Not All Weapons are Bullets

To a lot of us who don’t live in a war zone, we think of bullets as a personal way to kill. You sight the enemy and squeeze the trigger and a bullet stamped with his name on it hurtles towards him through the genius of chemistry in order to kill him for various reasons (Queen, Country, God, He took your stuff… whatever).

But not all ways to kill come at the hands of a bullet.

There is something I have wrote about before. It’s the usage of collective punishment in order to cow the Palestinians. We keep saying that Palestine has received aid so should be fine but I keep pointing out that a million dollars worth of grain is not the same as a million dollars worth of technological aid. One lets you survive, the other lets you build a nation.

Palestine is not a nation, it’s a gigantic ghetto that’s been sliced up into parcels of land with the choicest bits going to Israel. Palestinians have a genuine gripe. The same gripe that powered the Native Americans. To the Palestinians a bunch of Europeans and Americans have shown up, taken all their land and are now getting massive subsidies to build stuff and the Palestinians are treated as the villains.

My Jewish flatmate once told a zionist why he did not wish to go to Israel. Because Israel learnt nothing and everything from the Holocaust. The shadow of the Holocaust looms over Israel’s policy and justifies every excess. While hindsight is 20/20 we can clearly see the formation of Israel was a fucking terrible idea.

Palestinians will never be satisfied, if Israel claims the right to return based on a magic ownership of land over 2000 years ago then that would be like Native Americans throwing out every white person in the USA. It’s not how a modern nation works.

But we have already rolled the dice, the best we can do is salvage what we can. And that means not letting Israel get away with crimes that are genuine crimes. For the Massacre of Shabra and Shatilla we stood by. The architect was made the Priime Minister of Israel (Ariel Sharon).

This is another atrocity.

The words of my flatmate come to my mind, because I know this was a practice in Nazi Germany. Cutting off civilian water supply to cow a population. If you are thirsty and if diarrhoea is rife then you cannot really fight the man.

There are 45,000 Palestinians at the Shufat Refugee camp, the suburbs of Ras Shehadeh, Khamis, As-Salam and Anata. And they have had their water cut for the past 3 days. Gihon (Israel’s Water Corporation) slowly cut them off over the past two weeks.

Many people have been without for 20 days.

Water is the life of any people. Schools, Education, Healthcare all are paralysed by the loss of water. As are any attempts to farm. The repercussions are astronomical.

When #notyourasiansidekick trend was going on, I was asked by white nationalists and Zionists (yeah, real dynamic duo there. It was puzzling being accused of guilt for the actions of Nazi Germany through the actions of the Empire of the Sun when your ancestors are from neither group of people) about why Palestinians are so backwards. And here is a simple answer. The aid given to Palestinians has always been to maintain them rather than to uplift them. The Palestinian issue is one of people living out of refugee camps and of displaced people trying to survive. They cannot build the permanent institutions of progress that Israel could under the shelter of Uncle Sam’s vast arsenal and technological handouts. 1 million dollars of wheat vs 1 million dollars of IT aid have different effects.

Also when things like this happens, aid money has to be spent on basic necessities such as water rather than effecting progress. In short? It’s the difference between a scholarship and a food stamp. Both are aids to the poor but one maintains a state of poverty and prevents starvation while the other provides a leg up for a poor person to get the training and skills needed to get a paying job.

So when we wonder why Palestinians are “so angry”, remember this too.


  1. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Very insightful. I agree that Israel should not have been founded, and that it cannot now be removed, but hadn’t thought of being sure it is not allowed to make things worse. Cutting off water is particularly cruel.

  2. Schlumbumbi says

    Even in the context of casual western anti-semitism, I’m still baffled how this unreflected and hypocritical obsession with Israel doesn’t make peoples’ heads explode.

  3. says

    I don’t know about you but Israel should be also held to the Geneva Convention which bans this sort of behaviour.

    Cutting of the water supply to any group is NOT a good act. No matter how you want to dress Israel up.

  4. says

    Avicenna, you can’t win with apologists. No criticism of Israel, no matter how valid, how factual, how well deserved, no matter how unbiased and uninvolved you are with either side, is ever acceptable to them. In their fevered and fervid minds, all criticism of Israel is tantamount to calling for the genocide of jews.

    Here are two typical and hypothetical-slash-paraphrased conversations I’ve had (on FtB and elsewhere) about Israel:

    Conversation 1:

    Me: “Every country in the world must abide by the Geneva Conventions.”

    Israeli apologist: “Good, good. Glad to hear it.”

    Conversation 2:

    Me: “Every country in the world must abide by the Geneva Conventions, including Israel.”

    Israeli apologist: “You’re calling for the death camps to be reopened!”

    After January 2009, extremists tried to equate discussing or mentioning the IDF’s use of white phosphorus on Gaza to wanting Israel to be bombed with it. And as with Iraq’s non-existent WMDs, there are people who still claim the crew of the Rachel Corrie said, “go back to Auschwitz”, even after the Israeli military admitted doctoring the tapes.

    Intelligent and rational conversation with such people is impossible.

