as the climax of the show.

    Many, many Americans put in the same circumstances as the Palestinians - being ground into the dirt by a vastly superior occupying force - would do just the same.

    As for the supposedly crazy Hamas, Mossad and Hamas have virtually identical tactics. At least Hamas also feeds, educates, and provides healthcare to its people.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Steve Maurer:

    I also have to say that Bob Tiernan's post is a bit much for me.

    Bob T:

    Most of it? All of it? Some of it?

    Steve Maurer:

    He makes it seem as if Israel was almost entirely purchased prior to its foundation.

    Bob T:

    No, not really. I made a distinction between the Israel with the UN partition borders and the Israel that came to be following Palestinian Muslim refusal to accept its own statehood and the attacks by the Arab Muslim coalition that attacked the new Israel. And I explained that many (but not all) of the Muslims made refugees of themselves in order to get out of the way of the Muslim coalition forces that they assumed and hoped would slaughter the Jews and create a Jew-free Palestine. I also stated that the Israelis also pushed some of them out at that time, and why.

    Steve Maurer:

    Not true. The amount of land that had been purchased from absentee landlords is vastly overstated.

    Bob T:

    How overstated is it, Steve? And that land was only a part of it.

    Steve Maurer:

    And further, it is simply not true that Arab/Palestinian refugees who left in the 1946 war all did so voluntarily.

    Bob T:

    That's not what I wrote. I said that many of them did. Others were pushed out because of the side they took, while many others remained, and are still loyal Israeli Muslims to this day as are their descendents. If you're going to criticize some of my claims then read them first.

    Steve Maurer:

    Many were forcibly displaced (just as many jews were later involuntarily displaced from surrounding countries and forced to move to Israel), but they never received compensation.

    Bob T:

    I said that many were forced out. Go back and read what I wrote.

    Steve Maurer:

    So let me be clear that I do not subscribe to the belief among hard-like Likudniks that Jordan's current borders is the true Palestine.

    Bob T:

    And I don't, either. I did mention this as a reminder that the greater Palestinian Mandate did get divided with Jordan created as a mostly "Palestinian" nation in which Jews were prohibited. Does not the existence of nation mean anything to Palestinian Muslims?

    Steve Maurer:

    Palestinians deserve a Just Peace with Israel. It is a shame they prefer hatred, armed struggle, and dreams of victory instead.

    Bob T:

    I agree with you one hundred percent, and pointed out the same thing. This is the tragedy of the militant minority in that area of the world. Moderate, more tolerant Muslims to do something about this real soon. Sadly, such Muslims get murdered all the time.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Dan Petegorsky:

    I'm sorry, Bob, but your comments reflect a complete distortion of the history of Mideast peace negotiations.

    Bob T:

    Gosh, a complete distortion? You do like to see things in black and white, don't you?

    Dan Petegorsky:

    You're entitled to your positions and opinions - but they clearly place your on the right edge of the spectrum even of Israeli opinion.

    Bob T:

    Excuse me, Dan, but stating facts does not make one a right winger, a left winger, or anything else other than someone presenting facts as I know them. If I'm incorrect about anything it's not because of seeing things through right or left-winged lenses but because I've not yet seen available facts to change my mind. So just quit tossing around those labels like "right wing" because you can really come off sounding like an ignoramus.

    Dan Petegorsky:

    You either ignore or apparently reject the willingness of multiple Israeli governments to enter into serious negotiations (on terms that you seem to find objectionable), which very nearly came to fruition - for example, following the Oslo Accords (when progress was ended by Rabin's assassination) and more recently at Taba, (where progress was halted by Sharon's election and Bush's support for Sharon).

    Bob T:

    I did not ignore anything for I listed 17 or so points and was not planning on detailing all of the various negotiations (settled and attempted) since 1948. Discuss the negotiations and the parties all you want, but it boils down to one simple item of the Muslims recognizing the fact of Israel whether they like it or not.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    joel dan walls:

    I am not interested in historical arguments and justifications.

    Bob T:

    Why not? They at least serve to see things in a proper, accurate context instead of forming opinions over incredible lies.

    joel dan walls:

    I don't give a damn about historical arguments and justifications, actually, regardless of which party you're trying to support.

    Bob T:

    Well, that's fine. But it does matter when bitter hatred of Israel is formed by people buying into incredible bullsh*t like "The Jews stole all the land", or "The Israelis are committing genocide", and on and on.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Idler (unverified)
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    As if Israel and America have allowed them a choice?>

    So, if the other side is militarily superior, that gives a party license to massacre civilians and commit other war crimes?

    Do you believe the only response to being outgunned is to commit atrocities? Do you believe there should be no consequences for doing so? Is there a moral difference between a party who would refuse to resort to such atrocities in any case and one who has no such compunction?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Bob T. and others who seem to agree that Hamas should have endured the human rights abuses they suffered in silence and without a response:

    Apparently, you are not familiar with the blowback syndrome explained to us by Chalmers Johnson years ago. Clearly, our so-called leaders never got the message either. The attacks by Hamas are very unfortunate but not surprising. As Michael Scheuer, former head of the bin Laden unit at the CIA, explained in "Imperial Hubris" 9/11 was in part a response to U.S./Israel treatment of Palestinians and U.S. maintenance of sanctions on Iraq that cost an estimated half million Iraqi children their lives.

    Presumably, if someone came along and laid a Sunday punch on you, you would do what you appear to expect Hamas should have done; that is, turn the other cheek.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    As Michael Scheuer, former head of the bin Laden unit at the CIA, explained in "Imperial Hubris" 9/11 was in part a response to U.S./Israel treatment of Palestinians and U.S. maintenance of sanctions on Iraq that cost an estimated half million Iraqi children their lives.

    This completely avoids an ethical consideration of the actions. Because a party is prone to be resentful and respond viciously doesn't tell us anything about whether that is inevitable or a matter of an evil disposition. It says nothing about the ethical character of the reaction. What if someone were to say that lynching was in part a response to the rigors of reconstruction ? The rebels couldn't very well keep up their conventional struggle against the Union, could they? So are they justified?

    And seriously, how can you wring your hands (as Melch did) about the delicacies of the Geneva Conventions when it comes to one side's behavior and be insouciant about the other's. That would be wrong if both sides were violating the GCs; however, in this case, only one is, and it happens to be the one he's so outraged about.

    if someone came along and laid a Sunday punch on you, you would do what you appear to expect Hamas should have done; that is, turn the other cheek.

    Well, if somebody was raining missiles on my neighborhood, I would expect the armed forces to put a definitive stop to it.

    This case is less like Israel "Sunday punching" Hamas than Hamas throwing rocks at Israel's little brother (its civilians). Israel has a right, and in fact a constitutional responsibility to provide protection.

    But your analogy could be answered if the roles of the parties were reversed. If I was sucker punched by some big guy, I would probably not rape his mother in response. There are some things I'm just not depraved enough to do.

    If I knew that I could be left alone by a big guy and occupy myself happily and gainfully as long as I didn't throw rocks at his little brother, or worse, then I'd probably do that.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    And seriously, how can you wring your hands (as Melch did) about the delicacies of the Geneva Conventions when it comes to one side's behavior and be insouciant about the other's.

    First of all, I never said anything about the Geneva Conventions so I'll take the liberty of presuming you are another of these sloppy readers who pollute this site and make up or ignore points to fit their agenda.

