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What happened to “never again”?

In a horrific excerpt from a book about the life of conflict in Israel, Max Blumenthal talks about the attitude of young soldiers in the Israeli army. They are taking trophy photos of dead Palestinians. They are gloating about how they like to beat “Palestinian wetbacks”. They are murdering people. And they are arrogant and sanctimonious in their absolute certainty that they are in the right and that they must dehumanize the enemy.

What really brought me up short, though, was this one ex-army woman who is extremely jingoistic, and who has been busily uploading trophy photos and captioning them.

“DDDEATHHH to ARABSSSSSS.”

Beside the next photo, Abergil wrote: “Fuck you, stinking Arabs!!!”

And then: “C’MON LET’S MAKE AN ARAB SHOAH NOWWWWW!!!!!!!!”

She wants to make an Arab … Shoah? She wants to commit genocide? I always have taken the lesson of the Holocaust as that we should never again allow a nation to commit mass murder in the name of race superiority or ethnic cleansing — that the act was a horror and a crime against humanity, no matter who the targets are. It is a moral abomination, and it doesn’t become acceptable if the victims are Jews, Romany, gay, Serbs, Croats, Hutu, Tutsi, American Indian, or Palestinian.

What are they teaching in Israel?

Comments

  1. george gonzalez says

    Ideally this wouldn’t happen. But in reality, in order to get teenagers to be willing to risk their lives and to kill total strangers, they have to be induced into the military cult. You know, lots of friendly people that you bond with, eat and sleep with, songs, games, chanting, marching, and a perceived enemy. That’s really the only way you can get people to put up with slavery and discomfort and life-threatening training and possible death.

  2. praxis.makes.perfect (Just call me Prax. It's easier to type) says

    Anyone who has doubts about whether or not the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” is, in fact, a genocide against the Palestinian people hasn’t been paying attention.

  3. gingerbaker says

    “Anyone who has doubts about whether or not the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” is, in fact, a genocide against the Palestinian people hasn’t been paying attention.”

    That word “genocide’ – I don’t think you know what it means.

  4. says

    This is what happens to people in a state of war, seemingly in all places and all times. The fact that the U.S., like Israel, is for all intents and purposes in a perpetual state of war should give us pause.

    What are they teaching in Israel?

    That moral judgements are based on who performs an atrocity, not the nature and consequences of the atrocity itself. That’s a right-wing hallmark—and wars tend to have a self-perpetuating ability to make right-wing conservatives out of us.

  5. says

    Waging a war is nearly impossible without somehow dehumanizing the other side. Killing another human being for most people is a very difficult thing. It’s much easier if you think you’re slaying a monster.

  6. says

    That’s…deeply disturbing. Going through the Holocaust Museum in DC was a seriously life-changing event for me. They said it would take three hours. We were there for eight, and mind I have chronic pain from standing, when I say that. I simply couldn’t leave until I had drunk the cup to the lees, heard all the stories they were telling, listened to the words, looked at each shoe and every other grim reminder.

    George Gonzalez, that’s a load of crap. The military doesn’t have to do that; they choose to teach soldiers to dehumanize people. I speak to this from personal experience; I wore my country’s uniform voluntarily for what would have been a long career, had I not fallen afoul of the ‘no queers’ rule that didn’t change until 6 years after they turfed me.

    They do this despite the evidence that rape and violent crime go up around military bases. They do this despite the number of military people who are raped by their fellow soldiers. They do this despite the wreckage it causes of people’s mentality, particularly when combined with the requirement to actually go and kill other people.

    They don’t have to. They do it because that’s the way we’ve always done it, which I’d hope someone posting here would recognize as a familiar refrain from certain dogmatic groups, and not a good argument for a practice.

  7. imthegenieicandoanything says

    I’d guess that this attitude stems from the fact that these young people know quite well that they are doing stupid, evil things THAT WILL NOT SUCCEED and have to make their opponents not only entirely non-human but also responsible for the cruelties, violence, injustice, etc. being met out to them.
    Their elders, who play their own blood sports, build up their own personal power and make their own profits are the real monsters (on both sides, here, and rather more than is usual).

    The Human Self-Extinction Project sounds like a worthwhile plan far too often these days.

  8. Sili says

    Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Sam. 15:2-3).

  9. praxis.makes.perfect (Just call me Prax. It's easier to type) says

    @gingerbaker #3:

    So, you disagree but can’t actually formulate an argument against what I said?

    “Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, caste, religious, or national group”. See? I know very well what it means.

    Now that you, too, know what it means perhaps you’d care to make a point?

  10. OptimalCynic says

    That’s disgusting. So is what some of the Palestinians are doing, with their indoctrination of children and violence against Israelis. I’m not saying they’re equivalent, I think that the title of “most wrong” seesaws back and forth and frankly there’s no point – they both need to knock it off. Unfortunately every peace plan seems to involve turning a Nelsonian eye to one side or the other. The whole thing is an utter mess and to be honest I don’t know if there is a way to stop the cycle of violence in that region.

  11. scottbelyea says

    Trophy photos … Ay-rab ragheads … nuke ‘em all …

    “… arrogant and sanctimonious in their absolute certainty that they are in the right and that they must dehumanize the enemy”

    Now where else have I seen this sort of thing recently? Yes, it’s deeply disturbing and reprehensible … no matter where it occurs or who does it.

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    No , no, no…you misunderstood. The phrase “Never again” means “Never again to my particular ethnic/racial group. The rest of the world can guck off.”

