This is where pure logic takes you


Read this letter.

We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it. 

We can stand aloof from the events and carry out thought exercises, and we can carefully weigh the pros and cons of war—this side did this horrible thing, that side did that horrible thing, this side has this worthy cause, that side has that worthy cause—and we can attempt to calculate who is slightly better and who is slightly worse, although even there it’s striking how often different people seem to come up with completely different sums, as if maybe, somehow human lives resist being reduced to simple numbers. Let us reason together, you say; if only we could get everyone to look at the situation logically, if only everyone would be a dispassionate observer like me, if only everyone would sit back and coldly analyze all possible actions to arrive at an optimal conclusion that maximizes idealized outcomes…

…and then we arrive at this moment where all the brilliant science and technology of our civilization culminates in this beautifully intricate weapon, designed, machined and assembled by highly educated teams of engineers and executives and politicians, aimed at a small child. One human being, persuaded by the moral calculus of their side that this action is a logical necessity, pushes a button and turns another innocent human being into shredded meat.

We don’t need any more logic. What we need now is more appreciation for the value of life.

What appalls me most is that the same people who use science and reason — principles I hold highly — as the supposed basis for a rational morality can somehow arrive at a justification for sowing injustice and death to achieve their more enlightened world. Shattered lives and stunted opportunities and a lifetime of oppression on one side of the balance can be weighed against greater wealth, happiness, and security on my side (strangely, this equation only works when it benefits my side), for a net gain in human well-being.

All it takes is for someone to pull the trigger on a child.

It’s the only logical thing to do.

Comments

  1. barbaz says

    Alas, appreciation for the value of life without logic doesn’t take you far either.

  2. Maureen Brian says

    I don’t think, barbaz, that anyone claimed it does but we know – see the quote from Bronowski – that pure logic is more easily mistaken for something good and more easily takes us to extremes.

  3. rq says

    Flechette bombs? Flechette bombs??? In the name of self-defense. Wow.
    I think I’m going to go cry in the corner now.

  4. Brian E says

    To quote the canny Scot:

    it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger

    Logic is abstract and disinterested. We need it to guide our arguments to correct conclusions, but we provide the premises because things matter to us. Logic can just as easily give a valid argument for destroying the world as it can for doing good.

  5. guru says

    If you don’t have logic, you have faith. You have intellectual tennis without a net. Anything goes and 2 plus 2 is equal to infinity, or anything that you please.

    In this case, it’s simply impossible to do away with logic. People will die whatever happens. If the Israelis do nothing, they will continue to be subject to rocket fire. People will die. But wait a minute — now suddenly logic rears its head, and the body count statistics are relevant. Fewer Israelis die to rockets than Palestinians die to aerial bombardments. That would be a fair point, and you could use it to argue against Israel’s military strategy. But notice — all of a sudden we’re using logic.

    Logic is good for the Palestinians, logic is good for separating first degree murder from second degree murder. But somehow when we get into the land where emotion is king, when we wander into the taboo zone, all of a sudden logic is defenestrated.

  6. says

    From the link:

    Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below

    Words fail me.

  7. says

    I can only agree that it is time that the value of life, the here and now, was given it’s proper value. It hurts. It can only hurt. The list of horrible crimes against children in the conflicts of todays world offends any thinking compassionate person.
    Ukraine MH17
    Syria
    Iraq
    Gaza
    Israel
    …… and so on without end or limit.

  8. jenny6833a says

    Handwringing may lead to a solution, but is not a solution in itself.

    PZ, what solution do you propose?

  9. originalantigenicsin says

    @jenny6833a #8

    Handwringing may lead to a solution, but is not a solution in itself.

    PZ, what solution do you propose?

    Are you honestly trying to justify bombing children by claiming that there is no alternative?

  10. Ichthyic says

    The world should take Netanyahu at his word. he says this operation is to remove tunnels used by insurgents to gain access to Israel.

    righto.

    what, do flechette shells have to do with tunnel demolition, exactly?

    it’s so much bullshit.

    the hard right in Israel thinks they can simply eliminate the opposition through terrorism. Yes, you read that correctly. the use of flechette bombs in a civilian population is a specifically designed terror tactic. they think if they terrorize the civilians enough, they will get rid of Hamas on their own.

    yeah, because that technique has had such great historical success. Just ask Iraq, or Pakistan, or Afghanistan.

  11. says

    The Israeli attacks have hit schools and markets. They’ve taken out the only power plant in the area.

    Using terrorist tactics to take out terrorists is not the way of civilized war.

  12. Brian E says

    PZ, what solution do you propose?

    If you have to say, ‘well, our enemy is bad, so we stoop to his level’, you’ve already lost. You’re no longer civilized.
    Not killing mums, kids and non-combatants isn’t that hard. The Israelis are running Gaza as a concentration camp, and always pressing in on the edges. They know how to defang Hamas, simply treat the Palestinians as equals and give them space, and stop treating them as sub-human. Israel is the best recruiter Hamas ever had.

    The asymmetry between one of the most equipped military in the world and a bunch of rock throwing, home made bombers is astonishing. It’s bullshit to say Israel is just defending itself. If you value life over statist aims, the reason leads you to the conclusion that what the Israelis are doing is wrong. If you value Israel over life of Palestinians, reason leads you to the conclusion that this is inevitable.

  13. barbaz says

    Maureen Brian, I think the actual problem is that bad logic is often disguised as pure logic and too few people realize the difference. I also think that of all the problems between Israel and Palestine, “too much logic” is the least.

    Logic doesn’t take you to war crimes; hate, supremacism, and not giving a fuck does.

  14. johnlee says

    Oh, fuck, I was going to write something clever and incisive, but I just can’t. This is just too sad.

  15. Brian E says

    Logic doesn’t take you to war crimes

    Yes it does. If A then B, If B then C, A therefore C.

    Fill in the placeholders….

    P: If we are attacked, we must defend ourselves
    P: If we defend ourselves then we must commit war crimes (nicely worded as neutralizing the enemy).
    C: We must defend ourselves therefore we must commit war crimes (neutralize the enemy).

    How you can say that argument is not logical is beyond me. It leads to a true conclusion from true premises. Whether the premises are true, logic can’t give you all the answers, your values come into play….

  16. qwints says

    This cycle of atrocities isn’t the product of uncaring logic because that’s not how cycles of atrocity work. It works because the Israelis and the Palestinians both believe they have the moral right to the land they control and both want revenge for things the other has done to take the land from them. The way out of this is to have enough people from both sides give up on getting even.

  17. Brian E says

    Shit. I meant
    C: We are attacked, therefore…..
    Whatever, nobody will notice anyway.

  18. says

    Logic lets you build a model, and verify that it makes internal sense. Logic can verify if your goals are not contradicting each other. But ultimately you have to take your model to the real world and see how it performs, and you have to come up with a set of goals and values for the logic to verify. You can count angels on a pinhead and stay perfectly logical.

    They know how to defang Hamas, simply treat the Palestinians as equals and give them space, and stop treating them as sub-human. Israel is the best recruiter Hamas ever had.

    But stabilizing Palestine could take a decade or more — and while I think that’s the only sensible way, I fear that to politicians and illusion of solution that works over a single term is preferable to a solution that takes decades to work. In the essence, I feel that people in power are just more interested in providing short-term catharsis.

    And that is logical, if the person’s in charge sole goal is to stay in power, and if the politician doesn’t put any value on a Palestinian’s life.

  19. khms says

    This is one of those rare cases where I think PZ got the wrong end of the stick.

    No, pure logic does not take you anywhere at all. Pure logic has no motives whatsoever.

    In this particular case, everyone involved or looking on has values. Those values are different. They all use both logic and emotion to derive places to go. Unfortunately, everyone does it differently, and so the places differ, and so sometimes obscenities like this one happen.

    However, when the opposite happens – when, for example, long-time enemies manage to sort out their differences, and a long peace breaks out – the above description still applies. What is different, is what values people use, and where they involve emotion or logic.

    But nothing can be fixed in a situation like that war until values change. It’s not the logic that is the problem, it’s the bad (very one-sided) values.

    The values that make the extremists on both sides (with rather different success) try to terrorize the other side.

    The values that make the US stand behind Israel, no matter what – even if they put pressure on Israel, they are very, very careful to simultaneously apply support.

    Stuff like that.

    Logic is just a reliable way to find the means to do what your values tell you you want. It’s the want that’s the problem. Better wants, and logic leads you to better outcomes.

    For that matter, I strongly suspect that for quite a number of people in that conflict, lack of logic and surfeit of emotion is more of a problem.

  20. Brian E says

    This cycle of atrocities isn’t the product of uncaring logic because that’s not how cycles of atrocity work.

    So you’re saying that they have an emotional reaction to the previous cycle, but there’s no logic leading to the next cycle? Magic it must be….

  21. atheist says

    We don’t need any more logic. What we need now is more appreciation for the value of life.

    This applies to certain famous skeptics as well. At some point, they become so fixated on the trappings of “logic” that they stop being rational people and become rationalizing people. In 2006 Sam Harris wrote a horrible essay in which he suggested – among other idiocies – that liberals need to listen to “sensible” European fascists about the dangers of Muslims. When called on this statement, his defense included something like, “I never intended to ally with fascists, I merely thought their ideas deserved more attention”. Of course he was bullshitting – his neoconservative politics were always cryptofascist – but still he was also showing a strange disconnect between the world of ideas and the real world. People don’t read geopolitics for thought experiments, they’re looking for analyses. To say “I only thought these ideas were interesting” is a cop-out.

  22. Brian E says

    lack of logic and surfeit of emotion is more of a problem.

    I’d say and your comment does up to this sentence, that logic and surfeit of emotion is more the problem.

  23. borax says

    A screen pop-up on MSNBC read that 30% of Gaza victims are children while I was thinking of a comment. Now there is an asshole talking head blaming the whole conflict on Hamas.

  24. borax says

    Clarification. I’m not going after a particular news agency. It just happens to be the one I’m watching after reading this horribly depressing post.

  25. Ichthyic says

    P: If we defend ourselves then we must commit war crimes

    war crimes have an actual definition, you know.

    you might want to look up how the UN defines the term before you post again.

    you can indeed engage in war without committing war crimes as defined therein.

    logic is not something you play with in ignorance. now run along.

  26. atheist says

    @barbaz – 31 July 2014 at 8:04 am (UTC -5)

    Logic doesn’t take you to war crimes; hate, supremacism, and not giving a fuck does.

    Your statement is naive. The Israeli masscre of the Gazans is part of a clear settler-colonialist strategic logic. This massacre is only the more noticeable portion of that stategy:

    As Darryl Li points out, “Since 2005, Israel has developed an unusual, and perhaps unprecedented, experiment in colonial management in the Gaza Strip,” seeking to “isolate Palestinians there from the outside world, render them utterly dependent on external benevolence,” and at the same time “absolve Israel of responsibility toward them.”

    One way to destroy any sign of Palestinian power has been on display during Protective Edge, during which Israeli violence has sought to stamp out signs of Palestinian independence — hence Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s call for “defeating Hamas.”

    The result is that Palestinians are not merely subject to extreme violence. Rather, their capacity to live autonomously in historic Palestine is being attacked.

    It’s unclear whether this settler-colonial strategy will succeed. But it is pure naivete to claim that massacres lack logic. On the contrary they’re expressions of a developed strategy. And the USA is a partner in this strategy.

  27. Brian E says

    I said:

    P: If we defend ourselves then we must commit war crimes (nicely worded as neutralizing the enemy).

    So, either you can’t read or choose not to read. Run along.

  28. qwints says

    Brian E.

    So you’re saying that they have an emotional reaction to the previous cycle, but there’s no logic leading to the next cycle?

    I’m saying, I don’t think we’re dealing with rational actors who have coldly and logically concluded that killing thousands of Palestinians makes Israel safer in the long run. We’re dealing with hate and a lack of empathy brought on by suffering atrocities. [Israelis/Palestinians] want to kill [Palestinians/Israelis] because [Palestinians/Israelis] killed [Israelis/Palestinians].

  29. Brian E says

    Qwints, I think we agree. I’m saing that when you hate / lack empathy with someone, then logically you’ll act in ways that acheive your aims that don’t include empathy and do include your hate.

  30. Brian E says

    Unless ways that include lack of hate/ more empathy achieve your aims in some better way that overrides your hate….

  31. says

    @28, Ichthyic

    logic is not something you play with in ignorance.

    Of course it is. Logic is far older than scientific method.

    Run along.

    Oh bugger off, will you?

    @31, qwints

    I’m saying, I don’t think we’re dealing with rational actors

    Yes we are, it’s just not the Palestinian nor Israeli general public who are them — it’s the Hamas and Israel politicians who are. And they didn’t “coldly and logically conclude” that killing is a way to make Israel safer, they coldly and logically concluded that it’s the way to keep the people supporting them for a little bit longer.

  32. chimera says

    PZ, you didn’t see the photo yourself and apparently didn’t verify that if it exists, it’s genuine. This is a PR war. Are you letting yourself be manipulated?

