We’re being misled about Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit


12:58 pm - October 14th 2011

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contribution by Matt Hill

You’d have to lack all sense of compassion not to be happy for Gilad Shalit, whatever your politics.

It seems the IDF soldier kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in June 2006 is finally to be freed, in return for 1000 Palestinians jailed for terror offences.

If you read that last sentence without spotting two major errors, you’ve been seriously misled. Because Shalit wasn’t ‘kidnapped’, and neither his captors nor most of the prisoners due for release are ‘terrorists’.

In the weeks before Shalit’s capture on the Gaza Strip border, Israeli bombardment killed 14 Palestinian civilians. When you’re attacked by a foreign army you have a legal and moral right to defend yourself; one common way of doing so is taking prisoners of war.

This has nothing to do with whether Israel was right to attack Gaza: you can’t ‘kidnap’ a soldier on the battlefield. Nobody had even heard of a ‘kidnapped’ combat soldier before Shalit. But if the concept was novel, its meaning was clear: ‘kidnapping’ is what criminals do. As though he’d been dragged from his bed after football practice, rather than taken in army uniform, performing exactly the kind of mission he’d signed up for.

The second misnomer – ‘terrorist’ – applies either to the Palestinians set to be freed or Shalit’s ‘kidnappers’ themselves.

Now let me be clear: blowing up a bus full of innocent people is terrorism, pure and simple. The usual culprit, Hamas, has done incalculable harm to ordinary Palestinians and defiled their honourable cause. And I have no time for soi-disant ‘radicals’ who call such mindless slaughter ‘resistance’. But proper usage cuts both ways: capturing a soldier during wartime isn’t terrorism – it’s self-defence.

In fairness, this error has been more common in Israeli media than in the west. But almost everyone (see here, here and here) seems to agree that the Palestinians due for release are ‘terrorists’, even though Israel makes no effort to distinguish terror from self-defence.

Anyone it suspects of hostile activity is liable to be detained, quite possibly tortured, and convicted by a closed military court, often on the flimsiest of grounds. And hundreds of Palestinians are ‘administrative detainees’ – held indefinitely without charge or trial. Palestinians are never ‘kidnapped’ or even ‘captured’, but always ‘arrested’: as though Israel is the policeman of all Palestine. Dare to defy the proper authorities and you’re simply a criminal.

And the supposedly neutral western media has marched in lockstep, reducing a complex issue to a one-sided narrative. In this way Israel not only legitimises its occupation – it even strips its victims of the right to fight back.

So good luck, Gilad Shalit. But listen carefully to how his story is told, and remember: when powerful interests commit crimes against language, you can be sure crimes against people aren’t far behind.

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Reader comments


This ought to be a boringly predictable comment thread.

“performing exactly the kind of mission he’d signed up for”

This misses the issue of conscription. There is a big moral question surrounding why we think it is OK to kill conscripted soldiers but not civilians.

Matt,

In the weeks before Shalit’s capture on the Gaza Strip border, Israeli bombardment killed 14 Palestinian civilians. When you’re attacked by a foreign army you have a legal and moral right to defend yourself; one common way of doing so is taking prisoners of war.

If he was a prisoner of war, there are certain internationally-agreed standards to be maintained, such as allowing communication and visits from neutral aid agencies. Were these maintained in this case?

And there your case seems to fall down – Mr Shalit’s detention was not that of a prisoner of war, but of a hostage. Furthermore, he was not held by the Palestinian authority or even Hamas as a government (a dubious proposition for your case, but not really outside the bounds of it). His captors and jailors were therefore not agents of anything other than their own cause. In effect, what you are saying is that civilians can engage in military actions but are still sacrosanct (you count civilian lives lost in the article).

It might just be me, but this seems to be a logic fail.

Oh – and this comes from someone who believes that Palestine and Israel should be set up as two separate countries, forced to recognise each others existence, and with all illegal occupation of land withdrawn. So please spare me any stupid ‘right-wing Israeli lobbyist’ crap – I believe both sides have the right to exist.

4. Robin Levett

If he was a prisoner of war, why has he not been held in full accordance with the Third Geneva Convention? From start to finish Hamas have been in breach. Read the convention:

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9b287a42141256739003e63bb/6fef854a3517b75ac125641e004a9e68

and tell which provisions have been complied with.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 Steve

“This misses the issue of conscription. There is a big moral question surrounding why we think it is OK to kill conscripted soldiers but not civilians.”

Well, from the point of view of the people shooting at the soliders, it’s reasonable under self-defense or defense of the realm. If your country was invaded tomorrow by conscripted soldiers, it would be unreasonable to expect you to lay down your arms and accept defeat. And if the army you’re facing contains both conscripts and volunteers, it’s kinda hard for you to tell which is which.

From the POV of the soldiers themselves, of course, it’s a huge difference. I think the question isn’t so much “why is it ok to kill conscripted soliders” as it is “why is it ok to force people to be soldiers in the first place?”

Sounds a bit familiar: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/shalit-wasn-t-kidnapped-1.6280

From the above article published in 2009:

“The violation starts with the choice of terms, and the process of denial began immdiately. The Israeli government refused to call the taking of a prisoner of war by its real name, arguing that it was a “kidnapping.” The Israeli media, which on security matters marches in lockstep like a Prussian regiment behind the generals, joined the chorus.”

I’m sure much has been written about this affair already, but surely a new perspective would be more valuable?

7. Torquil Macneil

” I think the question isn’t so much “why is it ok to kill conscripted soliders” as it is “why is it ok to force people to be soldiers in the first place?”

That’s a good question and not so easy to answer from a liberal point of view as you might think, as Michel Sandel for one has shown.

And on topic: if Shalit wasn’t kidnapped, how come he is a hostage?

Matt Hill,

“So good luck, Gilad Shalit. But listen carefully to how his story is told, and remember: when powerful interests commit crimes against language, you can be sure crimes against people aren’t far behind.”

Oh, please! I’m really sure such pearls of wisdom will be upmost on his mind when he gets out. Perhaps the first thing he’ll do is log onto LibCon to compliment you on your interpretation of his past 5 years.

By the way, if I remember correctly Gilad Shalit was kidnapped from Israel – not the battlefield.

(You appear to have an elastic concept of “battlefield” to be wherever a combatants feel like saying it is. Perhaps it extends as far as the car park of my local Ikea.)

9. Chaise Guevara

@ 8

“Oh, please! I’m really sure such pearls of wisdom will be upmost on his mind when he gets out. ”

Um… read the bit you just quoted again…

@ 9,

“So good luck, Gilad Shalit. But listen carefully to how his story is told, and remember: …..”

Doesn’t the direct way in which Matt Hill addresses Gilad Shalit imply he is giving him advice?

In case you didn’t get my drift I think this a pompous article which swallows the false assumption that Shalid was kidnapped from within Israel not taken captive from an active battlefield scene.

11. Chaise Guevara

“Doesn’t the direct way in which Matt Hill addresses Gilad Shalit imply he is giving him advice?”

No, otherwise it would be “your story”, not “his story”. He’s obviously addressing the reader. I don’t think it’s particularly pompous.

Also, do you think he was kidnapped in Israel or not? You’ve reversed your opinion in your last two posts.

Hi, thanks for the comments.

Steve, #2: I don’t think it’s ever been suggested that whether soldiers are conscripts or not affects your right to self-defence when they attack you. Anyway, Israelis certainly choose whether or not to serve, and many choose not to.

Watchman, #3 and Robin, #4: I agree absolutely the treatment of Gilad Shalit fell short of the standards set out in the Third Geneva Convention. But there’s no suggestion somebody loses their POW status if these standards aren’t met. We’ll soon find out more about the conditions of Shalit’s detention. Did they include torture, for instance? If so, Hamas will be as culpable as Israel, which routinely tortures prisoners, and unlike many I have no problem directing blame at both sides. As for the point about Hamas not being a proper army, see Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Yes, Hamas is in breach, but the Convention doesn’t only apply to armies of sovereign nation-states.

Anyway, I didn’t make much mention of the Geneva Convention because a) I’m not a lawyer, and b) my case rests largely on commonly recognised moral, not legal principles

Scooper, 6#: You’re right, I’m not the first person ever to make this point. But I don’t think the fact that an article was published halfway round the world, two years ago, making a similar point (though in a quite different fashion) means it should never be made again by anyone else.

Kojak, 8#: Shalit was captured from a border-crossing between Israel and Gaza, a few hundred metres from the fence on the Israeli side. If you attack my people and my territory from a bordering country, a few hundred yards inside your own territory, my right to defend myself isn’t cancelled. Otherwise it would be very easy for Mexico, say, to declare war on the USA, and eventually win, wouldn’t it? If you were firing mortar at my territory from the car park of your local Ikea, as you put it, that car park would certainly become a battlefield, and you would be a legitimate target for capture.

@3 Watchman puts it right. Shalit is not treated as a prisoner of war but as a hostage, and hostage-taking is not a legitimate way to conduct war. I too support a solution with two states; that’s the only way to have an enduring peace. Propaganda like this post is not really helping to achieve peace, because it will just cause more distrust and suspicions against anyone who is not in the same trench with you.

Matt Hill:
“But there’s no suggestion somebody loses their POW status if these standards aren’t met.”

You misunderstand what this falling short of standards means. No one is suggesting that Shalit would lose his POW status. It’s his captors who lose their justification to hold a prisoner of war.

Matt,

As pjt says (we seem to be forming a multual quoting club here…) it is the status of the captors, not the captive that count.

Furthermore, your attempts at moral equivalence by citing Israeli torture don’t help, firstly because Israel does not torture prisoners of war (or we’d have heard about it) even if it does torture prisoners taken from other territories, which is an issue; secondly, because you are trying to claim that Mr Shalit’s captors were in the right, but you are not in the right simply because your opponent also does the evil thing you do – you’re both wrong. The problem with this debate is so often that people only ascribe wrong-doing to one side or the other when clearly there is plenty of outright evil and simple breaking of international norms by both sides.

And then we come to:
Anyway, I didn’t make much mention of the Geneva Convention because a) I’m not a lawyer, and b) my case rests largely on commonly recognised moral, not legal principles

I am not sure what the commonly recognised moral principles you cite are, but since the Geneva Convention was designed to replace the preexisting moral principles which were manifestly inadequate (see the ill-treatment of captured prisoners in World War I for example) I would be surprised if they were to the standard demanded by the Convention. As to not being a lawyer, you do realise that the exercise of rights is allowed to all of us – lawyers are just those who argue about them in court, not some special caste. The Geneva Convention was specifically designed to be clear and easily understood because the drafters were quite clear that soldiers are not normally lawyers themselves…

Regardless of all that, to be defined as a prisoner of war Mr Shalit would have to have been declared as such by his captors – the Israeli government would have been told (through a neutral agency probably) that he was alive and being held. This is not only a legal convention, but clearly a moral one – it reflects the fact that war is between governments, not people. Since the fact that Mr Shalit was still alive was not known for certain until recently, I think the flaw in your argument is rather obvious.

16. flyingrodent

Dear God, this isn’t hard, is it?

Yes, the treatment of Gilad Shalit is appalling and it certainly contravenes conventions on prisoners of war. Having read Brian Keenan’s book about his four years in captivity, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, let alone on a 19-year-old lad. It’ll bring a tear to my eye when he’s released and no doubt I’ll enjoy the Hollywood movie, inevitably directed by Danny Boyle.

But still. Targets don’t get much more military than a soldier manning a checkpoint that controls access and egress from an enclosed area that’s under heavy assault. There’s nothing more to be said, on that score.

The post is spot on – everything else beyond these points is pure propaganda, and from both sides I might add. Both want to portray this agreement as a triumph. To me, it’s more a sign of how utterly fucked up the situation is over there.

17. Leon Wolfson

Hamas are not an army. They’re a terrorist group. Kidnapped is *exactly* the right word. And so is hostage…it’s been used, accurately, for servicemen in the cold war at some times.

Certainly *some* of the people released by Israel were prisoners rather than enemy combatants, but this article isn’t anything new and is helpful only to the Israeli right’s electoral chances.

pjt 13#: I’ve already addressed that point: Hamas should have treated Shalit better, but that doesn’t mean they had no right to capture him in the first place. In the same way, the fact Israel has a long record of torturing Palestinian prisoners doesn’t mean next time a potential suicide bomber pops up in central Tel Aviv, it has no right to defend itself by preventing the attack and imprisoning the bomber. If you find it difficult to apply the same standards to both sides, try reversing the scenario in your head, replacing the word ‘Israel’ for ‘Palestine’ and so on.

Watchman 15#: “The problem with this debate is so often that people only ascribe wrong-doing to one side or the other…” Did you read my post? In particular the part where I condemn Hamas in the strongest possible terms? Israel ‘doesn’t torture prisoners of war’ because when a Palestinian carries out an action that would be seen as self-defence in any other context (like capturing an enemy soldier who is killing Palestinians with mortar shells), Israel doesn’t recognise the perpetrators as prisoners of war, instead treating them as criminals. If you’d read my post, you’d know that this is basically my whole point.

‘I am not sure what the commonly recognised moral principles you cite are’ – I even provided two helpful links in my post when I mentioned your ‘legal and moral right to defend yourself’ from enemy attack. Click on the word ‘legal’ and you’ll find the charter of the United Nations (to which Israel belongs and Palestine wants to belong). Note particularly article 51. Click on the word ‘moral’ and you can read a well known philosopher called John Locke, who eloquently defines the natural right to self-defence. But you don’t need to read John Locke to understand what everyone understands, which is quite simple: if you try and kill me, I can rightfully go to some lengths in self-defence, not least by taking you prisoner.

For those who disagree with me, I have some questions.

If Israel attacks Gaza, killing 14 civilians over the course of a couple of weeks, do the people of Gaza have any right to defend themselves? If not, what actions can they rightfully take?

If they do have the right to self-defence, why does that exclude taking prisoners? Is it better to kill people than to capture them?

If you agree they have the right to take prisoners on the condition they’re treated lawfully, we’re pretty much in agreement. One more question though: do you believe this condition applies to Israel too?

@Matt Hill

You think all those peolpe the Israeli’s are releasing are *innocent*

You’re joking right?

There’s a huge outcry in Israel because a great number of them are convicted terrorists and murderers. Don’t you think Israel has a right to defend itself from these people as well?

If nothing else, there are over 1 million Arabs in Israel, with Israeli passports, free to work, vote and are able to live safely.

Do you think that is likely for an Israeli in Gaza, or for that matter pretty much anywhere else in the middle east? And you call them the villains?

21. Leon Wolfson

@19 – Under international law? No, they do not. Go argue with the UN.

22. Robin Levett

@Matt:

My point is a simple one. Regardless of Israel’s behaviour, for Hamas to be entitled to claim that Shalit is a prisoner of war, they have to have treated him as such. They haven’t; they’ve treated him as a hostage from the outset; and use as a hostage is quite clearly why they captured him. In that context, the description of his capture as “kidnapping” is not only unexceptionable, it’s mandatory.

20 # Tyler: No, I didn’t say they’re all innocent. I said they’re not all or even mostly terrorists. That’s different.

I agree, Arab Israelis are treated better than a Jew would be in Gaza. My thoughts about the Palestinian citizens of Israel can be found in article published yesterday, as it happens: http://review31.co.uk/article/view/8/strangers-in-their-own-home. I don’t see what that has to do with this subject though.

22# Robin Levett: The term ‘hostage’ isn’t one I criticised. Shalit was a hostage in the sense that he was almost certainly captured with the intention of using him as leverage to gain the release of some of the 5000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Israel almost certainly takes Palestinians prisoner with the intention of using them as leverage in all kinds of ways – including to secure the release of Shalit! But the key points are these. The capture of Shalit was legitimate, so ‘kidnapping’ is the wrong word. It’s customary for POW to be exchanged at the end of hostilities. Sometimes POW are exchanged before hostilities end. I regard both Shalit and many – not all – of the Palestinian prisoners as POW, so the capture and exchange of Shalit are in accordance with usual procedure. Both sides have treated their prisoners poorly. But the media has misreported the situation in such a way as to obscure these simple facts.

25. Leon Wolfson

@23 – My only problem with that article is that many of the Russian supporters of Lieberman are NOT, in fact, Jewish.

@ 25# Under Israeli law they are. Go argue with the Supreme Court. But I think we can both agree that sometimes reducing moral issues to legalities is misleading, which is why I framed my article in moral and not legal terms.

But yes, point taken.

Ah, Leon Wolfson. Rabid supporter of “the left”. Except when it comes to Israel, where he is in lockstep with Avigdor Lieberman. So basically you are against terrorism except when it’s “your people” doing it, and in that case it’s “self defence”? Your friends in the Tories are also very pro Israel. As are the American Right. Not really very left wing are you, Wolfboy?

28. Johnsleftnut

Ah ha! You just got owned WolfyBoy!!

29. Leon Wolfson

@27 – Ah yes, and the fascist right come out to accuse me of holding their policies. I’m left wing even by Israeli standards, and would have supported Kadima at the last Isralie election, being a supporter of a two state soloution.

Pointing out a flaw in an article which was talking about your fellow fascist, Lieberman, does not make me his supporter. Especially when I’m agreeing otherwise with the article, which was hammering (rightly) the Israeli system’s bias. So sorry you disagree with it and think everything is just /fine/.

@26 – This is what the whole statehood debate is about, no? In many ways it’s in Israel’s interest to have a Palestinian state who are nominally responsible for containing terror attacks from their territories.

30. Leon Wolfson

@28 – Yes, if “owned” means “talking about someone means you agree with them”. So, by your own logic you are a fascist. Or you’re wrong. Your choice, of course.

@29 – ‘In many ways it’s in Israel’s interest to have a Palestinian state who are nominally responsible for containing terror attacks from their territories.’

Well on that we can agree.

@27 – In the interests of fairness, and at the risk of alienating some of the few people who are on my side here, I think it’s fair to say that if Leon Wolfson read my other article about the Palestinian Israelis and had only one minor quibble with it, he’s a long, long way from Avigdor Lieberman, who would have choked on every word. (I’m not a regular on these comment boards though so I can only judge from what’s been said here.)

Having said that, I’m not sure supporting Kadima makes you particularly leftwing either. After all, so did Ariel Sharon. Kadima is more of a centrist party, and is often indistinguishable from Likud on Palestine.

I might as well alienate everyone, whether they agree with this article or not, by saying this. To be quite honest, I don’t regard somebody’s opinion on whether Gilad Shalit was ‘kidnapped’ or not as some kind of acid test of their sincerity or reasonableness on the Israel-Palestine issue. Lots of people who agree with this article would probably appal me in other ways (the soi-disant ‘radicals’ I was referring to. I acknowledge reasonable people may disagree on a point like this.

I was just thinking to myself, ‘Damn, I have to go out, get drunk and talk to pretty girls now, so I won’t be able to carry on arguing about the Israel-Palestine conflict’. Then I thought, ‘What the fuck’s wrong with you?’

Thanks for the debate though, which I enjoyed to an evidently disturbing degree.