  13. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    As a culturally jewish atheist whose birth family was all in the US before the rise of Nazism, I am often wary when responding to folks who were subjected to anti-semitic violence against the background of a few of genocide. It does really twisted things to whole families. I find it hard to draw bright lines where to intervene if someone isn’t being directly harmed – at which point, F Hitler, you’re accountable for the harm you do even if the method of reforming you to a non-harming person must take account of why and how you got to be a person willing to harm.

    All that said, I’ve gotten to see something else really twisted in the last couple of years: Ms Crip Dyke’s family escaped Nazi Germany less than a month before the borders closed and were so scared they left behind all things that might have given a hint of jewishness to their neighbors. While I knew such families existed, it’s hard to really understand – or even imagine – the level of fear that leads an adult who has always been a member of a Jewish community to so forsake it as to raise a child that doesn’t know his family is/was Jewish (the is vs was depending on how you define Jewish). Although I don’t celebrate any holy days, seeing Ms CD’s profound ignorance of Jewish culture affects me weekly, often daily. It has deepened my appreciation of the horror of that time.

    I can never feel what the survivors of WW2 felt – the Jews and others who survived the camps, the soldiers who opened the gates of hell, the nurses who lifted 80 pound adults from the beds where they died despite desperate, loving care – when they declared never again.

    And so it is with all the more rage and horror, knowing that I can only approach the understanding of what is genocide, that I scream at those who would perpetrate another Shoah. Anywhere. Against anyone.

    The very idea of instituting another Shoah is worthy of our most bitter contempt, our most powerful anger. And may those always be enough to stand up to anyone, regardless of position of moral sympathy or political power or violent potential, when the need, as now, arises.

    For I don’t know what more besides my tears I can use to wash away this evil.

  14. Alverant says

    I remember reading in The God Delusion how they presented students in an Israeli school the same set of events in two different contexts. The first was a Chinese warlord who slaughtered everyone in an entire city and took their land. The second was how the ancient Hebrews wiped out a city and took their land. The students only said the first one was bad. So genocide is OK if done on God’s (by whatever name they call him) orders.

  15. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Optimal Cynic:

    Can we please, please, on an issue of this scope and magnitude, simply fight the idea without engaging in I-condemn-both-sides balancing?

    Fighting genocide is far more important than balancing our cticiisms.

  16. vytautasjanaauskas says

    @praxis.makes.perfect 9

    Maybe they were thinking “the holocaust”. Still I don’t get why everything people say has to be wrapped in a cliche.

  17. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    argh, mangled

    Fighting genocide is far more important than balancing our criticisms.

  18. OptimalCynic says

    Can we please, please, on an issue of this scope and magnitude, simply fight the idea without engaging in I-condemn-both-sides balancing?

    Fighting genocide is far more important than balancing our criticisms.

    I completely agree, and we should condemn each instance of this we see. In this case, all our condemnation should be directed towards the people who hold this kind of attitude to another human being simply because of who they are.

    But if you want to look at the causes of this, you start peeling away the layers and find one of those situations where there’s no clear “one side did it” cause.

    In short – I absolutely condemn the people the article is talking about and the attitude they hold. No question. No condemnation at all to the victims – they certainly don’t deserve this kind of hate, nobody does. Unfortunately if you want to fix the problem you have to address both sides of it (ideally without condemning either…) Sigh.

  19. burgundy says

    But hey, let’s keep on sending them money.

    I can understand the psychological mechanisms at work when soldiers behave like this (although this does not exculpate the soldiers in question, as there are plenty of people who don’t turn out that way.) What I don’t understand is how the vast majority of American Jews can blindly support even the most disgusting behavior coming out of Israel, despite not being involved in the military indoctrination process.

    (Okay, yes, I basically understand that too, it’s about being raised with the mother of all persecution complexes, in which Jews are always the weak and vulnerable underdog, even when running a state and a strong army. There’s less dissent tolerated among American Jews than among Israelis. I, for example, am clearly a self-hating Jew for having a problem with young people talking about wiping out Arabs.)

  20. Lars says

    Ok, so when an Arab child throws a rock at the tank that just leveled his/her family’s house, that makes the Arab just as wrong & bad as the tank driving Jew, right? And both need to knock it off.

    Loud and clear, brother/sister. Fair and balanced.

  21. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    Akira @12:
    “Never Again” is the new Thou Shalt Not Kill. People talk about the contradiction of biblical killings–there are none. Toraic law doesn’t apply to goyim–nor did anything Guru bin Yosef said about loving thy neighbor. We’re not really people, so we can’t be neighbors and it isn’t really murder if they kill us.

    So why is anyone surprised when they hear about what Israel might do with all those nukes they’ve got pointed at Europe?

  22. says

    burgundy #19
    The great portion of the financial support Israel receives from the U.S. is official government provided support, and the primary drivers of that are the right-wing, the neocon branch of which wants a strategic outpost in the Middle East that can keep things destabilized, and the Christian wing considers it an essential component of the End Times that there’s a Nation of Israel, so they want to make sure there is one.

  23. says

    scottbelyea #11:

    Trophy photos … Ay-rab ragheads … nuke ‘em all …

    See also: “bug splat.”

    burgundy #19:

    But hey, let’s keep on sending them money.

    Oh, absolutely. Because Israeli citizens deserve to have universal health care on the U.S. taxpayer dime, while U.S. taxpayers do not.

  24. left0ver1under says

    gingerbaker (#3) –

    That word “genocide’ – I don’t think you know what it means.

    Praxis may have made a mistake in saying genocide. But I hope you’re not also going to disagree with the term ethnic cleansing. What other term befits the forced removal (by murder or exile) of 700,000 people from their homes?