  33. Ichthyic says

    So, either you can’t read or choose not to read. Run along.

    you equated neutralizing an enemy with war crimes.

    my analysis of your statement was dead on.

    idiot.

  34. Ichthyic says

    Of course it is. Logic is far older than scientific method.

    strawman sez what?

  35. laurentweppe says

    He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans

    You know what this reminds me of?
    This
    19 years ago, the terrorists used “artisanal” bombs instead: gas canisters filled with bolts and nuts, but both the principle (use the force of the explosion to throw tiny objects and shred the passerby) and the justification (collective punishment after an assassination) were the same.

    This is not, as someone already said “uncaring logic”: what we see here are “highly educated teams of engineers and executives and politicians” reasoning like fundamentalistic loons: enthralling themselves to their retaliatory bloodlust and devising elaborate rhetorical arabesques to justify themselves, using wit as an ersatz for intelligence and morality. The Hitchens School of Thought -that is: murderous passions masquerading as high-minded philosophical principles- in all its disgusting glory.

  36. Brian E says

    I’m sorry that you don’t understand that an enemy can be neutralized by committing a war crime, and dropping a flechete bomb is committing a war crime and it neutralized enemies, even if they were kids.

    But your lack of understanding does not make me an idiot. Are you talking to a mirror?

  37. Ichthyic says

    they coldly and logically concluded that it’s the way to keep the people supporting them for a little bit longer.

    that might be a part of it… but how would you know?

    you don’t.

    settlers dumping human excrement on Palestinian homes. that part of the political process you think?

    no matter how much you want to, you will not be able to reach a reasoned conclusion about why things are happening over there, and you probably wouldn’t be able to even if you were there.

  38. Ichthyic says

    I’m sorry that you don’t understand that an enemy can be neutralized by committing a war crime

    what you seem to fail to understand is that you can neutralize enemies without comitting war crimes as well.

    hence why the term “war crime” was even invented.

    are you actually starting to understand my objection to your statement now? or are you going to pretend you haven’t got a clue?

  39. machintelligence says

    Sadly, logic is at work on both sides. Why would Hamas continue the rocket attacks, knowing they will bring down awful retaliation?

    One way to characterise the Israel-Hamas conflict is that Hamas seeks, and Israel fears, publicity. That is, military factors are overwhelmingly stacked in favour of Israel, political ones rather more in favour of Hamas. There is something to that. But Hamas has little to sell other than hatred, and the well of hate works better if periodically re-filled with recently-shed Palestinian blood. Dead Palestinians are not merely an instrument of Hamas’s strategy, they are an objective in themselves. It is not has if Hamas is not up-front in its embrace of Palestinian death as a strategy, to the extent that they may be losing ground politically.

    From:
    http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2014/07/14/short-observations-2/

  40. chimera says

    Logic has nothing to do with right and wrong. It has to do with valid and invalid arguments. Valid arguments can be morally wrong.

    Also, it’s been well-established by cognitive psychology that emotion plays a major part in what the man in the street thinks of as “logical reasoning”. The reason/emotion dichotomy is a false one.

    But none of that is here or there. What we are talking about is politics.

  41. Ichthyic says

    ^^ the last Gaza occupation, this worked and Hamas got the support of several Arab nations to put pressure on the US to make Isreal back off.

    not happening this time. The silence from the other Arab countries is rather deafening.

    nobody likes Hamas (except Iran) any more. there is even a movement in Egypt requesting the government work WITH the Israelis to help finish off Hamas. The Saudis haven’t made a peep.

    things are very different this time around. I do believe the Israelis are going to pretty much get whatever they want.

  42. says

    @37, Ichtnyic

    strawman sez what?

    Strawman (that would explain a lot) sea that logic is not something to played with in ignorance. There is nothing about logic that requires being actually informed, and logic without grounding in reality can be used quite efficiently to manipulate people. And, as an aside, abstract logically consistent models can be quite fun by themselves.

    @40

    that might be a part of it… but how would you know?

    You can see quite a few interviews with them, and you have to be really trusting if you think that all those IDF spokesmen actually believe shelling a school is an efficient way of defusing Hamas. Or that that other Hamas spokesman actually believes a rocket intercepted by the Iron Dome will one day destroy Israel. Those people actually do have access to all the information they need in this regard, and both seem to be quite a bit less distraught than the people from the streets. So no, I don’t buy the argument that they’re being so highly emotional.

    @41

    what you seem to fail to understand is that you can neutralize enemies without comitting war crimes as well.

    We’re not in the Hague right now, so quit pretending we are. It’s perfectly fine for us to use the expression in a wider sense. But if you really, really can’t deal with it, then I encourage you to get a browser extension that will replace “war crimes” with “atrocities”.

  43. funknjunk says

    @3 rq – yup, but they’re “precision guided” flachette bombs, doncha know….

  44. hexidecima says

    it seems that many of these arguments are “think of the children”. I find it suspect as an argument because a child is no more important than any other human being.

    are there just wars and injust wars? is it okay to kill human of a certain age and not others?

  45. nrdo says

    When an Israeli settler pulls the the trigger of gun (or votes for an extreme settler party, which is the efficient cause of Israeli military excesses) or a Hamas suicide bomber pushes the button, they’re not making anything remotely resembling a rational decision. They are working from presuppositions that are clearly at odds with reality, most often the notion that “complete” victory in the form of ethnically cleansing their enemy is possible.

  46. Pteryxx says

    laurentweppe #38:

    You know what this reminds me of?
    This
    19 years ago, the terrorists used “artisanal” bombs instead: gas canisters filled with bolts and nuts, but both the principle (use the force of the explosion to throw tiny objects and shred the passerby) and the justification (collective punishment after an assassination) were the same.

    Flechette bombs are just the polished-up and marketed version of wrapping a pipe bomb with nails. Hundreds of tiny, high-speed, tumbling projectiles to inflict wounds on as many people as possible in a crowded area… the more crowded together they are, the more damage. The single pipe bomb in 1996 killed one person directly, but wounded over a hundred others. (Note from another link… the pipe bomber phoned in a 30-minute warning, too. It wasn’t out of compassion.)

    The legality of flechette munitions was upheld by the Israeli supreme court in 2002, and according to an Israeli military source, they are particularly effective against enemy fighters operating in areas covered by vegetation.

    Source

    …where ‘vegetation’ is 30% children. *puking noises*

  47. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    Not to take away from the main point of the linked letter, but flechettes probably are not that new for Israel. Their supreme court upheld their legality in 2002 (translation: we’ll use whatever the hell we want because we say it’s legal), and the US used them in “beehive” artillery and tank rounds on the Vietnamese in the 1960s.

    I didn’t think they were still being fired from tanks (Israel started phasing them out in 2010), but apparently they are, even if they aren’t the most precise weapon available. That article describes them working by exploding in the air and blasting down over a large area, which could easily end up killing a lot more than the “legitimate military targets” (IDF’s term) for which they are intended.


    @hexidecima #48:

    A dead four year old makes a much more compelling case that civilians are being killed than the refrain that Israel is using “restraint” and only targeting Hamas. Still, we should be just as angry that the child was killed at all, not that it was done with a particular weapon (similar to how there was talk that killing Syrians with chemical weapons was somehow more unjust than with conventional weapons).

  48. says

    The reason I’m focusing on the children in this is because I find it difficult to believe anyone honestly thinks that four kids playing footy on a beach were engaged in rocket attacks against Israel, or that a school full of women and children refugees was such a threat that it needed to be bombed before they could get out.

    Each death is equally a tragedy, and each one is horrific, stupid, and obscene.

    But since the apologists keep insisting Israel is only targeting ‘militants’ and ‘terrorists’ (translation: soldiers from a land without a government), it feels important to point out that this requires believing that four kids with a football were really a rocketeering team in disguise. It beggars imagination to think that this is realistic; thus, it makes the point under consideration, which is “Israel’s not being honest about what they’re actually doing on the ground here”.

    It is a reaction to the problem of proving a negative: it is difficult to prove that a given adult is not a ‘terrorist’. It is much less difficult to conclude that an eight-year-old is not a ‘terrorist’.

  49. Becca Stareyes says

    Hexidecima @ 48

    Well, a child of that age is almost certainly not involved in the conflict, and has no power to influence it. Killing civilians in general is pretty despicable, but governments will try to excuse it by saying they could have been combatants or allies. A four year old is a victim, period.

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

    @Brian E, #39:

    Permit me to engage in a bit of logic for a moment, perhaps it will be helpful.

    dropping a flechete bomb … neutralized enemies, even if they were kids.

    1. Enemies are those actively opposed to one (P)
    …Enemy => Active Opposition
    2. Active opposition requires the power to threaten one’s safety or goals (P)
    …~Power => ~Active Opposition
    3. 4-year olds, individually or collectively, do not have any significant power or education compared to any national government (P)
    …(4-years old AND comparison is to national government) => ~Power
    4. Israel is a nation with a government (P)
    5. Active opposition to Israel is defined as active opposition to its government’s efforts or policies, including efforts or policies to enforce borders and keep its people safe (P)
    6. One not in Active Opposition is not an enemy (P1)
    …~Active Opposition => ~enemy
    7. If one is 4 years old, one is not in active opposition to any nation-state. (P2 & P3)
    …(4-years old AND comparison is to national government) => ~Power => ~Active Opposition
    8. If one is 4 years old, one is not in active opposition to Israel (7 & P4)
    …(4-years old AND comparison is to national government) = (4-years old AND comparison is to Israel) =>~Active Opposition
    9. No 4 year old is an enemy of Israel (8 & P1)
    …(4-years old AND comparison is to Israel) =>~Active Opposition => ~Enemy

    Therefore
    10. Brian E’s contributions to this thread are nauseatingly evil, and precisely the stain upon human morality which this thread was created to decry.

  51. originalantigenicsin says

    @chimera #35

    PZ, you didn’t see the photo yourself and apparently didn’t verify that if it exists, it’s genuine. This is a PR war. Are you letting yourself be manipulated?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/07/09/these-are-the-names-of-13-children-killed-in-gaza/
    You couldn’t possibly have googled that yourself, right?
    …and bonus dehumanization points for claiming that a real war, in which real people are killed by real bombs is a PR competition.

  52. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    There is a relentless logic to war that feeds back on itself. It is a tremendously costly enterprise, so once one proceeds down that path, there is a reluctance to quit until one has made gains commensurate with the costs sunk. And as the costs sunk mount, the demands one makes in return for peace climb as well. The decision makers on each side seek to increase the costs to one’s enemy and minimize the costs to themselves, albeit not always on their people and soldiers.

    This is the logic that brought death tolls in the hundreds of thousands in an afternoon a century ago. It is the logic that gave us poison gas, landmines, and finds a near apotheosis in nuclear weapons. Israel cannot stop until Netanyahu can say with a straight face that they won. Hamas has no incentive to quit because civilian casualties on their side are the most potent weapon they have in their PR war. We haven’t even seen the end of the beginning yet.

  53. thomaspaine says

    In post 22 atheist writes: “In 2006 Sam Harris wrote a horrible essay in which he suggested – among other idiocies – that liberals need to listen to “sensible” European fascists about the dangers of Muslims.”

    A little context is in order. Harris wrote the following:

    “The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.

    To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization.”

    There is nothing horrible about what Harris wrote. Sam had it spot on.

  54. chimera says

    #55 and #56 Daz and Original

    Right, it’s ALSO a PR war, that was not a reduction on my part.

    And, comment wasn’t lazy. Couldn’t find the pic on line. Only reference to it so far is the Eno one. It may turn up later. We’ll see.

    None of which does anything to address the legitimacy, usefulness and wisdom of reasoning based on shocking photos.

  55. Nick Gotts says

    nobody likes Hamas (except Iran) any more – Ichthyic@44

    Hamas has fallen out with Iran over the Syrian civil war: Hamas sides with the Islamist (but anti-ISIS) faction of the rebels. They lost the support of Egypt with the (Saudi and American backed) military coup. The most powerful government supporting them is that of Qatar.

  56. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    Crip Dyke, you might want to go back and reread Brian E.’s posts. I don’t think he’s trying to justify killing 4 year old children in any way other than as an exercise (perhaps wrongly) in attempting to use logic to show the Israeli Government’s mindset.

    I’m not sure the Israeli Government is intentionally trying to kill children and could justify it in the way that Brian E. has tried to show, but they are making it difficult not to see it as intentional.

  57. rq says

    … And to think a hundred years ago they started the war to end all wars.
    Guess it never really ended.

  58. says

    Logic and emotions are not independent entities.

    That being said, I can wholeheartedly agree that we want the emotionally driven empathy and sympathy for oppressed people, slaughtered children, and more to be part of what drives our choices and conclusions in this situation. Israel can defend itself all it wants, until it’s strategies make it more dangerous and functionally equivalent to terrorism and terrorists itself.

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

    @Thomathy, #61, and Brian E generally:

    Crip Dyke, you might want to go back and reread Brian E.’s posts.

    I’m not going to right now, I’ve been posting a little this morning, but very distracted by kids and we’re leaving the house in about 15 min.

