Israel: time for perspective and action


10:39 pm - December 28th 2008

by Darrell Goodliffe    


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Conservative Home carries a couple of articles on the recent excesses of the Israeli military. Alex Deane loses himself in his eulogy to the State of Israel surrounded by “enemies who wish her ill”, this “sliver of democracy and decency has always held my sympathy” he informs the reader.

However, pick-up a Sunday paper and you can see that Israeli policy is pretty far from decency. If even the likes of Deane are feeling that supporting Israel is now “less straightforward” then serious questions have to be asked about how long the guilt-induced whitewashing of Israel’s actions can last.

Signs were emerging yesterday of a new consensus with all three parties criticising Israel’s recent air raids on the Gaza Strip. However, the crux of the question is what will emerge out of this new climate of criticism.
In other words, will we see concrete calls for increasing stringent sanction to be applied to Israel while it continues to violate international law with impunity?

Much will depend on the attitude of the incoming US President, Barack Obama. Sadly, there is little hope of a more stringent line emerging from an Obama administration. Visiting Israel last summer he said;

“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.”

All of which sounds very reasonable but does little to address the complexities of the vast power disparities in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the cause-effect relationship between the actions Israel takes and why Hamas enjoys the support it does amoung the Palestinian population.

Put simply, Israel’s problem is that it has been allowed carte blanche for far too long and that is as damaging to it as it is to the innocents that it rolls over. Thus we see that when Israel launches these actions it gives no heed to the ‘collateral damage’ it incurs. The Guardian reports;

The raids had been expected to begin tomorrow, and the fact that they took place mid-morning rather than at night meant many official buildings and schools were full. Some of the missiles struck densely populated areas as children were leaving school. Parents rushed into the streets to search for them.

Television footage from Gaza showed bodies scattered on a road and the dead and wounded being carried away. Civilians rushed to the targeted areas and tried to move the wounded in their cars to hospital.

We can expect more scenes that David Cameron would describe as ‘horrific’ to result from a ground incursion and we can expect the unrelenting cycle of destruction to continue. The prevailing mood in Israel is that this is a cut-and-dried military conflict which it isn’t and that thus it’s vast technical superiority will ensure it’s ‘victory’ which it won’t. Technical military superiority is worth nothing when it comes to facing an opponent which can count on a substantial social base nourished by an embittered and impoverished population.

Israel will never stop the rocket attacks while it thinks in military terms for that reason; neither will it make the painful concessions necessary because they will be seen too widely as a ‘retreat’ by a population which is swamped in the same siege mentality that Deane gives eloquent testimony too; so, the cycle won’t be broken.

While there are signs that the right, at least in this country, is becoming increasingly alienated from Israel’s actions the left usually loses itself an abstractions about which form of state is best to ‘solve the problem’. Instead of proceeding from what actually is we proceed from how we would wish the world to be; in some cases that means undoing 50 years of history in others it means simply asking two hostile communities to have a touching ‘Kodak moment’ and forget the river of blood and bitterness that divides them.

It could however, be broken, if the international community was determined and resolute in bringing Israel to heel. Suddenly, the Palestinians would see that maybe their best route to salvation may not to be offer succor to the bigots of Hamas and that there is another way. Israeli’s meanwhile would be forced to face the fact that the ‘easy’ solution to living in fear is not the right one; that the only way to end the attacks is to make some painful but necessary concessions to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians.

Concretely, the international community has to consider sanctions of some form against Israel and certainly the suspension of all armament sales. It may also have to consider offering some logistical support in the form of peacekeeping forces. Such an undertaking would no doubt be perilous but unlike the adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq would be worth the ‘end game’; lasting peace and stability in a troubled region and a serious ideological blow against terrorism.

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About the author
Darrell Goodliffe is regular contributor and writes for several blogs including his own: Moments of Clarity.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East ,Realpolitik

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Reader comments


According to this overview of events, Hamas in effect re-declared war on Israel (that is without including the continuing missile bombardment which can now be taken as read): http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2008/12/why-gaza-why-no.php

Not that it justifies what they are doing, but Hamas are pretty successful at narrowing down Israeli options.

“[this] sliver of democracy and decency has always held my sympathy”

If he means Decency, he’s got a point.

There are a lot of versions of events, including this report that the Israeli army has been planning this for months, and running a disinformation campaign to support it:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050426.html

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

4. dreamingspire

Of course Israel was preparing, as aggressors always do. We must not forget the strong links between Israel and the USA: the dependency of many businesses (and thus govt) in the USA on technology hatched in Israel, and the many people who moved from USA to Israel (and the many others who would like to do that: to go home). Also these battles between the tribes have an ancient background – read the bible.

I have heard conflicting stories over the origins of this conflict – either that Hamas declared the truce over explicitly due to the blockade or the Israelis ended it implicitly with their bombing. But either way, it seems that the initial attack (be it through starving Palestinians of food, energy and health supplies or through an explosive focused direct offensive) originated from Israel.

Besides, of course, the numerous rockets. Which have a confirmed kill count of 1, I believe. They have certainly injured a few more and scared many thousands more but I am not aware of higher than a single fatality as a consequence of them being fired.