    There will never be “mideast peace” because Israel’s goal is the total removal of Palestinians from their land, petty revenge for the forced removal of jews 2000 yeats ago. Israel’s dominant parties live by Golda Meir’s obscene ideology, “There were no such thing as Palestinians,” something she actually said in 1969.

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

    Obviously slc (or whatever name he changed to this week) hasn’t seen this post yet. If he had, there would be forty posts instead of twenty, all the extras by him. In his fetid mind, any criticism of Israel is tantamount to calling for the death camps and ovens to be reopened. He claimed last week that I was calling for the genocide of jews because I compared Mossad to the East German Stasi and Shah of Iran’s SAVAK.

  25. left0ver1under says

    Crip Dyke (#15) –

    Can we please, please, on an issue of this scope and magnitude, simply fight the idea without engaging in I-condemn-both-sides balancing?

    Nice idea, but you can’t even get that far with some people. In their minds, any and all criticism of Israel is off limits, even when it’s valid, vis-a-vis, the Israeli military using Palestinian civilians as human shields. There is no “common ground” with such people.

    http://www.btselem.org/topic/human_shields

  26. burgundy says

    @ Dalillama – I know, and I know it’s not accurate to blame AIPAC for it (although I do think they are disproportionally influential.) So I know that we’re not likely to dial it back no matter how disgusting things get. But we’re still complicit.

  27. OptimalCynic says

    Ok, so when an Arab child throws a rock at the tank that just leveled his/her family’s house, that makes the Arab just as wrong & bad as the tank driving Jew, right?

    Nope, not even close. That’s a pretty good test to see if someone’s a naked ideologue actually – there’s no moral equivalence whatsoever between those things, and seeing one is a clear red flag.

    And both need to knock it off.

    That, however, is true. Arab children throwing rocks at Israeli tanks is harmless (except to the poor kids) but if they grow up immersed in hatred (like the Israeli youth the article is talking about) and start throwing mortar rounds, that’s a bit less harmless. Still not as bad as driving over people with tanks though – that definitely needs to stop, and quickly.

  28. says

    Jonathan @21:

    So why is anyone surprised when they hear about what Israel might do with all those nukes they’ve got pointed at Europe?

    My emphasis. Is it your geography or your politics that you’re having trouble with, here? As far as I know, Israel’s nukes are intended to keep their neighbours wary, not Europe. I’m not sure that Europe has anything the Israelis want, anyway, and we are no threat to them.

  29. gussnarp says

    Yeah, I’m quite certain that at least some of those who started using the phrase “Never again.” in the wake of the holocaust meant it to mean “Never again should the world sit by and watch while this kind of atrocity is committed against anyone.” But it certainly seems that many now think it means, “Never again will we let this happen to us, and we’ll kill as many people as we have to to make sure.”

  30. spandrel says

    The military doesn’t have to do that; they choose to teach soldiers to dehumanize people

    Agreed, but it takes work to avoid that sort of culture.

    Canadian example: the Somalia Affair. Several Canadian soldiers tortured and murdered some Somali civilians. There was then a military cover-up. When the story broke, our then defence minister later prime minister Kim Campbell declared it was a “youthful folly” on the part of the soldiers.

    The response was as follows. The soldiers who committed these crimes were imprisoned. Their commanding officer was imprisoned for negligence. Their military unit (the elite Airborne Regiment) was disbanded. The chief of the defence staff was fired, and the next chief of the defence staff, and the next. Campbell’s government was absolutely destroyed in the next election, knocked down to two seats in parliament and permanently broken as a party. A public inquiry dragged on for years, destroying the careers of innocent officers as well as the guilty. At one point the inquiry ordered that all ordinary military activities cease while all officers everywhere searched for Somalia related documents, including base commanders in the high Arctic. It was the Kaiser Sose approach to reform, an enraged public lashing out in all directions until it was satisfied this would not happen again.

    As a result of this, Canadian military culture changed. I feel confident that when our soldiers go into a war zone they will behave like the soldiers of a democratic country, not like murderous thugs. I can feel proud of them, if not always proud of the missions to which they have been assigned. The most serious ethical problem they have had in the past ten years was the decision as to whether or not it was ethically permissible to hand prisoners into American custody.

  31. says

    Burgundy #28
    While AIPAC certainly does have a disproportionate amount of influence, they represent only a small fraction of the Jewish people in the U.S. Indeed, at this time, above 90% of their funding comes from only two individual donors, while even in the past the majority of their support came from fewer than 2,000 individuals. It’s a classic example of astroturfing.

  32. burgundy says

    Dalillama – thanks for the figures; I had not looked into it in detail before. I admit to a certain amount of cynicism, given my own experiences (in which the vast majority of American Jews I know are remarkably uncritical of Iasrael.)

    Re: “never again” vs “never again to us” – my World History teacher in high school figured that her students were honors students at a good school and had almost certainly gotten a lot of information about the Holocaust already. she didn’t skip it entirely, but she didn’t go into great detail. Instead, we spent some time on the Armenians and the Cambodians, because she wanted us to know that the Holocaust was not wholly unique in history, or even in the 20th century. And while I can’t speak to the reactions of all the Jewish students, all the ones in my Hebrew class were scandalized by it and complained bitterly to the Hebrew teacher about how anti-Semitic the history teacher was. (Not a representative sample, obviously, because it says something if a kid chooses to take Hebrew in high school, but it was still very striking to me.)