    But, since YOU brought up the Geneva Conventions, I'll take another liberty (because I'm not a lawyer) and suggest that Israel's current actions in Gaza and preceding human rights abuses there are in violation of those conventions; whereas, the actions of Hamas are much lesser in degree and more in violation of the Israeli criminal code.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    First of all, I never said anything about the Geneva Conventions so I'll take the liberty of presuming you are another of these sloppy readers who pollute this site and make up or ignore points to fit their agenda.

    More of a sloppy writer in this case. I meant the equivalent of"how can one can wring one's hands .

    But, since YOU brought up the Geneva Conventions, I'll take another liberty (because I'm not a lawyer) and suggest that Israel's current actions in Gaza and preceding human rights abuses there are in violation of those conventions; whereas, the actions of Hamas are much lesser in degree and more in violation of the Israeli criminal code.

    Without going into an infinite list of historical claims of Israeli abuses against Palestians, how do you figure the Israelis are violating the Conventions? You seem to be confusing quality with magnitude. Example: four cops may use more force than the one perp they're trying to subdue, but the perp's actions are criminal and the police's are lawful. Because Hamas' actions are less powerful is irrelevant to whether they meet a certain ethical standard.

    If Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians, which teven they don't deny, then they are committing a war crime. If they hide their combatants and arms among civilians, the same is true. One can argue whether the Geneva Conventions apply to an actor like Hamas, but one can't deny that they are committing atrocities.

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    As Michael Scheuer, former head of the bin Laden unit at the CIA, explained in "Imperial Hubris" 9/11 was in part a response to U.S./Israel treatment of Palestinians and U.S. maintenance of sanctions on Iraq that cost an estimated half million Iraqi children their lives.

    This completely avoids an ethical consideration of the actions. Because a party is prone to be resentful and respond viciously doesn't tell us anything about whether that is inevitable or a matter of an evil disposition.

    Why can't it be neither inevitable nor a matter of evil disposition?

    This is one of the things that I find most frustrating about this debate and which I'm convinced perpetuates it - setting up extremes as the only acceptable choices and anything which doesn't fit into them gets shoehorned in anyway.

    BOTH sides have very bloody hands.

    Both sides have repeatedly demonstrated traits that I personally consider evil.

    Both sides also have my sympathy on several points on the micro level but precious few on the macro level because they are both so insufferably obstinant!

    Taken as a whole neither side's action can IMHO honestly be described as either inevitable or a product of an evil disposition. There are simply too many glaring exceptions among BOTH populations for either of those explanations to be credibly applied to the whole.

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    Darrell, what would be the harm in exploring this particular aspect of Palestinian culture and acknowledging how damaging it is? Is nothing the Israelis do ever justified, even if they are acting within long-established norms of civilized behavior?

    I certainly wouldn't deny that many Palestinian adults probably tell their children the Israelis are their mortal enemies, After all, the Israelis have been occupying their land, killing their relatives, indiscriminately bombing their cities, and stealing their money for the past forty-odd years. That's not a hard argument to press. And when the Israelis kill a hundred Palestinians for every Israeli Hamas kills, and the American-made bombs fall on women and kids and UN schools from American-made helicopters and jets, I have no doubt that even if the Palestinian adults were the most non-violent, turn-the-other-cheek people imaginable that the children raised in that environment would still view Israel as the enemy.

    And I don't know what century you're living in, but vendetta and the code duello haven't been accepted as part of "civilized behavior" for a long, long time, either by Hamas or by Israel. Exacting personal revenge and vigilanteism are generally frowned upon in lawful society. You tend to get in trouble with the law if you burn down the house of the guy who murdered your cousin, killing his wife and his children, even if you were pretty sure he was in there himself.

    Frankly, I fail to see anything justified by either side in the conflict, but I only see one side killing hundreds of people in the past week.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    More of a sloppy writer in this case. I meant the equivalent of"how can one can wring one's hands .

    Let me congratulate you, Idler, for your rare example of conceding an error on your part. It doesn't happen often on this site. Most people will dummy up or change the subject to try to score a point from another direction or resort to base name calling attacking the messenger and not the message.

    With regard to the Geneva Conventions I suggest you and others sharing your pro-Israeli right wing proclivities read them.

    The Geneva Conventions: the core of international humanitarian law

    Kevin: I don't believe the "blowbacks" such as 9/11 that come from abusing other people can be condoned, and I didn't get the impression from reading Scheuer's book that he believed they were justified. However, no one should be surprised if they occur.

    I don't know about you, but it looks like this thread has been well beaten and everyone is locked into his and her position making future discussion pointless.

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    I mean, seriously, if the Israelis think they're in an existential crisis because Hamas has caused as much damage, injury and death as they have with their crappy rockets, imagine how they'd feel if Hamas had Apache helicopters, missiles, F16s, and 250lb. boms and could do 100x as much damage. Don't you think they'd be a little unhappy?

  • (Show?)

    Bill - agreed and agreed.

    Your initial mention of blowback caused me to recall a lesson that my mother taught me which is indelibly etched into my mind.

    It was back when I was first driving and we lived out in rural Southwestern Washington County. I regularly drove into "town," which was the much more heavily populated areas closer to Portland where honest-to-god entertainment could be found. Heh... I was a teenager.

    Anyway, we lived on the Western side of the Chehalis Mountain Range and all the entertainment was well to the East. So that meant driving up and over the mountain/glorified hill. The route up the Western side was switch-back after switch-back and at the top it T-ed out on another road. Except the actual intersection was such that the traffic coming up the Western side of the mountain had the right-of-way and there was a stop sign on the right side of the three-way intersection. But you couldn't see whether anyone was stopped at the stopsign until you were in the intersection because of poor visibility - none of it was situated on flat ground like we deal with in city driving.

    Being an impatient teenager who also had that need-for-speed that seems to accompany being a teenage male, I would blow through that intersection at the top as fast as I could because the road only went a very short distance afterwards before making a hard right and thereafter it was a straight shot down the Eastern side all the way down into the valley below and I could makeup for the slow driving on the Western side.

    So one day my mother was trying to teach me safe driving habits and was using that "T" intersection to make a point. She was suggesting that I'd be smart to slow down as I drove through it just in case someone didn't stop and of course I wouldn't be able to see them until it was too late.

    Being a teenager I reacted with a degree of righteous indignation, insisting that I had the right-of-way and that was all that I cared about.

    Then she asked me the question which I've never forgotten: What good does it do to be right if you are dead?

    Seems to me that her point applies very much to the blowback syndrome. Righteous indignation won't bring a single person back from the grave, nor will it prevent a single person from going into the grave.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Kevin wrote: Why can't it be neither inevitable nor a matter of evil disposition?

    If it’s not inevitable, then they are choosing to commit atrocities among other options, including guerrilla operations against military targets rather than civilian ones, and including eschewing violence for diplomacy. The whole notion of war crimes is that certain actions are inexcusable—even by people faced with a high likelihood of death who have seen many of their comrades killed.

    This is one of the things that I find most frustrating about this debate and which I'm convinced perpetuates it - setting up extremes as the only acceptable choices and anything which doesn't fit into them gets shoehorned in anyway.