Israel may not be perfect but it is surely preferable to a Islamo-Nazi terrorist group for whom war and death are an essential to its existence . Hamas does not recognise Israel’s right to exist ,it is funded and supplied by Iran and it regularly does its best to kill as many Jews as it can threatening many more. I would hope my government would also take decisive action under such circumstances and in any case the middle east from the vantage point of middle England is at best a pantomimic game .
Nonetheless it has always seemed to me that given its circumstances there is a huge amount to admire about Israel which I put up there with India in my all time foreigners I dislike least . India manages to maintain a democracy despite few resources and great poverty (compare Africa). Israel manages to maintain a civil state despite being surrounded by those who wish its borders to be out at sea and their Western sympathisers. That it becomes militaristic is not the surprise that it retains recognisably civilised values is . I sometimes wonder if there is not some sort of inverse racism going on such as in the case of S Africa when Western Liberals clearly expected more form the whites than numerous other tribal regimes given to appalling treatment of their subordinate races .
I regret that the writer feels the way forward is to encourage the murderers . This subject always brings out a sort of displaced warlike chest thumping from Liberals safely tucked up in their Western beds and the deluge of drivel-some selected details that emerge seem to me to be beside the point . My instinct says this is no time to go wobbly and we should support our friends when it is difficult as well as when it is easy .

Newmania – if Hammas (democratically elected) is Islamo-Nazi then what the hell are the Israelis? They were partly to blame for providing the conditions for Hammas to come to power, they have put walls around the most densley populated land in the world, they have already attempted to smash the infrastructure of GAzza, they have set up check points as further controls, they limit the amount of power available, they limit the importation of goods etc, etc. I think the SS did similar things in Poland in the ghettos.
If Israel thinks this will split Palestinians away from Hammas then they are mistaken. And if we beleive that this is just about the rockets and serdot rather than internal politics then we are similarly mistaken.
One would hope that Barack will pick a different route with Israel but I’m not holding my breath.
Can someone explain just why the US is so beholden of Israel – is it just armament sales and the right wing Christians or what?

8. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs)

“…which I put up there with India in my all time foreigners I dislike least…”

Jesus, what a contrived and self-consciously “edgy” dickhead you sound. Get a life.

Why does Israel have the “right to exist”, Newmania?

If it is self-determination then when the Palestinians become a majority in Israel (as is certain to occur unless the West Bank is abandoned, which seems increasingly unlikely) are they entitled to vote it out of existence?

“Can someone explain just why the US is so beholden of Israel – is it just armament sales and the right wing Christians or what?”

Same reason any politician cares about any issue in American politics – lobbying.

Ace , you say Hamas is Israel’s fault but we came within a whisker of a settlement in 1995 when Arafat walked out . Quite how this is Israel’s fault I am unsure . Arafat was offered 90 % of the land taken in 67 in return for a commitment to Israel’s security. Israel defends itself .What are you suggesting ;negotiation? Well that might be tricky when you are dealing with racist lunatics who , like believe the Jews ….
“….were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. (Article 22)
( Hamas Charter )….
Or what about this just to get the ball rolling …
“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).
Dr Al-Zahar stated his “dreams of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it

The slogan of Hamas is “God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur’an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes.”
Israel has a right to exist and a right to defend itself and when it is against an organization who believe “ Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight.”
Extreme force is unavoidable , I need hardly say that I wish it were otherwise .

Jesus, what a contrived and self-consciously “edgy” dickhead you sound. Get a life.

How can you say I `m contrived ?
And “edgy “ no less , Man alive !
I practice no stealth
I speak for myself And to teach you all something,
I strive.

A dickhead with no life you say
Self consciously posing ? No way!
My wisdom just drops onto fields and tree tops
Like a soft falling rain

OK.

XX

Newmania – I wont bore you with selective quotes from Zionists and right wing Israelis but I’m sure you know I could.
Hammas was democratically elected, therefore, irrespective of their beliefs we should have tried to negotiate with them – we did not. Now how does that translate as regards the average man in Gazza? Are the conditions on the ground in Gazza any worse or better, for the average man, than when Fatah were in power? The vote for Hammas was partly a vote against the years of corruption by Fatah.
Israel has been punative in the action they have taken, from building those ‘peace’ walls to flattening the family homes of ‘martyrs’ to stopping those that visited family in Gazza during the summer from leaving to go back to college, work, university by closing checkpoints.
Hammas was born out of the troubles and will continue whilst Gazza is ‘under attack’, and will always have a steady stream of converts whilst Israel continues to take punative action.
But if Israel were to flatten the walls, close all the settlements and withdraw to pre ’67 borders then just how much support would Hammas then have? Sure they would still want the distruction of Israel, but when the average Palestinian has a chance at a ‘normal’ life for him and his family, what then becomes more important and how many would continue the fight?
As it is, Israel gets world wide front page news for killing innocents, men women and children, Hammas feels completely justified, and we start a new cycle of violence, possibly a new intifada and another generation of young Palestinians who continue to have an axe to grind.

“The vote for Hammas was partly a vote against the years of corruption by Fatah.”

Worth bearing in mind, this. In the election which brought them to power Hamas did not stand on a “Kill all the Jew scum” platform. Instead they emphasised the concept of purity – from concessionist moderatism towards Israel, yes, but also towards the corruption of Fatah, which stole massive amounts of cash meant to improve the lives of countless Palestinians.

I’m no Hamas fanboy, but if you want to look for reasons for their electoral success it is less to do with Palestinians being bloodthirsty vengeance seekers and more to do with them wanting some basic infrastructure and some form of economy.

Which Israel has now filled the role of denying them.

Can someone explain why Israel should be responsible for supplying fuel, power, food to Gaza when it has a land border with Egypt and a long coastline?

Newmania – I wont bore you with selective quotes from Zionists and right wing Israelis but I’m sure you know I could.