    But I’ll just stick this apology to Brian E here and assume Thomathy is correct that Brian E is actually denouncing the same kind of thinking I find sickening.

    I’m sorry, Brian E.

  60. Nick Gotts says

    There is nothing horrible about what Harris wrote. Sam had it spot on. – thomaspaine@58

    Extreme Islamists have carried out a handful of terrorist attacks in Europe killing a few hundred people – far fewer than those who died in the republican/loyalist violence in northern Ireland, let alone the disintegration of Yugoslavia. They have zero political or economic power. The “threat” to Europe from extreme Islamism is almost entirely a racist bogey, which Harris goes along with because he’s a racist. Compared to the threat of economic meltdown due to financial irresponsibility and failed right-wing policies, the growth of fascism in much of Europe, or that of growing antibiotic resistance among pathogenic bacteria, let alone that of anthropogenic climate change, it is utterly trivial.

    You’re evidently a racist and an apologist for fascism, just like Harris.

  61. Nick Gotts says

    None of which does anything to address the legitimacy, usefulness and wisdom of reasoning based on shocking photos. – chimera@59

    Well it’s better than “reasoning” based on facile excuses for slaughtering civilians.

  62. Rob Grigjanis says

    thomaspaine @58:

    Sam had it spot on.

    Bullshit.

    [Harris wrote]“Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow.”

    To understand how nine-months-pregnant with delusion this claim truly is, one has to only reflect that the French Muslim population is forecasted by the Pew Research Centre to grow to 10% by 2030 from its present figure of 7.5%, and France will be the Western European state with the highest number of Muslims. The only country that surpasses it is Russia which, even as it borders autonomous Muslim states, is projected to see her share of Muslims rise to 14%.

    Fuck Sam Harris.

  63. says

    war crimes have an actual definition, you know…

    Funny thing is, that definition, or at least if certain actions fit the definition, is always determined by the winner of the war or the most powerful side if it’s still going on… or whichever side is talking or controls the government you happen to be living under.

    Notice how winners never try themselves for war crimes…
    Me, I’m one of those people who doesn’t trust authority. Especially at-the-point-of-a-gun authority.

    I have my own definition of war crimes.
    It’s longer.

  64. anbheal says

    @68 Rob: Thank you. Harris could not be more clueless about class and wealth and the power structure of Western European nation states. France kills thousands of Libyans in airstrikes the same week that a printing press at Charlie Hebdo is disabled — who’s threatening whom again??? To say that the disenfranchised and oppressed urban poor of France are unhappy would be a very fair thing to say. Whereas, last I checked, Kwazy Mooslims hadn’t destroyed French society, per Harris’s daily predictions.

    Also, to commenters on both sides of the issue, is there any chance we could dispense with this notion of “civilized” warfare? What sort of killing is sufficiently civilized for you? Handing out oxycontin overdoses to the enemy? When was the last civilized battle? Marathon? Salamis? David v. Goliath?

  65. says

    When was the last civilized battle?

    Another reason I reject the “that’s not a war crime” bullshit. Beside the fact that nations commonly execute opponents in wars for “war crimes” and then engage in the same thing and call it legitimate 9waterboarding, anyone?) there’s the simple fact that war is a breakdown of civil society.

    Civil society being the thing that defines “illegal” and “legal” and “crime”
    So you are left with a choice in that absence of civilization… saying that nothing is a crime, or saying that the war itself is a crime. That abandoning civilization and settling for brute force is crime.

    I prefer the latter definition.

  66. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    “War is cruelty. You cannot refine it…”–William T. Sherman

  67. Christopher says

    The Israeli perspective:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/07/israeli-politician-declares-war-on-the-palestinian-people.html

    “This is a war,” Shaked quoted Elitzur in the post. She has been routinely denounced in the Israeli press as an extremist. “Words have meanings. This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started.”

    “They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads,” the post reads. “Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

    The Palestinian perspective:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/31/its-raining-bombs-and-shells/

    First is the story of an unnamed child we called “Number 6.” He was around three years and had identifying stickers on his arms saying “Unknown” and “Number 6.” I was shocked and immediately asked the nurses and ambulance drivers, “What is his name?” I was told no one knew his name. They found him in a mass of destroyed houses and he was the only survivor in his family. He had a head injury and wounds on other parts of his body. Immediately I asked, “Doesn’t anyone remember where the house was?” They said that in the area where they found him, all the buildings were destroyed and the rubble was mixed up with each other and sometimes the children’s bodies were thrown from one area to another. So they didn’t know where he had lived.

    And then I realized he’s Number 6, and that means there were five other unknown children before him and many more children after him.

    Second, there is the story of Reem Ahmad, six years old. Reem arrived in the X-ray unit also. She has a name and she used to have a family. She is the only survivor of her family. She lost her parents and brothers and sisters. She is injured in the head.

    Third is the story of a fifty-two year old woman who arrived at our clinic with her son. Her son is a nurse and he was panicking. His mother had gone outside to her garden to take care of her plants. Some shrapnel hit her head and her son was crying like crazy and he said in very few words “We are a simple family staying in our home. This shrapnel flew all around the garden and hit my mom. I want my mom to live.” This woman is named Buthaina el-Izraia.

    Fourth is the story of my colleague Afaf Jabar, a nurse on our team. Afaf lost her daughter Leena, who was also a nurse, her two grandchildren and her daughter’s husband when one bomb fell on their house in Bureij refugee camp.

    We have gone through a lot in Gaza. But this is a new kind of war. Israel is committing new massacres every day. In the Red Crescent clinic we receive at least 200 patients a day. And we are not an emergency clinic. A lot of diseases are appearing in Gaza because of the Israeli destruction of the water systems, the electrical system and ongoing stress and fear from over three weeks of bombings. People are experiencing different illnesses: gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, breathing and skin problems, and most of the patients are the most vulnerable of all, children.

    Seems like things are going perfectly by plan for Israel.

    All that blood, death, and suffering was done with US made bombs paid for with US taxpayer dollars. While congress can’t do a damn thing to help Americans, they fall over themselves to quickly give Israel more weapons paid for by our taxes:
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/12837-us-congress-approves-351m-in-aid-to-israels-iron-dome

    Imagine what we could have done to make America better over the last seventy years if we spent the hundreds of billions on our infrastructure and people instead of on Israel:
    http://www.wrmea.org/wrmea-archives/494-congress-a-us-aid-to-israel/9748-u-s-financial-aid-to-israel-figures-facts-and-impact.html

  68. dianne says

    Logic is a tool. It can take you a lot of different places, depending on your goal, starting point, and underlying assumptions. For example, if you start with the assumption that your enemy is completely evil and incapable of living in peace with you under any circumstances then genocide is the logical thing to do. If you start with the assumption that your enemy is a human like yourself and capable of living with you in peace then logic leads you to ask questions like, “How has this been achieved elsewhere?” “What can I do to encourage my enemy to think this same way and work with me?” There are models of two populations who have been enemies for a long time coming to a mutually beneficial peace, if not perfect harmony. As I understand it, if you want to get to that point it is critical that you humanize yourself as much as possible to your enemy. Talk to them. Don’t “defend” yourself with aggressive violence (your violence justifies their violence). Don’t insist that you have the right to continue the war because you’re the more sinned against EVEN IF IT’S TRUE. Value peace over the “fairness” of having the opportunity to commit as many atrocities as the other guy. I expect I’m not the first person to suggest this idea with respect to the Palestine/Israel conflict. But I don’t think it’s ever been seriously tried by either side. The politicians have too much to gain by continuing the conflict and the international superpowers have absolutely nothing to gain from peace and solidarity in the region (imagine how hard it would be for the US to exploit the region for oil if Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran made common cause with each other and negotiated as a bloc, for example.) The best outsiders can do is to stop making things worse. The best Israelis can do is to stop insisting that aggressive attacks on random points in the West Bank is the only possible response to terrorism. I don’t even know what advice to give the Palestinians. Would stopping all attacks even help them? Or just make it easier for the settlers to roll over them? Maybe the best they can do is be there and be real people and not straw terrorists to the Israelis. And maybe I’m just confused about this whole thing.

  69. Christopher says

    For example, if you start with the assumption that your enemy is completely evil and incapable of living in peace with you under any circumstances then genocide is the logical thing to do.

    Ever read the Old Testament?

    The whole thing is an ode to genocide and dehumanizing everyone outside the tribe.

    I don’t know why anyone would think a state specifically founded as a ‘Jewish State’ would behave any differently.

  70. dianne says

    Ever read the Old Testament?

    Some. I’ll admit that I skipped around. Couldn’t stomach the whole thing. Nonetheless, there are bits in the Old Testament that would justify an actual pacifist society. These are not the bits that Israel appears to be following.

    I don’t know why anyone would think a state specifically founded as a ‘Jewish State’ would behave any differently.

    Oh, I don’t know, maybe because they’re people like everyone else and as apt to follow only the bits of their religion that they like as anyone else. And, as I said earlier, they could choose a pacifistic or truly defensive position. Judaism is no worse than any other religion and claiming it is has worked out…poorly…in the past.

  71. dianne says

    I remember reading somewhere (sorry-don’t have link or reference at the moment, but can look up if anyone’s interested) that during an attack women were turned away from a bomb shelter in Israel because it was a “men only” space. That suggests to me that Israel is becoming more fundamentalist over time, possibly as a response to the conflict and the polarization that results from it. In short, this war is doing Israel no good either and it benefits no one but the very wealthy in the US and Europe and maybe certain Israeli politicians.

  72. laurentweppe says

    [Harris wrote]“Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow.”

    The Plebs are outbreeding Us! The Plebs are outbreeding Us! The Plebs are outbreeding Us! Soon they’ll be too numerous and too strong to allow us to treat them like shit anymore! The end is niiiiiiiigh!

    This kind of bullshit has been spewed by aristocrats since the days of Ancient Sumer.

  73. says

    hmm, I don’t like this rallying against “logic” stuff. Of course it’s described as “cold logic”. But the problem with “cold logic” isn’t the logic, it’s the facts/premises that are put into it. It’s just a form of “garbage in, garbage out”. (I think?) And also the arrogance and foolishness of thinking that validity is all that matters, and ignoring soundness (with appropriate measures of doubt, and the implications of such uncertainty).

    [killing children] is the only logical thing to do.

    No, it’s not. Not even close.

    Peace and compassion are not illogical. They are distinctly logical, and their supporting moral calculus is distinctly sound and valid.

  74. says

    155mm flechette artillery rounds: Made in USA
    155mm Paladin M-109 self-propelled gun: Made in USA
    M-119 Armored personnel carrier: Made in USA
    F-16 fighting Falcom: Made in USA

    Arms Export Control act of 1976 says US cannot export arms if they:
    “would contribute to an arms race, aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction, support international terrorism, increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict, or prejudice the development of bilateral or multilateral arms control or nonproliferation agreements or other arrangements.”

    Congress authorizes giving Israel another $200+million in ammunition and components for Iron Dome. Now they are asking for artillery rounds for those 155s. Bet they’ll get ‘em.

    Rule of law, how does it fucking work?

  75. Christopher says

    Laws are only for the Plebs, not for the special people:

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

    (a) PROHIBITIONS; SAFEGUARDS AND MANAGEMENT. —Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, no funds made available to carry out the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 or this Act may be used for the purpose of providing economic assistance (including assistance under chapter 4 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961), providing military assistance or grant military education and training, providing assistance under chapter 6 of part II of that Act, or extending military credits or making guarantees, to any country which the President determines delivers nuclear enrichment equipment, materials, or technology to any other country on or after August 4, 1977, or receives such equipment, materials, or technology from any other country on or after August 4, 1977

  76. barbaz says

    @atheist #29,

    The Israeli masscre of the Gazans is part of a clear settler-colonialist strategic logic. This massacre is only the more noticeable portion of that stategy

    I never said that Israel used no logic at all. They decided that they want to keep Palestine as weak as possible by any means necessary, and then used logic to find the most effective strategy. The part where they went wrong was not the one where they started applying logic.

    Everyone’s ready to accept that pure logic can’t lead to good things. Is it really that hard to imagine that pure logic wouldn’t lead to bad stuff either? By putting the blame on logic, you move it away from where it actually belongs. The ones making these decisions are not cold, neutral computers. They are actual persons with a dehumanizing agenda who are (even if not held) responsible for their own actions.

    Seriously, people fighting for land they belief was promised to them by an invisible man in the sky and you tell me there’s too much logic involved…

  77. jenny6833a says

    @ #84 barbaz

    “Manifest Destiny” is not a new idea, and the government of Israel didn’t invent it.

  78. jenny6833a says

    In any modern war, people of all ages will be killed. The phrase “people of all ages” includes people of young age. People of young age are often referred to as ‘children.’

    The above is especially true when combatants merge with the (allegedly) non-combatant population and when missile launchers and munitions stores are hidden in (allegedly) ‘civilian’ structures.

    It is also true that, even in modern war, neither the aim nor the judgment of individual combatants is always without error.