    What’s frustrating is your failure to acknowledge genuine extremes when they happen and dissolve them away in equivalence. You, and several others here, consistently shy away from the actual details and resort to broad generalities: "both have blood on their hands." It is impossible to make meaningful judgments about particular actions and policies when you do that.

    A policy of deliberately killing civilians is extreme. A policy of utterly eliminating the other party (as Hamas is constitutionally committed to) is extreme and, it should go without saying, not exactly in the spirit required for the pursuit of peaceful resolution of conflict. A policy of teaching children resolute hatred of one’s opponent—including holocaust denial and the glory of suicide murder—is extreme.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    With regard to the Geneva Conventions I suggest you and others sharing your pro-Israeli right wing proclivities read them.

    The Geneva Conventions: the core of international humanitarian law

    First, I don't see any evidence that you have read them. Second, I note that you once again refuse to be specific and take refuge in generalities and lazy (or disingenuous) equivalence. Does "humanitarian law" affirm the right to commit atrocities just because the other side has better weaponry? Does is affirm the right to use civilians as shields? Does it favorably regard the practice of storing weapons stockpiles in houses of worship? Does it prevent a party from attacking military objectives? Does it say the possibility of any civilian deaths means a military objective cannot be neutralized?

  • Idler (unverified)
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    I mean, seriously, if the Israelis think they're in an existential crisis because Hamas has caused as much damage, injury and death as they have with their crappy rockets, imagine how they'd feel if Hamas had Apache helicopters, missiles, F16s, and 250lb. boms and could do 100x as much damage. Don't you think they'd be a little unhappy?

    This is unthinking frivolity . Does a country have to be teetering on non-existence in order to defend itself from attack? Should Israel wait around until Hamas has accumulated larger stores of ammunition and more sophisticated weaponry? Is it irrelevant that not only Hamas but also Hezbollah are dedicated to the extinction of Israel and that they count on support from other nations?

    Question: If the United States were to utterly abandon Israel, and that countries enemies could even the odds and eventually wear Israel down and kill its inhabitants and destroy its productive, civilized society, would you be happy then?

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    This is unthinking frivolity . Does a country have to be teetering on non-existence in order to defend itself from attack? Should Israel wait around until Hamas has accumulated larger stores of ammunition and more sophisticated weaponry? Is it irrelevant that not only Hamas but also Hezbollah are dedicated to the extinction of Israel and that they count on support from other nations?

    Do the Palestinians have to be teetering on non-existence in order to fight back against the people who continue to kill them at a ratio of 100:1? Is it irrelevant that despite their stated welcoming of a two-state solution that the Israelis have occupied the West Bank and Gaza, build settlements on Palestinian land, and killed thousands of Palestinian women and children over the past decades? Do they not also count on support from other nations?

    I have no idea what the hell you're talking about when you claim anything about "utterly" abandoning Israel. What a stupid, stupid thing to even say. But if you can't see that Israel's actions in cases like this are at some point going to put the US in the position of having to make a decision about actively militarily supporting Israel and that the US in the future might just not be capable of doing that, then you're on the wrong side of the calculation.

    If you're for the killing of women and children -- by either side -- there's really no hope for you. You're no better than Hamas or the Nazis.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    So, why were the usual suspects complaining about no Gaza post before this, about the storm related content? Is this the discussion you wanted to have? If you pull out all the logic in here orientated toward making a label stick, there isn't much left.

    Look no further than this when you wonder in disbelief how Israel thinks the it is going to get away with such blatant and banal spinning every little event into one of the currently accepted categories of victimization. All nouns are fraud. Think your point is so obvious? Restate it without all the litmus test nouns! Oh, you don't mean that. That's the point. You don't mean anything. You're just labeling.

    The militants have one thing right. If this is the situation after 25 years of diplomacy and these are the sentiments of progressives, their best hope lies with the Kalashnikov. Of course, that's to say, there is no hope. No change.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Do the Palestinians have to be teetering on non-existence in order to fight back against the people who continue to kill them at a ratio of 100:1? Is it irrelevant that despite their stated welcoming of a two-state solution that the Israelis have occupied the West Bank and Gaza, build settlements on Palestinian land, and killed thousands of Palestinian women and children over the past decades?

    Again you completely avoid judging the current situation on its merits. Forget about the "utterly abandon" question, which I acknowledge was an unfair and rambling bit of rhetorical excess before my first cup of coffee. The other questions are serious and specific. Does a country enable an enemy dedicated to its destruction to increase its armaments and consolidate its political control (brutally repressing its challengers in the mean time, meaning Fatah, in this case)?

    Attacking one's enemy's military capabilities is not "revenge and vigilantism," it's a prudential measure to which a sovereign nation is entitled. If Israel played by Hamas rules and was executing vengeance, the results would be a whole lot uglier. Of course the results are a lot worse than they need to be because Hamas uses civilians as shields.

    Tactics like those, along with targeting civilians, insisting on the destruction of one's adversary, and the kind of official hatemongering carried out through education (have you actually seen the educational materials?) are all things that are likely to perpetuate the conflict rather than open the possibility of a peaceful settlement. That's why I argue that they should be repudiated and not explained away and essentially rewarded.

    To the extent that Israel's security situation remains challenged, it will have justification for the harsh measures it takes. If the Palestinians were resolutely non-violent, Israel would have no justification for incursions, walls, checkpoints, or whatever, assuming that they would want to do these things if they could count on peaceful neighbors.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild (Israel's Collective Punishment of Gaza):

    "The targeting of civilians violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel cannot distinguish between civilians and military targets, they are illegal. But Israel's air and ground attack in Gaza violates Geneva in four ways. First, it constitutes collective punishment of the entire population in Gaza for the acts of a few militants. Second, it targets civilians, as evidenced by the large numbers of civilian casualties. Third, it is a disproportionate response to the rockets fired into Israel. Fourth, an occupying power has an obligation to ensure food and medical supplies to the occupied population; Israel's blockade has created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

    Nuremberg Principle VI The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

    (a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i). (b) War Crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity. (c) Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

    More Cohn: "The war on Gaza also violates U.S. law. The Human Rights and Security Assistance Act mandates that the United States cease all military aid to Israel, which has engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. The Arms Export Control Act prohibits U.S. weapons from being used for any purpose other than inside the borders of a country for self-defense. Targeting schools, police stations and television broadcast centers is not self-defense."

    DP voters, according to Rasmussen, overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive by a 24-point margin (31-55%). Americans in general have overwhelmingly supported even-handed treatment of Palestinians and Israelis.

    So the claims made by defenders of the status quo, including DP elites, are shameful. Each time U.S.-Israel commits its crimes, more people are drawn to the Palestinian cause. The irony, apparently missed by those like idler, is that anti-Jewish sentiment is increasing because of the unqualified support for Israeli atrocities. It appears to reaffirm the basically anti-Semitic notion that Jews control the media, foreign policy, the financial institutions, etc. If you care about Israel or the Jews, you need to read something to the left of Obama's mentor, Joe Lieberman.

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    Your commentary is spot on, Idler, but give up trying to bring any smidgen of common sense to Harry Kershner, darrelplant, or Bill Bodden. They're wedded to their ideology of anger with the majority opinion of Americans to such a degree, they choose their own self-invented fantasy over fact.