Dies quioting from the Hamas charetr count as selectuve then or its sloigan for god1 I shall not bore you by going on but i am sure you know I could ad infinitum. Fundementally if you are truying to asseert an equivalnec betyween Iranian backed terrist thuigs and Israel I do not agree

Once you are done gibbering in a fashion you possibly find amusing perhaps you would like to reply to my question?

Newmania: if as seems likely a Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition takes power after the election, will you be calling them “US sponsored terrorist thugs”?

Israel may in some abstract sense have greater power, but in pragmatic, on-the-ground terms, it is Hamas who have the relevant fragment of power, the hand on the war-or-peace switch.

Let’s be clear – what Hamas wants, their cause, is a war. A war is the only thing that could change the power balance and demographics sufficiently that Jews become a tolerated minority in an Islamic state.

I can’t imagine any measure more likely to ensure the fighting continues and escalates than for western governments to seek to become the patrons of Hamas, start to offer poliical and military support to their cause, in the form of sanctions and embargoes or anything else that will give them hope of future military victory.

The way to stop the war is to remove:

1. any military ambiguity about the possibility of winning such a war within the next 10-20 years. This means Israeli membership of NATO: a guaranteed formal and permanent defence pact, rather than some behind-the-scenes lobby about which there are increasing mutterings.

2. any legal ambiguity about who is following international law and who isn’t – uproot the settlements, arrest and try any military officer guilty of deliberately targetting non-combatants, and so on.

3. any moral ambiguity about who is in the right. That will be somewhat difficult as long as idiotic western nationalists-by-proxy increase their support for a cause the more romantically hopeless it is. We will just have to hope that being a romantic nationalist in favour of killing Jews is a position that should give just about anyone pause for thought…

“any moral ambiguity about who is in the right.”

good luck with that one.

Newmania – I wont bore you with selective quotes from Zionists and right wing Israelis but I’m sure you know I could.

Does quoting from the Hamas charter count as selective then or its slogan? It only has one and it is this : “God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur’an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes.”…did I miss out the bit about negotiated compromise ? No I fucking didn’t
Fundamentally if you are trying to assert an equivalence between Iranian backed terrorist thugs and Israel I do not agree . Yes there are Zionist extremists but Israel has often resisted its right wing not least when ultra nut murdered Mr. Rabin .

‘But if Israel were to flatten the walls, close all the settlements and withdraw to pre ‘67 borders then just how much support would Hammas then have?’

That offer has been 90 % on the table and was rejected . Since then Islam has poisoned the well which is not Israel’s fault incidentally how much infra structure and wealth did Israel have when the Jews got there ? Why do so many Palestianians begin to migrate there exactly? Interesting questions when you consider how Isarel has, according to you , impoverished Arabs Hamas has had electoral success by targeting poor people with Jihad money designed to attack Israel it is mostly from Iran. No country can put up with this .

As to the reasons for the world’s press attacking the Jews well a lot of that is displaced anti Americanism. I recall in Islignton there were endless calls in the local Press from the Labour Party of Holborn and the like to clip Israel’s wings on humanitarian grounds . Lebanon , where the scale of carnage is unimaginably larger , was practically ignored .

I try to resist but its hard to avoid wondering how much of the old Jew Hatred lives on in the lefty.. This site recently boasted how leading Liberals are mounting a joint attack on Boris in London . Ken was not unhappy to take the Muslim anti Jew vote was he when Boris told the BNP to stuff their support.

“Israel may in some abstract sense have greater power.”

There is nothing abstract at all about 250 (and rising) dead to 1 dead.

As for your 3 point list:

1. Winning the war…? You imagine that peace will sustain Israel? If Israel hangs onto the West Bank we will soon reach the stage where only war (a civil war: one in which the Jewish Israeli ensure that the Arab Israelis are denied their right to vote) can sustain a state which would otherwise be voted out of existence.

If Israel relinquishes the West Bank then things may change, but that brings us neatly to…

2. Never going to happen. The Israeli right are in the ascendant, they are about as keen on settlement demolition as the BNP are on open borders.

3. lol. How can you be a Zionist without romantic nationalism?

I’m a massive fan of internationalism, as it happens. Which leads me to struggle to see one death as something worse than 250+. And in the past week one side has inflicted the former and the other the latter. Now which do you imagine I see as worse?

BTW – nice to see you ignoring my question, Newmania. Shows its an awkward one for you. 😀

BTW – nice to see you ignoring my question, Newmania. Shows its an awkward one for you. 😀

Ha ! Its an easy one for me as I accept there is such a thing as ‘people’ and their country .Democracy is a delicate flower grown in a reasonably coherent nation state with no meaning when voting is just an expression of tribal aggression . Take a mental trip around Africa and tell me how much connection there really is between voting systems and “democracy “ as we experience it . You think a country is just a random patch of land which is why you do not care about torrential immigration .This conception is utterly alien here , let alone in the Middle East . Once you see a country as a home for a people you are in effect suggesting g that if enough squatters turn up in your house they can vote you out of it ….come to think of it you have suggested that….

This is why I find Liberal obsessions with voting systems wearisome THis is one core difference between the Liberal who views people as “Human “ units who for most purposes are indistinguishable .Conservatives are concerned with the real man in his cultural and historic context with all his loyalties and particularity in time ( and pertinently in place as well)

Ok, let’s take this beyond the theoretical level (and for a moment on those grounds I will allow your claim that I am a “liberal” and its veracity slide).

When, as will occur in the near future, those Israeli citizens who are Jews become outnumbered by those Israeli citizens who are Arabs should the latter be denied voting rights?

“Democracy is a delicate flower grown in a reasonably coherent nation state with no meaning when voting is just an expression of tribal aggression.”