    Poo-poo occurs.

    That’s the way it is today, July 31, 2014.

    It won’t be any different tomorrow.

  79. jenny6833a says

    From Wikipedia under ‘Carpet Bombing’

    As the war progressed, the British built up RAF Bomber Command, which was capable of delivering many thousands of tons of bombs onto a single target, in spite of heavy initial bomber casualties in 1940. The bomber force was then wielded by Arthur Travers Harris in an effort to break German morale and obtain the surrender which Douhet had predicted 15 years earlier. The United States joined the war and the USAAF greatly enforced the campaign. Many cities, both large and small, were virtually destroyed by Allied bombing. W. G. Sebald’s book, On the Natural History of Destruction, comments on the carpet bombing of German cities and asks why it does not play a larger part in the German national consciousness, and why virtually no German authors have written about the events. Despite the lack of literary coverage, a style of film shot amongst the urban debris and depicting the gritty lives of those who had to rebuild the destroyed cities called the rubble film, developed in the years after the end of World War II.

    Carpet bombing was used as close air support (as “flying artillery”) for ground operations. Massive bombing was concentrated in a narrow and shallow area of the front (a few kilometers by a few hundred metres deep), closely coordinated with advance of friendly troops. The first successful use of the technique was on May 6, 1943, at the end of the Tunisia Campaign. Carried out under Sir Arthur Tedder, it was hailed by press as Tedder’s bomb-carpet (or Tedder’s carpet). The bombing was concentrated in a four by three mile area preparing the way for the First Army.[9] This tactic was later used in many cases in Normandy Campaign, for example in Battle for Caen.[10]

    In the Pacific War, carpet bombing was used extensively against Japanese civilian population centers, such as Tokyo.[11][12] On the night of March 9–10, 1945, 334 B-29 Superfortressesheavy bombers were directed to attack the most heavily populated civilian sectors of Tokyo.[13] In just one night, over 100,000 of the population had burned to death from a heavy bombardment of incendiary bombs,[13] comparable to the wartime number of U.S. casualties on the entire Pacific theater.[13] Another 100,000 Japanese were left homeless. These attacks were followed by similar ones against Kobe, Osaka, and Nagoya, as well as other sectors of Tokyo, where over 9,373 tons[13] of incendiary bombs were dropped on civilian and military targets. By the time of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, light and medium bombers were being directed to bomb targets of convenience, as most urban areas had been already destroyed. In the 9-month long civilian bombing campaign, over 580,000 Japanese civilians died.

  80. jenny6833a says

    I’m still interested in a practical plan for solving the conflict permanently on all levels.

    Dianne is the only one who has even tried. Perhaps we could build upon that.

  81. says

    So…your argument is “this can’t be a war crime because the victors didn’t prosecute themselves for this other similar war crime, checkmate you Taqqiyah-loving pretend-atheists!”

    Or…maybe it is a fact that many of us DO think that the incinerations of Dresden and Tokyo, the nuclear bombs on Japan, and the Blitz on London, among many other things in that horrific war, were also war crimes? And your point falls flat on its stupid face?

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  82. unclefrogy says

    A_ ray @ 57 demonstrates the “logic of war” and if war is the strategy and the process you see yourself in it leads to flechette bombs and carpet bombing, torture and total annihilation of the enemy
    it is nothing less than failure written in blood and a tragedy for all involved.
    of the corrosive ideas humans have come up with the heroic warrior along with the “just war” are among the worst
    These monuments to the noble dead of war we construct these days seldom show the piles of enemy dead that signify victory
    The enemy is an idea an abstract not human beings that are indistinguishable from each other when piled in the heaps of the dead.

    uncle frogy

  83. says

    jenny6833a #88

    I’m still interested in a practical plan for solving the conflict permanently on all levels.

    I can’t. I can say that forcing Israel to treat Palestinians like human beings with human rights would be a bloody good start, however.

    Given your scorn for us “handwringers,” I assume that, the practical person, has such a plan, yes? Care to share? Or are you just busy handwringing at our handwringing?

  84. Christopher says

    I’m still interested in a practical plan for solving the conflict permanently on all levels.

    A one-state, secular democracy with a truth and reconciliation committee like South Africa.

    Israel would never agree to this of course and could very well nuke western cities if they ever felt like they were on the virge of losing their racist state to the tides of democracy (the Sampson Option).

  85. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    It would not surprise me to learn that jenny6833a literally believes (as is not-subtly demonstrated by the use of ‘alleged’ to modify ‘non-combatants at #86) that children can reasonably be considered combatants in this war.
    _____

    jenny6833a, why do you think any of us should offer a solution? I have no solution. I’m not sure there is one. Certainly not one that is tenable and won’t result in further death; something which I wouldn’t consider a solution at all, in fact.

  86. Doug Hudson says

    There already is a solution to the problem, and Israel is busy implementing it.

    Gaza will be uninhabitable in about a decade–it is already on the verge of catastrophe.

    Within a few more decades the Jewish settlers will have colonized a majority of the West Bank, at which point the Palestinians will be unable to sustain an organized society. The Palestinians will probably launch a hopeless campaign against Israel, at which point the heavily armed settlers will commit a little constructive genocide.

    By 2050 or so all but a few Palestinians will have died or fled elsewhere and Israel will driven out all the Arabs in Israel and the West Bank (including Israel Arabs, who are experiencing increased oppression even now).

    And all Israel needs to do to achieve this is to keep the pressure on the Palestinians so that the latter can’t build an effective state. No one is going to stop them, because no one cares enough to challenge the nuclear armed Israel–the other Arab states don’t even like the Palestinians.

    So, yes, there is a plan, an eminently logical plan, that Israel has been implementing for quite some time.

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

    Thank you, Daz (#92). You beat me to it.

    May I just add, however, that to be a practical plan it has to be acceptable to the Israeli and Palestinian governments. To be acceptable to those governments, it must be palatable to the peoples. Palatability is created in part by how the plan is presented. Therefore a plan that would work if accepted is not the same thing as a plan that will work.

    I look forward to Jenny6833a’s comprehensive and practical plan for permanently solving this crisis, including which personalities will make the best advocates for which parts of the plan in which communities, what any pro-peace media should say and what images should be used, and exactly when this should be rolled out, taking into account how the seasons and the various religious calendars affect opportunities for messaging.

    Come on, Jenny6833a. This shouldn’t be that hard. One could add one’s voice to the movement opposed to killing children and creating social and political pressure to move towards peace, but that would be easy.

    What is your practical plan, including your plan for making your plan practical?

    If you could use the English language to explain your choices of Arabic and Hebrew promotional phrases, that would also help.

  88. says

    @93
    Christopher

    Israel would never agree to this of course and could very well nuke western cities if they ever felt like they were on the virge of losing their racist state to the tides of democracy (the Sampson Option).

    Yikes, really? They would?

    Can anyone fill me in if this is plausible or not?

  89. chimera says

    Crip Dyke,

    You’re beating on Jenny6833a just because she isn’t a regular. Stop it.

  90. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    brianpansky, umm …try using that search engine thing and typing in ‘Sampson Option’ …maybe.

  91. says

    @96
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I look forward to Jenny6833a’s comprehensive and practical plan for permanently solving this crisis, including which personalities will make the best advocates for which parts of the plan in which communities, what any pro-peace media should say and what images should be used, and exactly when this should be rolled out, taking into account how the seasons and the various religious calendars affect opportunities for messaging.

    Come on, Jenny6833a. This shouldn’t be that hard. One could add one’s voice to the movement opposed to killing children and creating social and political pressure to move towards peace, but that would be easy.

    What is your practical plan, including your plan for making your plan practical?

    If you could use the English language to explain your choices of Arabic and Hebrew promotional phrases, that would also help.

    This is silly, CD. We normally don’t expect people to discuss politics at such a level of detail.

    But then again maybe you are trying to make a point in a round about way that still works somehow even given the absurdity I noted…

  92. Christopher says

    Yikes, really? They would?

    Can anyone fill me in if this is plausible or not?

    One would hope wiser minds would prevail, but they have the means (dolphin class subs with nuclear missiles)

    But Israel has a history of putting non-wise minds in charge of things and someone like this could wind up in charge of the button:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samson_Option

    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?

  93. says

    @100
    Thomathy, Such A ‘Mo

    brianpansky, umm …try using that search engine thing and typing in ‘Sampson Option’ …maybe.

    Ah, it’s an actual term that is used. I thought it had been invented here on the spot.

  94. Jeff S says

    I’m with you, PZ, on a greater need for appreciation of human life.

    Military actions these days are so impersonal, you press a button to fire a missile, confirm that it hit it’s target and move on. You don’t have to stand amongst the dead, wounded, grieving families left in the wake of that bomb. It is important that stories like this one bring the horrors of war to light.

    War is and always has been the absolute worst way to settle disputes, it is the grown up equivalent of a childhood fight over the ownership of a toy. Children learn that they cannot use violence to get what they want, and instead should look to resolve conflicts in peaceful ways (Sharing, conceding, convincing other site to give in with discussion, negotiation, etc..).

    However, it seems that as adults, if given too much power, it becomes all too easy to use this power to force our will on others.
    In other cases, as adults, we are so blinded by hatred for another group of people that we de-humanize them in our minds when deciding whether or not it is OK to use violence.

    Irrational (illogical) concepts such as Religious dogma, Martyrdom, honor, revenge, and greed have all permitted the conflict over Palestine to continue in an endless cycle of horrors.

    I certainly think everyone involved needs a greater value for human life, but not at the expense of logic. Rather the two combined, will lead to humane and logical decision making. When you value human life above all else, preserving it becomes the logical choice.

  95. dianne says

    A comprehensive solution to this conflict which results in lasting peace will be something that will occur only when the people of Israel and Palestine decide to make it happen. The best the rest of us can do is to try to stay out of the way and not make things worse. Peace and harmony are almost impossible to impose from the outside.

  96. Christopher says

    Peace and harmony are almost impossible to impose from the outside.

    The history of South Africa contradicts this assertion.

    Israel needs to become a pariah state under full sanctions from everyone, Uncle Sugar included, or they will continue their slo-mo genocide until they have succeded in their final solution.

  97. laurentweppe says

    Israel would never agree to this of course and could very well nuke western cities if they ever felt like they were on the virge of losing their racist state to the tides of democracy (the Sampson Option)

    I seriously doubt the Samson doctrine will be ever be implemented outside the feverish genocidal dreams of a few fascist pseudo-intellectuals: even if they’ll never admit it in public, the israeli bourgeoisie, like every colonial elite before them, regards western countries as the homeland where they will move back when the levantine party is over. Destroying its safe haven or enraging it’s denizens is simply not an option for the israeli upper-class, even for the sociopaths in their midst.

  98. dianne says

    The history of South Africa contradicts this assertion.

    How so? It seems to me that South Africa’s reformation was the work of South Africans. The international community might have helped–or, perhaps more to the point, ceased to harm–by imposing sanctions, but the actual work was done by South Africans.

  99. Christopher says

    How so? It seems to me that South Africa’s reformation was the work of South Africans. The international community might have helped–or, perhaps more to the point, ceased to harm–by imposing sanctions, but the actual work was done by South Africans.

    The only reason South Africans ever bothered to do the work was because it became economically infeasible to continue on as an apartheid state.

    As always, follow the money.

    Starve Israel of money and the rich bastards in charge will force change faster than you think is possible. Or they’ll randomly nuke the world. I’m hoping greed is a greater motivator than spite.

    Either way, there is no chance that Israel will change course unless forced to and I find economic warfare preferable to carpet bombing Tel Aviv.

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

    Crip Dyke was making a point.

    PZ’s observation about logic is a bit simplistic, but I don’t really feel like debating that. It seems too cold, in the face of tragedy that brought that whole discussion on.

    I don’t feel like there is anything I can do, except express my sorrow and horror at the attrocities committed against people in Gaza.

  101. says

    If you have a charter like Hamas has it is a metaphorical mirical that Hamas has lasted as long as it has. The destruction of Israeli is their foundational belief. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Covenant.

    Now has Israel done some irresponsible things, yes they have, do they border on war crimes, probably do. But how many times has Israel drawn first blood(yes, yes i know about the Lebanon debuckle)? Israel uses it’s foreign aid to build up it’s infrastructure and has developed non-offensive weapons i.e. the Iron Done, while Hamas uses it’s foreign aid to build tunnels into Israeli terrorist to attack and murder Israeli citizens and soldiers, and to buy weapons to attack Israel. Yes, i know both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are blockaded and have been for a while, but why? That’s what you get when you elect a terrorist organization to be the primary political party of your people.

  102. jenny6833a says

    #108 Dianne says

    A comprehensive solution to this conflict which results in lasting peace will be something that will occur only when the people of Israel and Palestine decide to make it happen. The best the rest of us can do is to try to stay out of the way and not make things worse. Peace and harmony are almost impossible to impose from the outside.

    That’s true, Dianne. The problem is, it takes ALL the people — every one. One hothead from either side could and would set it all off again.