@31. Matt Hill: “I might as well alienate everyone, whether they agree with this article or not, by saying this.”

Aah, conducting a civilised debate about Israel and Palestine (most of the comments above demonstrate regard for manners and fact) is insufficient. Matt feels the need to throw a spanner in the works. The appropriate response is to continue as before.

@33 – I’m probably being obtuse, but I can’t quite work out what you mean or whom you’re trying to mock.

35. flyingrodent

Having said that, I’m not sure supporting Kadima makes you particularly leftwing either. After all, so did Ariel Sharon. Kadima is more of a centrist party, and is often indistinguishable from Likud on Palestine.

Kadima intentionally killed* one thousand Lebanese civilians in a war that the entire planet told them wouldn’t achieve its declared aims. This doesn’t strike me as particularly socialist behaviour, unless we’re talking about the Lavrenty Beria strain of leftism.

*To fend off complaints – if you intentionally bombard a heavily populated city in the full knowledge that you may very well kill one thousand civilians, and then do kill one thousand civilians, you have intentionally killed one thousand civilians. All attempts to deny this should be filed under “fraudulent moral casuistry”.

36. Leon Wolfson

@27 – Exactly. My /only/ quibble is pointing out the Russian-Isralie population has a very strong and outspoken non-Jewish component who also supports Lieberman.

I call Lieberman a fascist. (And yes, I’m aware some people consider that unhelpful, they can bite me)

Kadima is “centralist” only by US standards, in domestic terms it’s effectively left-leaning (and moving moreso). It’s also utterly committed to a two-state solution.

@35 – So given your logic, you’re supporting mass-murder because of the rocket bombardments Hezbollah carried out, rather than collateral casualties in a military operation. Mm-hum. Minor flaw there!

37. So Much For Subtlety

What a vile little article.

19. Matt Hill

If Israel attacks Gaza, killing 14 civilians over the course of a couple of weeks, do the people of Gaza have any right to defend themselves?

No. None. In the Western legal and moral tradition, a Just War requires many things. One of them being legitimate government. Only legitimate governments may wage war. Individual citizens may not. Hamas is a terrorist group. They have no more right to resist Israel (or Botswana for that matter) than the KKK does. Or the Mafia.

If not, what actions can they rightfully take?

They can ask nicely for Israel to stop. They can pray. Both actions being more likely to be effective than what they have been trying to do.

If they do have the right to self-defence, why does that exclude taking prisoners? Is it better to kill people than to capture them?

They do not have the right to self-defence. But legitimate governments can take prisoners. In fact they are obliged to do so in certain circumstances. However Shalit has not been held as a prisoner but as a hostage. Assuming he was not, as with most Israeli victims, tortured to death and is now a small handful of bones.

If you agree they have the right to take prisoners on the condition they’re treated lawfully, we’re pretty much in agreement. One more question though: do you believe this condition applies to Israel too?

Israel treats its prisoners lawfully. Most of the time. But the odd isolated case is so odd and isolated it hardly matters – they had no legal right to kidnap Nazis from Latin America but I don’t see anyone getting too worked up about Eichmann. Still the Left often surprises. Nor did they have the right to kidnap anyone in Italy.

38. So Much For Subtlety

35. flyingrodent

Kadima intentionally killed* one thousand Lebanese civilians in a war that the entire planet told them wouldn’t achieve its declared aims.

Remind me how many times Israel has been attacked by Hezbollah since? Can you please define for me the aims you think this attack was intended to achieve?

This doesn’t strike me as particularly socialist behaviour, unless we’re talking about the Lavrenty Beria strain of leftism.

Why? Has there ever been a socialist movement that has come to power the old fashioned way and not killed thousands?

*To fend off complaints – if you intentionally bombard a heavily populated city in the full knowledge that you may very well kill one thousand civilians, and then do kill one thousand civilians, you have intentionally killed one thousand civilians. All attempts to deny this should be filed under “fraudulent moral casuistry”.

On the contrary. You know there is a risk every single time you get into your car. If you skid on some ice, come off the road and kill a group of children, you have not intentionally done so. Even though you know there is a risk.

39. Leon Wolfson

@38 – Ah, no knowledge of British history either then. Cute.

@37: “Israel treats its prisoners lawfully.”

That is demonstrably untrue – try to break the habbit of habitually lying on behalf of your causes. See this report about the Khiam Prison from the time when South Lebanon was under Israeli occupation:

“Soon after the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, the guards of the notorious Khiam prison fled, leaving the prisoners free.

“More than 100 men women and children had been held in appalling conditions.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/766746.stm

There are more reports on the web about conditions in Khiam Prison from those times..

41. So Much For Subtlety

40. Bob B

That is demonstrably untrue – try to break the habbit of habitually lying on behalf of your causes. See this report about the Khiam Prison from the time when South Lebanon was under Israeli occupation:

The problem with being a arse is that you usually end up being an even bigger one. A shame really. So to clarify, in an effort to prove that Israel treats its prisoners badly, and I note the present tense, you are relying on evidence from a prison in another country, run by foreigners, that closed down over a decade ago?

Oh well done, Bob. I particularly loved the accusation of lying. Cute.

@41: “The problem with being a arse is that you usually end up being an even bigger one.”

Predictably, more personal abuse to obscure the reports of Israel’s abuse of prisoners in detention.

Try these comments from Human Rights Watch in 1999 about the Khiam Prison when South Lebanon was under Israeli occupation:
http://www.hrw.org/news/1999/10/27/torture-khiam-prison-responsibility-and-accountability

43. So Much For Subtlety

42. Bob B

Predictably, more personal abuse to obscure the reports of Israel’s abuse of prisoners in detention.

In a foreign prison, run by foreigners, over a decade ago.

Still irrelevant to what Israelis do in Israel today.

@43: “In a foreign prison, run by foreigners, over a decade ago.”

Khiam Prison was under the control of the Israeli military – South Lebanon was under Israeli occupation:

“Khiam prison was a detention and interrogation centre during the years of the Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon. From 1985 until the Israeli withdrawal this May, thousands of Lebanese were held in Khiam without trial. Most of them were brutally tortured – some of them died.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/correspondent/1002463.stm

@34. Matt Hill: “I’m probably being obtuse, but I can’t quite work out what you mean or whom you’re trying to mock.”

When writing, I aspire to communicate; to make my opinions clear. When I mock, the victim should be clear about my intentions (I try at least). If you cannot work out who I am alleged to be mocking, I welcome your informed response. I feel that it is important to mock people, gently.

But I was having a go against you, Matt.

Matt Hill: “I might as well alienate everyone, whether they agree with this article or not, by saying this.”

Did you not think that the above statement was nonsense? Or offensive?

46. Leon Wolfson

@44 – …And run by the SLA.

The differences between what Israel actually said and what the BBC printed are again notable…Israel didn’t dictate SLA tactics, they funded them.

@ 35 – You’re right about Kadima, though I don’t think anyone covered themselves in glory during the 2006 war. Hezbollah started it by killing three and KIDNAPPING two (probably dying) IDF soldiers. (See how I don’t regard this as self-defence, since Lebanon wasn’t under attack at the time, and by all accounts the soldiers were simply patrolling the Israeli side of the border?) Israel responded insanely, with an attack that probably had more to do with Ehud Olmert’s desire to appear strong and to ‘teach Hezbollah a lesson’ than any real attempt to defend Israel from further attack. Over 1000 were killed. Hezbollah responded by keeping up a pretty constant bombardment of northern Israel, killing about 40.

The 25:1 discrepancy in casualties, it should be said, reflects Israel’s military superiority rather than its greater villainy. Though most of Hezbollah’s actions, historically, have been legitimate self-defence against Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon, I can’t bring myself to forget their murder of innocent civilians, because I was nearly one of them – I was in Haifa at the time, hoping a rocket wouldn’t hit me. If Katyusha rockets were as deadly as F-16 fighters, I’m sure 1000 Israelis would have died, and perhaps I wouldn’t be here to write this.

@ 45: Charlieman,

No, I didn’t think it was offensive. In context, I thought it was self-deprecating. In fact, I find it slightly odd that you consider it offensive.

@ 45:

“I might as well alienate everyone, whether they agree with this article or not, by saying this. To be quite honest, I don’t regard somebody’s opinion on whether Gilad Shalit was ‘kidnapped’ or not as some kind of acid test of their sincerity or reasonableness on the Israel-Palestine issue. Lots of people who agree with this article would probably appal me in other ways (the soi-disant ‘radicals’ I was referring to. I acknowledge reasonable people may disagree on a point like this.”

Can anyone tell me what’s offensive about this? Perhaps you didn’t understand my meaning. What I’m saying is that, though I sincerely believe what I wrote, I think it’s the kind of issue on which reasonable people may disagree.

@ So Much For Subtlety #37 –

You say: “What a vile little article.”

Then you say, in response to the questions ‘do the people of Gaza have any right to defend themselves?’ and ‘If not, what actions can they rightfully take?’

“No. None. [. . .] They can ask nicely for Israel to stop. They can pray.”

So if tomorrow Israel chose to kill every single man, woman and child in Gaza, the people would have no right whatsoever to do anything but ask for it to stop, or pray? And you call me vile?

Anyone interested in discovering by what logic you arrive at this position can read post number #37. I think I’ll just exercise my right to silence – if you’ll allow I have one.

51. Goodbye my darling country

“”*To fend off complaints – if you intentionally bombard a heavily populated city in the full knowledge that you may very well kill one thousand civilians, and then do kill one thousand civilians, you have intentionally killed one thousand civilians. All attempts to deny this should be filed under “fraudulent moral casuistry”.””

Oh boo hoo.
Take it up (as in Gaza) with the nutters who placed rocket launchers, command centres on top of apartment blocks filled with civilians.

So the message is what? Simply place your missiles in civilian areas and you win win win.
You either get no retaliation or you get retaliation but the other side are criticised because the civilians you purposely put in danger are killed.

I guess we killed some German civilians too in WW2 (I won’t mention British civilians killed by Germany…as you Commies don’t care anyway which is why you climbed into bed with Hitler) so I guess we should not have attacked the Germans at all.
That would have made a nice short war for Adolf…Much as the way you Lefty fake liberals bitch and whine anytime a single Muslim civilian is killed by us while fighting a non-uniform enemy who hides in crowds (but ignore the far larger number of Muslim civilians killed by Muslims).

Moan moan bitch whine.
Another swipe at Israel article in LC. And EDL one will be next.

Matt – I wasn’t sure about the article – but you seem to inhabit the ‘usable middle ground’, as it were – I’d have been interested to read more about the Palestinian prisoners. Some of them seem to have been terrorists whose release has clearly upset bereaved relatives and others – but it would be interesting to hear more about some of the others.

53. flyingrodent

So given your logic, you’re supporting mass-murder because of the rocket bombardments Hezbollah carried out, rather than collateral casualties in a military operation. Mm-hum. Minor flaw there!

Mm-hum, I love the smell of crass argumentation and sneaky euphemism in the morning.

Can you please define for me the aims you think this attack was intended to achieve?

Well, let’s ask Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. What was it all about, Dan? “if the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years” Hey, that’s some crazy shit, Dan. You wanted to bomb Lebanon twenty years into the past and kill hundreds of civilians for two geezers? That’s uncomfortably close to revenge which is, I suppose, a war aim of sorts.

But why stop there? Let’s ask the Winograd Report, which was the Israeli state’s own official review of the war. Its authors thought the war was a “missed opportunity” and that “Israel initiated a long war, which ended without a defined military victory”. What about the invasion of southern Lebanon, guys? “This offensive did not result in military gains and was not completed”.

That doesn’t sound very victorious, yo. Was there no upside? As for achievements, the Commission reported that “SC resolution 1701, and the fact that it was adopted unanimously, were an achievement for Israel.”

I don’t recall Ehud Olmert announcing to the world that Hezbollah had better knock off the gratuitous violence, or he would totally get the UN to bring in some neutral observers. Maybe he did say that and I missed it.

I don’t think anyone covered themselves in glory during the 2006 war.

Absolutely not. It stands out as perhaps the single most insanely pointless state military operation of the decade, in which both sides intentionally targeted civilians for reprisal and cheerfully attacked heavily-populated urban areas with devastating weapons for no recognisable military aim.

It’s only fair to point out that, compared to what Nato and the Libyan NTC are doing right now in Sirte, the Lebanon war was pretty tame. As horribly violent as that operation is however, there are reasons to believe that a combined Nato/NTC assualt on a heavily-populated city will actually achieve their stated aims. There was never any chance that Israel or Hezbollah could’ve achieved theirs, a fact that has long since been publicly recognised by both sides and is now denied only by by jokers on websites who think reality can be remoulded around their preconceptions.

One reason why Hamas were probably reluctant to allow international access to Shalit is that Israel has a far more powerful surveillance system and a far more powerful military than they do, and so the risk of a succesful rescue operation would be much higher than if the situation were reversed. Supporters of powerful military forces are often insistent that their enemies are cowards because they don’t just gather in large open spaces and allow themselves to be slaughtered.
Insisting that the side in a conflict that one is more inclined towards behave with some basic ethical standards shouldn’t be contingent on the other side doing so (in case anyone fails to decipher this point, I’m saying this applies as much to supporters of the Palestinians as to pro-Israelis). But to consider the possibility that military necessity rather than an evil barbarism was responsible for the secrecy surrounding Shalit’s imprisonment seems part of a mindset which finds it hard to consider the choices that those fighting desperately against incomparably superior forces have to contemplate.
As I said, the answer to those who propagandise for Israel who claim that everything about Shalit’s imprisonment prove that the Palestinian cause is insupportable doesn’t necessarily lie in pointing to Israel’s faults. But it is noticeable that supporters of American power and its allies often consider it impressible to ask whether the rules of war are being violated when their own actions are considered, ask if al-Awlaki was a combatant, or whether it wa really smart or appropriate to dump bin Laden’s body in the ocean, and you must want the tourists to win.

@51: “I guess we killed some German civilians too in WW2 ”

By the millions. British fatal casualties from German air raids on British cities and the V1s and V2s were comparatively light – less than 70,000 overall while that total was surpassed by the casualties that RAF bombing raids inflicted on Hamburg alone during the summer months of 1943. The purpose of RAF area bombardment of cities was laid out in a British Air Staff paper, dated September 23, 1941:

“The ultimate aim of an attack on a town area is to break the morale of the population which occupies it. To ensure this, we must achieve two things: first, we must make the town physically uninhabitable and, secondly, we must make the people conscious of constant personal danger. The immediate aim, is therefore, twofold, namely, to produce (i) destruction and (ii) fear of death.”

The Stern Gang (Lehi Group) is celebrated in a Museum in Tel Aviv despite the documented history that Avraham Stern in December 1940 attempted to contract an alliance with the Nazis to hamper Britain’s war effort – recall that Britain and France had declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 to honour a pledge made to protect Poland’s territorial integrity made earlier that year.

One of the subsequent leaders of the Stern Gang, Yitzhak Shamir, went on to become Israeli PM in 1983. The Lehi Group and Irgun were jointly responsible for the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948. So much for Israeli opposition to terrorism.

56. Johnsleftnut

Oh boo hoo….best not to start wars then Germany.
Boo fucking hoo.

And I don’t care what some Jews did in WW2…just as I’m told to ignore the big Pro-Nazi Muslim involvement, including their own SS division.

But if more Germans died than my people in WW2…cry me not a river.

“In the weeks before Shalit’s capture on the Gaza Strip border, Israeli bombardment killed 14 Palestinian civilians. When you’re attacked by a foreign army you have a legal and moral right to defend yourself; one common way of doing so is taking prisoners of war.”

You’re being rather economical with the actualite here, aren’t you? Your entire ‘self-defence’ argument rests on ignoring the fact that in the Israeli bombardments followed hundreds of unprovoked Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza by over a period of months since the Israeli disengagment from Gaza in 2005.

It was the Israelis who were acting in self-defence. Except you evidently don’t believe in their right to self-defence, though, as you have conveniently omitted any reference to the hundreds of rocket attacks and characterised the Israelis as ‘attacking’ unprovoked and out of the blue.

Typical dishonest Israel-bashing.

@48. Matt Hill: “No, I didn’t think it was offensive. In context, I thought it was self-deprecating.”

My interpretation was that you were being deliberately provocative, trying to get a rise. Apologies for doubting your sincerity.

59. Leon Wolfson

@53 – What rot. Israel targeted Hezbollah. Why not ask them about their usage of urban areas to fight in? It worked quite well for them, sure, but blaming an invading force for fighting the enemy military where they are is…er…yea, blue sky maundering.

And the war was very useful for Israel in that it showed how far the IDF has fallen in capacity over the last decade. The Navy’s genius in getting a ship hit by a missile while its ECM was off didn’t exactly go unnoticed either.

60. flyingrodent

What rot. Israel targeted Hezbollah.

With infinite weariness, I have to point out for the hundredth time on the internet… That over one thousand civilians did not drop down dead of their own accord, at a rate of roughly twenty five times more civilian deaths than Israel’s terrorist foes achieved, while making almost one million innocent people – men, women, children and the elderly – into refugees.

These people were killed or driven out, as has been repeatedly established and re-established, in a campaign of intentional collective punishment aimed at bashing up parts of Lebanon so badly that… well, it was never clear what it was intended to accomplish, beyond revenge and collective punishment for its own sake.

Some bare figures are here… http://tinyurl.com/6zafaza …But let’s pick out some headline numbers.

Destroyed or badly damaged – 15,000 houses and apartments; 900 factories, markets, farms and other commercial buildings; 32 airports, ports, water and sewage-treatment plants, dams and electrical plants, 78 bridges…

For the sake of argument, let’s assume all of those figures are wildly inaccurate by, say, a factor of two. That would be a major error rate, by the way.

The idea that even 450 factories etc. or 16 industrial sites were destroyed by accident is absurd on its face. Even the Israelis’ own high-ball estimate for Hezbollah casualties is only six hundred fighters, nowhere near enough to explain figures that gigantic, and that’s just a small sample of the destruction we’re talking about. It is impossible for anyone to pass this level of violence off as a targeted operation.

So please, stop with the “Israel targeted Hezbollah” stuff. It’s falseness is laughably obvious, and further insistence on this point just insults everybody’s intelligence.

Why not ask them about their usage of urban areas to fight in?

As even the Winograd Report stated, Hezbollah fighters primarily used pre-prepared defensive positions – bunkers and so forth. No doubt many of them spent plenty of time hiding, running and driving around the suburbs of Beirut, but look – the idea that Israel was attacking Hezbollah when it, say, destroyed 78 bridges or 900 industrial sites is so blatantly illogical and absurd that it barely requires refuting.

Further, let’s note that blowing off all of this intentional havoc and mayhem with an offhand “Well, the baddies, like, hide in primary schools and shit, so fuck those innocent people if they don’t like being dead” is a classic moral enormity – it grants licence for almost unlimited violence and carnage on the flimsiest of pretexts. It’s despicable behaviour.

Once again – please, please stop insulting our intelligence. Insisting that up is down is both insane and annoying.