Your one-sided characterisation of Hamas’s support has been totally exposed though New. Your characterisation of it as an expression of ‘tribal agression’ is only expressive of one element of it’s support and is by no means the full-story. I think Palestinian’s are wrong to support Hamas because it is a bigoted, horrific organisation but in doing so they are clearly expressing grivences which are legitimate.

If Israel behaved differently then there is no doubt that the extremisists within it would become a marginal voice which would be quickly isolated and dealt with in that way; sadly, because most Israeli politicians think like you do that is never likely to happen; and the more Israel pounds into Gaza, the longer Israel continues to collectively punish Gazans the stronger the extremist voices will become….

‘I’m a massive fan of internationalism, as it happens. Which leads me to struggle to see one death as something worse than 250+.’

You may describe yourself as an internationalist, but if you see them as opposing totals, a scorecard for competings sides, then you are deifinitety viewing things through a nationalist prism, attempting to answer the question ‘which Nation is the Good Guys?’

Which is, of course, the wrong question.

The internationalist viewpoint has to always resist such tribal thinking, always present one single combined figure for casualties. For those 251 casualties, you can then start to discuss which institutions, policies and decisions could have been different, could have lead to a lower figure.

On any such list of things that could be different, while it would be far from the only entry, very high up on it would be ‘Hamas could choose not to fire rockets at israel’.

When, as will occur in the near future, those Israeli citizens who are Jews become outnumbered by those Israeli citizens who are Arabs should the latter be denied voting rights?

We’ll worry about that when, as you predict , the citizens of Israel vote for it to be consigned to history. To play along ,Democracy would have nothing to do with it on anyone’s part .Palestinians would vote for Jews to be “resettled “ as well and disarmed registered and herded into ghettos , is hamas is to be believed , mostly shot ( in a democratic way so you will be happy ) . A new Diaspora ? Armed conflict? . …well I have no idea actually but you are trying to impose standards that emerge form civil society not war zones . This would be a war zone and let us hope that danger is averted.

“the only way to end the attacks is to make some painful but necessary concessions to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians. ”

Sadly the only thing that is going to win their hearts and minds is the destruction of Israel. Somehow I don’t see the Israeli’s going for that.

Falco,

I will say it again; that is not what the majority want I don’t think, they want a nation-state, they want to be free to flourish economically and free from the same fear that Israeli’s have of constant attack. I don’t think these are unreasonable requests.

You may describe yourself as an internationalist, but if you see them as opposing totals, a scorecard for competings sides, then you are deifinitety viewing things through a nationalist prism, attempting to answer the question ‘which Nation is the Good Guys?

Which is, of course, the wrong question.

I do believe you misread my statement. What I said was that 250+ (now 300, in fact) deaths was worse than 1. What I did not say was that the IDF were worse than Hamas, or that Israel were worse than Palestine.

If you disagree with me and consider 1 death to be as bad or worse than 300 then I’d be interested to see how you can get there without using nationalism. It can be done, on certain occasions, but in this context I don’t think so.

The internationalist viewpoint

My my, there’s only two of us on this thread (and scarcely any more in the world) and you’ve already begun the purging…

I am an internationalist insofar as I consider the value of nations to be limited and outweighed by the values that transcend national boundaries entirely. I consider nations to be harmful imaginary concepts instead of helpful imaginary concepts. However the consequence of this is not that I pretend everyone agrees with me. I approach this in much the same way Alan Moore approaches God – he says that gods exist within people’s heads but that there is nowhere else more important for them to do so. Much the same is true of nations.

It would be fantastic for them to be abandoned, but in this world they are of immense importance and high influence. Unfortunately.

has to always resist such tribal thinking, always present one single combined figure for casualties. For those 251 casualties, you can then start to discuss which institutions, policies and decisions could have been different, could have lead to a lower figure.

Unless we note that IDF caused 250 of the deaths and Hamas caused 1 we are off to a rather poor start. One organisation is manifestly more capable of mass killing than the other and its responsibilities rise accordingly.

On any such list of things that could be different, while it would be far from the only entry, very high up on it would be ‘Hamas could choose not to fire rockets at israel’.

During the ceasefire this very approach was taken, with the Israeli response being severe blockading that left Palestine devoid of the very basic supplies. Or, as the minister in charge of this policy so charmingly described it, “Putting the Palestinians on a diet”. Their stated intention was to choke support for Hamas, the democratically elected government. Now what here is meant to lead me to believe that anything short of the collapse of the Hamas government would have ended this blockade?

Accordingly when peaceful means failed, violence was resumed. I would call that a very bad decision but then, I was not the one being choked of life’s basics necessities so I would.

I suppose you could say much the same of the Israeli who’s house was having rockets rain down around it all day, but the consequence of Hamas resuming violence and the IDF were clearly distinct in the amount of suffering caused by each. With Hamas it was 1 death, with the IDF it was 300.

We’ll worry about that when, as you predict , the citizens of Israel vote for it to be consigned to history. To play along ,Democracy would have nothing to do with it on anyone’s part .Palestinians would vote for Jews to be “resettled “ as well and disarmed registered and herded into ghettos , is hamas is to be believed , mostly shot ( in a democratic way so you will be happy ) . A new Diaspora ? Armed conflict? . …well I have no idea actually but you are trying to impose standards that emerge form civil society not war zones . This would be a war zone and let us hope that danger is averted.

Uh…Was that a yes or a no?