  33. Christopher says

    My emphasis. Is it your geography or your politics that you’re having trouble with, here? As far as I know, Israel’s nukes are intended to keep their neighbours wary, not Europe. I’m not sure that Europe has anything the Israelis want, anyway, and we are no threat to them.

    The OP is refering to the “Samson Option” where Israel intends to nuke all the world’s capitals if they ever feel like they are losing.

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

    Some have written about the “Samson Option” as a retaliation strategy. In 2002, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece by Louisiana State University professor David Perlmutter which Jewish author Ron Rosenbaum writes “goes so far as to justify” a Samson Option approach[27]:

    Israel has been building nuclear weapons for 30 years. The Jews understand what passive and powerless acceptance of doom has meant for them in the past, and they have ensured against it. Masada was not an example to follow—it hurt the Romans not a whit, but Samson in Gaza? What would serve the Jew-hating world better in repayment for thousands of years of massacres but a Nuclear Winter. Or invite all those tut-tutting European statesmen and peace activists to join us in the ovens? For the first time in history, a people facing extermination while the world either cackles or looks away—unlike the Armenians, Tibetans, World War II European Jews or Rwandans—have the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?[28]

    In 2003, a military historian Martin van Creveld, thought that the Al-Aqsa Intifada then in progress threatened Israel’s existence.[29] Van Creveld was quoted in David Hirst’s “The Gun and the Olive Branch” (2003) as saying:

    We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: ‘Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.’ I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.[30]

  34. laurentweppe says

    What are they teaching in Israel?

    What are they teaching? Not much: Israel has the shittiest public schools of the OCDE, thanks to among other things too much money being wasted on its post-stamp-sized colonial empire and too much fiscal gifts given to the local upper-class, leaving the schools underequipped and the teachers underpaid.

    ***

    What I don’t understand is how the vast majority of American Jews can blindly support even the most disgusting behavior coming out of Israel, despite not being involved in the military indoctrination process

    Ask the millions of non-jewish american citizens who by their silence gave tacit support to even the most disgusting behavior coming from the “War on Terror”. “I don’t want to become the next target of self-righteous bullies from my own tribe, so I’ll not challenge them publicly” is a form of cowardice found everywhere.

    ***

    I’m not sure that Europe has anything the Israelis want, anyway, and we are no threat to them.

    Well, there’s that little conspiracy theory popular among the far-right that the european Muslims will somehow force Europe to attack Israel and slaughter its jewish denizens. it’s a subplot of the “Eurabia” political porn series so popular among wingnuts nowadays.

  35. robro says

    What are they teaching in Israel?

    That the origin myth in the Bible is true. Even many people who don’t believe in God, and the creation and flood myths of Genesis accept without much question the rest of the origin myth: the Patriarchs, Moses & the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the kingdom of David, the temple of Solomon, and the Babylonian captivity and return. That there is very little extra-Biblical evidence for any of this story is largely unknown. There are even nuances to the later story of the Diaspora that raise questions about our usual assumptions of that part of the origin myth.

    Of course, if you take away the origin myth, the justification for Israel disappears.

  36. says

    burgundy #35

    I admit to a certain amount of cynicism, given my own experiences (in which the vast majority of American Jews I know are remarkably uncritical of Iasrael.)

    The vast majority of Americans are not just uncritical of Israel, but often active cheerleaders for Israel. See my initial post regarding Christian eschatology and good old fashioned colonialism.

  37. Robin Marie says

    My partner is Israeli, and I recently read an essay he wrote that speaks directly to this post.

    The essay was about a trip he took in high school to Poland, organized by the school and with other students, to major historical Holocaust sites. At the time he was a liberal Zionist and therefore very happy to go on the trip. Years later, however, he felt that he had been manipulated by the trip — by focusing on the Holocaust as a lesson, not so much about the capacity human beings have to otherize and murder one another, but about how persecuted, terrorized, and victimized Jews, in particular, have been throughout history, he felt like the trip marked the high point of what he referred to as his Zionist indoctrination.

    And I think that is the cultural context that is missing in a lot of these comments here; arguments about how militaries have to dehumanize etc miss the tragedy being pointed out — that a world historical event that should have taught all people, Jews or otherwise, to stop otherizing people and to recognize our shared humanity has, in many respects, been taken to mean the opposite for many Israelis and Jews: that Jews are somehow different and separate to other people, and thus this logic can be employed in constructing a country organized around that concept in a place where hundreds of thousands of people already lived. The lesson of the Holocaust has, in other words, been turned on its head. It is a huge tragedy.

    My partner runs up against this position — held more often in a set of un-examined assumptions than in overt bigotry that these soldiers displayed — when he tries to talk to his fellow Israelis about how Israel needs to completely rethink what it ought to be doing and ought to be about. “Arabs only understand violence, so violence they will get” is the reply he most often receives.

  38. Menyambal --- inesteemable says

    Israel’s origin myth has numerous holes in it, many places where it could be made up, and a good few spots where it could be hijacked … the forty-year gap in the Exodus story is a great spot for some nomads to sneak in. Believe what parts you want, it’s no basis for American policy.

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-popular-beliefs-that-are-holding-humanity-back/

    I like people of Jewish ancestry, and even dislike Judaism a little less than Christianity, but religion is no way to run a country.

  39. burgundy says

    @ Dalillama – I think I was unclear in my writing. I wanted to bring up two things: that many of us reading this post are part of a nation that supports these activities, and that there is a certain culture among American Jews that I believe may be relevant to the question of how behavior like this comes about. When I said that we are complicit, and we send money to Israel, I was talking about all Americans, not just American Jews. It’s true that Americans in general have what I feel are unrealistic perceptions of Israel, but I think the reasons are different, and it’s the ones specific to American Jews that are germane to the conversation. It’s not that I think American Jews are uniquely awful or fanatical.