And the war was very useful for Israel in that it showed how far the IDF has fallen in capacity over the last decade. The Navy’s genius in getting a ship hit by a missile while its ECM was off didn’t exactly go unnoticed either.

I put it to you, sir, that any human being who is willing to accept the murder of over a thousand innocent civilians; the driving of almost a million ordinary people into exile; the wreaking of massive, unwarranted blast damage across a densely-populated city and the sacrifice of 121 conscript soldiers for a little wake-up call is not merely a moron. Such a person would be a monster; a psychopathic lunatic of a man.

I imagine that, blinkered as you are, you aren’t quite that. Charitably, I’m assuming you haven’t looked into all of this in any detail, because the facts are readily available and they’re absolutely damning.

61. Leon Wolfson

@60 – Yes, I’m sure you’re weary of flag carrying for Hizbollah and their rocket, while Isrsel should just sit there and take it. Right. Terror is fine as long as the Terrorists can hide in urban areas, per you.

Then you conflate loads of other factors in to hide your support for terror. Entirely typical. The only insult is your trying to disguise your motivations and hatred. At least say openly what you mean.

And no, I’m decidedly NOT the psychopath you are. I’m quite aware that you can, oh, learn things in the aftermath of bad ideas, even misguided wars.

62. flyingrodent

…I’m sure you’re weary of flag carrying for Hizbollah and their rocket… …you conflate loads of other factors in to hide your support for terror… the only insult is your trying to disguise your motivations and hatred…

I have to say that this isn’t the best attempt at refuting a series of incontestible, proven facts that I’ve ever seen. More of a tantrum, than anything else.

There is no question of supporting this or that. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west; Paris is the capital city of France; the Israeli assault on southern Lebanon was based upon a strategy of collective punishment. These are facts rather than opinions, and they are totally impervious to our belief or doubt in them. Hissy fits neither add nor detract.

63. Leon Wolfson

Oh of course, pointing out your clear bias is a “tantrum”. Can’t have someone point out your support for terror, after all. That would be….er….accurate!

If you want to conflate facts and opinions, that’s your choice, but that makes you no less of a liar. And your hissy fit over being called on your bias definitely detracts even further from any rational assessment of your character.

You clearly over-reacted to my comment about what Israel learned in the aftermath, too, and don’t have the good grace to admit it. Again, typical.

64. flyingrodent

…that makes you no less of a liar.

It would really help your case here if you could point to some concrete lies that I’ve told. I made quite an effort to base everything that I’ve said in this thread on official statistics, readily available from reliable sources. If I’ve got something seriously wrong, I’d prefer to know so that I don’t repeat the mistake later on.

Of course, it is unacceptable to remind us of the sinking of SS Patria in Haifa harbour in November 1940 by Irgun, the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 organised by Menachem Begin who went on to become PM of Israel, the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948 which involved Yitzhak Shamir who went on to become PM of Israel, the Qibya massacre in October 1953 conducted by an Israeli commando unit under the command of Major Sharon who went on to become PM of Israel etc etc because Israel is deeply opposed to terrorism and terrorists.

66. Leon Wolfson

@64 – “I’d prefer to know so that I don’t repeat the mistake later on.”

Yea, you can start by not giving terrorists a free pass at killing civilians. And you can continue by not pretending that you’re a mind reader and can say for a fact things which are a matter of dispute between historians.

Public statistics can be twisted into lies as well, and you haven’t provided your sources…

@65 – So you prefer history constantly be brought up? Rabin felt able to shake Arafat’s hand. All you’re doing is empowering the Israeli right.

@66: “Rabin felt able to shake Arafat’s hand. ”

And Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli in 1995 for trying to push along a peace process with the Palestinians.

All the evidence points to the Israeli so-called “right” persistently obstructing the peace process, which is why the present coalition government, led by Netanyahu, allows the building of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory to continue, despite the declared opposition of the Obama administration and despite the Palestinians having made it clear that peace negotiations would not – cannot – continue so long as as the settlement building – which is illegal under international law – continues.

The evidence shows, beyond serious dispute, that the present Israeli coalition government doesn’t want any progress in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Try this interview with Brzezinski for an independent viewpoint
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEBX39VxgS0&feature=related

And try this assessment by Shlomo Ben Ami of the recent Palestinian bid to the UN for recognition as a state:
http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=2&aid=422&dir=2011/October/Monday3

Shlomo Ben Ami was Israel’s foreign minister during the peace negotiations in 2000 hosted by President Clinton at Camp David.

69. flyingrodent

you can start by not giving terrorists a free pass at killing civilians… you can continue by not pretending that you’re a mind reader and can say for a fact things which are a matter of dispute between historians.

Mmm, you’ve rowed that one back a bit from “flag carrying”, but not quite far enough, I think. Hezbollah’s many and varied crimes aren’t in dispute, are a matter of record and I’m quite happy to join in whatever Condemnathon you choose to start.

Note, however, that their crimes aren’t in dispute because when somebody mentions firing missiles at civilians in public, you don’t suddenly get thousands of people rushing to their computers to wave their arms, speak in tongues, call down the vengeance of heaven, then make a thousand allegations of terror-love and Jihadophilia before finishing off with a final telepathic reading of “bias… motivations and hatred”.

Now. I’m aware that this kind of thing is par for the course – put a climate change evangelist and a denier in a room and they’ll be tattooing “Arbeit Macht Frei” on each other’s foreheads within seconds – but that really is all it is, invalid woofing.

Which is to say that, as far as I’m aware, every statement I’ve made in this thread is entirely true, to the best of my knowledge, and you haven’t said a word that casts doubt on that. What you have done is suggest that presenting them without framing them in a bajillion-word lattice of wails and screams about the evil of terrorists is tantamount to racially-motivated flag-waving for terror.

Well. You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don’t fool Jesus. This bush league psyche-out stuff, man. Laughable!

70. flyingrodent

you haven’t provided your sources…

You mean the BBC, the Winograd Report and selected Israeli officials’ public statements are some kind of murky, disputable hearsay? I’d say they’re a damn sight more reliable than foot-stamping assertions and accusations of God-knows-what.

@ 57 Lamia,

“You’re being rather economical with the actualite here, aren’t you? Your entire ‘self-defence’ argument rests on ignoring the fact that in the Israeli bombardments followed hundreds of unprovoked Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza by over a period of months since the Israeli disengagment from Gaza in 2005.”

No, it doesn’t. As I said in the article, this has nothing to do with whether Israel was right to attack Gaza at this moment in time or not. As soon as Israel began attacking, all the units taking part in the attack were legitimate targets, even if Israel had been intolerably provoked by Qassam rockets. When someone’s attacking your territory and people, you have a right to defend yourself.

I’m using a much narrower definition of ‘self-defence’ than you are here. For me, self-defence is violence directed at someone who is, at that moment, attacking you. This deliberately leaves open the question of whether the attack against you is legitimate. It clearly includes, say, shooting dead a suicide bomber as he prepares to carry out an attack. Or blowing up a tank that’s shelling your city.

Your definition of self-defence would seem to be something like: attacking a territory in response to violence carried out by some nasty people who live there. The problem with a much broader definition like this is that can include actions that end up killing far more people than the original provocation did. I think you’re stretching the meaning of ‘self-defence’ too far if self-defence can mean killing twice as many people as the original, supposedly unprovoked act of aggression did. I would suggest using a different phrase, like ‘legitimate retribution’ or ‘pre-emptive aggression’ and trying to define what you mean by such phrases. I actually think this could be a useful service to the debate, because the term ‘self-defence’ has become so debased by both sides that, unless it’s clearly defined, it’s become meaningless.

In a conflict that’s been going on for decades, both sides can point to certain of the other’s actions and call them provocations that justify self-defence. When a suicide bomber kills dozens in Jerusalem, he no doubt thinks he’s acting in self-defence on behalf of his people. Operation Cast Lead has been justified as self-defence, even though it killed 1400 civilians – far more than Hamas had ever managed to kill with its Qassam rockets. If, over a long period, your attempts to defend yourself against my violence end up inflicting much, much greater harm than I could hope to inflict on you, at some point I’m going to start feeling the need to defend myself against your self defence. Soon we’re locked into a cycle of grotesque violence where both of us believe we’re acting in pure self-defence.

I could go on at some length, but this is all rather obvious, isn’t it? In fact it’s so obvious I often wonder if people genuinely mean it when they dismiss all Palestinian violence as unprovoked aggression, and all Israeli violence as self-defence – or, indeed, vice versa. Is your world really that simple?

72. Leon Wolfson

@69 – Which demonstrates your bias and lack of knowledge, yes. But as I said, keep right on stating things disputed among historians are “facts”

@67 – Sadly, yes, they did. But just as the UK shouldn’t be judged by the BNP, neither should Israel be judged by settler fanatics.

My point is again this – political attacks on Israel are playing very much into the hands of the right, and ensuring they’ll be reelected. Why is this such a good strategy, again?

73. Leon Wolfson

@71 – And the UN and international law says… Lamia’s right.

And yes, to many people it IS that simple. Again, I’m a *moderate*.

Leon Wolfson @72,

I haven’t called you a fascist or insulted you in any way, unlike some others here. Though I strongly disagree with many of your opinions, you seem like a reasonable enough person. However, I’m less sure of your sincerity.

So tell me this: do you consider international law and UN resolutions to be the final arbiters of the Israel-Palestine conflict? Does the UN have the final say on all matters, or just this one? I think you can see where I’m going with this.

As I’ve said many times before, reducing these issues to international law and UN resolutions is, I think, unhelpful. But if Israel’s perennial apologists really want to make this a simple debate over what the law says, we can do that.

75. Leon Wolfson

@74 – You argued that Israel had to sit there and take rocket attacks for as long as terrorists wanted to fire them.

Then you talk about apologists? I see where you’re going alright – Hamas’s side.

(PS, learn the difference between international law and non-binding UN resolutions)

76. flyingrodent

Which demonstrates your bias and lack of knowledge, yes. But as I said, keep right on stating things disputed among historians are “facts”.

Well. Let’s observe that the death toll, approximate as it is, is not “in dispute”; that the level of destruction is undisputed and is utterly inconsistent with narrow targeting of a single terrorist group; that those are actual quotes from senior Israeli officials and the Winograd Report, and that you’ve said nothing whatsoever to call the accuracy of any these points into question.

I suppose you could say that the use of collective punishment is “in dispute”, but only because tens of thousands of people have put a lot of time and effort into angrily insisting that the evidence of our eyes and ears is inadmissable, for transparently political purposes.

It is, basically, disputed only by a bunch of wingnuts and partisans who have no interest at all in what actually happened. By that standard, the basic facts of the attack on the WTC are “in dispute” i.e. accepted as fact by almost everyone and denied only by internet weirdoes and cranks.

@ 74,

“Now let me be clear: blowing up a bus full of innocent people is terrorism, pure and simple. The usual culprit, Hamas, has done incalculable harm to ordinary Palestinians and defiled their honourable cause. And I have no time for soi-disant ‘radicals’ who call such mindless slaughter ‘resistance’.”

Do I sound like I’m on Hamas’s side? I loathe everything they stand for.

If you understood the words I’ve written, and which you denounce so vociferously, you’d be able to deduce from my definition of self-defence that I think Israel has the right to blow every single Qassam rocket launcher, and whoever’s operating them, to pieces.

Again, I’m no lawyer but I’ve spoken to, and read the works, several experts in international law – scholars, lawyers, politicians – who believe international law weighs heavily against Israel. If you’d like me to send you some articles or recommend a book about this issue, I’d be glad to. However, I don’t consider international law particularly relevant here for the simple reason that laws can be wrong. If you could prove to me that international law directly contradicted everything I’ve said in my article, I’d just shrug and say I think the law’s wrong. I don’t even know what makes you so sure my article contradicts international law, and I don’t care. And apart from anything else, the law has proven to have no power of compulsion over either side in the I-P conflict. Until a court makes a decision on a particular issue and has the power to enforce it, the debate is purely academic.

Sorry, that should have been @ 75 (Leon Wolfson).

79. Leon Wolfson

@76 – Right, typical justification of One State Solution views. Never mind the legitimate historians, they’re all cranks, it’s a conspiracy to make Israel look good!

@77 – To quote you from earlier; “The problem with a much broader definition like this is that can include actions that end up killing far more people than the original provocation did”

That doesn’t match up with your statement about the launchers, because they’re deliberately situated in urban areas. And if you take that attitude that the law’s irrelevant when it clashes with your personal morality, why should Israel feel bound by it either?

80. flyingrodent

typical justification of One State Solution views.

What the hell are you talking about, Dawg?

@ 79,

I haven’t said Israel should feel bound by international law (apart from treaties it has specifically signed). I haven’t been talking about international law at all. I think Israel should feel bound by what’s right and wrong. From the start I’ve framed my views in terms of moral, rather than legal, principles. As everyone recognises, there’s always an appeal against the law to higher moral principles. I can sum up my whole point with one word: Nuremberg.

For the last time, there’s a place for technical, scholarly debates about international law, but this isn’t it, for three reasons:

1. I’m not a lawyer and I’m therefore not qualified to engage in it.
2. The law’s never made any difference in this conflict and probably never will.
3. The law can be wrong.

Leon Wolfson, are you some sort of solitary internet black-flag operative trying to discredit Israel’s British supporters?

Your input to this thread has been to (i) accuse everyone whose reading of the situation differs from yours of being overt supporters of terrorists; (ii) to completely ignore them when they explicitly condemn the terrorists they’re supposed to be overtly supporting; (iii) to accuse people in general terms of of lying, not citing their sources, bias, inconsistency, and so on, without providing any specific examples, (iv) to completely ignore them when they cite their sources, defend their evidence, and elucidate their positions, (v) generally to ignore everything everyone says to you, and carry on with a disjointed monologue of your own.

That may be your definition of a *moderate*, but it ain’t mine.

re. the Qassam rocket launchers.

Yes, it’s a genuine dilemma: if an attack is being launched from a built-up civilian area, and stopping it would risk the lives of more people than the attack itself, how should the intended target respond?

I think this is open to discussion, and I’ll give my take on it on the assumption that we’re reasonable people trying to reach some kind of agreement or at least a clearer understanding of the matter at hand. Rather than adversaries trying to make the other look stupid, though you’re free to continue in that vein if you wish.

I think ultimately each case must be weighed on its merits, but certain principles should inform each decision. Restraint should be applied if possible, civilian casualties should be kept to an absolute minimum (even if that means putting IDF personnel at greater risk), and all alternatives should be considered. I hope the optimism about the Iron Dome missile shield turns out to be justified.

However, I’ll be clear on this. I don’t think it’s feasible for Israel to refrain absolutely from attacks on Qassam launchers in built-up areas. If it did, on the grounds that civilian should be spared, Hamas would have utter impunity to fire Qassams all day and night – as well as any superior missiles it may acquire. In the long run, I think refraining from action would turn out to cost more civilian lives, in Sderot, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv, than taking action and causing short-term casualties. Asking Israel simply to absorb missile attacks forever, due to the risk of civilian casualties, would be a far higher moral standard than any other country would be expected to meet. One can only hope that the people of Gaza will one day refuse to be used as human shields by Hamas. So I don’t object to Israel taking out rocket launchers in built up areas, provided it takes every measure to limit civilian casualties.

@ Larry 82# –

Thanks for that piece of sanity. In discussions like this, I try and proceed as though I’m having a serious debate with reasonable people, even as that assumption becomes increasingly questionable, in the hope that somebody will notice.

@Matt, your efforts are appreciated.

Thanks. Click on my name if you’re interested in checking out my new Middle East blog, where I collect all my articles from around the web, and which literally nobody reads at the moment. And Leon Wolfson, you’re welcome to come and tell me why I’m wrong about everything. I actually love a good argument. (Er, is a blatant plug like this allowed?)

I think my post about taking out Qassam rocket launchers must have ended all discussion. Everyone who previously agreed with me is appalled into silence by my justification for the murder of Palestinians. But most disgusted of all are the people who disagreed with me, who are utterly appalled to hear me say something they agree with.

88. Leon Wolfson

@82 – If you like I can bring one of the people who routinely accuses me of being as bad as Fatah here. It’d be amusing from my standpoint, if not precisely constructive.

You’ve made it plain you don’t read my posts though (“a disjointed monologue”), whereas I insist on reading what people actually write…

89. flyingrodent

@Matt – I agree with you, if it’s any consolation.

What redress do the Palestinians have for the atrocities perpetrated on Palestinians – for starters, see the partial list @65 – the continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the continuing building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory?

91. Leon Wolfson

@90 – “Atrocities”? No, losing land which should be part of a state to illegal settlements is bad, but not an atrocity. And neither is what’s been happening Genocide or any such other emotive term.

Moreover, terrorist attacks are not “atrocities”, they’re terrorism. And the redress is engagement in the peace process. Something which Hamas continues to refuse to do with their instance on a One State Solution.

Your sniping simply strengthens the Israeli right once more (that’s the effect, regardless of your “intentions”, and it places you very strongly in a camp whose actions does not favour the Palestinians) and makes it more likely we’ll end up the Three State solution, rather than an independent Palestine.

Why are you, effectively, pushing for that?

@91: “Your sniping simply strengthens the Israeli right once more (that’s the effect, regardless of your “intentions”, and it places you very strongly in a camp whose actions does not favour the Palestinians) and makes it more likely we’ll end up the Three State solution, rather than an independent Palestine.”

In other words we must simply and quietly let Natanyahu’s Likud led coalition get on with its objective of building more settlements on Palestinian land and tell Ban Ki Moon to shut up in case he inflames the Israeli right-wing:

(Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel on Friday over reports that it plans to build 2,600 more housing units in East Jerusalem, saying further settlement activity was “unacceptable.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/15/us-palestinians-israel-un-idUSTRE79E0F920111015

As we have come to learn, there are Israelis who really believe that Israel has a divine right to occupy all Palestine regardless of how Palestinians might feel about that and the rest of us mustn’t say anything. Presumably, Jews for Justice for Palestinians must be shut down quickly in case. C’mon.

93. Leon Wolfson

@93 – They’re not going to stop for you. But you CAN boost their electoral chances. As you are. That’s working in direct contradiction to the goals you supposedly espouse.

And “unacceptable” is a long, long way from your emotive “atrocity”. Funny that.

@93: “They’re not going to stop for you. ”

I’ve no personal illusions when the Likud coalition government, led by Netanyahu, doesn’t stop settlement building on Palestinian territory for all the declared objections of the Obama administration and despite what Ban Ki Moon says. All I can do is illuminate the blatant hypocrisy of the same Israeli mantra issued over decades: Palestinian terrorism = bad : Israeli terrorism = good

FWIW there won’t be any let up IMO unless, at the very least, the UN declares Israel a pariah state and votes to impose sanctions as it did with Apartheid South Africa. Nothing less will work when we read reports like this:

A monument to Yitzhak Rabin, the assassinated Israeli prime minister, was defaced by a man whose parents were murdered in a terrorist attack, as anger spread over the planned release of Palestinian militants involved in some of deadliest bombings.