Since you would have to deny them the rights before it happened, if at all, we’d sort of need to know before the vote took place…

“whisker of a settlement in 1995 when Arafat walked out”

The events you are referring to occured in 2000 not 1995, and what you’ve said occured is the Israeli version of events – except Israel doesn’t even claim Arafat walked out, they claim he merely rejected the offer and refused to put a counter offer up. Given that you can’t even get the correct year for the alleged “generous offer” (its disputed whether this took place) its doubtful your knowledge of this conflict even extends to being able to put the Israeli case competently.

‘What I said was that 250+ (now 300, in fact) deaths was worse than 1. ‘

Partitioning the deaths by race in that way is not only racist , but worse, wrong.

‘Unless we note that IDF caused 250 of the deaths and Hamas caused 1 we are off to a rather poor start. ‘

By the usual definition of the word ’caused’, it is more true that Hamas caused all 300+ deaths.

When you talk about cause, you ask ‘what could be different?’. If you talk of _a_ cause, then you are picking one single thing that could be different as the most relevant from a multitude of possibilities.

One, perfectly valid, way that things could be different is that Israel could not happen to have a first rate technologically advanced army. That would provide a legitimate, non-racist excuse for focusing on the casualties caused by that more efficient and powerful system.

While some Israeli nationalists would disagree, that is a perfectly achievable change: no country as small as Israel could sustain an economy that could develop F16s and Apaches and Predators all by itself. A sustained campaign of boycott and embargoes would very likely reduce them to tanks and missiles comparable to those fielded by pre-2003 Iraq or current Iran.

Once that rump army was defeated, then you would probably have a perfectly viable, low-casualty situation where the remaining Jews in Israel lived comparably to those in Iran (they have a reserved MP and everything: by world standards, they have little to complain about as a minority).

The problem is that the transition period would seem to me likely to involve rather more than 300 casualties. In fact, I suspect it would more comparable to WWII than Vietnam or Iraq.

On any such list of things that could be different, while it would be far from the only entry, very high up on it would be ‘Hamas could choose not to fire rockets at israel’.

Similarly, if children call me names, then I beat them and their friends to death. On a list of ways in which fewer people could be beaten to death, very high up on it would be ‘children could choose not to call me names’.

It was a “Its a non question “. Not all questions can be answered yes or no just because they can be asked .For example ,”Is prayer black ?”. Surely this is not a new category for you?

This is interesting :

I am an internationalist insofar as I consider the value of nations to be limited and outweighed by the values that transcend national boundaries entirely. I consider nations to be harmful imaginary concepts instead of helpful imaginary concepts.

You use “Imaginary” for its associations of the juvenile as in the phrase ”My imaginary friend” . It also has associations of the arbitrary as in a day dream as well as the unimportant .
In the sense you use it “imaginary “ could equally be applied to …“The Law” ,“Love” , “Language “ “Thought “. All these things are, in interesting ways, are like and unlike a Nation . In fact it could be used of “The Past “ a country with no objective reality and one frequently deemed unlawful in socialist states as an imaginary world which makes no tractors .
Imaginary then is a word that may be used of everything it is to be human bar eating crapping copulating and making grunting noises .( A night at the Conservative Party Conference yes yes ….). It interests me that you seem to despise so much of what a man is.

It was of course a strong nation state , our one , that held out against the Nazis when a Brownian motion of bods would not . No doubt you would have preferred that because the allies killed more Germans than visa versa which obviously makes the Allies the baddies and the Nazis the Goodies ( says you ) Perhaps that why the PLO were such firm supporters ?

James – take it as a no. Newmania had the chance to answer but didn’t – seems pretty cut and dried to me.

Newmania – “Fundamentally if you are trying to assert an equivalence between Iranian backed terrorist thugs and Israel I do not agree .” I think you will find that I would describe America as the terrorist thugs backing Israel to go along with Iranian terrorists thugs backing Hammas.
My point was that for every quote you go and find there would be something on a par from the Israeli government, Zionists and any number of hawkish right wingers. Oh and wasn’t Israel founded by a bunch of terrorist anti British thugs?

As for the worlds press attacking Israels actions, I don’t think that is just ‘anti-americanism’ as you state but a revulsion of the methods of Israel. Hammas continued with the rockets, yet Israel continued with the blockade. Hammas killed 1 person, the death toll by the Israeli’s is 300+. Now if someone rains missiles down on my home that houses my daughters then what am I to do? But what if that home is walled into some kind of open prison, where I struggle to feed my daughters with UN food handouts, then what am I to do? When those that rain the missiles down on my family have one of the most technologicaly advanced military in the world, then what am I to do? Perhaps I should break more stones for my sons catapult or maybe I should also help build and fire, pretty useless low tech, missiles?

We invaded Iran on the basis of WMD and a ‘bad man’, of course we should come out against these latest Israeli actions.

“I try to resist but its hard to avoid wondering how much of the old Jew Hatred lives on in the lefty.. ” Funny, I thought we were discussing Israel not jews……..

Ooops right your are Planeshift . It started in 93 when Rabin signed the Oslo accord( and I was thinking of when he was shot). Barak offered the deal and Arafat would not take it in 2000 going to on to start the start the second intifada . OK walked out was used in a metaphorical sense , happy ?

It was a “Its a non question “. Not all questions can be answered yes or no just because they can be asked .For example ,”Is prayer black ?”. Surely this is not a new category for you?

So the Palestinians can’t be considered to be a type of being worthy of voting rights, then?

<i<You use “Imaginary” for its associations of the juvenile as in the phrase ”My imaginary friend” . It also has associations of the arbitrary as in a day dream as well as the unimportant .

Well yes.