    IMO, FWIW, I think the Israeli government could and would control its own. There’s no hope of that on the Palestinian side as long as Hamas rules the roost. For that reason, I find it difficult to condemn Israel for trying to wipe out Hamas.

    (I certainly don’t condemn the USA for trying to wipe out Al Quada (Sp?), although I don’t like some of the methods we’ve used.)

    Israel isn’t blameless in all of this, and some of its actions and methods are as bad or worse than what we’ve done. But as long as the total destruction of Israel remains the stated goal of the majority of the opposition, I see no hope of the mutual resolve for peace that your approach requires.

  103. Christopher says

    If you have a charter like Hamas has it is a metaphorical mirical that Hamas has lasted as long as it has. The destruction of Israeli is their foundational belief.

    Israel created Hamas in order to fuck over the PLO

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123275572295011847
    http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ZER403A.html

    Blowback in action.

    Israel uses it’s foreign aid to build up it’s infrastructure and has developed non-offensive weapons i.e. the Iron Done, while Hamas uses it’s foreign aid to build tunnels into Israeli terrorist to attack and murder Israeli citizens and soldiers, and to buy weapons to attack Israel.

    Iron Dome is an offensive weapon just like Regan’s star wars wet dream is/was. Having the ability to murder at will and prevent any sort of retaliation is the ultimate offensive weapon. I’m sure Hamas would love to have their own Iron Dome to prevent Israel from murdering them, but then I’m sure you’d spin that as Hamas spending money on weapons to murder Jews.

    Second, Israel uses its foreign aid to build up its offensive capability above and beyond Iron Dome. All those cluster bombs killing children were made in the US and paid for by US taxpayers.

    Third, Hamas is the only organization working to better the lives of Palestinians: they run the civilian infrastructure from schools to power plants to hospitals. They don’t spend every penny on their defense budget. And that is why people voted for them.

    That’s what you get when you elect a terrorist organization to be the primary political party of your people.

    So carpet bombing Tel Aviv is OK then?

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

    The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel’s right-wing Herut (or “Freedom”) party, which led to today’s Likud party.[9] Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977.

  104. dianne says

    But as long as the total destruction of Israel remains the stated goal of the majority of the opposition

    Is it? It’s my understanding that the Hamas covenant doesn’t represent current Hamas policy any more than the 3/5 rule in the Constitution represents current US policy.

    I certainly don’t condemn the USA for trying to wipe out Al Quada (Sp?), although I don’t like some of the methods we’ve used.

    I’m not at all fond of al Qaeda and personally wish that we could have dropped bin Laden into an Islamic predominant section of NYC and let his fellow Muslims decide whether they were grateful to him or not, but I don’t just “not like” some of the methods that the US has used. I outright CONDEMN some of the methods the US has used. I see little to chose from, morally, between al Qaeda’s use of airplanes to attack buildings and the US’s use of waterboarding of anyone they think might, possibly, perhaps, be just a little likely to be a terrorist or the US’s invasion of a country that had nothing to do with al Qaeda (and, in fact, considered al Qaeda an enemy), etc. IMHO, if you can’t condemn your own side’s atrocities, you’ve already lost. And the thing that gives me the greatest hope that there will eventually be a solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict is that some of the harshest criticism of Israel that I’ve heard has been from Israelis.

  105. brucegorton says

    Actually I would say empiricism is needed here.

    Israel has repeatedly claimed that it is fighting for its right to exist right?

    For just under 70 years it has used these same tactics repeatedly.

    And what has been achieved through all the bloodshed? Is there peace? Has Israel right to exist been accepted within the region?

    No, there is just another set of war-crimes.

    And I mean if all existing means is that Israel continues to bomb schools, hospitals and people going the beach, should that country have the right to exist?

  106. jenny6833a says

    #94 Tomathy remarks

    It would not surprise me to learn that jenny6833a literally believes (as is not-subtly demonstrated by the use of ‘alleged’ to modify ‘non-combatants at #86) that children can reasonably be considered combatants in this war.

    In my view, children who are not actively engaged in the war effort don’t qualify as combattants. As far as I can tell, thats’s also the Israeli view.

    However, the Hamas view appears to be that children are combattants in the sense of being PR pawns. The more kids that are killed or maimed, the more Hamas can scream. And the more Hamas can scream, the more anti-Israel converts they get — as this thread so clearly shows.

    If Hamas wanted to protect children, they’d round up the children and put them in a well-defined area with no missile launchers and no munitions stashes. They’d publicize the location of the area and give Israel the gps coordinates.

    Hamas could also do that with every person of every age that Hamas regards as a non-combattant.

    But then, of course, Hamas would lose its major goal and selling point. Hamas wants kids to die, bereaved mothers to weep, PZ to post angry stuff, and so on.

    That’s how they think they’ll win.

  107. opposablethumbs says

    Economic sanctions is the least-bad avenue I can see so far; it helped against the Apartheid régime in South Africa. I don’t know whether Israeli peace campaigners themselves have called for sanctions?

  108. Doug Hudson says

    The problem with most peace plans is that they fail to take into account the fact that Israel is winning. They don’t have to make peace, all they have to do is slowly strangle and starve the Palestinians out of existence.

    For a peace process to have any chance at success, the Israeli right-wing must be put in a position where they will lose if they don’t agree to peace. But I’m not sure what that would look like.

    Some people have suggested sanctions. The problem with sanctions is that it is quite possible that the Israel hardliners would take that as a green light to wipe out the Palestinians.

    Think the Israelis wouldn’t commit genocide? Bullshit. They already are committing genocide, albeit as a decades long project.

    I don’t have any suggestions, because I can’t see a way out of this that doesn’t require the deaths of a lot of Palestinians and / or Israelis.

  109. jenny6833a says

    Christopher #122:

    Do you regard the actions of Lt Calley as defining US policy? If not, apply the ame reasoning to your sniper pic.

  110. anteprepro says

    jenny numbers

    In my view, children who are not actively engaged in the war effort don’t qualify as combattants. As far as I can tell, thats’s also the Israeli view.

    So they indiscriminately bomb women and children….why?

    However, the Hamas view appears to be that children are combattants in the sense of being PR pawns.

    lolwut?
    PR pawn =/= combatant.

    The more kids that are killed or maimed, the more Hamas can scream. And the more Hamas can scream, the more anti-Israel converts they get — as this thread so clearly shows.

    So, Hamas is evil because they are letting Israel kill their kids? And Israel is blameless, because the kids they kill are getting Hamas good PR or something?

    Jesus fuck, your moral compass is beyond repair, isn’t it?

    If Hamas wanted to protect children, they’d round up the children and put them in a well-defined area with no missile launchers and no munitions stashes. They’d publicize the location of the area and give Israel the gps coordinates.

    If Hamas wanted to protect children, they would store all their children in one location, without military defenses, and then tell the people that are bombing them where that location is?

    No, I’m sorry. The onus is not on Hamas to make sure that Israel isn’t killing their children as “collateral damage”. Fuck you for saying otherwise.

  111. anteprepro says

    It seems like the apologists for Israel are using an argument very similar to “She was asking for it” to excuse the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Ridiculously similar.

  112. Doug Hudson says

    anteprepro @125,

    Pretty much. Or the similar “stop making me hit you” routine. The hypocrisy is a bit much.

    But it’s our modern day values at work. In the old days colonial powers could annihilate native populations without even bothering to give a reason. Nowadays, though, the world expects some sort of justification for killing civilians.

  113. says

    jenny6833a #123

    If not, apply the ame reasoning to your sniper pic.

    They shelled a school.
    A refugee camp.

    Israeli forces shot Adnan Abu Khater, 16, on January 2 near the perimeter fence east of Jabalia, in the Masaha area, where he and nine classmates from his secondary school went on a picnic after finishing their exams. One of the students, Abu Khater’s cousin Muhammad, 17, told Human Rights Watch that they chose to go “for a trip there, because there is nice scenery. We brought some food: falafel, avocados, and eggs.” The shooting occurred about 11:30 a.m.:

    How many of these “unsanctioned” incidents do you need to see, before you spot a pattern?
    Expanding from children to civilians in general, read that last link. People were shot whilst picnicking, trying to get to their farms, planting trees. Not by mistake, or in the heat of battle, but in cold blood, whilst in plain view, using deliberately aimed weapons, across a border fence.

  114. Christopher says

    I guess you missed the quote earlier from a Member of Parliament saying that women and children should be killed?

    Here are some more choice quotes from people in power in Israel:

    http://972mag.com/nstt_feeditem/israeli-scholar-only-raping-the-sister-of-a-palestinian-can-deter-him/

    This is the only thing that deters a suicide bomber. If he knows that when he pulls the trigger, or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s it. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, to keep the honor of his sister.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/15326#.U9qrZNb2Vpg

    Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.

    A slew of quotes:
    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/palestinians.php

    ” [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.” Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. New Statesman, 25 June 1982.

    “We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.” Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983.

    “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.

    “Our race is the Master Race. We are divine gods on this planet. We are as different from the inferior races as they are from insects. In fact, compared to our race, other races are beasts and animals, cattle at best. Other races are considered as human excrement. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races. Our earthly kingdom will be ruled by our leader with a rod of iron. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves.” – Israeli prime Minister Menachem Begin in a speech to the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] quoted by Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts,” New Statesman, June 25, 1982

    “Let us approach them [the Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories] and say that we have no solution, that you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave — and we will see where this process leads. In five years we may have 200,000 less people – and that is a matter of enormous importance.”
    (Moshe Dayan, September 1967)

    “make their life so bitter that they will transfer themselves willingly”
    (Binyamin (Benny) Elon, some date around 2003)

    “We have not been seeking peace for twenty-five years — all declarations to that effect have been no more than coloured statements or deliberate lies. There is of course no assurance that we could have made peace with the Arabs if we had wanted to. However, it has to be heavily emphasized that we have not only made no attempts to seek peace, but have deliberately and with premeditation, sabotaged every possibility of doing so.”
    (Yeshayahu Leibowitz, 30 November 1973)

    “Our claim that Israel has fulfilled its side of the ‘road map’ is seen as lacking credibility because not only have we not evacuated the illegal outposts, we are working in every way to whitewash their existence and build more.”
    (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Autumn 2003)

    “The trees grow back and ultimately we hope to harvest them in the place of the unwanted inhabitants of the area.”
    (Yossi Peli, 14 November 2003)

    “Our sufferings have granted us immunity papers, as it were . . . After what all those dirty goyim have done to us, none of them is entitled to preach morality to us. We, on the other hand, have carte blanche, because we were victims and have suffered so much. Once a victim, always a victim, and victimhood entitles its owners to a moral exemption.”
    (Amos Oz (born Klausner), 1982)

    “We don’t differentiate between ordinary Palestinians and Palestinians who claim to be journalists.”
    (Daniel Seaman, 2003)

    “Pre-emption is the other primary method of reducing the scourge of terrorism. Pre-emption, although Israel has praciticed it, generally falls outside the rule of law. Terrorists put democracies in a tragic dilemma by hiding among civilians.”
    (Alan Morton Dershowitz, December 2003)

    “I ran toward them and punched the Arab right in the face, never before did I do such a thing, he collapsed on the road . I dragged him over behind the jeep, pushed him in . We sat in the back seat . Our Arab lay down there and just wept quietly to himself . and he bled and made a puddle of blood and saliva, which angered and disgusted me, so I grabbed him by the hair and twisted his head to the side. He cried out loud . He didn’t stop crying and someone said his hands hurt from the handcuffs. One of the soldiers approached him and punched him in the stomach. The Arab suffered from pain and grunted, we all giggled, it was funny . I kicked him real hard in the bottom and he whirled inside, just as I planned. They shouted that I am crazy and laughed – and I felt great.”
    (Liran Ron-Forer, December 2003)

    “I am sure, the soldier didn’t know he was shooting at a Jew. … the army deals differently with the Palestinians. Soldiers feel threatened by Palestinians and open fire when they feel threatened. This is not the same when soldiers deal with Jews.”
    (Moshe Ya’alon (Yaalon), December 2003)

    “I am sorry, I never thought I was shooting at Jews, I would never shoot a Jew.”
    (Israeli soldier who shot Gil Naamati, December 2003)

    “In Jerusalem, when you see an Arab you don’t know whether he’s with you or against you,” she said, “but here [Gaza] if you see an Arab you know he’s dangerous and you shoot him.
    – Adi Dana-Picard, settler in Kfar Darom, Gaza.”

    “Apparently the [Israeli] public is accepting a situation in which military activity in Palestinian towns is accompanied by indiscriminate killing.”
    (Haaretz editorial writer, 29 January 2004)

    “Whoever [Arab stopped at a checkpoint] does not act nicely gets beaten. … We have clubs for that. … Sometimes I might just not like his face. … And then he gets one too. Just a way of passing the time.”
    (An Israeli policewoman, 16 January 2004)

    “Ours is not an autonomous scale of values, the product of human reason, but rather an heteronomous or, more correctly, theonomous scale rooted in the will of the Divine architect of the universe and its moral order. From the point of view of mankind’s humanistic morality we were in the wrong in (taking the land) from the Canaanites. There is only one catch. The command of God ordered us to be the people of the Land of Israel.”
    (Shlomo Aviner, 1982)

    Ug, only made it a third down the page and am too disgusted to continue. Enjoy the reading.