The monument, in Tel Aviv, regarded as one of the most revered in modern Israel, was vandalised by Shvuel Schijveschuurder, 27. He was caught pouring paint over the square memorial and daubing it with graffiti demanding the release of Mr Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir.
http://www.smh.com.au/world/israeli-anger-rises-at-shalit-prisoner-swap-20111015-1lqe9.html

And when by many accounts – including some postings in threads here – a sizeable section of the Israeli electorate and supporters of Israel evidently believe that Israel has a divine right to occupy all Palestine in consequence of a claimed covenant with their national deity with whom they have exclusive rights.. We need to shed light on that, not hide it with smoke screens.

@ 94 – Well said, Bob B.

Yes, this whole ‘strengthening the Israeli right’ argument is horse shit. The question isn’t, ‘Is it good for the (leftwing) Jews?’ but simply, ‘Is it true?’ If the truth strengthens the right, should we refrain from speaking it?

The whole mentality of reluctance to aid the other side is what prevents pro-Palestinians from criticising Hamas brutality, because they think it would be doing Hamas’s work for them. It’s what stops Palestinian leaders from telling their own people what they all know to be true – that the return of the ’48 refugees is impossible – thus maintaining the delusive hope that history can somehow be reversed. More honesty, and less self-censorship, can only help this debate.

Anyway, the so-called Israeli left has done little more than the right to earn the support of the peace camp. It’s a fact that more settlement units were built under Labour governments than under Likud. (Israeli coalition politics mean the ‘left’ has had to work especially hard to appease the pro-settler right.) And what’s more, your characterisation of Kadima as the ‘left’ is a little credulous: slogans apart, there’s been no more than a sheet of cigarette paper between the parties so far. Kadima tends to criticise Likud’s competence more than its goals and principles. Even the Labour leadership candidates have been reluctant to break the rightwing consensus.

When an Israeli party leader tells voters some hard truths, I’ll be ready to voice my support. Israelis need to understand there’s no hope of a peace deal without some bitter compromises, over Jerusalem, settlements and borders. And that it bears some responsibility for the tragedy of Palestinian history. Otherwise Israelis will forever see compromises as magnanimous ‘concessions’ rather than the fulfilment of its obligations.

*in the second para, that should read:

“because they think it would be doing ISRAEL’s work for them”

97. Leon Wolfson

@94 – Ah righty then, a One State Solution, Zionism = Racism man then, who is arguing for Hamas’s views to be the ones applied to the entire situation.

No wonder you can’t stand any possible actual solutions where the left wing in Israel take power and which might leave Israel intact and thus not get the slaughter you crave. I’m sorry everyone else, I almost mistook him for someone who wasn’t a drooling bigot.

@95 – Well said, well said, gotta have tides of blood from those evil Israelis, and you’ll cheer when Hamas brings the righteous vengeance of their ideology to reclaiming the land which the Palestinians have a sole right to. Bravo, bravo, EICHMAN LIVES.

(Which is still LESS extreme than what you actually said)

There’s absolutely no dealing with fanatics like you. You’re simply out to create a situation where Israel is destroyed for Jewish “evil”, then you’ll get to work on the rest of the Jews.

98. So Much For Subtlety

83. Matt Hill

Yes, it’s a genuine dilemma: if an attack is being launched from a built-up civilian area, and stopping it would risk the lives of more people than the attack itself, how should the intended target respond?

It should blow the living crap out of the people launching the attack. They have no specific responsibility for the people hiding the attackers. They do not need to consider one life on their side is worth as much, but no more, than a life on the other. They only have to avoid a risk of disproportional level of collateral damage. For some definition of disproportional. Suppose we might say twenty for each life on their side? Not that they have to avoid killing that many. They have to avoid a reasonable risk they might kill that many.

I think ultimately each case must be weighed on its merits, but certain principles should inform each decision. Restraint should be applied if possible, civilian casualties should be kept to an absolute minimum (even if that means putting IDF personnel at greater risk), and all alternatives should be considered. I hope the optimism about the Iron Dome missile shield turns out to be justified.

Israel does every single one of those things. Virtually all of the time. Yet you still have a problem with it. Why? Hamas does none of those things. I am not noticing a great deal of criticism of Hamas’ rockets around here.

So I don’t object to Israel taking out rocket launchers in built up areas, provided it takes every measure to limit civilian casualties.

And yet you do.

95. Matt Hill

It’s what stops Palestinian leaders from telling their own people what they all know to be true – that the return of the ’48 refugees is impossible – thus maintaining the delusive hope that history can somehow be reversed.

Sorry but why do you think this is true? Why do you think the return of the ’48 refugees and their descendants is impossible? Clearly there is a campaign to “de-normalise” Israel which would lead to sanctions a la South Africa and the extinction of the Jewish state. This is the policy of a large chunk of the Left. As they will tell you, it took 250 years to get rid of the Crusaders. Why precisely would the Palestinians settle for less? Give me a good reason.

Even the Labour leadership candidates have been reluctant to break the rightwing consensus.

Yeah. We know that the “root causes” are always the fault of rich people or White people or even rich White people, but I wonder if you would mind explaining what happened to the long and rich Left Wing tradition in Israel? Why has so many parties moved so far to the Right? Why have traditional Left Wing parties either vanished totally or become indistinguishable from Likud? This from a country with a hugely vibrant Communist tradition. It wouldn’t have anything to do with a non-White, non-Capitalist root cause would it?

Israelis need to understand there’s no hope of a peace deal without some bitter compromises, over Jerusalem, settlements and borders.

Which is to say there is no hope of a peace deal. Osama was up to his recent death still claiming Spain and East Timor.

99. So Much For Subtlety

50. Matt Hill

So if tomorrow Israel chose to kill every single man, woman and child in Gaza, the people would have no right whatsoever to do anything but ask for it to stop, or pray? And you call me vile?

That is the position in international law. You have no rights against your own government. Well until people got creative at the end of WW2 you did not. You certainly do not have the right to pretend to wage war. Whether Israel is the government of Gaza or not is another matter.

However this is a very sensible option as the alternative is to allow anyone to murder anyone else in the name of whatever cause they like. Britain would soon become like Iraq-post-liberation with people drilling holes in each other’s knee caps. The violence that the self-righteous can and do inflict on each other is usually vastly greater than that of Kings.

what i’ve noticed a total lack of on this blog is the fact that some fundamentalist christians have actively promoted a lack of peace in israel since it’s founding. because of their own sad delusions about armageddon (a town in israel)
it wouldn’t surprise me if hamas and the israeli right are both funded by armageddonists to make their own perverted religious delusions true!
and incidentaly make a profit from the sale of wmd in the process…

Supposed ‘liberals’ and defenders of freedom of speech deleting comments? Tut, tut.

Once more, it is a shame that you can’t examine these issues with anything approaching objectively:

Sunny,

It is good that you could find someone like Matt Hill who shares your pet loathings (obviously from the contents of his web site) and ignorance of the Middle East.

It is a pity that educated people like you and Matt haven’t taken the trouble to research the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

If you had you would know that they dug a tunnel some 100 metres, came out of it, killed some Israelis and they grabbed Gilad.

Not that such conduct would, in all probability, trouble you.

Even if they had slaughtered all of the Israelis there, you and Matt would find a way to blame the Israelis, something like “nasty imperialist Israelis throw themselves in front of bullets, shame on them” or some such tosh.

Still, the Israelis provide a useful outlet for your social alienation and middle class fears, they are fine scapegoats and if they didn’t exist you would have to invent them.

102. flyingrodent

Bravo, bravo, EICHMAN LIVES.

Well. Sharp-eyed readers may spot that, for Leon and SMFS, Israel has an absolute, incontestible right to do whatever the fuck it likes – kill whoever it regards as a threat and anyone within a five-mile radius of those people, build its settlements wherever it likes – without having to answer a lot of impertinent questions, and that only a Nazi fanatic would suggest otherwise.

Matt’s quaint idea that truth is in some way important isn’t going to cut any ice here, is it?

An illuminating insight I learned over the years. The trouble with Abba Eban, Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Ben Ami is that they were all educated at Oxbridge.

What’s wrong about Abba Eban? Even the Wikipedia entry doesn’t mention his most grievous error and why his political career ended so swiftly.

I only learned about that more than a decage ago when I happened to mention his name in a debate in an American political forum online.

Foam appeared on my computer screen – metaphorically speaking. It seems some Israelis revile him despite his distinguished service as the Israeli foreign minister at the time of the Six Days War and when the revered Golda Meir was Israeli PM.

BTW one of her more famous quotes: There were no such thing as Palestinians. The implication is clear: you can’t inflict atrocities on those who don’t really exist.

This has nothing to do with whether Israel was right to attack Gaza: you can’t ’kidnap’ a soldier on the battlefield. Nobody had even heard of a ‘kidnapped’ combat soldier before Shalit.

There is an implicit argument here, as I understand the law, which is that the conflict between Israel and Hamas is an international armed conflict and that Hamas is a belligerent party. Thus, fighters in its military wing are entitled to POW status when captured and it is entitled to hold Shalit until the conflict ends (the fact that the conditions of his confinement constitute a war crime notwithstanding). If the conflict is in fact an NIAC then this is not the case.

@ 103:

“An illuminating insight I learned over the years. The trouble with Abba Eban, Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Ben Ami is that they were all educated at Oxbridge.”

Erm… why is that a problem?

@105: “Erm… why is that a problem?”

Avi Slaim and Shlomo Ben Ami say the Israeli government intentionally obstructs the peace process in Palestine.

As for Abba Eban, try this: An enemy of the people, in The Guardian in 2000:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2000/jul/14/historybooks.comment

This is partly a review of Norman Finkelstein’s notorious book: The Holocaust Industry, but there is a passing reference to Abba Eban, who already held a converging viewpoint – which is why his political career rapidly dwindled.

Btw Norman Finkelstein’s parents met in Auschwitz and survived that experience. After the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army, they emigrated to America where they settled and later married. In his book, Norman Finkelstein quotes his mother as remarking on the apparently large numbers claiming to be Auschwitz survivors.

It would seem that an Oxbridge education is apt to lead to a perspective on the Palestine conflict that is at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy in Israel. The curious are liable to wonder why that is.

A personal perspective: At the time of the Six Day War, I had missed one of my students for a week or so and then unexpectedly bumped into him – he was older than I was, which tells you something. He said that he had thought I had been called up to fight in the war.

Yet another uneducated, poorly researched and unequivocally stupid article out of the Liberal Conspiracy. Who is paying you people to write this garbage?!

108. Leon Wolfson

@102 – I’m parodying your views from the other side. As I said, it’s LESS extreme than what you said, isolating and weakening the defences of a nation surrounded by foes, some of them bent on genocide. Then wondering why the right rise. Gee!

@103 – The Golda Meir whose negligence caused the Yom Kippur war’s near loss? THAT Golda Meir? The one who is the least popular of any of Israel’s Prime Ministers, and the entire CONCEPT of a Women PM again hurt Lipi’s attempt to form a government? Oh yea.

And you’re committing a typical cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Moreover, you’re talking about the New Historians, who except for one minor point have been thorough discredited, and abandoned by their founder, Benny Morris (the only deacent research historian among them anyway), who now admits he didn’t have full data when he came up with New History.

Shlomo Ben Ami? The man who was removed as security minister after the Or Report gave him for much of the responsibility for the deaths during the October 2000 riots?

And Abba Eban? Why not use his most famous quote?

“Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” (i.e., for peace)

@108: “And you’re committing a typical cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Moreover, you’re talking about the New Historians, who except for one minor point have been thorough discredited, and abandoned by their founder, Benny Morris (the only deacent research historian among them anyway), who now admits he didn’t have full data when he came up with New History.”

The predictable slur – without any details, of course, as to the supposed errors of the revisionist historians apart from Morris. Avi Slaim, professor of international relations at St Anthony’s college Oxford, hasn’t been discredited. His seminal book on the Palestine conflict: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books) stands up well.

“And Abba Eban? Why not use his most famous quote?”

Because that doesn’t account for the decline in his political career? The quote that did: There’s no business like Shoah business, is the one that did, especially with the support of Norman Finkelstein’s later book: The Holocaust Industry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_Industry

Shlomo Ben Ami’s book: Scars of war, wounds of peace (OUP 2006) is worth reading too.

As a distant observer it seems to me that Golda Meir’s main political problem is that she lacked the genuine credentials of the Likud terrorists who succeeded her as Israeli PMs.

How very predictable.

Bob B’s going on about:

“The Stern Gang (Lehi Group) is celebrated in a Museum in Tel Aviv despite the documented history that Avraham Stern in December 1940 attempted to contract an alliance with the Nazis to hamper Britain’s war effort – recall that Britain and France had declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 to honour a pledge made to protect Poland’s territorial integrity made earlier that year.

One of the subsequent leaders of the Stern Gang, Yitzhak Shamir, went on to become Israeli PM in 1983. The Lehi Group and Irgun were jointly responsible for the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948. So much for Israeli opposition to terrorism.”

Is meant to prove that Israelis are essentially terrorists, but is typically bending history to make questionable points.

Stern etc were very, very small and largely inconsequential.

However, you could make a similar point about the British and their love of fascism, if you wish to employ such dubious techniques.

Britain is the home to numerous Extreme Right and Far Right groupings, which number their supporters in the tens of thousands.

In elections the extreme right in Britain gain over 500,000 votes

So you could argue that Britain is very much at home with neofascism, if you wanted.

You could point to historical examples of the British establishment appeasing and occasionally supporting fascism in the prewar period, if you wanted.

You could show how Oswald Mosley and his latter successors have found a certain resonance amongst the British, if you wanted.

You could show how the British media pander to the neofascists, by allowing BNPers and EDLers access to the airways to promote their vile views, if you wanted.

But that would only be a partial picture, still, it would be considerably more substantial than any of the nonsense which is talked here about the Israelis and the general mangling of history that goes on here.

111. Leon Wolfson

@110 – To be fair, I’m all for giving the BNP as much air time as it wants, it’s severe case of foot in mouth diseases alienates a lot more voters than they gain.

112. Just Visiting

NY Times reports on the Palestians freed in the trade:

> the list revealed why the country has found the trade so wrenching: the majority of the inmates were convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder or intentionally causing death. Those being freed include the founders of Hamas’s armed wing and militants who kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers and civilians. A mastermind of the 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 15 will walk out of prison, as will a woman who used the Internet to lure a lovesick Israeli teenager to a Palestinian city and had him murdered. Most of the prisoners were serving life sentences, some for being involved in attacks like the 2001 bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that killed 21 people and a suicide bombing a year later of a Netanya hotel in which 29 died.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/world/middleeast/israel-releases-names-of-477-prisoners-to-be-freed-in-trade.html

#111.

Conceivably you’ve missed my overall point which was, that you can bastardise history, as Bob-B and Israelis haters often do, but it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.

Much of what passes for discussing the Middle East in Britain is, historically illiterate, chronically selective or intellectually insulting.

As with this piece by Matt Hill, it may seem that Gilad Shalit was abducted ages ago, but it was only 5 years ago and events around it are still clear in my mind, as I followed it closely then, which is why I am so disappointed with Matt Hill’s rendition.

He chooses to lead out salient facts assuming his readers are either incapable of researching it for themselves or not interested, but it’s far from the worst article I’ve ever read here.

Still, it is insulting to readers to assume that we wouldn’t know what actually happened or remember such events.

@110: “Stern etc were very, very small and largely inconsequential.”

The Stern gang were so inconsequential that there is dedicated museum to the Lehi Group – another name for the Stern gang – in Tel Aviv to celebrate their achievements? Yitzhak Shamir, who became an Israeli PM in 1983–84 and 1986–92, was a member of the Lehi Group.

“However, you could make a similar point about the British and their love of fascism, if you wish to employ such dubious techniques. Britain is the home to numerous Extreme Right and Far Right groupings, which number their supporters in the tens of thousands.”

Really? How come none got elected to Parliament then?

“You could point to historical examples of the British establishment appeasing and occasionally supporting fascism in the prewar period, if you wanted.”

Which must explain why Britain in March 1939 offered an unsolicited treaty to Poland to guarantee its territorial integrity. It was that treaty which led Britain to declare war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939 following the invasion of Polish territory by Germany on 1 September 1939.

By the end of WW2 in August 1945, 55 millions had been killed. Btw America entered the war in Europe because Germany declared war on America on 10 December 1941. Britain had started on rearmament in 1935 against the possibility of another European conflict.

Britain’s population in 1939 was about 40 million, half that of the population of Germany and Austria. Had Britain, standing alone in Europe, made a peace settlement with Nazi Germany in May 1940 after the evacuation of the British expeditionary force at Dunkerque, there couldn’t have been the option of a Normandy invasion in June 1944. The Battle of Britain ensued in the late summer of 1940.

@113: “Conceivably you’ve missed my overall point which was, that you can bastardise history, as Bob-B and Israelis haters often do, but it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.”

Another slur but predictably short on the supporting detail.

Another selective chunk of history is mangled by Bob B.

Readers with more than a cursory knowledge of World War II will remember how one of the catalysts for the invasion of Poland, was the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.

Yes, the Munich agreement where a British Prime Minister, met with fascist leaders and dismembered a peaceful country, Czechoslovakia.

Emboldened by British compliance at Munich, the fascist leaders thought that they would be given a free hand in Poland by the British.

So in many ways, you can argue that without the British connivance with fascist leaders at Munich WW2 might never have started, as it did.

Not that Bob B, etc will acknowledge that.

His is an egg-cup grasp of history.

116. So Much For Subtlety

102. flyingrodent

Well. Sharp-eyed readers may spot that, for Leon and SMFS, Israel has an absolute, incontestible right to do whatever the fuck it likes – kill whoever it regards as a threat and anyone within a five-mile radius of those people, build its settlements wherever it likes – without having to answer a lot of impertinent questions, and that only a Nazi fanatic would suggest otherwise.

Sharped eyed readers will notice that I have said no such thing. Nor do I believe it. Either Batboy is trying the LBJ strategy (accuse an opponent of f**king a pig) or he is making stuff up. Either way his intellectual bankruptcy is proof that he has lost this argument.

And it is pretty shameful to lose to Leon.

Matt’s quaint idea that truth is in some way important isn’t going to cut any ice here, is it?

I don’t know. When are we going to see the truth from Matt? What we see is a catalogue of his prejudices and wishful thinking.

117. Leon Wolfson

@115 – And let’s not forget the inaction on Jews fleeing Germany, capped by the Evian Conference. If countries had been willing to act during the 30’s, then Jews would not have fled to the Mandate!

And even then, which Bob ignores, after Poland, Chamberlain wanted appeasement. It took Arthur Greenwood to point out the obvious! Let me quote from a song from the play Forty Years On;

Oh speak for England Arthur,
For thirty years of shame
They wriggled out at Munich
They’ll wriggle out again
We’re pledged to fight for Poland,
The time for talking’s past
He can take that [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_for_our_time]scrap of paper[/url]
And stick it up his ass!”

Labour and the radical Tory right were the people who stood up then. Clement Atlee ring any bells, Bob?

@115:

I suspect my knowledge of history runs a good deal deeper than yours.