    Behold the problems that can arise when one uses pronouns without proper antecedents. Sorry about that.

  40. gussnarp says

    @Menyambal, #45: That Cracked list was sounding pretty good right up until that last item.

  41. johndhynes says

    Don’t you know that in the Torah (Bible) YHWH tells the Israelis to commit genocide against the indigenous people of what is now called Palestine? They are just practicing their religion.

  42. nrdo says

    The phenomenon of these warped soldiers is sadly unsurprising. It happens in every conflict, and quickly too, as suggested by incidents like the Abu Graib, My Lai and the current Syrian vs. Syrian fighting etc. It doesn’t take much to push human beings into behaving like that.

  43. robro says

    Menyambal — Perhaps you are aware of this, but there’s essentially no evidence of the Exodus, except in the Bible. At the traditional time of the Exodus (mid-15th century BCE), most of the Levant, including Palestine, was already a provence of Egypt. This just happens to be around the time of the great Egyptian king Thutmose III (and perhaps the first king actually called “Pharaoh”) who claimed he defeated a local army at the village of Megiddo (as in Armageddon). Note the last part of that name: “ms” is an Egyptian pharaonic title which just happens to be the same root as Moses. Thutmose also claimed to have set up a military base there and deported people from the region. Population relocation would be a common practice among ancient empires and is a recurring theme in the origin myths of the Bible. So perhaps there is some remembrance.

    That said, according to some Biblical archaeologists there is no evidence of nomads migrating into Palestine at any after the rise of Egypt in the 4th millennium, much less during the mythic 40 year gap (40 being one of those magic numbers by the way). There is no archaeological evidence of a conquest of “Canaan” at all and there is scant evidence that there was ever any such place as Canaan.

    But you’re absolutely right that the Bible should not be the basis of any kind of political policy such as a justification of the assertion of American and European hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean.

  44. says

    What happened to “never again”?

    The same thing that happens to any lesson learned because of disaster: a generation of people grew up who didn’t see the original disaster, and decided that the disaster wasn’t really all that bad (“after all, we had enough Jewish people left to found a country”), or couldn’t possibly happen again (“they’d stop us if we were doing something wrong”), or was only bad because of the specific details involved (“well, sure, because it was Jewish people getting killed”).

    This has happened over and over again, if you look at history. Big wars tend to be spaced a generation apart. Businesses get regulated and deregulated in time with the retirement of politicians who lived through the last round of corruption (and governments go corrupt in cycles as people forget what happened last time it was permitted… *cough*Wisconsin*cough*). It took a generation for the Japanese to start teaching “patriotism” in schools again after World War II. By and large, humans just don’t have sufficient historical imagination to really learn lessons like these just by reading about them, so we have to go through the whole mess again every time the people who lived through it die off.

    When the Republicans finish destroying the U.S., and there’s no longer a superpower protecting Israel with threats of reprisal, the world is going to stop putting up with Israel’s hypocrisy and do something about it, and then it’ll be another generation before this happens again in either direction.

  45. Sven says

    Prax @2
    Population of the West Bank + Gaza (source: US Census Bureau)…
    1970: 1.03 million
    1980: 1.36 million
    1990: 1.90 million
    2000: 3.11 million
    2010: 4.12 million

    Make no mistake: Israel has been acting monstrously toward the Palestinian people, but I am skeptical of “genocide” claims in any area where the population of the alleged genocide is growing steadily. It reminds me of those neo-Nazis who claim there’s an “anti-white genocide” happening in Britain.

  46. Sven says

    Bleh, I didn’t really mean to Godwin there. I was trying to raise a comparison to a widespread bogus “genocide” claim, not to compare anyone to Nazis.

  47. zenlike says

    Robin Marie,

    Thank you for your interesting perspective. I can imagine your husband hears the words ‘self hating yew’ often enough. It’s indeed sad that such a black page from history is teaching the exact opposite lesson to a lot of people then the one it should be teaching.

  48. zenlike says

    Some of the follow up messages from Eden Abergil:

    No honey they didn’t ruin my life I can’t afford Arab-lovers to ruin the perfect life I live!!! I’ve got no remorse and no regrettttttttttts.

    I’m not humane to murderers!

    I’m for a Zionist Jewish state! I’m protecting what was mine since forever!! I won’t get with you into religious statements etc but I’m declared and defined as a proud Jew and as a proud Jew it’s my duty to fight for everything that belongs to me there’s a picture of me they published that says it all in my opinion “if it wasn’t for her they’d murder your mother” and I’m not talking just about me but about all the soldiers guarding and protecting us!!! There are no laws in war!! I hate Arabs and wish them all the worst and it would be fun for me to kill them or even massacre them you can’t forget what they’re doing nevermind the reason I’m just on the side of the Jewish people!!! And this will last forever.

    The above could have easily come out of a Hitler Jügend diary.

  49. Menyambal --- inesteemable says

    I was saying that the whole alleged history of the Jewish people is probably bogus. Certainly no justification for setting up the modern Israel as their promised homeland.

    Now I am questioning the logic of setting up a Jewish nation at all. There’s not much logic to the argument that doing so will protect the Jewish people any better than spreading around the world and becoming an integral part of many nations, while keeping a sense of identity and community. Setting up a nation by displacing people and making them enemies, in the heart of another culture with which there is already conflict, is so silly as to be religious.