  115. Amphiox says

    I guess you missed the quote earlier from a Member of Parliament saying that women and children should be killed?

    I imagine Israel is no different from the United States in the fact that some elected representatives are batshit crazy.

    Should foreigners judge US policy on the statements of Michelle Bachman?

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

    I was making a point.

    Jenny6833a was complaining that others were complaining without having a “practical plan”. She thought we should come up with a solution before we critique the status quo.

    Which is not only fucked in general – critique always comes before formulating a new plan – but “a permanent peace”? You want me to give practical details of the steps involved in getting there?

    There are people who devote their entire lives to that question – many people. It is the height of arrogance to believe that a bunch of people kvetching on a blog can come up with a “practical plan”. When Jenny6833a asked for that, demanded that of the participants here, she was making an entirely unrealistic judgement about what is unreasonable to expect. I just laid out a few reasons why it’s unrealistic to expect and then turned the question back on her: what is her plan?

    So, Jenny6833a, please admit that you were being unreasonable in your demand OR provide your plan. It’s that easy.

  117. jenny6833a says

    Christopher #28

    “I guess you missed the quote earlier from a Member of Parliament saying that women and children should be killed?”

    Do you read Ed Brayton? The number of vicious nutcase quotes from members of our legislatures is equally astounding.

    Although your list of quotes is extremely impressive, I’d feel better about your being impartial if you’d included quotes from Arab sources.

    Are you perhaps engaged in special pleading?

  118. says

    Pure logic my ass. There is no such thing and never has been. Logic requires premises, and that’s where the trouble arises. Anyone who claims that they’re talking about pure logic just means they’ve never examined their premises, which are usually deeply, deeply faulty.
    With any set of premises that includes valuing human life, for instance, the course of logic is never a war of aggression.

    Even with a ruthless ‘realpolitik’ view that bleats about things like the ‘National Interest”, this sort of thing still isn’t the course of logic, because ‘victory’ is impossible. Permanent victory can only ever mean genocide; any other ‘victory’ is intrinsically temporary and sows the seeds of the next war, and/or ongoing rebellion*
    Genocide, meanwhile, robs the future of a vast wellspring of human capital, which otherwise could have contributed an untold amount to the greater food, of which the national good must be a part. Furthermore, it will inevitably have effects on the society which perpetrates it, and these are typically deleterious in the long run. That, mind is the argument without ethics, and which makes no moral demands, but merely recognizes fact. The only way that these atrocities follow from logic is if your axioms include ‘those people are less than human’ and your ethics are so lacking as to allow that axiom to stand.
    Put differently, people who talk about the ‘National Interest’ of whatever nation really mean ‘the desires of the most brutal, grasping, and authoritarian elements of the nation’s government’.

    On a tangentially related note, for those who care to whinge about ‘what else is Israel supposed to do’ besides bomb random civilians, and who aren’t on board with the real solution (which, incidentally, is for Israel to make Palestinians full citizens with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereunto, and also pay out some fat reparations from the government coffers), here’s what could be done: float a bunch of aerostat drones about the place to track where rocket launches are coming from. Use telephoto lenses mounted on the same drones to get pictures of who launched them. Track the movements of said people with said drones while a troop of squaddies goes out to intercept them and take them into custody. This is entirely doable with existing technology, there’s really no excuse for not doing it, unless of course you’re an evil sod who actually wants more dead people around the place, which describes an unfortunately large part of the Israeli government.
    * and this is why I don’t usually bother with moral judgement about the behavior of Hamas; of course it’s deplorable to fire rockets into civilian areas, e.g., but it’s also inevitable. A situation like Gaza will produce a violent resistance movement of some type, and there’s no point getting indignant about it. It’s as predictable as a tsunami after an offshore quake, and the only way to avoid it is to not create/perpetuate those types of situations.

    guru#5

    See above. Logic based on any kind of reasonable premises dictates that Israel lay down arms and start reparations. But, as I said above, logic per se has nothing to do with this bullshit.

    thomaspaine
    The usual asshole apologetics from the usual tools. The ‘nym is a big tell, btw.

    Jafafa Hots#72

    So you are left with a choice in that absence of civilization… saying that nothing is a crime, or saying that the war itself is a crime. That abandoning civilization and settling for brute force is crime.

    I prefer the latter definition.

    Hear, hear. QFT.

    chimera#99
    Jenny6833a has been pulling this shit in the last several threads about Israel, not to mention making an ass of herself in a few other threads to boot. She’s more than earned the derision and contumely she’s receiving.

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

    I’d feel better about your being impartial if you’d included quotes from Arab sources.

    Are you perhaps engaged in special pleading?

    I see this kind of thing all the time with regard to Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Ed may catalog those quotes, but take in US media with circulations/listeners/viewerships over 100k and you’ll find that these quotes aren’t publicized in the way that they should, despite the fact that horribly offensive quotes from Palestinians ARE publicized, and, even worse, when this conflict is Israeli/Palestinian, anchors, commentators and other talking heads will bring up quotes from Iranians like Ahmadinejad, as if the fact that someone in London wanting to kill me has something to do with whether British Columbia can make peace with Alberta.

    Against this backdrop, we presume some basic fluency with the issues involved. Palestinians making fucked up statements is well known and part of basic fluency with the issues. Because of how media works, it is not particularly difficult to seek out fucked up quotes from Israeli military, political, and religious leadership, but it is not part of basic fluency with the issues – at least in the US where Pharyngula is based.

    Adding these comments is useful. It would be special pleading only if you threw in some Israeli comments and were told that those were not relevant.

    Let me help:

    Special Pleading
    is a form of spurious argument where a position in a dispute introduces favourable details or excludes unfavourable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exception.

    Has anyone said quotes are not generally admissible in this debate but that Israeli quotes are an exception?

    Your attempt to reduce special pleading to

    a position in a dispute introduces favourable details or excludes unfavorable details

    without reference to any jury-rigged rules of admissible evidence.

    Merely putting forward the evidence that favors the argument I’m making without spending any time gathering up evidence unrelated or contrary to that point isn’t special pleading. It’s arguing your case.

    =============
    On a separate issue, some have said that I might be being hard on you because you aren’t “regular” enough. I don’t think that’s true. I believe that your unreasonable argumentative demands and your self-praise for things I find ethically wrong, combined with your condemnation of people, most recently Greta Christina, without knowing a single condemnable thing about that person, is the behavior of a troll. I strongly dislike this behavior and you’ll get no benefit of any doubt from me as long as it continues, even should you post 50 times a day for 10 years.

  120. Menyambal says

    Jennynumbers, the Israelis just blew up a school where children and their parents were taking refuge. The people had gone there because the Israelis had warned Gaza that they were going to be firing into a neighborhood. The UN made damned sure that Israel knew where the school was, and that it was a refuge—ten times they sent a clear message, with coordinates of the refuge, and information that it was full of children and parents, so the Israrlis could avoid it. The Israelis just blew it up.

  121. says

    Do you regard the actions of Lt Calley as defining US policy?

    Calley’s actions were defined by US policy. The US at the time was running the Phoenix Program through the CIA, which was a program of assassinating civilian leadership. Calling artillery in to flatten entire villages was policy. Declaring a village within a free fire zone and napalming it was policy. Flying helicopters over a village and machine-gunning anyone who ran (because they wouldn’t be running if they weren’t VC, right?) was policy. Calley’s actions were generally supported by his chain of command, which is why it took the army so long to do anything. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, “why should we care about one little date rape, when worse rapes happen all the time” oh, excuse me, I meant to say “why should we care about this one village, when we flattened 10 others this month?” It took an angry and concerned person, with photographs, to jump the chain of command and bulldog the issue until someone decided to make an example of Calley. And by “example” I mean a couple years in prison followed by a presidential pardon after the dust cleared. Sound familiar? That’s because that’s US policy. Guess what happened to SSG Bob Bales, the monster who shot 19 Afghan civilians then tried to cover it up? The wheels of military ‘justice’ (AKA US policy) turned slowly and years afterward he was convicted and got something like 5 years with potential time off because he’s been so well-behaved since he shot those 19 people.

    There’s entirely too much defending monstrous actions based on the idea that a more monstrous action ought to somehow – what – ? Provide shade in which these things can take place? What Calley did was wrong, for the same reasons that what Himmler did was wrong and the same reasons what Israel is doing is wrong. It’s all wrong. If you kill 1 civilian, or 19, or 1 million, you’re just wrong – full stop.

  122. says

    saying that nothing is a crime, or saying that the war itself is a crime

    If war isn’t a crime, what the fuck is??

    Please don’t say “murder” – because, see, a war’s just a lot of murdering going on. What’s worse than murder? War. Is there anything worse than a war?

  123. anteprepro says

    Marcus Ranum

    .Is there anything worse than a war?

    This sounds like a call for the Master of Ranking Things!

    Get The Dawk on the phone, stat!

  124. chimera says

    “Our sufferings have granted us immunity papers, as it were . . . After what all those dirty goyim have done to us, none of them is entitled to preach morality to us. We, on the other hand, have carte blanche, because we were victims and have suffered so much. Once a victim, always a victim, and victimhood entitles its owners to a moral exemption.”
    (Amos Oz (born Klausner), 1982)

    This is a misrepresentation of Oz’s views. He is a novelist and peace activist, he was one of the founders of Peace Now. He did indeed write these words but as the thoughts of a character in one of his books. And what does his birth name have to do with it?

    I wonder how genuine or representative the other quotes on the list are.

  125. danzig says

    jenny numbers:

    Why do you put it all on Hamas? Why does Israel not have any responsibility for making sure no civilians are killed? After all, it is Israeli weapons that are doing most of the killing.

    If Israel really wanted to protect civilians from being collateral damage they could for example:

    Not bomb UN buildings that THEY KNOW house refugees.
    Not bomb children at the hospital play ground.
    Not bomb children playing at the beach.
    Not bomb markets.

    And yet your preferred solution would be for Hamas to bring all the children/civilians to a building and give Israel the location of said building. Did you read about what happened at the UN school? If not even a UN school is a safe place then what makes you think that building would be?

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

    Nice catch, Chimera.

  127. atheist says

    @barbaz – 31 July 2014 at 12:42 pm (UTC -5)

    I never said that Israel used no logic at all. They decided that they want to keep Palestine as weak as possible by any means necessary, and then used logic to find the most effective strategy. The part where they went wrong was not the one where they started applying logic.

    Everyone’s ready to accept that pure logic can’t lead to good things. Is it really that hard to imagine that pure logic wouldn’t lead to bad stuff either? By putting the blame on logic, you move it away from where it actually belongs. The ones making these decisions are not cold, neutral computers. They are actual persons with a dehumanizing agenda who are (even if not held) responsible for their own actions.

    I don’t mean to blame logic, nor do I think logic always leads to bad things. I just wish folks would not argue that evil actions have no logic, because sometimes they do.

  128. says

    Off-topic a bit, repulsive as their views are, the dismissiveness of altering their ‘nym in this way is kind of disturbing to me. 6833@a is not an outrageously long sequence, and ‘jenny’ would be pretty clear on this thread as referring to a particular poster.

    Would it perhaps be better of us to not alter poster’s nyms in ways that appear meant as a contemptuous jibe? Surely their ideas are disgusting enough to provide fuel for reasoned and reasonable mockery, without lowering ourselves to mocking irrelevancies?

    Not asking for or suggesting that this be a rule, but suggestimg it for consideration by those who are interested.

    I’m using singular ‘they’ here because I don’t know jenny’s gender, and I prefer it as a neutral or non-gendered 3rdpers pronoun.

    Sorry for the off-topic, doesn’t need to be a big discussion, really just wanted to introduce the idea.

    Please return to your regularly-scheduled sniny clawing of jenny’s repulsive comments. :)

  129. atheist says

    @thomaspaine – 31 July 2014 at 10:07 am (UTC -5)

    A little context is in order. Harris wrote the following:

    The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.

    There is nothing horrible about what Harris wrote. Sam had it spot on.

    If you really think what the West needs is more fascism, then you’re nuts.

  130. chimera says

    Here is the full quote from Harris:

    Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game.

    While liberals should be the ones pointing the way beyond this Iron Age madness, they are rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant. Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren’t.

    The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists. To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization.

  131. chimera says

    Harris was not praising fascists: he was arguing that liberal confusion and cowardice was empowering them.

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

    @CaitieCat, #142 & Jenny6833a, +, y’know, generally….

    I responded to CaitieCat’s 142 over on ThunderDome.

    If anyone else is interested in following up, that’s probably the best place for it.

  133. anteprepro says

    chimera: He was praising fascists. For doing what liberals ostensibly won’t: Hating Islamic fundamentalism hard enough.

    He was not stating, at least in the quotation presented, that liberals are empowering the fascists at home, but is lamenting that it is ONLY fascists (supposedly) who are hating on Islamic fundamentalists, and implies that liberals are enabling that. So….yeah.