“Readers with more than a cursory knowledge of World War II will remember how one of the catalysts for the invasion of Poland, was the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Yes, the Munich agreement where a British Prime Minister, met with fascist leaders and dismembered a peaceful country, Czechoslovakia.”

The relevant issue is whether Britain in September 1938 had the military capability to prevent the German annexation of the Sudetenland in Czecho-Slovakia – where the majority of the population was, indeed, German-speaking.

We didn’t. The spending on rearmament which had started in 1935 had given increasing priority to the RAF, air defences and then the Royal Navy – fortunately so in retrospect as that prioritising prevented the planned invasion of Britain in 1940. The army was treated as a Cinderella operation, which is why the British expeditionary force in France in 1940 came off so badly. You can check the history in Peter Clarke: Hope and Glory (Penguin Books) or Norman Davies: Europe (OUP).

In September 1938, Chamberlain – naively – thought he “could do business” with Hitler and stave off another European conflict, a prospect he dreaded having had personal experience of trench warfare in WW1. In the following March 1939, Germany annexed the remainder of Czecko-Slovakia. That ended whatever illusions Chamberlain had nurtured about Hitler. The response of the British government was to make an unsolicited offer to Poland of a treaty to guarantee its territorial integrity. That treaty was the basis of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany made on 3 September 1939.

“So in many ways, you can argue that without the British connivance with fascist leaders at Munich WW2 might never have started, as it did.”

All that is rubbish. The German high command could look at maps and wasn’t completely ignorant about Britain’s military might, the priorities in Britain’s rearmament programme and the fact that Britain’s population of c. 40 million was HALF that of the population of Germany plus Austria.

The question was whether Britain was in any position in September 1938 to intervene militarily in a land war to prevent the annexation of the Sudetenland. We plainly weren’t. Do try looking at a map to envisage the logistic challenges of transporting an army from Britain into Czecho-Slovakia and supplying it there.

Predictably, this deflects attention from the Palestine conflict and the obstruction of peace negotiations by the Israeli government. But that was the intention, wasn’t it?

Once more I’ll leave it to readers to judge, but they will surely notice how Bob B’s bends over to exculpate the British, in the prewar period? A bias?

I have no doubt that when we get round to Lord Londonderry, Lloyd George and the other British noteworthies that paid homage to the fascists in the 1930s, Bob B will have an excuse for that too.

In all probability,Bob B will be able to explain away the rise of the new party, the BUF and Mosley’s pull, and how kind he was treated by the British establishment even when incarcerated for a small period during WW2.

And then our mangler of history, will explain the continued popularity of Mosley’s views in the 1950s and 60s, along with the various British fascist groupings…

120. Leon Wolfson

@117 – Chamberlain the appeaser, who even briefly sought more appeasment after Poland.

Opposed to him was, among other men, someone you have heard of, called Clement Atlee and the Labour party.

And that’s also overlooking the plight of the European Jews…if counties had allowed them in, then they would never have fled to Palestine, a travesty of justice topped by the Evian Conference.

History is always relevant. And shall we talk about Arab nationalism and the British and French’s betrayal of it?

@ 113 –

“As with this piece by Matt Hill, it may seem that Gilad Shalit was abducted ages ago, but it was only 5 years ago and events around it are still clear in my mind, as I followed it closely then, which is why I am so disappointed with Matt Hill’s rendition.

He chooses to lead out salient facts assuming his readers are either incapable of researching it for themselves or not interested, but it’s far from the worst article I’ve ever read here.”

Which facts in the article are incorrect?

@118:

Lots more personal abuse but no actual analysis of how Britain could have intervened militarily in September 1938 to have stopped Germany from annexing the Sudetenland in Czecho-Slovakia – where a majority of the population were German-speaking and where annexation was often welcomed.

As said, the immediate response of the British government to the annexation of the remainder of Czecho-Slovakia in March 1939 – which wasn’t welcomed – was to make an unsolicited offer of a defence treaty with Poland in the hope that would ward off the possibility of a German invasion of Poland. It didn’t.

Come the declaration of war on Germany in September 1939 by Britain, the German military machine had little difficulty in taking over the whole of western Europe – with the exceptions of Britain, Italy its ally and neutral Switzerland and Sweden. Britain could have made a peace settlement with Germany in May 1940. Hitler thought Britain was finished – as too did the American ambassador, Joe Kennedy. Until the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Britain stood alone in Europe against Nazi Germany.

The outome of the Battle of Britain in the late summer of 1940 prevented the planned invasion of Britain.

Chamberlain was a sick man – he died in November 1940.

Anything, but anything to deflection attention from the continuing obstruction of peace negotiations in Palestine by the Israeli government.

@ 116 –

“When are we going to see the truth from Matt? What we see is a catalogue of his prejudices and wishful thinking.”

Name which factual errors I have made.

Matt Hill,

Look up the word, omission.

I meant to write:

“He chooses to **leave** out salient facts assuming his readers are either incapable of researching it for themselves or not interested, but it’s far from the worst article I’ve ever read here.”

Assuming you won’t grasp it:

“As though he’d been dragged from his bed after football practice, rather than taken in army uniform, performing exactly the kind of mission he’d signed up for.”

Go back, and tell us what actually happened, the killings, the method of attack…if you know…and try not to refer to Wiki, if you can…

@119: “Opposed to him was, among other men, someone you have heard of, called Clement Atlee and the Labour party.”

In 1935, the Labour Party, with George Lansbury as leader, had opposed rearmament on principle because Lansbury was a pacifist. The Conservatives won the election held in November 1935 with a landslide having published a white paper on rearmament in March:
http://century.guardian.co.uk/1930-1939/Story/0,,126998,00.html

“The fact is that the rearmament programme was seriously begun under Baldwin, pushed along more slowly than Churchill wanted, but more quickly than the opposition advocated. Defence spending, pegged at about 2.5 per cent of GNP until 1935, increased to 3.8 per cent by 1937.” (Peter Clarke: Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-2000 (Penguin Books))

I’ll finish on this particular point, readers will notice Bob B exercising considerable intellectual gusto trying to defend the British states misdeeds in the prewar period.

He always has some excuse, some deflection.

Bob B bends over backwards to see the British point of view, yet when he focuses his attention on Israel, there is none of that subtle intellectual discussion, instead we are treated to titbits.

Idle gossip, standard Far Right rubbish (about supposed cooperation between the Stern Gang, etc and the Nazis), which incidentally had NO consequent.

Bob B focuses on that. It is an issue for him.

Yet when you point out the catalogue of errors (not forgetting sending a minor military mission to the Soviet Union, sucking up the fascists in the 1930s, etc etc), Bob B is ready an excuse, a point of complexity, some point of mitigation, for the British, but none for the Israelis.

You might if you were an objective reader wonder if Bob B has a slight bias around these topics, not that I would suggest such an obvious conclusion.

Again, it interesting to see how manically critical of Israel BoB B is, to the point where he bastardises history, as long as it pertains to Israelis. But should Britain come in for criticism for its prewar conduct, which it could be argued emboldened the fascist leaders, he won’t hear of it, he finds extenuating circumstances.

What a contrast!

127. flyingrodent

I’d say that the most glaringly obvious factor on this thread is that Matt has laid out some straightforward facts to form an argument; that his detractors here have made no effort whatsoever to dispute those facts, and have only contributed unfounded accusations, spurious complaints of unfairness and smeary insinuations of bad motives.

Take Soup, above – asked to point out any factual errors, instead says “Look up the word, omission”.

Wolfson, above – asked to point out factual errors, starts rattling about “giving terrorists a free pass at killing civilians” and making utterly unsupported complaints about “mind-reading”… “Public statistics can be twisted into lies as well”, says he, without bothering to explain which “statistics”, how they are “twisted” and what “lies” he’s talking about.

Here’s the deal. If you can’t or won’t dispute any of the facts you are insisting are untrue, then your accusations of lies and deceit are 100% bullshit and you can be safely classed as total bullshitters. That means that readers can safely discount the value of your opinions on anything and everything all the way down to “No value whatsoever”. They’d be fools to do anything else, given your antics here.

128. Torquil Macneil

“his detractors here have made no effort whatsoever to dispute those facts”

I think the main complaint is that the argument that a man who is seized by a paramilitary organisation and then kept for four years in secret captivity under threat of summary execution if certain ransom demands have not been met cannot be considered a ‘hostage’ if he happens to come from the world’s only Jewish majority state, is spurious. That is not a question of fact, it is one of interpretation.

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@125: “Bob B focuses on that. It is an issue for him.”

Let’s recap. Netanyahu’s coalition government in Israel continues to allow settlement building on occupied Palestinain land despite a series of warnings from Abbas that further approvals for settlement building would stop peace negotiations.

The Obama administration has said the settlement building should stop to allow the peace talks to continue.

And so has Ban Ki Moon, the UN general secretary.

The only logical conclusion is that the Netanyahu government wants the peace negotiations to fail.

I think the main complaint is that the argument that a man who is seized by a paramilitary organisation and then kept for four years in secret captivity under threat of summary execution if certain ransom demands have not been met cannot be considered a ‘hostage’ if he happens to come from the world’s only Jewish majority state, is spurious. That is not a question of fact, it is one of interpretation.

Whether Hamas possesses the legal right to hold Shalit is certainly disputable.

” that his detractors here have made no effort whatsoever to dispute those facts, and have only contributed unfounded accusations, spurious complaints of unfairness and smeary insinuations of bad motives.”

There are no insinuations, it is plainly obvious that there are bad motives here with your own contribution as well.

If you, Matt Hill and others can not render basic facts concerning Gilad Shalit’s abduction then who would give a damn about your other opinions?

It’s called lying by omission, leaving out salient facts because they don’t fit a certain ideological framework.

In this case, those who abducted Gilad, did so with premeditation.

That is evidenced by the fact they had to dig a tunnel some hundred metres *into* Israel proper, which takes considerable time and effort.

Further, they didn’t simply abduct Gilad. The attackers killed two other Israelis and injured three more.

All of these facts have been left out but they are pertinent.

How facts around Gilad Shalit’s abduction are rendered tell us much about those who do the rendering as what went on in 2006.

As shown above, the British are incredibly sensitive about their appeasement and compliance with prewar fascism, but aren’t troubled if Israelis are maligned on minor matters.

Above we can see how the British will search out every excuse, every deflection and plead Realpolitik when it suits them, but they won’t apply that to people in the Middle East, particularly if they are Israelis.

In short, we see the British being hypercritical, quick to attack Israelis, but sensitive to any criticism of their own monumental failures.

133. Flowerpower

Matt Hill

If Israel attacks Gaza, killing 14 civilians over the course of a couple of weeks, do the people of Gaza have any right to defend themselves?

You are predicating your moral appeal on historical falsehoods.

Israel did not “attack Gaza” in May/June 2006 in the sense you imply.

Operation Cast Lead could be construed as an “attack on Gaza” (whether you regard that attack as legitimate or not is open to debate) but that wasn’t until 2 years later.

The civilians killed in May/June 2006 were mostly killed by accident (when two Israeli missiles fired from aircraft) veered off-target. There was also some shelling of Gaza at this time. Both the shelling and air attacks were in response to missile attacks on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

These actions were targeted upon groups firing missiles and were themselves acts of self-defence, not an “attack on Gaza” from which non-combatant Gazans had cause to “defend themselves”.

Gilad Shalit was stationed at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which from March 2006 was used to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza. Not to attack it.

Shalit’s kidnappers entered Israel via a tunnel that must have taken weeks or months to dig. Therefore, the abduction was not a response to civilian deaths within the previous few weeks.

Besides, the Israeli shelling was mostly concentrated in the North of Gaza (i.e. the opposite end of the strip to where Shalit was taken).

In no “moral sense” can Shalit be fairly represented as someone participating in an “attack on Gaza”, nor was he someone that could be fairly represented as a threat.

Do you argue that Palestinians are morally justified in killing, abducting (or “taking prisoner”) any Israeli soldier, wherever he is stationed or whatever his duties? If so, do you grant the equivalent general licence to the IDF?

134. flyingrodent

it is plainly obvious that there are bad motives here with your own contribution as well and so on and so on

Amazing. Accused of ignoring the points being made and focusing instead upon slinging baseless accusations of bad faith and suspect motives, plus banging away with a load of utterly spurious wonk…

…You choose to ignore the points being made, sling baseless accusations of bad faith and suspect motives, then bang away with a load of utterly spurious wonk about World War II.

As Larry said above, I can only assume that this thread has been invaded by black flag activists intent on making Israel’s online enthusiasts look as bad as possible. Certainly, I imagine the casual reader wouldn’t struggle to spot which commenters are deploying the most clownish and dishonest tactics here.

@131: “Above we can see how the British will search out every excuse, every deflection and plead Realpolitik when it suits them, but they won’t apply that to people in the Middle East, particularly if they are Israelis.”

In the United Nations debate in November 1947 on the future of Palestine, the UK representative on government instructions abstained saying that the partition of Palestine would lead to continuing conflict, which it has.

In continuing to allow the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian territory despite international protests, the present Israeli government has shown that it doesn’t intend for the peace talks to continue.

Nothing will change in the Palestine conflict unless “the international community” takes action against Israel by applying sanctions.

“Nothing will change in the Palestine conflict unless “the international community” takes action against Israel by applying sanctions.”

It is a pity that the international community didn’t apply sanctions on Britain over their atrocities in Ireland, murders in India, massacres in Africa.

It is a pity that the international community can’t do much about the continued surge of far right-wing thinking that goes on in Britain.

But let’s admit it, the British are not particularly concerned about their own atrocities, their own culpability, merely venting their spleens on Israelis.

To the British, the Israelis are a useful scapegoat for all of their angst, alienation and frustrations that they feel, that is evidenced by Bob Bs comment above.

He is, no doubt, an Israeli hater, and all his excuses when it comes to Britain have to be seen in that light, trivia in an Israeli history is blown out of proportion, yet British fondness for fascism both post and prewar is excused away by him.

There is a sizeable problem with neofascism in Britain, at the last election they gained over half a million votes, and it seems that many of their ideas have percolated into the politer circles of the English middle classes, or maybe they never left?

137. flyingrodent

the British are not particularly concerned about their own atrocities, their own culpability, merely venting their spleens on Israelis. To the British, the Israelis are a useful scapegoat for all of their angst, alienation and frustrations that they feel…

There’s actually more than a little truth to this, for some folk. I mean, it’s also a big dodge, but it holds true for some.

There’s NO dodge.

I will bet that most, if not all, posts relating to Israelis at Liberal Conspiracy are full of bile, loathing and spite.

That’s what the evidence will show, the British are full of hangups towards Israelis.

The British have for centuries had a problem with “foreigners”.

You only have to look at their attitudes towards the French as an example of that, so in this case, the Israelis are just another proxy for that social antipathy that the British epitomize.

139. flyingrodent

The British have for centuries had a problem with “foreigners”.

Like, for instance, a tendency to generalise wildly about the attributes, habits and psychology of “foreigners”, based upon arse-extracted suppositions, rather than sticking to facts that can be independently verified?

My, my. Thank God we’ve got you here to keep us straight on prejudices, Soup. Why don’t I just lie down on this here couch, and you can fill me in more on the essential character flaws of all these awful fucking Britishers?

140. Leon Wolfson

@135 – The attempt would ensuring that the Isralie right have a majority, for a generation (and would fail).

Fish, meet Bob, something’s smelly, given his unwavering effective support for the Isralie right.

And there are no peace worth the name negotiations anyway. Why? Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel.

@127 – Sure, and if we’re taking your logic, you have advocated genocide and supported terrorism. I’d advise everyone to shun you, since it’s contagious.

It’s good to remind a hypocritical British of their past, a very murky one at that.

The British are famously good at criticising others, but can’t take it.

Within memory you could have found signs in Britain saying:

“No Blacks, no Irish, no dogs”

Still less do they like it when you remind them of British compliance with fascism, the supposed war hero Churchill had many complimentary words for Mussolini before WW2.

Not forgetting that the Germans were often mystified by British attitudes, they thought they were on the same side, given the appalling xenophobic views which were common currency in prewar Britain and how many Britons almost made a pilgrimage to Berlin to visit the Nazis.

Nowadays, racial attacks occur in Britain on a daily basis, particularly against Jews, but not exclusively so.

However, overt manifestations of racism are frowned upon in Britain, it’s just not cricket. Instead you see outpourings of hatred towards Israelis, they are a convenient scapegoat and the British are terribly good at picking someone to kick.

But they don’t like it up ’em, as Corporal Jones use to say.

I don’t particularly want to fall into the trap of defending the policies of the 1930s British Empire, but here is a list of the major nations that handled that period better:

It’s an interesting testament to the nature of the current Israeli transatlantic right (the Fox factor) that they see the deliberate alienation of the British from their point of view as a positive goal to be worked towards. Presumably this is the Millwall approach to diplomacy: no-one likes us, we don’t care. Induced hostility from the rest of the world, from Turkey to Egypt to the UK, reinforces domestic solidarity as well as any football chant:

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/israel-increasingly-isolated-in-mideastus-20111003-1l4tl.html

Over a 20 or 30 year period, this will likely end one of two ways. Hopefully, the general populace of Israel will realise what a shower of damage Netanyahu, Lieberman and co represent, and throw the scoundrels out.

Or there will be NATO air-strikes on armoured columns, in support of Hamas and Hizbollah troops on the ground. And then some messy post-war situation that a lot of ink will be spilt about.

@141: “Not forgetting that the Germans were often mystified by British attitudes, they thought they were on the same side, given the appalling xenophobic views which were common currency in prewar Britain and how many Britons almost made a pilgrimage to Berlin to visit the Nazis.”

There were precious few, really, and they were approximately counter-balanced in number by those who visited the Soviet Union to pay homage to Stalin or merely admired him from afar.

The fact is that the fascists in elections in Britain gained no seats in Parliament and the Conservative government won the November 1935 election with a landslide after publishing a white paper announcing rearmament in March 1935 – see the link to the Guardian report of that white paper @125.

The Labour leader at that election – George Lansbury – opposed rearmament on principle. He lost his seat. In 1936, the returned Conservative government passed the Public Order Act to ban the wearing of political uniforms and so prevent the emergence of a British equivalent of the Nazi Brown Shirts.

Why would that Conservative government, which had a massive majority after the election in NOvember 1935, have committed to rearmament and banned political uniforms if it was sympathetic to fascism?

The fact, SoupOne, is that you know little about British history and have even less understanding.

Predictably, anything but the obstruction of the peace negotiations to settle the Palestine conflict by the Israeli government.

144. Leon Wolfson

Oh yes, because agreeing to give up the entire country, the non-negotiable position of Hamas, is SO reasonable. Keep promoting it!

The past really is a foreign country to some people isn’t it?

You know, it’s been said before, but it bears repeating (because, what other response is there?), that the tone of sneering moral superiority adopted by our generation is rather at odds with its self-centred hedonism and total lack of seriousness. There has never been a generation of people of whom so little was asked and from whom so little offered.