    Yes, Hamas uses human shields. No, no matter what the opinions of people with a clearly antisemitic double-standard, the Geneva conventions do obligate anyone to stand around helplessly while combatants hide behind their human shields take pot-shots at them. Yes, it is generally understood that the fault for human shield casualties lays with the combatants hiding behind them while firing, not the people returning fire.

    But no, this will never get through to the people you're debating here. From long experience with them, I can tell you they are far more impervious to fact than George Bush, often with far less emotional justification than they have on this particular issue. They have a deep abiding anger at the opinions of the vast majority of Americans, and generally like to express their alienation through 1) hurling juvenile insults against the Democratic Party, and 2) invention of fantasies that most Americans really share their fringe beliefs, but are always someone conspiratorially disenfranchised.

    Really, you'd have better luck knocking some sense into a neocon.

  • Steven Andresen (unverified)
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    I am interested in having some regular input here from our Senators and Congress people. Can we get someone to forward along their opinions on these foreign conflict issues?

    Yes we have many people with opinions and expertise and personal experience. I think it's important to question the politicians.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I think Harry has a very good analysis of the legal angle. I think Israel is using a virtual legal limbo, though, created by the Bush Doctrine.

    The Bush Doctrine has promoted as de facto law, three points, blatantly illegal under international convention and precedent. As the international community has let them stand, there is a precedent for Israel to act on them. To be fair, in episodes like their wanting to take out Iranian nuke facilities, the US was a restraining force. Figures though. We never want anyone else using our special powers, because, well, like the British, we're special.

    Bush Doctrine promotes: 1). A head of state may interpret the Geneva Conventions to pin down supposedly fuzzy concepts like military necessity and define terms like civilian and enemy combatant. The head of state may also determine what is torture and the rule of engagement with regard to civilians. Our Iraq check-points have never passed muster under international law. Our policy of boarding ships on the high seas, authorized by EO, constitute acts of war, under international convention. The is the virtual legal basis of blockading the Gaza. You can violate international law if you're blocking something the chief executive thinks is really important to block.

    2). There are three kinds of people in the world, protected persons, terrorists/enemy combatants, and everyone else. Everyone else has the usual rights you would associate with international law, except that the physical security of protected persons trumps those rights. Protected persons are American and coalition advisers, military and civilian contractors. Foreign military engaged in fighting an Administration defined terrorist group is also protected persons. Congress has authorized the President to use military force to prevent the detention and/or trial of protected persons for war crimes. They have specifically authorized the use of force against European targets, should protected persons be detained for war crime trials. The tacit assertion is that under Administration definitions, protected persons may not be guilty of war crimes. They can be guilty of insubordination for free-lancing it, in which case military jurisprudence is deemed to suffice, but large scale actions are authorized by the CEO, and under #1, it can't be a violation of Geneva Convention. Any foreign power contesting that is contesting #1, which is an act of war, hence military intervention by the CEO is justified, and, conveniently, pre-authorized. At least the Gulf of Tonkin resolution came after the event, and was only a resolution. The aforementioned Congressional authorization has been on the books for 5 years.

    3). Exporting the US policing model to international actions against civilians. US legal practice has furthered a model of policing which holds that the police have every expectation of protection against any perceived threat, regardless of the actual consequences. Doesn't matter if the guy was holding a TV remote control. There is no disproportionate response if there is a perception that the envelope of vulnerability has been penetrated. Preemptive action can be defensive. Oddly, it's important that there be a remote TV control, hence the search for WMD. This was demonstrated early in the Iraq war, when the US first entered Baghdad, and in response to reported AK-47 fire from the 10th floor of a hotel occupied by foreign press, responded with the main battery from an M1 Abrams. It is very ironic that the Bush administration has been using moral logic that was popularized by the far left for use against right wing religions. The oldest moral argument for abortion is the law of double effect. You're not intending to kill the fetus, you're promoting the life of the mother. This is the exact moral logic that makes any action to protect protected persons morally justified, regardless of the consequences to what would otherwise be considered a human life with rights. (Not a poke at reproductive rights, as a fetus <> human).

    Targeting selective population demographics baby Bush can't claim, imo, but goes to 41 and his Panama action, reinforced in Haiti. Bring democracy to the Middle East. We couldn't bring democracy to the Caribbean.

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    It's not a "virtual legal limbo", Zarathustra. The Geneva conventions are very clear. The fundamental problem is that the vast majority of people who talk about "violating the Geneva conventions" is that that's not what they really mean. What they really mean is this: "people I dislike (or hate) are engaging in Acts of War in accordance with the Geneva convention, so therefore I'm going to yell and scream that it's illegal".

    Let me explain something very clearly about the Geneva conventions: none of them outlaw Acts of War. They merely attempt to put codes of conduct in place to shield truly uninvolved non-combatants from the worst effects of it. That's it.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Agreed, Steve. The proposition is that without enforcement you have a de facto convention based on what actually is happening. I agree; that's illegal. I'm just saying we have to backpedal and clean up the precedent before we can really criticize its aping.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Oh, kept forgetting to add at the beginning... A big part of the real politik of "war crimes" is that no one has ever been prosecuted for war crimes in the history of mankind without the US agreeing to it. In terms of a process definition, you have to add "and sanctioned by the US" to make any actual, historic definition stick.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    "The targeting of civilians violates the Fourth Geneva Convention..

    Israel does not target civilians.

    Since the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel cannot distinguish between civilians and military targets, they are illegal.

    This must mean that all projectiles are illegal because none can distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. These terms are necessary because Hamas operatives dress as civilians, though somehow I doubt that war crime has engaged Ms. Cohn's delicate moral sensibilities.

    But Israel's air and ground attack in Gaza violates Geneva in four ways. First, it constitutes collective punishment of the entire population in Gaza for the acts of a few militants.

    Any war could thus be styled an act of "collective punishment." Why does it not matter to this propagandist that Israel takes abundant measures to avoid inflicting harm on non-combatants and ignore the harm caused by Hamas' using human shields?

    "Second, it targets civilians, as evidenced by the large numbers of civilian casualties."

    This would mean that it would be impossible to harm civilians (of the non-combatant variety) without targeting them, which is absurd. Sadly, civilians are always harmed in war, even if they're not targetted. Those who wish to see fewer civilian war casualties should be outraged at the use of human shields. Instead they validate the tactic by blaming the party targeting legitimate military objectives. This is a perversion of the incentives and disincentives that the Geneva Conventions put in place.

    "Third, it is a disproportionate response to the rockets fired into Israel."

    Proportionality has nothing to do with the relative power and accuracy of armaments but only the adequacy of force to taking out a military objective. It is designed to keep the force to the minimum necessary to destroy the objective. Unfortunately, even the minimum can result in non-combatant casualties, particularly when the objectives are close to them, or when large secondary explosions result from ammo dumps hidden in populated areas.

    Fourth, an occupying power has an obligation to ensure food and medical supplies to the occupied population; Israel's blockade has created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

    Was Israel occupying Gaza when it closed its doors? I don't think so. Try again when Israel is occupying.

    I look forward to Ms. Cohen's outraged letter about the misconduct of Hamas.

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    What’s frustrating is your failure to acknowledge genuine extremes when they happen and dissolve them away in equivalence.

    Pointing out the dictum that two wrongs don't make a right does not mean that there is any equivalence being posited. The perception of equivalence is the product of your a priori views.