  50. gussnarp says

    @Menyambal #56 – I sometimes wonder, and this is pure conjecture as I’ve never looked to see if there’s historical evidence for this, whether the West’s primary motive in supporting the creation of Israel wasn’t actually an antisemitic desire to have a place where the Jews, especially refugees, could go so they wouldn’t have to deal with them.

  51. nrdo says

    @gussnarp, @Menyambal – There were many motives for the creation of Israel, and having a place to ship the refugees was certainly one of them, but it’s simplistic to say that any one reason was the cause or that the bible is the only justification for having it there. While Abraham, Moses et al. never existed, ancient Judea certainly did.

    Also, and very ironically, the secular justifications underlying the modern Israel are the same as those underlying the creation of a Palestinian state. It would be vastly safer, easier and cheaper for Palestinians to simply relocate to diaspora communities where they are doing very well. But their argument that they deserve a sovereign country as a haven and cultural base has merit

  52. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    nrdo

    While Abraham, Moses et al. never existed, ancient Judea certainly did.

    So?

  53. says

    @#56, Menyambal — inesteemable

    There’s not much logic to the argument that doing so will protect the Jewish people any better than spreading around the world and becoming an integral part of many nations, while keeping a sense of identity and community.

    Especially considering that, historically speaking, it was done at precisely the point when weapons became available which could wipe out everyone living in a small geographic area. If there’s ever a nuclear nation which is seriously antisemitic (in the real sense, not the recent “criticize the government of Israel and you’re an antisemite” nonsense) they will be able to do more damage to the world’s Jewish population in a matter of minutes than Hitler was able to do in years, thanks to the existence of Israel. Israel is a very 19th-century idea.

    And, of course, modern Russia looks like it could easily become just such a threat. Russian Orthodox Christianity was always kind of screwy, but it’s lurching further and further into insanity lately.

    @#58, nrdo:

    it’s simplistic to say that any one reason was the cause or that the bible is the only justification for having it there

    The bible is, however, the only justification for putting modern Israel in its specific geographical location. The Zionists were offered 3 other sites, all of which would have involved no involuntary movements or hostile neighbors, and refused them all, demanding the site they eventually received instead. Ever since then, they have used the hostility of the people they displaced and that of the neighboring countries (who they keep invading) as an excuse for all kinds of bad behavior.

  54. robro says

    Meyambal — “Now I am questioning the logic of setting up a Jewish nation at all.”

    Yes, except as pawns in the global political games of Britain, France, the US, Russia, etc.

    gussnarp #57 — “actually an antisemitic desire to have a place where the Jews, especially refugees, could go so they wouldn’t have to deal with them.”

    Yes, rather than solve the problems of bigotry within their own borders, ship off the problems. Not to mention these “refugees” could server as a forward base for Western hegemony in a region that had become vitally important. This isn’t ideal conspiracy theory. The secret negotiations that led to the Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France in 1916 and the British/French “mandates” in the region, included discussions about Zionism. That British and French diplomats of that era would see Zionists as their ground troops in the region is not a stretch. As even the Bible reflects, empires have routinely lured people from one region to fight into another for the reward of land.

    Keep in mind that Arabs are also considered a Semitic people. The irony of Eden Abergil’s rant, which could be described as anti-Semitic, just about takes the cake.

  55. Nick Gotts says

    Don’t you know that in the Torah (Bible) YHWH tells the Israelis to commit genocide against the indigenous people of what is now called Palestine? They are just practicing their religion. – johndhynes@48

    I’m rather surprised we got so far without this kind of overt antisemitism. Why don’t you tell us about how the Jews killed Jesus and make matsos using the blood of Christian children, while you’re about it? Judaism does not tell Jews to kill non-Jews; and both religious and secular Jews are found, along with non-Jews, among the most extreme Zionists, the most extreme anti-Zionists, and everywhere in between.

  56. robro says

    nrdo — “While Abraham, Moses et al. never existed, ancient Judea certainly did.”

    Not only “so” as Beatrice rightly points out, but is that even true. We would have to start with asking what you mean by “ancient Judea.”

  57. Nick Gotts says

    Keep in mind that Arabs are also considered a Semitic people. The irony of Eden Abergil’s rant, which could be described as anti-Semitic, just about takes the cake. – robro@61

    *sigh*
    “Semitic people” has no modern referent in the respectable human sciences: it’s a relic of 19th century racial pseudo-science. In academically acceptable discourse,”Semitic” can refer to ancient population groups, or to languages, but does not refer to modern Arabs, or modern Jews – both being groups of very diverse recent ancestry and physical characteristics. “Antisemitism” refers now, and always has, specifically to a hatred of Jews, and indeed, even more specifically to such a hatred that bases itself on particular myths about Jews, such as the “blood libel” (that Jews murder Christian children and use their blood to make matsos), that there is a “world Jewish conspiracy”, etc.

  58. nrdo says

    What’s rather disappointing about these threads, and most such discussion brought on by a convulsion of hatred or violence like the soldier’s post, is that they become a meaningless debate about history where partisans gleefully chat about how the side they dislike is illegitimate and how everything would be great if only history turned out differently. Both Israel and Palestine are “facts on the ground”, deal with it. The most pernicious delusion , which I constantly hear articulated by Israelis and Palestinians alike, is that the other side will “go away’ if they keep at it. That is what keeps people suffering and dying.

  59. Christopher says

    I’m rather surprised we got so far without this kind of overt antisemitism.