Having said that, I don’t want to completely write us off. I’m sure that, in certain spheres, we are every inch the equal of our forebears. Like, I dunno, using an iPod, or using Google. Shit, if anything, we’re probably even better.

So I guess we really do have a comparative advantage in some things. Take that, ignorant dead people!

Apart from attacking Israelis, the British are none too fond of Irish travellers or the Roma, as witnessed at Dale farm.

The British middle classes huff and puff over specious planning policy, spending some £80 million trying to evict Irish travellers from their own land.

Whilst it is true that no official fascist candidate had a parliamentary seat, the British had a long standing habit of electing reactionaries and hard-core racists, as Enoch Powell’s treatment shows.

Nevertheless, modern neofascism has got its foothold in Britain, and one of its representatives was elected to London’s City Hall.

Contemporary bigotry in Britain manifests itself in a peculiar way, a very class orientated way.

Working class thugs in the form of the EDL intimidate immigrants, Muslims and anyone else they think is foreign to Britain, whilst the British middle classes are happy to spend their time attacking Israelis, or writing poor quality posts as above.

The compunction is essentially the same, a xenophobic and societal outlet, but in a very British way!

@146: “So I guess we really do have a comparative advantage in some things”

Since comparative advantage depends on relative price differences, not absolute price differences at prevailing exchange rates, we are logically bound to have comparative advantages in some products and services.

“In 1936, the returned Conservative government passed the Public Order Act to ban the wearing of political uniforms and so prevent the emergence of a British equivalent of the Nazi Brown Shirts.”

Again our supposed specialist, Bob B, omits certain facts, “so to prevent”, but they had already emerged in the form of the British Union of Fascists.

Who can forget the BUF were led by a one-time member of the Labour Party, Oswald Mosley?

But each of these, slips, has to be dragged out of our British historian, bit by bit and what he won’t admit that whilst British fascism did not have that many tangible successes, its ideas can be found today across the streets of Britain.

Part of the failure of British fascism, was not that the British do not like its idea or find parts of it agreeable (as witnessed by the pilgrimages to Berlin and pandering to Mussolini, etc ), but the organised opposition stopped it.

Nowadays it’s perfectly possible to find photographs of tattooed neofascists giving the Nazi salute in British towns as they seek to intimidate ethnic minorities.

So whilst organisationally fascism has not been a success in Britain its ideas have grown and were it not for concerted opposition neofascism would be much stronger in Britain than it is.

If you want a reminder of how jingoism resonates with the British just watch the last night of the Proms as they sing, “Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”

150. Robin Levett

@SoupOne #147:

spending some £80 million trying to evict Irish travellers from their own land.

£80 million – shurely some mishtake? Isn’t that being a little cavalier with the figures (you’re a factor of 4 out) for someone who was earlier criticising others for getting their facts wrong?

151. flyingrodent

@Soupy: Nowadays, racial attacks occur in Britain on a daily basis, particularly against Jews, but not exclusively so.

Racist attacks do occur in shamefully high numbers in the UK. That said, they are neither particularly high historically or by comparison with similar states with comparable demographics. Additionally, the idea that they are “particularly against Jews” is yet another assertion that has been pulled out of your bottom – a five-second Google produces this rough indicator of the situation. http://tinyurl.com/35ce5jp Remember, evidence is our friend. Wild assertion from rectal-extraction makes us look like idiots when we are caught out at it.

Still less do they like it when you remind them of British compliance with fascism etc. and so on and blah

Undoubtedly, Britain has a shameful past full of misdeeds, atrocities and enormities that is too long to go into in detail here. Nonetheless, I suggest that there are other reasons for why people are tetchy with you when you remind them of the complicity of much the British ruling class with fascism in the thirties.

Some might think that we address this adequately ourselves via secondary education, where Lord Halifax, appeasement and Chamberlain are in the history course in some detail; they might point to the vast abundance of documentaries, programmes and movies tackling the Mitfords, the former King and so on that have been made and are regularly broadcast.

They might also suggest that the 450,000 military and civilian deaths and the vast infrastructure damage that the country had to endure in the fight against the Nazis might have in some small measure atoned for a few aristo twats jawboning with Hitler. They might even suggest that the total bankruptcy of the nation that blighted the postwar decades might have some bearing on the matter.

And finally, they might say It’s 2011. What kind of honking, moronic chucklehead responds to 21st century issues by bleating about events from 1936 as an excuse to ignore present-day issues?

Any one of these points taken individually does call your whole schtick into question. Together, I think they kind of make you look like a yakking know-nothing.

Working class thugs in the form of the EDL intimidate immigrants, Muslims and anyone else they think is foreign to Britain, whilst the British middle classes are happy to spend their time attacking Israelis, or writing poor quality posts as above. The compunction is essentially the same, a xenophobic and societal outlet, but in a very British way!

Fascinating. So Britain can be divided into racist thugs and racist toffs. I have to say, this in no way resembles the country that I can see out of my window and your ridiculous comedy routine isn’t reflected in any respectable media reporting or academic study.

Perhaps if you could issue some more ludicrous generalisations and hysterical psychological analyses, we might come to understand the nature of prejudice that little bit better, if you know what I’m saying.

the British are none too fond of Irish travellers or the Roma, as witnessed at Dale farm.

This is desperate, desperate stuff. Whatever your opinion on Dale Farm, I think you have to agree there is a legal process here and that accusations of racism are far from proven. Further, it all rather pales in comparison to the type of antics that Netanyahu’s government are getting up to right now. Don’t you?

I mean, if you wanted to find some human rights violations by the UK state, you’ve got far more relevant contemporary examples in Libya and Afghanistan, for example. Somehow I doubt those incidents count for much with you though.

“Whatever your opinion on Dale Farm, I think you have to agree there is a legal process here and that accusations of racism are far from proven. “

“There is a legal process therefore its OK”, is the message coming from above.

Supposed British legality trumps everything else, no doubt the Irish/Indians/Africans, who were thrown off the land, were told it was done legally by the British too.

I believe such an excuse was used by British settlers in Australia, whilst they were murdering the locals, and in North America.

Returning to the post, the author asked for criticism, it was detailed, he hasn’t responded.

It is quite conceivable that Matt Hill didn’t know the precise events around Gilad Shalit’s abduction, or care.

Whatever the reason it illustrates a particular point, that the British can’t be expected to render events in the Middle East, particularly when it concerns Israelis, with much accuracy, let alone empathy.

Therefore, if the British can’t get the basics right, then how will they ever discuss these topics without misrepresentation, ignorance or malice.

They won’t.

Which is why, irrespective of the subject matter, posts here concerning Israelis are negative and selective, demonstrating particular loathings.

SoupOne – I think quite a few pro-Palestinian writers do seem to lack empathy (and I find this particularly striking when I compare them with some actual Palestinians who do demonstrate empathy for Israelis) – but, whatever errors there may be (or some of us may think there are) in Matt’s piece, I wouldn’t say he lacked empathy.

154. flyingrodent

Supposed British legality trumps everything else, no doubt the Irish/Indians/Africans, who were thrown off the land, were told it was done legally by the British too… I believe such an excuse was used by British settlers in Australia, whilst they were murdering the locals, and in North America.

Well, the law has moved on just a little since the nineteenth century, to put it mildly. It is worth noting however that your point here is uncomfortably close to “Because of 150-year-old crimes that occurred long before you were born, you are not permitted to criticise the modern day crimes of others”.

I’ve long suspected that sooner or later, some joker would eventually stumble across the following proposition: “Because various other nations have committed historical wrongs, it’s now unfair and potentially racist to suggest that modern states shouldn’t indulge in fresh population transfers, collective punishments and democides of their own”.

I think you might be our go-to geezer here, Soup. Do you fancy cutting out the foreplay and just declaring it, loud and proud?

I think quite a few pro-Palestinian writers do seem to lack empathy (and I find this particularly striking when I compare them with some actual Palestinians who do demonstrate empathy for Israelis)
Have you considered comparing actual Palestinians to actual pro-Palestinian writers, or would you much rather make random unsupported allegations?

To answer Matt Hill’s point way upthread, I don’t think there is any value in condemning Israel for taking out Qassam launchers, though the bombing of every open space in Gaza, making it harder to play football than to fire missiles, does seem counterproductive and very like collective punishment.

Do you just mean you want me to give a specific example skidmarx? OK – Ben White and his crappy tweet about Gilad Shalit, as discussed here

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/10/18/isnt-ben-white-a-wanker/

and Mahmoud Jabari

http://lensforchange.weebly.com/no-more-invoking.html

” I wouldn’t say he lacked empathy.”

Sarah,

Surely, one proof of empathy is to accurately represent events related to a subject?

That is what Matt Hill didn’t do.

He left out the murder of two Israeli soldiers, the shooting of three others and how this abduction was actually conducted.

Those are major omissions.

It suggests that Matt Hill is not particularly concerned to accurately represent issues as they relate to the Israelis, which in turn indicates a lack of empathy, with Israelis.

But further, if you don’t think that the Liberal conspiracy lacks empathy with Israelis then find me three posts here, which clearly demonstrate a strong sympathy, understanding or insights into the problems faced by the Israelis.

You won’t find them, here, at least.

158. Cocoa Shunter

I was enjoying the traditional pedants’ wankfest until someone brought up the thieving pikeys.

as you were

I’m still a bit baffled as to why skidmarx reacted so tetchily to my comment. I am quite happy to acknowledge that some pro-Israel writers also seem to lack empathy.

SoupOne – I don’t think inaccuracy equates to lack of empathy. I agree that empathy for Israelis is not something I’ve seen much of on LC. But I think Matt seems a bit different from the usual suspects.

” I don’t think inaccuracy equates to lack of empathy.”

Obviously minor inaccuracies are not the issue.

But consciously omitting facts, lying by omission as Matt Hill does, shows a lack of empathy.

If that were not the case, then when his omissions were demonstrated he would acknowledge them.

He didn’t.

But I’m not terribly interested in analysing Matt Hill’s psychology, rather it illustrates this blogs continued approach: negative and selective when it comes to Israelis.

Mahmoud Jabari – whose response to the Palestinian bid for statehood was to say that nothing should be done if it might annoy the Israelis. That you continue to represent him as being representative of Palestinian opinion shows how how blind and ignorant your Israel advocacy is, as much as your empathy with the more outlandish Israel advocates on this thread rather than pointing out what bollocks they’re punting.

Ben White – doesn’t celebrate anyone’s death, merely points out that Israel advocates have been incessant in their obsession over Shalit. As you have done, with numerous posts on Shalit, and none of the nameless thousands of Palestinians you care nothing about in Israeli jails. And when Alec Macpherson on the Let’s Line UP And Condemn Ben White thread (joining all the other Hate threads on HP that you seem to have no problem with) celebrates the death of an International Solidarity Movement activist, not a word of criticism.

I’m not tetchy, I just find it strange that when you talk of pro-Israeli writers that lack empathy you don’t acknowledge that you could see one in the mirror.

For anyone who isn’t a fuckwit, a post entitled Israel’s biggest enemy is itself might suggest considering what might be best for Israel. That was,er,Flying Rodent on Liberal Conspiracy in May.

I didn’t say he was representative. I said he was empathic. He is critical of Israel, obviously, and has in fact spent some time in an Israeli jail (though he was released without charge). He is currently, I infer, facing difficulties from Israel over an exit visa to study in the US – though these may be more bureaucratic, than deliberately obstructive. I think FlyingRodent’s piece was a bit over the top – but he is certainly not someone I had in my mind when I referred to pro-Palestinian lack of empathy. Anyway, as it seems that my vaguely positive feelings towards Matt don’t seem to be reciprocated (he has deleted what I thought was a perfectly friendly comment on his personal blog) – I’ll just give up.

Also skidmarx – I didn’t take in the middle bit of your comment fully – can I refer you to my comment #52 here.

164. Leon Wolfson

@154 – Sure, the government now wants to make “squatting” illegal, so they can arrest the travellers who they’ve also ensured there are insufficient pitches around the country for, while ignoring the issue that 90% of their planning permission requests are turned down – in much of the country, by default.

Given Basildon council workers have been caught – multiple times – being racist over the issue, you’re justifying for them.

Hostility to travelling people is a leading indicator for and a warning of rising intolerance.

165. flyingrodent

I haven’t been following the Dale Farm thing at all, Leon, so I can’t make a judgement on it. I was just interested in the response I’d get if I made the legal argument.

So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. The legality of eviction of minorities is a mere contrivance to justify inherently racist policy; any attempt to suggest that the law may act equitably is mere justification for racism, and hostility to travelling people represents a warning of rising intolerance.

Dude, there are 30,000 Bedouin in the Negev right now who can join in with you at the chorus here.

Or is that different? I mean, I actually expect you to say No, that isn’t different, it’s the same shit or worse, given it’s on about 30 times the scale. Just interested.

” so I can’t make a judgement on it. “

Leon,

Why bother? You are trying to argue reason into British bigots, sociopaths and ignoramuses. Evidentially, it’s not working.

No matter, what point of criticism you level at the British it won’t be conceded by bigoted Bob or Flying rodent.

That’s not their modus operandi,

They’re interested in exercising their hatred *on* Israelis, not discussing Britain’s terrible past, miserable present and declining future.

Flying rodent is happy to comment on matters in the Middle East of which he knows precious little and is probably some 2500 miles away from, but knows precious little about the goings-on in Essex, in Britain.

That’s despite it being on the international TV channels, conceivably he doesn’t have a television, but more likely he doesn’t care, why would he? It’s not his problem, that’s how many British think.

It is a hangover from those imperial days, the days of the bygone empire, which grates with the British, explaining much of their animosity towards “foreigners” and their resentment towards Israelis (remembering that Palestine was once under the British mandate).

PS: I had meant to write £8 million, not £80 million as per the cost at Dale Farm, although I believe it might be closer to £20 million if the press reports are correct.

167. Leon Wolfson

@165 – No, you’re still as crooked as any banker.

I agree that the situation with the Bedouin isn’t good, but that makes your hostility towards travelling people travelling people only undermine your so-called arguments.

@164: “Hostility to travelling people is a leading indicator for and a warning of rising intolerance.”

I’ve admitted my prejudice in favour of evidence-based policies.

Try the evidence, based on long experience, submitted by Wakefield MDC to the HoC select committee on Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Region:

Para 2.3 “In the year 2003 Wakefield MDC had 71 separate incidents of unauthorised camping, 68% of these were on Local Authority owned land. On every occasion when Travellers moved onto council owned land Wakefield MDC offerred them alternate accommodation on the permanent travellers site. On every occasion this offer was made, it was declined.”
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmodpm/633/633we24.htm

Try too this report from last year on the BBC website about the French policy of deporting destitute Roma:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11332488

Leon Wolfson,

I agree that the situation with the Bedouin isn’t good, but that makes your hostility

There is no evidence Flying Rodent is hostile to “travelling people”.

“I haven’t been following the Dale Farm thing at all, Leon, so I can’t make a judgement on it.”

Leon,

Why bother?

Isn’t it plain to you that the obsessives here are more interested in what happens in Israel, some 2500 miles away than what happens to Irish travellers in Essex, in Britain.

If Dale Farm contained one Israeli then no doubt Bob B and Flying Rodent would be for the complete removal of said farm.

But the British lower middle classes aren’t terribly fixated on Irish travellers, Israelis are more their target, which is why you see these type of posts.

It is a fixation, and rather unhealthy at that.

PS: I was wrong above, I meant to write £8 million, not £80 million, although reports suggested may come in at around £20 million

172. Leon Wolfson

@170 – If you haven’t read what he’s typed, of course not! Back in the real world…

And Bob? No “requirement”, right, when utilisation never drops below 90%, is full for several months of the year, the site’s quite remote and there are multiple instances of people camping elsewhere. Right. Typical bias.

And Wakefield is one of the BETTER councils, too.

@170 – If you haven’t read what he’s typed, of course not! Back in the real world…

Go on then, provide evidence flyingrodent is hostile to travelllers.

I bet this will be like that time when you lied about Chaise Guevara making a “VERY explicit threat”.
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/09/22/solidarity-demo-for-imprisoned-activist-edd/#comment-316032

@172: “And Wakefield is one of the BETTER councils, too.”

Exactly. And as readers of the tactfully drafted memorandum from Wakefield MDC to the HoC select committee can judge, it is pretty fed up with the persistent unauthorised camping and the nuisance this causes when there are vacant places available on authorised council campsites. Believe me, Wakefield MDC’s sentiments about this issue are shared by many other councils in the Yorkshire and Humberside region which have had similarly long experiences of unauthorised camping.

Coincidentally or not, a couple of years back the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire went public to say that Barnsley – which is just 10 miles south of Wakefield – was the capital of metal theft in England with 40% of all incidences of metal theft located within 15 miles of Barnsley. Telephone wires, railway signalling cables and church roofs are favourite targets.

175. Leon Wolfson

@174 – The “avaliable” places, when utilisation on a single site in the entire 338.6 km^2 area doesn’t run below 90%, right.

And yes, I quite believe there is persistent and ongoing bias and racism shared with other councils in the area, all of whom have insufficient and very highly utilised pitch provision.

Your defence of this, as usual…

(And they caught that gang, who were, as over 97.5% of the local residents of the area are, White British. Total bias….)

176. Leon Wolfson

@173 – Well, you could …oh… read a few posts? A radical suggestion I know!

And there WAS an explicit threat made. You are in denial, just like you deny the rights of anyone not just like you.

Leon Wolfson,

@173 – Well, you could …oh… read a few posts? A radical suggestion I know!

I’ve been following the thread. There is no evidence that flyingrodent is hostile to “travelling people”. Why not provide a quote or two to substantiate your lie claim?

And there WAS an explicit threat made.

So quote it. If it was “VERY explicit”, it should be VERY easy to quote it.

You are in denial, just like you deny the rights of anyone not just like you.

Do stop lying about other commenters.

@175: “And yes, I quite believe there is persistent and ongoing bias and racism shared with other councils in the area, all of whom have insufficient and very highly utilised pitch provision.”

And those “racist” councils in Yorkshire and Humberside, which are fed up with persistent unauthorised camping by travelling communities, are mostly Labour controlled.

Does anyone pause to ask how much it costs council tax payers to provide a hardstanding placement with electric and water supply points on a council campsite – when there are pressures to cut council spending? In my council area, they are closing homes and sheltered accommodation for the aged as well as sacking council staff.

Good old Bob B, he’d be right at home during the heyday of the British empire, as British imperialism conquered 1/3 of the globe, laying waste to anyone that got in its way.

I wonder what other ethnicities Bob B dislikes?

180. Leon Wolfson

@177 – No, I am not your slave, oddly enough, to be whipped around by you. You’re fine trying to treat me as one, though, then dismissing me when I don’t jump to your call. Even though you’re asking about things stated in the thread.

Gee!

@178 – And how many older people are being thrown out onto the street? Yes if there’s massive under-provision of sites, as there is, you’ll have unauthorised camping. The councils would rather waste money constantly chasing this issue rather than simply providing sufficient pitches for the area.

@179:

You really do need a lot more revision on British history to catch up.