  5. says

    For me, what always showed the bad faith (if you’ll pardon the expression) of some of the members of the Israeli government (and conservative Christians here in the US) is exactly the actions you’ve described here. Of course, Israel is going to defend itself. But these actions cross the line; I don’t see how it’s “self defense” to continue to take more land and build more settlements, while stopping others from even having a state. It’s kind of disingenuous to say that it’s anti-Semetic to refuse to hold a majority-Jewish state to a lower standard. (It’s fair, I think, to criticize those who single out Israel and don’t criticize other countries, but there are people who actually criticize human rights abuses in lots of countries who get wrongly accused of singling out Israel.) I think there are people (especially fundamentalists) who basically see the existence Palestinians as an inconvenience; they believe that Israel has to have certain land, and the fact that Palestinians exist makes it difficult to achieve that. The fact that Jewish people have, both historically and currently, been discriminated against and persecuted very often doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for a majority-Jewish state to be doing something wrong. Historic irony, perhaps, but not impossibility.

    This does not, of course, absolve wrong actions like terror attacks by Palestinians. And none of this should in any way excuse the very serious problem of anti-Semitism among Muslims. There is a serious problem of anti-Semitism within Islam, and Muslims also try to use the Israel/Palestine situation as a “justification” for their anti-Semitism (as if specific people in the Israeli and US governments doing wrong things somehow retroactively justifies pre-existing hatred of Jewish people). And as above, I do think there are those who do single out Israel for special criticism, showing their bias and discrimination.

    I’ve always said that the people I feel the worst for are the innocent civilians on both sides, and especially the children, who are growing up in a place where politicians are making decisions based on ideology about who God gave certain land to, rather than based on actually improving people’s lives and making a better future for all.

  6. Schlumbumbi says

    @Avicenna #4
    There are 2 types of people who will usually bring up arguments like the one you did.

    I can’t spare you a short excursus:
    (A) People whose attention has been directed towards the Israel conflict and who perceive injustice in the way people are treated. These people, for the lack of a specific term, “criticise Israel”.

    But there’s a second group.
    (B) People whose perception of the middle east is hovering 24/7 over anything Israel does, and only over what Israel does. They will be the first to scream when they perceive something which they can decry as “injustice”, and they will scream the loudest. That obsession with the Israeli state is called “criticism of Israel” – a unique phenomenon in modern history. It even has its own Wiki entry.

    Now, these 2 terms sound very similar but they describe 2 very different kind of people.
    What is the difference ? Hidden motivations. The first group perceives injustice, and wants the injustice to end. The second group merely decries injustice, and wants Israel to end. That’s what it boils down to.

    What makes this situation so ugly and dangerous, are these 2 points:
    (1) The 1st group, the well-meaning guys, fail to grasp how they’re constantly being manipulated by the 2nd group – a well financed, well organised campaign, which during the last 25+ years, has done everything in its power to smear and demonise Israel with countless lies and escalationist vocabulary (“Israhell”, “Apartheid state”, “Nazionism”, “Palestinian holocaust” and so on). To know human nature, is to know that weak minds will eventually succumb to that type of propaganda. And I see no reason why diaspora jews would be an exemption to that rule.
    (2) That the 2nd group isn’t what you think it is. Yes, in part it consists of those old fascist pan-arabist and pan-islamist forces, who have always seen the destruction of Israel, and the killing of all jews, as a moral imperative, and only ever professed otherwise when staring into Western cameras – but – the other part of that movement are those parts of western societies, who were never able to accept moral responsibility for the role they played during the last century, when their own anti-semitism contributed, actively and passively, to the genocidal persecution of the Jews by the Germans and their allies.

    The songs they used to sing (“It didn’t happen”, “It wasn’t so bad”, “It was really their own fault” and others) have been replaced by a modern lingo that sounds as if it were humanitarian, pretending to further an elusive “peace process”, but still has no other goal than to disintegrate Israel, and finish what hadn’t been finished back then. And they seem genuinely surprised that the Israelis aren’t dumb enough to take their “advice” and let other people decide about whether they have a right to exist or not. How dare they…

    Now, coming back to the content of your article – what can you legitimately expect?

    — Would you want me only to point out that the Geneva Conventions are contractual obligations about the treatment of combatants and non combatants during times of war ?
    — Would you want me to point you to Article III, which stipulates an exclusive, minimum set of rules for domestic armed conflicts ?
    — Would you want me to point out that the UN is the sole arbiter of any disputes about whether a signee has violated his contractual obligations, and has already decided in favor of Israel ?
    — Would you want me to take a guess, whether the numerous factual falsehoods about Israel, “Palestine”, and the “Massacre of Shabra and Shatilla” are the result of careless ignorance, or of malevolence ?

    I mean, seriously – you make it impossible to comment even on the traces of what could be seen as legitimate points, because they’re encircled by an such enormous amount of propaganda parroting blather, it blows my mind. The ways you built your argument doesn’t allow for any dissent to be put into proper perspective, effectively cutting you off from anything which might eventually change your own mind.

    Now I know I shouldn’t care about that, let alone say it, but sometimes… things must be said.

  7. nathanaelnerode says

    Schumbumbi? Bluntly, you’re spreading bullshit, but probably unintentionally, because you’ve got *some* of this right.