    To illustrate: I'm driving down the road exceeding the speed limit. A drunk driver swerves into my lane and I end up plowing into another car. The cops show up and quickly figure out that the other guy was in fact drunk. They also do their analysis and conclude from my skid marks and the accounts of witnesses that I in fact had been speeding. The drunk driver is written up and arrested. I'm written up and allowed to go home.

    The involved insurance companies parse everything out and determine that both the drunk driver and myself are at fault, but it's not determined to be a 50/50 split in responsibility.

    Pointing out that both myself and the drunk driver are combined 100% at fault for the damage done to the perfectly innocent 3rd driver's car logically implies precisely ZERO equivalence in fault between the drunk driver and myself.

    You, and several others here, consistently shy away from the actual details and resort to broad generalities: "both have blood on their hands." It is impossible to make meaningful judgments about particular actions and policies when you do that.

    With respect, what you self-evidently want is for me to acquiesce to every one of your arguments and to admit that every one of mine is flawed. Don't take that personally. It fully describes almost everyone who has commented in this thread. I'm simply aknowledging the Pink Elephant in the room.

    The fact of the matter is that both sides in the conflict do have blood on their hands... Lots of it. That's not what anyone is factually disagreeing about.

    What everyone wants is to have everyone else accept their arguement for why the blood-letting done by their favored "side" is justified while the blood-letting done by the "other side" is unjustified. And THAT is nothing more than a moral equivalence argument turned on it's head. Either way the morality of side "A" is being judged relative to the morality of side "B".

    With that I am done here. This thread has long since ceased to serve anything remotely resembling a constructive purpose.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    Gandhi, MLK, Jr., and Mandela succeeded with non-violence, in part, because the regimes they opposed had some moral restraints within their societies...

    Bob T:

    So, you're defending the deliberate blowing up of any Israeli children's party in an ice cream parlor?

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Your commentary is spot on, Idler, but give up trying to bring any smidgen of common sense to Harry Kershner, darrelplant, or Bill Bodden. They're wedded to their ideology of anger with the majority opinion of Americans to such a degree, they choose their own self-invented fantasy over fact.

    Behold the voice of reason and judicious temperament:

    I wouldn't call Bodden's comment a "slam". Given his lack of intellectual rigor, it's more like you were gummed by a newt. He seems to think that the people occupying Germany and France want war, but are being prevented from waging it somehow.

    This was my comment on Germany and France: "The same thing (that some people couldn't live in peace with each other) has been said about other nations and groups that now live in peace with each other. Germany and France are but one example of many."

    How do you translate my statement into one that claims the people occupying (the citizens occupying their own country?) want war? Let me suggest an answer: Distort.

    And, I'm now with you, Kevin. Adios.

    Harry: Thanks for going to the effort to explain the facts of life about the Geneva Conventions to Idler. Not that it did any good.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    Bob T. and others who seem to agree that Hamas should have endured the human rights abuses they suffered in silence

    Bob T:

    I never said such a thing. Can't you discuss any of this without lying? I guess not. You need to misrepresent what others say so that you can thump your chest.

    Bob Tiernan

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    Hopefully this will unbold

    Zarathustra Oh, kept forgetting to add at the beginning... A big part of the real politik of "war crimes" is that no one has ever been prosecuted for war crimes in the history of mankind without the US agreeing to it.

    Actually, a more general way of stating this is that to be convicted of a War Crime, you must necessarily first lose a war so badly that your entire system of government collapses. In his 25 year history as leader of the USSR, Stalin killed far more Russian civilians than Hitler did in his much briefer run. Yet Stalin was never tried for any of the war crimes he committed, of course. I'd imagine he would have found them quite comfortable. The ridiculous double standard of most War Crimes tribunals, dozens of pots all tut-tutting about how black some kettle is, makes them nearly Stalinist in nature: show trials in which the verdict has been decided by the powers-that-be before the fact.

    Still, all in all, the Geneva Conventions are a great good in the world, largely because (like our own Constitution) they are astoundingly cynical about human nature. (Indeed, I've noticed that the more cynical a document is, the more effective it seems to be.) My only issue with them is that they're used by so many idiots in the same way Christian-fundies treat the Bible: something they don't read (or misquote selectively, adding clearly erroneous interpretations to stretch it around some situation they ever apply it to), assume is good, assume therefore that whatever they think is bad must be prohibited, and use it as justification for further moral smugness.

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    Bill Bodden: How do you translate my statement into one that claims the people occupying (the citizens occupying their own country?) want war? Let me suggest an answer: Distort.

    Let me suggest another: it was a perfectly accurate summary of your argument. To wit:

    Ms Mel Harmon: Sorry to rain on the parade, but currently there IS no workable solution to the problem. Until and unless the people who occupy those lands truly want peace, enough to press their leaders for it, it won't happen.

    Bill Bodden: What utter nonsense. The same thing has been said about other nations and groups that now live in peace with each other. Germany and France are but one example of many.

    Read closely. Ms Harmon is saying 'Israel and Palestine won't have peace until the people of Israel and Palestine want it.' In other words, while we may not like it, the leadership of the two nations do accurately reflect the desires of their respective peoples (which, by the way, according to polling, is an absolutely true statement.)

    Bill, however, did not like this comment. His rebuttal was, in a nutshell: 'Utter nonsense. Look at the example of Germany and France. They're peaceful.'

    Now for German/French peace to be the counterexample Bill thinks it is, it must logically therefore be two nations whose people are seething with hatred for each other, yet whose leadership have somehow found a way to both hold on to power (not losing the next election/civil-war to hard liners), and at the same time, somehow avoid going to war.

    While soothing Idler, telling him he was not alone being the subject of Bill's ire, I then criticized Bill's "lack of intellectual rigor". And all in all, I think that's a fairly urbane way of characterizing the way Bill writes: quick with the bashing, not so keen on the logic.

    p.s. There are, interestingly enough, a few rare examples in history of leaders avoiding war despite their peoples' heartfelt desire to engage in it. Most notably the treaty of 1842, ending the "Aroostook War" (a colonial-era cold war between United States and British Canada), and finally settling Maine's border. The negotiators found maps supporting each other's position, hammered out a compromise, and were criticized for it, despite the existence of the maps that seemed to show to each side that they'd come out ahead in the bargain.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Excerpt from Geneva Conventions Protocol I, Article 51: "Protection of the Civilian Population." [I have already voiced my opinion on the inadequacy of the term "civilian" when so many combatants are indistinguishable from non-combatants, though the Conventions are clear about that being a violation too.]

    7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

    I agree that the Geneva Conventions are not holy writ, and those that don't sign them are not under any specific contractual obligation (e.g., Hamas, if they even qualify as a potential signatory). Thus, they are useful only as a guide to what have long been considered principles of more civilized, humane warfare.

    Kevin's logic and his example about two parties at fault are impeccable, as usual. Nevertheless, it is a straw man with regard to my position as argued repeatedly: I have never insisted that Israel is free of wrong-doing, and in fact, I have attempted to make judgments in specific cases on specific grounds. I was answered almost always with generalities that sought to avoid consideration of those instances and the question of whether one does or does not stand for principles in a consistent manner.

    At the level of generality to which my interlocutors so resolutely fled, the closest they ever got to admitting Hamas or Palestinian wrong-doing was throwing out equivalencies, in a tu quoque fashion. A rereading of the comments will support this.