Firstly, the British empire at it furthest reach only covered a quarter of the world’s landmass, not a third.

Secondly, it was Disraeli, as Britain’s prime minister, who made Queen Victoria the Empress of India. I wasn’t around at the time.

It remains a mystery as to why it is bigotted to restate the widely-reported fact that the Israeli government, by allowing the continuing building of settlements for Israelis on occupied Palestinian land, is blocking progress with the peace negotiations for the perennial Palestine conflict. The Obama administration has declared its opposition to the settlement building, as has Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the UN. Logically, they must be “bigotted” too. Ah well, no suprise there, just the regular Israeli paranoia.

182. flyingrodent

Leon: I agree that the situation with the Bedouin isn’t good, but that makes your hostility towards travelling people travelling people only undermine your so-called arguments.

“The situation… isn’t good!” Good God man, that’s a laugh. Just a wee while ago, the eviction of a few hundred people was an intolerable, indefensible piece of racist intolerance! Move the action a few thousand miles east, and the eviction of thirty thousand human beings is “not good”!

When I mentioned Dale Farm before, I guessed I might get this response. I thought you might at least dress it up in some superficial bumff to cover the stark hypocrisy, but this is farcical, knee-slapping stuff.

And, my “hostility towards travelling people”. Is this based upon the same fierce logic you deployed to detect hate and bias out of nothing whatsoever earlier on? Hilarious, clown-shoes stuff.

Soup But the British lower middle classes aren’t terribly fixated on Irish travellers, Israelis are more their target, which is why you see these type of posts.

Soupy over there is like some laughable, fuddy-duddy stereotype. God, I hate those disgusting, lower-middle class British! They’re so prejudiced!

Reminds me of nobody more clearly than Michael Caine in that Austin Powers film: “There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch.

Just plain funny. You guys should team up. You could call yourselves “The Incoherent, Accusatory Bullshitters of LibCon” and tour the summer festivals.

Yet another reason for banning the Catholic church to protect children:

Spain’s stolen babies and the families who lived a lie
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15335899

More bigotry? Hardly, just more evidence of the horrendous damage inflicted on children by the church.

184. Leon Wolfson

@182 – Gee, moral equivalence between a specific action and what’s happening in an area in general. A typical elitist failure at a smear job there. And yes, of course you find what happens to people funny, rather than serious.

Your outright racism isn’t clownish though, it’s very much a reflection on you. And no, I’ll leave the posturing, lies and general intolerance to you, I’m on the left of the political spectrum, unlike you.

You can’t tell between a country and a party, and you are throwing stones because of racism and anti-semitism, not because you give a shit about anyone else.

185. flyingrodent

Your outright racism isn’t clownish though, it’s very much a reflection on you. And no, I’ll leave the posturing, lies and general intolerance to you, I’m on the left of the political spectrum, unlike you.

Oh God, my sides. And the best part is, he’s being serious.

I may very well be forced to retract the ‘boringly’ from my original statement at this rate.

@177 ukliberty

And there WAS an explicit threat made.

So quote it. If it was “VERY explicit”, it should be VERY easy to quote it.

I think this was the alleged ‘threat’:

(From your link, Chaise @91)

Pro-tip: you’re inevitably going to see fascists coming out of the woodwork if you can’t tell the difference between a fascist and someone who disagrees with you.

I suppose you could interpret it as Chaise threatening to have fascists come out of the woodwork…

I wouldn’t though.

188. Leon Wolfson

@185 – Of course I am. You’re trying to use humour as a deflection mechanism from what you are. It’s a typical scummy trick from a typical far-right winger.

And if you’ve hurt your sides, see a doctor. The NHS is still free. For now.

Leon Wolfson,

@177 – No, I am not your slave, oddly enough, to be whipped around by you. You’re fine trying to treat me as one, though, then dismissing me when I don’t jump to your call. Even though you’re asking about things stated in the thread.

If you quote and give an URL to that “VERY explicit threat” you accused Chaise of making, and LC regulars (i.e. no sockpuppets) agree it’s a “VERY explicit threat”, I will donate £50 to the British Red Cross.

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/09/22/solidarity-demo-for-imprisoned-activist-edd

There are only three posts by Chaise (nos. 75, 80, 91) before you accuse him of making “actual threats” (no. 92), so I guess it should take at most a couple of minutes for you to earn £50 for the Red Cross (charity no. 220949).

Good luck!

Cylux @187, I literally LOL.

flyingrodent @185, all this time I’ve been reading your comments and blog and it’s only today I discover you’re a racist, anti-semitic, traveller-hating elitist right-winger. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re one of those lizard people too!

191. Leon Wolfson

Make it Doctors Without Borders and sure.

@188: “The NHS is still free. For now.”

Judging by this recent news report, a free NHS is among the least of the challenges facing the aged:

Elderly patients condemned to early death by secret use of do not resuscitate orders

Elderly patients are being condemned to an early death by hospitals making secret use of “do not resuscitate” orders, an investigation has found.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/8829350/Elderly-patients-condemned-to-early-death-by-secret-use-of-do-not-resuscitate-orders.html

Readers of earlier threads probably thought it was just a sick joke of mine when I suggested a modest investment in a network of Harold Shipman Centres would help to cut the budget deficit.

Never mind. Part of the savings from the DNR orders can be passed on to local councils to build more campsites for travelling communities.

Leon Wolfson,

If you quote and give an URL to that “VERY explicit threat” you accused Chaise of making, and LC regulars (i.e. no sockpuppets) agree it’s a “VERY explicit threat”, I will donate £50 to Médecins Sans Frontières charity no.1026588.

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/09/22/solidarity-demo-for-imprisoned-activist-edd

There are only three posts by Chaise (nos. 75, 80, 91) before you accuse him of making “actual threats” (no. 92), so I guess it should take at most a couple of minutes for you to earn £50 for the Médecins Sans Frontières charity no.1026588.

Good luck!

I’m off to sleep now, so I won’t look at this thread until tomorrow. Good luck!

195. Leon Wolfson

Sure, very easy;

He threatened to get me moderated;

“I told you about how Sunny tends to moderate comments, then said that you had been acting irrationally towards UKL, XXX et al early on in the thread”

No luck or other superstitions involved.

Leon, that’s related to an argument about disappearing posts, where I suggested you address people by name, rather than just the comment number, and Chaise @75 agreed that sometimes posts disappear (because Sunny moderated them away).

But sure, let LC regulars decide…

Its Doctors without Borders I feel sorry for. As someone who’s had arguments with Chaise over whether no platform is or isn’t a free speech issue I can whole heartedly say that he would never, under any circumstances, threaten to have someone moderated. He’d much prefer to keep handing them enough rope instead.

I enjoy the cut-and-thrust of below-the-line comments, but I gave up answering my critics about 75 posts ago, when things got a little silly. It gets a little frustrating trying to argue my point when I say things like, ‘I have no problem with Israel taking out Qassam rocket launchers in civilian areas’, only for other posters to reply, ‘Yes you do, you terrorism-loving bigot!’ And I feel like giving up when I’m called ‘vile’ by someone who explicitly supports Israel’s right to kill every last man, woman and child in Gaza.

Then there’s the selective appeal to (supposed) international law by those who would reject it in every other circumstance. Being pigeon-holed as an uncritical pro-Palestinian partisan, despite making several points that demonstrate moderation. Having to rebut utterly unsubstantiated claims. Being forced to repeat, several times, the simplest of assertions. Reading comments characterised by casuistry, half-truths, vituperation, twisting of my words, omission of key facts, rigidity, laziness, rudeness, dogma and intellectual nullity. And now I return for a quick skim through the various ways in which I’ve been slandered to find a debate over travellers’ rights in the UK – or, to be more precise, what a particular poster may or may not previously said about travellers’ rights. By no means everyone here is as obtuse as the worst offenders. But some of you should just listen to yourselves.

Since this issue is very much in the news today, if anyone has anything pertinent, relevant and sincere to say about my post or any of my comments below the line, I’ll be happy to respond. I’ve also written another post on Gilad Shalit at my blog, which you can read by clicking on my name.

Cheers,
Matt Hill

@ 124 – SoupOne

“Go back, and tell us what actually happened, the killings, the method of attack…if you know…and try not to refer to Wiki, if you can…”

I’ll tell you exactly what happened, from memory. Shalit was stationed with his IDF unit at the Kerem Shalom checkpoint separating the south of Gaza from Israeli territory. In the preceding weeks the IDF had been shelling Gaza, killing a number of people including 14 civilians (the identity of the perpetrators of another incident on a beach, which killed several more, is disputed).

On 25 June a group of Palestinian militants emerged from a tunnel they had dug under the border fence, exiting a few hundred metres inside Israeli territory. They immediately attacked the IDF soldiers on duty, killing two and injuring three others. Two Palestinian militants also died. A wounded Gilad Shalit was dragged back through the tunnel into Gaza.

All agreed?

@ 138 Torquil Macneil –

“I think the main complaint is that the argument that a man who is seized by a paramilitary organisation and then kept for four years in secret captivity under threat of summary execution if certain ransom demands have not been met cannot be considered a ‘hostage’ if he happens to come from the world’s only Jewish majority state, is spurious. That is not a question of fact, it is one of interpretation.”

That is not my argument and you should be ashamed of yourself for being the first person, in 138 comments, to use the ‘anti-semitism’ card, trivialising the very real issue of anti-Jewish racism. I made no reference to the fact that Israel is ‘the world’s only Jewish majority state’ – I simply applied the widely acknowledged rules of war to the situation. Let me clear, since many people seem to have misunderstood this point: the Geneva Convention makes clear that prisoners of war may be taken by military forces that don’t belong to sovereign states. The fact that Hamas is a ‘paramilitary organisation’ is therefore irrelevant. Neither does the fact that Shalit wasn’t given all the rights due a POW affect the legitimacy of his capture, which rests on Gaza’s moral right to self-defence from Israeli attack. Just as the fact that Israel frequently tortures prisoners does not bar it from defending itself from attack by capturing terrorists. Both sides should treat prisoners better, but that doesn’t affect their right to take prisoners, which is a component of their right to self defence. The exchange of prisoners during hostilities is normal practice (Israel insists a ‘state of hostilities’ exists between it and Hamas in Gaza). The fact that Shalit was kept in secret was due to obvious practical considerations, and needs no further comment. Next.

@ 132 SoupOne –

This isn’t an argument over whether Israel or Britain is more historically culpable. I don’t mind admitting Britain has a great deal more blood on its hands. That is, however, utterly besides the point, as anyone with an ounce of intelligence can understand.

Matt Hill,

Better, but why must each point to be dragged out of you?

And I’m not blaming you for malice. I think stupidity and laziness are much more probable.

Which is why the points concerning the tunnel alluded you.

Have a bit of a think on it.

PS: I am sure that the Israelis must treat their prisoners terribly, which is why some of them study for degrees whilst incarcerated.

That is presumably why, the released prisoners looked as if they’d been feasting for the last few years, whereas contrary to your point “A pale, skinny Gilad Shalit “ was emaciated, skin and bone. A contrast that so many anti-Israeli obsessives won’t want to acknowledge.

@ 133 Flower Power –

“Operation Cast Lead could be construed as an “attack on Gaza” (whether you regard that attack as legitimate or not is open to debate) but that wasn’t until 2 years later.”

Quite. So why are you talking about it?

“The civilians killed in May/June 2006 were mostly killed by accident (when two Israeli missiles fired from aircraft) veered off-target. There was also some shelling of Gaza at this time. Both the shelling and air attacks were in response to missile attacks on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.These actions were targeted upon groups firing missiles and were themselves acts of self-defence, not an “attack on Gaza” from which non-combatant Gazans had cause to “defend themselves”.”

As I made clear in my article and elsewhere, the right of Gazans to defend themselves has nothing to do with whether Israel’s attack was justified. It’s always easy, in a conflict of this length, to point to previous enemy actions as a justification for acts of aggression, which is why I think a narrower definition of ‘self-defence’ is necessary (though I admit there may be such a thing as ‘legitimate pre-emptive attack’ or even ‘proportionate retribution’ – terms I just invented, but which are more accurate than self-defence in this instance). Even if you’re 100% right, it’s understandable that the people of Gaza may have wanted to defend themselves against Israel’s self-defence, considering that it had resulted in 14 civilian deaths.

“Gilad Shalit was stationed at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which from March 2006 was used to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza. Not to attack it.”

The main purpose of the IDF post at Kerem Shalom is to monitor entry in and out of Gaza – i.e. to seal it off. A target doesn’t get much more legitimate than an army unit sealing off a territory that is under attack by that same army.

“Shalit’s kidnappers entered Israel via a tunnel that must have taken weeks or months to dig. Therefore, the abduction was not a response to civilian deaths within the previous few weeks.”

The digging of the tunnel may not have been a response to the recent deaths, but the capture of Shalit took place while the attack was under way, so I don’t see much room for argument here.

“Besides, the Israeli shelling was mostly concentrated in the North of Gaza (i.e. the opposite end of the strip to where Shalit was taken).”

Wrong. There was shelling taking place in the south of Gaza at the same time, and some of the casualties had taken place near the Kerem Shalom crossing. I can find references if you like.

“Do you argue that Palestinians are morally justified in killing, abducting (or “taking prisoner”) any Israeli soldier, wherever he is stationed or whatever his duties? If so, do you grant the equivalent general licence to the IDF?”

I’ll be very clear. The Palestinians are morally justified in killing or capturing any Israeli prisoner engaged in offensive operations against Palestinian people or territory, on either side of the Green Line. And yes, absolutely the IDF has the licence to kill or capture any Palestinian engaged in offensive operations against Israeli people or territory.

Thanks for the reasonable questions.

Matt,

No, I don’t think that’s right. Anybody and their pet dog does not have the right to take prisoners of war. If I slap a badge on my shoulder, declare myself for the People’s Front, and go an kidnap some soldiers, that does not make the operation ipso-facto legit.

Conditional on the status of the conflict (i.e. IAC or NIAC), and Hamas (recognised belligerent party or otherwise), then the operation is legal or it is not. But it you cannot make an unconditional claim regardless of that fact. War occurs between the legal armed forces of states. Similarly, just because the IRA called themselves an army, didn’t mean that they were legally allowed to kidnap British soldiers.

@ 202,

LibCon articles are typically 500-600 words. I presented all the relevant facts. I’ve been happy to answer all reasonable questions below the line. In fact I’ve answered pretty much every single post (excluding pure ad hominem insults), and I think a neutral would agree I’ve shown quite a bit of patience in doing so.

Which ‘points concerning the tunnel alluded [sic]’ me? (By the way, I’d try and avoid absurd spelling mistakes when, in the next line, you call me stupid.)

I mention the fact that Israel also mistreats its prisoners to illustrate a point you would presumably accept: your right to take prisoners and your treatment of them are two separate issues. My purpose isn’t to debate which side is more culpable – I’m happy to blame both. Unlike the caricature of a pro-Palestinian partisan you think you’re debating, I think Hamas militants are inhuman scum and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they’d chopped Shalit to pieces and served him as shwarma. The fact is, though, they didn’t.

@ 202 SoupOne –

I recommend trying to avoid absurd spelling mistakes like ‘allude’ in posts calling me ‘stupid’ and ‘lazy’. But I’ll pay you the respect you refuse to pay me, and treat your comments seriously.

Nothing’s been dragged out of me. LibCon pieces are typically around 500 words, so I didn’t get the chance to mention every relevant fact in the original piece. However I’ve been thorough in replying to every reasonable comment below the line, even when they contain childish insults like yours.

I mentioned Israel’s mistreatment of prisoners not to argue over which side treats prisoners worse – I don’t mind blaming both Israel and Hamas, unlike the pro-Palestinian caricature you seem to think you’re debating – but to illustrate a point you’d presumably understand. That is, your right to take prisoners in self-defence isn’t cancelled, even when you deny those prisoners the rights due them under international law (not to mention simple humaneness).

“I recommend trying to avoid absurd spelling mistakes like ‘allude’ in posts calling me ‘stupid’ and ‘lazy’. But I’ll pay you the respect you refuse to pay me, and treat your comments seriously.”

Please spare me your British superiority complex.

I have found that anyone who goes on about spelling in such discussions is either a pedant, a fool or British.

This is why arguing the Middle East with the British is so annoying, if you discuss these topics on mainland Europe there are not so many hangups, so many sneering comments, so much petulance.

But many have commented on British attitudes in the post empire world, how many Brits bring along their Orientalist view of the world, which invariably is antagonistic towards Israelis and patronising to everyone else in the Middle East (all 300+ million).

If you want evidence of British animosity towards Israelis you only need to look at Comment Is Free, whenever the topic swings around to the Middle East.

It is in marked contrast to debates in other countries, yes there are Israeli haters across the world, but in Britain the breadth of universal antagonism towards Israelis is much more noticeable.

I think it comes down to a certain pettiness in the British character, an element of resentment at having lost their Empire, an annoyance at Israelis having the temerity to a create state in Palestine and the societal alienation which is felt across a declining Britain.

Those are marked differences from the rest of Europe, the level of malice and animosity towards Israelis is very different in Britain.

Not that the British will ever acknowledge it, self-awareness was never one of their strong points!

My simple point is that, if you’re going to call people stupid and lazy, be careful not to make obvious mistakes in the same breath.

As for your whole anti-British tirade, I have no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t even know that I’m British.

I think we’re off-topic.

We are perfectly on topic, because if the British wish to be critical of others, then they should expect a degree of criticism themselves. Logically speaking.

However, that’s not what you find with the British.

They are exceedingly critical of others and then will find excuses for their own abuses of power, me I remind you of the invasion of Iraq? Abu Bhraib? Tony Blair and Colonel Gadaffi? etc etc

The British have a long history of sucking up to dictators in the Middle East, from the early days of TE Lawrence to Death of a Princess, but will invariably explain it away as realpolitik or as a necessity.

Such attitudes are replicated across British society, arms exports to chronically poor countries are justified as job creation in Britain, flattering unelected rulers from Saudi Arabia or dictators from China is seen as a necessity, no one makes a critical comment on the implications of those actions.

Again, any survey of the British media on the topic of **Israelis** (notice nationality, not the country), would invariably find negative and contemptuous attitudes, not that the British can see it, in themselves.

I’m critical of all those things. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

“But that’s not what we’re talking about.”

If you wish to define the debate on *your* own terms, that’s up to you.

I will leave it to more thoughtful readers to ponder why the British can dish it out, but not take it.

I will try to finish on this point, although I accept it will be incomprehensible to many British readers of this blog.

When Alan Johnson, the journalist, was kidnapped in Gaza the British media moved heaven and earth to try to free him. Favours were called in, old Middle Eastern hands were enlisted to say what a good fellow Alan Johnson was, and how he held the “right” type of views, etc so should be freed.

Eventually he was, the British rejoiced. Israelis rejoiced.

Israelis were genuinely happy that Alan Johnson was no longer a prisoner in Gaza, they did not sneer. They did not say “But listen carefully to how his story is told, and remember”

Israelis were sincerely relieved for Alan Johnson’s family, there was no ifs, no buts.