    Have you read the OT? The whole thing is an ode to genocide.

    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0520.htm#16

    16 Howbeit of the cities of these peoples, that the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth,
    17 but thou shalt utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee;
    18 that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods, and so ye sin against the LORD your God.
    19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?
    20 Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, them thou mayest destroy and cut down, that thou mayest build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.

  60. rnilsson says

    Since this thread was from its very beginnings invested in Godwin, why not spell it out:
    Hitler Jugend
    Putin Youth
    Netanyahu Benjamins

    oh

    Seriously, what’s the matter with people? Live and let live, do the best you can and help some who right now need help, if you can.

    Jingoism is a cheap and dangerous thrill. Try your best to avoid and derail it. Another form of religion. Contagious. Deadly. Inhumane. EXTERMINATE
    oh

  61. Menyambal --- inesteemable says

    nrdo, I don’t know if anyone here is using history to justify an argument. I was arguing that it is silly to do so, as silly as condemning a whole people because of their alleged history. Even grouping humans into various “peoples” is over-simplifying.

    I agree with you that Israel is a current fact, but I ask you what is the cut-off fot “current”, and what are the facts?

  62. johndhynes says

    I’m rather surprised we got so far without this kind of overt antisemitism. Why don’t you tell us about how the Jews killed Jesus and make matsos using the blood of Christian children, while you’re about it? Judaism does not tell Jews to kill non-Jews; and both religious and secular Jews are found, along with non-Jews, among the most extreme Zionists, the most extreme anti-Zionists, and everywhere in between.

    Yeah, I’m antisemitic. That’ll come as a surprise to my relatives who survived the Shoah and fought in the War of Liberation. Actually, I was referring generally to religion and specifically about the Torah, as you can read here. Religion is not an affliction unique to Jews. I never said anything about Zionism, or even Jews. Christians believe in the Torah, although they ignore the inconvenient parts. Most Jews I know actually don’t believe in it. The problem is not Jews, but dogmatic belief in Bronze Age mythology.

  63. nrdo says

    @Menyambal — inesteemable

    Well, of course I agree that all of these groupings are simplifications, but “facts” are that there are two ethnic groups with legitimate, secular claims to land in the area and there is no conceivable way, short of real genocide and mass death, that either population is going to disappear.

    There are plenty of constructive things that fair-minded third parties can do – insisting on labeling of products made in the (hopefully future state of) Palestine to dissuade Israeli companies from employing settlers, freezing funds donated to Islamist charities that support Hamas etc. that don’t involve delegitimizing either side because, as I explained, the secular arguments in favor of both Palestine and Israel are largely the same.

  64. Christopher says

    Well, of course I agree that all of these groupings are simplifications, but “facts” are that there are two ethnic groups with legitimate, secular claims to land in the area and there is no conceivable way, short of real genocide and mass death, that either population is going to disappear.

    Which is why the one state solution with one-person-one-vote democracy is the only long term solution. Unfortunatly the warmongers in charge view that as genocide against the jewish people and are willing to nuke the world in spite if it ever happens.

    If anything, Israel makes the world less safe for Jews: there has been such a hard push by the zionists to link the existance of Israel to Jewishness that if Israel ever does anything as foolish as the Samson Option, people the world over will retaliate on their Jewish neighbors in order to punish them for Israel’s actions.

  65. robro says

    Nick — “Semitic people” has no modern referent in the respectable human sciences” Yep, I know. Isn’t it interesting, though, that we have a word strongly identified with anti-Jewish bigotry but none for anti-Arab bigotry…at least none that I’m aware of…yet anti-Arab bigotry has almost as long a history in European culture as anti-Jewish bigotry.

  66. robro says

    nrdo — I’m aware that we can’t escape our present or our past. Israel is here to stay, and revisionist thinking about the myth behind Israel will not change that. I do think it helps to be aware that the circumstances behind this situation are more complex than some ancient covenant myth between some people and some god. Unfortunately, there are powerful factions in the US and in Israel and in the Arab world that devoutly believe this malarky and promote it. As with all such ignorance, this only serves to make them more easily exploited by those on all sides of the divide that profit from making continuous war our normal state rather than letting us find peace with each other.

  67. nrdo says

    @ Christopher

    I don’t know if anyone other than a few paranoid wingnuts has ever seriously suggested that Israel nuke non-combatant countries out of spite. I’m pretty sure you would ridicule a right-winger who thinks that Iranians are going to come marching across the Middle-East to attack Israel any second. The notion of Israel nuking London is an order of magnitude less likely than that highly unlikely scenario.

    Regarding what arrangement would be best for Israelis and Palestinians, in the long-term, if religion could be relegated to a afterthought like in parts of the EU, a unified state or a confederation with a common constitution would be workable, perhaps ideal. But at the moment, in the real world, Muslims view the one-state solution as a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too scenario wherein they get to take over Israel demographically and keep their numerous other ethnic-theocracies throughout the middle east. It wouldn’t be workable or, for that matter, fair to minorities (Christians, Ba’hai, LGBT, women etc).

  68. Christopher says

    I don’t know if anyone other than a few paranoid wingnuts has ever seriously suggested that Israel nuke non-combatant countries out of spite.

    The problem is that “paranoid wingnuts” often get into positions of power in Israel where they could carry through with such actions: Ariel Sharon, Menachen Begin and Moshe Dayan have all alluded to taking the world down with them if they didn’t get their way.

  69. anuran says

    In other words, the worst of the Israelis are slightly better than the best of the Palestinians.