    As for my imperviousness to Cohn's reading of the Geneva Conventions, I include the above excerpt (I could have larded this post with several others too) to point to the support for one of my main contentions, and one that no one here has honestly addressed, and which Cohn dishonestly or insanely avoids. The points she makes are ludicrous prima facie and so obviously tendentious that it is embarrassing to see anyone credulously enough to accept them.

  • Ole Barn (unverified)
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    I do not have the historical facts at my disposal like Bob Tiernan an astute student of history. I am not as well read as I should be on the current geopolitical situation regarding the Palestinians and the Israelis. I do, however, have two basic realizations: 1) Economics is a significant part of all conflicts, and 2) Peace has never been achieved through armed conflict.

    Through my rose-colored glasses I see Israel's response as being out of proportion. Did Israel approached the UN and try to use their peacekeeping/mediation services to resolve the issues with Hamas? Conversely, did Hamas approached the UN and air their grievances about the way the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being treated?

    The entrenched positions of both the Palestinians and the Israelis are in and of themselves deterrents to achieving peace. Our species is hell-bent on destroying itself whether it be through genocide, armed conflict, or the destruction of our planet. Humankind's apparent need to dominate other humans by force or economics is not the way to live in peace and harmony on this ever shrinking planet of ours.

    The collective we need to check our moral and ethical compasses in terms of what the meaning of living in peace and harmony really means.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Posted by: Idler | Jan 8, 2009 7:59:11 PM

    "The targeting of civilians violates the Fourth Geneva Convention..

    Israel does not target civilians.

    See, the law of double effect. The fact that an Israeli artillery shell is sent at a school and hits that target is not the intended effect. The intended effect is killing enemy combatants. The perceived moral criteria for justifying that has been satisfied. Secondary, unintended effects do not change the moral character of the original determination.

    Let's be clear. Israel "does not target civilians", because it has never set out to do so. Setting out to kill terrorists, which methods just happen to involve shooting directly at the human shields, is not targeting civilians; it's killing terrorists. This is the law of double effect applied under the Bush Doctrine.

    This has to be put to Obama directly. Does he support the Bush Doctrine? If not, what steps will he take to reverse the precedent it has set and is being used, successfully, by Israel.

    (Aside: I predict this topic sets a record for responses after scrolling off the front page)

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Setting out to kill terrorists, which methods just happen to involve shooting directly at the human shields, is not targeting civilians; it's killing terrorists. This is the law of double effect applied under the Bush Doctrine.

    Having responded to a charge of imperviousness, I'll make one with regard to the above quote. Did you not read that citation from the Geneva Conventions in my last post? Do you not understand it? It has nothing to do with any "Bush Doctrine"; it has to do with whether a belligerent can immunize himself from attack by using human shields. The answer is that according to the Geneva Conventions, he cannot.

    Questions of proportionality are relevant but, as has been pointed out ad nauseam, nobody can legitimately craft a tactical advantage out of the use of human shields, and his adversary is by no means obligated to sit and take it just because the military asset is placed to cause civilian casualties.

    If you have any further comment, it must include reference to the passage I quoted or it will just be an evasion.

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    Let me also echo Idler's criticism of Zarathustra's assertion of what the Bush doctrine is. Then I'll explain what it really is, and why it's much worse.

    To Zarathustra's point #1, the Geneva conventions, providing for no courts with any presumed jurisdictional oversight (much less some police force to back their decisions), expect that parties to a conflict will interpret them as they see fit. So this is not part of the "Bush Doctrine". It's the way it's always worked.

    In general, the people who have the power get to make the interpretation. U.S. ships firing on Somali Pirates could easily, for example, be considered an Act of War. The only reason we don't feel free to do this to Russia is not because the "law" is any different: it's because starting a war with a bunch of pirates and starting a war with a thermonuclear armed nation are two entirely different things. Squash bugs with a stick, if you must; don't poke the bear.

    To Zarathustra's point #2, the "three types of people in the world" comes not from the Bush doctrine, but directly from the Geneva conventions. More specifically, the conventions distinguish: 1] Noncombatants (civilians/everyone-else), 2] Combatants who adhere to some authority, wear a fixed sign recognizable at a distance, and adhere to the Geneva conventions (uniformed soldiers), and 3] Combatants who do not adhere to the Geneva conventions (unprotected individuals/"spies"/"terrorists"). Protections are afforded only to groups 1 and 2 (though the 4th Geneva convention extended protection from torture to group 3).

    To Zarathustra's point #3, the U.S. isn't "exporting its policing model", unless he is defining the Geneva conventions as that model. That may be perhaps a fair point - the Geneva conventions favor large militaries over irregular forces - but it still is hardly unique to Bush.

    OK, so now here is the real Bush doctrine. The Geneva convention requires justification for war to always be couched in terms of "self defense". Clearly, with their citizens being killed, Israel qualifies. However, with the U.S. invading Iraq, Bush simply violated the Geneva convention; there is no interpretation in which Iraq was a threat to the U.S.

    The fourth Geneva convention requires that all people be treated humanely, at least (for unprotected combatants) prior to their execution. In promoting torture, the Bush clearly violated the Geneva convention on this.

    The Geneva convention requires that all captured uniformed soldiers be treated as POWs; there is a whole list of protections they are afforded. The Taliban (as opposed to Al Qaeda) were soldiers. Their fixed sign recognizable at a distance was a Black Turban. Bush ordered the U.S. military to treat them as "illegal combatants", clearly in violation of the Geneva Conventions. (The U.S. military was not happy with this, but Bush was CIC.)

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Maurer: Given his lack of intellectual rigor

    What do you mean by "intellectual rigor," Maurer? Does that include your juvenile practice of name-calling?

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    For people who care about morality, it is not just the intention that matters, but also the known effects of one's actions, i.e., if I know that my bombing of schools and hospitals will kill and maim innocents, but I do it anyway in order to kill and maim "combatants", then, morally, I am responsible for the killing of innocents, just as I would be if I blew up my neighbor's house because I thought that a murderer was hiding there. But this is so obvious that the apologists for war crimes must already be aware of it, so it hardly needs to be said.

    Furthermore, there has been no evidence that Hamas has used human shields. The fact is, as previously noted, Gaza is a small piece of property that is densely populated. Israel engages in indiscriminate warfare such as the assassination of Nizar Rayan, in which members of his family were also murdered. It is victims like his dead children that Israel defines as "human shields" in its propaganda. There is no legitimacy for this interpretation under international law. In circumstances such as these, Hamas is not using human shields, and Israel is committing war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international law.

    Moreover, the same argument about both sides being wrong was also used by the psychotically racist European settlers who invaded, slaughtered and tortured native people here; the Indians were violent, too, so it was okay for the invaders to kill them, right?