  134. chimera says

    anteprepro,

    Discussions in Europe about “the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants” is not quite the same as “hating on Islamic fundamentalists”. Unless, of course, you would say that most of the participants on this blog are “hating on Christian fundamentalists”. I don’t think it’s about hate.

  135. anteprepro says

    chimera,

    I will grant your 149. It does nothing to change my point that your 146 is a mischaracterization of what was actually quoted. It is, in fact, about the fascists being right and the liberals wrong. The only party Harris shows concern about liberals “enabling” are the Islamic fundamentalists, not the domestic fascists.

  136. atheist says

    @chimera – 31 July 2014 at 6:20 pm (UTC -5)

    Harris was not praising fascists: he was arguing that liberal confusion and cowardice was empowering them.

    He was arguing that liberals’ refusal to act like fascists empowers Islamic extremists (an assertion that does not fit the evidence). He was really arguing for neo-conservatism, a warlike foreign policy and a security-obsessed domestic policy (in his case, obsessed with security from Muslim immigrants). He wanted neo-conservatism to be secular and liberal, unlike the more overtly religious US version.

    The past decade has shown pretty clearly that a neoconservative foreign policy was and is a horrible idea. The security obsession in the US has decimated the civil rights of Muslims and other minorities, wasted untold millions of dollars, led to a dangerous culture of impunity among law enforcement, and has not achieved its supposed aim of security. Harris’ dream of taking these toxic policies and wrapping them in secular liberalism seems delusional in the US, and maybe only pernicious in Europe. The combination has led to burgeoning Jewish fascism in Israel.

    When someone praises the clear worldview of fascists over the confusing beliefs of liberals it is a sign that person does not have patience for tolerance, dialogue, and civil rights. Such a person wants to dispense with such niceties and get rid of the “bad people”. Sam Harris is such a person.

  137. laurentweppe says

    He was praising fascists. For doing what liberals ostensibly won’t: Hating Islamic fundamentalism hard enough.

    Fascists do not hate fundamentalism. In fact, I daresay that fascists see fundies as convenient scapegoats behind whom they can hide their hate of secular and well integrated Muslims:
    The thing is, left to their own device, fundies will lock themselves up in self-inflicted ghettos: it’s the children of the well-integrated immigrants, who had good grades in school and end up with diplomas, self-evident expertise and successful careers and lives who are the fascists real targets: it’s a cliché to say that it’s “fear” that drives people toward fascist parties, but it’s not the fear that most people think about: far-rightists are not afraid to see their Muslim neighbors turning overnight into clones of Mohamed Merah: they are afraid that the janitor’s children will end up being more hardworking, more erudite, and just plain smarter than their own kids: they fear competition, and what the meritocracy-hating european fascists are doing that liberals ostensibly won’t is brandishing secularism as an excuse to justify planning the disenfranchisement of immigrant populations and more generally the installation of social stratification along ethnic lines, so any competition from smart immigrant can be killed in the cradle.

  138. chimera says

    Well Laurentweppe you seem to reduce everything to matters of class. I think class is almost always involved but rarely a sole factor. Above, you make it sound like the people that “fear” is pushing toward fascism or among the haves when the more grave problem is that this “fear” is pushing more have-nots in that direction. There are a lot more have-nots than haves.

  139. chimera says

    atheist @151

    Harris was really arguing for neoconservatism? That’s jumping to conclusions. An enormous leap.

  140. atheist says

    @Chimera

    Check out neoconservative Norman Podhoretz’s book “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”. Read some of the language in it. You can see that it’s pretty much the same stuff Harris is on about in that article. Harris’s need for “hard headed” action against “the religious lunatics of the Muslim world” is the same, so is his worry about the corrosive effect of liberal multiculturalism. Like Christopher Hitchens, Harris is clearly allying himself with the neocons.

  141. atheist says

    Or just take his own statement seriously for a moment:

    Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West.

    If the only people in 2006 hard headed enough to fight the Muslim lunatics were “religious lunatics of the West”, then clearly he wants the kind of foreign policy done by these Western religious lunatics. In other words, the Neocons.

  142. Al Dente says

    Considering that Harris is a self-described libertarian, it isn’t a fair reach for him to adopt various neocon views.

  143. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Considering that Harris is a self-described libertarian, it isn’t a fair reach for him to adopt various neocon views.

    Happens when you adopt an evidenceless sloganeering theology as a political/economic view. You tend to have fascist ideals.

  144. Chris says

    You don’t know what logic even is, and that is pretty damn depressing from someone on the pulpit screaming about it.

  145. laurentweppe says

    Above, you make it sound like the people that “fear” is pushing toward fascism or among the haves when the more grave problem is that this “fear” is pushing more have-nots in that direction. There are a lot more have-nots than haves.

    Have-nots? Where?

    The european working-class people who vote for fascists parties, like the blue-collars americans who voted and still vote for the scions of the confederacy are nothave-not“: they are “have-very-littles” and it makes a world of difference:

    Lots of far-right voters, either because they’re old enough to remember it themselves or because their elders told them, know that 50 years ago virtually all immigrants from Muslim-majority countries living in Europe were constrained to the bottom of the social food-chain. They were the true have-nots.
    Nowadays, children and grandchildren of these impoverished migrants are reaching middle-class status and above often enough to become visible.
    Far-right working-class voters are those who decided that challenging the privileged’s unearned and excessive hold over earth’s limited resources is not worth the hardships and the risks, and as a consequence see economic competition as zero-sum game for the scraps of wealth that remain. Immigrants are, simply put, unwanted competition
    Sure, in reality, discriminations large and small, prejudice, multitudes of inequities are still making it harder for children of immigrants than for children of White working-class people to enjoy social advancement, but this reality is not going to alleviate the anger and resentment felt by working-class far-right voters toward Muslims: if you perceive life a zero-sum competition for limited riches, you’ll perceive every success by members of the underclass as increasing the risks of your own loss of status.

    Sure, no far-right politician or activist will ever candidly state that their goal is to rig the competition in favor of whites, but I’ve heard enough spiteful bullshit uttered by far-right voters in day to day interactions to know that they what the competition to be rigged in favor of Whites because they see keeping the children of have-nots down as the only to guarantee that they themselves will preserve their standing as “have-somethings.

  146. atheist says

    @laurentweppe – 31 July 2014 at 9:19 pm (UTC -5)

    Sure, no far-right politician or activist will ever candidly state that their goal is to rig the competition in favor of whites, but I’ve heard enough spiteful bullshit uttered by far-right voters in day to day interactions to know that they what the competition to be rigged in favor of Whites because they see keeping the children of have-nots down as the only to guarantee that they themselves will preserve their standing as “have-somethings.

    Very true. Laurent, may I ask in what nation do you reside? I’m in the US, are you in the UK?

  147. chimera says

    Laurentweppe,

    All that has occurred to me, is basically what I think too. But and so. The so part is, to what extent then the haute bourgeoisie allows immigration to continue solely and cynically in order to ethnically divide the working class and thus create optimal conditions for the further accumulation of wealth? The but part is, I don’t think you can reduce opposition to immigration/immigrants solely to not wanting competition.

  148. phere says

    I am increasing sickened and frightened to the core that I brought a child into this world of grim futures on nearly every level. My son is 4. It’s been the most fascinating phase of his little life so far – watching him put together increasingly complex ideas and being able to share those ideas with increasing complex language all wrapped up in a mega dose of blossoming personality, empathy, and love. The children of Earth, OUR children one and all, deserve better than this pile of evil bullshit we are dumping upon their feet.

    From Steven Erickson’s Malazan series:
    “Children are dying.”
    Lull nodded. “That’s a succinct summary of humankind, I’d say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.”

  149. says

    Caitie

    But since the apologists keep insisting Israel is only targeting ‘militants’ and ‘terrorists’…

    [cynism]Ah, but you see, there’s a non-zero chance that those kids might have grown into militants. And that the women might give birth to more militants. Therefore, nothing in this defies logic. *puke*

    dianne

    Logic is a tool. It can take you a lot of different places, depending on your goal, starting point, and underlying assumptions.

    This, this, this.

    barbarz

    By putting the blame on logic, you move it away from where it actually belongs.

    Nobody is putting the blame on logic. People are saying that “logic” isn’t a magic cure-all solution and that the world would be a place in which unicorns shit renewable energy if just everybody behaved logical

    Jenny 6833

    Poo-poo occurs.

    Well, you can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs, right?
    You’re a despiable piece of shit, referring to children torn aparn as “poo-poo occurs”. You are human, but you have apparently no humanity left.

    However, the Hamas view appears to be that children are combattants in the sense of being PR pawns. The more kids that are killed or maimed, the more Hamas can scream. And the more Hamas can scream, the more anti-Israel converts they get — as this thread so clearly shows.

    Apparently it’s that famed Palesitian “self-genocide”

    antrprepro

    If Hamas wanted to protect children, they would store all their children in one location, without military defenses, and then tell the people that are bombing them where that location is?

    You mean like “UN designated refugees”?

  150. says

    rq
    Ah, you’re looking at this from the wrong perspective and with too much emotion instead of logic:
    Why bomb entire neighbourhoods into rabble when you can tell people to evacuate those, thereby demonstrating to the world that you’re sparing civilians, and then just bomb them when you’ve got them all in one location where they sought refuge. Much more efficient.

  151. ck says

    The Paperclip Maximizer AI is purely logical, and doesn’t specifically wish you any harm. The problem is that its purpose is to collect paperclips. Paperclips are fashioned out of certain kinds of atoms. Unfortunately, you’re also made of atoms, and many of those atoms can be repurposed into making more paperclips.

  152. David Marjanović says

    The kolinahr fallacy is quite widespread.

    A complete absence of emotions would mean a complete lack of motivation to do anything or its opposite. Only reflexes would happen anymore. That’s why even amphioxus have a limbic system in their brain “to switch between their handful of behaviors” (source forgotten) – neomammalian cortex my ass.

    This is not, as someone already said “uncaring logic”: what we see here are “highly educated teams of engineers and executives and politicians” reasoning like fundamentalistic loons: enthralling themselves to their retaliatory bloodlust and devising elaborate rhetorical arabesques to justify themselves, using wit as an ersatz for intelligence and morality. The Hitchens School of Thought -that is: murderous passions masquerading as high-minded philosophical principles- in all its disgusting glory.

    Seconded.

    … And to think a hundred years ago they started the war to end all wars.

    It was followed by “the peace to end all peace”, leading pretty straight to WWII and a… few… other things.

    Civil society being the thing that defines “illegal” and “legal” and “crime”
    So you are left with a choice in that absence of civilization… saying that nothing is a crime, or saying that the war itself is a crime. That abandoning civilization and settling for brute force is crime.

    I prefer the latter definition.

    Good, but make sure not to get into All Crimes Are Equal territory.

    Israel created Hamas in order to fuck over the PLO

    That’s true, but there’s no need to cite the conspiracy theory site globalresearch.ca for it.

    they fear competition, and what the meritocracy-hating european fascists are doing that liberals ostensibly won’t is brandishing secularism as an excuse to justify planning the disenfranchisement of immigrant populations and more generally the installation of social stratification along ethnic lines, so any competition from smart immigrant can be killed in the cradle.

    They’re coming to steal our jooooobs!!!

  153. pick says

    Amazing conversation here on this subject. I have followed the same topic on Jerry Coynes blog. Coyne actively culls any and all comments like the ones I read in this thread. He also culls those making the comments. As a result he seems to have selected rabidly Zionist and frankly racist views and rationalizations, just as we read in the piece from Sam Harris.
    These atheists have a moral blind spot in full view as they advocate brutal repression and genocide of a people based on their religion. It’s amazing to see how the Palestinians are demonized in the comments of Coynes rabid blogs on the Palestinians and extraordinary how naive and ignorant both of them are about about Israel. I know they consider them “new atheists” but seen from this perspective I think they are just fighting the same old biblical war on a different front. And Harris writes books with titles like “the moral landscape”.

  154. says

    @pick – 1 August 2014 at 7:55 pm

    These atheists have a moral blind spot in full view as they advocate brutal repression and genocide of a people based on their religion. … I know they consider them “new atheists” but seen from this perspective I think they are just fighting the same old biblical war on a different front. And Harris writes books with titles like “the moral landscape”.

    Indeed, guys like Harris, and perhaps like this Coyne you’re talking about, seem almost designed to prove that while religion does not make one moral, atheism does not make one intelligent either.

  155. piero says

    I’m sorry to see that even PZ can succumb to irrational thinking when his emotions are stirred enough. Many comments have already pointed out that logic and reason cannot be blamed for decisions which are purely based on emotion and illogical to boot.

    It is quite obvious that neither the state of Israel nor Hamas deserve any sympathy. It’s one of those situations where the good guys, as in the mafia wars, simply do not exist. It is therefore pointless to discuss who’s right: none is. I guess that’s a difficult fact to digest, because we like to root for the good guys, but our childish desires do not alter reality, I’m afraid.