    Here’s the thing. It’s Jimmy Carter who referred to Israel as an “apartheid state”, and he’s very much in group (A) — he’s observed and commented on any number of international issues, quite evenhandedly.

    While I am sure there are a few people in group (B), you proceed to incorrectly assign many, many people in group (A) to group (B).

    Then, you go further. You claim that obsessive focus on criticism of one country is a phenomenon unique to Israel. It isn’t at all unique.

    You can find exactly the same thing, and a much larger group (B), when you look at criticism of *Iran*. The anti-Iran folks are *fanatical* and quite irrational, there’s a lot of them, and they very much have an ulterior motive.

    You can also find such a group (B) obsessively criticizing *China*, and a group (B) obsessively criticizing Saudi Arabia. (To be fair, there’s almost nothing positive to say about Saudi Arabia, so I have a lot of sympathy with group B in that case.)

    Meanwhile, the Likud government of Israel runs an apartheid state, and engages in collective punishment, war crimes, and general terrorism on a routine basis. The apartheid state is pretty unique these days, now that South Africa is gone.

    There are a lot of other countries which pull the other human rights abuses, from Saudi Arabia to Uzbekistan, to the Sudan and the Congo. But Israel and Saudi Arabia are the only two which have an effective “never criticize us, we are blameless” lobby within the US, and the Saudi Arabian lobby is a lot quieter.

    Everyone knows why the US government gives special deals and military support to the utterly evil Saudi government — because they have the most oil, and the US will do anything for oil. Sick and wrong, but what are you gonna do about it.

    But why are we doing this — military aid and special deals — for Israel? We don’t do it for Uzbekistan, or the Congo. (Well, OK, G W Bush did do it for Uzbekistan, proving that the US is capable of sinking to any depth.) It’s against our national interest. It would make more sense to apply the sort of sanctions and disassociation towards Israel which we do for Uzbekistan, or the Congo.

    As for the Americans who don’t want to admit to complicity in the mass murder of Jews, or of Gypsies… they’re the same ones who tried to deny their complicity with apartheid South Africa, and who are now trying to deny their complicity in the abuses committed by the Likud government against the Palestinians.

    Perhaps at the root of their denial is refusal to admit to the crimes (and, yes, genocide) committed by the US against the Native Americans. If the US ever manages to change enough to actually compensate the Native Americans, we may see more principled behavior from the US government, finally. I hope I live to see it.

  8. Schlumbumbi says

    @nathanaelnerode #8 Funny. “It’s not so bad”, combined with “It’s really their own fault”. Where did I hear that before? Oh I just can’t remember…

    Problem 1: Folks like Carter or Grass belong to this exact WW2 generation who never came clean with the roles their own societies played in the persecution of Jews before and during WW2. That’s the source of their “old fashioned” anti-semitism. No ambiguity involved. While they’re not one trick ponies, you can still hear a loud *click* sound coming from their brains when the conversation turns to Israel.

    Problem 2: No obsession over Israel ? Let’s see what happens in the West.
    Name me 1 other country, who’s been in the news at leat once a week for its alleged wrongdoings for the last 20+ years.
    Name 1 other country, which is constantly being smeared with the most horrendous lies, despite certain knowledge to the contrary on the side of the news broadcasters ?
    Name 1 other country, who is exclusively blamed for everything it does during an armed conflict, while everything their opponents do, is either benevolently ignored or trivialised.
    Name 1 other country, whose right to existence is being questioned on a daily basis since the day it was founded.
    Name 1 other country, which is frequently targeted by smear campaigns on US campuses and whose citizens are subjected to genocidal hatespeech coming from the exact same campuses.
    Name 1 other country, who is said to be a “friend” of western countries, while the same western countries send tons of money and supplies to its sworn enemies.

    The list is pretty much endless. I think the word “obsession” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

    Problem 3: Meanwhile, the Likud government of Israel runs an apartheid state, and engages in collective punishment, war crimes, and general terrorism on a routine basisCitation needed. Just kidding, I know you can’t prove a single word you say. Look, if you sling enough mud, some of it will stick. Works reliably, no magic involved.

    Never mind that we know for certain, that for every bad thing Israel ACTUALLY does, Pallywood will fabricate 10 more hoaxes and flatout lies to demonise Israel, and that western media folks are known complicits in fabricating these hoaxes.
    Nevermind that comparisons between Israel’s behaviour and historical references like “Holocaust” and “Apartheid” are not just factually wrong, but overblown and cynical lies to put Israel on the same level as fascist states – which, as we all know, must be destroyed *winwinknudgenudge*

    Let’s not mind any of that.

    Problem 4: The reason why the US keeps supporting Israel, is twofold:
    Firstly, it’s the only western foothold in the middle east, entirely surrounded by crazy folks. Giving up on Israel would cause this area to become an immediate high risk source of international warfare. Even those who’d love to see the US fail, will try to prevent that.
    Secondly, the historically conscious parts of western politics (US+EUR) see giving up Israel as giving up the responsibilities that arose from their own failure before and during WW2. They will go to almost any length to right that wrong.


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