    But, the main point I've tried to make on this blog for a lot longer than the duration of this single thread is that the actions of the U.S., the majority of whose citizens have consistently favored even-handedness between Israel and Palestinians, should be the primary concern for Americans. If Israel wants to continue along this road of destruction and self-destruction, let them do it without our tax dollars, without our government's political protection from international sanctions, and without the redistribution of wealth to corporations that are creating military "aid" to Israel. (See Naomi Klein's Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction)

    If the DP continues to give unqualified support to Israeli crimes, against the wishes of a clear majority of it membership, then its membership should at the very least recognize the contempt for democracy that's being expressed. Otherwise, you are no better than Republicans.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    For people who care about morality, it is not just the intention that matters, but also the known effects of one's actions, i.e., if I know that my bombing of schools and hospitals will kill and maim innocents, but I do it anyway in order to kill and maim "combatants", then, morally, I am responsible for the killing of innocents, just as I would be if I blew up my neighbor's house because I thought that a murderer was hiding there. But this is so obvious that the apologists for war crimes must already be aware of it, so it hardly needs to be said.

    Clearly, the people who drafted the quoted section of the Geneva Conventions must be "apologists for war crimes."

    Furthermore, there has been no evidence that Hamas has used human shields.

    Kidding, right? Has there been any evidence that they've done anything without human shields? Coming soon: There has been no evidence that the earth is not actually flat.

    But, the main point I've tried to make on this blog for a lot longer than the duration of this single thread is that the actions of the U.S., the majority of whose citizens have consistently favored even-handedness between Israel and Palestinians, should be the primary concern for Americans. If Israel wants to continue along this road of destruction and self-destruction, let them do it without our tax dollars, without our government's political protection from international sanctions, and without the redistribution of wealth to corporations that are creating military "aid" to Israel.

    If standards are applied even-handedly, then Americans and other civilized people should not be indifferent about the nature of the respective belligerents (Israel and Hamas specifically in this case). Your analysis seems to say that we should be more sympathetic because Israelis are the cowboys [evil white colonists] and Palestinians are the Indians [noble savages who only act purely, spontaneously and sinlessly]. Why is it that the anti-peace, anti-liberal character of Palestinians/Hamas/Fatah are never soberly considered in the particulars? What chance does peace have with the kinds of cultural features and policies I have mentioned (and provided links on) in previous posts? It has far less of a chance if such features are essentially rewarded rather than strenuously repudiated. In the meantime we'll draw equivalencies at best, and act shocked, shocked! that Hamas might actually resort to using human shield (lest I'm misunderstood, there is no shortage of evidence that they have done just that, including the stockpiling of weapons in supposedly holy places. Guess that's OK in the liberal-, West- and Jew -hating jihadists concept of holy war).

    Speaking of even-handedness, no comment about Palestinians' continuing "along this road of destruction and self-destruction"?

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    Bill Bodden: What do you mean by "intellectual rigor," Maurer? Does that include your juvenile practice of name-calling?

    Bill, I've already explained my specific reason for noting your lack of intellectual rigor. In case you can't find it, it's here.

    What I failed to note was your hypocrisy. You routinely bash Democrats in general, and specific posters personally, adding all sorts of ad hominem asides to your weakly reasoned posts. Yet when I rise to defend these posters against your rants, you howl like a stuck pig when I characterize them (and you) correctly. Pretty typical behavior of bullies, actually. Like Bill O'Reilly, you can dish it out, but can't take it.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Yesterday, Amnesty International accused Israeli soldiers of using Palestinian civilians as human shields.

    A petition has been launched by eight Israeli human rights groups, demanding that Israel's high court ban the army from targeting ambulances and medical personnel.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross dropped its usual diplomatic language this week in denouncing Israel's refusal to allow medical teams to tend the wounded.

    The UN suspended its aid operations on Thursday after two of its drivers were killed and others wounded by Israeli fire directed at one of its relief convoys during another three-hour ceasefire.

    --Jonathan Cook, Criticism of Israel's war crimes mounts

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Harry, I notice the article takes us directly to "Electronic Intifada." I guess you don't think any skepticism is in order. Now, let's say Israel can fairly be criticized with regard to some claims (others are clearly bogus*, others reek of captious interpretation), why never any attention to the other side's brutality, including to members of Fatah?

    This is what I don't get. Why don't you give a crap about that? We can agree that Israelis should be taken to task for their transgressions. What about Hamas, whose admitted tactics are atrocities?

    *E.g., the white phosphorus shells were smoke rounds.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Maurer: You didn't answer this question: Does "intellectual rigor" include your juvenile practice of name-calling?

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    My comments describing your behavior is not Name Calling. Your statement that it is, is yet another logical fallacy called "Begging the Question". Name Calling must have, perforce, some false element to it, which my statements about you do not.

    Second, even if I had a penchant for Name Calling, clearly a lack of "intellectual rigor" is orthogonal to it. Winston Churchill clearly had no lack of intellectual rigor, yet like me, he also had a similar aversion to suffering fools gladly, as records of his many witty rejoinders attest. How the man ever got so far in politics, I'll never know. Things must have been different then.

    Maybe you ought to think about your own behavior before whining about people who respond to your attacks. The attempt to blame others for ones own self-caused problems is yet another hallmark of a bully.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Good morning, Maurer. After giving it some thought I have decided to concede the endurance title to you. Debating you is like debating Ann Coulter for the same reasons that some people are also finally getting tired of her. As for your comments on bullying, you are like your Israeli friends who have been abusing Palestinians' human rights for years but claim the title of victims for themselves. Have a good day.

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    Good day to you too, Bill. If liberals would only stand up to Coulter's anti-Democratic party bashing the way I stand up to yours, I think she would similarly slink away.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Idler: I am skeptical of all sources, including those that claim that Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields. I have admired the work of Ali Abunimah and Jonathan Cook for a long time, however. Abunimah, the editor of EI, has been featured many times on Democracy Now (edited by Jewish Americans), and his perspective deserves attention.

    You appear to only care about the claimed use of "human shields" when it suits your own flawed perspective. By continuing allegiance only to right-wing Israeli propaganda, you insure a continuing holocaust for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

    Furthermore, your claim of "...why never any attention to the other side's brutality..." is disturbingly delusional. The U.S. mainstream media has been consistently on the side of Israeli criminal aggression (FAIR, The Blame Game in Gaza: Erasing Israeli actions to fault only Hamas).

    The "leftists" who post regularly to BO and harbor hatred for all Semites will gladly give you up when it appears to them to be in their interests, and you ignore that at your own peril.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Abunimah, the editor of EI, has been featured many times on Democracy Now (edited by Jewish Americans), and his perspective deserves attention.

    Far-left Democracy Now is supposed to be a neutral source? You're starting to sound like a satire of yourself.

    Furthermore, your claim of "...why never any attention to the other side's brutality..." is disturbingly delusional. The U.S. mainstream media has been consistently on the side of Israeli criminal aggression.

    I think you must have misread me. I was talking about your lack of attention. It's not merely a case of not caring about particular atrocities, that members of either side in a conflict may occasionally commit, it's about the fact that Hamas' policy is to kill non-combatants, to foster virulent hatred against Jews and to destroy Israel. But that's only part of it. Hamas is atavistic and illiberal by about any measure you could apply. They are misogynist, xenophobic, homophobic in the extreme, violently religiously bigoted, and they celebrate suicide murder and teach it to their young.

    Why does the far left cotton to people of such ideology? This was more understandable in the era of Arab nationalism (in its various flavors, e.g., Palestinian, Egyptian), even though it still meant affirming political extortion through terrorism. However, now it means ignoring the character of Islamist religious fanatics. Does the character of Hamas, and what it promises for Gaza and the region, not raise any alarms for you?