I don’t despise the nation (let alone humanity!) it’s simply that I see it as far more trouble than it is worth. And it is only because of nationalism that Hitler started invading anywhere of course. National Socialism dissolves entirely without some mystical concept of the nation to rest upon, as its name suggests.

I don’t think that preposterous pieces of make believe are of no value at all (I am a big Neil Gaiman fan, which says it all, really) I just consider them to have no place in public policy. Sorry.

Partitioning the deaths by race in that way is not only racist , but worse, wrong.

By race? Who brought race up? You, I do believe. I was partitioning deaths caused by Hamas from deaths caused by the IDF.

By the usual definition of the word ’caused’, it is more true that Hamas caused all 300+ deaths.

What? Israel ended the truce on November 4th when they began blockading. Hamas were not involved in the 6 month planning, they did not advocate the action and did nothing to encourage it.

When you talk about cause, you ask ‘what could be different?’. If you talk of _a_ cause, then you are picking one single thing that could be different as the most relevant from a multitude of possibilities.

One, perfectly valid, way that things could be different is that Israel could not happen to have a first rate technologically advanced army. That would provide a legitimate, non-racist excuse for focusing on the casualties caused by that more efficient and powerful system.

Stop accusing me of being a racist.

That is a meaningful word and through applying it to an extremist egalitarian you dilute it most heavily.

While some Israeli nationalists would disagree, that is a perfectly achievable change: no country as small as Israel could sustain an economy that could develop F16s and Apaches and Predators all by itself. A sustained campaign of boycott and embargoes would very likely reduce them to tanks and missiles comparable to those fielded by pre-2003 Iraq or current Iran.

Once that rump army was defeated, then you would probably have a perfectly viable, low-casualty situation where the remaining Jews in Israel lived comparably to those in Iran (they have a reserved MP and everything: by world standards, they have little to complain about as a minority).

The problem is that the transition period would seem to me likely to involve rather more than 300 casualties. In fact, I suspect it would more comparable to WWII than Vietnam or Iraq.

Eh…I don’t really see the point in this suggestion. Hamas have offered a decade long truce if they retreat to 1967 borders, all Israel need do is purge the West Bank of settlers and get the IDF out of there.

I think you will find that I would describe America as the terrorist thugs backing Israel to go along with Iranian terrorists thugs backing Hammas…….
Uhu… you see no difference between Iran the UK and America … well good job there is none of the nasty anti Americanism to which I was referring isn’t it. Your plane for Iran will be leaving when ?

Oh and wasn’t Israel founded by a bunch of terrorist anti British thugs?

An interesting point, there. Largely the right acts as apologists for these terrorists since they were driven to it by the extreme circumstances forced upon them by the Nazi. Disregarding, of course, the fact that there was militant zionism long before we reached the 1930s…

‘Similarly, if children call me names, then I beat them and their friends to death.’

Beating someone to death is certainly a valid substitution to bombing them. But in order to make ‘calling them names’ a fair substitution for launching rockets, they would have to be some pretty foul names. Words far more obscene than any that actually exist, words that blistered the tongue as they were spoken and fragmented into man-killing splinters of metal as they were heard 30 miles away.

In other words, the things that would need to be different for your argument to be valid are pretty far-fetched.

The two statements ‘I would be right if things were different’ and ‘I am wrong’ are pretty much the same. In my view, if things were different, Hamas would be innocent victims of Israeli aggression deserving of political, economic and perhaps military support. Someone can, and probably will, come up with some list of links that attempts to make that case. If they convince me, then they have made their case, and I will speak and act appropriately.

But if not, if they just contain the usual guff of out-of-context or unsourced quotes and contingency plans labelled as schedules, then the facts not having changed, neither will my opinion.

“OK walked out was used in a metaphorical sense , happy ?”

No, there is a clear difference between walking out of negotiations and not signing a deal on the table and being a crap negotiator. Its these little rhetorical lies and spin that cloud the issue and misinform people. Its one of the reasons why it is impossible to have a rational discussion of this conflict. It seems people view the conflict as a football match, and they choose which team they support and uncritically accept the narritive of that side. If Israel nuked Gaza today leaving the entire population dead, a substantial proportion of people would probably support it.

Here are a few truisms that we’d all do well to remember:

1. None of us were in the negotiating rooms, and even people who were may not be privvy to all the information concerned. If we’re honest, we admit we cannot know the full story of what happened.

2. What we do know about what happens in the conflict comes to us from second hand sources of information – the media, books we may have read, websites we read etc – most of which have differing levels of reliability. At the very least we should try to read views of the conflict from different points of view and not uncritically accept the position of ‘our team’ as the divine truth.

3. I would hope most people here agree that civillians should not be killed because their leaders were allegedly crap 8 years ago, or should not be killed because their current leaders are nasty people allegedly financed by a nasty regime..

so it follows that:

4. We should not support actions that are taken with the inevitable consequence that large numbers of civillians are killed, particurlarly actions that when tried before have had little effect in bringing the violence to an end.

don’t despise the nation (let alone humanity!) it’s simply that I see it as far more trouble than it is worth. And it is only because of nationalism that Hitler started invading anywhere of course. National Socialism dissolves entirely without some mystical concept of the nation to rest upon, as its name suggests

Really ? Its name suggests socialism as well but even I do not regard it as shedding any light on that imaginary set of imaginary things . The act of theft that at heart war is predates the nation state by many thousands of years (if such an imaginary thing as the past can be called upon) . In the Privateer there is nice example of an intermediate point between naval action and Piracy .Wrong is the word I am looking for .
You might as well blame homes for burglaries as the nation for Nazism . This Nation pulled together and dug its heels in when you would have just said …oh why not its just a bit of ground , help yourself .