Contrasts that openness, with the British attitude towards Gilad Shalit.

Even as Gilad was being released the event was used as a political weapon to disparage Israelis by the above author:

“Israeli propaganda – so slick there’s a word, hasbara, for it – has programmed Israel’s viewpoint into the very words we use to discuss the Shalit affair. And the supposedly neutral western media has marched in lockstep, reducing a complex issue to a one-sided narrative. In this way Israel not only legitimises its occupation – it even strips its victims of the right to fight back. “

That’s the difference, as harsh, often brutal as they are, the Israelis are sincere, whereas the British will take any opportunity to stick a pin in their perceived opponents, today it is the Israelis, but yesterday it was the French, before that the Belgiums, the Spanish, Africans, Indians, etc

Times change, but British Orientalist attitudes don’t.

Why are you talking about abuse at Abu Ghraib, the invasion of Iraq, the empire? I loathe all those things. But we’re talking about whether the capture of Gilad Shalit was legitimate or not. You’re just engaging in a classic case of ‘whataboutery’.

(For an explanation of the crap rhetorical trick you’re using, see here: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-to-spot-a-lame-lame-argument-1667373.html)

A better name for this fallacy is tu quoque.

I also discovered via Wikipedia that the Soviets had their own version of the tu quoque argument, which was a response to allegations of human rights violations by the US: “And you are lynching Negroes”.

214. Flowerpower

Matt Hill @ 203

Thank you for your straight answers. There are one or two points I would take issue with.

First:

The main purpose of the IDF post at Kerem Shalom is to monitor entry in and out of Gaza – i.e. to seal it off.

But it was not “sealed off” at the time of Gilad Shalit’s abduction. It was open. It was, however sealed off in response to the abduction, which may well have been what the terrorists intended.

It’s always easy, in a conflict of this length, to point to previous enemy actions as a justification for acts of aggression..

True, but that’s not a reason to leave out important context. The fact that between 1 Jan 2006 and the time of Shalit’s abduction in June, Palestinian terrorists had fired no fewer than 896 missiles at civilian targets in Israel (mostly at one small town – Sderot) is surely vital context when considering who had good grounds for regarding themselves as “under attack”.

Second, it seems odd that you regard Israel as “attacking” Gaza in 2006, when, in fact, it had only recently (September 2005) unilaterally withdrawn its troops and settlers from Gaza. That act was surely proof that Israel did not have territorial ambitions in the strip.

Even if you’re 100% right, it’s understandable that the people of Gaza may have wanted to defend themselves against Israel’s self-defence, considering that it had resulted in 14 civilian deaths.

Given that there was a situation of civil-war in Gaza at the time, with more casualties among Palestinians arising out of conflict between Hamas and Fatah than accounted for by Israeli action, I would say that the average Gazan had more proximate threats to his life and property to worry about than the Israelis. Oddly, you make no mention of this.

As you say, there are so many old grudges in the middle east for any action to be excused by appeal to some earlier atrocity by the other side. That is why proximate causes, detail and full context matter so much in discerning the moral rights and wrongs of any particular event.

In this case, the key factors of : Israeli disengagement (an unprecedent example of voluntary ethnic cleansing); massive Palestinian rocket attacks on civilian targets; and Shalit’s role at an open border crossing delivering humanitarian aid……. need to be at the very least mentioned and acknowledged, even if you only have 600 words to tell your story.

Matt Hill,

It seems that you really don’t understand politics, this is not about you.

It is not about your own personal indignation it is a broader point, about the British.

I don’t particularly care what you think, that is not relevant.

What is relevant is British attitudes and ideas, and what happens in the material world.

This is not about your own personal morallity or heightened sense of superiority, it’s about how the British conduct themselves in the world, and it is relevant to this discussion because most of the participants are British, write on a British blogs and argue within the British political scene.

My point concerning Abu Ghraib was obvious to anyone outside of Britain.

Whilst the Israelis may indeed be very harsh, sometimes even torture people, that is not new for the British, at least those recently released seem rather plump, well fed and had good medical services, whereas the victims of British torture in Iraq are either dead, traumatised or left in the wreck of a country, caused by the British/US invasion.

We shouldn’t forget that the British don’t always torture people, during the Indian mutiny they placed people over cannons and decapitated them with cannonballs.

The British attitudes are germane to the discussion, because they are conspicuously hostile to Israelis.

Rather than showing any sympathy towards Gilad Shalit, his release is used to score political points, cheap points.

Flowerpower @ 214

Thanks – it’s heartening to debate with someone who is able to ask and answer simple questions without changing the subject or resorting to ad hominem attacks.

“But [the Kerem Shalom crossing] was not “sealed off” at the time of Gilad Shalit’s abduction. It was open. It was, however sealed off in response to the abduction, which may well have been what the terrorists intended”

You’re right – the full blockade hadn’t been imposed. The IDF unit wasn’t sealing the crossing, it was monitoring access. That’s different and I stand corrected. However, I maintain it was a legitimate target while hostilities were taking place, because it was performing the role of a guard while bombs fell. The unit was fully armed, coordinated with the attacking forces, and ready to fire on any Gazans offering resistance.

“The fact that between 1 Jan 2006 and the time of Shalit’s abduction in June, Palestinian terrorists had fired no fewer than 896 missiles at civilian targets in Israel (mostly at one small town – Sderot) is surely vital context when considering who had good grounds for regarding themselves as “under attack”.”

Surely the conclusion is obvious. Both Sderot and Gaza were under attack. Ergo, both Israelis and the people of Gaza had a right to self-defence. The IDF was fully justified in taking out any Qassam rocket stations and their operators; just as Hamas was justified in attacking any Israeli soldier taking part in the Gaza offensive.

My earlier point addresses whether Shalit was, in a proper sense, taking part in the offensive. However I concede there is room for debate on this point, and that it’s one where reasonable people may differ.

“Second, it seems odd that you regard Israel as “attacking” Gaza in 2006, when, in fact, it had only recently (September 2005) unilaterally withdrawn its troops and settlers from Gaza. That act was surely proof that Israel did not have territorial ambitions in the strip.”

It was firing mortar and dropping bombs from fighter jets at Gaza. Can you suggest a better word than ‘attacking’? (Again, I don’t consider the legitimacy of the attack relevant. If you do, you need to argue that people don’t have a right to defend themselves if the aggressor has been genuinely provoked, or something along those lines. Which would be a novel idea, I think you’ll agree.)

“Given that there was a situation of civil-war in Gaza at the time…Oddly, you make no mention of this.”

I think you have your dates mixed up. There was no Fatah-Hamas violence until December 2006.

“I would say that the average Gazan had more proximate threats to his life and property to worry about than the Israelis.”

Even if your dates were correct, having been in Haifa with Hezbollah’s (infinitely less sophisticated) rockets falling on the city in 2006, I can assure you that anyone in such a situation would have good cause to be worried about falling missiles.

“As you say, there are so many old grudges in the middle east for any action to be excused by appeal to some earlier atrocity by the other side. That is why proximate causes, detail and full context matter so much in discerning the moral rights and wrongs of any particular event.”

I agree.

“In this case, the key factors of : Israeli disengagement (an unprecedent example of voluntary ethnic cleansing); massive Palestinian rocket attacks on civilian targets; and Shalit’s role at an open border crossing delivering humanitarian aid……. need to be at the very least mentioned and acknowledged, even if you only have 600 words to tell your story.”

If I were writing a history of the Gilad Shalit capture, I would be sure to include all these events. But as I’ve said, it makes no difference whether Israel was right to attack Gaza or not. A state of hostilities existed, as defined by Israel. Therefore Gazans had the right to defend themselves, including the right to take prisoners. If only the legitimately aggrieved party were allowed to take prisoners, each conflict would see just one side taking prisoners. That would, as I’ve said, be novel.

Again, thanks. You’ve been the most reasonable and intelligible poster on this thread, and it’s been a pleasure to disagree with virtually every word you’ve written. Your example has, I’m afraid, badly shown up some other posters, who still seem to be ranting about the crimes of the British empire, insinuating I’m an anti-semite, or insisting I have a secret love for terrorism.

SoupOne @ 215 –

No, it’s not about me. But it’s not about all the drivel you’ve posted either. If you’re angry about the British empire, why not go and find an article preaching its virtues and vent your spleen there? You’ll find me, I suspect, largely in agreement.

Matt,

Surely the conclusion is obvious. Both Sderot and Gaza were under attack. Ergo, both Israelis and the people of Gaza had a right to self-defence. The IDF was fully justified in taking out any Qassam rocket stations and their operators; just as Hamas was justified in attacking any Israeli soldier taking part in the Gaza offensive.

But if the Israeli offensive was to deal with rocket attacks, then the right to attack Israelis involved is surely lessened? Especially if they were in Israel.

Flowerpower,

If you’d appeared at the beginning of this thread, we could have cut the crap and had a fruitful discussion about what constitutes legitimate self-defence for both Palestinians and Israelis, how to define and grade different kinds of political violence, what kind of actions can be considered aggression, and so on.

As I said earlier, I don’t regard full agreement with me on this point as some kind of test of a person’s sincerity or reasonableness on the Israel-Palestine issue. It’s the kind of issue where reasonable people may disagree.

Most of the posters here seem to have responded in various ways. Either they assert that the people of Gaza have no right whatsoever to self-defence, no matter what happens to them. Or they assert whatever Hamas does is, by definition, terrorism. Or they claim Israel may not be very nice but it’s an awful lot nicer than Hamas. (One seems to think, as far as I can work out, that it’s fine for Israel to do bad things, because Britain did a lot worse in the days of empire.)

Some of those who are inclined to agree with me seem unwilling to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate Palestinian violence, between ‘self-defence’ and terrorism.

In other words, with various degrees of subtlety, there seem to be two groups, neither of which I agree with: those who think Israel can do virtually no wrong, and those who think the Palestinians can do virtually no wrong.

Again: can life really be so simple?

We shouldn’t forget that the British don’t always torture people, during the Indian mutiny they placed people over cannons and decapitated them with cannonballs.

Can I suggest you take that up with the Victorians rather than us. It’s amazing how your attitudes towards this sort of thing change given five generations or so…

Watchman,

But if the Qassam rockets were supposed to deal with Israeli attacks on Gaza, then the right to attack Palestinians firing the rockets is surely lessened. Especially if they’re on Palestinian soil.

No, that just doesn’t work.

Let’s get one thing very clear. It doesn’t matter where you’re based when you launch an attack. If being stationed on your own territory makes you somehow immune from retribution, Mexico could declare war on the USA tomorrow and eventually win.

Again, it’s impossible to determine who is the original aggressor (apart from in specific circumstances, as when a ceasefire is broken). Both sides, with some justification, believe all their violence is carried out in self-defence. The Palestinians no doubt believe they’re merely responding to the Israeli blockade/occupation when they fire Qassams at Sderot. That’s why we need a narrower definition of ‘self-defence’ than ‘violence carried out due to some previous provocation’.

222. Flowerpower

Matt Hill @ 216

I think you have your dates mixed up. There was no Fatah-Hamas violence until December 2006.

There was.

The security situation in the Gaza Strip is extremely tenuous with daily fighting between Hamas and Fatah supporters. Clashes are taking place throughout the Gaza Strip including on 6 June, when Hamas supporters attacked the Preventive Security Forces (PSF) headquarters in the Tal al Hawa district of Gaza city with rocket propelled grenades. Six members of the PSF required hospital treatment. Heavy fighting between the factions on 4 June led to four deaths including a pregnant woman caught in the cross fire.

As a result, 15 Palestinians have been killed and more than 130 injured.

UN OCHA Situation Report – The Gaza Strip 7th June 2006

It seems to me that there are two problems with the idea of an internationally managed conflict where the Palestinian militias are allowed to fire their missiles at Israel and Israel is allowed some kind of equivalent response.

The first is that, if you democratise war, so that anyone is entitled to fight, what you end up with is more rather than less, and of a bloodier quality too. So that, although it might be fairer in some abstract sense, it doesn’t really do anyone on the ground any favours (at least, on net, in the long run).

The second is that, if you prevent one side from achieving a decisive victory, and encourage the other side to continue fighting, it doesn’t average out into peace–instead, you end up with perpetual war.

224. Flowerpower

Vimothy


if you prevent one side from achieving a decisive victory, and encourage the other side to continue fighting, it doesn’t average out into peace–instead, you end up with perpetual war.

Spot on.

Matt Hill @ 216

I think you have your dates mixed up. There was no Fatah-Hamas violence until December 2006.

There was.

The security situation in the Gaza Strip is extremely tenuous with daily fighting between Hamas and Fatah supporters. Clashes are taking place throughout the Gaza Strip including on 6 June, when Hamas supporters attacked the Preventive Security Forces (PSF) headquarters in the Tal al Hawa district of Gaza city with rocket propelled grenades. Six members of the PSF required hospital treatment. Heavy fighting between the factions on 4 June led to four deaths including a pregnant woman caught in the cross fire.

As a result, 15 Palestinians have been killed and more than 130 injured.

UN OCHA Situation Report – The Gaza Strip 7th June 2006

As I said, I didn’t expect my points concerning the British to be understood, not least by British anti-Israeli obsessives.

That would be asking too much, for people to be aware of their own peculiar obsessions.

However, should you take the time and trouble to investigate how these topics are discussed across Europe, I imagine that you will see how peculiar and monomaniacal the British comes over.

But there’s a wider point of British attitudes, how they have and have not changed over the last century is still worth pondering, certainly if you’re not British.

Irrespective of the denials, there is a patronising attitude taken by most of the British towards residents of the Middle East, rarely treated as equals, people to be patted on the head or looked at as victims in need of pity.

And that’s why discussing these issues with the British is so futile, their own lack of self-awareness, history in Palestine, colonial baggage and middle-class angst make any productive discussion next to impossible.

For comparison, try this Wikipedia entry:

“In 2001, Daniel Bernard came to public attention when, as French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, he was quoted as saying: ‘All the current troubles in the world are because of that shitty little country Israel. The diplomat added, ‘Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?'”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Bernard_(diplomat)

vimothy,

So the problem with encouraging the weaker party to think it has the right to defend itself is that it hinders the outright victory of the stronger force? Would you like me to apply the same reasoning to other conflicts, or will save me the trouble by retracting now?

Did you ever consider that some people think it’s a good thing neither side can win the Israel-Palestine conflict outright, especially when you consider what an outright victory for either side would look like?

Your other argument – that we can’t just let anyone go around fighting wars, or everyone will want to start doing it – is another version of the rather weak claim we’ve heard several times already, that only the armies of sovereign nation states are entitled to use force. There’s a certain irony in the idea that the Palestinians shouldn’t be allowed to fight until they have a state, when it’s Israel that’s blocking their bid for statehood. What you’re basically saying is that you can perpetrate any horrors on anyone you like – provided they don’t have any army to back them up – without worrying about your victim fighting back.

The Warsaw ghetto uprising, anyone?

That was @ 222. And should have read:

or will you save me the trouble by retracting now?

Matt – I’ll confess to still being curious – *why* did you delete my comment on your blog?

Sarah, I did no such thing! Please re-post.

@227: “The Warsaw ghetto uprising, anyone?”

The parents of Norman Finkelstein were involved in the Warsaw uprising and ended up in concentration camps as a result. Fortunately, they survived the rest of the war and, in due course, emigrated to America where they married. Norman Finkelstein is the author of: The Holocaust Industry (2000).

There’s an illuminating debate on YouTube about the Palestine conflict between Norman Finkelstein and Shlomo Ben Ami:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PjgPyUDaYY

“insinuating I’m an anti-semite,”

Matt,

Please for your own sake stop playing the victim, you chose to write this post, therefore you can’t complain if people criticise your poor judgement.

As far as I can see no one has said you’re an antisemite, but I appreciate that the response you are supposed to give.

My own view is that you are far from the worst, but you seem rather confused on these issues and if you wanted to educate yourself on antisemites then you should look no further than the poster, Bob B.

Bob B manages to drag his own form of racism into the thread, of course it’s rather British and understated but it is there if you look and are sensitive to it.

Matt, for your own sake examine Bob B’s contributions and find the racism there, it may illuminate the issue for you.

225 is heavy with irony. Is this a troll?

Sorry Matt – I have posted another comment on your site.

or will you save me the trouble by retracting now?

I’m fine with simply expressing my opinions, thanks. If you do not like them, that’s okay. Reasonable people will disagree. Unreasonable people stamp and shout, or simply don’t have anything to say in the first place.

Did you ever consider that some people think it’s a good thing neither side can win the Israel-Palestine conflict outright

Actually, I suspect that this is the chief reason that the conflict is still ongoing, and will be still ongoing long after I am long gone.

Your other argument… is another version of the rather weak claim we’ve heard several times already, that only the armies of sovereign nation states are entitled to use force.

I’m afraid that I really do think that only the armies of sovereign states should be allowed to go around starting wars or fighting wars or being involved in wars full stop. Of course, this is also the law, for what that’s worth. And why is it the law? It’s not hard to think of reasons.

But let’s say that Palestine is a sovereign state with a standing army. It attacks Israel, does very badly, and every Palestinian ends up in Jordan, the Sinai, or the Mediterranean. End result: no more Israel-Palestine conflict, no more Palestine. Would that be fair? Probably not. Would it be brutal? Yes. So the conclusion is: don’t fsck with Israel. And of course, they would not, and so the war would never happen. A Nash Equilibrium. Notice how Syria doesn’t invade to reclaim its lost territory. Why could that be?

So no, I don’t object to the Palestinians fighting back. What I object to is “international public opinion” encouraging the Palestinians to engage in a low-intensity conflict with Israel, while encouraging the Israelis not to do anything crazy, because after all, the Palestinians have legitimate grievances.

“Matt, for your own sake examine Bob B’s contributions and find the racism there, it may illuminate the issue for you.”

As I’m making common cause with the Obama administration and Ban Ki Moon in saying the continued building of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land is unacceptable because it blocks progress in the Palestine peace negotiations, it must follow that they – and any who take a similar position – must be racist too.

Mind you, after the experience of debating online since 1995, I’m well used to anyone expressing criticism of Israeli governments and terrorists being dubbed anti-semites and racists. Campaigns of smears and slurs is how Israelis deal with criticism – which is why so many dispair of progress in the Palestine peace talks. But I can take heart from listening to the debate on YouTube between Norman Finkelstein and Shlomo Ben Ami linked @231.

@ 235 –

So presumably you think the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, not being a regular army, should have just laid down and died, rather than stage their uprising?

@ 232 – SoupOne

Read back and you’ll find exactly the post where someone insinuates I’m an anti-semite. I explicitly call the poster out on it. If you can’t be bothered to read back, fine, but don’t claim it wasn’t said until you’ve checked. As for your other comments… it’s been a long time since you said anything that’s relevant to the matter at hand.

238. mostly harmless

Matt, great article and even better below the line engagement. You have taken on all comers and sent them packing. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

So presumably you think the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, not being a regular army, should have just laid down and died, rather than stage their uprising?

NB:

“So no, I don’t object to the Palestinians fighting back.”


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