  • Ole Barn (unverified)
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    Who are the terrorists?

    Before Israel became a nation who (person) was responsible for the bomb in the King David Hotel that killed many?

    Do the ends justify the means?

    The energy spent playing the "blame game" would be better used trying to bring about a peaceful solution to end the totally useless violence seemingly omnipresent in the region.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    Bob T. and others who seem to agree that Hamas should have endured the human rights abuses they suffered in silence and without a response

    Bob T:

    One more thing -- how would they react to human rights abuses they'd suffer at the hands of the usual Muslim dictatorship?

    Bill Bodden:

    Apparently, you are not familiar with the blowback syndrome explained to us by Chalmers Johnson years ago.

    Bob T:

    I'm familiar with the term, but can't agree on all of the examples.

    Bill Bodden:

    The attacks by Hamas are very unfortunate but not surprising.

    Bob T:

    They are attacks in response to........Israel's withdrawal from Gaza a few years ago?

    Bill Bodden:

    As Michael Scheuer, former head of the bin Laden unit at the CIA, explained in "Imperial Hubris" 9/11 was in part a response to U.S./Israel treatment of Palestinians

    Bob T:

    Well, it's more complicated than that. The mindset behind Al Qaeda and similar movements don't and didn't require the US to do much of anything foreign policy wise. You should read about the man who pretty much started that mindset--an Egyptian named Q'Tub who lived in America in the 40s and who grew to hate the permissiveness here (types of dancing, liberated women, and so forth) and in order to prevent exposure of that "decadence" to the Muslum world he needed to educate his fellow Muslims back home. The sight of blue jeans, a McDonalds, or sounds of Artie Shaw were enough to set him off. In one letter he wrote that he was walking down an alley next to home and saw through an open door an American housewife working in the kitchen - barefoot, listening to music on the radio, and appearing to be happy. He hated what he saw. His best student was Zwarahiri, bin Laden's number two man and one of the leaders behind the murder of Anwar Sadat who dared to make peace with a neighbor. Al Qaeda types have their agenda and if they need to create enemies, and make some others out to be worse than they really are, that's what they'll do. What makes you think that such movement leaders are more honest about their propaganda than anyone else about theirs?

    Here are Al-Qaeda goals as set out by Zawahiri:

    1) Establish the rule of God on Earth.

    2) Attaining martydom in the cause of God.

    3) Purification of the ranks of Islam from the elements of depravity.

    The enemy list in order of rank are:

    1) Heretics (like Mubarek, Sadat etc)

    2) Shiites

    3) America

    4) Israel

    Recall that the famous fatwah of 1998 did not mention Palestine, but did also declare war on all non-Muslim Indians as well. I don't know about you, but I'm glad that puts nearly a billion people on their enemies list.

    As for Scheuer, his story is of interest but I'm not sure you would have approved his almost obsessive desire to get the CIA to send missile strikes into possible bin-Laden targets that were even surrounded by civilians (hunting party, festival etc.), or to murder bin Laden any way he could manage to it (and even with B-L's 9/11 statements I though most of you guys still denied he did anything, and that it was an inside job - oh well). He was eventually thought to be too high strung for the job and was more or less assigned to the CIA cafeteria to await another assignment that never came. This while Clinton was still in office. In Clinton's defense, without anything close to a 9/11 no President could be expected to have done anything more than what Clinton did in response to the embassy or other bombings because the people would not be convinced of the need for more drastic responses.

    By the way, the aforementioned Zawahiri had some problems with Al Qaeda members who did not like to see fellow Muslims killed in bomb blasts such as those that destroyed two America embassies in Africa (killing few Americans but over 200 Muslims plus many more blinded and maimed). His response was that if they were good Muslims in life they'll be rewarded in the afterlife; if they weren't good Muslims, then screw 'em. Nice guy. Freedom fighter or something I guess.

    Bill Bodden:

    ..and U.S. maintenance of sanctions on Iraq that cost an estimated half million Iraqi children their lives.

    Bob T:

    Or so it's said. Contrary to crap spewed by the likes of Chumpski and others, medical supplies were exempt from the sanctions and did get into Iraq (often to be sold by Saddam on the black market to fund more palaces or something), and the deaths attributed to sanctions is unclear. Besides, it was noted with great interest that when Bush 43 started his march to the overthrow of Saddam the anti-war people were calling for the sanctions to be "continued" as an alternative to war. What a hoot!

    Now, about that "blowback" thang. Actions that can create the potential for enemies (even if brainwashing is needed for the creation of such enemies, in light of the fact that most Muslims outside of the west are pretty ignorant about the world because of the limitations of what they are taught) can hardly be said to justify such a mass muder act as what happened on 9/11 or in Mumbai or anywhere else. Many say that the US should have stayed in Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew.

    Well, I don't know about that. We had no real presence there anyway. Al Qaeda was a minor player (very minor) in that campaign and was mainly funded by the Saudis while we did morer to aid the Northern Alliance which later welcomed the US to help them oust the Taliban, and not long before he was murdered by bin Laden the Northern Alliance leader Massoob (?) went to the US to warn about Al Qaeda and Taliban goals outside of Afghanistan.

    The same people who say that we should have done something about post-Soviet Afghanistan are the ones now saying that we should leave this time. Which is it? Besides, right after 9/11 one of the lefty conspiracy crap theories was that the CIA concocted the plot to give them an excuse to go into Afghanistan and get the poppy crop. Hmmmm, if that was important, then why did we leave the first time? I can't take much of that junk seriously.

    Here's a book recommendation for you: The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Ol Barn:

    Who are the terrorists?

    Before Israel became a nation who (person) was responsible for the bomb in the King David Hotel that killed many?

    Bob T:

    Jews/Israelis must not have a lot of examples to be pointed out if this is always the one cited, and it was over 60 years ago. I can't and won't defend anything like that, even though a phone call was made to warn the British about it so they could evacuate that military HQ target (which is what the Brits were doing in the hotel), and the Brits apparently ignored the warning.

    The handful of these terrorist and terrorist-like groups among the Israelis involved very few people among the entire population, and the leaders of the new state dealt harshly with them up to and including the sinking of a ship trying to deliver arms to one of the groups. What do the Muslim leaders do with their terror groups, or are they one and the same?

    By the way, ever hear of the Muslim attack on the Hadassah Hospital in, oh, the 1940s or so? They murdered nurses, doctors, patients etc. Outright massacres of Jews, like those they also committed in Hebron, Kfar Etzion, Safad, etc.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Any truth to the rumor that, in response to the IDF's oft-used method of firing rubber bullets at rioting Muslims, Hammas will start using rubber shrapnel in the backpack and bomb belt attacks in pizza and ice cream parlors?

    Bob Tiernan

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Idler: No one here is in favor of Islamic extremism, and your claims to the contrary are disgusting and pathetic.

    This conflation of concern for Palestinians being slaughtered and tortured by the criminal Israeli regime (acknowledged far more strenuously in Israel than in the U.S.) with support for Hamas is the same old right-wing propaganda technique of, "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists."

    The fact is that Hamas formed a democratically elected Arab government, in stark contrast to U.S. allies in the region. It is our and our allies' behavior that is turning Arabs in the street into deadly enemies, and our president-elect and his right-wing policy-makers are threatening to make it worse.

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