I look forward to the Liberal Brave Heart

“ YOU CAN TAKE MY LAND…NO REALLY TAKE IT , I `M NOT FUSSED….OH AND DON`T FORGET MY FREEDOM I DON`T USE IT, TAKE CARE NOW ”

Darrell #26, “I think Palestinian’s are wrong to support Hamas because it is a bigoted, horrific organisation but in doing so they are clearly expressing grivences which are legitimate.”

Do you take the same attitude towards those that vote BNP?

Chavs,

In the sense that a proportion of the BNP vote is a expression of dissaffection and the product of a feeling of abandonment by some sections of society then yes I do. That people then go onto draw the wrong conclusions and buy-in to the BNP agenda then no I dont; that answer your question??

Newmania – No I don’t really see any differences between Iran and America when it comes to their posturing as regards the Palestinian question. They are both as bad as each other really. Of course Iran isn’t backing Hammas with quite the same military hardware as America is for Israel but you get my drift.
I know its difficult for you to think anything bad of America but they have perpetuated the cycle of misery that is the average man’s lot in Israel and particularly in Palestine. If America were to change tack they might find that they would have greater influence in the region. If they don’t, then no amount of attacks by Israel will thwart Hammas’ ability to pick up sympathisers in the prison that is Gazza.

Really ?

Yes, really. There’s no way the Nazis ideology could have held together minus an understanding of the nation as a highly important body which housed a people. That was central. One of the things Hitler loathed most about Marx was his support for internationalism (and democracy, he called the Nazism Marxism once it was purged of its democratic tendencies).

But to be honest, I don’t really want to talk about this, it isn’t relevant in the slightest and does nothing but give further evidence for Godwin’s Law. Let us talk about the matter at hand.

‘By race? Who brought race up? You, I do believe. I was partitioning deaths caused by Hamas from deaths caused by the IDF.’

And you seriously don’t see how that is a profoundly nationalist act? Are you so embedded in the system of racial war that you can’t even imagine an alternative, don’t understand that you are making a choice when you partition things that way? Thinking that those categories exist in unexamined nature, are real things and not in your head, is the very essence of nationalist/racial thinking.

Noone could be a racist, in the sense the word is currently used, if races really existed. Those who really, seriously think races really exist correspondingly deny they are racists.

Inevitably, some of the Palestinian deaths will have been directly due to impact from Hamas-fired bullets fired in self-defence. Some militiaman fires a machine gun at an airplane bombing him, it can’t possibly be the case that all bullets hit, or that all land at sea or in empty desert.

It would be pointless and unfair to separate out such deaths and ‘blame’ them on the militia-man, expect him to not use whatever weapon he has when some guy in an IDF jet is trying to kill him. Him choosing to fire back is accepted (by everyone except the odd, usually american, pro-Israeli nutter) as something that could not be different.

On what non-racist, non pro-major-war grounds can you not apply the same standards to Israel? What set of neutral rule can allow the Hamas guy to fire back and accidentally hit a civilian, but deny the Israeli guy that option?

The only one I can think of is some variant of the ‘imperialists/colonists/technology-users are inherently in the wrong’ line, which, taken seriously, comes under ‘pro-major-war’.

James I have aleady dealt with your silly ideas to my satisfaction if not yours and yet you continue to amuse me .As a supporter of the integrity of Nations Hitler would not be about my last choice ;but you know best. …..

Why is anyone even bothering to engage with newmania? The guy’s an idiot troll with as much sense as a cactus plant.
This discussion is even more surreal than normal when it comes to I/P.

Newmania – comment 50 – WOW, I don’t think I have come across anyone with such self importance as you. But feel free to continue to amuse me.

Thanks for that Sunny, even if it is a bit late now!!

Darrell, your second phrase wins the plain English award of the year.

It is not significant, (a hopeful sign perhaps but not significant), that the majority of people would prefer peace when there is a significant, powerful minority that go for the violent option.

JB, it’s, (as so often happens in international affairs), playground politics. Don’t hit people who are bigger than you, it’s a bad idea.

Don’t hit people who are bigger than you, it’s a bad idea.

Would you have advocated the same during the Second World War when Britain was about to take on Germany? Whatever happened to that plucky English courage?

Falco,

It is my contention that this minority holds sway over both communities by virture of the excesses of the other…agree or disagree??

This is an interesting point:

One organisation is manifestly more capable of mass killing than the other and its responsibilities rise accordingly.

This is nutty:

Similarly, if children call me names, then I beat them and their friends to death. On a list of ways in which fewer people could be beaten to death, very high up on it would be ‘children could choose not to call me names’.

57. Chris Baldwin

‘Alex Deane loses himself in his eulogy to the State of Israel surrounded by “enemies who wish her ill”’

This rubbish gets repeated a lot, doesn’t it? In fact, Israel mainly borders countries (Egypt and Jordan) with with she has peace treaties.

This discussion is even more surreal than normal when it comes to I/P.

Oh I don’t know, it seems quite sane compared to many I’ve seen in the last couple of days. Mind you, I’ve been looking at Harry’s Place.

And you seriously don’t see how that is a profoundly nationalist act?

Comparing one organisation to another? Well…No, actually.

Are you so embedded in the system of racial war that you can’t even imagine an alternative, don’t understand that you are making a choice when you partition things that way? Thinking that those categories exist in unexamined nature, are real things and not in your head, is the very essence of nationalist/racial thinking.