    [Knock that off right now. --pzm]

  70. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @anuran, 78:

    **excuse me**

    you’d better cut that shit out right now.

  71. nrdo says

    @ Christopher

    Evidence? The only person I could find to have suggested anything of the sort was David Perlmutter, a political commentator having an uncharacteristically over-the-top emotional response. The risk of wingnuts taking over is a generic problem, and I abhor the level of power religious people have in Israel, but IMHO you’d have to be quite ignorant or prejudiced against Jews to believe that such an event is dramatically more likely in Israel than in any of the other Middle Eastern countries.

  72. ekwhite says

    To me, modern day Israel seems a lot like South Africa under apartheid. Back then, Israel and South Africa had very friendly relations, even to the point of Israel selling weapons to the Botha government. Gaza and the West Bank remind me of the bantustans back then. Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by the Botha government and also by the Reagan administration, in a similar manner to how the leadership of Hamas are considered terrorists.

    I would say that the Israeli army is practicing apartheid instead of genocide, even though some would like an Arab shoah.

  73. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    I would say that the Israeli army is practicing apartheid instead of genocide,

    I would argue that that line is very, very fine and blurry.

  74. Barkeron says

    That word “genocide’ – I don’t think you know what it means.

    The rhetorical prowess of Zionazi apologists, ladies and gentlemen; regurgitating trite memes.

  75. zenlike says

    anuran;

    In other words, the worst of the Israelis are slightly better than the best of the Palestinians.

    Fuck you, you bigoted piece of shit.

    The worst of the Israelis are persons with genocidal fantasies. The best of the Palistinians are regular Joes who just want to live a normal life.

    If you had said that the worst of white people are better then the best of black people, you would have been banned already, so why not in this case?

  76. Nick Gotts says

    Christopher@68,

    Have you read the OT? The whole thing is an ode to genocide.

    Yes, I have. No, it isn’t. There are indeed some extremely unpleasant parts of it, which could reasonably be called an ode to genocide, but when you say the whole thing is, you’re outright lying.

    johndhynes@71

    Yeah, I’m antisemitic. That’ll come as a surprise to my relatives who survived the Shoah and fought in the War of Liberation. Actually, I was referring generally to religion and specifically about the Torah, as you can read here. Religion is not an affliction unique to Jews. I never said anything about Zionism, or even Jews. Christians believe in the Torah, although they ignore the inconvenient parts. Most Jews I know actually don’t believe in it. The problem is not Jews, but dogmatic belief in Bronze Age mythology.

    How disingenuous can you get? Here’s what you said @49:

    Don’t you know that in the Torah (Bible) YHWH tells the Israelis to commit genocide against the indigenous people of what is now called Palestine? They are just practicing their religion.

    I see. You weren’t saying anything about Zionism, or about Jews, so who exactly was the “they” in your second sentence? What religion are they “just practicing”? How are YHWH’s instructions to the ancient Israelites held to refer to modern Israelis? Of course, some religious Zionists believe that they do (and those Zionists responsible for oppressing Palestinians will be overwhelmingly followers of Judaism if they are religious at all), but why did you phrase your comment that way?

    As for your implication that because you’re Jewish you can’t say something antisemitic, srsly? We all live in cultures deeply affected by the long history of antisemitism (yes, including Israeli Jews), just as by racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism… – so we are all capable of saying or doing things which are antisemitic, racist, sexist…

    robro@74,
    Yes, it’s interesting, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct or acceptable to misuse the term “antisemitism”.

    nrdo@80,

    The risk of wingnuts taking over is a generic problem, and I abhor the level of power religious people have in Israel, but IMHO you’d have to be quite ignorant or prejudiced against Jews to believe that such an event is dramatically more likely in Israel than in any of the other Middle Eastern countries.

    True, but only in Israel (unless you stretch the definition of “Middle East” to include Pakistan) do those in power (who are already extremists and racists by any reasonable reckoning) have access to a nuclear arsenal.

  77. nrdo says

    @ Nick Gotts

    Thanks, ignorant trolls like anuran make these discussions unpleasant.

    Regarding the question of genocide, again, I think you’d have to be highly prejudiced to believe that Israel seeks genocide in light of the evidence (increasing Palestinian population, improvements in some social health metrics, Arab representation in Israel’s Parliament and Judiciary).

    The apartheid comparison is somewhat closer, but I would argue that a similarly close (not exact) comparison would be the former Yugoslavia, where successive Serb-dominated governments tried to impose themselves on entrenched factions that held long rivalries.

  78. johndhynes says

    who exactly was the “they” in your second sentence?

    “They” are the genocidal bigots that the post was talking about, like Abergil, of course.

    The holy book of both Jews and Christians promotes genocide, as well as other nasty things. I never stated nor implied that all Jews and Christians are genocidal bigots. Most pick and choose what parts of their religion to believe in, which is another thing that makes religion a ludicrous concept. In fact, one does not have to be religious to be a bigot, or vice versa. Some do believe that the instructions from the Bronze Age apply just as much today. That includes not just some zionists, but also members of the Christian identity movement, and religions which follow other old books. If they don’t believe in every word of their own religion, why believe in any of it? No, not every word in the Bible is about genocide; that is like saying that Hitler liked dogs and Mohamed liked cats. Does that make everything else they did or said OK? I am opposed to all forms of religion, and especially to specific acts advocated by religion, such as genocide, homophobia and slavery, so if you want to call me antisemitic, go ahead, but to call any criticism of the Torah/Bible “antisemitism”, or of the Q’ran “islamophobia”, is a misuse of the term.