    The war between Israel and Hamas will not end until one of them is effectively exterminated, precisely because there is nothing rational about it. Rationality, as has already been mentioned, is a means to an end: we can rationally determine the best course of action to fulfil our desires. But there is no reason why rationality cannot be applied to desirfes themselves; rational analysis is not condemned to play second fiddle to emotion; on the contrary, it is ethically reckless NOT to subject our desires to rational scrutiny.

    In the case of Israel, it was obvious that its physical location was determined by religious beliefs and consented to by the emotionally-laden climate of the post war era. Pointing out that it was a stupid idea would have been surely interpreted as pandering to the nazis.

    Is it at all surprising that the situation has become a nightmare of shredded bodies? Each side has opted for a strategy of terror, and terrified people are, like all terrified animals, capable of extreme cruelty. The only way out is the elimination of one side. But it is not easy to complete eliminate the enemy, and so the war will go on at increasing levels of horror and suffering for several decades, at the least. Avoiding this would take an act of rationality on both parts: are we becoming any happier with this war? Why not? What would be a better way to pursue happiness? Maybe our beliefs and desires are to blame, and they should be changed. That will not happen, of course, because, you know, “rationality is cold, callous. How dare you suggest a rational solution to a conflict that causes so much suffering! We need Emotion, not Reason!.” To which I can only say that hatred is an emotion too, and that some emotions need to be curbed by reason. Unless, of course, the annihilation of the species is seen as a desirable objective.

    So it

  156. pick says

    Atheism is the ism that isn’t it couldn’t possible make one either moral or intelligent. I see Harris and Coyne making the same mistake that they criticize other believers of, they don’t know that they don’t know what they don’t know. And, then therefore, they don’t bother to find out. What strikes me is the confirmation bias. Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist for whom I greatly respect otherwise, actively culls his blog of anyone not sufficiently Zionist. As a result, on this topic, he gets no dissent, no negative feedback, and his comments and the comments of his followers grow increasingly racist and morally bankrupt.

    The Israelis now have 3-4 generations that have all been through the military. They take the entire population right out of high school. So we see natural selection at work. The entire population has now been programmed for the bias that only a soldier can have. Israel is an ethnocracy, others need not apply.

  157. pick says

    ‘Indeed, guys like Harris, and perhaps like this Coyne you’re talking about, seem almost designed to prove that while religion does not make one moral, atheism does not make one intelligent either.’

    Or moral or less tribal. I still don’t understand how otherwise intelligent people can fail so badly to explore their own blind spots. They disgrace the scientific method with their failure to apply it to their politics in advance of opening their large mouths. I note that now, Harris the neuro-scientist atheist is charging special rates to teach followers about “spiritualism”. This is a guy that pays to go to special “retreats” he attends with strangers. I understand that the enrollees spend a week together without speaking. I think that’s creepy new age woo. I think that it’s time that Harris get debunked.

  158. laurentweppe says

    Very true. Laurent, may I ask in what nation do you reside? I’m in the US, are you in the UK?

    Nope: french guy here: citizen and and denizen of a country where manufactured paranoia regarding religious and ethnic minorities is rather acute nowadays.

    ***

    These atheists have a moral blind spot in full view as they advocate brutal repression and genocide of a people based on their religion

    Harris is especially bad at this, as he has quite clearly built his “moral landscape” upon his own social circle: he has jewish relatives, christian colleagues and buddhist friends, therefore these religions are “inherently different” from Islam and therefore one can do to the later’s followers things that He could deem barbaric if done to followers of one of the formers.

    ***

    It’s one of those situations where the good guys, as in the mafia wars, simply do not exist

    As a matter of fact, good guys do exists, it’s just that they’re rather busy being bullied into submission by violent fascist thugs.

    You can also read this testimony which summarize Israel’s current McCarthyite atmosphere: the most relevant quote is here (The division in several paragraphs an emphases are mine):

    • The Open House LGBT organization in Jerusalem came under attack after Elinor Sidi, its director, took a stance against the war.
    • In academia, university presidents published statements warning that they monitor staff and students expressions on social media and will resort to sanctions if they express “too extreme” opinions.
    • This blunt assault is what happens publicly. In private, we know from our friends, many who are politically colored as unpatriotic or anti-Zionist pay a great personal price. Candidates for jobs are asked to write letters renouncing their political opinions.
    • University presidents intervene personally to block “controversial” appointments.
    • Ron Shoval, former leader of Im Tirtzu organizations called to put to use the boycott law, from its sinful inception no more than a dead letter law, to preemptively prosecute and jail human rights defenders. The idea is to prevent human rights organizations from reporting to an international investigation like the Goldstone commission after operation Cast Lead.
    • This witch hunt did not begin yesterday, but the war made things much worse. We encounter both this white fascism running through the main echelons of Israeli society, and the street fascism, those small but well organized gangs of the extreme right who mobilize to beat and intimidate anti-war protestors when they take to the street.
    • In the cultural war raging here it is the Mizrahi face of the extreme right chanting “death to Arab” on the street that grabs all the attention. Haaretz is covering this Mizrahi extreme right extensively. Indeed, it is perceived by lefties especially as menacing, as the “sewage” flooding civilized Israel. But, the white fascism of university presidents or Im Tirtzu is far worse, far more dangerous. One Ron Shoval is more effective in crushing dissent than a thousand street gangs. Those are the people who really hold the key to a complete breakdown of the façade of Israeli democracy.

  159. says

    @piero – 1 August 2014 at 9:49 pm

    The war between Israel and Hamas will not end until one of them is effectively exterminated, precisely because there is nothing rational about it. Rationality, as has already been mentioned, is a means to an end: we can rationally determine the best course of action to fulfil our desires.

    Your belief that “there is nothing rational” about Operation Protective Edge, nor the actions of Hamas, is naive. On the contrary, Israel’s actions in Gaza follow a well-developed strategic logic called settler colonialism. Israel’s actions are rational expressions of that logic.

    And while the Gazan side might seem irrational in that they launch firecrackers into Israel and get their city blown into smithereens by laser guided munitions, their actions only seem irrational if you ignore the context in which they take place. Gaza has since 2005 been an open-air prison, a concentration camp in which nearly two million people are crammed into a tiny area with a horrid economy and only tunnels as a means of escape. As if that were not enough, Israeli settlers grab areas of Gaza for their own use, and inflict petty violence and humiliation on the Gazans. It’s a slow-motion takeover. Seen in that context, the actions of Hamas look more rational.

    Your assessment that discussion of the issue is pointless since neither side is “right” also strikes me as odd. If you live in the US, your government is joined at the hip with Israel, giving them $3 Billion per year to assist with their colonial strategy. If you live in another area of the West, you’re still connected to the situation.

  160. guru says

    See above. Logic based on any kind of reasonable premises dictates that Israel lay down arms and start reparations. But, as I said above, logic per se has nothing to do with this bullshit.What about reparations for incessant rocket attacks? How about the Palestinians pay reparations for supporting the Nazis and trying to bring the Holocaust to the Middle East? How about they pay reparations for centuries of pogroms by Muslims against Jews?

    Logic doesn’t dictate reparations unless reparations are going to be paid for every crime that’s been committed.

    That being said, I agree that Israel should pull out of the occupied territories.

  161. says

    @guru – 2 August 2014 at 10:22 am

    See above. Logic based on any kind of reasonable premises dictates that Israel lay down arms and start reparations.

    Define “reasonable premises”. The actual premise, “I’m going to take your land”, may not be moral but it’s perfectly logical.

  162. pick says

        Harris is especially bad at this, as he has quite clearly built his “moral landscape” upon his own social circle: he has jewish relatives, christian colleagues and buddhist friends, therefore these religions are “inherently different” from Islam and therefore one can do to the later’s followers things that He could deem barbaric if done to followers of one of the formers.

    Yes and Jerry Coyne carries on about how he is a “cultural” jew but supposedly not a religious one. He insists that the state of Israel is not religious but secular, and that the IDF is a moral force for good in the region. Harris seems to just use his atheism and what he thinks of as his superior reasoning as proxy or a pretext to advocate genocide of a culture that his tribe is at war with. They are both politically and historically naive and uninformed in that they don’t understand that Israel is a colonial power whose reason for being is to commit genocide against the prior occupants of the territory they stole. The original occupants have been resisting Zionist colonialism from the beginning in 1947.

  163. piero says

    atheist, apparently I did not present my argument well enough.

    Suppose you are a burglar and have a choice of two houses to rob. One is empty, has neither surveillance cameras nor alarms, a gound-floor window is open and you positively know the house contains cash and valuables for over 50 million dollars. Besides, the owners died abroad long ago, had no relatives and nobody knows or cares about the house. The other house is heavily protected, the owners never leave, have trained personnel ready to shoot on sight, and their assets are worth perhaps 500 dollars. Now, you choose the sercond house, and embark in an almost suicidal mission. Sure, your actions are guided by reason: you buy guns and ammunition to kill the guards, ropes to climb to the roof and so on.

    In what sense are you being rational? Only in the limited sense of applying reason to accomplish a goal. But I’m sure you’ll agree your goal was irrational in the first place. No amount of reason can make your actions rational after that.

    When Israel chose its current location, it was a wholly irrational choice. No amount of reason applied since them can revert that. Only a rational examination of its motivations, or desires, or emotions, can do that. That’s being rational.

    Suppose you have a very noisy neighbour. You try to reason with him, ask him to stop, beg him to stop, to no avail. You talk to other neighbours, but they are unwilling to help you. The police have come a few times, but their half-hearted rebukes have had no effect. The noise is driving you crazy, so one day you decide to beat him up to teach him a lesson. Problem is, he is a professional boxer, about twice as big and strong as you. “I don’t care”, you say. “I’ll stop that noise even if it means death”. Would you call your action rational? Sure, you can use reason in order to plan your action, but the action itself is irrational. That’s what Hamas are doing.

  164. says

    @piero – 2 August 2014 at 5:03 pm

    When Israel chose its current location, it was a wholly irrational choice. No amount of reason applied since them can revert that. Only a rational examination of its motivations, or desires, or emotions, can do that. That’s being rational.

    … Problem is, he is a professional boxer, about twice as big and strong as you. “I don’t care”, you say. “I’ll stop that noise even if it means death”. Would you call your action rational? Sure, you can use reason in order to plan your action, but the action itself is irrational. That’s what Hamas are doing.

    Thank you for explaining your reasoning, now I have a better idea of where you are coming from. It seems to me you are thinking of rationality like a controlled scientific experiment, where different possibilities can be tested and their benefits weighed. But the problem with that is that the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Americans are all living in history, which is nothing like a controlled scientific experiment. In history, people find themselves in crazy situations (you might say, “irrational situations”) all the time. So I feel that your view is unfair to both the Israelis and the Palestinians (not to mention, the Americans, the British, the Egyptians…)

    Your metaphors make sense, but you’re using something called “counterfactual history“, that is, you’re assuming conditions that never existed. In your example of the Israelis being like a burglar who chooses a defended house over one which was undefended, you’re assuming that the Zionist movement would have had no problem with locals had they only chosen another area than Palestine. But that’s a counterfactual, and there is no proof that the state of Israel would have fared any better in, say, a region of South Africa, than in the land it occupies today. Also, remember that the exodus of European Jews into Palestine was done to escape oppression that ended up as a genocide.

    Your example of the Palestinians being like someone who chooses to fight a professional boxer is also strange. Actually, since 2005 the Gazans have been almost completely hemmed in with only tunnels as a means of escape. So since 2005 Gazans could not leave even if they wanted to. And even before 2005, they were a people being ethnically cleansed from their land. It is absurd to believe they had a choice in dealing with Israel. To alter your scenario, they aren’t like someone who chose to fight a professional boxer. Rather, they are like a person who was already being pummeled by a professional boxer who chose to punch back. Perhaps they should have meekly allowed Israelis to beat the crap out of them, but that wasn’t your decision. I don’t think you are in a position to judge them.

    It is one thing to argue that the logic used by Hamas, Likud, the Democratic party, and/or AIPAC is flawed. Indeed such arguments can be valuable. But in order for your criticism to be relevant, you have to take the actual situation of these groups, the actual choices they face, into account. Otherwise, it is as if you’re telling a troubled person to “just shape up” and “stop acting irrational”. That’s not empathetic and frankly, it’s not useful.

  165. piero says

    Hi, atheist. Of course the Zionist movement could not make a rational decision, because their motivation was irrational. Judging someone’s past actions from the point of view of rationality is not “counterfactual history”. I’m not making an exercise in “what if”, but just pointing out that the territory was chose on the basis of irrational motivations. I’d go as far as characterising them as “idiotic”.

    Yes, Gazans are hemmed in. But why are they? Could it have something to do with their suicide attacks on Israeli civilians, perhaps?

    And no, I’m not telling either the Israelis or the Palestinians anything at all. How could I? And even if I could, there’s, nor reason to expect being heard. I am perhaps excessively empathetic, sometimes to the point of somatisation, but there is nothing I can do to alleviate the suffering.