Uhm…I’m not going to pretend that other people don’t consider them to be real. Sorry, they do. Me realising the vacuity of National Theory did not cause everyone else to agree with me.

Noone could be a racist, in the sense the word is currently used, if races really existed. Those who really, seriously think races really exist correspondingly deny they are racists.

Well they exist on a physical level, at times. But they are blank until meaning is imposed upon them above that level, yes.

Inevitably, some of the Palestinian deaths will have been directly due to impact from Hamas-fired bullets fired in self-defence. Some militiaman fires a machine gun at an airplane bombing him, it can’t possibly be the case that all bullets hit, or that all land at sea or in empty desert.

It would be pointless and unfair to separate out such deaths and ‘blame’ them on the militia-man, expect him to not use whatever weapon he has when some guy in an IDF jet is trying to kill him. Him choosing to fire back is accepted (by everyone except the odd, usually american, pro-Israeli nutter) as something that could not be different.

I don’t think that that is actually an example based in reality.

On what non-racist, non pro-major-war grounds can you not apply the same standards to Israel? What set of neutral rule can allow the Hamas guy to fire back and accidentally hit a civilian, but deny the Israeli guy that option?

As an inhabitant of the place said recently, Gaza is a dense area. You don’t fire vast amounts of high explosive into urban areas under the illusion that nobody besides the people you are targeting will be harmed and you certainly don’t harbour such illusions when targeting television stations.

I’m not so sure about your imaginary bullets into the air mowing down airborne innocents, though…?

The only one I can think of is some variant of the ‘imperialists/colonists/technology-users are inherently in the wrong’ line, which, taken seriously, comes under ‘pro-major-war’.

Or else your bizarre example of firing assault rifles into the sky somehow killing someone (somebody paragliding over the Gaza Strip perhaps?) which is, so far as I can tell, entirely fictitious, with the very real bombing which has killed well over 300 people.

Andrew Adams – I pity you, I really do.

This rubbish gets repeated a lot, doesn’t it? In fact, Israel mainly borders countries (Egypt and Jordan) with with she has peace treaties.

WE should have such friends on our bordert sigh….

On the ‘children call me names’ point: Hamas have fired crap home-made fireworks, which by surprising fluke have actually managed to kill one person. Israel has used its full military force to kill 300 people. That seems pretty damn close, in terms of ‘scale of bad things’ to ‘calling names’/’beating to death’.

Falco – absolutely right, but in the playground you’d say the bully who beat up the small kid after an insult was a nasty piece of work and punish him, rather than suggesting that the whole incident was the fault of the small kid’s provocation and that the bully was acting in a wholly justified way, and represented an oasis of decency and democracy…

I remain unconvinced by the “calling names/beating to death” argument. However ineffective* the rockets (and mortars) are in terms of killing or injuring people, they seem effective in terms of causing terror and provoking military responses, and I’m sure there is no disagreement that they are intended to kill, injure, cause terror, and provoke military responses.

On the ‘children call me names’ point: Hamas have fired crap home-made fireworks, which by surprising fluke have actually managed to kill one person

800 I read and they have done so specifically to provoke the response we see so that blood is also on their hands . John , what response would you consider proportional against people chucking bombs at your children ? One that the “International community ” feel comfy with , or one that stamps it out now and quick?

“John , what response would you consider proportional against people chucking bombs at your children ?”

Depends on how likely they are to hit them. If the answer is ‘extremely unlikely’, as it is here, then certainly something well short of ‘killing 300 people from the bomb-chuckers’ community’.

I’m sure there is no disagreement that they are intended to kill, injure, cause terror, and provoke military responses.

I don’t really believe in the concept of ‘causing terror’ – broadly I think anyone who reacts to anything with terror is an eejit who should be ignored (like the pathetic specimens who cancelled plane flights after September 11, or who cancelled India trips last month, or who reacts to our own home-grown jihadis with anything other than ridicule). If the bombs are going to do you serious harm, then move away (as an individual), and intervene to stop them (as a state); if they aren’t, then chill the fuck out. Either way, terror is a moronic reaction and those who feel it are contemptible.

And provoking military responses – well, yeah, just like the kid who calls the bully names is trying to provoke a response. That doesn’t take away the bully’s moral agency in beating up the kid, though (indeed, whenever people point out the actions the US took in the Middle East that had a major role in motivating the September 11 bombers, they’re accused by people like yourselves of being apologists for terrorism…)

Nice one JB but the little kid is still going to have to learn basic “don’t start fights you can’t win” survival technique, nor, if you bothered to look, have I suggested that Israel is an “oasis of decency and democracy” . Both sides are a bunch of bastards and have been for a long time.

Sunny, you would have a valid point but for the facts. Britain still had this little bit of Empire left that spanned a good part of the globe; Welter Vs Middle Weight perhaps but not the A / I Fly Vs Heavy Weight match up.

Darrell, if your suggestion were true what would you do about it. Kill all the extremists because of their lack of “virture”? I’m sure that most of the problems are the fault of a, (significant numerically and politically), minority but that doesn’t help. It’s not just one or two, you would have to remove a significant proportion of the population to have any effect and you would certainly get it wrong.

Falco,

At least you admit they are a minority. Alternatively to what you suggest you could actually take up politics and use whatever leverage you can to isolate them and deprive them of influence over mainstream opinion and then if it a lawbreaking minority the majority will police them…

Falco: agreed wholeheartedly, it’s the eejits who’re saying Israel are in the right (rather than ‘both sides’ leaders are fucking awful and should be despised’) who the analogy is aimed at.


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